To: Dr. Laura S. Seinfeld
From: Dina M. Anzalone
Re: K-5 Science Program Recommendation
In 2010-11 as an outgrowth of the District Science Committee, the Science Slice Committee formed to review elementary science programs to pilot during the 2011-12 school year. The Committee was comprised of teachers (P-5), administrators (building and central office), parents, and District Science Chair people. During that time, the Committee was charged with selecting two programs to pilot using criteria developed by the Committee. The documents that assisted in this process were the District’s Shared Vision and Mission, Hewlett-Woodmere Public School District’s Draft Philosophy of Science Education (Appendix A), The National Science Teachers’ Association (NSTA) Official Position Paper on elementary school science (Appendix B), and the Science Pilot Checklist developed by the Committee (Appendix C).
The Slice Committee reviewed six science programs, including, Delta Science Modules (DSM); Delta Seeds of Science; Delta Education’s Full Options Science System (FOSS); Monroe 2 – Orleans BOCES Elementary Science Program (ESP); Science and Technology Children (STC); and Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES Science 21. After thorough review using the criteria mentioned above, the Slice Committee selected FOSS and ESP as the two programs to pilot during the 2011-12 school year.
Thereafter, a review of the current state of science curriculum at Ogden Elementary School (OES) and Hewlett Elementary School (HES) ensued. An outline of science units to be taught during the year was crafted in consultation with principals, teachers, and the FOSS curriculum specialist. Teachers provided feedback on the outline that went through several stages of revision. The model agreed upon by the Slice Committee was to have each pilot teacher use each program so that they could provide a fair comparison of the two. Pilot teachers were provided with professional development on June 27, 2011 (P-2) and June 28, 2011 (3-5) for ESP and August 29, 2011 (P-2) and August 30, 2011 (3-5) for FOSS. FOSS had a second training in March 2012.
I. January Feedback Questions:
a. How correlated is the program with NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum?
b. Are the lessons and materials differentiated for a variety of learner needs?
c. Are all of the materials needed for implementation of the lesson provided or is additional supplementation needed?
d. Is the program user-friendly?
e. Are the children enjoying the science program, and do you see evidence of learning? Please explain how.
f. Are you, as a teacher, enjoying teaching science using this program?
g. Please provide any additional information you feel is important for the committee to have when making their final decision.
At the final meeting on April 19, 2012, each Slice Committee member was asked to fill out an index card with their choice of program and the reason for their selection. All eleven members (100%) of the Committee, who were present, selected FOSS as their first choice. Their comments are below:
1) FOSS: organized program with all materials needed for lessons; pushes students to be problem-solvers and think beyond what is presented; video makes the kits easy to use; comprehensive teacher’s guide but we’ll need staff development;
2) FOSS: more age-appropriate, more meaningful, exciting, hands on, moving units;
3) FOSS: challenging, great resources are available for teachers, organized well-thought out curriculum;
4) FOSS: most teachers prefer it overall, hands-on activities, a lot of science material/information, “meatier” program;
5) FOSS: FOSS is a much better program for students. The hands-on activities are a joy and really are what kids love and need. After doing both programs, the children learned a great deal from FOSS;
6) FOSS: more geared to the needs of the children, more hands-on and exciting to the teacher and children;
7) FOSS: far more interesting and exciting. Age/developmentally appropriate experiments, well-balanced instruction, kids LOVED it!
8) FOSS: more depth to each unit, children enjoyed the experiments more than ESP, vocabulary was more challenging;
9) FOSS: teachers piloting have seen the impact this program has made on students’ learning. Students are motivated and engaged while learning new content and having hands-on experiences;
10) FOSS: plenty of hands-on activities for every student, promotes critical thinking, clear teacher preparation and instructions provided;
11) FOSS: FOSS is my preference because it allows students to think “outside the box.” It is teacher friendly while having high expectations for students.
Mrs. Lorraine Smyth, assistant principal at HES, also shared some anonymous student responses from when they were asked what program they liked better (FOSS or ESP). Below is a small sample of responses; however, it is important to note that the entire class that was surveyed selected FOSS.
a) Dear District,
I think you should go with FOSS. I really liked their experiments plus they have more electronics and I like electronics. I also hear FOSS is giving us a go-cart unit. I look forward to that.
b) I think you should pick FOSS because students could use creativity to build models and designs. Also, everyone is a part of the building. Furthermore, I think you should go with FOSS.
c) In my opinion, I think the District should choose FOSS over ESP. FOSS has a lot more fun activities than ESP. I prefer models and designs over rocks and minerals.
d) I like the FOSS the most because it was fun and you go to be more involved in what was going on during science. I am really looking forward to go-carts too because it sounds very fun.
e) I like FOSS because I think that it is a very creative program and you have to use your creativity a lot. Also, I like the unit we are working on because you have to cooperate with your partners and compromise. I really prefer FOSS.
a) Work with a FOSS curriculum consultant to assist with ordering units that align with the Next Generation Science Standards and the District’s philosophy of science education and help us develop a scope and sequence;
b) Options for leasing or purchasing;
c) Professional development options during a two-hour departmental meeting to avoid interrupting instructional time;
d) Need to be flexible enough so that we can supplement materials (as needed) as standards change;
e) Need leveled books that correspond with units.
Finally, the Slice Committee reviewed Policy #4511 and all regulations to ensure that the appropriate protocol for recommending a new textbook for adoption to the Board of Education was followed. The Slice Committee is confident that the decision to adopt FOSS is the best option to help prepare students to create, think critically, problem-solve, communicate, and collaborate.
The National Science Teachers Association supports the notion that inquiry science must be a basic in the daily curriculum of every elementary school student at every grade level. In the last decade, numerous reports have been published calling for reform in education. Each report has highlighted the importance of early experiences in science so that students develop problem-solving skills that empower them to participate in an increasingly scientific and technological world.
—Adopted by the Board of Directors
□ Does the curriculum align with NYS Elementary Science Core Curriculum?
□ Does the curriculum align with NYS Learning Standards for Math, Science, and Technology?
□ Are there built-in assessments?
□ Formative assessments?
□ Summative assessments?
□ Performance-based assessments?
□ Is there staff development included with the purchase of the program?
Specifics about the staff development: _______________________________________________
□ Are there distance-learning opportunities for professional development?
□ Is there a technology component to the program?
Specifics about the technologies (types, special hardware or software needed, technical specifications)?: _________________________________________________________________
□ Will the curriculum stay current as changes in NYS standards occur?
□ Will there be support in terms of material management (if part of the program)?
□ Does this program allow for differentiation for all populations of students (ELLs, Special Education, General Education, Gifted and Talented)?
Specifics about differentiation: _____________________________________________________
□ Are the materials stimulating and age-appropriate?
□ Is there a clear scope and sequence?
□ Are pre and post-teaching tips available?
□ Is the program user friendly?
□ Is there a reading component to the program aligned to CCSS?
□ Is there a writing component to the program aligned to CCSS?