“No science or social studies for this year!”

Discussion in 'General Education' started by anna9868, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Apr 28, 2016

    A mom from a different forum posted a disturbing complaint. They live in NJ, Manalapan Township. Her daughter goes to 5th grade, gifted school, public.

    This entire year their teacher decided she is not going to cover Social Studies or Science.
    The mom said they had no tests, no grades in those 2 subjects.
    Instead, kids spend a lot of time on laptops. During P/T conference the mom specifically asked about SS and science, the teacher said that they just got new laptops and she decided the kids should get very familiar with them.
    The mom said that other 5th grades in that school do have SS and science.

    I was just wondering how is that possible? In the districts I’ve worked (subbed) here in PA I can’t imagine a teacher making such a decision.
    Is NJ different in any respect?
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That is a disturbing idea. Even if there is no test in those subjects for that grade, there are standards that need to be covered and mastered.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    At my last school, we didn't give grades in science or social studies, and we didn't teach them at specific times of the day. The content was integrated into our ELA standards and taught during our reading and writing blocks.

    If that is what is happening here, I don't see a problem with it. In fact, I think that is a better way to teach it. If they aren't covering any science or social studies standards at all, though, then I agree that that is a problem.
     
  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    If the state has adopted the NGSS elementary school level science is required. And not just reading and writing about science, but actual scientific investigations.

    It seems like New Jersey is one of those states who has adopted it. My guess is this teacher and possibly her admin or district aren't aware that they can no longer just blow off science to focus on math and reading.
     
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  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The idea of trying to teach social studies or science solely through math and ELA is one I can't get behind. It completely misses the point of what makes those subjects unique and interesting. We live in a high stakes testing world though, so until common sense returns, stuff like this will happen.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Would that apply to private schools as well? I admit that I'm always confused about what requirements private schools must meet and which they can bypass.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    If also say that teaching science with no hands-on experiments or investigations ensures that the standards are NOT being met, regardless of how much ELA connections are made.
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I should clarify... We still did experiments and investigations, but not every day. We built up to them through ELA standards, then cut out reading/writing to do the experiment, then debriefed through ELA standards. So maybe we didn't do as much reading or writing the day we did an experiment.

    Obviously hands-on learning is important, and experiments must be part of science instruction. But, at the elementary level anyway, there is no need to do science experiments every single day. A well-planned inquiry based unit can successfully achieve both ELA and science or social studies standards. Unrelated small group reading should still take place at a separate time, where individual needs and specific skills can be targeted and addressed.
     
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  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    One of my family members works at a school that does not teach science or social studies. They use the "extra" time for more reading and math practice, since that's what the standardized tests assess. It's a low income school, and as far as I know, it's never been an issue. (Not that that makes it right.)
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's not about NJ being different. Your online friend needs o be asking questions of the administration at her child's gifted public school-although it's a bit late in the game.

    NGSS doesn't kick in for another year but there are state standards in science and SS.
     
  12. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    yea, I can understand for a low income school. What's disturbing about that school is that it's for gifted students
     
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  13. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I try to teach reading and writing through social studies. Opposite idea, but similar concept IMO. I think the kids have gotten a lot out of it. They often write paragraphs about what they read, or partner read the textbook for example.
     
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  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Sounds to me, this is not a school decision at all. The teacher just decided to do this. I would complain to the P immediately. Technology should never be used as an excuse to not teach SS and Science. Horrible
     
  15. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    You cannot teach scientific thinking through ELA standards alone. Analyzing why certain results are achieved in experiments is crucial, even at the elementary level.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    [
    Low income school kids can be gifted and deserve to have all required content expertly taught to them.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
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  17. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Agreed. For science, I've had students keep an observation journal while studying topics such as the butterfly life cycle or while studying rocks, soil, and sand. We read about topics, we explored them through investigations, and then we wrote our observations and analysis.

    I wasn't suggesting that no experiments be done or results analyzed. I was saying that the content was integrated and taught in a cohesive, well-designed unit that included both ELA and science standards... and speaking and listening standards.
     
  18. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    you are right, it does sound like teacher's decision!
    As for complaining, I got the feeling from the post that the mom is really not in a complaining mood. First of all, it's almost the end of the year. Second, the kids are going to middle school and it's a decision time which program the kids will get in. (so, awkward time to complane)
    Third (my own thinking and observations), it's a russian mom. And I think immigrants in general are less inclined to complain.
     
  19. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    School systems and teachers need to be cautious about eliminating content from the classroom. Trends in education tend to catch on, and over time, diminishing science investigations, social studies, literature (as mentioned earlier in another teacher's posting), and conceptual understanding, and the inclusion of an over-emphasis on teacher control through extensive Skinnerian and Pavlovian conditioning along with a break down in family and parental influence can lead to adults who are disposed to not think for themselves and follow whatever leader or idea has the most influence.
     
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  20. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I am in a private school and we still have to teach all the subjects.
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This sort of thing astounds me! In Grades 1-8 we need to teach (and report on): English (Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Media Literacy), Mathematics (5 strands), Social Studies or History and Geography, depending on the grade, Science, Music, Drama, Dance, Visual Arts, Physical Education, Health. All need to be scheduled in weekly (we are given guidelines as to how much time/week for each), and reported on every report card.
     
  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm especially shocked to see this in a gifted program. Even with the new standards and guidelines, why would a good teacher be ignoring science and social studies?
     
  23. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    From my understanding, private schools are not beholden to any standards at all.
     
  24. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    We are held to standards as well as public schools. We have standards in each subject. Often it is what public school requires and then some are added on top. In some cases, some standards that public schools have are not in private schools, but it is usually very few. There is an accreditation committee that checks to see that the school is following and assessing the standards. If the school is not, it can lose its accreditation. A school that is not accredited has a very difficult time getting students. Parents who pay tuition for a private school tend to choose accredited schools.
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I suppose that's true. I tend to view it from the standpoint that a private school can hold themselves to certain standards (especially if they want accreditation, it seems) but they aren't required to demonstrate these standards through testing. Accreditation is some oversight, but from what I remember, they only check once every couple of years or so.
     
  26. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Our sixth science and social studies, but on alternating weeks. Our seventh graders only get science, and our 8th graders only get social studies. We are a small, rural school. We don't have the staffing to teach all subjects every day.

    By the way, we are a low-income school, and we have a lot of gifted students.
     
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  27. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Yes, accreditation happens only once every few years. We are required to demonstrate these standards by testing. We must give a standardized test each year and post the results to stakeholders (i.e. parents and community) This is usually made public on a website.
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It seems the Manalapan Twp schools have an extensive gifted program:
    http://www.mers.k12.nj.us/education/dept/dept.php?sectionid=204
    Their website says this about the curriculum:

    We offer students a differentiated curriculum with both vertical acceleration in reading, mathematics, and language arts, and horizontal enrichment experiences in other subject areas, such as science and social studies.

    Looks like the school is acting responsibly in regards to the required standards of learning and differentiating for student needs. Perhaps the parent the OP references should investigate further into her questions regarding how content is being delivered if the above is not her experience.

    IMO, it's irresponsible for that momto be criticizing and identifying the school district/program/teacher online if that person isn't willing to find out for herself as a parent what is going on in her student's education. It's not about complaining-it's about being informed.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2016
  29. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for informing me. =]
     
  30. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I'm not sure that I would accept as gospel something that "a parent on another forum" stated as fact. The story is almost never that simple, although a simple factual story would be a nice change of pace.

    Sometimes you get just enough information to entice you to care, but nowhere near enough information to understand the big picture. Let's hope that what the school says it offers is simply being misconstrued by a parent.
     
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  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's like a game of 'telephone' Unfortunately identifying the district and program based on hearsay leads to gossip and speculation. So unnecessary.
    And in response to the question about whether there's something different about NJ...yes, there is. We consistently rank among the highest in the nation on many education surveys/data analyses in the nation.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016

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