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Marin Voice: Long-lasting lessons learned in early childhood education

The Marin Independent Journal – Amy Reisch

“In 1988, the author Robert Fulghum published a little flip book titled, “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” “These are the things I learned,” he wrote: “Share everything; play fair; don’t hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody … .” It turns out, Fulghum was right. And his advice is more than just words of wisdom for his graduating son; it’s now backed by scientific research. What you need to learn in kindergarten is how to get along. A new study recently reported in the American Journal of Public Health re-confirms what we know to be true: social-emotional skills (or “soft skills”) have a strong correlation to school readiness and success in life.”(more)

A Qualified Defense Of ‘Science Literacy’

Forbes – Chad Orzel

“Last week NPR ran a story linking to an online “science literacy” quiz based on the work of Jon Miller. Miller has been doing these surveys since 1979, but every now and again they bubble up into general awareness, prompting a flurry of news stories. And, inevitably, those news stories produce cranky reactions from scientists and science educators complaining that this doesn’t really measure “science literacy” and arguing about what “science literacy should really mean. This time around was no exception, with the usual flurry of aggrieved tweets and blog posts; I’ll link to Rhett Allain’s post because it’s a good example, and includes a plug for my book, but it’s not hard to find more of this. (I think it was Ed Yong on Twitter TWTR +3.70% who said that discussions of science communication always feel like an Entmoot, with everyone arguing about definitions and going “Hoom, hoom…” endlessly.) Let me say right up front that I agree with a lot of the criticisms people make of this survey. The questions are simplistic and fact-based, which arguably doesn’t probe what we really want to know. A few of the topics (human evolution and the Big Bang) tell us more about the political affiliation of the respondents than actual science knowledge. And the wording of the questions isn’t as precise as a scientist might like. Those are all fair statements.”(more)

Memorizing is out, thinking like a scientist is in

The Detroit Free Press – Lori Higgins

“Forget memorizing the ins and outs of life cycles, photosynthesis and matter. If Michigan kids want to succeed in today’s science classes — and pull their test scores out of the bottom — they’re going to have to ask questions, investigate, analyze data, develop evidence and defend their conclusions. In short, they’re going to have to think, act and learn like scientists. That’s the gist of proposed new Michigan standards in science that are aimed at turning around the dismal performance of students in the subject. More than 80% of elementary and middle school students failed the science portion of the MEAP the last time it was given in 2013. Meanwhile, the state’s goal is for 85% of students to be proficient in science by 2022.”(more)

Understanding L.A. Unified’s new pre-kindergarten programs

The Los Angeles Times – Sonali Kohli

“Understanding all the pre-kindergarten programs can be daunting for parents in L.A. these days. L.A. Unified has some new programs — with new names — that can be a challenge to navigate for what is typically a family’s first foray into public education. Children in the U.S. are not required to attend school before kindergarten; many, including Californians, aren’t required to enter school until they’re 6 and past preschool age. But it’s important for children to be in a classroom setting before they turn 5, according to educators and researchers. In California and Los Angeles, that has resulted in a hodgepodge of pre-kindergarten programs. The newest one in LAUSD and in some other California districts is called expanded transitional kindergarten.”(more)

Falling in love with STEM

The Shreveport Times – Segann March

“Charles Moser climbed onto a classroom table Friday morning and shouted “eyeballs!” His students turned to find him looking at one of the leaves they’d collected through a magnifying glass. Then it was their turn. Kindergarteners Dillen Robinson and Cameron Brantley shared a magnifying glass and looked at the veins outlined on the leaf. Both students smiled at each other and worked together to identify what they couldn’t see with their naked eyes. “I want to be an animal researcher because of this science class,” said Robinson. And that’s the whole point of Project Lead the Way, a STEM-focused program being implemented at University Elementary School in Caddo. It’s the first elementary school in the district to take part, and educators hope those students will fall in love with science, technology and math.”(more)