FOSSconnect


FOSS Goes to Summer School

Joanna Totino, FOSS Elementary Specialist and director of the Bay Area Science Project
February 24, 2016 | FOSS in Schools

We've been hearing more and more about FOSS being used in summer schools around the country. In this issue we highlight two programs in California taking different approaches to bringing active learning to summer school students.

Student in school garden

A student works on her response to a focus question from the FOSS Mixtures and Solutions Module.

Summer Science Camp: Live Oak School District

Live Oak School District is a small district in Santa Cruz County. The county spans from the Pacific Coast to the mountains in Central California just south of San Francisco. Live Oak held Summer School Safari 2014 and The Summer Adventure Continues 2015, targeting at-risk students in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. Only students entering grades 4–6 participated in a FOSS Science Camp.

The District

The Live Oak School District has approximately 2,100 students in three elementary schools, one middle school, one K–8 independent charter school, one charter high school, and one alternative school. The district embraces the diverse student population, which includes Latino 50%, Caucasian 31%, and other ethnicities 19%. Approximately 33% of students are English learners, and approximately 84% of the English learners speak Spanish. Sixty percent of the students participate in free and reduced lunch.

The Model

Live Oak's model was to create a program that would benefit students and get their upper elementary grade teachers familiar with the FOSS curriculum before teaching it during the school year. They felt that the summer would be a great opportunity for teachers to experience the structure and daily use of FOSS. Melanie Sluggett, Program Director of Child Development & After-School Programs, and summer school principal in 2014 and 2015, described that they wanted to see how the students responded to the curriculum and provide in-depth FOSS teacher training at the same time. Summer school funding was limited and primary students needed literacy intervention; therefore, they chose only the upper grades to start using FOSS.

Live Oak had a champion FOSS lead teacher, John Hayes. He presented the idea to the district and supported the effort throughout. He provided five hours of professional development training at the start of summer school and was the lead summer school teacher. "Mr. Hayes's open-door policy beautifully supported the teachers with any questions they had," said program director Melanie Sluggett. Hayes also met with teachers at the end of the summer school day to discuss use of notebooks, ELA/ELD integration, oral discourse strategies, and FOSS curriculum.

Chart of modules

FOSS modules used in Live Oak School District for the summers of 2014 and 2015

The Program

The Live Oak program was held for four hours per day for four-weeks, including recess and lunch. Students attended FOSS Summer Science Camp from 8:30–12:30 p.m. for 20 days. The students used the computer lab 30 minutes a day to read/listen to the eSRBs and make final presentations.

The FOSS summer school teachers decided which module they wanted to teach. In 2014, the first year, there were three classrooms, one class per grade, with approximately 25 students per class. The summer of 2015, they added a grade 3–4 combination class, so there were 4 classrooms with 100 students. Two teacher's aides were hired to assist in the four classrooms working collaboratively with the teachers.

Teacher Results

In both 2014 and 2015, teachers were recruited from the district to teach FOSS summer camp. In 2015, the district offered stipends for any district teacher to come and observe FOSS in action during summer school. Six teachers attended for two days each and gave positive feedback to the district. As a result, those teachers are using FOSS in their classrooms presently.

Students Results

Students in school garden

Working on the Mixtures and Solutions Module, students set up grid lines in the school garden. They will put soil samples from each quadrant into plastic bottles and add water.

Teachers felt that it enhanced the learning for those students who experienced a FOSS module during the summer and again during the school year. Actually, teachers saw students take on the role of leaders when doing the same FOSS module during the year. For example, students who usually struggle with language began using the science vocabulary consistently and appropriately much earlier in the learning process.

Qualitative observations of student notebooks, participation, and presentations revealed an increase in student understanding. Sluggett recalled, "Students did presentations at the end of each week; after four weeks I saw dramatic improvement in science vocabulary, concept knowledge, as well as presentation skills and group cooperation in all FOSS classrooms; it was remarkable!"

John Hayes, lead teacher, added "the summer program was symbiotic. We wanted a high engagement curriculum and a PD opportunity for teachers. I think we achieved both. It gave teachers the opportunity to break in FOSS modules before teaching that same FOSS curriculum in the school year. The students at summer school are some of our neediest in terms of academic progress, and they performed admirably. Reasons for this are short day, small class size, engaging curriculum, and enthusiastic teachers."


Future

FOSS is being implemented at all school sites, grades 4–6, during the 2015–16 school year. The intention is to implement FOSS in grades K–3 in the coming years. There will be a new summer school principal for 2016, but Sluggett believes FOSS will again be implemented this summer. The Live Oak team established a creative and collaborative approach to enhance learning for both teachers and students at their FOSS summer camp.

References


Extended Learning Summer School Program: West Contra Costa Unified School District

West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) historically has many students who have been asked to attend an intervention summer school. In 2014, WCCUSD administration began to look for a program that would provide the opportunity for students to engage actively in their own learning. "We wanted to create a genuinely engaging and confidence building summer program. We decided that a successful hands-on, inquiry-based science program would support our students in the critical area of science; our intent was to build a solid foundation in the content area as well as motivate students to want to learn more about the world around them as they moved into next academic year," said Lyn Potter, Education Director. Potter contacted the Lawrence Hall of Science and contracted for the consulting, design, and coordination of the FOSS Science Summer School.

The District

WCCUSD serves around 30,000 students K–12 from the cities of Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Hercules, and Pinole. It consists of 36 elementary, 7 middle, and 6 high schools and 4 alternative schools. According to the California Department of Education, approximately 70% of the students receive free and reduced lunch; approximately 33% of the students are designated as English language learners.

The Model

The Extended Learning Summer School Program, an existing WCCUSD program, began using FOSS as a part of the program in 2014. The program runs for four weeks from 8:30–2:30, with one 20-minute recess. Approximately 1,500 grade 1–8 students attended in both years. The students have three 90-minute blocks of time. Students rotate through a 90-minute period of English language arts (ELA), math, and science each day throughout the four weeks. Approximately 1,500 students attend summer school, with approximately 30 students per regular education classroom.

CHART: Total K-12 Enrollment by Ethnicity for 2014-15

FOSS modules used in Live Oak School District for the summers of 2014 and 2015

FOSS CA professional development staff worked closely developing and coordinating with education services to develop a comprehensive FOSS summer school program. Approximately 60 WCCUSD teachers were hired to teach science. Each teacher received FOSS professional training from FOSS staff at the Lawrence Hall of Science prior to the start of summer school. In 2014, teachers received 22 hours; in 2015, teachers received 16 hours of professional learning. The training was designed using strong literacy integration, supported with scaffolding, oral discourse, writing, and vocabulary development. This comprised of approximately 2.5 days of FOSS professional development introducing the module, along with material and classroom preparation. Midway through summer school, the FOSS coordinator met with all the FOSS science teachers to reflect and discuss challenges and successes.

The Program

At the request of the district, the FOSS coordinator created a pacing guide and detailed schedule for each grade, to help teachers try to move through the module in the four weeks. Additionally, the FOSS coordinator created a notebook sequence using notebook and assessment masters and included blank pages when extra writing was necessary. The district pre-copied the notebook for each student, which relieved the teachers from doing this task.

The modules that were purchased and used were FOSS Third Edition and FOSS Next Generation Edition. An even- and odd-year system was created so returning students did not repeat modules.

Teacher Results

Approximately 50% (32) of the FOSS science teachers taught summer school in both 2014 and 2015. Summer school staff reported that students and teachers loved the FOSS science lessons and students looked forward to their science block. When district educational services staff did classroom visits, they observed high student engagement in their science lessons. The FOSS training for the summer school teachers impacted the teachers practice during the regular school year. Teachers learned a lot about integrating science with their Common Core ELA standards. Teachers reported using science notebooks back at their sites with their students. Many teachers wanted to teach FOSS during the school year.

CHART: Total K-12 Enrollment by Ethnicity for 2014-15

An even- and odd-year system was created so returning students did not repeat modules.

Student Results

All students took a FOSS survey (pretest) and posttest. For primary grades where no test existed, one was created by the FOSS coordinator. Students at all grade levels improved their scores. The pre-assessment data indicate a need for additional emphasis on teaching science in the elementary grades.

Future

For the summers of 2014 and 2015, WCCUSD students received an effective science summer school experience, and summer school teachers were provided with a valuable professional development opportunity. WCCUSD is planning to continue with this model in 2016. The district will purchase one more middle school title for next year.

References