|The Northern Indiana Science, Mathematics and Engineering Collaborative|
|NISMEC | ND Outeach | School Districts -> Mishawaka | New Prairie | South Bend | Elkhart | John Glenn | PHM ||
Quarknet & JINA
The school year 2005-6
Here we see student enthusiasm for science
in a Twin Branch Elementary School classroom...
One of the key tests of the program will be to see how much more science learning is taking place in the classrooms: one common factor noted by all observers (teachers, principals, parents, and other visitors) in the classrooms, is the enthusiasm of the students - time and again one hears and sees their eagerness to get started on the science lesson!
The Science Grade 5 ISTEP tests only a part of the science learning taking place, but it does provide a numerical grade. We have two benchmarks for Mishawaka: the two tests taken in September 2004 and 2005. Overall, the State passing average improved during the two years from 62% to 64%, while the Mishawaka schools' average improved from 57% to 61%. Only the Beiger School teachers had begun the Guided Inquiry training (the pilot program of 2004) to have any influence on these grades. But we should note that Beiger showed an improvement of 17% points to reach 71% passing grade in the 2005 test, the best percentage (with Hums) in the School Corporation. The results are promising, but just one year's data cannot allow a strong conclusion - we should note that Battell also showed a simlar gain (from 40% to 58%) for the same two tests.
Science is taking hold at the Mishawaka School City Beiger Elementary School! The enthusiastic third graders held a wildly successful "Invention Convention", with their products being displayed for all to see in the school's upstairs hallway. We show a few of the displays below - proud parents were able to check out the wild ideas of their children, and some are thinking in terms of future patents - perhaps science learning will bring some financial returns in the future, not just for the families, but also for Beiger school!
Middle School Programs
An "incident" in a Mishawaka middle-school classroom
Laura Dorbin's students at John Young Middle-school in Mishawaka were confronted with a comatose lady near their lab benches when they came to class one day last semester. After the dazed lady recovered sufficiently to go to see the school nurse, they spent the class-time honing their detective skills to work out what had happened...
Happily the patient fully recovered, even after undergoing the incident several times within the same day. Apparently the school nurse is a wonder-worker!
[The visiting investigator was Karen Morris, the unfortunate lab assistant was Shirley Dorbin].
Summer Programs at Notre Dame and Saint Marys
Teacher Science Institutes (TSI) at Saint Marys (K-6th grade)
Professor Joseph Bellina and his group will be conducting 1 TSI I and 6 week-long TSI II's this summer 2005 for the MishawakaK-6 teachers. The TSI II II will provide the opportunity for teachers to reflect on what happened as they led their students' learning in science through discussions with the other teachers at their grade level. We will have time to share and explore many of the ideas teachers had, the challenges encountered, and successes experienced as teachers worked with the FOSS kits for the first time. By sharing experiences, teachers will guide each other in developing and refining those skills that will support the next phase of the implementation. By reflecting on the module structures teachers will gain more insight into the storyline of each module, and be better prepared to engage their students in their learning, and make better use of the literacy strand." They will take place most weeks (Mondays to Fridays), starting in mid June. The TSI I focuses more on the introduction of guided inquiry learning into the classroom. They introduce participants to the well-established, research-based curriculum (Physics by Inquiry, by L.C. McDermott and the PER group at the University of Washington). Further information can be found on the NISMEC website.
Each workshop has an enrollment of 12 to 24 participants, and teachers are paid a stipend ($500) for the one week of attendance. With the introduction of "guided inquiry" into the Mishawaka K-6 curriculum, these many workshops will be filled with Mishawaka K-6 teachers. We anticipate that funds will be available for similar TSI workshops the following year. If you and/or your school would be interested in such workshops in the summer of 2007, please contact Professor Joseph Bellina (email@example.com) or Karen Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further details.
With the support of the Siemens Foundation, the University of Notre Dame is holding a 4-week summer 2006 workshop for 7th and 8th grade middle school science teachers: the program (from mid June to mid July 2006) will focus on how to use guided inquiry in the science classroom; a preliminary program follows:
Among the support systems to be introduced will be included:
Physics by Inquiry by Lillian C. McDermott, and The PER group (Wiley).
Real Time Physics by David Sokoloff(Wiley).
Contact Gordon Berry (at ND) 574-631-4012 or by e-mail email@example.com or Kent Mikel (at Discovery Middle School) firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
More information regarding summer programs can be found on their websites:
JINA Outreach: http://www.jinaweb.org/html/jinaprograms.html
History and Philosophy of Science Courses at Notre Dame for High School Teachers
Two intensive one-week classes are being offered June 26-30, 2006 by the University of Notre Dame Graduate program in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS). The courses are HPS 63721 "The Darwinian Revolution" and HPS 63772 "Curie, Carson and Franklin: Women and the Nature of Science".
The program is appropriate for secondary science and mathematics teachers and provides exposure to historical and philosophical issues that can be used to enrich and deepen discussions in both historical and modern contexts.
The first course studies the birth and development of evolutionary biology, exploring the contributions of Darwin, Huxley, Lamarck, Lyell, Mendel, Morgan and others. The second course addresses the often under-appreciated role of women such as Marie Curie, Rachel Carson and Rosalind Franklin have played in the history of science.
Application forms and more information about this program can be found at the HPS website for the program or by email at email@example.com.
Other News and Items of Interest
The Elkhart Community schools and ETHOS also received a State of Indiana Science Partnership grant in 2005 ($510,000 for three years), in collaboration with Purdue University.
Curriculum FrameworkExemplary programs have five elements common to all effective science education programs. One of those elements is described as "inquiry-centered science curriculum units that have gone through a research and review process." The curriculum materials ETHOS uses in its program meet this criterion. Further, these materials are aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and Indiana science standards. Districts can pick and choose modules specific to their own curriculum requirements. Below is ETHOS's K-8 recommended curriculum framework:
The original table can be found on the ETHOS website at http://www.ethosinc.org/programs.html?id=11
The distributors of the individual programs listed in the table can be located as follows:
"Notre Dame Clear Domes"
New experiments for your class!!
Last summer's middle-school program included studies of the reflections and refractions of laser light in a semicircular piece of plexiglass.
- We (Gordon Berry of Notre Dame and Kent Mikel of Discovery Middle-School, Penn-Harris-Madison) included them in a workshop at this year's HASTI meeting in Indianapolis last month. Since most of the workshop participants wanted the domes to use in their own class-rooms, we have persuaded the Physics Department Machine shop to make extras, so that we can sell them to you at cost. The pieces can be used at all grades, Middle School through High School and College. In more advanced classes they can be used to make quantitative measurements of the angles of reflection and refraction, learn about "refractive index",and to test Snell's law.
They work well with narrow beam white light sources, but especially with lasers of any color, red or green. The domes are half an inch thick, with a diameter of 4 inches, and all sides are polished. Our administrative assistant came up with the name "ND Clear Dome", to distinguish it from Notre Dame's "golden dome". (For a small extra charge, we can add a gold coating!)
Ordering "Clear Domes"
Our pricing is $5 for one, ($5 times N for N<15), $75 for 25, including postage - please send a check made out to The Physics Department of Notre Dame at the following address: Professor Gordon Berry, Physics Department NSH 225, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN 46556. Include your own shipping address - shipping (by USPS priority) will be within a few days.
Lasers are most easily purchased from The Laser Guy at http://thelaserguy.com. The red ER12 Executive laser-pointer costs $5 plus shipping; the green ER17 laser-pointer is $110 plus shipping
We are all grateful to the intelligent judge who presided in Philapelphia over the Dover Schools court case where the school board members were trying to propagate hearsay against scientific facts. Shortly after the trial, the local voters made their decision known also, sweeping the Dover ID incumbents from school-board office. Hurrah for Darwin, his theory and his successors in the scientific community.
The events are a powerful reminder of what a theory really is: hearsay and hypothesis must be tested before becoming theory. Guided inquiry techniques in the classroom are used to provide hands-on tests of proven scientific theories; they also enable the students to remove and replace their own initial wrong ideas; Darwinian theory has been tested time and again, turning it into a true THEORY.
A less serious, but potent example from "The Philadelphia Inquirer" newspaper shows how good teachers should be able to trust their students to reach the right conclusions:
There remain pockets of resistance to the Darwinian theory of evolution, even in Indiana: the Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District (just south of Fort Wayne) board has reportedly discussed teaching alternatives. Its directions to science teachers specifically mention intelligent design.
For those of you who may be interested specifically in the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster, check here!
The whole November/December 2005 issue of NSTA's journal for elementary teachers, Science and Children, was devoted to "writing to learn science". Of course, this is complementary to our normal view that Guided Inquiry in the science classroom leads to advances in reading and writing! Sure enough, just a look at the titles of the articles, indicates how many ways science learning can provide support for reading:
Science Notebook Essentials by Michael Klentschy.
Five good Reasons to Use Science Notebooks by Joan Gilbert and Marlene Kotelman.
Mystery Box Writing by William Straits. I saw an effective use of this technique recently in the classroom of Beth Albright at LaSalle Intermediate Center, South Bend
Science the "Write" Way by Valarie Akerson and Terrell Young.
Ecosystem Journalism by Amy robertson and Kathryn Mahlin.
Learning Logs: Writing to Learn, Reading to Assess by Daniel Heuser.
If you are a member of NSTA, you can see the articles in their archive; otherwise, it is strongly recommended that you find the copy of a friend or check the school library - MUST reading for all K-6 teachers who want to improve reading scores and science scores at the same time!
[Also note that the November/December 2004 issue of Science and Children also contains 3 valuable articles on "Writing to Learn Science": The first article, "Making Thinking Visible" by Roxanne Greitz Miller and Robert C. Calfee discusses graphic response organizers, great tools that I use even in introductory college classes.]Unfortunately, these effective techniques must be contrasted with other developments in reading requirements and testing in the early grades: "The No Child Left Behind Act signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 8, 2002, established Reading First as a new, high-quality evidence-based program for the students of America" (part of the introduction to the U.S. Department of Education's Reading First program).
This could be an effective program for early reading, especially since there is some (not a lot) of federal money available. However, States that have been applying for such Federal funds have run into roadblocks, especially if their proposals do not consider particular reading program support coming from DIBELS, and its associates.
What is DIBELS, you might ask? DIBELS (The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) is a University of Oregon based company with a focus on using phonics, and only phonics to help early (mostly K-3, but also some tests up to 6th grade) readers, and to provide testing for those readers. I quote from the official DIBELS web page "DIBELS are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills." The focus of this program solely on phonics has led people to point out that this develops "speed reading without comprehension".
The Education Board of the State of Indiana has thankfully rejected this process, regarding "reading with understanding" as being a key. This principle matches the ideas behind science notebooks and most non-fiction reading-for-learning systems. Under the pressure for US government support, many other States have taken up the DIBELS programs, including Texas, Florida, Washington, Kentucky, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Illinois. In Chicago, teachers have been issued "palm-pilots" to keep track of the students' DIBELS tests (not paid for by the Federal funding). Weaknesses deriving from the narrowness of this phonics-based program are becoming clear: see, for example, comments from many teachers being submitted to the DIBELS Clearinghouse section of Susan Ohanian's website http://vsse.net/dibels/.
An even more serious failing is the pressure from the Federal Government to guide State schools to use a specific program. An article by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo in NSTA's Education Week entitled "States Pressed to Refashion Reading First Grant Designs: Documents Suggest Federal Interference". lays out the case against the "Federal armtwisting" taking place during several of the State negotiations.
[Note: NSTA members can read the archived version. But the article is freely available at NABE (the National Assoication for Bilingual Education).]
I quote here a short section from the article:
A number of state and district officials, publishers, and critics have charged that federal officials and consultants have overstepped the federal Reading First initiative’s authority by:We are not surprised to find that the University of Oregon DIBELS originators were close consultants with the White House during formulation of the "Reading First" program, and also continue to have significant consulting contacts (contracts?) with the U.S. Department of Education.
If you want to go somewhere warm for the summer, try this: Arizona State University offers High school teachers the chance to take its well-recognized peer-led modeling workshops:
"Most are 3-week workshops that thoroughly treat the pedagogy and content for the mechanics portion of a physics course. Content is reorganized around basic models to increase its structural coherence. Participants are supplied with a complete set of course materials and work through activities alternately in the roles of student or teacher."You can find further information at their website: http://modeling.asu.edu/MNS/MNS.html.
"The 2006 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Is Coming To Indianapolis May 7-13, 2006 at the Indianapolis Convention Center
The 2006 Intel ISEF will be hosted by the Science Education Foundation of Indiana and the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association. The competition will attract 1,400 top science and technology high school students representing the 46 U.S. states and 40 global countries, territories, and regions. Visiting Indianapolis for the first time with the students will be their science advisors and parents. The event will also attract 1,200 expert judges and a panel of Nobel Laureates, building an attendance of 5,000 enthusiasts for celebrating the recent discoveries of tomorrow’s youthful leaders."You can find further information at their website: http://www.intelisef2006.org/.
Recent Articles of Interest
SEI (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/front/about.htm) "is first and foremost a volume of record comprising the major high quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise. SEI is factual and policy-neutral. It does not offer policy options and it does not make policy recommendations. SEI employs a variety of presentational styles—tables, figures, narrative text, bulleted text, web-based links, highlights, introductions, conclusions, reference lists—to make the data accessible to readers with different information needs and different information processing preferences."
"SEI consists of seven chapters that follow a generally consistent pattern; an eighth chapter, on state indicators, presented in a unique format; and an overview that precedes these eight chapters. The chapter topics are
This is a valuable source of information on the state of education in general, but the chapter on elementary and secondary education is the most relevant for our audience....SEI is available on the NSF website (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/)
Editorial information, etc.
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