How do adverse childhood events affect student performance?

Cognitive outcomes vs intersectional traumas

do adverse childhood events affect school performanceWe talk with legendary awesome stats guy Mark Olofson — now Dr. Legendary Awesome Stats Guy Mark Olofson — about his research into adverse childhood events and school performance.

It’s some pretty important stuff, about how the intersecting traumas that affect students have some long-reaching consequences.

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Pushing my thinking with summer reading

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonWith July comes the “Dog Days” of summer – named due to their association with Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is the (second) brightest star in the sky, and Voyager 2 will get within 5 light years of it as long as nothing bad happens for the next 296,000 years. Anyway, centuries ago, Sirius would rise with the sun during July and August, thus associating these hot days with canines. Fun facts to share!

That’s about all the science in this post…
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Making even more of “Beyond Bling”

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonA couple of weeks ago, Lucie deLaBruere of Learning with Lucie shared a post considering how we can embrace the emerging interest in Makerspace learning to move “Beyond Bling.” This post ignited my thinking about this type of learning in a number of different ways. I thought I’d take today to explore some of those thoughts in a commentary about the ideas in the post. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to go back and check it out. Once you have done that, I think you might be interested in further considerations of complex problems, project-based learning, and constructionism as a learning philosophy. Continue reading

Sugaring and the community part 2: Students become teachers

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark Olofson

Last week we looked at the sugaring operation at Essex Middle School. The students at the Edge Academy built a sugar house a few years ago, and now they produce maple syrup for their school every year. Math teacher Phil Young has intertwined the project with his mathematics curriculum, and students use iPads to support their work. By sugaring, students are engaging in the culture of their community in an authentic way. Today, I would like to share with you how these students have taken the project a step further. Not only have they learned how a sugaring operation works, they have shared that knowledge with local elementary students. This spring, The Edge invited two different classes of third graders out to the sugar house. The younger students engaged with sugaring and the math involved; the Edge students instructed them along the way, building their learning and community in the process. Continue reading

Sugaring, STEM, and community connections

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonEarly spring is sugaring season in Vermont. We produce the lion’s share of the domestic output of maple syrup, and we’re pretty proud of it. The process of tapping trees, collecting sap, and boiling it down has many connections to STEM education. The students and teachers of the Edge team at Essex Middle School built their own sugar house a few years ago, and now part of their curriculum is to make syrup while the sap flows. Math teacher Phil Young has integrated the process into his curriculum, and students use technology to support their work. Today, with Phil’s permission, I’d like to share some of those activities, and also consider how this is a different dimension to what it means to have connections to the community. Continue reading

The backlash to STEM education

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonThere is a lot of conversation about the importance of STEM education – in the media, in politics, and among educators. With so many voices emphasizing STEM education, it is not surprising to see people raising the counterpoint. Recently, Fareed Zakaria (a journalist for whom I have a lot of respect) published an op-ed titled “Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous.” With a splashy title like that, you can be certain that I clicked through. The article makes many good points; however, his arguments are based on a shallow understanding of STEM, 21st century skills, and innovations in education. Today, I’d like to break down these understandings, and show how STEM education actually can help solve the problems he presents. Continue reading

Separate Science in New Zealand

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonKia ora! You may (or may not) have noticed that the semi-regularly occurring Science Saturdays column has been off the radar for a little bit. This was due to my inability to keep up with my writing duties while travelling in New Zealand. I was there with a group of UVM graduate students, travelling and visiting schools. I visited five different public schools and two of their brand new charter schools. One thing that really struck me was the model of how they incorporate science into their middle schools, which is what I would like to share with you today. I think seeing how other systems do things can help us look at our own practices and assumptions with fresh eyes. Continue reading

The Weather and Vermont

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonIn Vermont, in the winter, we talk about the weather. A lot. Perhaps this is due to our agrarian roots and realities. Maybe it is an extension of how we look for each other. Or maybe it’s because it is really, really cold. Mars cold. Whatever the reason, it is a very common topic for discussion. Which makes it a great entry point for a STEM-centered lesson, unit, or project. And conveniently, there are a number of weather apps that serve as a great way to collect real-world data. Today we are going to consider bringing the weather into your classroom, or, perhaps, taking your classroom out to it.

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Robotics, PBL, and collaboration

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonAt TechJam this past autumn I was fortunate to run into a number of student groups who were there to show off projects. That forum, and others like it, gives learners a space to share, interact, and learn from each other. One group I met was from Big Picture South Burlington (@BigPictureSB), a community of learners working in the Big Picture model within South Burlington High School. Big Picture is all about authentic real-world learning, and this group of students had chosen to enter the ChampBot Challenge at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire. Talking with the students and their advisor Jim Shields during and after got me thinking about a number of issues related to collaboration, constructivism, and student choice in STEM education. Continue reading

Thinking about flipped science classrooms

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonHere at the beginning of the year, many people make resolutions. A new year can mean new opportunities, and offer chances to implement large changes. One change that we see teachers take on is the idea of implementing the flipped classroom. Shifting direct instruction to video in order to clear up more class time for individual and small group supported worktime sounds like both a great idea and a lot of prep work. Today I would like to dig into what it would mean to flip a science class, from both a practical and philosophical viewpoint. If it is a change that you are considering in the new year, I hope that you will find this useful. Continue reading