Former Spectrum student Ryan Bernsten wrote a play which was just accepted into the Fringe Festival in NYC. Congrats Ryan, what an honor!
As schools around the state of Illinois and the rest of the country enter standardized testing season, Spectrum Progressive School in Rockford is taking a progressive stance. The school has given students and parents the option of whether to test or not. They can choose to participate in the Iowa Assessments given in many area private schools or take part in what is being called “Genius Week.”
Genius Week evolved from a program started by Google. Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time to work on any creative project that they want as long as it may eventually become a new Google product. The idea is simple, and it allows people to work on something that interests them. Google’s policy has worked so well that it has been reported that 50% of Google’s products have been created during this time period.
Spectrum Progressive’s goals for students participating in Genius Week are:
Parents and students have had a positive response to being given a choice on standardized testing.
“I love how excited (our student) is about Genius Week, said one parent. “I’ve been torn about whether he needs to do the testing or not. I want to know that he is learning and progressing at an age appropriate level, but I realize those tests are flawed”.
“One thing Spectrum teaches their students is to be independent thinkers. That being said, (our student) wants to and insists on taking the assessment tests,” commented another parent.
Spectrum Progressive School believes every child learns differently and, therefore, not everyone tests well. Thomas Armstrong, Executive Director of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development, recently stated on the organization’s website: “Standardized testing creates stress. Some kids do well with a certain level of stress. Other students fold. So, again, there isn’t a level playing field. Brain research suggests that too much stress is psychologically and physically harmful. And when stress becomes overwhelming, the brain shifts into a “fight or flight” response, where it is impossible to engage in the higher-order thinking processes that are necessary to respond correctly to the standardized test questions.”
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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GIANT TRAVELING MAP OF NORTH AMERICA
IS COMING TO SPECTRUM PROGRESSIVE SCHOOL
Students at Spectrum Progressive School will soon be exploring North America in a big way — with one of the world’s largest maps of the continent. The map, measuring 35 feet by 26 feet, gives student explorers an interactive experience through rich content and exciting activities that make geography fun. It will be at Spectrum from January 11, 2016 to January 22, 2016 as part of National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program.
The brightly colored, smooth vinyl surface of the map accurately illustrates North America’s oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, countries and capitals. The map, designed for grades K-8, comes with a trunk full of accessories, including interactive games, geography adventures, atlases and books that teach students about the physical characteristics of the continent as well as its rich history and varied cultures. One of the activities is “A Tale of Twenty Cities,” in which students explore the physical and economic reasons behind the locations of North American cities.
Since Spectrum Progressive focuses on the Multiple Intelligences the National Geographic’s Giant Map offers great opportunities for us to reach learners with various learning styles,” stated Kelly Kerchner,
Middle Elementary Teacher.
“Experiencing a map of this size can really awaken a student to the power of maps and the limitless depth of geography,” said Dan Beaupré, vice president of National Geographic’s Education and Children’s Media group. “Whether they are using the map to learn place names or to compare state-to-state CO2 emissions, students are physically involved in a hands- and feet-on way that makes geography into an event.”
National Geographic’s Giant Traveling Maps program was introduced in 2006 with a map of Africa and has since expanded to include giant maps of North America, Asia, South America, Europe and the Pacific Ocean. In the 2015-2016 school year, hundreds of thousands of students will interact with these maps. In addition to school venues, the maps appear at museums, festivals, fairs and corporate and educational conferences. The maps reinforce National Geographic’s commitment to increasing geography education through teacher professional development, K-12 curriculum, live events and academic competitions like the National Geographic Bee.
National Geographic is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. It funds hundreds of research and conservation projects around the globe each year. With the support of its members and donors, it works to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism, education initiatives and more. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com and find National Geographic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. For more information about resources and experiences for educators to inspire young explorers, visitNatGeoEd.org and find educator updates on Facebook and Twitter (@NatGeoEducation).
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Google chooses Spectrum Progressive School of Rockford as a pilot school to test drive the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program on Wednesday, November 18.
Google will arrive on Wednesday, November 18 with kits that include everything for a day of virtual travel! Teachers receive a tablet and every student receives a cardboard viewer and smart phone. The Google virtual viewer is made of cardboard which could allow anyone with a modern smartphone to experience virtual reality by building their own viewer.
As seen on “CBS This Morning,” Google Expeditions is a new product that allows a teacher to take his or her classes on virtual field trips, immersing students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life. These trips are collections of virtual reality panoramas, 360 degree photo spheres, 3D images and video and ambient sounds. PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Planetary Society and the Palace of Versailles contributed to developing the curriculum.
Google Expeditions reinforces what Spectrum Progressive School already believes, the world is your classroom. Nothing can replace getting out of the classroom to experience the world, but Expeditions provides an unparalleled opportunity for supplemental learning.
Renee Corcoran, Upper Elementary Teacher, remarked, “We are very excited to have Google Expeditionscome to Spectrum Progressive School. Each level will be incorporating the virtual field trips in its own unique way. Students will delve into his or her favorite virtual field trip incorporating language, math, social studies, science, technology and the arts.”
Spectrum Progressive School is known as a leader in progressive education where the discovery and development of an individual’s full potential is naturally nurtured by students, families, school and communities through contemporary and progressive researched based methods.
Spectrum’s mission is to create mindful, self-directed learners for life!
Visit the link below to learn more about Google's Expeditions Program
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Click for youtube video of students using Google Expeditions
Click for youtube video
Upper Elementary students will be hosting “book experiences” to kick off NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) on Monday, November 2nd. This is the second year that Spectrum's Upper Elementary students have participated in this "writing fearlessly and without abandon" internationally recognized challenge. Upper Elementary students have been busy using close reading and mentor texts to study the art of creating dynamic characters, as well as working on the Plot Rollercoaster, including the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouncement. Of course, there are many jarring plot twists along the way! Preparations have also included lessons and activities on the importance of setting, mood, and well-written dialogue.
To celebrate the students’ hard work, and to share some of our favorite “published” books, we invite our families and community guests to join us on Monday, November 2nd, from 9:00 am-10:30 am. In addition, we are looking forward to sharing our new iLab and Lit Cafe spaces. Activities will include a book-themed photo booth, a shared story experience, and a makerspace activity.
An iLab comes to Spectrum Progressive School!
Spectrum students in fifth and sixth grade can now design and create just about anything they can imagine. The Innovation Lab (iLab) is filled with old bicycles, electronics, and construction materials gathered by the teachers over the summer. Students also filled the iLab with odds and ends they brought from home.
Spectrum has been incorporating “project/work time” from preschool through fourth grades since 1982. Students are asked to develop an age appropriate project time plan, implement the plan (or not!) and then evaluate the project. This philosophy will now carry over into the upper school grades, but at a more complex level.
“All students need challenge and “hard fun” that inspires them to dig deeper and construct big ideas. Making science hands-on and interesting is not pandering to young sensibilities; it honors the learning drive and spirit ... Making is a way of bringing engineering to young learners. Such concrete experiences provide a meaningful context for understanding the abstract science and math concepts traditionally taught by schools while expanding the world of knowledge now accessible to students for the first time.” (2015. Martinez & Stager)
The Maker Movement, which has grown into a worldwide revolution, inspired our fifth and sixth grade teachers to expand the hands-on learning already taking place throughout the school, by encouraging the students to tinker and let their engineering, science and math creativity fly.
“The Maker Movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of children and the power of learning by doing.”(2015. Martinez & Stager)
Spectrum Progressive School is an advanced program designed to spark innovation. We invite you to come see for yourself our exciting and vibrant learning environment.