Tuesday, December 21, 2010

eCybermission Part I

Attention students!!! Those of you who are working on an eCybermission Mission Folder should make sure you're asking yourself the following questions as you select a Mission Challenge and begin designing your experiments:

1. What community PROBLEM are we trying to solve? Designing a science experiment is fun and intellectually stimulating, but remember this is a problem-solving competition.

2. How does our EXPERIMENT address our chosen problem and support finding a real solution (or part of a solution)? Make sure your experiment(s) are directly related to the problem at hand.

3. What MATERIALS will we need for our project? Special note: if your experiment will involve animals of any kind (including invertebrates), you must design your experiment and clear it with me before moving forward so as to avoid potential ethical problems.

There will, of course, be more pieces of advice as we move forward, but this is it for the early phases. Have a great break!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jay Mathews has it wrong!

Washington Post education blogger Jay Mathews' post this morning was completely off the mark. With a title like "Why urban schools don't need gifted programs", I couldn't exactly stand by and say nothing. See his post and my reply (as username aec7c) here.

Please comment on his post! Make sure he knows he's dead wrong and gifted programs ARE necessary in all districts!

Monday, December 6, 2010

For your enjoyment (and frustration)...

This past summer, Virginia Senator Mark Warner proposed the elimination of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, currently the only source of federal funding for gifted education and research. A classmate of mine recently composed a poem (in the style of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas) drawing both silly and serious attention to the crisis of funding for gifted children. With her permission, I've reprinted her entire post:

During this “Season of Giving,” I know we are all busy with holiday traditions. Some are worried about finding the perfect gift, and others are busy monitoring their bank accounts so that they have enough to give and get by. It’s also a good time to think about the children who look to us with that sparkle in their eyes as they enjoy the season themselves. For a moment, if we could turn our attention away from our traditions, it is those children who are suffering due to the huge crisis facing our educational system. The government has worked for years to “raise” the bar so that children who were not achieving can achieve. This movement of No Child Left Behind has been successful for those struggling students, but in the fury of change, our gifted and talented population has been forgotten and neglected. But, in the spirit of the holidays, my poem should make you all aware of the steps that need to happen so that ALL of our children can reach their greatest and fullest potential.

‘Twas a Gifted Funding Crisis

‘Twas the day before class, when all through the schools
Not a teacher was smiling, a budget was balanced by fools.
The posters were hung by the doorways and such,
But the funding for gifted, there was nothing to touch.

All children would sit lined up in their seats,
While teachers felt sorry for the “learning elite.”
And Johnny, in his boredom, and Suzie’s blank stare,
But the teacher was instructed, “The low kids - prepare.”
(Mary Jordan, “Gifted Pupils Bored, Study Says”)

When out in the halls there arose such a noise,
A look out the door showed a small number of young girls and some boys.
Away to a private school soon they would go,
For the budget only supported kids who were average or low.
(Video “One Size Fits All Doesn’t Fit All Learners”)

Oh, and the football team, too, they were not ignored.
For in their new field house,beautiful new uniforms were stored.
And don’t forget the nice raises some people saw,
“We are obligated to provide some educational benefits…”or so says the law.
And yet, what about those who are talented, you wonder!
(Kristen R. Stephens, “Gifted Education and the Law”)

"Now Peter! Now, Sarah! Don’t forget twins Ben and Bryan!
Come on, Judy! And Claudia! And Rebecca and Ryan!
To the top of your class is where you belong
All you ever wanted was for your curriculum to be strong."

And then, in a rush, we heard from the Super,
“We think we may have found, in our budget, a blooper,”
As I looked at him gladly and was starting to dream,
“Yes, we have found extra money to start a new golf team!”
(Philip Walzer & Susan E. White, “Are Students Being Shortchanged?”)

So our smartest of smart continue to languish and slide,
To the lowest of low, on this sad budget ride.
We’re ranked last as compared to other like nations,
Just because some do not know the value of great educations.
(Mary Jordan, “Gifted Pupils Bored, Study Says”)

In a regular class, the gifted yearn to fit in,
The teacher, while nice, is not trained to teach them.
These children who require more to school than what’s there,
Acceleration, AP classes, independent study, or even a science fair.
(Sandra S. Jowers, “Gifted is Special Education”)

AYP was successful but ignored a small group,
The gifted and talented, test scores took a swoop.
And with no differentiation year after year,
Those artists and doctors are now your cashiers!

The answers are simple, but someone must act,
You are armed with some knowledge and many a fact!
Do not ignore what’s happening in your very schools,
Your future needs funding, not a new swimming pool.

But the teacher spoke not a word, and went straight to his task,
Overflowing young minds with the basics of Math.
And Moms and Dads, and Grandparents, too,
Didn’t advocate for change for this talented crew!
(Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, Ph.D. “Basic Educational Options for Gifted Students in Schools”)

Go to your school board, and Senators, and Congress and more,
And fight for the rights in this educational war.
For “little is much” we often do jest,
But it’ll be a teacher who can use a little money the best.

R. Rakow


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