Our profession is filled with individuals willing to share their experiences, their time and their "trials" to assist their colleagues in improving classroom practice. It is here where we share your colleagues questions and experienced educator's responses.  We invite you to share your thoughts through your posted "Comments".


  • 11 Dec 2018 3:37 PM | Kathaleen R. Burke

    I am a new charter school science teacher (Grades K - 5). We are going to have a science fair the last week of March 2019. I would like to find an organization that can help me plan it. I'd like the fair to be a lot of fun, unique, and of course very informative. I'd like flashing lights to go with the music.
    Are there any organizations that would sponsor this science fair? Does anyone have any ideas?

    Cathy Smith

    Congratulations on committing to a science fair at the K-5 level. Most science fairs occur from grade 5 and up. There is a recent report out that makes the case for early experiences. The brief, "Considerations for STEM Education from PreK-3", is from the Community Advancing Discovery Research in Education and sponsored by the NRC. It highlights important considerations about STEM educational experiences for young children. It makes the case for early exposure to STEM fields and summarizes research that says it makes a big difference for kids in socio-emotional development and STEM-related habits of mind like critical thinking, and improves performance in other subjects.

    As far as support for your endeavor, New York State has fine resources. Of course, the closest might be your STANYS section. If you do not know your section contact you can find it at stanys.org/sections. There is also the STEM Hub network. The STEM Hub network is a partnership of educators and business community members. Financial support for teacher efforts is a priority for most Hubs. You can find your contact person through https://www.listemhub.org/ . The NewYork Science Congress also has support practices that you could use and contact people that you can find through your STANYS section..

    All of these organizations will emphasize that you focus your projects on the appropriate NYSSLS grade level performance expectations and science and engineering practices. Two other important features of your science fair would be support for teams of two to four and facilitation of parent involvement.

    This should give you a good start on organizing but please feel free to follow-up with comments or other questions.

    Kathy Burke

  • 01 Dec 2018 1:37 PM | Kathaleen R. Burke

    I am a teacher in a workplace development center. My students range in age from 16 to 24 years and are preparing to take the TASC Exam. Do you have any advice or suggestions about curricula that I could use to help them be successful on the exam?                                                B. Milks

    The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) was selected to replace the GED. The test is designed to measure content and skills matched to contemporary high school curriculum.  Having said that, it’s important to note that the majority of students I have worked with on the TASC have below grade level reading skills.  My approach to that has been to use middle school materials to teach the content and then practice the test with TASC materials. The students are able to use the middle school materials to build understanding and gain confidence.  We use TASC review and practice materials prepare them to sit for the exam based on the content they learned from readable activities.

    My experience has been successful in terms of student participation and engagement. No exam results yet.  

    Comments are welcomed to expand this response with suggestions based on more experience.

    Kathy Burke

  • 26 Jun 2018 8:06 AM | Kathaleen R. Burke

    Dear STANYS,

    Of the many retirees in NYS, how do I find those who want to participate in NYSSLS implementation by training to do PD ? I want to meet you in November! Let's start talking now. - John Cunningham

    Dear John, 

    Thank you for asking a question that is timely as well as timeless.  When I first became the Retiree DAL I made recruitment of more retirees one of my main goals.  I have managed to get SARs in almost all STANYS sections but I’m not sure if that is a result of my constant requests or changes in leadership at the Section level.  Two years ago I realized that many of our leaders in STANYS are retirees and I counted the number of Executive Board members as well as Directors and realized we are a major support group for the organization.  I also found out from a survey that we conducted during the Conference Luncheon that many retirees volunteer extensively outside of the field of science.

    So, given that context, I have two main responses to your question.  I invite comments from members and especially hope that the Retiree SARs will comment on the website.

    My first response is cautionary.  Casting a wide net is not necessarily going to bring you retirees that have the necessary knowledge and/or experience to train on NYSSLS.  I suggest we concentrate on people who “show up”. Group emails have not resulted in volunteers, but I have a list of current retirees emails that I could share with the Retiree SARs and possibly use  to contact people individually about their interests.

    My second response is the STANYS Leadership is actively involved in implementation efforts at the state level and recently shared the NYS Roadmap with us. I suggest we invite a member of the STANYS Leadership Team to present an update and opportunities for us at our Luncheon during the November Conference.  We could also make recruitment of volunteers the theme of the DAL/SAR Retiree Table in the Convention Center.

    A recurrent theme for the retirees has been “Sharing the Wealth”.  Retirees are a vast and deep resource for science education.  Finding ways to match the people to the projects is an ongoing effort and one we can continue to work on.

    Please comment on the suggestions and keep the conversation going. 

  • 06 May 2018 3:37 PM | Darlene Devendorf

    Dear STANYS,
    I have been told that I must begin every class with a “do - now” in the form of an “essential question”. I find this to be very time consuming, both in creating the question and collecting the papers, correcting them, grading, recording grades and returning the papers. The students do not engage in this start-up and hand in low quality responses. Can you suggest some ways to make this process more productive?

    Dear Classroom Colleague,
    It’s always good to look for better ways of doing things that consume a lot of your time and do not produce any evidence of student growth or learning.
    I’m going to tell you what has worked for me and teachers I have mentored and then I’m going to open this up to others who will add their thoughts. Please let us know what works for you so we can share your ideas with others.
    The key element in implementing new strategies is to get student buy-in. Students need to see that the “do - now” question is important and useful. It’s essential that it relate to the work for the day. It should build on student experience either in class or in their lives outside school, and foreshadow future work. For example, when I introduce my Ecology Unit’s first activity I ask students to record in their notebook a response to these questions: “How might you handle an unwanted pet, such as a turtle? What is the most humane and responsible thing to do with these animals?” These questions build on real life experience, directly relate to what we do in class that day and foreshadow our work on human impact on the environment. Once students see the connections they usually engage more thoughtfully.
    Regarding efficient use of your time and collecting evidence of student growth I suggest these responses be recorded in a place that the students will revisit so they can actually see how their understanding changes. I used a notebook where all their work was recorded. Some teachers use a separate journal that students can take home without fear of losing all their classwork. The responses were not corrected every day. They were called in on a regular basis for teacher comment. Regardless of your particular way of managing this approach it’s important to note that it works because it assesses meaningful growth and understanding, which is all any of us want to spend our time on.
    Expect some more suggestions soon and be sure to let us know how they work out.


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