Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Science in APP

Lots of discussion about problems at Hamilton middle school with how science is taught in APP.

We've talked a lot about math here on this blog, but not much about science. Let's broaden the discussion beyond Hamilton APP too.

How do you like how science is taught in APP? Are there grades in which it is done particularly well? Others where it is done poorly? Where it is done well or poorly, do you think what is responsible is the curriculum, principal, or teachers?


Anonymous said...

My 7th grade student at Hamilton finds the science curriculum to be painfully basic and the progress to be painfully slow. The same was generally true last year, but Mr. Levin supplemented with a lot of other things to at least keep it interesting.

Do both APP middle schools use the same curriculum?


Anonymous said...

From a previous blog:

"Anonymous said...
I agree that the bigger problem is the curriculum/books, especially in 6th grade. For 7th grade science this year, the new teacher has done an amazing job of supplementing the text. There has also been a writing component to the units (teacher created?)- which is more essay writing practice than is currently happening in LA. We're actually pretty happy with science this year. Kudos to the new teacher.

December 3, 2012 7:26 PM"

Are there more than one 7th grade APP science teachers at HIMS?

- Curious

Anonymous said...

I have a child in 6th grade APP science at HIMS, and the problem is not only the books. He is testing the kids on material he has not taught. He tells them incorrect information and isn't helpful when the kids ask questions. He looks up vocabulary definitions on wikipedia while the kids watch. Does the curriculum tell him to do that? I think there's a basic misunderstanding about what kids find interesting and what he should actually be teaching.

I know parents were not thrilled when he taught another grade, either. Lucky 7th grade families who probably won't have this guy.

-it is NOT the books

Anonymous said...

6th grade science at HIMS:
I think the problem is complex. The inquiry based curriculum, the book they have to read (Catastrophic events), the required youtube videos and the teacher also. But you should know they are NOT doing the Wikipedia word search any more in class. Mr T uses a new method to teach the new vocab words: they have to fill out a Med-lib like sheet where they have to repeat the words many times. My student finds this really boring and thinks this is a great teaching in an elementary's science class.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Oh, I know all about the mad lib sheets. My child's class today spent time cutting the sheets down to size to fit into their notebooks and then they listened to the teacher tell them which words went where. Then they had to listen to multiple kids read how they filled out their sheets and then they had to share them with their neighbors.

This class is aimed at 2nd graders.

-it's NOT the book

Anonymous said...

There is currently one APP science teacher for each grade at HIMS. The 7th gr teacher is Ms Ryan - she has a lot of passion and seems excited to be part of Hamilton. But this is in fact her very first real teaching job, so there will be a steep learning curve. My son says the class is better now, but still not that interesting. Although apparently the first couple months moved painfully slow, with almost a month spent on the Scientific Method and "What is Science?" Things the APP kids have been learning since 4th gr at least. I'm concerned that Ms Ryan is unaware of the pace needed. But she's quite pleasant and doesnt assign too much HW, so we are thankful for that. Mr Levin was wonderful but generally, the APP Science experience at HIMS has been a dissapointment. I would like feedback from 8th grade parents on the current teacher (Miss Vet?) who I believe also teaches one non-APP class.
- NW mom

Anonymous said...

For 7th grade science, I am grateful that the teacher is respectful of their time by allowing multiple days for completion of assignments and not overloading them with HW. My child is learning a lot without feeling overwhelmed.

The first part of the year was review of the scientific method, but I'm okay with that. They recently covered material that I didn't learn until a high school physics class - motion, velocity, and acceleration graphs, with basic calculations. They are now learning about forces and free body diagrams. When they take high school physics they are going to be on solid ground.

One more positive thing: Ms. R made sure she knew the band/orchestra schedule so tests or due dates generally don't fall on the day after a performance.

It's all relative I suppose.

content parent

Anonymous said...

I talked to the 6th grade science teacher at HIMS about the Med-lib like sheets and he stated very firmly that it works really well for most of the students.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...


Does your child like it? Mine finds the mad libs BORING. I know my child isn't the only one who is bored. We had another family over and my child and their child were sure complaining about how tedious they are.

I think it's just more proof he's out of touch if he thinks "most" kids like them. My non scientific study is that lots of my kid's friends don't like them and are bored in science overall. Too bad. It's pretty hard to ruin science for interested kids.

-another HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Updating my earlier comment, I agree that the new 7th grade APP science teacher seems to be doing a good job, especially given it's her first year. Course pacing may pick up as she gets a better sense as to these kids' abilities. Or then again, the current pacing may reflect what some of the students need. I think that's one of the problems with APP science in general--whereas there are different options for math, APP science is one size fits all. There's a subset of kids that comes in with solid science skills and won't learn much in these classes, but it may be a small minority.


lendlees said...

Much of this points to the lack of Professional Development for APP (and Spectrum) teachers. Once again, the AL office could provide training for these teachers so they can differentiate and make district curriculum work for APP students.

The lack of experiments, fill in vocabulary sheets, and lack of enthusiasm is making my kid rapidly lose interest.

word said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please do not call the students who are not in APP "the regular kids". It is highly offensive.

Anonymous said...

to Word:
I am sorry that you removed your article, it was NOT offensive. It was on the topic, science in the APP class room and you gave a nice inside scoop (as a scientist) to the discussion. I wish you would re-post it.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

I would really like to read the article, too.

Anonymous said...

Science sucks district wide and it's on the list for a make-over. We have a huge pool of science people in our town and they need to get up and help the district ramp up for the 21 st century. Talk to your principal.

Madame Curie

Spectrum>APP said...

We have a 5th grade Spectrum student who has tested into APP, so we are just trying to get up to speed on APP issues.
The blog of course is peopled by folks who have been in APP for several years, so you understandably use a lot of shorthand, but its a bit overwhelming for a newcomer.
Any chance of an overview to help us get up to speed?