Thursday, March 20, 2014
Common Core Science Presentation Held Last Night (3/19/14)
Our very own public library has a 3d printer. We should be taking our students there for field trips.
- March 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM
Is our Learning Dept. working on any of these issues in a meaningful way?
- March 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Did Dr. Russell mention at the science meeting last night that there would not be any collaboration with FermiLab, at all, if it had not been for a group of moms from The Lane School who went there to secure materials and speakers for their own Science Olympiad? Mridu Garg spearheaded the Science Olympiad last year, and she and her committee stumbled upon an entire library of STEM (math, science, and technology) books and materials there. Furthermore, there is a woman on staff there who, for free, consults with school districts in order to help them update to current STEM and common core standards. The only thing districts have to do to receive her help is make an appointment, and pay her gas money out to Hinsdale from Fermilab!
Incredible that our district had no idea about this information until we parents pointed it out to the board, in surveys, to teachers, and to principals. We must thank the parents on last year's Science Olympiad committee at The Lane, especially Mrs. Garg, who took it upon themselves to help our schools create a 3 hour evening of interactive science experiments. To see parent volunteers, many who were doctors and scientists, getting our children excited about science was something that schools across the country have been doing for years. Our own PTO vice president, an OB, brought in laprascopic instruments to show how surgery is performed. This year, an orthopedic doctor showed children to cast up fingers. A grandfather of a student, who was a former medical school professor even brought in a human brain, and Fermilab hand delivered a whole truckload of huge, hands on materials (for free), with thick teacher's guides! It was amazing. None of us parents on the Science Olympiad Committee have Phds in education, but we were able to provide a fun, educational, and common core supported event for around than a thousand dollars. I really wish our district would take more advantage of the free resources available at Fermilab, too, so they could help our kids in
math. Who would not want someone to come out to help our schools choose the best math materials? Or let us know if compacting Everyday Math books is really such a good idea? If we all work together cooperatively to find the best resources for our children, the whole community benefits.
Fay Demakis, The Lane School
(One of the Members of the Science Olympiad Committee who visited FermiLab last year.)
- March 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM
- The Parents said...
Can anyone identify which administrators were in attendance?
- March 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM
It's as if the administration and BOE( the majority) are just going through the motions to create the illusion that they value our imput, our concerns-yet their actions tell a different story. From the poorly constructed suveys, to the poor presentations, to the lack of probing, insightful questions from the majority of the BOE .It's all very telling. Sadly.
The problem is not just the not "non-dynamic" speakers that seem less than "laser focused" on improving science education, it is that the "next generation standards" themselves are filled with the kind of language that seems more designed to placate poltical constituencies than actually get more kids interested / excited / proficient in science -- look at this document: Next Generation Science Standards certainly fits with buzz word filled educationalese that some of our adminstrators seem so steeped in...
Why isn't our district already primed for really good science instruction? Is is realistic to expect that a district like ours MIGHT already have all the materials needed for hands-on science? Teachers skilled in methods of instruction that encourage inquiry and creative problem solving? Adminstrators that actively encourage a learning environent that encourages staff to work on delivering a top notch experience for all? I would argue strongly that some of those things were already in place prior to the district's foolish decisions to "degroup" learners.
Make no mistake, the current push for STEM Fact ought not come as a surprise to anyone. The NSTA has been "beating the drum" about a mismatch between our increasingly tech oriented world and instructional methods that are often indistinguishable from pre-Kennedy era "space race" science reforms. Has no one in our district been a champion for more modern methods & materials?
Honestly my expectations for this little presentation were not high, but when adminstrators act like the shifts to having kids read across subject areas and use mathematical skills to measure things are some kind of "major shift" I have a hard time not getting angry -- 35 years ago I myself recall have better science education! Mind you I went to a pretty run of the mill schools where "educational technology" included a black & white Zenith TV and phonographs that looked they could have been built by Thomas Edison himself!
Probably the most "enthusiastic" of the district's staff is sadly the one that has already announced they'll be leaving. Incredibly disheartening, and not much comfort in hearing even him say that they understand parents' concerns about only having their kids experince 5th grade (or any grade...) just once.
I also have to say I'm a little perplexed about even Mr. Bousquette's comments regarding the foundation -- am I alone in thinking a district like ours ought be funding the needs of the classrooms without help from a third party? Don't get me wrong, if there are costly "extras" that are way outside the range of "normal" educational expenses then the help of the foundation is a great resource, but if the district literally has not not "retooled" the materials for things like middle school "applied technology" in some time I have to ask why the heck not? I mean you would need to have been living under rock to not have some sense that everything from Lego Mindstorms to 3D printers have been part of the most technologically forward thinking schools for quite some time now...
It as though the more I look at things in our district the further behind the curve we appear to be in more areas. WHY IS THAT?
When The Foundation and/or PTOs invested so much money in iPads, for example, they didn't take into consideration that teachers would be spending their professional development time on learning how to use iPads instead of figuring out how to compact 2 years of math into 1 without consulting the University of Chicago Everyday Math folks. Nor did we donors have any idea that no one from the district level would ever try to create some modicum of consistency throughout the schools.
Instead, a good superintendent should have insisted on teachers becoming experts in how to teach math, science, and language arts before lending shiny new toys to our 4th and 5th graders. Or that they would let a special ed administrator run around at conferences promoting a "social justice" agenda. 5th graders with atrocious spelling skills, not learning vocabulary words, or using the Write Source books? No problem! Pads can look up unknown words. Poor handwriting - so what, that's what keyboards are for! Too bad our high schools don't have iPads, though. And too bad our kids don't even have keyboarding skills before they leave 5th grade. Parents have been begging for more foreign language in elementary school, and especially Chinese. So why isn't the Foundation offering that? Instead, it is offered during our children's lunch time at expensive Language Stars rates. They should poll parents parents or, better yet, qualified experts on what the best things to invest in education are, not just allow themselves to be sold on the latest gadgets that sophisticated tech companies are hawking. And we certainly don't have to pay a fool from Virginia $50,000 to give us some clues.
Dumping so many gifts on our undeserving administration has allowed them to funnel cash reserves to their salaries instead of towards books and building maintenance. The Foundation should cut off all donations to administration until the BOE starts taking its obligations more seriously. Because we all give so freely, we have created a district that is spoiled and irresponsible in its responsibilities. The price of privilege doesn't JUST affect children.
Unfortunately I started using google again this morning.
Here is middle school in Pennsylvania -- State College PA Middle School -- MakerBot
Another story about a Middle School in San Diego that teamed with UPS UPS 3D Printing Middle School Design Contest
Nearby Lisle Middle School is hosting a mini-conference this Saturday, one of the presenters from Fremont Middle School in Mundelein will be relating his experiences with 3D printing in the classroom Illinois Computing Educators is the leader in supporting and promoting innovative education for all.
Another story from Edina Middle School in Minnesota Edina School District has placed a high priority on “twentieth century literacy,”
I would ask a simple question: What has our district identified as our "high priority"?