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Thursday

September 2014

18

More science added to Hartland- Lakeside school curriculum

Last Monday, the Harland-Lakeside school board approved a new science initiative for grades K-8.

"We've been looking at different approaches - what would be the most effective to actually make a difference to student knowledge and understanding of science concepts," Superintendent Glenn Schilling said.

Tweaks to the common core, especially in math and science, have been in the works for about six years now.

"I think just nationally, the world of science has been changing quite a bit, from learning the content to really thinking like a scientist," said Dacia Hopfensperger, the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum.

The district was fortunate enough to receive a grant last year with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for 13 teachers to essentially complete a master's degree in the process of the updating the curriculum. In the meantime, the district has been partnering with other school districts in Northern Illinois (like Arlington Heights School District) and a few other universities (Northwestern Illinois University and the University of Michigan).

"I think the very traditional science curriculum that we all went through, we're learning content. You're learning cell structure, you learn about genetics - and kids will still be doing some of that. The emphasis of science across the country has been 'How do you design a good scientific question?' and then 'How do you design an experiment' and evaluate 'How would I investigate this?' " Hopfensperger said.

The new science initiative will be heavy in writing and reading. Children, too, will be engaging scientific questions and experiments of their own design. Classrooms could be getting new equipment and tools - things that real scientists may use in their own labs.

Parents may notice more student posters in the classroom, because the labs are student-designed. Parents may also notice more rigorous homework, with an emphasis on lab reports and writing/reading skills.

"It's 'How would I create that?' versus the science curriculum that says 'Here's the experiment. Do it and answer these three questions,' " Hopfensperger said.

Hartland-Lakeside School District is moving forward with full support form the School Board and Schilling says they're very fortunate to have teachers in the district who are not onlyembracing it, but are excited about it. Full implementation will begin at North Shore Middle School in the fall, but they're already prototyping it in some schools.

"I'm a former science teacher, elementary science teacher, and I would just love to have had something like this when (I was) teaching," Schilling said.

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