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District STEM Plan

Bismarck Public Schools District Wide STEM Plan


To engage and inspire all students to innovate, achieve, and succeed in a safe and supportive environment by ensuring high quality instruction in every classroom, every day.


Bismarck Public Schools exist so the students it serves are well-prepared for the next stage of their lives and obtain the skills, knowledge, and expertise to thrive in our world.


Student Learning
1. Promote a rigorous, relevant and responsive education with multiple pathways to success.
2. Provide an environment that reflects high expectations that all students can
and will learn.
3. Encourage students to own their learning through authentic engagement which leads to success

Professional Practices
1. Collaborate effectively to improve outcomes for students and staff through the implementation of the Teaching and Learning Cycle
2. Ensure a highly skilled, dedicated, caring staff that positively influences student learning
3. Utilize reflection as an essential element for learning, growth and development

Collective Responsibility
1. Support shared responsibility for student success through involvement of students, staff, families and community
2. Establish safe, supportive, respectful and productive learning environment for all students and staff
3. Celebrate and honor diversity as an essential asset for learning

Core Beliefs

As a STEM K-12 community of students, staff, parents, and partners, we are committed to:

Giving Students a Compass

Focus each student's plan of study on achieving the essential learning outcomes and assess progress and connect knowledge with choices and action in school and life to sustain post-secondary workforce readiness (via college or vocation)

Teaching the Arts of Inquiry and Innovation

Immerse all students in analysis, discovery, problem solving, communication, and creativity in meaningful content and context

Engaging the Big Questions

Teach through the curriculum to far-reaching issues-contemporary and enduring in science and society, culture and values, global interdependence, the changing economy, and human dignity and freedom

Fostering Civic, Intercultural, and Ethical Learning

Emphasize personal and social responsibility in every field of study; emphasis on mutual respect and promoting thoughtfulness and courage

We fundamentally believe that all students can be educated; all students deserve to have access and opportunity to STEM education and demonstrate their learning in varied, challenging ways every day in every class. We believe schools can be better and have reasonable optimism about what is possible. We recognize failure is part of the learning process and strive to be intentional and responsive. As committed, intentional educators, we embrace and celebrate each student's history and future; we have an obligation to our communities, to our families to teach well and nourish the spirit with a love of learning and inquiry.

What these beliefs look like in the classroom and throughout the school:

STEM Schools: use science, technology, engineering and math to bring relevance to student work and make connections to society and the global world we live in.
- Establish partnerships (P20 and Industry) - Articulation
- Entry paths to enter STEM at any time (possible Summer Academy/Career Academy)

STEM Schools: include a fully integrated arts curriculum designed to be responsive and intentional to student needs and support the instructional model

STEM Students: learn best in collaborative, cooperative groups with authentic, relevant problems that span content areas in a transdisciplinary, problem solving approach. STEM content comes alive when students consistently experience it during project based/problem solving approach to learning. (hands on to some)

STEM Students: realize the value of collaboration with peers and resources. STEM students seek to apply and transfer knowledge to a range of problems and projects. They experience that failure and tenacity are a part of the innovation process. STEM students are well prepared and ready for the next step.

STEM Educators: Facilitate learning in and out of their classroom using a variety of internal and external resources such as industry partnerships, authentic field experiences, and technology to connect with the world outside of the classroom.
- Well prepared through professional development
- Motivated and passionate about science, technology, engineering and /or mathematics
- Collaborators/Communicators with other stakeholders

STEM Educators: have a deep understanding of the content and concepts they are teaching. They demonstrate innovation daily in their teaching and see themselves as researchers about the integration of theory and practice. They provide authentic feedback and constant opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills to authentic situations.

STEM Classrooms: are student centered environments rich in questioning and inquiry, where students have frequent opportunities to apply the engineering design and problem solving processes to authentic, contextual problems. The classrooms are places of discourse and idea development, applied programming and curriculum. The classrooms are flexible in design and promote innovative learning.

Indicators (matrices to be developed)
- Aligned with ND standards
- Mastery Learning Structure
- Problem Solving
- Inquiry Approach
- Engineering Design
- Utilize Experts (Mentors)
- Collaborative/Cooperative Learning
- Technology is a tool-integrated and student driven
- Labs
- Authentic Experiences and Feedback
- Global Presentations with Podcasts, Webpages. Etc.
- Creativity
- Modeling
- Flipped Classrooms
- Differentiated Centers
- Project Based(hands on) Application
- Sheltered Instruction

Instructional Model:Inquiry and Problem Based Learning

The Bismarck Public Schools STEM Instructional Model ensures unified quality STEM curriculum and programming across the district and beyond.


Inquiry involves the science, art, and spirit of curiosity. Effective inquiry is more than just asking questions. A complex process is involved when individuals attempt to convert information and data into useful knowledge. Useful application of inquiry learning involves several factors: a context for questions, a framework for questions, a focus for questions, and different levels of questions. Well-designed inquiry learning produces knowledge formation that can be widely applied.

Inquiry Based Learning

- Ask questions
- Create hypothesis
- Investigate
- Construct new knowledge
- Discuss and reflect on discoveries
- Apply newly acquired knowledge in own life
- Generate new questions

Instructional Model Focus: Transdisciplinary learning (rethink integration)
Transdisciplinary studies are collaborative across academic disciplines. What sets transdisciplinary studies apart from others is a particular emphasis on engagement, investigation, and participation in addressing present day issues and problems in a manner that explicitly connects all aspects of the unit of study. They are built around three main concepts: transformative process, constructive problem solving and real world engagement. Research suggests that the nature of the 21st century world needs more emphasis on critical thinking and reasoning and knowledge put into relevant context in order to address and understand complex world issues.

What it is… What it is not…

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem based learning is based on the educational theories of Vytgotsky, Dewey, and others, and is related to social cultural constructivist theories of learning and instructional design.

Characteristics of Problem based learning are:
- Learning is challenged by open ended, loosely defined and loosely structured, practical problems worthy of the most elite team in a particular field of study.
- Students generally work in collaborative groups. Problem based learning environments may be designed for individual learning.
- Teachers take on the role as "facilitators" of learning.
- Instructional activities are based on learning strategies involving semantic reasoning, case based reasoning, analogical reasoning, causal reasoning, and inquiry reasoning. These activities include creating stories; reasoning about cases, concept mapping, causal mapping, cognitive hypertext, crisscrossing; analogy making; and question generating.

In PBL, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their group and organize and direct the learning process with support from a tutor or instructor. Advocates of PBL claim it can be used to enhance content knowledge and foster the development of communication, problem solving, and self-directed learning skill.

PBL positions students in simulated real world working and professional contexts which involve policy, process, and ethical problems that will need to be understood and resolved to some outcome. By working through a combination of learning strategies to discover the nature of the problem, understanding the constraints and options to its resolution, defining the input variables, and understanding the viewpoints involved, students learn to negotiate the complex sociological nature of the problem and how competing resolutions my inform decision making.

PBL may be accompanied by authentic experiences tied directly to the content of the problem to further the research or knowledge gained by students.

Our Process for Inquiry, Problem Based Learning, and a Transdisciplinary Approach:

Engage students with an authentic problem rooted in content (science, social science, engineering) and have them analyze, research, study the problem with a cultural, social, political, economic historical, scientific lens. The PBL can come from media sources, your own thinking, your students thinking, and business and industry partnerships. The PBLs are directly aligned and correlated to state standards across the content areas. One well developed PBL will cover multiple disciplines and standards and develop conceptual understanding. Students, through authentic experiences (video conferencing with specialists, researching, interviewing, surveying, etc.) and collaboration propose solutions to an authentic panel of experts and receive critical feed back to be able to rethink and design their solutions, findings. Some PBL units of study take a few weeks while others may last several weeks. The goal of each is to immerse students in real world, contextual problems and employ strategies and knowledge to seek solutions, find evidence to support their thinking, and collaborate and share and engage with experts in the field.

STEM programs must have a fully integrated arts and humanities curriculum.

STEM Instructional practices include (not limited to):

- Collaborative assignments and projects
- Systemic investigation and research
- Intercultural studies augmented by community/industry based experience
- Service learning and outreach
- Internships and externships for students and teachers
- Capstone courses and projects
- Appreciation and participation in the arts
- Literacy as a foundation to access, understanding, and communication
- Development of a global language of innovation

Professional Learning:

Teacher led professional learning and demonstration classrooms:

Goals of Professional Engagement

Bismarck Schools STEM Plan was Modeled after the Adams 12 Five Star County Schools, Colorado.

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