21st Century Learning by STEAM, Creative Problem-Solving and Collegial PLCs

Updated: Apr 26

The key to change in the classroom is change in the spirit of the whole school. This means building collegiality, since the solitude of the teacher at his/her classroom works to preserve past strategies.

The idea is to create creative teamwork in PLCs (Professional Learning Communities). Teachers need to co-create lesson plans. Which is where STEAM comes in. It’s a good idea that teams include a math/science teacher, a language art, and a dance/drama teacher, etc. Fading the lines drawn for decades between learning subjects makes room for 21st century education.

Here’s a method for working in such teams based on creative problem-solving and simplified by the 5 E’s strategy:

Explore – the learning materials together. Think what the goal is: Nurture curiosity, ignite ideation, or foster other 21st century skills. Then draw objectives. Those should stay general enough to make room for conversation in class and for creative ideas drawn by students. Flexibility is key.

Experience – Play with ideas on how to create experiential learning activities. This part could be left for the students. After they have been introduced the learning material, they would be given a questionnaire: What did you find interesting about the learning material? What educational product would you like to do about it?

Examine – Check out the lesson plan. Does it respond to the goals and objectives?

Elevate – How could you elevate the lesson plan so it will better respond to the goals and objectives? To make the lesson more interesting and engaging?

Express – After the lesson, the team members share their impressions and conclusions. This mutual feedback is vital for growth.

If teams have problems, use the 5 E’s:

Explore: Teams review the information needed to solve their problem. First, they make sure they have all the details. That will save a lot of confusion, anxiety and regret. It might be more research is needed and decision making should be postponed.

Experience – Teams play with the information and raise ideas for solutions. First a lot of ideas are raised. The time to examine them and elevate one chosen solution will come. For now, it’s play time.

Examine – Reflecting together upon the ideas. It’s possible that each participant will generally develop his/her idea further, envision how it might work. Then team will share their findings. That way it will be easier to choose just one idea that would serve as solution.

Elevate – the solution chosen thinking how to make it work and how to make it relevant to the lesson, the students and the teachers.

Express – Is there another insight a team member would like to share? This is to give the solution its final touches, make sure it’s ready. Before parting, remember to express how team work was enjoyable and rewarding.

In conclusion, this is just the beginning since teachers embracing STEAM and Creative Problem-Solving will inspire their students, serving as role models for life-long learning.

Interesting in gaining professionality and inspiration as a 21st century teacher? Check out our stimulating teacher training!

Michelle Korenfeld

Raising Creative Thinkers

21st Century Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning lesson plans, stimulating teacher training, teaching tools, and best children’s STEAM book