NCMSA12: Virtual Science Fair

Ravenscroft Middle School
MY THOUGHTS IN ALL CAPS

Melissa Spainhour, 6th Science and Math, Math Dept. Chair
Janet Vande Berg, 6th Science, Dept. Chair
Kathleen Christopher, ITF

Science Fair with a Twist
Students are not doing it at home…doing it at school with teacher and e-mentor help
Connects to scientists around the world
Traditional Science Fair the teacher becomes the lead…took the teacher out of the equation
Each group gets an e-mentor who helps them develop the project
National Assoc. of Independent Schools or Google Science Fair…or do it independently

Why Do a Virtual Science Fair?
Connect kids with scientific method
Authentic vs. Inauthentic learning…virtual help from others makes it more student completed…all done in classroom, e-mentors can’t do project FOR them like a parent could
Student Autonomy over what they pick…(WONDER HOW THIS CONNECTS TO STANDARDS FOR GRADE LEVEL?)
Parents don’t see it until project is completed.

Communication – forces kids to talk to one another…groups of 2 to 3 students…develop group procedures, group work early and often, “this is a kind place”…toughest place is in picking a topic…pick groups for kids, and keep it so they are working with those they will get along with fairly well…

Virtual Science Fair takes a couple days a week over the course of 9 weeks…don’t want one kid taking over so it’s not “the smart kid with a couple of kids he drags along”

Everything outlined in rubrics…including behavior…how do you talk to each other? how do you talk to an e-mentor?

Research piece…6th grade skills are pretty basic…ExpertSpace, teaches paraphrasing, and summarizing…spent 4 or 5 days on research…e-mentors just coming on board so teacher plays a larger role…experiment about baking cookies, more talk about baking soda, less about just baking…teacher helps guide this part a lot…also students not as strong of a writer as you’d hope…

Believe this is best suited for 8th graders (those that win the competition from NAIS and GSF tend to be older students)
Writing for Science…GET ELA TEACHER TO HELP…but e-mentors also helped, because they have experience in the field…have e-mentor break it down for the students in 6th grade terms to help kids learn to paraphrase

Paired with a ELA component would make this even better…PERHAPS PAIR UP WITH ANOTHER ELA TEACHER IN THE COUNTY?

Critical Thinking…what is the conductivity of each metal? They connect it to a battery which puts the same voltage through all…talk them through it and let them think…some just won’t get it

Reflection…what have they done? What did e-mentor suggest? Have to evaluate each piece based on rubric…have to look at videos? THERE ARE VIDEOS?? MORE TO COME…

Revisions…spend lots of time to get them to make it “perfect”…working for self, group member, teacher, and e-mentor…so many folks looking at it helps keep them working.  e-Mentor suggestions REALLY have an impact on the kids. When they ask a question, the e-Mentor really wants them to come up with a response, so the kids have to do it, and it’s non-evaluative.

Gather People for Support
Tech People

e-Mentors – scientist from local community and around the world…1 per group, required to check in on a weekly basis…teacher sends weekly email telling what has been completed and what to check for…e-Mentor responds…have some replacement e-Mentors…sometimes you have to…but not often…
Take Risks…email just about anyone in scientific community…work through circle of friends, local organizatons, Bayer, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, for us UNC/NCSU/DUKE MARINE LABS…they got 36 e-Mentors this year, grad students…contact ECU science dept. or UNCW…careful about student identities, no last names etc for safety reasons and for parent assurance

ORGANIZE! First year it was thrown on them in Oct, it started in Nov “We don’t do science fair…thanks” but they did anyway…with a small group of kids that were technology students…two years done in 6th grade now

Google Docs did not work as well as expected…this year implemented Team Folders…kept at school, students not allowed to take them…How to create a background, how to create a procedure, etc

NAIS runs this through Google Sites…GOOGLE PROBABLY DOES TOO…all communication done on Google Sites…no email back and forth…e-mentors log into Google Sites…kids have grouped emails VSF1, or VSF2 (CAN TALK TO GOOGLE APPS ADMIN ABOUT SETTING UP THESE NEW SHARED EMAILS)

Documents were created on Word, saved as PDF and posted…this year the did group work on individual Google Docs, shared with group members, still posted as Group Team…There are some schools that do first and last names…that wouldn’t fly  for Ravenscroft

Videotaping is not a requirement for NAIS, but they thought it would be good…used Flip Cams to begin with…used iPads this past year…

Google Site: Ravenscroft VSF 2012…Kathleen set up all of the Google Site NEED A GOOD ITF TO HELP OUT WITH THIS…separate PAGE for each team within SITE
e-Mentor comments on the page…teacher isn’t doing the “nit-picky” work the e-Mentor as a professional scientist is doing this…

Folder Page for Documentation…could probably also be done on wikispaces or pbworks…
Saving to PDF is a good skill for kids, and then have them openable on ANY operating system, etc
When revising they just save as a new PDF

Table set up for the videos…Intro, Background, Experiment, Conclusion…possibly scale this back in the future…possibly use advisory time to teach the tech skill of video recording and editing prior to starting this for the class…Ravenscroft has a Mac Lab with 9 computers for Video Editing…AND HERE’S AN ISSUE, MOST SCHOOLS HAVE A MAC LAB WITH ZERO MACS…Could take lots of pictures if you can’t do the video component…If only one video, have them record the experiment

Videos they have their group Letter Sign to help identify each group…GROUP X was a winning group…DEFINITELY WANT TO WATCH THIS IF I CAN GET ACCESS TO THEIR SITE

How long does it take?
Pick Topic and Introductions – 3 days (before Thanksgiving)…purely interest based topics…NOT SURE HOW THIS WILL CONNECT TO THE MOVEMENT OF SCIENCE SKILLS ACROSS THE ESSENTIAL STANDARDS…
Intro Video – 2 days (not required)
Research and Variables – 3 days…this was after doing ExpertSpace to learn paraphrasing, plagerism, etc…done the 2 days prior to researching science fair topic (so 1 week total)
Background Video – 2 days
Hypothesis, Materials and Procedure – 3 days (jumping back and forth the whole time with curricular topics…pick an easy curricular topic that could have good mini-units for 3 or 4 days at a time…don’t have the stamina for doing this every day for a long time)
Experiment and Experiment Video – 4 days…did it the 4 days after christmas break, all materials had to be in BEFORE christmas break…
Data Analysis and Graphing – 3 days
Conclusions – 3 days
Conclusion Video – 2 days
Final Report – 1 day…cutting and pasting parts into a final page with Sci Method headings

e-Mentor time requirement…15 to 20 minutes a week…teacher sends email reminder to all e-Mentors just to remind them…

Challenges
Picking Topics
Hosting Videos…did them as mp4s and they were slow to load…WONDER ABOUT HOSTING ON YOUTUBE?
e-Mentors…used faculty members to supplement e-Mentors if emergencies came up…not all are as into it
Scheduling

jvandeberg@ravenscroft.org
mspainhour@ravenscroft.org
kchristoher@ravenscroft.org

COULD BE TRANSITIONED TO A BOARD…STILL A CHALLENGE FOR DISPLAYING THESE DIGITALLY FOR A PARENT NIGHT…REALLY WOULD LIKE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE SITE AND SEE WHAT THE FINAL PRODUCTS LOOK LIKE…

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NCMSA12 Opening Keynote with Bill Daggett

Check out http://ncmsa.wikispaces.com for session PowerPoint and handouts

MY THOUGHTS IN ALL CAPS

Jodie Weatherman, Ken McEwin and John Harrison recognizing new Schools to Watch for 2012:

North Lincoln Middle School

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North Lincoln Middle School STW

Preparing for the Challenges and Opportunities of the CCSS: Next Steps
Rigor/Relevance Framework
Model Schools Conference

Cautions audience he’s “never politically correct…he says whats on his mind”
Sick and tired of media and politicians beating up on public education…believes hands down American public education system is the best in the world…but we don’t have high standards
Which children do we educate? ALL…and as soon as you decide that the dynamics change
His fourth child: Audrey has autism and severe epillepsy…thankful for all the Special Education professionals
Son Paul was hit by a drunk driver at age 11, developed severe CP, but graduated high school, college, and has a graduate degree…No where else in the world could this happen
We’ve been talking about school reform forever in this country…1983 A Nation at Risk…in two decades Japan went from junk to world class…1990, no one was talking about India, today they are second largest economic competitor.
Direct link between educational attainment and economic success…what is happening educationally in the world’s five fastest growing economies?
1) Vietnam
2) Argentina
3) Brazil
4) Indonesia
5) Panama (will not surpass US in next few years, but will come close)

Major changes due to CCSS
Fewer Standards (take something off the plate before you put anything else on)
Higher Standards (no state in US has done more to raise standards than NC)
Application Based Assessments…this is what’s gonna get you

Point of Departure is the New Tests
Application Model of Assessment
1. Knowledge in one discipline
2. Application within discipline
3. Application ACROSS disciplines
4. Applications to real world predictable situations
5. Application to real-world unpredictable situations…very few are getting to levels four and five…most tests are on level 1 and 2

Point of Reference, he is CEO of company that created Rigor/Relevance Framework…this is the Framework of the Next Generation Assessments
Five year study with CCSSO and Gates Foundation (HERE WE GO…BILL GATES RISES AGAIN…HMMM) Tried to find nations most RAPIDLY IMPROVING SCHOOLS…not highest performing, most improvement. Found those schools offering more rigorous, yet still relevant course of study.

Points out that CCSS are not a federal mandate, came from a collaborative of states and governors
Schools did something far more fundamentally different than new standards…that enabled them to assess students differently…
Middle Schools across this country are NOT doing this
School improvement in America is not keeping pace with the changing word…change 4 to 5 times faster outside schools than inside
Model Schools Conference brings together the schools that are changing on a trajectory to outpace world change…nation’s most rapidly changing middle schools, bring them in for four days and tell their stories…
Every school has it’s own DNA…there is not national formula, but there are some common threads

Giving away two free registrations to the Model Schools Conference…you need to see how these schools are organizing and delivering instruction WOULD LOVE TO GO TO THIS…PROBABLY WON’T HAPPEN BUT DEFINITELY INTERESTED

So much stuff on teachers plates that kids are coming to school to watch the teacher work

Three stages
Why do we need to improve schools (not because of new requirements like Common Core or NGA…need to change because world has changed)
No one thinks they are the problem when talking school reform…teachers, parents, governors, corporate America…we have to convince folks that change is necessary
Changing Landscape…Technology, Globalization, Financials, Demographics…can’t figure out the WHAT until we understand the WHY
Reason kids are failing MATH test is because of the reading connection…How many math teachers spend 20% of the time reading?
High School Textbooks are written at a higher level than High School English Literature…ELA has lowest reading requirements of all high school disciplines…science is consistently second, math is third, Career and Tech Education has the highest reading requirements (reading instruction manuals) of all high school courses, followed by science, math…
College, Military, Personal Use, and Entry Level Occupations have higher reading requirements than High School Literature…
NC has focused on Higher Education as a measure of success…you can drop out of high school and find hundreds of schools that will take you, but you’ll have a hard time finding a job
SAT, ACT and AP have lower requirements than College, Military, Personal Use and Entry Level Occupations
Scary question…if you lost your job in public education…where would you go for a job? How transferrable are your skills? QUESTION NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT…MOST TEACHERS ARE THE ONES WHO WERE GOOD AT PLAYING THE SCHOOL GAME AND ENJOYED IT…WE HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO HAVE OUR OWN TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS TO TEACH KIDS WHO NEED THEM

The one place Rip Van Winkel would be comfortable in America is in schools…they look more like 1990 than anything else…
Mississippi and Georgia had highest “proficiency” in 2005…in 2009, bottom…NC fell 13% because we raised the test to improve standards…NC had 3rd lowest proficiency requirements in the nation in 2005…NC raised standards for 2009, but that dropped our proficiency rate…getting close to the next bar raising time…

Math standards by national comparison are drastically lower…Massachuesetts has a higher NAEP score requirement for 4th grade Math than NC does for 8th Grade Math…
A – Low Level Knowledge with little Application…where most of our tests are
B – Low Level knowledge but High Application…elementary schools, early
C – High level knowledge but little Application…college prep
D – High level knowledge, with high application…where we need to be

CCSS are application based…relevance makes rigor possible…calculate % of advertisements in a newspaper, identify parallel and perp. lines around school

More jobs are Non-Routine than Routine (rules driven, problem solving, flow charts)…Non-Routine is decision making…you can’t flow chart it…hunches and intuition, results driven, more innovation and creativity, cannot write an algorithm or digitize a non routine job…

It’s not on the test song video

Sharing 8th grade test question about heating bill, making a one page pamphlet that a contractor can place on their website to explain the complexity of comparing heating bills

How Do You Put this All Together? Session later today…
Dept Chairs
Looping
9th Grade Electives
Internalizing Technology

Next Navigator…road map comparing State Standards to State Test and compares to Rigor/Relevance Framework…NESS Study Subgroup Rankings…state standard, not testing, not needed? Dont teach it…line up side by side current State Test Question with NGA questions…

HEAVY HITTER EARLY ON…LOTS TO CHEW ON AND THINK ABOUT…NEED SOME TIME TO DIGEST…BUT DON’T KNOW IF I’LL GET IT FOR A WHILE…THOUGHTS?