The universe is made up of stories not atoms — Muriel Rukyeser (Image © punyamishra)

Every educator has had an amazing teaching moment. It is that magical moment, when the topic comes to life and the energy in the classroom is palpable. These are moments that we cannot help but share — we run out and corner the first person we meet and insist on telling them about it. These are the stories that give meaning to our professional lives.


A few years ago we published a book with 49 such amazing stories, as a part of the MSUrbanSTEM project. You can download the book by clicking on the title: Ultimate STEM: 49 Amazing Teaching Moments in STEM.

Of course are researchers we could not stop there. We took these stories and analyzed them for common and overarching themes to help us identify what goes into making an amazing STEM lesson plan. A paper based on that was recently published. Enjoy.

Mehta, S., Mehta, R., Berzina-Pitcher, I., Seals, C. & Mishra, P. (2016). 49 Stories That Make an Ultimate STEM Lesson Plan. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 35(4), 343-353. Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

In this paper we reviewed what 49 large urban public school district STEM teachers enrolled in a year-long graduate certificate and fellowship program at a large Midwestern university considered as their amazing teaching moments. They were asked to share their amazing teaching moments that would make an Ultimate Lesson Plan in STEM. In smaller groups of five, then they were asked to find connections between their amazing teaching moments and to look for the essential components that make these moments amazing. This activity led the teachers to discover 51 key components that made an ultimate lesson plan. We analyzed these 51 key components to find common and overarching themes that were grouped together into a final list of seven key components for an ultimate STEM lesson plan. These key components that make an ultimate STEM lesson plan give us an insight into what working teachers consider to be important for student engagement and learning in STEM content in classrooms.