Free Remote Lessons Available to Mi-STAR Teachers

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Mi-STAR has developed a series of eight remote-learning lessons that will be available to teachers who have a Mi-STAR subscription. All are aligned with the Michigan Science Standards. In addition, Mi-STAR is making two of those lessons available to science teachers who do not have a Mi-STAR subscription.

The short, targeted lessons are all written to account for unequal access among students learning away from the classroom. “We designed them knowing that a lot of students don’t have internet access, so they can be used two ways, online and with a packet of materials that can be dropped at a student’s door,” said Stephanie Tubman, coordinator of curriculum development and implementation. “We’ve incorporated some hands-on activities, but they are a stretch requirement, because some students may not have all the necessary materials in their household. Not everyone has baking soda on their kitchen shelf.”

The lessons, which are designed to be administered at a rate of one per week,  take an hour or two for students to complete on their own and are appropriate for grades 6–8. The lessons will also mesh with the regular Mi-STAR curriculum, which is not currently being taught due to school closures.

“We knew the lessons had to work for every grade level, and that meant that we couldn’t assume prior knowledge,” Tubman said. Curriculum developers also didn’t want to rehash existing lessons from the units. “So we developed them as stand-alone lessons to introduce or reinforce the basics of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs).”

The lessons incorporate new examples to illustrate SEPs that are covered in Mi-STAR units. For students who have already built some skill with an SEP, the lesson provides a fresh look at a familiar concept. For students who haven’t, it introduces a novel practice.
When classroom teaching resumes, the remote-learning lessons can be repurposed as lesson plans for substitute teachers or activities that reinforce these SEPs throughout the year.

The completed lessons focus on SEPs such as asking scientific questions, computational thinking, obtaining and synthesizing information, and modeling. Nearly 200 teachers have accessed them so far.

“At the top of each lesson, we’ve included a form to get feedback, and most of it has been positive,” Tubman said. “We know teachers are beyond busy, but this is a new program, and we’re looking forward to hearing more from the field. As teachers get back to us, we’ll do what Mi-STAR always does and work to make the lessons even better.”

Mi-STAR is considering expanding its remote-learning offerings after the initial series of eight lessons is complete. “We are in uncharted territory,” Tubman added. “We aren't sure what k-12 education will look like next year, and we want to be prepared for whatever happens.”

For more information, Mi-STAR teachers can click on the “Remote Learning Lessons” link on their MyMi-STAR dashboard. The publicly available lessons can be found on our website.

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Mi-STAR was founded in 2015 through generous support provided by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR has also received substantial support from the National Science Foundation, the MiSTEM Advisory Council through the Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Technological University.