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Easy Solutions for Assigning Jobs in STEM

I hope you had a chance to join us for STEMCON 2020 in April. It is planned for next summer, too! We had such a fabulous experience with this STEM Conference. I cannot tell you how exciting it was.

The STEMCON Facebook group was amazing- posts were nonstop and we loved hearing from attendees. I loved answering questions and interacting with so many STEM and regular classroom teachers. My favorite part was reading the feedback left on the two sessions I hosted.

I had so many questions about my planning session and my session on using picture books as inspiration for STEM Challenges. I mentioned in my planning session that I have a procedure for assigning jobs in STEM class. This prompted a lot of questions! I made a list of the questions and this post will work through the answers for you!

A blog post featuring ways to solve assigning jobs to students during STEM class! Some practical tips and ways to take care of problems!

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The main questions I was asked about the jobs for STEM projects were these:

  • What are the jobs that groups need to have?
  • Do students create their own jobs or is it always assigned?
  • How do you place students in groups?
  • Where can I find the job badges?

Alright! Let’s see if I can answer those questions for you!

What are the jobs that groups need to have?

This is a great question! Easy answer- it depends on the task. Some challenges have many jobs while some barely have enough for each group member.

We tend to have the same jobs for each challenge. Typically we have the main builder, the extra-hands person, the tape manager, and the clean-up person. You can also have a materials manager, a writer, and a runner.

While my students are working through sharing their ideas for designing I make a list on the board of jobs I think they might need for the challenge. After they have had time to talk about their ideas, the next step in our procedure is job assignments. They use a post-it to make a list of potential jobs and then determine which job each student will have. The list I have made on the board is a guide.

My part in this job assigning process is to listen as they are talking and add jobs to the list that I hear being discussed. (Students often think differently than I do about the challenges!)

When a team is ready to proceed with building I look at their job list and make sure every team member has a job. At that time I may suggest that members take on two jobs to keep them busy. Example: If a student is the “sweeper” they will not have anything to do for a long time.

Do students create their own jobs or is it always assigned?

Students determine the jobs and who does each one. I encourage the combining of jobs and will step in when needed. I spend a lot of time walking from group to group and listening to their talk. Remember, I also look at their job lists. This is a great way to step in and encourage some additional chores and suggest having more than one job per student.

Do I ever assign jobs? Yes, sometimes I do have to step in and give instructions rather than suggestions. Some groups just don’t work well together. Sometimes I take on a more active role in helping the team move forward.

How do you place students in groups?

Great question, again! I have three ways that I use to place students in project groups.

  • Random Placement- I meet students at the door and hand out colored cards. The colors of the cards match the supply tubs on each lab table. Students go to the matching table. Do I ever move students from these random groupings? Yes, we all know that you have students that cannot sit together and I will quietly switch a student to another table if I think it is necessary.
  • Job Badges – I have another set of colored cards that have job titles and job descriptions on them. I meet a class at the door and hand these out. The students are randomly placed in their groups, but the job title they are given is theirs for the day. Do I ever purposely give job titles to a particular student? No! However, I have had students that will let me know they really don’t want to have the job they received and I will talk with the whole team to resolve this.
  • Kids Decide- This is my least favorite way to choose groups. Inevitably, best friends will choose one another and that does not always make a group that works well together. And, of course, there are always students that are left out. What do I do with those students? I let them choose the group they want to join.

Where can I find the job badges?

This was, perhaps, the number one question I was asked about my planning session!

I have job badges available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The set includes jobs for STEM where the students have job titles that include the word engineer. The sets also have badges for scientists with job titles that include the word supervisor. Each set also includes posters of each job.

BUT, (and this is important) I did not talk about jobs during that session so attendees would buy something from my store. So, when I was asked about the job badges I directed teachers to a free listing of job charts that includes the job titles and description – but not the badges.

Now, here is the best news! I have created a free set of badges that you can access today! It includes a page of job cards that you can print on different colors of paper, laminate, cut out, and give to students to place them in their groups. I included the engineer badges and the supervisor badges. (Posters are not included).

Badges have cute kid clipart or no clipart! Now, how can you grab these?

If you are already receiving my newsletter I sent these out with the latest email. If you are not getting emails from me yet, here’s your chance! Subscribe today and you can grab this set! This will include ways to use the badges. You will also have a chance to grab free challenges, posters, and a free STEM-at-Home resource.

Don’t worry- I do not bombard subscribers with constant emails! I send two per month- usually filled with tips and ideas and I often include a freebie. I do send messages about new resources, sales, or special events (like STEMCON 2020)!

What are you waiting for?

Click in the pink box at the bottom of this page or you can click here>>> Planning for STEM or Science Projects

A blog post featuring ways to solve assigning jobs to students during STEM class! Some practical tips and ways to take care of problems!
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