Summer of Learning

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Photo by Justin Caldarola on Unsplash

The summer is coming and school will be out. How will you continue to engage your scholar in learning? KDSL Global is highlighting five resources for families as they plan summer learning opportunities.

 

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The mission of Black Girl MATHgic is to inspire math confidence, strengthen math aptitude and develop math identity in girls. The Black Girl MATHgic Box is a monthly subscription box curated for girls on a 3rd-8th grade math level (regardless of their age); each box contains an engaging, real-world math activity booklet, 3-5 items to support the activities, an affirmation to inspire confidence, a profile of a black woman mathematician and a Caring Adult Guide.

https://linktr.ee/blackgirlmathgic?fbclid=IwAR3-WRhEf-7FjkUMzqzttCXEXDQVvTEyfzHGqDd1t0gxMU6pixvzbiQvQuI

 

Flurning

The FlUrNing® Learning Group, LLC provides face-to-face and online academic support to K-8 scholars as well as instructional support and materials to educators. By focusing on effective instruction, combined with innovative and creative delivery methods, FlUrNing strives to bring out the FUN in learning.  Our online platform is also available to connect with scholars all across the country. By putting the needs of the scholars first, we were created for one reason: ​save education by making learning FUN for once! ​

https://www.flurninglg.com

 

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Digital Storytelling Virtual Camps

During the virtual camp, students will create a digital story based on the theme of the week. Sign your kids up for one and all of our fun themes and enjoy.

The course will be conducted through a combination of email, video conference, and phone calls.  We’ll conduct the course over video conference and phone calls.

Digital Storytelling

 

 

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2LearnArabic is an online Arabic language school. The classes are held live in our innovative virtual classrooms using a smart application, and are taught exclusively by qualified, native speaking teachers. We offer one on one live interactive classes.

https://www.2learnarabic.com/about

 

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The mission of Fun Weird Science is to train K-12th grade students to be proficient in each component of S.T.E.A.M. through innovative instruction that will produce creative-minded and critical thinking participants in the global marketplace. They offer camps, kits, and virtual science experiences.

https://funweirdscience.com

 

What are your scholars doing this summer? What are some other suggestions you have for summer learning?

 

What risk are you willing to take?

MidSchoolMath National Conference 2016

MidSchoolMath was founded as a direct result of extensive research into the US math crisis and the complexity of the problem. It is the first company to answer the quintessential question posed by every middle school math student: “When am I going to ever use this?” At the National Conference held during 2-3 March 2018 in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Megan LeBleu gave a talk to educators about the importance of taking risk for math students. Below you will find this talk.

I taught math for 14 years at a middle school in Albuquerque, NM. My colleagues and I spent our planning time modifying our curriculum quite a bit, trying to make lessons accessible to and interesting for our students. In general, though, I was still teaching how I was taught. I do, we do, you do. I was fearful that my students would fail if I didn’t “teach” them first. I didn’t really value what they brought to the table, regarding their own intuition and creative problem solving.

But then 4 years ago, I attended a MidSchoolMath PD. I learned about story being used for learning, about these ideas of productive failure and productive struggle, and it made a lot of sense to me. I was also exposed to the idea of global math education… there ARE actually teachers, math students, and people outside of the U.S… all around the world…

It was then, 4 years ago, that I took a risk that ultimately led my students (and myself) down a path of discovery and learning. I accepted a challenge to create a math story project… a story in which math is embedded as a useful tool. Had I ever thought of using story in math class? No. Had I ever even seen story used in a math class? No. Not like this. The concept was completely foreign to me. Yet I saw value in it for my students… mathematical value and cultural value.

So, I dove into the unknown and created Expedition Everest, where my students would be mountaineers on Everest, encountering significant math problems on their way to the summit. Now let me tell you… My students live in a high-poverty area, riddled with gang violence and drug use. They rarely think outside their neighborhood, much less outside the country. While creating Expedition Everest, and even after, people questioned the relevancy of the topic to my students. How is Mount Everest relevant to students in Albuquerque? And maybe it isn’t…. initially….

But, by taking a risk, stretching myself, thinking outside the textbook… I was able to create mathematically enriching tasks…. Tasks that allowed my students to question, to use their intuition, to offer creative solutions….Tasks that were so intriguing, my students were willing to try, fail, struggle, and persist until they reached a solution. All the while, they were honing their math skills, discussing strategies and ideas, AND at the same time, they were learning about the tallest mountain in the world, about the Sherpa of Nepal, and about an animal called a yak. Their world was now bigger than it was before. And I, I had never had so much fun teaching.

We don’t all have to take our students to Mount Everest as mountaineers. Nor do we have to take them to Myanmar as secret agents. But we can do SOMETHING. Maybe it’s just restructuring the curriculum we currently have. And we might fail. But so did Edwin Link, and his pilots…at first. If WE don’t have the courage to take risks, and to push ourselves to explore the unknown, how can we expect our students to do the same?

As you go forward throughout the school year, consider this: what risk are you willing to take, to give your students, and yourself, the chance to fail, struggle, persist, and grow… as learners, and as global contributors?

Megan LeBleu is a National Board Certified teacher who taught math at a high-poverty middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 14 years. During those years she became a master at collaborating with fellow teachers, making math curriculum engaging and accessible to students. She is highly skilled at integrating technology in the classroom and is well versed in the Common Core math standards. 

To learn more about MidSchoolMath visit  http://www.midschoolmath.com/.
Check out this article about Megan and her math classroom  https://www.abqjournal.com/348546/math-made-fun-with-trip-calculations.html.

KDSL Global Fellows

KDSL Global, based in the United Arab Emirates and in the United States, is pleased to announce our new fellow.  The fellowship will run for one year with a focus on writing, leadership and launching a new education idea.

 

Tifany

Tiffany Johnson was born in Chicago and raised in the south suburbs where she attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School.  After graduation, she attended Illinois State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. During her time there, Tiffany joined The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation, which was an organization that linked her with minorities in the STEM fields and awarded her scholarships and mentorship opportunities. Her interest in teaching began in high school and carried her away to her favorite place, New York!  Tiffany taught 6th grade science to a group of brilliant boys in the historic neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) Brooklyn. She is excited to return back to her roots in Chicago where she teaches 9th grade Biology in the south side neighborhood of Auburn Gresham.  She looks forward to bringing her skills to ensure there is a strong culture of achievement and a fearless interest in the STEM fields.  In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys traveling, Netflix, reading, and spending time with her son and friends.

Encouraging students to consider a career in teaching STEM*

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Profile on Julio Mendez: Science teacher, lifelong learner, and founder of the STEM Education Introductory Program

As well as being a busy Physics and Chemistry teacher in Chicago, Julio Mendez has founded the innovative STEM Education Introductory Program – it gives high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through a series of lectures and hands on teaching practice at a local middle school. We ask him all about the project, and how it came about.


You are a science teacher – where do you teach, and what led you down the path of both STEM and teaching?
 

I teach Physics, Chemistry and the Education 101 class at Perspectives Charter School – Joslin Campus, in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. I also teach Engineering courses (Project Lead The Way curriculum on Saturdays) through Project SYNCERE. This is a non-profit in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood.

Teaching is a second career which found me more due to circumstance than through any active effort. I had returned to school for a Physics degree and was looking for a part time job when my wife suggested I look into Project SYNCERE. I decide to go interview and try it, and the rest is history, as they say. I fell in love with the kids’ ability to look past all the crap they are dealt and still seek knowledge. Having been raised on Chicago’s south side and dealing with a lot of the social issues they are living with made me relatable and my natural sarcastic demeanor and ability to look past slights allowed me to create good relationships with the students. I saw at once that this is where I needed to be and then I just found ways to keep pushing myself to learn, grow and sharpen my craft.

The STEM part is easier to explain: I’m a nerd. I love science and all that it tells us about the universe, I always have. I also understand the need for our communities to be better represented within these fields. We have been neglected for a long time and those who looked away are now realizing that they will need us in order for the world to continue its progress.

 

What inspired you to set up this program encouraging high school students to consider a career as science teachers?

When I was considering become even just a part time teacher, I started looking into the profession and the history of teaching and learning. I came to the realization that education is one of the oldest forms of community building that there is. Until recent human history, we have learned everything from the previous generations in our communities. From hunting and gathering, to planting and growing and so on, we learned it all from our elders, who did it before us and learned it from their elders.

When the opportunity with the Shell Oil Company and the Smithsonian Science Education Center and their call for applications came to my attention I knew the solution had to come from within the community, to create a new lineage of education. There is also a long tradition of finding “fixes” for our communities from outside, as if we hadn’t the talent or abilities to be the solutions ourselves. I have seen our children do some incredible things and come up with some huge ideas that would amaze the greatest thinkers, but because they don’t show high scores or even high rates of high school graduation, their ideas and grand thinking and potentials aren’t acknowledged.  Given all this I knew that the solution to a lack of science teachers of color had to come from our own ranks, the students of color. It was just a matter of convincing the kids they could be the solution and that being a teacher is a viable career (harder than it seems) and convince all the powers that be, this is a viable solution (harder than it should be).

 

Could you describe your aim in setting up the Education 101 program? Who is it designed for and what will they learn?

The biggest aim for the program is to give students of color the opportunity to see themselves as STEM subject teachers. Let them see a side of teaching that they don’t get to see; mostly because they have a very different experience with the teaching profession. They do not have the opportunity to see a lot of themselves in these roles, so they can’t identify with the profession. They just need to see they can and some might.

The students in the class are exposed to the history of education in the country, including the injustices our communities have gone through, the  definition of what a STEM teacher needs to be, exposure to informal science education, observing teachers, the complexity of the classroom, the preparation for lessons, reading and writing college level papers. This will be set around Socratic discussions and group projects that will be catered to the students’ abilities and raising expectations at every turn.

Was the creation of your program partly in response to the lack of diversity found in the teaching profession?

The creation of the program most definitely has to do with the lack of diversity in teaching. It is very difficult to be a teacher of color within a system which serves mostly students of color and yet we are an overwhelming numerical minority, especially in the STEM subjects.

 

A Student’s Perspective: Here’s what one of the course participants, Jada Woodard, has to say about the Program

Why did you apply?

I applied to the Education 101 course because I am thinking about being an educator. I thought it would give me the upper hand when I do attend college to study education. In addition, I wanted to find out if it was really something that I wanted to do.

What’s the best thing about the course?
The best thing about the course is that I am able to learn about the previous educational system, the current educational system, and the future of the educational system. I love that I am able to give my perspective as a student while learning the perspective of a teacher. We are able to talk about topics within the educational system that others aren’t willing to talk about, students of colors and teachers.

What’s the hardest part of the course?
The hardest thing about the course is actually putting yourself in the shoes of an educator. My student mindset slightly limits my ability to think like an educator. It is something that we as a class are working on to do.

What are you learning right now?
At the moment, we are learning how to effectively make lesson plans. In a month or sooner, we will able to teach this lesson plan/activity to a middle school class using the five aspects of an effective classroom that we have learned.
I think the reason there are not many STEM teachers of color is because of the lack of knowledge and resources. I think that in some schools STEM is a luxury. Although we do get taught science and math, it’s not taught or introduced in a way that makes it relevant to engineering and technology.

 

To learn more about the STEM Education Introductory Program contact Julio Mendez at jmendez@pcsedu.org.

 

*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math