Over the past decade, there has been increased attention to the idea that students should learn how to make sense of data and use it in decision-making. It could be the next new big thing in education, hot on the heels of coding. But, depending on how the interest in data literacy develops, being the next big thing might not be an altogether good thing.
Earlier this month I was invited to participate in a meeting to think about the future of “data literacy.” There seemed to be a sense that we could be poised to either make some real progress or to screw things up. It was not quite as dramatic as the image on the right suggests, but it had that feel to it for me. In this post, I share some of the ideas and opinions aired in that meeting. Continue reading
This morning one of my many email subscriptions pointed me to an article in the new issue of Journal of Research on Rural Education that I think is unusually well-done and relevant. One of the things that makes this article special is that it recognizes that the factors behind dropout in urban schools and rural schools can be different.
My friend and colleague Korah Soll runs an organization called Rural Aspirations. She has spent the last two years developing and launching a new program called the Maine Forest Collaborative (MFC) that aims to connect deeply rural schools to their communities and the forests on which these communities depend. The MFC is interesting for a number of reasons, including its deep focus on place, its inclusion of schools and teachers in program design, its dependence on local funding rather than external funding, and more. In this post, I will focus on its commitment to creating a network of schools, communities, and local stakeholders that will not only connect teachers together, but that will also manage and perhaps own the program.
On Wednesday of last week I was reminded why I do what I do. Eighteen sixth and seventh grade students from the Edna Drinkwater School in Northport joined me in setting up experimental plots on a clam flat that will allow them to collect data next fall about softshell clam growth rates, recruitment, and predator pressure.
What did we find? That was the question that Sumner Memorial High School Students began to answer this past week as they analyzed the samples that they helped collect from John Small Cove on October 27.
Schoodic Institute uses the word “authentic” in its work with Sumner Memorial High School to describe science learning that addresses real problems and needs, where people outside the school want the data that the students collect. It is also authentic because students learn that work by professional scientists isn’t limited to labs or offices. There is a lot of science that happens outdoors, requires hard work, and sometimes involves getting dirty and, as this picture shows, can require some agility. Continue reading
It would be great if students had a chance to do science that matters. It would be great if students had first-hand experience with the work and concerns of their communities. It would be great if we didn’t lose so many clams to green crabs and if we could return clam flats to something like their former productivity. Maybe we can put those three ideas together. Continue reading