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STEM Lesson Guideposts

Creating STEM Lessons for Your Curriculum

Teachers everywhere are being asked to integrate STEM into their curriculum. STEM Lesson Guideposts offers new tools, classroom examples, and a practical model to guide your planning. This book helps you understand, implement, and assess STEM learning.

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Full Description

Guidance for creating meaningful STEM lessons

STEM Lesson Guideposts presents a clear and actionable approach for teachers and leaders to follow in developing meaningful STEM lessons and units. This companion to the bestselling STEM Lesson Essentials is a practical guide for helping you on your journey of creating integrated, interdisciplinary STEM units.

Where do I begin with STEM?

Educators often ask, “Where do I begin?” when thinking about STEM learning. Inspired by this question, Jo Anne Vasquez, Michael Comer, and Joel Villegas developed the W.H.E.R.E. planning model—five interrelated guideposts that provide structure and guidance for conceiving, creating, and organizing STEM experiences. These key focus areas include:

  • What and Why: What needs to be learned and why?
  • How: How do I plan to meet this goal?
  • Evidence and Evaluate: What evidence of learning will be used and how will I evaluate the final product?
  • Rigor and Relevance: How will I provide opportunities that will lead to increased rigor and relevance?
  • Excite, Engage, Explore: What activities will excite my students and engage them in the STEM practices?
Guided by this research-based, comprehensive template, you’ll learn to create hands-on, inquiry-focused experiences using your own curriculum and standards. You’ll develop STEM lessons which are not only rigorous but relevant to your students. Filled with guided support and tips for teachers, this book moves from thinking about “what is” STEM to the “how” of constructing impactful STEM lessons and units.

(click any section below to continue reading)


Introduction and Overview: The STEM Lesson Guideposts Learning Journey

Chapter 1 Beginning the Journey: Moving Beyond the Acronym
Chapter 2 Planning the STEM Journey: W.H.E.R.E. Are Your STEM Guideposts?
Chapter 3 The W - Picking the Destination: What Needs to Be Learned and Why?
Chapter 4 The H and E - Planning and Evaluating the Route
Chapter 5 The R and E - Keeping the Trip Interesting
Chapter 6 Changing Drivers: Who Is Driving the STEM Car?
Chapter 7 Now It's Your Turn: You Drive the Car
Chapter 8 Changing the System: One School's STEM Journey
Chapter 9 Creating a Pathway: Fostering Community Collaboration

Appendix A Whirligig Pattern
Appendix B STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template
Appendix C STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template - Engineering a Hat
Appendix D STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template - Wind Turbine
Appendix E STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template - Feeding Fluffy
Appendix F STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template: Exploration Tasks for Feeding Fluffy
Appendix G STEM Lesson Guideposts Planning Template - Art Pedestal Project

In Depth

This book builds on the what of STEM, to show you how you can make this interdisciplinary approach happen in your classroom, school, or district. We will help you answer questions like these: How can we create our own STEM units? How do we address the standards we need to cover? How can we create experiences that will engage all students? What does rigor look like in a lesson? And, most importantly, how do we begin? Understanding what STEM education is was only the first step. Knowing how is next.

In this book, we introduce to you a model and a template for planning STEM units. The W.H.E.R.E. Model includes five key components, or as we call them, guideposts:

  • W—What and why: What needs to be learned and why?
  • H—How: How do I plan to get there? What experiences do students need to have?
  • E—Evidence and evaluation: What evidence of learning will be used and how will I evaluate the final product or project?
  • R—Rigor and relevance: How will I provide opportunities to increase the rigor of students’ thinking and the relevance to students’ experiences in the real world?
  • E—Excite, engage, and explore: How do I excite the learners, cognitively engage them, and allow for them to explore for deeper understanding of the content and skills?



“I now have the missing tool for STEM integration. STEM Lesson Guideposts is original, timely, and will help K–12 educators integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics into a single lesson plan! Other publications only talk about STEM integration. This book goes the extra step and provides integrated lesson plan examples and offers a template to assist educators as they travel down the pathway to success!”
—Shelley Lee, Past President of NSTA; STEM Outreach Director, University of Wisconsin-Stout

“This book should be considered required reading for anyone pursuing the integration of STEM education into their curriculum.”
Darrell McDaniel, STEM Educator Development Leader, Calcasieu Parish School Board

“The W.H.E.R.E. model in STEM Lesson Guideposts is a much needed tool for helping teachers move beyond the STEM acronym into a more authentic, integrated STEM teaching and learning environment.”
—Jen Gutierrez, K–12 STEM education specialist

Related PD Services



Email if you would like to contact Jo Anne Vasquez directly about professional development support.


Email if you would like to contact Michael Comer directly about professional development support. Email if you would like to contact Joel Villegas directly about professional development support.