How We Teach
STEM competencies do not exist in isolation from each other, and, as such, are most effectively learned through an interdisciplinary approach. The core of SySTEM Phoenix’s educational approach is founded on the belief that an integrated, relevant instructional model results in deeper, more meaningful learning. Through a Problem and Project-Based Learning pedagogical approach, students develop the skills to tackle the robust problems characteristic of the real world. As active agents in the learning process, students pursue and use knowledge to negotiate their learning in peer groups and present solutions to authentic audiences. Every component of SySTEM Phoenix’s method and our academic program reflects this commitment to accelerated, integrated learning.
Core Academic Courses
At SySTEM Phoenix, the Grade 6-8 Arizona State Standards for the four primary academic disciplines (Math, Science, English, and Social Studies) are taught through 4 distinct Courses: Math, Science, ELA, and Social Studies. Teachers also integrate grade-level AZCCRS for English Language Arts through the context of Arizona Academic Standards for Social Studies and grade level AZCCRS for Mathematics through the context of Next Generation Science Standards. This integration allow teachers to fuse standards and content from multiple disciplines into integrated units of learning.
Learners construct knowledge for themselves—each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning—as he or she learns.
Hands-on learning is learning by doing. Through the use of manipulatives and interactive technologies, students conduct investigations in which they directly observe and test their ideas. The learning experience enhances students’ ability to think critically and learn what, how, when, and why concepts interact.
A cooperative setting capitalizes on the collective knowledge and skills of peer groups. This group interaction supports the development of strong critical thinking skills as team members brainstorm, develop action steps, posit questions for discussion, and evaluate each other’s ideas.
All content students experience is taught within the context of a larger project. Students learn state and international standards through the project, not before the project. Many projects will have a product but the product is not the most important part of problem and project-based learning. Students master a variety of standards through the rigorous process of solving a community problem such as creating a sustainable recycling program, building a community garden, or developing a community awareness campaign on water conservation.
Problem-Based Learning is the culmination of interconnected learning, incorporating standards in a holistic way to motivate mastery of various content standards through the lens of a novel, ill-defined problem. PBL infuses the learning experience with purpose and motivates students to conduct research and discover new knowledge to actively solve robust problems.