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     Neshaminy Middle Schools Status Report


     We are planning a STEM special course (36 days) for the incoming 5th grade students who will be attending the middle school for the first time next year. T&EE department members are excited about the additional learning opportunities for students. There are numerous units of study and activities within their established T&EE curriculum and within the PLTW Gateway Program that can be added and/or integrated into the new 5th grade program and the existing 6th-8th grade program. Additional PLTW classes are possible as we move forward. There is more to be done to have the Design and Modeling units fully integrated into the middle level curriculum. Automation & Robotics is a good next choice at the MS after the Design and Modeling is better established T&EE teachers will meet after school and during future in-service days to plan for next year. 

     Through collaboration with the science department, the 5-8 middle school Technology and Engineering curriculum has been redesigned to support and address the PA Science and Technology Education standards that are assessed on the 8th grade science PSSA.  As with prior iterations of the curriculum, the Engineering Design Process is the essential knowledge that runs through the whole curriculum and provides an opportunity to acquire Technological Literacy. The new 5-8 program will infuse content from the Project Lead the Way: Design and Modeling unit throughout all four years. Additionally, the courses will provide hands-on activities to apply identified areas of science content.

    5th Grade
    ·  PLTW Introductory Units on STEM definitions and applications
    ·  Engineering Design Process and application
    ·  Engineering activity to reinforce simple machine content from science curriculum

    6th Grade
    ·  PLTW Measuring, Sketching, Dimensioning Units
    ·  Engineering Design Process and application
    ·  Technology Education content on Construction and Manufacturing
    · Engineering activity to reinforce forces and materials content from science curriculum
    7th Grade
    ·  LTW 3D modeling units using AutoDesk Inventor
    ·  Engineering Design Process and application
    ·  Technology Education content on Transportation
    · Engineering activity to reinforce transfer of energy content from science curriculum
     8th Grade
    ·  PLTW Advanced 3D modeling units using AutoDesk Inventor
    ·  Engineering Design Process and application
    ·  Technology Education content on Communication and Biotech
    · Engineering activity to reinforce waves and information transfer content from science curriculum

     For more information, see: https://www.pltw.org/our-programs/gateway 


     On the middle school science front, we reviewed the curriculum for science and technology and engineering education (T&EE) and compared what is being taught to the eligible content in the 8th grade science PSSA. It has become clear that a spiraled approach will be more effective than a grade level physical science, life science and earth science framework that has existed for many years. Our current stagnation on the eighth grade science PSSA scores is also prompting us to examine the science sequence/integration and develop strategies to improve student performance and preparation for high school level courses.

     During the summer of 2013, the middle school science leadership team was formed and conducted a crosswalk between the current Neshaminy Middle School science curriculum and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS are K-12 science standards that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across grades and disciplines. Developed jointly by representatives of 26 lead states, experts in elementary, middle, and high school science, industry and workforce development experts, and experienced professionals in assessment, English language acquisition, and students with disabilities, these standards provide all students with an internationally benchmarked science education that is based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council. This crosswalk document was then re-visited during December of 2013 and shared with all middle school science teachers. During the summer of 2014, the middle school teacher leadership team (Brian Suter, Connie Welke, Tom Brown and Tim Hunt) met for two consecutive days, and they learned a technique to design a scope and sequence using the NGSS. The leadership team completed a scope and sequence with big ideas, components and standards.

     The existing curriculum, where each grade focuses on a single subject area (earth, life, or physical science), will become integrated/spiraled one year at a time, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. Starting in the fall of 2015, the 6th grade students will have a course that incorporates life, physical and earth sciences with a high dose of the "nature of science" skills (science and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts). The same will take place more completely in 2016-2017 for 7th grade and in 2017-2018 for 8th grade. This approach will better prepare students for the 8th grade PSSA and more completely incorporate the NGSS and engineering practices. Our T&EE faculty will support this approach by including relevant eligible content in the 5th-8th grade T&EE curriculum. Health teachers can do the same with eligible content related to anatomy and physiology. We should keep the arts in mind for some of this integration as well to promote STEAM – science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.

     With middle school mathematics, major efforts have taken place to embed PSSA eligible content into the less general math courses, such as pre-algebra, and all the algebra courses. This will help students to perform better on their PSSAs/Algebra Keystone and show growth. Math and science teachers are becoming more proficient in administering and analyzing the results of CDTs. We have purchased PSSA prep books for math and algebra and will do so for science as we move forward. Also, this is our second year in having four sections of pre-algebra students in 6th grade. By having our most advanced math students in pre-algebra in 6th grade, they will be able to take geometry in middle school and two years of calculus in high school with some taking an AP calculus exam both years. The integration of math with science is clearly evident, especially in physics and engineering courses.




     Business, Computers and Information Technology: Current Middle School Program


    Our BCIT curriculum at the middle school level (current classroom teaching and plans for the 2015 – 2016 school year) is STEM-like.

    7th Grade
     Emerging Technologies and Skills: The course begins with identifying and explaining the district’s Acceptable Use Policy and applying it to technology devices.  Content promotes personal safety and protection from online and offline reputations, as well as the need to consider ethics and societal factors for decision making.   Programming with Scratch begins.  Students learn the details of design and execute scripting programs.  They design with parallelism and sequencing concepts.  Students practice encoding and decoding through the debugging process.  Students also learn MS OneNote and utilize the application for notetaking, questioning and decision-making.  Students use MS OneNote to create a digital journal that assesses the influence technologies have on daily life.
    8th Grade
    Business, Computer and Information Technology:  The first semester of the course centers activity around a Pizza business operated by students. The following skills are developed through assignments relating back to the business.  Students research and interpret data using technology, create an electronic portfolio in Google Docs, demonstrate use of presentation software, demonstrate MS Publisher layout and design skills, use Google Docs collaboration and file conversion skills.  Google Spreadsheets are used for tracking and charting data, plus multimedia tools for advertising.  The second semester is entirely focused on developing coding and programming skills for students.   It takes students further into Scratch, will teach basic HTML coding and will connect students to programming with Alice.  There are numerous computer science student learning outcomes expected from these programming units.  Some of these skills include: practicing computational thinking strategies, filtering information, solving authentic problems, and innovating to reach higher depths of knowledge.
    5th Grade
    BCIT Curriculum: In September the BCIT Department presented a recommendation for curriculum.  There were three components; a keyboarding unit, a software applications unit and a unit teaching the fundamentals of computer programming.  Department faculty will plan the 5th grade 36 day curriculum rotation during workshops and in-service days.

     All three middle schools are actively coordinating an after-school Computer Club. Sandburg and Maple Point are in the early stages but plan to follow Poquessing’s success.
     The teachers have thoughts of a district competition among clubs and hope to share guest speakers with their webcams.  
     Poquessing students have joined a 20-hour Introduction to Computer Science course through http://code.org/, using lessons as a 15 minute warm-up during meetings. There are guest speakers and student demonstrations with interesting hardware.  Students have disassembled computers to identify parts and to see how they work.  Students are now using those parts to make robots. 

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