Sunday, November 24, 2013

Random Reading and Thoughts

Top 13 Things to Look for in a CCSS Program - almost every curriculum program whether electronic or workbook based that comes across my desk has CCSS attached to the title or description.  However, most of these programs do not effectively meet the criteria for CCSS.  This short check list helps identify what is important as we purchase additional and supplementary materials for the classroom.

Electronic Menus??? - I thought this was interesting.  Restaurants are beginning to replace hard copy menus with tablets.  

"The machine never forgets to upsell," says Linda Duke, CEO of San Rafael, California-based restaurant consulting firm Duke Marketing.

"Some electronic menus also allow diners to pay without asking for the check. While this option that does not eliminate waiters, it can save time."

Why Measure Student Growth? - This article came from NWEA, the company that produces the MAP tests and reports.

"In a time lapse film of a flower, the visual effect is created through multiple snapshots threaded together to show the plant’s trajectory from bud to bloom. Student growth can be measured in a similar way, through a series of snapshots that measure achievement at a given time. Assessments, taken at different points through the year, can provide these learning snapshots, and when viewed together, show the pattern of a student’s growth." 

Take Back Your Classroom - This is a video interview with Dr. Howie Knoff, author, consultant, and lecturer on positive behavior support systems in schools.  One piece that I did not hear Dr. Knoff talk about as a motivator is the type of work that we ask students to do at school which can be a huge motivator if the students are emotionally or intellectually tied to the project.    

Sunday, November 17, 2013

American Education Week

November 18 - 22 is American Education Week (AEW)!  The first AEW was held in 1921 and initiated by the National Education Association (NEA).  NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel, reports that 1 in 5 Americans attended public schools last year K-12 through college.  Public education employs over 3 million people and 43% of the public school employees are support people (i.e. bus drivers, office staff, paraprofessionals). 

Public education has taken on a tremendous responsibility when it comes to our society.  Author Jamie Vollmer created a list called "The Ever Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools."

NSE will celebrate AEW by interviewing various people throughout the week that have an impact on our school.  We will also discuss facts about American education throughout the week on NSETV.  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

NSTA Regional Conference 2013

I had the privilege to attend the 2013 NSTA Regional Conference in Charlotte, NC this past Thursday through Saturday with Dr. Catoe, Mrs. Kim Parker (fourth grade STEMS), Ms. Audrey Andrieski (second grade STEMS), Mr. Andy Barbone (Principal at Summit), and Mrs. Dea Jones (Lead Teacher for SIDI).

Danny Forster, a global architect expert and host of Discovery Channel's, Build it Bigger, spoke and shared some of his experiences.  Interestingly enough, Danny struggled in school, but found his passion later in a high school science class.  Danny went on to share that there is more to architecture than just designing and building.  There are factors such as history, religion, emotion, geology, and more that go into the design of a building or structure.  Danny combined a love for architecture with communications and television to establish a very interesting and fulfilling career.

Later in the conference, I had a chance to join a session presented by a couple of authors of the Exemplary Science Program book series.  It was interesting to listen to their experiences in establishing STEM schools and preparing aspiring teachers to teach science.

I purchased the Robert Yager's book entitled, Exemplary Science for Building Interest in STEM Careers.  I began reading the first few chapters while I was here.  There is a big emphasis on changing the way we teach science in the standard science classroom.  Of course, there is a lot of talk about the Next Generation Science Standards.  More importantly, is the fact that we must change the way we teach science standards.  For example, instead of teaching information from a scripted textbook or cookbook science experiment program, we must tap into the interests, strengths, experiences, and needs of the students.  We also must incorporate the skills and tasks expected with the implementation of the Common Core Standards in ELA and math.

In addition to the sessions and keynote speakers, the exhibitors were of interest to us as well.  We talked with representatives from eLearning which sells the license to Gizmos, an online interactive way for students to experience science.  We also talked with Camp Invention representatives to look at the possibility of bringing a one week science camp to our school this summer.  If all goes well, we may consider an after school club program as well.  Lastly, we had a conversation with the folks who sell the StarLab systems.  We are talking with Ed Emmer about updating our StarLab to a digital version.  Yes, we have a Star Lab.  If you would like more information about using it, check with Nikki or Audrey.

Overall, the conference has reiterated the fact that we need to be focused on teaching our boys and girls through active science inquiry each day.  As a STEM school, it is important that our students especially are being exposed to science throughout the day with an emphasis on engineering.  However, with the way the Common Core Standards are written and how these standards have changed the way we teach, I believe that every classroom should have a focus on the sciences.  Science, technology, engineering, and math are important topics for everyone.  We are fortunate enough at NSE to have a focus on these topics at our school.  I encourage all of our teachers to share ideas, projects, lessons, units of study that emphasize STEM topics and careers with everyone.