By Barbara D. Parks-Lee, Ph.D., CF, NBCT (ret.), NNPA ESSA Awareness Campaign
When cultures clash in the classroom, students, teachers, administrators, parents, and the community at large all suffer. Education, or lack, thereof, can have a ripple effect on every facet of society. Not only are communities of color affected but also areas not considered “minority.” PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is an equal possibility.
Children whose culture and realities are devalued are often, as Gloria Ladson Billings so aptly expressed, “considered as deficient white children.” (1999) The children she described may become drop-outs, push-outs, or disaffected trouble makers. These disaffected students often feel disrespected, misunderstood, and devoid of hope. Some of them are test-weary and content lacking.
When they are continually designated at “below basic” on standardized tests and their culture not understood by teachers and test makers, their behaviors are almost self-fulfilling prophesies. Often these students suffer from PTSD as painful and as debilitating as any combat soldier.
They encounter the vagaries of the results of having little affluence and no influence, of physical and/or emotional abuse, and poor educational opportunities offered by a revolving door of new, career-change, or culturally unaware teachers getting their OJT (on the job training), student loans abated, masters degrees, and housing allowances before moving on to the suburbs or to becoming the next national “expert” authors and speakers on educating the urban, rural, or culturally different child.
These are the children whose apparent apathy and less than “perfect” behaviors encourage a revolving door of teachers who have the inability to relate to students of different socio-economic or racial differences. In these cases, no one is the winner, even though neophyte teachers may gain some financial benefits, for these teachers, too suffer the PTSD resulting from not knowing how to teach diverse students and the daily chaos of classroom disorder, disrespect, and disaffectedness.
Lowered expectations may cause challenges for administrators also, for they face scrutiny about how their schools function on many levels, from standardized test results to efficient use of budget to how many expulsions and suspensions their students receive.
They must also contend with trying to find substitutes or replacements for teachers who are absent for whatever reason. Their teachers often are faced with coverage, which saps the enthusiasm and energy of those forced to babysit some other teacher’s class. In addition, many states are trying to meet the dictates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the Common Core Curriculum standards with inadequate funding and training for teachers and administrators in how to implement these mandated legislative programs. In the last few years, there has also been an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) schools.
Parents suffer when their children are disaffected and under-educated. Their children who are suspended or expelled are left to get into difficulties with the law and court systems. Further, drop-outs and push-outs often cannot get jobs and become economic drains on not only their families but also on the community at large.
So, in answer to the question when cultures clash in the classroom, who suffers, we all do! Poorly educated students make for a society that alienates its young, one that is unable to retain skilled and experienced teachers, and a country frustrated with unemployment, under-employment, and an ever-growing culture of violence, fear, and intolerance. Court systems and privatized prisons, along with mortuaries, result when the classrooms act as prep schools for these expensive alternatives.
Is it possible to test how creative someone is? There are quite a few tests on the internet that claim to do so. Of course, there are also “tests” on the internet than can tell you which Star Wars character you are. We know the people designing those tests are creative, but what about your regular American student?
This week’s Deeper Learning Digest covers a new creativity test designed for U.S. fifteen-year-olds and their international peers. It will also explain why fifteen-year-olds and other adolescents are hard-wired to adopt social media and take up extreme sports such as skateboarding and snowboarding. Finally, it will examine the common, the controversial, and why March—and not December—could be the most wonderful time of the year.
Are U.S. Students More Creative than Their International Peers?
Through the years, U.S. fifteen-year-olds have not fared well on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international test given every three years by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (See more in “How Does the United States Stack Up? International Comparisons of Academic Achievement.”)
Still, some education advocates tend to brush off poor PISA results by saying that U.S. students are much more creative than their international peers and THAT is the skill that really matters. As evidence, they point to the booming tech industry and the many successful start-ups that begin in the United States. Those examples are more anecdotal than empirical, but what if there was a test that could measure creativity?
Writing for Education Week, superstar reporter—and Alliance for Excellent Education fav—Catherine Gewertz notes that such a test is in the works:
“When teenagers all over the world take the PISA exam in 2021, they could face a new kind of test: one that aims to measure their creativity. And the maker of a major U.S. college-admissions exam—ACT—will build it,” Gewertz writes.
“A fundamental role of education is to equip students with the skills they need in the future,” said Andreas Schleicher, director for education and skills and special advisor on education policy to the Secretary-General at OECD, in a September 19 ACT press release. “Creative thinking is a necessary competence for today’s young people to develop, as societies increasingly depend on innovation to address emerging challenges. PISA 2021 will take international assessments into a new phase by gathering data on young people’s creative thinking skills.”
Citing Mario Piacentini, the OECD scientist leading the project, Gewertz writes that the creativity component is not a sure thing, but that the plan is to “present the exam’s framework, and ideas for possible test questions, to the OECD countries in November, and gauge their level of interest in participating.”
If the test happens, we’ll finally know for sure whether American students are as creative as we all think they are. Or maybe we’ll just have something else to argue about.
[/media-credit] Participants in the DanceLogic program. (Facebook)
Shanel Edwards, co-instructor of danceLogic, stated that “danceLogic is helping these girls have access to the arts realm and science world as possible career paths, it is allowing them to stretch their own boundaries of what success looks like for them. ”DanceLogic, a unique S.T.E.A.M. program that combines dance and computer coding leading to the development of original choreography and performance, is continuing onto its second year. Girls ranging from the ages of 13 through 18 years participate in the program held at West Park Cultural Center in Philadelphia and learn the value of focus, dedication, and teamwork, as well as industry standard coding language.
During the dance class, led by instructors Edwards of D2D The Company and Annie Fortenberry, a performer with Ballet 180, the girls learn dance skills and movement techniques. This is followed by an hour of learning industry standard coding language under the direction of coding instructor Franklyn Athias, senior vice president of Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast. “I’m helping the kids see that someone, just like them, was able to use Science and Technology to find a very successful career,” Athias expressed in a press release.
The girls use coding to create their own choreography. “The combinations of dance and logic have good synergies. Learning something like dance requires practice, just like coding,” said Athias. “The dance is more physical, but it requires the students to try, fail, and try again. Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is really the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you become good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”
“My favorite thing about the program is that the students can explore leadership roles. By building their own choreography and supporting each other in coding class, they navigate creating and sharing those creations, as well as resolving conflict to make one cohesive dance. There’s a lot of beauty and bravery in that process,” stated Fortenberry.
]The very first session of danceLogic culminated with the girls performing choreography and sharing what they learned through coding and how it has impacted their lives.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education Career and Technical Education (CTE) section announced that the Bear River Region is the winner of the 2018 Utah Excellence in Action award. The AM STEM (Automated Manufacturing STEM) program in Bear River Region was selected based on their uniquely inventive and effective approaches to stimulating student learning, offering extensive work- based learning experiences, maintaining strong partnerships with industry and community organizations, and preparing students for postsecondary and career success.
The AM STEM program represents the best CTE program in the state of Utah. While the program is unique, it offers a rigorous sequence of courses beginning with foundational skills to subject-matter, real-world hands-on experiences in the classroom led by dedicated educators, and meaningful work- based experiences facilitated by industry partners.
Bear River Region, in collaboration with industry partners, higher education, and secondary education, has created a career pipeline for high school students by offering a program that meets industry needs. Students involved in the program take courses at their high school that align with the requirements found in industry. The AM STEM program combines coursework with work-based learning experiences to support student exploration and skill development.
Osmon Best carefully looked at the eight steps to make a paper football.
After successfully crafting the football, the 12-year-old Thomas Johnson Middle School student stood it on a makeshift Washington Redskins table and plucked it to the other side. Touchdown!
Best and 39 other students from Thomas Johnson and Oxon Hill Middle School participated in various STEM projects Wednesday at the Howard B. Owens Science Center.
“I made a touchdown, but missed a field goal,” Osmon said while smiling at the engineering station.
The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade participants, decked out in blue “Pepco STEM All-Stars” T-shirts, were recognized for their academic achievements. The schools they attend are recognized as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) buildings.
The students from Thomas Johnson in Lanham would matriculate to DuVal High School, which has an aviation program. The Oxon Hill students would feed into Oxon Hill High School and can enroll in its science and technology program.
“This is intentional,” said Monica Goldson, interim CEO for the county schools system. “We hope at sometime during this three-year experience that something has grasped them to give them the courage they need to say, ‘I can do that, too.’”
During Wednesday’s event, students dispersed to four STEM stations, which all focused on a football concept.
At the mathematics station, Thuy Pham, 12, answered three questions based on a touchdown equaling seven points, a field goal equaling three points and a safety at two points.
One of the questions: If a quarterback completed 80 percent of the 35 passes he threw in the past three games, how many did he miss? The answer: seven.
“This was fun. I want to be a math teacher,” said Thuy, a seventh-grade student at Thomas Johnson. “My parents used to be math teachers, so it’s kind of a generational thing.”
The climax of the day came when students worked together on a few combination locks to open a black box.
Goldson led a countdown to open the boxes, which were filled with clues to let the students know they will attend Sunday’s Washington Redskins game at FedEx Field in Landover against the Carolina Panthers. She said tickets will also be provided for the student’s parents, courtesy of the Redskins and Pepco.
“Oh, yeah!” one student yelled from across the room.
Hand-wringing about the low science achievement of American students is a favorite activity of policymakers, business leaders, and others worried about economic potential and job growth in this country. Educators also are worried about the leaky pipeline to higher levels of science achievement and potential STEM jobs—particularly among underrepresented student groups, such as girls and nonwhite students. Where are the students with the ability and interest to pursue academic coursework in the sciences? Why are so few pursuing sciences at our colleges and universities? Two recent studies hold some answers and point to possible solutions.
As a researcher who spoke to many parents for the most recent of these two studies, I began to wonder: Is this situation different from that of past generations of children, parents, and teachers? After listening closely to what parents had to say, I believe it is. We have created a slowly escalating science crisis in this country through narrow education policy, limited funding, low regard for teacher professional development, and a lack of respect for early-learning professionals. The result is a generation of parents who have not benefited from the early-learning experiences in science that would help them shape their own children’s science understanding.
“Like educators, parents need guidance on how to engage their children in science activities and exploration…”
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription
Brandon Gipson and Nigerian-born Oladipupo (Ola) Johnson both graduated from Georgia Tech in Spring 2018, with degrees in computer science and mechanical engineering, respectively. For both, it was community connections that helped lead them to Tech; the community they found here sustained them and was central to their college experience. But for Gipson, who came from a majority minority high school in Virginia, at times it was alienating.
Gipson was feeling what numbers show: Though Georgia Tech awards more engineering degrees to women and underrepresented minorities than any other university in the United States, black men comprise less than 5 percent of the resident student population.
To support black men at Tech, the school offers the African American Male Initiative, a University System of Georgia-funded initiative that provides academic resources, mentoring, and leadership training to enhance enrollment, retention, graduation and career placement.
The program began in 2011 with approximately 30 participants. Today, it counts 150 and has served more than 680 students since its inception. AAMI is based out of Tech’s OMED Educational Services, which is part of Institute Diversity…
Thirty-two outstanding young people in grades 6 through 10, from the Big Bend area, assembled at Bethel Family Life Center at 406 Bronough St. in Tallahassee for a variety of challenging, but interesting projects.
The 2018 Summer STEM Camp was sponsored by BUC Technologies, LLC of Tallahassee. Major student sponsors were “Take Stock in Children Program”, Margo Thomas, Director and “Distinguished Young Gentlemen Program”, LaRhonda Larkins, Director.
STEM Camp Staff:
Mark Thompson, Instructor-retired NASA engineer, former middle school science teacher and current high school teacher for AP computer science.
Chris Weider, Instructor-middle/high school science teacher.
Rachelle Dierestil, Instructional Support and Activities Coordinator
The camp activities were divided into four rotating blocks of 90 minutes each. The activity blocks included science/engineering projects, science online modules and computer math games (Scratch and Sumdog), art/drama activities, and science lab lectures and experiments.
Science projects implemented during the four-block rotation by Mr. Thompson included the following:
Growing Crystals by creating two saturated solutions of water and dissolved chemicals.
Students learned about the different elements of the Solar System. They built models of the eight planets and Pluto. Finally, the students demonstrated their knowledge through quizzes to compete for the right to take a solar system model home.
Students discovered the three states of matter through hands-on chemistry activities. They learned about non-Newtonian fluids by mixing liquid polymer with a reagent to produce silly putty. They also made slimy ooze and glow ooze.
Campers engaged in a discovery of states of matter. The students learned about turning liquid to solid by making butter from heavy cream. They could eat the butter afterwards. Finally, they made ice cream from milk, learning about the properties of freezing point and how we can change the properties of a substance by adding salt.
Campers learned about gas pressures (Ideal Gas Law). We used acetic acid (vinegar) and baking soda to produce carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. Students learned about the difference in density of different gasses by weighing the CO2 vs air.
STEM activities by Mr. James included the following:
Administer Pre-test covering middle and high school science facts (prize given for highest score by grade level)
Convene discussions about current NASA and space science news
Monitor “Scratch” (project building game) and “Sumdog” math game where campers can accumulate points (award given for highest points).
View relevant videos on STEM topics (prize given for best essay summary)
Creation of pictorial project boards for viewing on the last day by parents, visitors and stakeholders.
STEM activities implemented by Ms. Cotterell through the inclusion of the Arts:
Support activities where students would create an arts project from previous science and technology experiences that included one or more components of music, art and dramatization.
Administer post-camp activities until 5:30 p.m.
Science Labs implemented during the final rotation block by Mr. Weider included the following:
Dry Ice Lab and Experiment
Physical and Chemical Changes
Balloon Rocket Experiment and Competition
Extraction of DNA from Strawberries
Field Trips During Weeks 1 & 2:
Field trip to the FAMU Viticulture Center. Students learned about small fruit growing and extracted DNA from bananas and strawberries.
The final straw broke in November when Aimy Steele got a call from the central office asking her to find space for five more classrooms.
Steele, the principal of Beverly Hills STEM Elementary School in Concord, N.C., about 25 miles from Charlotte, had already moved an English-as-a-second-language class into the library and an after-school program from a portable unit into the cafeteria to comply with a state law mandating lower class sizes in elementary grades.
The mandate, which she said did not come with extra money for new teachers or classrooms—school construction is funded at the county-level—came after financially-strapped districts had shed hundreds of teaching assistants.
“That was kind of the last moment, where I said, ‘this is absolutely ridiculous,’” said Steele, who filed paperwork to run on the Democratic ticket in North Carolina’s 82nd district just a few weeks later. She will face Republican Linda P. Johnson, a nine-term incumbent and chairwoman of the House K-12 education and appropriations committees, in November.
Steele, 39, is among a handful of current and former school leaders—including principals and assistant principals—who are running for local and state offices this year. Their numbers are dwarfed by teacher-candidates, who, fed up with low salaries and cuts to general education funding, marched on state capitols in the spring. (An Education Week analysis found at least 156 teachers had filed to run for state offices this year, with 25 so far winning their party primaries and 42 advancing without a primary challenge.)
Principals Want Bigger Voice in Education Policy
But the small number of principals who are running hope their experience running schools will give them a bigger voice in state education policy and other policy areas that affect education. The school leaders argue that many of the hot-button issues that legislators are wrestling with are school-connected—whether it’s the opioid crisis, the economy, transportation, infrastructure, or healthcare.
Read full article click here, may require ED Week Subscription
In 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report calling for a national effort to produce 1 million more STEM graduates. Science, technology, engineering, and math educators have responded with a sense of urgency, and STEM programs and schools have been developed throughout the United States to better prepare our youths for careers in those fields. STEM curricula experts have begun to integrate student-driven inquiry and a real-world context that add authenticity to class projects and prepare students for future STEM careers. They also encourage educators to connect learning across disciplines.
So how is STEM education still missing the mark, especially at the elementary level? Project-based learning and other practices that support educators in integrating across content areas have benefits, but those benefits will mean nothing if our young people do not enter in STEM fields or majors. These skills and experiences are rich and useful when done well, but secondary to the real roadblock that many American students face. We must look deeper than any new program or initiative aimed at simply increasing interest in STEM careers. We must look at a known problem that we often avoid talking about: the math problem.
“Our students cannot enter into STEM majors if they have a fear of mathematics.”
Read full article click here, may require ED Week subscription.