Smart Hens Make Smart Chicks

Discussion in 'The Hens' Nest' started by TaterTot, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    We register J for kindergarten tonight. :eek:

    ETA: Also, I don't know if maybe we will need a new thread for school-age kids at some point, but I was wondering if anyone wants to talk education? The school J is supposed to go to is the first of its kind in our state, and a nonprofit I work with actually partnered with our district to pilot it. Its formation was very contentious -- lots of people opt out (so much so that you don't even need to open enroll to opt out, you can just say no and automatically get into the neighboring traditional school) but lots of people from other zones opt in, too.

    It's community-based learning, where the entire school is broken into three sections (communities) of K-5th graders, and you stay with the same community all six years. There are no walls or classrooms, just three big railroad-style spaces with like tables and bean bag chairs and stuff. All the grade levels do the same subject at the same time, and the kids participate at whatever ability level they're at. Apparently this is the way of the future and is supposed to give each kid a super individualized plan.

    Of course the concern is that it'll work great for advanced kids. We all like to imagine our little first-graders doing fourth-grade math. I do worry about kids who are behind being allowed to "learn down" and not be pushed to catch up. The people I work with assure me that the program, principal, teachers, etc., are magicians who have a handle on each student's individual abilities and needs and nothing gets missed. Sooooo.

    I don't know. It seems very New Age and I'm like yeah but will my kids know their times tables by the time they go to middle school? I'm assured by the pros they will.

    I think the fact that both my children are in a Montessori school now bodes well for this transition. I just find it so strange that my son will have an "anchor" teacher but not a kindergarten classroom.

    I dunno. I guess we'll see tonight.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  2. Rico Suave

    Rico Suave Chicken

    @TaterTot Definitely down for a school-age thread! As far as the school, it sounds really cool! I'm totally for alternative teaching/learning. We considered putting P in a similar style school, but it was project based learning. I will say this. I was really for it until I went to orientation and I heard the nitty gritty and listened to the other parent concerns and questions. Not to say that there was anything wrong with the school, it's just that my worry for her possibly falling behind or not being on par with grade level outweighed my interest in the learning style. I also just didn't get an "organized" vibe from the administration and that rubbed me the wrong way. They were very lax, and didn't really seem to have a concrete answer to parents questioning what is done if a student is falling behind.

    P didn't go to preschool though, so that was also a factor in my decision making. I think that it could be really an easier transition for J into a school like your describing since he is already in Montesorri. Individualized learning is very IN right now. Even my 6-12 school is super into promoting "personalized education plans". Go into it with an open, but cautious mind. Your instincts will point you in the right direction.
     
  3. Canucklehead

    Canucklehead Chicken

    @TaterTot that sounds interesting but what’s the teacher to student ratio like? I might be too much of a square to put my kids in this sort of school.
     
  4. antisocialite

    antisocialite Chicken

    @TaterTot I went to an elementary school with no walls when that was "the future" in 1985. It was a little different than what you describe but it was also problematic in some ways, mainly noise (one class is having a test, the other class is having a pizza party, etc). We were still in grade-level classes with a class teacher, but would go between classrooms for stories or playtime or other collaboration depending on age. When they remodeled the school they put in walls. That said I don't think I suffered from it. Maybe some kids with more struggles learning did, though, I'm not really sure.
     
  5. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    15:1
     
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  6. A. Ham

    A. Ham Chicken

    I was in multi age classes from 1st to 6th grades. I remember liking it because the teachers were able to teach to different levels so in my good subjects (English, writing etc) I was able to do more advanced work, but in math and science where I struggled a bit they were able to teach whatever was on your level and move on when you're ready. There wasn't a big push to get it all in by the end of the year, because you were in each class for 2 years. I can see it going either way but my experience was positive.
     
  7. Fitz

    Fitz Leslie Knope Monster

    That sounds really, really interesting, @TaterTot and I can't wait to hear your impression. I would ask how they plan to help families who have to move or decide to put their child in a traditional school. Like, if you send J and M there (eventually) and then you move your family to Kalamazoo when they're 10 and 7 (I don't know if I'm getting their age gap entirely correct), what happens if J's reading level is at 7th grade but his math level is at 4th? What grade do you put him in at the new school?

    I would LOVE an education thread for our chicks. I'm already thinking about pre-K and Kindergarten, and I'm just really interested in education in general.
     
    Kimmers likes this.
  8. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    Let's talk about learning.
     
  9. CoolWife

    CoolWife Chicken

    I actually have a friend doing graduate work on this very thing @TaterTot. I'll ask her for some resources.
     
    TaterTot likes this.
  10. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    Yes please and thank you.
     
  11. fantasynerd

    fantasynerd Extra Extra

    I'm a loooong way off from having school age chicks of my own, but being a nerd and in the middle of a (mod/severe special ed) teaching credential program, I have a lot of thoughts about education!

    A program like that sounds like it could be really great, but it depends on how well it's implemented. 15:1 is a great ratio that you don't usually get for 5th graders, so from that perspective it's really cool. It also seems like there would be a lot of collaborative learning, which generally I think is pretty awesome.

    As a special ed teacher I'm all about individualized learning. An important part of my classes so far (which have been a mix of general and special ed) has been the concept of differentiated instruction. You need to accommodate for the bottom, middle, and top thirds of the class, ESL students, and students with special needs. This means using a variety of strategies, making lessons multisensory, considering student strengths and needs, flexible groupings, giving higher achieving students the opportunity to do something different instead of reviewing a concept they don't need to review, etcetera. The only issue with this is that it can be a lot of work for teachers.

    The other thing that sticks out to me as a potential issue with this kind of program is, as others have mentioned, students falling through the cracks, and too much flexibility that leads to lower expectations. High expectations yield higher results. Also generally students learn effectively at a fairly brisk pace of instruction. One thing that I would love to implement if I taught higher functioning students is curriculum based measurement, where you test/probe students every week, and it can be very quick, so you're frequently getting a sense of what they're having trouble with so you can modify instruction appropriately. I'm not a big fan of standardized tests, but formative assessment can really help ensure students are learning.
     
  12. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    I just chatted for 30 minutes with one of the seven teachers who worked with the nonprofit and school district to create the model and flip the school from traditional to Impact. She just happened to have a meeting here this afternoon. Their whole philosophy is "student-centered learning in teacher-powered schools," and they were selling me pretty hard on it.

    I do have to say one thing -- demographically speaking, this is not the richest, whitest school in our rich, white district. I feel like that can be a plus or a minus, depending on what "diversity" means where you live. We left our old city because its school district has problems with diversity (like real gang problems with the immigrant population). To me, that's not cool because I don't want that to be my kids' first touchpoint with diversity in a formal setting. Like, oh, the students of color are the "problem" kids. In some schools in our old district, like 75-80% of the student body were part of the free or reduced lunch program, which my old neighbors who were teachers told me were indicative of what schools were the "worst." I know, I know. All of this sounds so fucking racist. But I'm just like, we moved here to be in the school district that boasted elementary schools performing better than 98% of the schools in the state . . . and this is not one of those schools. Those schools have boundaries that only include expensive single-family homes. Also 90%+ white.

    I am not about raising my kids in a white bubble (FFS, my kids aren't even technically "white"), but part of me is like . . . we moved here and pay crazy high property taxes because of the schools. Shouldn't we be trying to get into the "best" one? ("Best" by whatever criteria the independent sites that rank these schools use.)

    So that's it. Like, I question whether this school is the best of the resources available to us, in a high-achieving area. But I do like the learning model, mostly because yeah, I'm an annoying Millennial mom who thinks my kid is smarter than other kids the same age and that he will be one who excels in this environment. But he'd also probably excel at a traditional school too.

    Guys. I don't want to tour eight different schools. I just want someone to tell me which one is the right one for me.
     
  13. whatchyagonnado

    whatchyagonnado Chicken

    How does J do with older kids? I remember my brother getting picked on a lot when he was younger because he was shy and nerdy by older kids on his soccer team and at after care. I just feel like that would have been worse in this environment.

    On the flip, a lot of ny friends theoughout school were older by a grade or a few and I would have loved this.

    I think this is a cool option! My niece is in kindergarten this year in an immersion school so she does half the day in Spanish. It is not the school shes zoned to but my sister wanted something unique. It also has an art emphasis so she has to choose an area of art to focus on starting next year.
     
  14. Zoomzoom

    Zoomzoom Old Curmudgeon

    Disclaimer: not a mom, not a teacher, don't really understand how school there works since it's different than here.

    One big question I have is what happens at the end of grade 5? If your kids are behind are they just expected to suddenly catch up when they move to a traditional middle school? Is there a similar school at the next age level? And if they're smarter than the others what happens in grade 5 when they've mastered all that material already? Do they teach them then at a 6th grade level? And if they do then what happens in a traditional school after?

    I was that kid that was smarter than the others. My parents put me in a French immersion program to help challenge me and I ended up being moved up a grade. On the one hand the program you're describing sounds like it would have been great for someone like me... Until grade 5.
     
  15. Rico Suave

    Rico Suave Chicken

    Tater, I was in the same damn boat. We moved to where we did for the same reason, and had the same choice basically when deciding on a school. The PBL school wasn't the best, but was intriguing and the traditional school option was basically tits. I flip flopped for awhile, even after registering P in traditional school.

    IMO, you seem to be leaning toward the non-traditional so why not go for it? J seems like a really bright kid and I'm more than sure he would excel in either school. IF something were to come up and you didn't feel J was retaining as much as you think he should be, you still have the traditional option. It's not like that goes away. You're an involved parent. I'm positive you would notice if J were falling behind. I don't think he'll get to 6th grade and suddenly you realize he's not on par with other 6th graders. I know this is A LOT to think about. You're basically deciding your child's future and that's heavy. You are an excellent parent though with wicked sharp instincts.

    ETA: Is there an orientation? Like and informational meeting where you can ask question? If you're seriously considering this one I think it would be great for you to get as much info as you can, ya know?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  16. fantasynerd

    fantasynerd Extra Extra

    Tour two or three schools and go with your gut. With parents like you, your kids will be fine no matter where you send them. Worst case scenario, you decide it's not the right fit and switch to a different school later on. And remember, test scores are not everything. @amonavis mentioned this recently.

    I'd also prefer for my kids to go to a school where they don't get the sense that people of color are usually not as nice or smart as white people, so I get it. On the flip side, my zoned elementary school is 1% white and I wouldn't want my kids to go there, where as if I lived literally one house over I'd be zoned in the 30% white school. What I really want for my future kids is to attend a dual language program where they'll learn Spanish, and those programs are generally 70/30 or 50/50 primarily Spanish speakers and English only speakers.
     
  17. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    @Zoomzoom I asked about falling behind, and they said that it basically just doesn't happen the way we're thinking. If a teacher sees that a student is not catching on and not catching up to their grade level quickly, they don't just let them languish. They would work with tutors independently, outside the classroom, and develop an IEP. They do not use "learning down" as a replacement for these very crucial services.

    They have all of the same resources as traditional schools, so student on the gifted and talented track would still be receiving that additional support outside of the classroom. I assume that, in addition to skipping a grade if necessary (and I have a hard time believing they would ever recommend this for a boy with a May birthday), the gifted-and-talented program would just continue on in the middle school setting.

    @whatchyagonnado J is very smart and confident and handsome and well-spoken. Everyone wants to be his friend! LOL. But seriously. He regularly plays with kids who are 7-8 and really enjoys it. I like this aspect of it for him. He's been the big fish in a small pond his entire day care/school experience, and I think he'll really enjoy that not being the case anymore.
     
  18. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    Friends of ours have their kids in a program that sounds really similar to this. Their class sizes are tiny and the parents are all really involved, which I guess is good but could also be a PITA for said parents. Their program is K-8, but the "middle school" is 5-8. It's essentially the same setup, but the kids "move" from subject to subject with different teachers to prepare them for the traditional high school environment.
     
  19. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    @Rico Suave But am I only choosing this school because it's the one we're zoned for and I don't want to deal with a lottery?
     
  20. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    Yes. That's how it is here too. They do not spend a whole day with the same teacher. They just have an "anchor" teacher and space -- like where they gather for housekeeping items and lunch and cubbies and whatever.
     
  21. Honey

    Honey Historian Staff Member

    That would be ok too! I bet most of our parents did that and we all turned out fine.
     
  22. Rico Suave

    Rico Suave Chicken

    I don't think you are. You seem to actually be into the learning model, yes? Even if this school is the most convenient option doesn't it just make it that much better?
     
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  23. TaterTot

    TaterTot Rulebitch Staff Member

    @Rico Suave The orientation/information night is tonight, but we're also supposed to register tonight?! Like, they have been sending emails saying that if we can't come tonight, we better drop our forms off at the school before tonight because tonight is the deadline and TONIGHT TONIGHT TONIGHT. I think they're in a pickle because lots of people want to get into this school and they need to know now how many zoned opt-outs they have?
     
  24. Canucklehead

    Canucklehead Chicken

    I mean if you register for it tonight and then change your mind you could still get him into a traditional school before the school year couldn’t you?
     
    Kimmers likes this.
  25. Rico Suave

    Rico Suave Chicken

    Ah, okay. Well then register even if you're still wavering. He doesn't HAVE to go there even if you register tonight. Do you know when the lottery is?
     

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