Connect Issues information
- January/February, 2009
- Vol.22 Num.2, Back issues available
- Focus: Learning After School
- We may think the responsibility or connection to our students and their learning begins and ends with the school day, but the reality is perhaps much different from that. Teachers feel pressured to forfeit the time essential for in-depth learning, parents and families as a group have growing basic needs that are more difficult to meet (for clothing, food shelter), and there are fewer occasions for children to interact in open-ended activities with peers. Qualities of life experienced outside of the classroom have an impact on the learning that happens in the classroom.
In response, more schools and communities are expanding opportunities for children. Some are natural extensions of the school day; others are more implicitly connected to a student's ability to learn.
There is great potential for linking school and community programs, or offering extended explorations for students who are eager to learn more. By integrating these programs with service agencies, local volunteers, area resources such as museums and science centers, we can provide children with safe, supportive environments that directly benefit the student and ultimately benefit the broader communities of schools and families.
- March/April, 2009
- Vol.22 Num.4, Back issues available
- Focus: Science: More than a Method
- The careful steps of the scientific process retain their value in pursuing and documenting research. As Bob Coulter writes in this issue, "The mental discipline brought about by logical thinking, controlled comparisons, and managed variables all contribute to students' cognitive growth." However, Coulter continues, "The limitation of the scientific method appears when it is the only view of science in the curriculum. For students to develop a healthy understanding of science and its importance in their lives, we need to go further."
The idea of going beyond a strict definition of science and how we approach it was emphasized by Columbia University's Brian Greene (New York Times, 6/01/08) who wrote, "Like a music curriculum that requires its students to practice scales while rarely if ever inspiring them by playing the great masterpieces, this way of teaching science squanders the chance to make students sit up in their chairs and say, 'Wow, that's science?' "
- May/June, 2009
- Vol.22 Num.5, Back issues available
- Focus: Things in Motion: Newton's Laws
A child rolls a ball toward a set of stairs and watches as it bounces down. Each successive bounce is higher. But sometimes the ball hits the very edge of the step, and it goes off at a shallow angle."What if I roll it harder next time? How many steps can I make it jump at once? What if I use a smaller, bouncier ball?" the child might ask. This kind of exploration is the very basis for investigating the laws of motion in which most of us have participated and brilliant minds have articulated for thousands of years.
With screens blinking in front of our students more and more, and a prevalence of structured time, as a group, students have less experience in playing around or "messing about," with physical objects in motion. Our job as educators is to surround them with opportunities to observe, question, test, and think critically about what they see and do. The following stories do just that. They embed the explorations of motion in the study of Newtonian physics. Here, translated from the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, are Newton's three laws of motion:
1. Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of movinguniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed.
2. The change of momentum of a body is proportional to the impulse impressed on the body, and happens along the straight line on which that impulse is impressed.
3. For a force there is always an equal and opposite reaction: or, the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions.
We hope this issue gives you the impulse and direction to get moving with your students.
- September/October, 2009
- Vol.23 Num.1, Back issues available
- Focus: Developing a Sense of Place
Alan Gussow was an American artist who defined a sense of place as "…a piece of the whole environment that has been claimed by feelings."* Considering a definition such as this, a teacher might wonder why bother with a sense of place?
One response is that to create new generations of stewards for the environment, both local and global, children must develop a connection to the natural world at a young age. Yet if a teacher is not convinced that awareness of the natural world is of the utmost importance, he or she could make place-based education a low priority, believing they must choose instead to focus on high-stakes literacy and math.
For over a century, however, progressive educators have rallied for learning to be immediate and local, matching the content of the teaching to the environment of the learner. Watching and questioning, imitating and imagining, students can develop a relationship with topics that lead to deep, authentic understanding that transfers to other learning situations. In such settings, curriculum is relevant, time is used efficiently, and learning endures.
In this issue are stories of integrating curriculum with a sense of place. That sense includes experiences with the culture, history, and biology of a place. Studies described here reflect what educators are doing across the country, using electronic technology and old tools, drawing on community resources while practicing community service, and helping their students to become richly embedded in a sense of place.
Special thanks to David Sobel, Project Director of the Antioch New England Institute and author of many titles related to place-based education. David suggested several of the authors who describe their exemplary practice in this issue.
- November/December, 2009
- Vol.23 Num.2
- Focus: Data & Probability
Each day we encounter many phenomena that can be tracked, recorded, and analyzed. Data are often needed to make informed decisions, plan collaborative projects, and address individual and community needs or problems. In our teaching of how to collect and use this information, valuable math and science concepts can be embedded in students' experiences. At the same time, we can unite what would otherwise be considered separate disciplines.
When we offer students the opportunity to practice gathering data, we are helping them to develop skills that will benefit them both now and in the future. Going further, their work with probability helps them to understand what is impossible, what is likely, and what can be expected.
This issue of Connect features articles that highlight students using data to advance their own learning about the world around them. In many of these stories students observe their environment, ask questions, share results, and plan next steps in a process of inquiry that is itself a skill. Whether getting to know each other, the behaviors of crayfish, or the history of labor unions, these students are putting data and probability to work, engaging in both high quality learning and active participation in the classroom and their communities.