Wishing all of our readers a peaceful Thanksgiving. Enjoy that turkey!
Wishing all of our readers a peaceful Thanksgiving. Enjoy that turkey!
This edition of Stories from our Schools comes to us from Broadalbin-Perth CSD. In just its second year, the 8th grade STEM program at Broadalbin-Perth Middle School is already being recognized as one of the most innovative academic programs in New York state. The program is one of three to receive a 2013 Be the Change for Kids Innovation Award from the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). The award recognizes programs that are making a difference in preparing students for college, careers and community participation in the 21st century.
Have a story you think would make for a great Stories from our Schools feature? Drop us a line at email@example.com
If you read nothing else today, you must read this. It’s a rumination on the inequities in public education that are exacerbted by standardized testing, written by a teacher working in the test preparation industry.
This POV was written by Dr. Patrick Michel, HFM BOCES District Superintendent. It orginally appeared on the HFM Palladin on October 17, 2013.
I have watched the video several times of enraged parents and teachers shouting down State Education Commissioner John King during a town hall-type meeting about Common Core Learning Standards. I’ve read numerous articles, blog posts and social media rants condemning Common Core as just about everything short of alien mind control. I do understand the frustration brought on by large-scale change, especially in a field – education – that typically evolves at a pace only slightly faster than a T-Rex.
Still, I’m confused. Common Core Learning Standards were designed to ensure that our children, from whichever state they hail, will be equipped after high school graduation to succeed at college and a career. Amidst all the rancor and protests, I have not heard one parent or teacher argue against that goal. Shouldn’t that mean we are all on the same side? Continue reading
We were lucky enough to be able to attend a forum on schools in fiscal distress on Friday at the Rockefeller Institute in Albany. The event was really a “who’s who” of education funding experts — both in the audience and on the panel. Panelists included Rick Timbs from the Statewide School Finance Consortium, EJ McMahon from the Empire Center, Michael Rebell from the Campaign for Educational Equity, Deborah Cunningham from The New York State Association of School Business Officials and John Sipple from Cornell University and the New York Center for Rural Schools.
Here’s some interesting coverage on the event from the Albany Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog. We live tweeted the event, so you can visit our twitter feed for the full story or check out some of the highlights after the jump. Continue reading
New York’s seven leading statewide education groups - NYSCOSS, NYSUT, NYSSBA, PTA, SAANYS, ASBO & Big 5 - have come together to endorse a five-point plan to help all students and their schools meet the expectations of the new Common Core learning standards.
The Educational Conference Board (ECB) – comprised of organizations that represent school boards, parents, superintendents, teachers, principals, business officials and other educators – has released a position paper entitled Common Ground on Common Core that outlines a plan to give students the support and resources they need to succeed under the state’s new Common Core learning standards.
Recent attention on student test scores, compliance with the new teacher and principal evaluation requirements, and recurring financial struggles has diverted resources and focus from student learning, the report states.
According to the report, most state aid was frozen in 2009-10 and total state aid to schools was cut in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. Despite the aid increases enacted in the last two state budgets, over 70 percent of school districts are still receiving less help now from the state than in 2008-2009, five years in the past.
“The Common Core learning standards represent the most significant increase in student expectations that New York schools have ever faced,” ECB Chair John Yagielski said. ”Therefore, to be effective, these standards must be properly implemented. Working together, the member organizations of ECB have identified actions that need to be taken to make these standards a reality in every classroom.”
The ECB’s five-point plan to put the focus on student learning and get the Common Core back on track calls for state policymakers to take the following actions:
“Superintendents across our state overwhelmingly believe the Common Core Standards hold promise for improving the quality of education our students receive,” Executive Director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents Robert J. Reidy, Jr. said. “The actions in the five-point plan endorsed by all the state’s leading education organizations are essential to fulfilling the promise of the new standards.”
“We must focus on providing students and teachers with the time, resources and professional support they need to properly implement a deeper and richer curriculum,” Executive Vice President of New York State United Teachers Andy Pallotta said.
How do you feel about this new five-point plan that has been established? Is this a productive and effective way to meet the challenges of the Common Core Learning Standards in schools?
Check out this great article from the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog. Written by Sean C. Feeney, principal of The Wheatley School in New York and president of the Nassau County High School Principals Association, the article talks about Feeny’s personal experience with NY’s annual professional performance review process. Our favorite part of the article:
“State education officials have created a system of contradictions, mixed messages and harmful outcomes. This is what happens when one throws an entire state into a chaotic system of mandates and practices that are not thoughtfully planned and are not grounded in best practices. Yet I’m the one being labeled as a developing leader.”
Feeny is also a co-author of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student test scores.
Our friends over at Parent Today have put together a four-part series of back-to-school articles that we will be running on Education Speaks this week. Our thanks to them for allowing us to bring you this valuable content as we get ready for the 2013-14 school year.
If your child is heading to school for the first time — or moving to a new school to start kindergarten — you may have some anxiety about whether they can “keep up” academically, socially and emotionally with the other kids.
Use these final days of summer to reinforce, and even enhance, the skills they have. Remember: children are like sponges. The more we share, the more they learn.
To get you started, we have three words for you: Read, count, color. These three activities alone cover many basic skills that can help your child navigate kindergarten.
Help your child hold a book right-side up, with words flowing from left to right. Point out letters as you read. If she knows the letters in her name, have your daughter point to those letters on the page. Reading can also enhance a child’s attention span. Ask questions such as, “What do you think will happen next?” to encourage sequential thinking. Ask your child to retell the story, prompting him with questions about what happened in the beginning, middle and end.
Count toes on a foot, petals on a flower, apples at the store, and people in your family. Point to numbers in everyday activities — on a phone keypad, around the house or on price signs at the grocery store.
Point out colors throughout your day: red shirt, blue pants, black shoes, the purple living room couch, the brown carpet, the orange car, the green grass.
Share a running commentary on your day. “Please put on your blue shirt with three butterflies. The cereal box is a rectangle, and we can pour cereal into a round bowl.” At the store, point to items on the list: “We need to buy 1-2-3 red apples and some orange carrots.”
We think this list is very helpful: “33 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten.” Remember: Children learn best with hands-on experience, so use play and exploration to foster a love of learning.
Play dates are a great way to work on social skills, and can help your child learn about sharing and taking turns. For help navigating the play date, check out our blog post “Mine! Mine! Mine!”
Worried about separation anxiety? Planning ahead and establishing a routine can help your child (and you!) cope. For tips, read ‘Kissing Hands’ to soothe separation tears.
If you’re worried about your child’s behavior, provide a model at home to reinforce right from wrong. For helpful tips, read Don’t Lick the Dishes and Other Models of Good Behavior.
If you’re feeling stressed about what your child does and doesn’t know before starting kindergarten, remember that age is the only prerequisite for a child to attend public school in the United States. While it might be ideal for every child to have mastered certain skills prior to the start of school, it’s may not be realistic for all children. Schools are prepared to meet the needs of individual students, no matter what their current ability.
With a few days left before school starts, there is time to reinforce what your child already knows and to possibly add to it. Your child will feel more confident — and you’ll have spent meaningful time together!
If your district subscribes to Parent Today, you can sign up for the free e-newsletter and access to the blog by visiting the Parent Today website. Click on “Sign Up Now” at the top left of the page to create your user profile. You will be asked to fill in your name and e-mail address and select a password. Your district will provide the appropriate District ID to you. (Check your district’s website for information.) Your email address is safe with us – we don’t share your contact information with anybody else, for any reason. Once you create your profile, you will begin receiving bimonthly newsletters and have access to the Parent Today blog archive. If your district does not subscribe to Parent Today, ask them why! They can learn more by visiting the Parent Today website.
Just saw this video on the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet. The post encourages people to “watch video and think about the nightmare it is for many kids with disabilities to take standardized tests.”
The video’s creator, Meredith Gavin made the video as a “commentary on the curriculum chosen to be taught with new Common Core NYS Standards, Race to the Top and a class size of 27 3rd graders.”
Memorial Day, and the long weekend associated with it, is much more than a reminder of summer’s impending arrival. This holiday honors the memories of those we have lost, particularly those who have served our country.
For area schools, it’s a poignant teachable moment.
A few weeks before Memorial Day on a Saturday, a group of O’Rourke middle school students, from the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District (BH-BL), goes to several local cemeteries in the town of Charlton to put fresh American flags on the graves of veterans buried there. This project is coordinated by middle school social studies teachers and the town of Charlton historian. Aside from honoring veterans, it is a cool opportunity for middle schoolers to see local history in action — kids look for the oldest gravestone in the cemetery and learn about region’s earliest settlers. They remove the old weathered flags from the year before and put out fresh ones using the town historian’s list.
Also in BH-BL, the high school Student Government Organization (SGO) holds a Memorial Day ceremony each year in Freedom Circle — a grassy circle right in front of the school where several memorial stones honor deceased BH-BL graduates who served in the military. A number of local veterans attend in uniform, and the entire senior class comes outside to stand and witness the ceremony. (Other classes watch and listen indoors from their homerooms via a video link.) The high school band plays several tunes.
Niskayuna High School honors American service members who sacrificed their lives for their country, including three of its own graduates killed in Vietnam, at its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Friday, May 24. The event takes place each year at the flag pole in front of the school, and brings three or more generations together, including students. The ceremony is a tribute to the three Niskayuna graduates who were killed in action in the Vietnam War. It is held in conjunction with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9132 Lt. Vernon F. Hovey III Post in Niskayuna.
The ceremony also honors the Niskayuna High School seniors who plan to enter military service upon graduation. Nine members of the Class of 2013 plan to enter the armed forces after high school. In keeping with recent tradition, Principal John Rickert will read the names of Niskayuna High School graduates who have served in the armed forces since September 11, 2001. This is the 21st year of this Niskayuna High School tradition.
And check out students from Forest Park in South Colonie, who created “Hero Bags” for for our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How does your local school commemorate Memorial Day?