Typhani Harris | January 2016

STEAM-ER Series: Demonstration

Welcome to the STEAM-ER series!

Over the next few weeks we will be discussing Engagement through Rigor for each of the STEAM content areas. In the STEAM-ER introduction I shared five areas that encourage Engagement through Rigor: higher level thinking, engagement, deep inquiry, demonstration, and quality over quantity (see full intro article here).

We recently looked at samples for bringing deep inquiry into the classroom, so this week we explore demonstration.  The foundation of demonstration is the age-old mantra: don’t tell me…show me.  The act of demonstration, by students, brings rigor into the classroom by pushing students to show their knowledge. Avoiding the problem of students just telling us what they know.  Beyond showing, if we have students demonstrate through real-world application we can engage them even more. We can then provide a rigorous platform for their knowledge.


Through experiment, science naturally promotes demonstration.  However, if we involve real world application it becomes exciting and engaging.  Have students solve realistic problems with limited resources, or propose solutions to issues on the global scale.  The following sites offer real life problems in the form of science demonstration:


Technology offers many opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge through real life application.  Using Project Based Learning in the technology classroom creates engaging lessons with rigorous application of demonstration.  The following sites offer ideas for demonstration through technology projects:


Engineering uses the design process to build and create, which is innately demonstration.  However, if you have students determine their own projects they will be engaged and excited about demonstrating their knowledge.  Have students journal issues they encounter for one week.  Then, have them choose one to solve by building/creating a product that helps solve the issue.  Check out these sites for engaging engineering projects:


The arts are built on creation, but often it is the teacher demonstrating, and the students mimicking the process.  We teach a dance, or a piece of music and the students copy.  Have students demonstrate their knowledge of skills by actually having them do the creation:


Math is an area where it is difficult to step away from the traditional methods of instruction.  The teacher demonstrates, the class practices as a whole, and then practices individually.  What would happen if we taught math through projects and allowed students to demonstrate what they know? Here are a couple of sites that bring demonstration into the math classroom:

Demonstration is a great way to bring engagement through rigor into the classroom.  Don’t be afraid to share objectives, standards, and goals with students to have them determine how best they can demonstrate their knowledge.


Higher-Level Thinking
Deep Inquiry

These resources will help create Engagement through Rigor in all of the STEAM areas.
Piquès & Pirouettès

Next Week: STEAM-ER Series: Quality over Quantity
Quality over quantity provides an opportunity for rigorous engagement with purpose. Next week we conclude our STEAM-ER series by taking a look at areas that can become more purposeful with quality work over quantity.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Chief Academics Officer, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.