Date: May 1, 2012

To: Dr. Laura S. Seinfeld

From: Dina M. Anzalone

Re: K-5 Science Program Recommendation

In 2010-11 as an outgrowth of the District Science Committee, the Science Slice Committee formed to review elementary science programs to pilot during the 2011-12 school year. The Committee was comprised of teachers (P-5), administrators (building and central office), parents, and District Science Chair people. During that time, the Committee was charged with selecting two programs to pilot using criteria developed by the Committee. The documents that assisted in this process were the District’s Shared Vision and Mission, Hewlett-Woodmere Public School District’s Draft Philosophy of Science Education (Appendix A), The National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) Official Position Paper on elementary school science (Appendix B), and the Science Pilot Checklist developed by the Committee (Appendix C).

The Slice Committee reviewed six science programs, including, Delta Science Modules (DSM); Delta Seeds of Science; Delta Education’s Full Options Science System (FOSS); Monroe 2 – Orleans BOCES Elementary Science Program (ESP); Science and Technology Children (STC); and Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Science 21. After thorough review using the criteria mentioned above, the Slice Committee selected FOSS and ESP as the two programs to pilot during the 2011-12 school year.

Thereafter, a review of the current state of science curriculum at Ogden Elementary School (OES) and Hewlett Elementary School (HES) ensued. An outline of science units to be taught during the year was crafted in consultation with principals, teachers, and the FOSS curriculum specialist. Teachers provided feedback on the outline that went through several stages of revision. The model agreed upon by the Slice Committee was to have each pilot teacher use each program so that they could provide a fair comparison of the two. Pilot teachers were provided with professional development on June 27, 2011 (P-2) and June 28, 2011 (3-5) for ESP and August 29, 2011 (P-2) and August 30, 2011 (3-5) for FOSS. FOSS had a second training in March 2012.

 During 2011-12 school year, the Slice Committee met three times and communicated one time via e-mail as follows: October 6, November 9, January 11 (via e-mail), and April 19. The focus of all sessions was for Slice Committee members to provide feedback and to share their reflections about the programs they were piloting. This feedback included discussion of materials, user-friendliness, technology integration, literacy integration, student interest, assessments, and future goals.

I.                   January Feedback Questions:

a.       How correlated is the program with NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum?

b.      Are the lessons and materials differentiated for a variety of learner needs?

c.       Are all of the materials needed for implementation of the lesson provided or is additional supplementation needed?

d.      Is the program user-friendly?

e.       Are the children enjoying the science program, and do you see evidence of learning? Please explain how.

f.       Are you, as a teacher, enjoying teaching science using this program?

g.      Please provide any additional information you feel is important for the committee to have when making their final decision.

At the final meeting on April 19, 2012, each Slice Committee member was asked to fill out an index card with their choice of program and the reason for their selection.  All eleven members (100%) of the Committee, who were present, selected FOSS as their first choice. Their comments are below:

1)      FOSS: organized program with all materials needed for lessons; pushes students to be problem-solvers and think beyond what is presented; video makes the kits easy to use; comprehensive teacher’s guide but we’ll need staff development;

2)      FOSS: more age-appropriate, more meaningful, exciting, hands on, moving units;

3)      FOSS: challenging, great resources are available for teachers, organized well-thought out curriculum;

4)      FOSS: most teachers prefer it overall, hands-on activities, a lot of science material/information, “meatier” program;

5)      FOSS: FOSS is a much better program for students. The hands-on activities are a joy and really are what kids love and need. After doing both programs, the children learned a great deal from FOSS;

6)      FOSS: more geared to the needs of the children, more hands-on and exciting to the teacher and children;

7)      FOSS: far more interesting and exciting. Age/developmentally appropriate experiments, well-balanced instruction, kids LOVED it!

8)      FOSS: more depth to each unit, children enjoyed the experiments more than ESP, vocabulary was more challenging;

9)      FOSS: teachers piloting have seen the impact this program has made on students’ learning. Students are motivated and engaged while learning new content and having hands-on experiences;

10)  FOSS: plenty of hands-on activities for every student, promotes critical thinking, clear teacher preparation and instructions provided;

11)  FOSS: FOSS is my preference because it allows students to think “outside the box.” It is teacher friendly while having high expectations for students.

Mrs. Lorraine Smyth, assistant principal at HES, also shared some anonymous student responses from when they were asked what program they liked better (FOSS or ESP). Below is a small sample of responses; however, it is important to note that the entire class that was surveyed selected FOSS.

a)      Dear District,

I think you should go with FOSS. I really liked their experiments plus they have more electronics and I like electronics. I also hear FOSS is giving us a go-cart unit. I look forward to that.

b)      I think you should pick FOSS because students could use creativity to build models and designs. Also, everyone is a part of the building. Furthermore, I think you should go with FOSS.

c)      In my opinion, I think the District should choose FOSS over ESP.  FOSS has a lot more fun activities than ESP. I prefer models and designs over rocks and minerals.

d)     I like the FOSS the most because it was fun and you go to be more involved in what was going on during science. I am really looking forward to go-carts too because it sounds very fun.

e)      I like FOSS because I think that it is a very creative program and you have to use your creativity a lot. Also, I like the unit we are working on because you have to cooperate with your partners and compromise. I really prefer FOSS.

 At the culmination of the meeting, the Slice Committee discussed future goals after Board approval that included:

a)      Work with a FOSS curriculum consultant to assist with ordering units that align with the Next Generation Science Standards and the District’s philosophy of science education and help us develop a scope and sequence;

b)      Options for leasing or purchasing;

c)      Professional development options during a two-hour departmental meeting to avoid interrupting instructional time;

d)     Need to be flexible enough so that we can supplement materials (as needed) as standards change;

e)      Need leveled books that correspond with units.

Finally, the Slice Committee reviewed Policy #4511 and all regulations to ensure that the appropriate protocol for recommending a new textbook for adoption to the Board of Education was followed. The Slice Committee is confident that the decision to adopt FOSS is the best option to help prepare students to create, think critically, problem-solve, communicate, and collaborate.


Appendix A

Appendix B

NSTA Position Statement:

Elementary School Science

The National Science Teachers Association supports the notion that inquiry science must be a basic in the daily curriculum of every elementary school student at every grade level. In the last decade, numerous reports have been published calling for reform in education. Each report has highlighted the importance of early experiences in science so that students develop problem-solving skills that empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world.

  • The elementary science program must provide opportunities for students to develop understandings and skills necessary to function productively as problem-solvers in a scientific and technological world.
  • Elementary school students learn science best when—
    1. They are involved in first-hand exploration and investigation and inquiry/process skills are nurtured.
    2. Instruction builds directly on the student’s conceptual framework.
    3. Content is organized on the basis of broad conceptual themes common to all science disciplines.
    4. Mathematics and communication skills are an integral part of science instruction.
  • The learning environment for elementary science must foster positive attitudes towards self and society, as well as science.
  • Elementary school students value science best when—
    1. A variety of presentation modes are used to accommodate different learning styles, and students are given opportunities to interact and share ideas with their peers.
    2. The scientific contributions of individuals from all ethnic origins are recognized and valued.
    3. Other subject areas are infused into science.
    4. Inquiry skills and positive attitudes are modeled by the teacher and others involved in the education process.
  • Teacher preparation and professional development must enable the teacher to implement science as a basic component of the elementary school curriculum.
  • Teacher preparation and professional development must provide for—
    1. Experiences that will enable teachers to use hands-on activities to promote skill development, selecting content and methods appropriate for their students, and for design of classroom environments that promote positive attitudes toward science and technology.
    2. Continuing science in service programs based on current educational research that encompasses content, skills, techniques, and useful materials.
    3. Participation in workshops, conferences, and meetings sponsored by local, state, and national agencies.
  • The school administrators must be advocates for elementary science.
  • Administrators must provide instructional leadership by—
    1. Building consensus for an elementary science program that reflects state and national standards.
    2. Implementing and monitoring the progress of the science program.
  • Administrators must provide support systems by—
    1. Supplying appropriate materials, equipment, and space.
    2. Recognizing exemplary elementary science teaching.
    3. Encouraging special science events.
  • The instructional implementation and support system for elementary school science must include the combined efforts of all aspects of the community: parents, educators, businesses, and other organizations.
  • The community must be advocates for elementary school science by—
    1. Participating in ongoing planning, assessment, and funding of elementary science programs.
    2. Promoting informal science learning experiences.
  • Assessment must be an essential component of an elementary science program.
  • Assessment must be aligned with—
    1. What is of value, i.e., the problem-solving model of instruction: concept application, inquiry, and process skills.
    2. The curricular objectives and instructional mode.
    3. The purpose for which it was intended: grading, diagnosis, student and/or parent feedback, or program evaluation.
  • Elementary school science instruction must reflect the application and implementation of educational research.
  • Elementary school science programs are improved when—
    1. Teachers keep abreast of appropriate science education research.
    2. educational research becomes the premise for change or innovation in elementary school science, and teachers participate in action research in elementary science

—Adopted by the Board of Directors
July 2002

 


Appendix C

Science Pilot Checklist Program Name:

Yes

   Does the curriculum align with NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum?

   Does the curriculum align with NYS Learning Standards for Math, Science, and Technology?

   Are there built-in assessments?

   Formative assessments?

   Summative assessments?

   Performance-based assessments?

   Is there staff development included with the purchase of the program?

Specifics about the staff development: _______________________________________________

 

 

   Are there distance-learning opportunities for professional development?

   Is there a technology component to the program?

Specifics about the technologies (types, special hardware or software needed, technical specifications)?: _________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

   Will the curriculum stay current as changes in NYS standards occur?

   Will there be support in terms of material management (if part of the program)?

   Does this program allow for differentiation for all populations of students (ELLs, Special Education, General Education, Gifted and Talented)?

Specifics about differentiation: _____________________________________________________

 

 

 

   Are the materials stimulating and age-appropriate?

   Is there a clear scope and sequence?

   Are pre and post-teaching tips available?

   Is the program user friendly?

   Is there a reading component to the program aligned to CCSS?

Explain: _______________________________________________________________________

 

   Is there a writing component to the program aligned to CCSS?

Explain: _______________________________________________________________________

Other items to remember about the program

_____________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________

 

_____________________________________________________________

 



 

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