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June 20, 2023
by: Ted Hamm

Teachers adjust their lesson planning to encourage ‘Science as Thinking’

Every school teaches science to every student, but how can teachers make sure students are really learning and not merely memorizing? Last spring, four Etude teachers leveled up their delivery of science curriculum by participating in a “Science as Thinking” workshop.

Teachers Christin Campbell (grades 9-12), Brittany Hattabaugh (kindergarten), Allison McKeone (grades 2-3) and Nicholas Scharenbroch (grades 4-5) came away from the event with a better understanding of how to encourage more active and complete learning. The workshop was based on the book “Science as Thinking: The Constants and Variables of Inquiry Teaching.” Author Wendy Ward Hoffer was one of the presenters

“The big essential question for the workshop was, “How do we teach science for understanding?” Campbell said. “The workshop ushered teachers through the inquiry learning process acting as students so we could experience how it feels to learn through a mode that asks students to think and create their understanding using different resources, rather than listen and memorize. We worked as if we were students, then would stop to think about, discuss and note concrete actions we teachers can take to set up rich inquiry science learning like this.”

There are “three legs to the stool” of science learning, Campbell said: 

1.     Designing rich tasks that ask and allow students to do the figuring out.

2.     Setting up interactions as a workshop where students move physically and mentally from independent thinking to different types of collaborative work requiring productive discussion.

3.     Focusing on and deliberately monitoring (student and teacher) thinking strategies or moves used to get to a deeper understanding of an idea. 

What do they mean by thinking strategies? Actions such as determining the importance of information, considering background knowledge, inviting students to ask their own questions and read between the lines, and utilizing sensory imagery and the process of allowing the process to grow over time. 

McKeone said the workshop impressed upon her the importance of documenting the thinking process at the elementary level. 

“We are very skilled at incorporating thinking routines within our lessons, but we might not be using them through the lens of a scientist versus a learner,” she said. “Activating schema with specific vocabulary as well as with written and visual documentation using thinking strategies during the workshop model is a new and exciting way to work with students not only during scientific-based lessons but also in all other areas of our classroom learning and discovery.

“In Chris’ case,” McKeone added, “she is a specialized science teacher where this documentation process may be more commonplace, whereas the elementary school teachers teach all subject areas within the classroom.”

The science as thinking model is especially relevant for Etude because that is what the school – at every level – is about: encouraging curiosity, imagination, discovery and accomplishment. 

“The learning from this workshop fits in at Étude because it is all about what the students are doing, how the students are thinking and collaborating and how students are making meaning from their learning activities,” Campbell said. “The workshop taught us about some structure we can use within which the Étude Thinking Routines have an important role toward reaching student understanding.”

Hattabaugh said that thanks to the workshop, she has new priorities when she’s working with her kindergartners.

“One of my biggest takeaways was to be more purposeful while planning to choose routines that activate the type of thinking I’m trying to achieve,” she said. “For example, I might ask myself, ‘Am I trying to get my students to view different perspectives, organize their thoughts or revisit and dive deeper into previously discussed topics? My other big takeaway is that, in its simplest form, learners have three jobs in the scientific classroom: Activate their schema, build on their schema and delete misconceptions from their schema when needed. A well-thought-out scientific workshop includes a lot of trial and error, rich vocabulary and collaboration.” 

Campbell said the workshop will alter the way she approaches lesson planning.  

“Specifically, I am working on being more deliberate about the purpose, engage, scaffold and model parts that happen before students dive into their task,” she said. “These parts are essential to setting students up for successful thinking in any given task. The purpose does not give away the understanding they are supposed to discover, but does show them the question or problem they are trying to solve. Being more careful with my planning of the scaffolding and modeling part of the lesson should help reluctant or students lacking confidence enter into the task more easily without reducing the learning strength and depth of the lesson.” 

As in all academic areas at Etude, the focus is on critical thinking, exploration and discovery, not grades.  

“I want my students to gain confidence in their ability to think and reason about scientific concepts and that that is more important than right answers,” Campbell said. “Kids learn when they both have time to think alone and talk with peers.”

May 10, 2023
by: Ted Hamm

Putting the ‘through’ back in K-12

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Usually, when a student moves from fifth grade to middle school, she kicks the dust of that elementary school off her feet and never looks back. The same thing happens again when she moves from eighth grade to high school.

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March 31, 2021
by: Ted Hamm

Flags of Resilience

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As you look down 9th St. at Étude Middle School, you will see something a bit different flying from our flag pole. Flying just under the American flag are flags our students created in partnership with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The flags represent resilience. Or, I should say the flags represent what our students view as resilience.

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February 16, 2021
by: Special Contribution to the Étude Group

Etude Group Receives New Charter for 5-year Contract

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Etude Group has been awarded its fourth charter with the Sheboygan Area School District, which means the elementary, middle and high schools can continue meeting and exceeding their goals for another five years.

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September 3, 2019
by: Ted Hamm

First Day of School

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IMG 2332 2 This is my view of the first day of school. Quiet hallways, empty classrooms; not a teacher or student in sight. But, wait! It is the first day of school! The first day and two weeks are an important part of Étude. We use it to intentionally establish our community and culture for the school year. Today is all about culture, building a safe culture.

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March 9, 2019
by: Ted Hamm

Sheboygan Makerspace

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Image result for city of sheboygan

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September 11, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

National Arts Education Week: A Look at Dance

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Our school is fortunate to be one of the only schools in the area that offers dance as a content area taught during the normal school day. We teach dance Kindergarten through grade 12 and use dance/movement as an art form that used to communicate ideas, as well as, a tool for calming students through our yoga and Movement and Learning work. As people become more sedentary in general, it is important that we find ways throughout a students’ school career to remind them of the powerful impact of movement.

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September 10, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

National Arts in Education Week: The Arts at Étude

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As I write this blog, I am surrounded by the sounds of students creating music, the sight of students creating their own dances, and drama students working through their own scripts and improv pieces. At first look, it is a bit chaotic, but after further observation, it is productive chaos. Each student is engaged in doing something; not tacitly learning, but involved in thoughtful dialogue with other students and teachers. The arts inherently do this. The arts engage a child in a holistic approach to learning unlike other subjects. This is why the arts are core to what we do at the schools of the Étude Group. As we kick off National Arts Education Week[https://www.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/images/2015/by_program/networks-and-councils/arts_education_network/BILLS-111hconres275enr.pdf] I want to use this week to share with you the transformative impact the arts have played within our schools.

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August 1, 2018
by: Ted Hamm, Director

Revised Daily Schedule at Étude Middle & High School

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Dear Étude Middle and High School Families:

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June 21, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

Student Engagement & Academic Growth at Étude Elementary

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One cardinal rule we live by in the schools of the Étude Group is Engagement Over Compliance. Engagement a result of our investment in creating inclusive school culture, creating relevant curriculum, and building solid relationships with kids. Compliance, on the other hand, requires kids to follow the rules of others without question or voice. We strive for engagement, and where some compliance is required for schools to function properly, our students participate in developing the rules.

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