Town Square

Teaching a new way to teach

Original post made on Aug 2, 2011

In an effort to improve math and science scores, the Mountain View Whisman School District has begun contracting with an education research company to teach teachers how to teach better and more efficiently.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 28, 2011, 11:14 AM


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Posted by Bobbi
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Teachers often lack the resources or knowledge to make science and math relevant to kids. If they piqued kids' interest in appropriate style (perhaps like James Burkes' Connections), then kids would see how science and math benefits them now, and in the future, and would be more interested.

Memorizing facts is not exciting for anyone.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 2, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I agree with Bobbi, The most memorable experiences for me from school were the science films like Disney's "Our Friend The Atom" an awesome story of Atomic Physics only Disney animators could create, The Bell Telephone science films, and Jacob Bronowski's "Ascent of Man" which should be required viewing for all Math and Science students. I think it's a common theme that many math and science majors were influenced by NASA and Science Fiction films and books.

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Posted by Ed
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm

"MV Whisman hires consultants to improve math and science scores"

Science is not tested and does not effect API scores. (Does anyone do any research before they write these articles?!?!?) Secondly, it would appear then the district is only interested in raising test scores, and thus, mostly for poor performing students who are no doubt more affected by ethno-socio-economic factors and parent apathy as so far as education is concerned. How do average and above and excelling students gain from this $350,000 be blown through? Or that's right, they get to put up with listening to kids not prepared are capable of answering the question in the first place, again due to low parental involvement among varying socio-economic and ethnic groups.

Indeed the old popsicle stick trick is already in use in many classrooms, as well as individual white boards, so nothing new there. Besides, having a white board in front of students who aren't anywhere near to an answer is hardly going to make a difference. What's he or she going to do next, ask for a lifeline, or a call home or to a friend or a complete stranger a la 'Who wants to be a millionaire'?

"A lot of kids are tactile learners--they have to use their hands to learn." Where to begin with that one? What a load of baloney. They need to condition their brains to learn!

"The program cost the school district about $350,000 according to Mary Lairon, assistant superintendent of Mountain View Whisman. Although Lairon was hesitant to make any definitive statement about the program until more data is available."

How many opportunities does this Lairon woman need to get her foot fully into her mouth? Just go shell out another $350,000 on a blind investment and hope it works! Throw more good money after bad.

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Posted by Alison
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm

To Ed from Rex Manor Neighborhood:
As a Teacher myself, I can tell you that kids learn best when they see, hear and do whatever they are trying to learn.

In the case of this article that would be the fact of seeing the teacher go over a problem and hear them talk about while possibly writing on their own white boards to physically follow along with the teacher and get the answer.

With the tongue depressors there is the knowledge that if they watch, listen and try and get the answer on their individual white board they maybe called on to actually explain how they got the answer they did, which again would be them doing the math or science they were asked to learn.

This is a fabulous way for the kids to learn and keep them interested in what the teacher is teaching.

Now as you said it may help the teacher to identify the child who hasn't gotten. This could be any child from good or bad socio-economics or any ethnicity.

Of course having money is a socio-economic variable as well, but even if you have money your parents maybe busy with their jobs and not paying attention to whether or not you got a handle on math or science.

By "Ethnic groups" I am assuming that you mean other then white. Which is kind of narrow minded on your part. Often the other ethnic groups from white actually do quite well in math and sciences because their parents always want them to have more then they (the parents) did and that the parents do whatever they can to get them a better knowledge of math and science.

I hope your kids have a great time learning from their teachers and with your help to guide them that they will do great in the math, science and anything else they set their minds to.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2011 at 6:52 am

This sounds an awful lot like an expensive way to reintroduce individual chalkboards. What if teachers had smaller classes? I bet it would be a lot easier for them to figure out who is struggling. Wasting our tax dollars on high-paid consultants is NOT the answer. Empowering the people who are already the experts (that's teachers, folks) is the answer. How much money is spent making sure you have the best quality teachers money can buy instead of the best high-paid consultants?

FYI - sticks in a jar with kids names on them is not a new trick but one most teachers use on a daily basis.

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Posted by Ron
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 5, 2011 at 8:36 am

To Ed: Science is tested in 5th and 8th grade. 8th grade science test scores at Graham are high, in fact over 75% of students tested proficient or advanced the last three years. This is dramatically higher than the math scores of those same students. Look it up. The scores are very impressive.
I agree that this seems like a large expense for tongue depressors and white boards. It seems like the district goes though a lot programs as it is.