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Waynesboro school board gets education on science curriculum

February 20, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - New hands-on learning tools to be used this semester for some elementary school-aged children don't necessarily have reference materials for parents to use at home, school officials said Tuesday.

Elementary principals and teachers told the Waynesboro Area School Board they are continuing to determine what will be used at home, but said the new lessons won't have much traditional homework.

"They could bring their notebooks home," said Sherian Diller, the district's director of elementary education and principal of Mowrey Elementary School.

Those notebooks allow students to record their observations and theories about experiments, while also setting up glossaries and tables of content, according to first-grade teacher Candace Norris.

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Mowrey will be using Full Option Science Systems (Foss), as well as Science and Technology for Children (STC) through a grant program. Diller said 28 teachers from other schools also learned about the science materials, which could be used districtwide if the school board approved $18,000 worth of funding each year for four years of start-up costs.

A fifth-grader's recent questioning at a school board meeting of why she doesn't have a science textbook prompted Tuesday's presentation.

"We need to look at these modules - we have the Foss and STC - to see which ones are best aligned with the curriculum," Assistant Superintendent Gloria Walker said.

"What do students walk away with at the end of the year as far as their baseline knowledge? ... Can you tell me what Foss and STC are giving them? I'm talking details," board member Firmadge Crutchfield said.

"They're going to be getting life skills on how to gather and interpret data," Norris said.

She said her students have started to use the "weather" Foss module. They are learning cloud types and each have a thermometer in the plastic bin that houses the module.

"All the materials are provided. I can focus on teaching, not gathering materials," Norris said.

Students will learn about how weather affects their lives, she said.

"The experiences in the weather module that I'm going to be teaching are real experiences. ... They love doing this kind of thing," Norris said.

Sixth-grade teacher Timothy Eskridge told the board that students develop questions and theories when working with their peers.

"The teacher's role is to guide students to the objective, but not to be the knowledge giver. ... These modules leave it up to the students to do the learning," he said.

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