Book Study: STEM Lesson Essentials

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 2.36.32 PMWell, it’s that time of year where the ongoing countdown of number of days to the end of the summer is reaching just a few weeks for most of us. As such, I’ll be posting some recommendations for last minute professional summer reading related to science education.

A great resource for digging into elementary STEM instruction is- STEM Lesson Essentials Grades 3-8 by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, and Michael Comer. STEM Lesson Essentials is a timely, readable, and usable guide to STEM literacy that won’t weigh down your beach bag. (At 178 pages it is slim but packs a punch.) See some specifics below.


  • The Front Matter (chapters 1-5) are essential reading for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of STEM literacy and what it means- Every K-8 principal should read this book by the way!
  • Contains authentic and engaging standards-based STEM activities that a teacher might use in a classroom or that a professional development provider might use in a workshop.
  • Chapter 8 provides a great framework for thinking about integration. I feel like we throw this word around in elementary education and we rarely define it or provide a continuum of what integration might look like.
  • Chapters are well-written, engaging, and short… perfect for summer reading.
  • Makes the case for technology and engineering as central aspects of STEM education.
  • Uses the STEM Practices as a central storyline (see p. 38).
  • Includes support on PBL, assessment, and STEM lesson resources.


  • K-2 examples would be appreciated (as would High School)
  • Clearer connections on how to obtain some of the materials in sample lessons
  • Easy connection to some online supports- video, links, website, etc
  • Would be nice to have deeper and more intentional connections to NGSS (this book was published in 2013 which is part of the reason for this).

Click HERE to order a copy of STEM Lesson Essentials. I’d love to get some conversations going about this book- I know that several teachers have been digging into this resource over the years. What has been valuable? What have you implemented?


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One response to “Book Study: STEM Lesson Essentials

  1. Becca Morris Sadler

    Interesting quick review of the featured book! I’ve been trying to search different ECE/Elementary level teacher blogs for science lessons and activities and am not surprised yet still disappointed that there are not more K-4th grade level teachers talking about science. In 2003 I finished my M. Ed. in Elem Ed w/ ECE emphasis and I took 3 elementary science methods courses. Even then, I was trying to advocate integration and equitable time, resources, and classroom space for science. My graduate research project compared Kindergarten environments and practices to 2nd grade within 1 school district and found huge differences. There were 5 teachers and classrooms for each level. More kindergarten rooms had a classroom sink (to encourage getting messy, do sink and float experiments, water for plants, etc.) compared to the distance 2nd grade teachers had to go for access. More kindergarten rooms had live plants and animal(s) compared to 2nd grade. I could go on and on with the disparities found in just 2 class years within 1 district. So THANK YOU for advocating for more K-2nd grade science/STEM lesson examples.

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