Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teacher Tenure Reform in New Jersey- Unanimous Bipartisan Support AND Union Buy-in

In what is sure to amount to historic legislation, New Jersey recently passed teacher tenure reform for its public school teachers. What is noteworthy is that the voting clearly indicated that the New Jersey Education Association and the state’s legislature are in FULL (read unanimous) agreement on tenure reform in education, a key issue holding high priority across the nation.

Barbara Keshishian, President of the NJEA, applauded the New Jersey Assembly’s passage of tenure reform legislation on June 25, 2012. The 79-0 vote, following on the heels of last week’s 40-0 vote in the New Jersey Senate, was the culmination of many contentious months of meetings and discussions involving legislators and education stakeholders from across the state. Action on the tenure reform legislation now heads to the desk of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for what is sure to be a major accomplishment of the Governor's administration.

Among concerns with the original legislation were:

  • New teachers could have been kept in a permanently nontenured state simply by giving them a single rating of partially effective once every three years.
  • It would have eliminated seniority rights in layoffs.
  • It would have given principals de facto authority to fire tenured teachers simply by blocking their ability to transfer from one school to another.
  • Evaluations would have been conducted by teachers, rather than by certified administrators.
  • Worst of all, it would have eliminated due process rights by taking away the ability of teachers to contest the loss of their tenure or their job as a result of poor or unfair evaluations.
  • And the whole process would have remained in the court system, with its long and costly hearings.

As a result of extensive discussions and negotiations over the last several months, the bill has been amended to deal with all of those concerns. Under the version the NJEA finally supported recently:

  • Teachers are guaranteed a year of mentoring to begin their career.
  • They will earn tenure in four years, providing they have at least two ratings of effective or highly effective in the three years following the initial mentorship year.
  • Seniority rights are preserved, preventing districts from targeting experienced teachers for layoffs as a cost-saving measure.
  • Evaluations will be conducted by certified administrators.
  • Due process rights are protected, so that no tenured teacher can be fired without the opportunity for a hearing before a highly qualified and neutral third-party arbitrator.
  • And the cases are moved out of the courts, ending the costly and time consuming process that generated so much bad publicity and ill will toward tenure.
The passage of this law in a very union heavy state indicates that historic change is underway in education’s environment, not only in New Jersey, but across the nation. Committed, education stakeholders must work together to build innovative reforms that accelerate 21st century transformations that benefit learning and education’s key focus: the integrity of equity, value, and relevance in educational opportunities and meaningful experiences for all learners.

For information from the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) please click HERE.

For a very interesting pro/com discussion on teacher tenure, please take a look at this great web site by clicking HERE.

Picture: Hoboken Ferry Terminal, Barclay Street, New York, 1931 (photographer: Berenice Abbott)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Public Meeting Agenda for June 26, 2012 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting

The following is the Agenda for the June 26th meeting of the Hoboken Board of Education. The meeting will take place at 7PM at the Hoboken Board of Education at 1115 Clinton St.

Some notable items include:
Resolution No. GP-0025-11-12: Approval of District Goals For The 2012-13 School Year

6-26-12 Agenda for Public Meeting

Picture: Proposed new 9/11 Memorial in Hoboken

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back on Hoboken.411

I am pleased to inform regular readers of this blog, especially readers from the New Jersey, New York metropolitan area, that "Dr. Petrosino's Education Project" is back on the recommended list of Hoboken.411. Hoboken.411 is Hoboken's most trafficked website and updated daily with reviews, opinion, and guest writers covering local businesses, politics, crime, social life and most topics related to Hoboken, NJ.

Position Available at the New York Hall of Science

The following position may of interest to some of the regular readers of this blog. I know the Director there very well. -Dr. Petrosino

*Position Title: Curriculum Designer/*Project Manager*

Department: Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning (SciPlay)
Reports to: Director of SciPlay

Job Code: 19.3041.00
FLSA Status: Exempt (Professional)

*Background*: The New York Hall of Science, New York City's only hands-on science museum and host to close to a half a million visitors every year, serves the most ethnically diverse population in the country --- reflecting the institution's home borough of Queens and also that of the greater metropolitan area. Built originally for the 1964 World's Fair, NYSCI continues to capture the spirit of discovery and innovation that was at the heart of this event. NYSCI offers an unparalleled range of 450 interactive exhibits that invite visitors to explore varied aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). By combining these exhibits with the country's largest outdoor Science Playground along with discovery labs, teacher-training programs, and internationally replicated science education programs for urban youth, NYSCI brings the excitement and understanding of science and technology to children, families, and teachers throughout the New York metro-region and beyond.

Our mission is to bring the excitement and understanding of science and technology to children, families, teachers, and others by galvanizing their curiosity and offering them creative, participatory ways to learn. NYSCI has approximately 90 full-time and over 150 part-time staff-members.

*Departmental Role*: SciPlay is a new applied research center on Play, Science, and Technology Learning. SciPlay designs and studies how to use play as a medium for science learning across both informal and formal education settings. SciPlay runs numerous initiatives that utilize the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) as a laboratory for studying learning. The project most immediately relevant to this position is "SciGames: A Technology-enhanced Model for Bridging Informal and Formal Science Learning" funded by the National Science Foundation's Transforming STEM Education program and the U.S. Department of Education's Investing in Innovation program. This project focuses on supporting middle school physics learning through students playing technology-enhanced playground games with companion classroom digital apps. This work is in collaboration with Learning Games Network, Parsons The New School of Design, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and the New York City Department of Education.

*Function*: Design hands-on, technology-based science curriculum grounded in pedagogical research and best-practices in informal science education. Manage consultants and coordinate work of internal and external collaborators and project staff. Manage day-to-day project needs including recruitment of teachers, coordination of curriculum piloting and implementation and teacher professional development. Perform administrative tasks in support of the SciGames project and SciPlay department.

*Principal Responsibilities*:

1. *Science Curriculum Designer*
· Contribute inquiry-based science education expertise to the development of play-based playground games designed to teach middle school physics
· Contribute inquiry-based science education expertise to the development of digital apps with which students/teachers use data from the playground games back in the classroom
· Coordinate the prototyping and development of the games and apps.
· Produce instructional sequences and related materials that will guide students' and teachers' use of the game and apps
· Design and deliver professional development workshops and materials for teachers to orient them to the use of playground games and digital apps

2. *Teacher Network Coordinator*
· Recruit cohorts of teachers as consultants for design work, focus groups, and project prototyping events, in collaboration with the NYC DOE
· Plan and lead teacher meetings and coordinate teacher work to enrich the project

3. *Project Manager*
· Coordinate efforts of project team members and contractors
· Research, purchase, store, and manage project related materials
· Work with finance department to process contracts for project collaborators
· Coordinate, plan and schedule meetings, conference calls, etc.
· Reserve rooms and museum spaces for meetings and project events
· Assist with drafting documents and powerpoint presentations for presentations.

4. Complete other tasks as assigned.

Supervisory Responsibilities: None


*Education*: B.S. ideally in a physics-related field and 5 years of instructional experience in informal and/or formal settings; M.A. or M.S. in science education or related field preferred.


· Deep knowledge of physics subject matter
· Knowledge of how students learn and how to create inquiry curriculum for engagement and deep learning.
· Commitment to the philosophy and mission of the New York Hall of Science.
· Careful attention to detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
· Ability to plan and organize the activities of others.
· Passion and knowledge about the use of technologies to support creative, engaged learning. .
· Strong communications skills with the ability to express ideas clearly both in written and oral communications.


· Experience in science curriculum and professional development design.
· Experienced in using computer-based instructional technologies; experience designing and building such technologies is a plus.
· Instructional/teaching experience in science in formal and/or informal settings
· Experience working with science teachers in a professional development context.
· Experience an effective project manager, team builder, and collaborator, skilled at leveraging the talents of others.
· Experience assisting in education research preferred.
· 5 years experience in lead program roles is preferred.

Compensation: Commensurate with education, skills and experience, including an excellent NYSCI benefits package.

The New York Hall of Science supports diversity in the workplace. NYSCI is an equal opportunity employer (EOE) and supports a drug free workplace


Qualified candidates should email both resume and cover letter and salary range/requirements to * <>*. Please include "SciPlay" in subject line. No calls please.

*Application Deadline: July 2, 2012*

*Targeted Start Date: Immediately*

. . . .

David E. Kanter, Ph.D.

Director, SciPlay:
The Sara Lee Schupf Family Center
for Play, Science, and Technology Learning

New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street
Queens, NY, 11368 <> <>

Friday, June 15, 2012

Evolution Education: Seeing the Forest for the Trees and Focusing Our Efforts on the Teaching of Evolution

The following paper was published by three graduate students and myself. This paper was one of the products of an Advanced Topics Course I taught. The course was centered on a Learning Sciences perspective on Evolution and was published in the journal Evolution Education.

It centers on the notion that Evolution is the underlying framework upon which all biology is based; however, when it comes to learning evolutionary concepts, many students encounter obstacles. There are many reasons as to why these obstacles occur. These reasons deal with evolution being treated as a discrete topic among many within a biology curriculum, misunderstanding the nature of science, and personal difficulties with understanding due to evolution’s seemingly abstract nature. In this article, we propose a different way of thinking about and teaching evolution in grades K-12, and it surrounds four core areas essential to the understanding of evolution: variation, selection, inheritance, and deep time. Possibilities for how these areas can affect learning are described and implications for assessment are also discussed.

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Picture: The Spa-- Hudson Street in Hoboken (circa 1975)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hoboken Board of Education Agenda: June 12, 2012 Meeting

The following is the Public Agenda for the June 12, 2012 meeting of the Hoboken Board of Education. The meeting will occur at 7PM at the Hoboken Board of Education located at 1115 Clinton St.

Candidates and slates for the November election have been established so the forthcoming meetings will certainly be concentrating on vision, policy, and the direction of the school district for the next few years.

06-12-12 Agenda for Public Meeting

Picture: The Hotel Madison- 14th and Washington St (circa 1977)

American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)- June 10 - 13, 2012 San Antonio, Texas

The ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering education. It is committed to fostering the exchange of ideas, enhancing teaching methods and curriculum, and providing prime networking opportunities for engineering and technology education stakeholders such as deans, faculty members and industry and government representatives. This year, we have 2 papers that are being presented at ASEE. Each paper represents one of the grants I have. One grant is UTeach Engineering and the other is Beyond Blackboards. Here are the two sessions where the papers will be presented. ASEE is an exciting conference with leaders in Engineering Education from all over the world. -Dr. Petrosino

See Online Session Locator by Clicking HERE

Technical · K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division
Tue. June 12, 2012 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
San Antonio Convention Center, 214D
Session Description

Middle school is the great unknown for many of us, but it is also a time when all kinds of influencers play a role in the formation of a student's future. You will find several ideas for middle school engineering programs in this session.

  1. Moderated byDr. Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue
  1. The Impact of a Problem-based Learning Launcher Unit on Eighth Grade Students’ Motivation and Interest in ScienceProf. Cher C. Hendricks (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Dr. Barbara Burks Fasse Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  2. Introducing Middle School Students to Engineering and the Engineering Design ProcessLinda S. Hirsch (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Ms. Suzanne L. Berliner-Heyman (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Dr. John D. Carpinelli (New Jersey Institute of Technology), and Dr. Howard S. Kimmel (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
  3. Deepening Math and Science Skills in Middle School Students using Civil Engineering-based Learning ModulesMs. Courtney A. Peckens (University of Michigan) and Dr. Jerome Peter Lynch (University of Michigan)
  4. Foundations and Effectiveness of an Afterschool Engineering Program for Middle School StudentsDr. Richard H. Crawford (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Christina Kay White (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Chandra L. Muller (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Anthony J. Petrosino Jr. (University of Texas, Austin), Mr. Austin B. Talley P.E. (University of Texas, Austin ), and Prof. Kristin L. Wood (University of Texas, Austin)

Technical · K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division
Wed. June 13, 2012 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
San Antonio Convention Center, 202A
Session Description

This session focuses on the development of curriculum for various venues, including middle and high school and pre-service teacher programs.

  1. Moderated byDr. Devdas M. Pai P.E.
  1. RU RET-E: Designing and Implementing Engineering-based Lessons for the Pre-college ClassroomDr. Evelyn Hanna Laffey (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey), Prof. Kimberly Cook-Chennault (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), and Linda S. Hirsch (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
  2. Preparing and Inspiring Middle and High School Students with a Pre-freshman Engineering Program.Dr. Stephen W. Crown (University of Texas, Pan American)
  3. Innovative Curriculum for Engineering in High School (ICE-HS): Status UpdateDr. Shamsnaz Virani (Pennsylvania State University, Great Valley) and Ms. Iris B. Burnham (Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts)
  4. A Course Sequence in Engineering Design and Problem SolvingDr. David T. Allen (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Richard H. Crawford (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Leema Kuhn Berland (University of Texas, Austin), Dr. Karen A. High (Oklahoma State University), Dr. Anthony J. Petrosino Jr (University of Texas, Austin ), Theresa A. Dobbs (UTeachEngineering and University of Texas, Austin), Ms. Cheryl Farmer (UTeachEngineering), and Jill A. Marshall (University of Texas)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Project Based Instruction Partnership between Manor ISD and University of Texas at Austin: Elementary Science Methods

During the SPRING 2012 academic year I taught an Elementary Science Methods course at Decker Elementary School in Manor, TX. This course focused on project based instruction and was a real pleasure to teach. Below is a description of the course as well as the larger coordinated effort going on with The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education and the Manor School District. -Dr. Petrosino

Decker Elementary has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin this past year through a relationship with Cohort N- a group of twenty-one students from their College of Education. This relationship began in the Fall of 2011, when these students took a class on campus at Decker and tutored students in reading from Ms. Tang’s second grade class.
Since January 2012, eleven UT students have come on board at Decker as interns working in second - fifth grades, partnering with their Cooperating Teachers to design and implement a Project Based Learning unit. The entire cohort received PBL training on-site led by Decker and other Manor ISD teachers. Cohort N also took their university classes at Decker.
Through these classes, the UT students have had the opportunity to interact with Decker students in a variety of disciplines, including math with first graders, rocket launches with fifth graders, reading tutoring with third graders, and science fair judging. This partnership will continue into the Fall of 2012 as Cohort N takes on student teaching alongside some of Decker’s Master Teachers.

See course evaluations by clicking HERE.

Picture: SPG 2012 Cohort N

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Learning to Design: Authenticity, Negotiation, and Innovation (Svihla, Petrosino, and Diller, 2012)

The following article was recently published in the International Journal of Engineering Education. The article's lead author is my colleague Dr. Vanessa Svihla and my fellow co-author is Dr. Ken Diller. I believe this work makes a significant contribution to the incorporation of engineering principles into project based instruction, focusing specifically on the idea of design. As many of you know, engineering design is a collaborative and complex process, and our understanding of how to support student teams in learning to design remains limited. By considering in-situ student design teams in a capstone biomedical engineering course, we are afforded the opportunity to contrast two version of a non-sponsored project, then consider expert perceptions of their later sponsored designs. Findings indicate that a redesigned project led students to value customer needs and to use them to define the design problem, whereas in a kit-based version this did not occur. We also found that greater perceived opportunities to negotiate one's understanding within a team predicted more innovative designs. -Dr. Petrosino
Svihla, Petrosino Diller (2012) Learning to Design