Photo Pam Spycher

Quality STEAM Education for All

by Pam Spycher

May 14, 2019


From a Kindergarten Classroom:

Dear Editor,

We must keep the bees safe and protect them. Bees are critical because they pollinate fruits and vegetables. Bees are critical because they help us. We should save the bees by not spraying pesticides on crops.

Sincerely, Anushka

From a first grade classroom:
Bees’ wings can go fast. They go straight and different ways. They fly to each flower.

The value of quality Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education for all students is an equity issue, a civics issue, and an economic issue. Our technologically-driven, scientifically-oriented, innovative society should be led by diverse people with diverse perspectives and ways of approaching and being in the world. Yet, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse students and students living in under-resourced communities tend to receive inequitable access to quality STEAM education, with their cultural and linguistic assets going largely unacknowledged and underutilized. The need for more information about quality STEAM education that is responsive to and effective for an increasingly diverse student population is pressing.

A new book seeks to address this need, with chapters from assets-oriented researchers and practitioners whose work offers promising teaching and learning approaches in the STEAM subjects in preschool through college (PK-16) education settings. In Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners and STEAM: Teachers and Researchers Working in Partnership to Build a Better Tomorrow, scholars and practitioners share innovative ways in which classroom teachers are changing the status quo and making STEAM subjects more inclusive, academically powerful, and culturally and linguistically sustaining. (See the Introduction and Table of Contents to learn more about the book’s chapters and authors.)

Steam Book Cover Screenshot

A sample chapter written by Leading with Learning team members is provided on our website. In Scaffolding Young Children’s Science Writing , Pam Spycher, Danielle Garegnani, and Thea Fabian describe how preschool through first grade (PK–1) teachers can scaffold young children’s discussion skills, engagement with complex science concepts and texts, and writing in environmental science through a pedagogical framework called the “Teaching and Learning Cycle” (TLC). Classroom examples are provided to show how the TLC provides children with abundant opportunities to think, talk, and write about science phenomena and develop awareness of how the language of science works so that they can both communicate effectively and deepen their conceptual knowledge through disciplinary writing.


From a Dual Language Kindergarten Classroom

Translation: When people throw trash (in the water), fish can die.

Translation: Fish need clean water so they don’t die.

Children collaboratively creating an environmental advocacy poster

This new STEAM book aims to make quality STEAM education and STEAM careers a reality for all students, taking into account the many bodies of knowledge and skills all students bring from their homes and communities, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the fields that will drive our society towards the future. There are three primary audiences for this book: teachers (both in-service and pre-service teachers), teacher educators (both pre-service preparation and professional learning); and applied researchers. Whatever their current or evolving role, readers are encouraged to use this book and the inquiry questions provided at the end of each chapter as a launching point for their own important work in achieving equity in STEAM education.

A previous Leading with Learning blog post and two concept papers also address the TLC. One primarily addresses the TLC in upper elementary classrooms, and the other primarily addresses the TLC in secondary classrooms.

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Voices From the Field

I am most excited about how everything that we do for kids is focused on making meaning. Those practices that are designed to require collaboration are particularly exciting to me as they also require that we foster a culture of respect for self and others and those conditions that are necessary for a risk-free learning environment. This project has provided new learning for teachers that provided opportunity for an equal playing field as we were learning together—coaches, principals, and teachers—which created a community of learners rather than a community of experts telling teachers what to do.”

– Leading with Learning Coach