The News Gallery
March 2001BETWEEN THE LINES - Integrating Math and Science in Tulare County
Editor: Rob Herman
Public Information Officer
M.J. Alms, Cheri Barnes, Gary Biggs, Darlynn Billingsley, Esmeralda Cano, Veronica Carmona, Christine Chapman, Vicky Contreras, Jeanne Croson, Randy Elzig, Frank Escobar, Linda Hamilton, Margaret Ibarra, LouAnn King, Donna Martin, Rick Mitchell, Donna Orozco and George Pilling.
The News Gallery is published monthly with the exception of double issues printed for July/August and December/January. If you would like to receive the News Gallery, please contact Christine Chapman at (559) 733-6172 and provide your name and address.
On the cover above: Mathematics Instructional Consultant Cathleen Rogers demonstrates the geometry needed to make a quilt.
Math and Science Education Emphasized Through Events, Workshops and Programs
Governor Gray Davis' CalTeach Program has identified mathematics and science as two of the critical teacher shortage areas in California. The issue of teacher shortages comes at a time when the need for math and science instruction is increasingly important. So important, the Tulare County Board of Education at its annual retreat in January designated math and science instructional consulting and activities for students throughout the County a priority. "The board recognized the importance of math and science skills for students entering college or the job market," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "I appreciate their insight, because Tulare County students are going to be competing for careers and utilizing technology in any industry. Our challenge is to provide a solid foundation in math and science so that they are prepared for college or to work with technology whether it is on the far, in manufacturing or in an office."
For Tulare County teachers and students, the path to math and science education has been paved by some of the best personnel and educational resources in California. The Tulare County Office of Education's Educational Resource Services program is home to Mathematics Consultant Cathleen Rogers and Science Consultant Joseph Jimenez. Ms. Rogers and Mr. Jimenez are responsible for developing the teacher support programs and student events in their respective areas. The emphasis of the consultants is to integrate math and science into other areas of study. "We realize teachers have more to tach and sometimes science gets squeezed out," says Joseph Jimenez. "Through our work with teachers across Tulare County, we are able to show them how this subject can be taught alongside language arts and mathematics."
This past year, Cathleen Rogers helped establish the Tulare County Mathematics Network for teachers, administrators, parents and other community members who are interested and concerned about what is happening in mathematics education at the local, regional, state and national level. "At network meetings, we share and discuss current issues affecting mathematics education today," says Ms. Rogers. "These issues involve mathematics textbook adoptions, the High School Exit Exam, STAR testing, alignment of standards and curriculum, current legislation, conferences and workshops, school successes, relevant grant information and concerns." Other teacher support programs include Mathematics Book Chat groups, Mathematics Professional Development groups, and Mathematics Through Quilting, a hands-on program for teachers grades 5 through 12 that combines geometry, fabric and imagination. The Mathematics Professional Development program focuses on teaching the underlying mathematics content needed to teach students the California Mathematics Standards as described in Assembly Bill 1331. "We currently have districts throughout the county delivering AB 1331 instruction. It is our belief that teachers, who have a deep understanding of mathematics content, teach mathematics more effectively," notes Ms. Rogers.
Similarly, Joseph Jimenez is involved in professional development through various associations of Central California science educators. Mr. Jimenez is also a local representative for the Greater Exploration in Math and Science program (GEMS), which is a partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Merced and the National Park Service. GEMS publishes a variety of science and math-related books, which Mr. Jimenez utilizes in workshops with area science teachers. He also worked with Language Arts Consultant Connie Smith in outreach to Migrant Education students, giving them science lessons and valuable language development.
Students enjoy several popular math and science related events. Fro instance, the Science Olympiad, held later this month, is a rigorous academic competition that consists of a series of individual and team events which students prepare for during the year. "These events are balanced between the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and computers and technology. There is also a balance between science facts, concept processes, skills and science applications," notes Mr. Jimenez. Locally, over 250 students from more than 20 schools compete in the regional competition held at COS. Individual and team awards are presented with the top three teams in each division advancing to the NorCAL State Science Competition.
The Tulare County Science and Engineering Fair is held annually at the Visalia Mall. Traditionally, over 200 science fair projects from grades 4-12 representing schools from throughout the County are on display for public view. All projects are judged by science experts from the private and public sectors. Local special-interest industries such as the health and farming community often sponsor special awards for those projects meeting specific criteria. This year, the Tulare County Science Fair is affiliated with the California State Science Fair, affording top local science fair projects entry to that competition.
Math Super Bowl is designed for 7th-8th grade students from throughout Tulare County. Cathleen Rogers explains: "We traditionally have over 700 students participate in the day long series of mathematics challenges. Students work with members of other schools to solve one open-ended problem in the Pro Bowl test, which is evaluated against a rubric. They also work with members of their own team to solve 15 free-answer questions in the Team Bowl. The Power Bowl challenges students individually with 35 enhanced multiple-choice questions." "Expanding your Horizons," profiled in the February issue of The News Gallery, is another new mathematics conference designed to interest young women in the non-traditional fields of math, science and engineering.
Perhaps the most unique programs for science in Central California are the Tulare County Office of Education's own Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation (SCICON) and the adjacent Circle J-Norris Ranch program. These outstanding outdoor education classrooms provide invaluable lessons in earth sciences, plant and animal biology and research techniques students never forget. In addition, the Impact Center, which houses one of Central California's oldest planetariums and a multi-media theater, gives students a glimpse at worlds beyond ours. A planned relocation and expansion of the Impact Center is just another indication of the commitment to mathematics and science education made by Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak, and Tulare County Office of Education.
For information on math events and instruction, contact Cathleen Rogers, mathematics instructional consultant, at (559) 651-3641.
For information about science events and instruction, contact Joseph Jimenez, science instructional consultant, at (559) 651-0680.
~ Language Arts Instructional Consultant Connie Smith works with a group of teachers to demonstrate how mathematics principles can be illustrated in literature. Ms. Smith's work with teachers and consultants is part of the Tulare County Office of Education's emphasis to integrate math and science instruction into other subjects.
~ Teacher training and support is an important aspect of the work done by the Educational Resource Services Instructional Consultants.
Tulare County Friday Night Live Takes the Stage March 30
Friday, March 30, the Visalia Convention Center will be filled with energy as 1500 students, parents, relatives and classmates gather to watch over 100 junior high school students compete for first, second and third place awards in the 12th Annual Friday Night Live Lip Sync Competition. The Lip Sync Competition is one of the year's most entertaining events as teams from throughout the County compete in the lip sync, novelty and dance categories.
The competition, which begins at 6:00pm and concludes at approximately 10:00pm, is an opportunity for students, parents, relatives, teachers and peers to celebrate the efforts of 27 junior high groups. Friday Night Live creates opportunities for school-age youth to be involved in high energy, life affirming activities promoting abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gang participation and violence. Participation in major activities of this type encourages the productive use of after-school time, develops students' talents and self-confidence and recognizes their achievements.
Friday Night Live is one of several alcohol, tobacco an drug-prevention programs coordinated by the Tulare County Office of Education CHOICES Program. CHOICES works directly with many Tulare County school districts and student groups to provide awareness and mentoring education. For more information on the event, or about CHOICES, contact Stewart Wilson at (559) 651-0155.
~ Burton Middle School in Porterville took first place honors in the novelty category last year.
La Sierra Grows to Accommodate Students and Technology
La Sierra High School, the new charter high school operated by Services for Education & Employment (SEE), is expanding its student body and facilities. Located in the old Four Creeks Shopping Center, La Sierra is acquiring an additional 10,000 square feet of space for additional classrooms. "I appreciate the support of the Tulare County Board of Education in approving the purchase of the additional space," says County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak. "La Sierra has ambitious plans to expand its curriculum and become one of the most technologically sophisticated learning centers in California. The added classrooms greatly enhance La Sierra's ability to offer advance studies and training."
"We needed more space to accommodate our growing student body," states La Sierra Administrator Dr. Lorene Valentino. "We will expand to about 100 students by the end of our spring semester and we were out of room in our existing building." La Sierra High School is co-located in the SEE & Co. Vocational Training Center, 1735 E. Houston Ave., Visalia, with other SEE programs. In 1998, SEE entered into a long-term lease to renovate an abandoned super market, and with its Building Trades Training Program, completely refurbished the 27,000 square foot building. La Sierra provides vocational training in Building Trades, Graphic Arts, Printing, Culinary Arts, Hospitality, Landscaping, Business Administration, Retail Sales, Media Arts and Childcare. Plans are underway to offer Computer Technician and Repair Training and Cisco Computer Systems Networking classes in the fall semester. "Eventually we plan to expand to about 300 students and start a similar charter school in the Porterville are," says Dr. Valentino. "Our students take academic classes in addition to choosing a vocational training that they are interested in. They work side by side with adults in our other programs and it is working out very well. The students seem to be more mature working with adults, and our adults also behave more responsibly."
La Sierra High School was recently awarded a $60,000 Digital High School grant from the California Department of Education to provide cutting edge technology to the students and training to the instructors. The grant will enable every classroom to be connected to the Internet and integrate this technology in the school curriculum. The funds will be used to purchase 15 new multi-media computers, a high-tech video camera and instructional software. La Sierra teachers will integrate technology into the regular course curriculum in order to prepare the students for careers of the future. La Sierra will hold a three-week staff development workshop for teachers this summer to learn about the new technology.
~ Computer technology is an important part of daily instruction at La Sierra, particularly in the Graphic and Media Arts programs.
Beginning Teachers Receive Support Through Recruitment Center
Lissa Dunbar, pictured on the cover of the February issue of The News Gallery with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeanne Nava, has the distinction of being the first new teacher to work with the Central California Regional Teacher Recruitment Center. Led by the Tulare County Office of Education, the Recruitment Center is one of six centers in California created to assist school districts hire and retain new teachers. The Central California Regional Teacher Recruitment Center is based in the Tulare County Office of Education with satellite offices in Ventura, Monterey and San Joaquin Counties. Assistant Superintendent Nava is pleased to report that Ms. Dunbar passed her California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) -- the first step toward her goal of becoming a fully credentialed science teacher.
To learn more about becoming a teacher, or the financial incentives currently offered to new teachers by the State of California, contact Jeanne Nava at (559) 733-6306. Teacher candidates are also encouraged to visit the Regional Teacher Recruitment Center booth at the Tulare and Kings County Teacher Recruitment Fair March 3 at the Visalia Convention Center from 9:30am until 3:00pm.
~ Teacher Recruit Lissa Dunbar
A team from Lindsay High School, winners in the 2001 Tulare County Academic Decathlon, will compete March 16 - 18 at the state finals in Los Angeles. The nine-member Lindsay team, comprised of three "A", three "B" and three "C" students, competed against ten other Tulare County high school teams in a countywide competition February 3. The Lindsay team scored 32,787 points out of a possible 60,000, earning them the chance to compete against the 43 best teams from across the state. In the past ten years, a team from Lindsay High School has won the Tulare County Academic Decathlon eight times. Academic Decathlon events include economics, mathematics, music, art, language and literature and social science. In addition, contestants perform speeches, write essays on a given topic and are interviewed by a panel of judges. The final event is an academic relay entitled the Super Quiz. The annual Academic Decathlon is organized by the Tulare County Office of Education's Educational Resource Services program and coordinated by Instructional Consultant Faye Johnson.
Services for Education & Employment (SEE) has expanded its successful More Opportunities for Viable Employment (MOVE) Program to serve Fresno County. According to Dr. Lorene Valentino, the success in relocating welfare recipients to other parts of the country to find employment has caught the attention of neighboring welfare agencies, including Fresno County. "Due to our region's high unemployment rate, county welfare officers know that they cannot transition all of their welfare recipients into full-time employment locally," says Dr. Valentino. "But companies outside of our area are desperate for workers, so we are linking up job seekers with employers," The MOVE Program started in October 1998. Since then, almost 800 welfare families have received help to find jobs outside Tulare County, most of them out of state. In November 2000, SEE contracted with Kings County to start a MOVE PRogram. It is anticipated that the Fresno MOVE Program will open March 1 in the Manchester Center, site of the Fresno County One-Stop Center. Three full-time SEE staff members will be transferred from Tulare County to manage the program.
Jim Vidak, County Superintendent of Schools
Tulare County Office of Education
All mail to: P.O. Box 5091, Visalia, CA 93278-5091
Physical address: 6200 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277
phone: (559) 733-6300 • fax: (559) 627-5219
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