Reminder to Parents:
MSMS will be closed for winter break Dec 23-Jan3. Classes will resume on Jan
HEALTH ADVISORY FOR SCHOOL HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS: COLORADO CONTINUES TO EXPERIENCE EPIDEMIC RATES OF PERTUSSIS
From the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
November 25, 2013
• Review immunization records to assure that students and teachers are appropriately vaccinated and meet state immunization requirements.
• Evaluate students for pertussis if they are experiencing a severe cough – often accompanied by gagging, coughing fits, and/or vomiting or whoop, persistent cough lasting longer than 14 days, or apnea (a pause in breathing) or gasping in infants.
• Exclude any child or adult diagnosed with pertussis from school, child care, and extracurricular activities until they have completed 5 full days of antibiotics (return on 6th day after antibiotics were started) or until 21 days after the cough began if antibiotics are not taken.
• Consider exclusion of children with symptoms consistent with pertussis until the child is evaluated by a health care provider for appropriate testing and/or treatment. A note from a provider may be required to return to school.
• Encourage social distancing, cough etiquette, frequent hand washing and staying home from school or work when ill.
• Persons completely vaccinated against pertussis may still develop disease, with milder illness generally seen among vaccinated persons. However, unvaccinated children have an 8-fold increased risk of developing pertussis as compared to completely vaccinated children.
From January 1 through October 31 2013, a total of 1110 cases of pertussis have been reported in Colorado, compared to a 2007-2011 average of 219 cases during the same calendar period. Cases of pertussis have been above epidemic levels since 2012 but an especially high number of cases have been reported during the last two weeks of October. Though cases are widespread throughout Colorado, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson counties have the highest number of cases.
Primary Objective of Pertussis Testing, Treatment, Exclusion and Antibiotic Prophylaxis
The primary objective of testing, treatment and exclusion of pertussis cases and prophylaxis for those exposed to pertussis is to prevent illness in persons at increased risk of severe illness or in persons who may expose those at high-risk of developing severe disease.
Those at increased risk include (but are not limited to): infants < 12 months of age*, immunocompromised persons, patients with neuromuscular disease, and patients with moderate to severe lung disease including those with moderate to severe medically treated asthma.
*13 of 18 pertussis related deaths in the United States reported to CDC in 2012, were among infants < 3 months of age.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• Pertussis Reporting: suspected and confirmed pertussis cases and pertussis outbreaks should be reported to public health. To report, please contact your local public health agency, or contact CDPHE at 303-692-2700 and provide the following: child’s name/date of birth, school and grade level, parent name and contact number and if available, the diagnosing health care provider’s name and contact number so the diagnosis of pertussis can be confirmed.
• For more information regarding pertussis including Sample Notification Letters:
and see Pertussis Information and Guidelines for Schools and Childcare Settings under Resources for Schools and Childcare.
• Infectious Diseases in Childcare and School Settings Guidance:
• Colorado School and Child Care Immunization Requirements are available at:
• Pertussis outbreak and immunization informational posters are available free for schools and child care settings. To order, please contact Erica Bloom from the CDPHE Immunization Section at: Erica.firstname.lastname@example.org
December 7, 2013
New York Times
Who Says Math Has to Be Boring?
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
American students are bored by math, science and engineering. They buy smartphones and tablets by the millions but don’t pursue the skills necessary to build them. Engineers and physicists are often portrayed as clueless geeks on television, and despite the high pay and the importance of such jobs to the country’s future, the vast majority of high school graduates don’t want to go after them.
Nearly 90 percent of high school graduates say they’re not interested in a career or a college major involving science, technology, engineering or math, known collectively as STEM, according to a survey of more than a million students who take the ACT test. The number of students who want to pursue engineering or computer science jobs is actually falling, precipitously, at just the moment when the need for those workers is soaring. (Within five years, there will be 2.4 million STEM job openings.)
One of the biggest reasons for that lack of interest is that students have been turned off to the subjects as they move from kindergarten to high school. Many are being taught by teachers who have no particular expertise in the subjects. They are following outdated curriculums and textbooks. They become convinced they’re “no good at math,” that math and science are only for nerds, and fall behind.
That’s because the American system of teaching these subjects is broken. For all the reform campaigns over the years, most schools continue to teach math and science in an off-putting way that appeals only to the most fervent students. The mathematical sequence has changed little since the Sputnik era: arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and, for only 17 percent of students, calculus. Science is generally limited to the familiar trinity of biology, chemistry, physics and, occasionally, earth science.
These pathways, as one report from the National Academy of Education put it, assume that high school students will continue to study science and math in college. But fewer than 13 percent do, usually the most well-prepared and persistent students, who often come from families where encouragement and enrichment are fundamental. The system is alienating and is leaving behind millions of other students, almost all of whom could benefit from real-world problem solving rather than traditional drills.
Only 11 percent of the jobs in the STEM fields require high-level math, according to Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. But the rest still require skills in critical thinking that most high school students aren’t getting in the long march to calculus.
Finding ways to make math and science exciting for students who are in the middle of the pack could have a profound effect on their futures, providing them with the skills that will help them get technical jobs in the fields of food science, computer networking or medicine. It would entice many students who are insecure in their own abilities into advanced careers. But it is going to require a fundamentally different approach to teaching these subjects from childhood through high school. Here are a few of the many possible ideas to begin that change.
A More Flexible Curriculum
American students need vastly improved skills in math and science — they ranked 30th among students in 65 nations in math — but they do not all have to be trained to be mathematicians or scientists. While all students need a strong grasp of the fundamentals of critical thinking and problem solving, including algebra and geometry, they should be offered a greater choice between applied skills and the more typical abstract courses.
This is not an endorsement of tracking, the old practice of shunting some students into vocational classes while others are prepped for college. Every graduate should be ready for college (whether for a two- or four-year degree) but should also be exposed to the variety of skills that will be demanded as the country continues its shift to a post-industrial economy. As a study by the Georgetown center notes, very few high schools offer career or technical education; any deviation from a classical math education is viewed with suspicion.
Research has shown that the right mix of career and technical education can reduce dropout rates, and the courses offered don’t have to be from the old “industrial arts” ghettos. They should be taught at a challenging level and make students aware of careers that are now being ignored. Take engineering, for example, a field that pays well and needs ever more workers. Most high school students say they have no interest in the subject. That’s largely because few of them ever encounter it: Only 3 percent of graduates have taken an engineering course. Only 19 percent of students have taken a computer science course, mostly at the advanced placement level.
The Common Core math standards now being adopted by most states are an important effort to raise learning standards, particularly in primary and middle school, when many students begin to fall behind. They encourage the use of technology and applied thinking, moving students away from rote memorization. At the high school level, they would introduce all students to useful concepts like real-world modeling. But the standards also assume that all high school students should pursue a high-level math track, studying quadratic equations, transformational geometry and logarithms. The standards need more flexibility to ensure that they do not stand in the way of nontraditional but effective ways to learn, including career-oriented study.
Very Early Exposure to Numbers
Only 18 percent of American adults can calculate how much a carpet will cost if they know the size of the room and the per square yard price of the carpet, according to a federal survey. One in five American adults lack the basic math skills expected of eighth graders, making them unfit for many newly created jobs. In many cases, that’s because they weren’t exposed to numbers at an early age.
A new study, by researchers at the University of Missouri, showed that the most important factor that predicted math success in middle school and upward was an understanding of what numbers are before entering the first grade. Having “number system knowledge” in kindergarten or earlier — grasping that a numeral represents a quantity, and understanding the relationships among numbers — was a more important factor in math success by seventh grade than intelligence, race or income.
Children of all backgrounds can build a good foundation in math with early exposure to numbers, which should be required in all preschool classes. But less than half of 4-year-olds are enrolled in full-day pre-K programs, and only 70 percent of kindergartners go all day. Although preschool enrollment has increased in recent years, it is still not a high priority in many states and cities, as shown by the cold reception to expansion proposals by President Obama and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio of New York.
Better Teacher Preparation
The most effective teachers have broad knowledge of their subjects. Too many lack that preparation. More than half of the 6.7 million students studying physical sciences — chemistry, physics and earth science — are learning from teachers who did not major in those subjects. Only 64 percent of those teachers are certified. The number is better for math teachers, as 78 percent are certified, but that still leaves three million math students being taught by uncertified teachers. The problem is significantly worse in low-income communities and in middle schools.
Some districts give additional instruction to science and math teachers, or team new teachers with more experienced colleagues. But the most important effort is the national campaign to add 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021. The Carnegie Corporation has led a coalition of businesses, universities and other institutions to make it happen at the ground level. The American Museum of Natural History, for example, has pledged to prepare 130 certified science teachers by 2015. The University of Chicago will train 500 new teachers for Chicago’s public schools over five years. The campaign now has commitments for more than 37,000 new teachers, but it still has far to go.
Experience in the Real World
A growing number of schools are helping students embrace STEM courses by linking them to potential employers and careers, taking math and science out of textbooks and into their lives. The high school in Brooklyn known as P-Tech, which President Obama recently visited, is a collaboration of the New York City public school system and the City University of New York with IBM. It prepares students for jobs like manufacturing technician and software specialist. Students work with IBM mentors and are encouraged to earn both a diploma and an associate degree after a combined six years in high school and college. Ten more such schools are planned around the state, and last month President Obama announced a promising new grant program to encourage dozens more high schools to offer job-oriented STEM education.
In Seattle, Raisbeck Aviation High School is working with Boeing and other aerospace firms to mentor students in engineering and robotics. Many schools are teaming with software companies to teach programming, including two schools that are very popular in New York City. Though many of these efforts remain untested, they center around a practical and achievable goal: getting students excited about science and mathematics, the first step to improving their performance and helping them discover a career.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 9, 2013
An earlier version of this editorial referred imprecisely to a unit of measurement in a math problem. It is per square yard, not per yard.
Have you marveled at the remarkable order of the Montessori classroom? Has your toddler told you that at school she pours her own juice? Does your teenager hang or put away all her clothes—without being asked?
Encouraging order, independence, and self-motivation are fundamental to the Montessori approach. Carefully designed classrooms allow students to develop competence in caring for themselves and their surroundings. And from the sense of pride that “I did it myself!” blooms the confidence to take on the world.
Bringing Montessori principles into your home can be a valuable bridge to what your child learns at school. Here are some ways to build that connection.
Create an Ordered EnvironmentHaving a place for everything, on a child-friendly scale, encourages both independence and self-discipline. Children know where to find what they need, and where to put it when they’re done. An ordered environment also has fewer distractions, allowing children to focus on the task at hand.
To make things accessible to your young child:
Having your child help at home can bring similar rewards. Take the time to teach each skill separately and to repeat the lesson as needed. Each task your child masters adds to his confidence and self-esteem.
Young children, for example, can peel vegetables, fold their clothes, match their socks, and care for pets. “Tweens” can sort the mail and take out the recycling. And adolescents can prepare the family dinner, read to their younger siblings, help with computer maintenance and home repair, and manage their own bank account.
Promote Concentration The ability to focus and concentrate is an important skill for learning. You can help develop your child’s concentration by observing what sparks her interest. Set her up with the means and materials to explore it, and let her work without interruption.
While your child’s work environment should be free of distraction, it doesn’t have to be away from family activity. Some children prefer working at the kitchen table or reading in a cozy corner of the living room to holing up in a bedroom or study. Observe your child’s response to various environments, ask questions, and make adjustments as needed.
Nurture Inner MotivationChildren are most willing to apply themselves when they feel there’s intrinsic value to their work. Some parents use external rewards as motivation, but only pride and pleasure from within has lasting, and meaningful, effects.
Montessori teachers refrain from using traditional classroom rewards such as gold stars and merit-based privileges. Instead, they focus on nurturing each child’s personal sense of accomplishment. Even praise is given sparingly—saved to acknowledge a child’s effort, rather than the outcome of her work.
By expressing encouragement and appreciation for your child’s efforts, you—like her teachers—help nurture an inner motivation that will serve her for life.
~ www.amshq.org ~
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