Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The CMT Results are in and...They did great, again!

Just a quick blog to report the great scores again for the students at my school.  The students and teachers deserve a bit of recognition for their continued improvement every year.  All of the teachers from kindergarten through whatever grade have helped the students to learn and make the growth year after year.  It is only one test, but it is the only comparative test we have until there is a national curriculum and national test.


Percent of students at or above goal:

Grade 5

Math         94.2
Reading    85.4
Writing     91.5

Grade 6        

Math         94.9
Reading    95.6
Writing     88.7

These scores have basically gone up every year and are far above the state averages.  I won't bore you with all of the information.  It is unfortunate that the press messes it all up and finds only bad things to say for the most part.

We should be proud of our students.

(I apologize for only focusing on two grades.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moby-Duck, A Great Summer Read

Anyone interested in inquiry, science, adventure, toys, teaching, the environment, high seas, mysteries, and basically anything else will need to pick up this book for a great summer read.

I just picked up the book Moby-Duck, by Donovan Hohn from my local library.  I was intrigued by the story since Eric Carle's Ten Little Rubber Ducks is based on the same topic.

A container ship south of the Aleutians loses two containers in a vicious storm on January  10, 1992.

One paragraph from the prologue sucked me in and I know I won't be able to put this book down.

"Follow one line of inquiry and it will lead you to another, and another. Spot a yellow duck dropped atop the seaweed at the tide line, ask yourself where it came from, and the next thing you know you're way out at sea, no land in sight, dog-paddling around in mysteries four miles deep.  You're wondering when and why yellow ducks became icons of childhood.  You want to know what it's like inside the toy factories of Guangdong.  You're marveling at the scale of humanity's impact on this terraqueous globe and at the oceanic magnitude of your own ignorance.  You're giving the plight of the Laysan albatross many moments of thought."

If this isn't pure real life inquiry, I'm not sure what is.  It sure is a great example for teachers of inquiry science.

Happy Reading.

Here is a link to an NPR story on the topic

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh That State Budget

The Connecticut budget situation has now begun to severely affect the lives of many children across the state.  Funding for most inter-destrict grants has been eliminated at this point due to the ongoing budget negotiations.  This means that many students who have an opportunity to attend a camp that provides the experience of hiking, beach activities, a trip to Mystic or the Bronx Zoo, a visit to Talcott Mountain Science Center, along with many other fun and educational activities will not be able have camp.  This adds up to 600 students just for the organization that I work for.

Many of the students that attend these camps are unable to pay for camp.  These camps are virtually free for all who attend.  Now these kids will not have camp.  What a disgrace.

Please call Governor Malloy's office to express your concern that students attending inter-district camps will be unable to have a once in a lifetime experience that many of the children could not otherwise afford.  It is not too late for them to hear the message.

The phone number is 860-566-4840.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Workshop Week and Then Some!

My fellow DESICA science cohorts and I have spent the last week in professional development, with two more days to go this week and five more days to go in August.

Why in the world do we do this to ourselves?

We drag out of bed in the summer pre-dawn hours to trek across the state to Hartford or Danbury.  Is this what we had in mind when we first became teachers?  No. Summers off with days on the beach, watching the sunset in the evening by some dock of the bay wasting time was more of what was going through my mind. I think we ask "why" basically everyday.  None of us seem to answer the question because we all know and understand without saying.

Most of the presentations and activities are excellent, some are not.  That is true for any type of professional development though.  Overall we have learned a great deal about teaching and learning and have made incremental and in some cases vast changes in the way we instruct on a daily basis.  This goes not just for science, but math, reading, writing, and social studies as well. We have developed connections and resources that make our jobs so much easier.  We have support from colleagues and peers from other towns in Connecticut.   We are more confident in our daily instruction.

So back to the original question.  Why do we do this to ourselves in the summer when we don't have to be attending professional development?

Beneath the chatter of being tired, mileage on our cars, missing our families, or plain old goofing around we all have a deep unspoken understanding that we are there to help improve the science instruction in our schools.  If we can begin to improve our instruction in our classroom, then begin to help others in our school, we will systemically be able to improve science instruction and learning for all of the children in our schools.  If this can be done in science, it can be done in all the other subjects.  Slowly but surely I think we can get there.  It is all for the kids!

This is why we go.  Even though it would be nice to sleep past 6:00 am some day.

Happy Independence Day.