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COE doctoral student honored for ‘teaching tolerance’

Cody Miller and one of his ninth-grade English students.

Cody Miller and one of his ninth-grade English students.

Ninth-grade students at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School are starting the school year today in the classroom of a language arts teacher who has recently gained state and national attention for his effective instructional methods.

Cody Miller, 27, who is in his fourth year teaching ninth grade English language arts, reaches far and wide for inspiration to teach writing and literature to students — and it is paying off.

Miller was one of five U.S. educators honored for excellence by the Southern Poverty Law Center at a July ceremony in Montgomery, Alabama.  The center’s Teaching Tolerance project says it selects K-12 teachers who excel at reducing prejudice and supporting equitable experiences among students for the $2,500 biennial award.

Miller also was among a select group of Florida instructors ranked by Florida Department of Education for having the highest impact on the academic growth of their students during the past three years.

In addition to teaching high schoolers, Miller is pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in English education from UF College of Education.

In an interview, Miller talked about his teaching philosophy and the methods he uses to engage students in literature and language arts.

“Helping students become both writers and readers and understanding that literacy and literature is a way for them to gain autonomy and power in society really drives my English language arts curriculum,” Miller says.

He credits Paulo Freire, an influential Brazilian educator and thinker, for being a big influence. Freire emphasized dialogue with students and concern for the oppressed.

Miller says students aren’t empty vessels, that education is a relationship between teacher and students as opposed to a “banking model” in which the educator makes deposits into the mind of the student.

Educator Rudine Sims Bishop, a professor of emeritus at Ohio State University, who pioneered what she called a “windows and mirrors” concept to children’s literature, also has influenced Miller.

“Students should be able to have literature and poetry and narratives that act as mirrors so they can see themselves and windows so they can see other people’s experiences,” Miller says.

He tries to set this foundation from the first day of class when students exchange personal letters with him about their learning experiences and later as they “co-create” the curriculum for the class.

In addition to classics such as “Romeo & Juliet,” Miller assigns texts like “If You Could Be Mine” by Sarah Farizan, an Iranian-American who writes about a teenage lesbian in Tehran, where homosexuality can be punished by death. Such books inevitably become a rich source of dialogue and study among students and often gives them the courage to tell their own stories in and out of the classroom, Miller says.

In a recent video about Miller, several of his teenage students were asked to describe him in one word. Among the responses: “woke” (meaning aware of injustices), “intelligent” and “decolonial.”

Miller co-sponsors the “De-colonizing Club,” a lunchtime discussion group open to all students to explore globalization and how colonialism and the dominant U.S. and Western culture has influenced their identities. He also leads school-wide professional development on creating inclusive spaces and curriculum for LGBTQ students.

After he completes his doctorate degree, expected in 2009, Miller wants transition to a career as a professor of English education. “I would eventually like to work with future teachers and think about how I can broaden my sphere of influence,” he says.


Source: Cody Miller, 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

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4 P.K. Yonge teachers named among Florida’s best ‘high impact teachers’

Cody Miller, Kate Yurko, Bill Steffens and George Pringle are K-12 "teachers of high impact."

Cody Miller, Kate Yurko, Bill Steffens and George Pringle are among Florida’s  “teachers of high impact.”

About VAM

The Florida Department of Education says “high impact teachers” receive the highest valued-added model (VAM) ratings because their students ranked higher than the “reasonable expected score” of similar students in other teachers’ classrooms.

Teachers’ VAM ratings are based on state assessment test scores and a mix of other variables, such as size of classes and whether students are gifted, disabled or learning the English language. Read more about the Florida’s teacher evaluation system.

Four teachers at the University of Florida’s developmental research school are among Florida instructors rated as having the highest impact on the academic growth of their students during the past three years.

The teachers at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School are Cody Miller, a ninth-grade English teacher; George Pringle, seventh-grade math; Bill Steffens, sixth-grade math; and Kate Yurko, 10th-grade English.

The Florida Department of Education recognized them as “teachers of high impact” based on a statewide ranking of Florida’s middle and high school English and mathematics instructors during the past three academic years. FDOE says less than 10 percent of eligible public school teachers receive the high-impact rating, which is derived from detailed measures and equations, called a valued-added model (VAM), and serves as a key factor schools use to evaluate the performance of teachers.

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked these highly ranked teachers why they are succeeding.

Cody Miller, at age 27 the youngest of the four, says he doesn’t “teach to the test,” a reference to the growing controversy of standardized student testing, which is among the ways the state determines teachers’ VAM rating. With the increased emphasis on tests such as the Florida Standards Assessment exam, teachers are feeling so much pressure to get students ready for the exams that they may neglect to teach skills that go beyond the tests.

“For me, when kids are discussing critically the world around them, that’s a success,” Miller says. “It’s important for students to see how their personal experiences have shaped their views, and to look at someone else and see how their experiences shaped their views.”

Miller has taught for four years, including three years at P.K. Yonge. He considers the high-impact rating as a validation to continue his teaching methods. These include setting a high bar and having students write numerous papers, complete projects, and read and critique eight books each year – ranging from Shakespeare to contemporary memoirs from authors around the world, and graphic novels.

When it comes to taking the standardized tests, Miller says: “My hope is that the test is relatively easy because of all the work I’ve asked them to do. It’s just one item to check off the list. I tell students before they take a test, ‘just knock it out.’”

George Pringle, a seventh-grade math teacher, says he starts each school year with the mindset of improving his teaching practice.

“I’ve gotten better and I’ve learned every year.”

A native of Jamaica, Pringle has taught for 16 years, including eight at P.K. Yonge.

“What I do for one student I do for all students. That is, I treat all students as individuals. My philosophy is for my students to show a willingness to succeed at math.

“Growth is measured differently for all students. State measures are only one way to measure growth. There are many others, such as participating in interactions that take place in the classroom. It’s not just whether they can put numbers on a paper.”

He hopes at the end of each school year “each student can say that was a good experience.”

Bill Steffens, a sixth-grade math teacher, is the most experienced of the four. He has taught for 36 years, including 24 years at P.K. Yonge.

Yet despite his veteran status, he says each school year brings new students and new challenges to solve.

Teachers should try to learn about each student and what methods best motivate them to do their best work, no matter if they are struggling learners or high achievers. It’s one of the puzzles of teaching, but there are many factors that make a teacher a success, he says.

“It’s the way you talk to students, how they respond and work for you. And how to get after them if they don’t. It’s like being a parent. It’s everything.”

He and the other teachers say they had very little understanding of how the complicated VAM scores are determined. But Steffens says he is particularly pleased that the rating shows a consistent high level of teaching impact because it covers a three-year period.

Kate Yurko, a 10th grade English teacher, says she doesn’t rely on standardized tests to gauge her success.

“I’ve thought a lot about how and what I teach. If I focus on the classroom environment I don’t have to worry about the standardized testing. It’s one test on one day.

“I measure students’ success in a different way. Do they enjoying reading? Are they thinking critically? Are they reading books? Helping kids fall in love with words and reading and ideas – that is what’s special.”

After nine years of teaching, including five at P.K. Yonge, she says she has become a better teacher because she is more relaxed and better able to respond to students in real-time instead of always strictly adhering to her curriculum. And it helps having matured and not having a one-dimensional life completely centered on her classroom.

“As you grow in your teaching you get more intuitive. It’s like you get special powers.”

Being at P.K. Yonge, where she says teacher inquiry and research are encouraged, provides a nurturing place to be creative and explore ways to improve her practice.

“We emphasize good teaching, and good teaching brings results.”


Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449
Media Liaison: Julie Henderson, 352-392-1554

 

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PKY instructor cited nationally as outstanding teacher-researcher

Ross Van Boven

Ross Van Boven

Practitioner Scholars

Ross Van Boven received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, a program designed to prepare practitioner scholars.

What is a practitioner scholar? A professional who brings theoretical, pedagogical and research expertise to help identify, frame and study educational problems as a way to continually improve the learning conditions in their schools and districts.

Middle school teacher Ross Van Boven has received a prestigious national award presented by the American Education Research Association for outstanding research by examining what he does every school day.

Van Boven specializes in working with sixth and seventh graders at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School who are on the margins — whether because they are struggling or high-achieving. His study at the public school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education examined his experience in teaching a gifted sixth-grade student during the 2014-2015 school year.

The Teacher as Researcher Award recognizes a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teacher for research conducted in their schools. Van Boven received the award at the association’s annual meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C., April 8-12. AERA says its teacher-as-researcher special interest group is the only one like it: dedicated to recognizing high quality research done in schools by preK-12 instructors on their own practice.

Van Boven is a “learning community leader” at P.K. Yonge, which is UF’s special school district created to develop innovative solutions to educational challenges.

His training and experience is notable for his teaching as well as his scholarship. He has earned three degrees from UF’s College of Education: a bachelor’s (’06) and master’s (‘07) in elementary education and, in December, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

Van Boven’s doctorate was in a program tailor-made by faculty in the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education program area to focus on the unique needs of practitioners who wish to become scholars of practice, leading change and improvement from within their local districts, schools and classrooms, said Nancy Fichtman Dana, a UF education professor and a leading international authority and researcher on teacher professional development and school improvement. Dana served as the chair of Van Boven’s dissertation committee.

Van Boven in his classroom.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students.

VanBoven-600

Ross Van Boven teaches his students at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students at a time P.K. Yonge is transforming its approach to a “push-in” teaching model from a “pull-out.” In the push-in approach, general education and special education teachers work within the regular classrooms to serve all learners; in the pull-out approach, teachers work with these students in separate classrooms.

“It’s a real challenge to provide the time and services to all the students in the program,” Van Boven says. With a caseload of 41 students, he bounces from classroom to classroom to help learners in subjects ranging from math to social studies. Not only does he have to know the content, he must collaborate closely with the content-area teachers, which sometimes is problematic because of contrasting styles and time schedules. He also closely consults with parents to better understand their child’s needs and to personalizes lessons.

Van Boven tracked his experience of teaching one of his students by using a variety of tools, including his cell phone’s voice-to-text feature to capture episodes in near real time and digital recording of interviews so he could transcribe them later for analysis.

He says his research helped to improve his teaching in a variety of ways, such as more closely working with content-area teachers to rework the timing of his push-in to classrooms and planning periods with other teachers. “This allowed for ongoing collaboration and hopefully continues to remove some of the pressures teachers felt for planning to meet student enrichment needs,” he wrote in a report of the study.

He has shared his P.K. Yonge findings with the school’s administration and teachers, including the school’s five other learning community leaders. The study informed their perennial challenge: How best to provide in-classroom lessons to gifted students without disrupting the heterogeneity of classrooms.

Dana says Van Boven’s research “provided a rich accounting of how one middle school child was experiencing the program, and these insights led to specific actions Ross and his colleagues took to improve this new model.”

The school has launched a pilot program to cluster some gifted-and-talented students in the same classes to help learning community leaders and core teachers improve efficiency and coordination.

Despite the challenges, Van Boven says the collaboration required in the push-in model is helping teachers – including him – grow in their own practice. The award highlights the power of practitioner research to improve education for students – and provides Van Boven an opportunity to broaden his impact by sharing his experiences with other teachers.

“I am hopeful that my advocacy for students and collaboration with content-area teachers will result in sustained opportunities to provide content enrichment for students on my caseload,” Van Boven wrote.


Source: Ross Van Boven, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Media Relations: Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge DRS; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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How Outstanding Young Alum saved his teaching career

Meet Jon Mundorf

Winner of UF College of Education’s 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Jon Mundorf

By Charles Boisseau

Jon Mundorf was considering quitting the profession after three years of teaching elementary school in Naples, Florida.

He felt frustrated and ineffective despite doing his best to follow the top teaching methods, curriculum, and steps laid out in educator manuals.

“Only a small number of kids really got it when I would teach,” Mundorf says.

Some did not speak English, others had behavior problems or any number of learning disabilities. He came to realize: The standardized teaching methods he was using were ineffective because his students weren’t standardized.

In the summer of 2006, Mundorf decided to look for a better way to teach and give his career a spark.

He found it. He learned new teaching methods that are designed for educators to more effectively reach all their students, and he has gone on to become an award-winning teacher, and an internationally recognized practitioner of teaching to meet the needs of all learners.

Young Alumni Award

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Today (April 8), Mundorf, 36, received the UF College of Education’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, one of 23 Gator alumni across campus who will be honored as leaders in their professions at a ceremony at Emerson Alumni Hall.

Mundorf’s story surely holds lessons for other teachers who are early in their careers, when research shows a high percentage leave the profession.

Mundorf, Ed.D., is a 2014 graduate of UF’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program, which is designed to strengthen the skills of practicing educators. His dissertation was about his experience of using universal learning methods to teach a blind student to read in his integrated classroom.

This school year, he joined UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he teaches seventh grade language arts.

“Dr. Mundorf brings to our classrooms extensive knowledge and many years of experience in leveraging technology and non-tech strategies for supporting the needs of each learner,” P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes says. “He is a dedicated practitioner scholar committed to providing the best possible seventh grade English language arts experience for our diverse students.”

Universal Design for Learning

Mundorf credits his transformation to a decade ago when he entered Harvard Graduate School of Education’s summer institute on universal design for learning (UDL), a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), which now includes Mundorf among its teaching cadre. UDL is a method of using inclusive teaching methods to meet the needs of all learners.

“Upon returning from Harvard, I reinvented myself as a teacher,” Mundorf wrote in his UF dissertation. “Instead of focusing and complaining about the disability I saw in my students, I chose to target the disability in our curriculum. The barriers within the curriculum were minimized because I had developed a student-centered stance for exploring the curriculum with my students.”

Mundorf’s ability to engage an audience with his love of teaching is striking, and he can turn a brief interview into a lively hour-and-half discussion of his teaching philosophy, education research findings and lessons he has learned along the way.

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mundorf often wears a jacket bearing the logo for Bowling Green State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He also has a master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and joined the small ranks of teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a nonprofit that aims to advance accomplished teaching for all students.

In an example of his inclusive teaching methods, Mundorf says he provides choices in how a student engages with reading materials, providing audio-visual, text-to-speech, captioning, and, if necessary, Braille formats. His students also have choice in how they express their grasp of the subject, such as writing an essay, making a speech or giving a visual presentation.

This way, students with high-incidence disabilities, such as dyslexia – by some estimates up to 20 percent of students – as well as less common disabilities like blindness are given a better opportunity to succeed.

“We allow students multiple ways to learn, engage, and demonstrate mastery,” Mundorf says. “If I only give them one way, it leaves some out.”

Mundorf is in demand to teach not only students but other educators. He has consulted with schools and organizations on inclusive teaching practices, accessibility, technology integration and other ways to improve teaching and learning. In the fall of 2015, he traveled to Fukuoka, Japan, to provide the keynote speech and lead a workshop on inclusive classroom instruction at the National Conference of the Japanese Academy of Learning Disabilities.

Mundorf says students will succeed in the 21st Century not by memorizing all the prepositions in the English language. They will succeed by becoming expert learners. And the same goes for teachers.

“Teaching can be extremely challenging and there is no one right way to do it,” he says. “You have to constantly work at it to reach all the learners. When you feel like you have figured it all out, the next day things change. Teachers have to be the lead learners in this effort.”


Source: Jon Mundorf, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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School names corridor after former principal to honor daughter’s gift

SCALES-HOLLOWAY, Leslie (PKY donor)Leslie Eggert Scales-Holloway (BAE ’68) was visibly moved as she reflected on her late father’s role as the beloved principal at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School from 1947 to 1952. “He strongly believed in the connection between school and community,” she said in a recent interview. “That was Daddy.”

Scales-Holloway of Orlando, and a P.K. Yonge “lifer” (attending kindergarten through high school there), has pledged a $100,000 gift in support of the school’s proposed state-of-the-art secondary building. Like P.K. Yonge’s ultramodern elementary building, which opened in 2012, the 21st century design of the secondary building will “transform the educational experience for today’s and tomorrow’s students,” according to school Director Lynda Hayes.

While the secondary building project is still in the fundraising stage before construction can start, school officials have honored Scales-Holloway for her generosity by naming a key portion of the new elementary wing as the Dr. C. Lee Eggert Learning Corridor, in honor of her father, the former principal.

“The (learning corridor) space is flexible and can be used in so many different ways. Daddy would have loved this space and seeing the potential for a wide variety of learning activities and community events taking place here,” Scales-Holloway said.

After Dr. Eggert’s time at P.K. Yonge, which has served as UF’s K-12 laboratory school since 1934, he joined the faculty at the UF College of Education where he was a professor of secondary administration. His work with the Florida Parent-Teacher Association and chairmanship of the Florida Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools endeared him to students, parents, teachers and administrators statewide.

After graduating from P.K. Yonge, Scales-Holloway went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in education in 1968 from the UF College of Education. She taught school in Alachua and Marion counties and served for several years as a member of the Marion County School Board.

She was recently joined in celebrating the naming of the Dr. C. Lee Eggert Learning Corridor by her husband Rufus (who also goes by “Dick”), three siblings (also P.K. Yonge “lifers”), extended family, P.K. Yonge faculty and staff.

The prevailing sentiment at the school may best be summed up in the words of Ashley Pennypacker-Hill, P.K. Yonge program and outreach specialist and a P.K. Yonge alumna (class of ‘99): “We are delighted that this beautiful space will now remind us of P.K. Yonge’s past and will continue to support P.K. Yonge’s future.”

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Study explores impact of ‘active learning classroom’ design

PKY--Steelcase active classrm study (1)Inspired by the early impact of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s new, state-of-the-art elementary wing, faculty researchers from PKY and the University of Florida are teaming up on pioneering studies into how school building design can influence and improve schooling for both teachers and students.

P.K. Yonge faculty researchers, led by school Director Lynda Hayes, are partnering with UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning on a two-year study funded by Steelcase, Inc., the world’s largest office furniture manufacturer. The team also includes UF education technology Professor Kara Dawson.

Steelcase has refurbished and furnished a designated “active learning classroom” in the school’s older high school building with up to $50,000 worth of furniture and integrated technology and is training school instructors in the use of the active-learning tools.

“This project will provide a better understanding of how learning best takes place and how smarter, active learning spaces can help,” Hayes said. “Our intent is to create the most effective, engaging and inspiring learning environments to meet the evolving needs of students and teachers in the 21st century.”

P.K. Yonge has been the UF College of Education’s laboratory school since 1934, serving as a center of innovative educational program development and dissemination for kindergarten-through-high-school students throughout Florida and beyond.


SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu, 352-392-1554, ext. 223
MEDIA RELATIONS: Julie Henderson, communications coordinator, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, jhenderson@pky.ufl.edu352-392-1554
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education,llansford@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4137

 

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Blue Wave volleyballers do it again — state champs

PK Yonge's state champion volleyball team.

Back row: Eric Marshall (assistant coach), Chad Davis (head coach), Jac’cara Walker, Sammy Mueller, Amanda Phegley, Gabby O’Connell, Kiki Sermons, Joe Deluca (assistant), Donald Guynn (assistant). Front row: Jaq Mueller, Makayla Brouillette, Cameron Childs, Jayda Teasley, Emmani Hill.

 

The news bears repeating.

P.K. Yonge’s girls volleyball team did it again. For the second year in a row the Blue Wave girls’ volleyball team won the Florida high school state championship.

The team capped off its sparkling season by sweeping Palmer Trinity in straight sets in the state Class 3A finals on Nov. 13 at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando. See the story in the Gainesville Sun. It is the fourth state volleyball championship in Blue Wave history, and follows last year’s Class 4A win.

Displaying grit, dedication and sportsmanship, this Blue Wave team can stake its claim to being one of the best — if not the best — in school history. The Blue Wave’s only loss this season was to Jesuit of Portland, Oregon, in the finals of the Nike Tournament of Champions. The nationally ranked team has won 50 straight against Florida teams.

“There is no arguing how great this team was,” Head Coach Davis told The Gainesville Sun. “It is something I will always look back with pride on.”

Honors

The team was led by senior outside hitter Jac’cara Walker, who was recognized as the Class 3A Volleyball Player of the Year and the runner-up for all classes by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

In his third year as head coach, Davis won both the Class 3A and all-classes Coach of the Year awards.

What’s next?

Several Blue Wave players plan to play at the next level:

  • Walker has committed to play at Marshall University.
  • Senior Gabby O’Connell signed national letter for a full scholarship to the University of North Florida.
  • Senior Sammy Mueller signed with the University of Tampa.
  • Sophomore Amanda Phegley committed to Penn State.

P.K. Yonge is the UF College of Education’s developmental research school. Learn more.

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P.K. Yonge goes international

Teachers bring back lessons from professional-development trips abroad

 

Mayra Cordero joined a scientific mission to hunt for fossils in Panama.

Macy Geiger and Angie Flavin traveled to Haiti to help Haitian teachers improve the way they teach their students.

Jon Mundorf went to Fukuoka, Japan to give insights to Japanese educators eager to create more accessible learning environments.

These teachers from P.K. Yonge, the University of Florida College of Education’s K-12 developmental research school since 1934, traveled around the world in recent months to lead and participate in professional-development opportunities designed to sharpen skills and enrich lives.

The idea: Faculty members strengthen their own teaching methods by gaining global perspectives that broaden the lessons they provide their students.

“I will be a better teacher because of the trip,” Mundorf, a seventh-grade language arts teacher, said after visiting Japan in October, where he was a keynote speaker and workshop leader on inclusive classroom instruction.

The teachers said there is no replacement for being immersed in new cultures and languages to gain insights and improve their own teaching.

The trips are the latest examples of how P.K. Yonge is intensifying its efforts to build an international campus and prepare its students to fully participate in the increasingly interconnected world.

“Every opportunity for a faculty member to get beyond the borders of the United States and to really see humanity from a different angle is going to enrich how they think about teaching and how they interact with students,“ said P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes.

The school has conducted international outreach for many years, highlighted by its partnership with a school in Nanjing, China. Since 2013, dozens of students — accompanied by teachers and staff — from P.K. Yonge and Nanjing Experimental International School have exchanged visits to each other’s schools and stayed with host families, a trip that has proved enlightening and even life changing for some.

P.K. Yonge also plans to broaden its global focus by introducing Portuguese language instruction next fall, and following up on invitations from schools in Brazil and Chile that may lead to additional teacher and student exchanges, Hayes said.

Below are snapshots of the recent foreign experiences of P.K. Yonge’s globe-trotting teachers.

Off to Japan

Jon Mundorf’s trip to the Far East was nothing if not a learning experience.

Mundorf gave a presentation to 2,500 Japanese educators on one of his specialties — universal design for learning (UDL). UDL is a teaching framework to guide the design of flexible learning environments that can support individual learning differences.

With a Japanese translator by his side, Mundorf gave a presentation and led a workshop on UDL. Mundorf has become an expert in the field after serving nine years as a faculty member of a summer institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In Japan, Mundorf was not only a teacher but also very much a learner. He took copious notes, made a field trip to a Japanese classroom and personally shared teaching methods with many Japanese teachers.

“Half of teaching is learning,” Mundorf said, quoting a Japanese saying a few days after returning. “Seeing a whole other country and experiencing how they teach broadens my perspective and I’m sure that will impact what happens in my classroom.”

Mundorf’s Japanese hosts at the 24th Annual National Conference of the Japanese Academy of Learning Disabilities funded his weeklong trip, which was in the works before he joined the P.K. Yonge faculty this fall. Hayes encouraged Mundorf to take the time off to go, he said. Though not technically representing P.K. Yonge, he became an unofficial ambassador of the school.

“A lot of conversations turned to P.K. Yonge and practitioners were really interested in coming to P.K. Yonge and visiting my classroom and working with instructors at UF,” he said.

Digging Panama

The highlight of Mayra Cordero’s summer was digging in the dirt.

The sixth-grade science teacher traveled to Panama in July with about 20 edcuators from Florida and California as part of a Florida Museum of Natural History project to unearth fossils and provide professional development for K-12 science teachers.

During the 12-day trip, Cordero searched for specimens and learned firsthand how paleontologists conduct fieldwork. Their first lesson: distinguishing between fossils and the sea of rocks, pebbles and shells found along the shores of Lake Alajuela to learn about the stratigraphy of the area.

“It’s funny, but the first day we did not know how to recognize a fossil,” said the native of Puerto Rico.

The lessons received from the museum’s scientists paid off when Cordero discovered a tooth of a prehistoric Megalodon—informally dubbed “monster shark” or “megatooth shark”—the largest shark to have ever existed. This specimen and fossils unearthed by other teachers remained in the country and are administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Since returning home, Cordero has incorporated her new knowledge by creating paleontology lesson plans. She set up a tabletop sandbox in her classroom and students uncovered fossils and collaborated to log, measure, describe and classify each specimen.

“The students worked like professional scientists using fossils that I brought from Panama,” Cordero said.

Cordero soon plans to invite scientists from the Florida Natural History Museum to her classroom to share about scientific methods and their work in Panama.

Cordero’s trip was funded by the National Science Foundation, which earmarks funds for in-the-field scientific learning experiences for K-12 teachers.

“To know about so many different areas in science is difficult for science teachers,” Cordero said. “This trip gave me another route to gather information and I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge.”

Teaching teachers in Haiti

In July, Macy Geiger and Angie Flavin, as well as P.K. Yonge writing consultant Patricia Jacobs, traveled to Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, for an annual summer teacher-training institute.

The elementary school educators gave workshops to about 160 native teachers on integrating reading with social studies and writing personal narratives. Their ability to communicate was enhanced by having Haitian-American interpreters translate in Creole – and by Geiger’s fluency in French.

Haitian teachers have special challenges, not the least of which is living in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, a country devastated by a 2010 earthquake, where there is no such thing as free public education and children often attend irregularly.

The P.K. Yonge teachers stayed in dorm rooms on the second floor of the school, bunked in beds flanked by mosquito nets and took cold showers.

They saw teachers walking several miles to return to their villages or clinging for dear life to overpacked buses, the colorfully painted vehicles known as tap-taps (literally “quick quick” in Haitian Creole).

Yet they were amazing by the vitality, warmth and joyfulness of the people. They ate native foods (Geiger loved keneps, a local fruit that “tastes like Starburst candy”) and marveled at local craftsmen’s metalwork.

The P.K. Yonge visitors not only brought lessons, they carried three suitcases filled school supplies donated by Blue Wave faculty and students, including computer flash drives, backpacks, folders and writing instruments.

The trip was funded by the Graham Family Endowment for Teacher Renewal, which supports P.K. Yonge student achievement by enhancing teacher knowledge.

P.K. Yonge continues to support Haitian education. Boxes placed in various locations at the school are filled with backpacks that will be shipped to Haiti for use by schoolchildren.

“Macy texted me the night we got home and said ‘I feel guilty about all we have,’ ” Flavin said.

“Even the simple things that I never thought about – like a sanitation system,” Geiger added.

Sharing the Lessons

After returning to P.K. Yonge, Geiger and Flavin gave a presentation to other teachers – while Cordero shared about her trip to Panama — at the annual back-to-school faculty breakfast.

“I think it has definitely changed my outlook and perspective on my teaching and I am trying to encourage other teachers to go out there and try new things,” Flavin said.

Such adventures are what education is all about. The experiences enrich the entire school, Hayes said.

“It’s really important for faculty to have these opportunities so they are going to be positioned to prepare our students for the future where things will be more and more global and interconnected than we could have imagined,” she said

Funding

P.K. Yonge’s international focus is enhanced by endowments created by alumni, including:

Graham Family Endowment for Teacher Renewal, $150,000: Created in 2007 by the late P.K. Yonge alum Henry “Tip” Graham to increase student and school achievement by enhancing teacher knowledge.

P.K. Yonge Globalization Fund, $125,000: Created in December 2014 by an anonymous P.K. Yonge alum to support international travel for talented and needy students and for faculty to conduct research to advance the school’s curriculum and effort to become more global.



WRITERS
: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449, cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu; Katelin Mariner, 502-319-3503, kmariner@ufl.edu

MEDIA LIAISON: Julie Henderson, communications and international relations, UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, 352-392-1554, jhenderson@pky.ufl.edu

 

 

P.K. Yonge DRS robotics team vying for title in international competition

The P.K. Yonge robotics team qualified for the world championships by winning the Orlando regional competition in March.

The P.K. Yonge robotics team qualified for the world championships by winning the Orlando regional competition in March.

P.K. Yonge: Robotics world champs?

Well, we don’t know yet. At this writing, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s robotics team is competing in the FIRST Robotics Championship April 22-25 in St. Louis. The 21-member Roaring Riptide team qualified for the finals in mid-March by earning the top prize in regional competition held in Orlando.

The event isn’t really billed as the “world” championship, but more than 18,000 youth from 40 countries–along with 800 robots–are competing.

This year’s competition theme is “Recycle Rush,” so PKY’s team built its robot to stack recycle bins and move trash cans.

The robotics competition helps students gain technical knowledge and skills and enhances their capacities in science and engineering. They also experience some life lessons on the value of collaboration and innovative thinking.

The P.K. Yonge Roaring Riptide Team 4118 is enjoying great success and inspiring male and female students from 9th through12th grades.

Introduced to the PKY campus in 2012, the FIRST Robotics League has allowed students to explore new opportunities, take on new challenges and think about their futures differently. FIRST Robotics challenges teams to design and build a robot–over just a six-week period.

Teams are not only required to win in competitive events, they also must collaborate with other teams to secure top honors. The focus on collaboration is not only built into the competition, awards are given to recognize exemplars of collaborative spirit. In addition to its first place regional win, the Roaring Riptide received the Gracious Professionalism Award for their work with other teams throughout the competition. Team president Logan Hickox also was recognized as a Dean’s List Finalist.

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P.K. Yonge expanding educator outreach by Swivl and Twitter and streaming—oh my!

Striving to make an impact on education locally, statewide and beyond,  UF’s K-12 lab school, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, has been hosting more than 300 K-12 visiting educators annually as part of its Research in Action program, offering classroom observations, teacher-to-teacher mini-workshops, debriefing conversations and action planning exercises. Now, the UF laboratory school is using new technology such as live video streaming, social media and Swivl audio-visual equipment (which works easily with iPads and iPhone) to expand the reach of its on-campus professional learning programs to national and even international audiences.

PKY English Language Arts teachers Cody Miller (from left), Jen Chevalier, Eric Lemstrom and Kate Yurko served as instructors at the school's recent Research in Action  Day for 60 visiting educators.

PKY English Language Arts teachers Cody Miller (from left), Eric Lemstrom, Jen Chevalier and Kate Yurko were among the presenters at the school’s recent Research in Action Day for 60 visiting educators.

Professional Learning is key to P.K. Yonge’s mission as a developmental research school: to design, develop and disseminate best practices in K12 education. Teachers from within Florida and growing numbers from abroad participate in P.K. Yonge professional learning activities throughout the summer and during every year. In 2014-15, experiments with tools to disseminate best practices and connect with teachers are showing promise in reaching far beyond the constraints of the workday and the campus.

In February, the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and the National Literacy Project Research in Action day held on the P.K. Yonge campus was attended by 60 educators. With attendance limited by physical space constraints, live streaming technology extended the reach of this event immeasurably. While group activities take place on campus, audiences across the nation and in other countries were able to participate and learn at the same time.

Other recent technologies and tools are enhancing professional learning by streamlining the capture and presentation of exemplars from classrooms and simplifying the content capture process. While recording lessons is not new, new technology allows lessons to be captured easily by teachers and support staff, allowing fresh examples of real world classroom teaching to be presented and analyzed for each professional learning activity.

For the February Research in Action event, lessons taught just a few days prior were presented and analyzed — keeping workshop content current and up to the minute. Tools such as Swivl means that recorded sample lessons critical to connecting theory with real-world classroom practice can be captured and included with relative ease.

The February RIA event has now extended beyond live streaming and Swivl lesson capture with follow-up conversation and sharing moving into the realm of social media. P.K. Yonge faculty member and program development coordinator Christy Gabbard participated in an LDC Twitter chat following the on-campus, live-streamed event.

The future is bright! Visit the P.K. Yonge Research in Action page — at http://researchinaction.pkyonge.ufl.edu — to see and archive the live-streamed event and follow us on Twitter (@pkyongedrs).

P.K. Yonge volleyball team scores state title

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Hard work and dedication are values touted by P.K. Yonge faculty—and not just in the classroom. This year, that hard work and motivation from last year’s near-miss at a state volleyball title served as inspiration in the gym as the Blue Wave girls’ volleyball team won the Florida Class 4A state championship for 2014-15.

Team members Courtney Chappell (class of 2015), Sammy Mueller (‘16), Jac’cara Walker (‘16), Gabby O’Connell (‘16), Cameron Childs (‘18), Simone Harris (‘18), Amanda Phegley (‘18), Lacey Richeson (‘18), Jaq Mueller (‘19), Kiki Sermons (‘16), and coach Chad Davis returned to a hero’s welcome on the P.K. Yonge campus and a schoolwide rally celebrating the new state title winners.

The team, earning the Blue Wave’s first state volleyball championship since 2002, can stake claim as one of the greatest teams in school history. With a large contingent of underclassmen, all eyes are on next season when the P.K. Yonge girls defend their title.

PKY robotics team standout among youngest ever to pass mechanical design exam

The word on the (education) street is that school Robotics programs are a splendid pathway to careers in the vital STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math for today’s youth. At P.K. Yonge, UF’s K-12 developmental research school, there is a clear example of this pathway playing out early in the life of one PKY junior.

Logan Hickcox...robotics whiz kid

Logan Hickcox…robotics whiz kid

Eleventh-grader Logan Hickcox recently became one of youngest people in the nation to pass the Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate exam—and with a perfect score! This certification is an industry standard that allows holders to use this computer-based mechanical design program on a professional level.

Logan joined the P.K. Yonge Roaring Riptide FIRST Robotics Team 4118 as an 8th grader and in just a few weeks he was hooked. The ability to work alongside professional engineers and graduate students, to develop skills in communications and business relationships, and develop relationships with other Robotics teams across the state have helped Logan select an interesting path for his future.

The Blue Wave team, with a strong female representation, has led to numerous students reevaluating their academic choices and entering engineering programs at UF. We expect to see Logan in an engineering program in the not too distant future.

Watch a video about Logan’s high school experience: http://media.pkyonge.ufl.edu/#logan

Watch a video about the Roaring Riptide robotics team: http://media.pkyonge.ufl.edu/#robotics

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P.K. Yonge Spanish teacher honored for ‘excelencia’ as part of Hispanic Heritage Month

Excellence – or excelencia – in education is clearly evident in the teaching and learning activities occurring in Grisell Santiago’s Spanish classroom at P.K. Yonge. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed.

SANTIAGO, Grisell 2

Grisell Santiago

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera presented Santiago and two other honorees with Hispanic Heritage Month Excellence in Education awards at the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Month reception at the Governor’s Mansion Oct. 2. Santiago won the teaching honor for the high school grades.

Celebrated since 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and recognizes traditions, culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latino Americans. The Excellence in Education award recipients are nominated by students and peers and receive $1,500 donated by Volunteer Florida.

Seňora Santiago, as she is known around the P.K. Yonge campus, has taught at UF’s K-12 developmental research school for nine years and distinguishes herself as a dedicated, engaged and creative educator. She also serves as vice president of the Florida Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese and will move up to president in 2015.

In collaboration with the world languages department at UF, Santiago hosts an annual teaching workshop for Sharing Best Practices for the World Languages Classroom. She also implements new and innovative methods of teaching and learning, as evidenced by her participation in the P.K. Yonge Blended Learning project. The project was featured this fall on the documentary video series “A School That Works,” produced by Edutopia.org, an education reform website produced by the George Lucas Foundation.

Muy Buena, Sra. Santiago!

Trip of lifetime becoming yearly event for P.K. Yonge, China students

The partnership between P.K. Yonge DRS and the Nanjing Experimental International School continues to grow and touch the lives of an increasing number of faculty, students and families from both schools. NJEIS is a university-affiliated laboratory school in China much like PKY is the UF College of Education’s K-12 developmental research school.

Blue Wave and NJEIS students forge new friendships on the P.K. Yonge campus.

Blue Wave and NJEIS students forge new friendships on the P.K. Yonge campus.

This year, 23 high school students and four chaperones from NJEIS visited P.K. Yonge for five days in late September. Visiting students were able to experience American family life by staying with PKY host families and participating in after-school activities, bowling, tubing, and trips to St. Augustine and the Florida Museum of Natural History. The Chinese high schoolers also participated in PKY music class with Melanie Harris, a PE class with Kelly Barrett and English language arts class with Cody Miller.

The relationship between the two schools originated from UF College of Education professor Danling Fu’s vision for a China-United State partnership focused on school-based connections.

P.K. Yonge students who visited China in 2013 and 2014 enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones, and Blue Wave students planning to travel to China on a school-sponsored trip in March 2015 connected with friends they will see again in their home country.

“The experience serves as an excellent lesson in cultural and global awareness, as well as in empathy building.” said Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge’s coordinator of international partnerships. “Previous Blue Wave student travelers to Nanjing recall their own struggles with feeling awkward and displaced in a foreign land and are able to be empathetic to their Chinese guests. For students planning to travel to China for the first time, they gain a glimpse of how they will feel when they make the return visit to NJEIS next spring.”

“After two visits on both sides on the partnership, the schools feel deeply connected and bonded, and look forward to a lasting partnership with lifelong impacts for students, faculty, and families,” Henderson said.

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Broadway pros work behind the scenes for P.K. Yonge’s production of ‘Anything Goes’

Michael Cundari (above) leads rehearsals for the upcoming Anything Goes performance at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

Administrators at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School may not have known it, but they got more than one person when they hired Michael Cundari to take over the school’s performing arts program last year.

Cundari, a Nutley, N.J., native whose list of performances as a high school music director could double as an international travel brochure, has tapped into a network of friends and colleagues on and off Broadway to provide enhanced instruction and set design for his first production at the Gainesville school.

Eight performances of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes have been scheduled for the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Center, beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 14. Complete schedule and ticket information can be found online at http://pkyonge.ufl.edu/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=170295&SID.

Anything Goes is a fast-paced musical that combines the classic show tunes “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You” with tap dancing, cheesy jokes, a love triangle and a bit of blackmail.

The action takes place aboard the SS American, an ocean liner en route from New York to England. Onboard is nightclub singer and evangelist Reno Sweeney and her stowaway friend, Billy Crocker, who is in pursuit of Hope Harcourt, the love of his life who happens to be engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Adding to the mix are Moonface Martin, aka Public Enemy No. 13, and Erma, his sidekick-in-crime. Using disguises, tap-dancing sailors and trickery, Reno and Martin scheme to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart.

Cundari knew he had his work cut out when he chose the two-act play as his debut production.

“It’s definitely a challenge because of the constant movement, the delicate timing and the intricate dance numbers,” he said. “But I’m most concerned with the educational process of discovering a musical and all of the educational and life-serving attributes involved.

“It’s not just to put on a show,” Cundari added. “It’s to teach technique, time management and interpersonal skills – and to embrace culture and just teach students how to be better people.”

So far it’s mission accomplished, based on reports offered by Cundari’s colleagues, all of whom traveled from New York to help prepare the 50-member cast.

“Most of the kids had never worn tap shoes, but they caught on quickly,” said Elliott Bradley, a dance instructor who Cundari met through a mutual friend.

Bradley, who spent four seasons performing with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall during the famed dance troupe’s annual Christmas special, says he has been impressed with virtually every cast member’s ability to catch on quickly.

“They learned all the basics in three days when I was down here in September,” Bradley said. “And they retained what they learned when I came back in January.

“I can tell you this,” he added with a wry smile. “There are no shy kids onstage. They’re all doing really, really well.”

Justin Gomlak, who Cundari also met through a mutual friend, has been equally impressed.

“It’s a pleasure working with students who are so open to guidance,” said Gomlak, a Broadway actor and drama teacher at The Dalton School in New York City. “They absorb every bit of the guidance I offer.”

Cundari says he also is grateful to the dozen volunteers who showed up to build an elaborate stage setting under the direction of James Gardner, a professional set designer who also came down from New York. Gardner is the father of two of Cundari’s former students.

Cundari served as director of secondary choral activities, director of the Academy of Fine and Performing Arts and music coordinator for the Nutley public school system before coming to P.K. Yonge. His ensembles participated in three command performances for New Jersey governors, and received numerous invitations, including a Palm Sunday performance at the National Basilica in Washington D.C., and a concert aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hi.

Cundari also conducted high school choral group performances at Carnegie Hall and at prestigious venues throughout England, Italy and Austria. 

“After 15 years of heading so many successful programs in New Jersey, I just needed a change,” he said of his decision to relocate. “I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned and experienced to create some fine performances and wonderful memories here in Gainesville.”

Anything Goes38   Anything Goes74  Anything Goes81                               Anything Goes101

P.K. Yonge, COE professor team up to align math curriculum with Common Core standards

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UF mathematics education associate professor Tim Jacobbe (second from left) joins P.K. Yonge teachers to discuss the new math curriculum implementation process.

As Florida schools prepare for the official implementation of the Common Core standards next school year, UF mathematics education associate professor Tim Jacobbe and P.K. Yonge, UF’s K-12 developmental research school, have been teaming up since 2009 to ensure the school is ready to meet the more rigid math standards. With Jacobbe’s help, P.K. Yonge implemented a new math curriculum for the elementary grades for the 2013-2014 school year. 

Jacobbe has facilitated faculty discussions and needs assessments to determine how to align teaching practices at P.K. Yonge with the rigor demanded by the Common Core standards for math. He also led a weeklong professional learning workshop for K-8 math teachers, focusing on deepening their content knowledge and grasp of the math practice standards. 

“Tim had such background in what P. K. Yonge was doing. He led discussions about curriculum adoption and supported P. K. Yonge’s next steps. All of this laid incredible groundwork for moving through the adoption process” said Marisa Stukey, P.K. Yonge’s program development and outreach specialist. 

The new adopted math curriculum at P.K. Yonge strengthens students’ perseverance, strategies and reasoning skills specifically related to problem solving. These teaching practice standards had not been explicitly addressed before in P.K. Yonge’s curriculum or in the teaching of math, Stukey said. 

“Math is about thinking,” Jacobbe said. “Math is about problem solving, not just knowing math facts. Just knowing facts won’t help students succeed in life.” 

In the past, P.K. Yonge’s overall math achievement has been high on standardized tests like the FCAT. These tests, however, assess understanding of basic math concepts, rather than measuring conceptual understanding of more complex math, which is demanded by the Common Core. 

Jacobbe will continue making weekly visits to P.K. Yonge to study student work before and during the new curriculum in order to understand how to further help teachers and students gain a deeper conceptual understanding of math. He is working with school math teachers faculty to develop a new middle school math curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year. 

“It’s important to make sure we have a cohesive plan between our elementary and middle schools,” Jacobbe said. “The P.K. Yonge teachers are tremendous professionals. The foundation of our work has been laid by good early curriculum decisions and is only possible because the teachers are willing to take on the challenge of helping the learners of today be successful in math in a new way.”

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P.K. Yonge-China connection continues to blossom

P.K. Yonge host students Dannette Aguirre and Sebastian Galindo, both traveling to Nanjing over Spring Break 2014, take time to show visiting students Yuan Susu and Wu Yushan some of Gainesville’s natural sites during the NJEIS exchange visit in September. (Photo by Paula Hamsho.)

P.K. Yonge host students Dannette Aguirre and Sebastian Galindo, both traveling to Nanjing over Spring Break 2014, take time to show visiting students Yuan Susu and Wu Yushan some of Gainesville’s natural sites during the NJEIS exchange visit in September. (Photo by Paula Hamsho.)

Months of planning became bustling activity when a tour bus of 15 Chinese students, two administrators, and one faculty member arrived at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School. from the Nanjing Experimental International School (NJEIS) on Sept. 24.

The five-day visit from NJEIS is the second major step in the blossoming partnership between the two school communities. The relationship, characterized by enthusiasm, warmth, and commitment to intercultural communication and global competence, only seems to grow and touch more people more deeply with each new activity in which the two schools engage. 

The P.K. Yonge High School officially welcomed the Chinese delegation with speeches,  student performances and words of welcome in Chinese by high school students Savannah Branch, Stephen Tucker, Robert Powell and Megan Marks. Speeches by representatives from the two schools underscored the sense of gratitude experienced by both hosts and guests for the opportunity to participate in the experience.

During their time in Gainesville, NJEIS students stayed with families of students who visited NJEIS during spring break of 2013 or with students who will be participating in an exchange visit next year. Families welcomed their NJEIS guests into their homes like they were their own children. Student Bai Xiaoyu (Tiffany), while munching on a snack prepared by her host father, said, “ He is just like my own dad!”

“We believe that participating in daily life experiences and making meaningful connections with students and families are two key ways in which people develop global competence,” said Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge’s Coordinator of International Relations. “Opportunities like those provided to both P.K. Yonge and NJEIS students don’t just promote awareness of another culture, but provide an inside experience and understanding that would not be possible on a tourist visit.”

Visiting administrators and faculty were able to observe classes and participate in official observation activities on the PKY campus. Plans are being developed for the P.K. Yonge faculty delegate, Amanda Adimoolah, to teach classes in the NJEIS elementary school during her time in Nanjing.

Besides their in-home experiences, Chinese students accompanied their American partners to academic classes, took classes taught by P.K. Yonge faculty, visited the UF campus and the Florida Museum of Natural History, and took a day trip to the historic sites and beaches in St. Augustine. The school week ended with a traditional tailgate barbecue before the Blue Wave’s Friday night home football game. The team was welcomed onto the field by the P.K. Yonge cheerleaders and their new Chinese friends.

After the visit, the P.K. Yonge group of students traveling to China in 2014 expanded from 11 to 19.  Interest in the partnership has grown campuswide; with many students expressing interest in future years exchange activities. The P.K. Yonge Elementary school has now begun weekly Chinese classes for second through fifth grade and a middle-high school Chinese language club will begin to support the student delegation traveling to China in the spring.

Response to the visit on both sides of the world has been similar. Yang Xiaolin, assistant principal at NJEIS perhaps described the sentiment best: “Our students entered the U.S. students’ families and felt like family members of their U.S. partners–living together, learning and really feeling American sincerity and enthusiasm. They felt the warmth of this connection extend to their families at home.” 

Planning and fundraising activities are underway for the P.K. Yonge spring break visit to NJEIS. To learn more, donate or keep up with P.K. Yonge’s global activities, visit http://pkyglobal.pkyonge.ufl.edu.

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PKY starts planning for new secondary wing

With dust barely settled from the recent construction of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s prototype elementary wing, preparations have started for the next phase of the school’s campus revitalization project: a new $15.9 million building that will house the middle and high school grades.

P.K. Yonge is the K-12 laboratory school of the University of Florida’s College of Education. The lab school’s existing secondary wing is located south of the local Tumblin Creek among several separate buildings built in the 1950s and ‘60s.

With a design concept already in place, planning for the new 75,000-square-foot secondary school building pressed forward with a meeting in May between P.K. Yonge’s construction committee and representatives from the Orlando office of SchenkelShultz Architecture. The two teams met for the second time in early June.

“The new secondary school building will contain a variety of learning spaces, none of which will look like traditional classrooms,” said P.K. Yonge’s technology coordinator Julie Henderson. “This building will be unique as the design supports modes of learning for today’s and tomorrow’s children.”

The main goal of the new building’s design is to incorporate community-style spaces that support collaboration, flexibility, mobility, as well as individual work. The learning areas will also include space for computers, teacher work, eating, and lounging. The classroom walls will be transparent to support observations of students and class activities.

“Experts in the field were calling our new elementary wing a model school building for the 21st century, and we’re using the same progressive design principles in planning our secondary wing as a student-centered learning community,” said P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes.

In fact, the recently completed elementary wing received merit recognition this year from the Florida Educational Facilities Planners’ Association during its Architectural Showcase.

In the current design-build phase, SchenkelShultz is consulting a faculty committee composed of elementary, middle and high school faculty members that is providing the firm with “their needs and dreams related to learning spaces,” Henderson said.

The firm has also surveyed P.K. Yonge secondary students and teachers to determine their instructional and learning preferences.

To make room for the new secondary wing, the school library and a separate wing of classrooms will be demolished. The library program and resources will be moved to a temporary location while demolition and construction take place.

Once funding for the project is secured, a groundbreaking is possible within 10 months. Construction is estimated to take 12-14 months after breaking ground.

After the new secondary school is constructed, P.K. Yonge plans to continue the campus revitalization project with the construction of a gym and fitness center, administration building, global learning center, library, parking lots and sports fields.


CONTACTS
SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, 352-392-1554, ext. 223, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu
MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137, llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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Summer institutes for teachers offered in reading instruction, Common Core

Attendees at P.K. Yonge's 2009 Teacher Scholars Reading Academy observe as an institute participant co-teaches a Summer Adventures in Literacy (SAIL) class.

Attendees at P.K. Yonge’s 2009 Teacher Scholars Reading Academy observe an institute participant as she co-teaches a Summer Adventures in Literacy (SAIL) class. Photo courtesy Marisa Stukey.

For students, school’s out for the summer. For teachers, it’s an opportune time to step back into the classroom – but as students. 

Starting this month, P.K. Yonge laboratory school will hold its professional development series for the eighth summer in a row. Although the first program, the “Literacy Design Collaborative Summer Institute,” of the summer series is filled, elementary and secondary teachers can still register for the upcoming “Transforming Practice: Enacting the Common Core” institute or the supplemental Teacher Scholars Reading Academy. 

“Transforming Practice” is a one-week institute held from June 17 to 21 that focuses on best practices for reading instruction based on the state’s new Common Core Standards. This program is catered to teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade. Discussion topics will include academic vocabulary and balancing informational and literary texts in the classroom.

The “Transforming Practice” institute is also the first segment of a three-week Teacher Scholars Reading Academy, which will provide teachers with intensive, hands-on professional learning in evidence-based reading instruction. The focus of the academy, which runs from June 17 to July 3, is on reading in kindergarten through third grade.

After a week of acquiring teaching strategies in “Transforming Practice,” academy participants will co-teach P.K. Yonge’s Summer Adventures in Literacy (SAIL), an intensive summer reading program for young struggling readers, during the final two weeks of the academy. In the afternoons, teachers will reflect on their practices and receive additional training. 

“So often, teachers learn something new, but never have the ability to watch it in action or practice it themselves. The Teacher Scholars Reading Academy provides teachers with an opportunity to learn like we want our students to learn – by doing it,” said Marisa Stukey, P.K. Yonge’s curriculum coordinator for kindergarten through third grade. “It’s an incredible learning experience that is sure to change the way you teach reading.”

On the final two days of the academy, July 2 and 3, there will be a two-day leadership session for school principals.

The “Transforming Practice” institute and the Teacher Scholars Reading Academy will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the weekdays. Registration for the one-week “Transforming Practice” institute is $395 per participant, and $795 per teacher or reading coach for the three-week Teacher Scholars Reading Academy. Teachers and coaches are encouraged to form school-based teams of four to register for the academy. Registration for the two-day principal leadership session is $125 per principal. Registration costs include materials.

Each professional development session will be led by Stukey, P.K. Yonge fourth- and fifth-grade curriculum coordinator Ashley Pennypacker Hill, and teachers from the SAIL program. All sessions will take place at P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School on 1080 S.W. 11th St. in Gainesville.

To register and for more information, visit http://outreach.pkyonge.ufl.edu or contact Marisa Stukey at mstukey@pky.ufl.edu.

COE hosting statewide meeting of teacher preparation leaders June 6-7

More than 40 Florida education officials and teacher preparation leaders will converge upon the University of Florida this Thursday and Friday, June 6-7, for the 3rd annual Summer Institute for Higher Education. This year’s theme is “Cultivating Effective Teachers and Effective Leaders.” The College of Education is hosting the event.

Pictured from left, UF Special Ed faculty and CEEDAR Center co-directors Paul Sindelar, Erica McCray and Mary Brownell will participate in the UF-hosted Summer Institute.

Pictured from left, UF Special Ed faculty and CEEDAR Center co-directors Paul Sindelar, Erica McCray and Mary Brownell will participate in the UF-hosted Summer Institute.

The institute, to be held at UF’s Harn Museum of Art, is co-sponsored by the state Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and the Florida Teacher Education Division of the international Council for Exceptional Children. 

 Speakers include FLDOE chiefs Eileen McDaniel (Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention) and Monica Verra-Tirado (BEESS); Thursday’s keynote speaker Bonnie Billingsley, professor and chair of higher education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; and UF special education professor Mary Brownell, who will give Friday’s keynote address on designing effective professional learning systems for teachers. UF special education professors Jean Crockett, Paul Sindelar and Erica McCray also will participate.

Newberry Elementary School principal Lacy Redd, who has three education degrees from UF and is now pursuing her doctorate at the College of Education, will speak on developing professional learning supports.

The new, federally-funded CEEDAR Center (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform—based at UF’s College of Education and co-directed by Brownell, Sindelar and McCray—will be featured in some of the presentations and panel discussions.

For more information, contact Alice Kaye Emery at aemery@coe.ufl.edu.

 

 

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P.K. Yonge high schoolers visit Chinese partner school during spring break

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P.K. Yonge and NJEIS students group together before leaving for their overnight stays. Photo by Tom Tahlier.

 

On March 23, 16 excited (and somewhat travel-weary) globetrotters from P.K. Yonge set foot in Shanghai for what would be an enlightening and life-changing week in China. Thirteen high school students and three chaperones from the UF K-12 laboratory school spent spring break week in Nanjing to launch the first concrete, student-focused stage of a new partnership between P.K. Yonge and Nanjing Experimental International School (NJEIS). 

Savannah Branch, P.K. Yonge 9th grader, her partner Kitty and a friend leave for Kitty's house on a Friday afternoon.

Savannah Branch, P.K. Yonge 9th grader, her partner Kitty and a friend leave for Kitty’s house on a Friday afternoon. Photos by Tom Tahlier.

The Blue Wave students experienced a variety of cultural treats, including Chinese food, classes in Chinese language and calligraphy, kite flying, and a range of historical sites in Nanjing. 

The most memorable part of the trip, though, was the students’ weekend with NJEIS students and their families. They got to experience Chinese culture more authentically than most international travelers dream of. When the chaperones reunited with the students, they were met with an explosion of voices, laughter and animated stories about each student’s unique experiences with their partner families. Their experiences included hiking, grocery shopping, visiting theme parks, and getting a brief glimpse of Chinese family life. 

Paige Crumpton and Luisa Schlafke pose with a structure in China.

Paige Crumpton and Luisa Schlafke pose with a structure in China.

PKY students handled the transition from west to east with aplomb. Their willingness to experiment and try different things was commendable. For example, one student reflected, “Rabbit doesn’t taste like chicken, but snake does!”

Overall, each traveler expressed heightened empathy for foreigners, personal confidence, awareness of how fortunate they are, the importance of family, and a sense that their futures do not have to be restricted to the borders of their home country. 

P.K. Yonge chaperones returned eager to take the next steps in the exchange relationship with NJEIS. The two schools are currently working on NJEIS student visits to Gainesville and already planning for the next PKY group from to visit China. P.K. Yonge chaperones and administration see the relationship with NJEIS brimming with possibilities, especially through meaningful cross-cultural connections between the Gainesville and Nanjing communities. 

P.K. Yonge students experience and learn about Chinese tea culture at the Yu Garden in Shanghai.

P.K. Yonge students experience and learn about Chinese tea culture at the Yu Garden in Shanghai.

In the words of a NJEIS student, “Even though our hair, eyes and skin colors are different, our hearts are the same.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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P.K. Yonge students headed to world ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ competition

After winning regional and state competitions, a team of seven high schoolers from the college’s P.K. Yonge laboratory school has been selected from 300 state teams to be among 30 groups representing Florida at the World Finals of Odyssey of the Mind. This is the first time a team from the Gainesville and Jacksonville area attend the championship. 

Odyssey of the Mind is the largest creative problem-solving competition in the world. The world finals will take place at Michigan State University on May 7.

Read more about the team and the competition in a Gainesville Sun article from April 18.

PKY high-schoolers in China visiting UF partner schools

As global east-west relationships grow stronger, UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School is celebrating a burgeoning relationship with the Nanjing International Experimental School (NJIES) in China by sending the first Blue Wave student delegation to visit the Chinese school during P.K. Yonge’s spring break, March 22 to April 1.

PKY elementary principal Cathy Atria (left) and technology coordinator Julie Henderson (right) flank nine of the 13 traveling Blue Wave student delegates before embarking on their China trip.

PKY K-12 principal Cathy Atria (left) and technology coordinator Julie Henderson (right) flank nine of the 13 traveling Blue Wave student delegates before embarking on their China trip.

NJIE holds a “lab school-type” connection with Nanjing Xizhuang University, similar to P.K. Yonge’s affiliation with UF and the College of Education. The UF college forged an exchange relationship last year with the Nanjing institution.

UF education associate dean Tom Dana and professor Nancy Dana are accompanying the P.K. Yonge contingent on the spring break tour, joining 13 Blue Wave high-school students, K-12 principal Cathy Atria and technology coordinator Julie Henderson.

The UF-Nanjing connection started in 2010 when a Chinese doctoral student spent a year at P.K. Yonge documenting teaching practice and school life. Fran Vandiver, then the school director, reciprocated by visiting Nanjing the following year.

Last May, new PKY director Lynda Hayes joined COE deans Glenn Good and Tom Dana and others on another Nanjing expedition to cement the international partnership with a formal agreement.

The 13 Blue Wave student “delegates”—five males and eight females—currently visiting China represent every high school grade. They are visiting historical sites in Shanghai and Nanjing and taking classes at NJEIS in Chinese language, calligraphy and tai chi.

Beginning Friday, March 29, PKY students will spend a couple nights at the homes of NJEIS students to experience Chinese family life—a rare view of Chinese culture that few travelers there get to experience.

Julie Henderson said the UF/PKY-Nanjing connection “will foster global awareness and cultural sensitivity—critical skills for today’s generation of learners.”

 

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PKY-COE host gathering to map out transformation of middle school science education

Bolstered by a $5 million grant last year from the National Science Foundation, a collaborating faculty research team from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and UF’s College of Education has been studying how to transform middle school science curricula and improve student learning. Team leaders recently hosted 40 teachers and administrators from 10 partnering, rural school districts at P.K. Yonge to discuss strategies for meeting those goals.

The gathering was the first of a quarterly series of meetings scheduled for the five-year project, named U-FUTuRES, or University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science. To facilitate the transformation effort, the researchers have created a Science Teacher Leadership Institute to train teacher-leaders to lead district-wide implementation of a new, research-proven, middle school science curriculum.

UF science education professor Rose Pringle works with students in a P.K. Yonge middle school science class.

The researchers’ aim is to narrow the gap in science learning between American students and their peers in higher performing nations.

At the core of this initiative is the new curriculum called IQWST, or Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology. P.K. Yonge and several other institute-partnering schools are already pioneering the new middle school science curriculum design, which has students conducting daily investigations of science phenomena, learning how to use scientific reasoning to support their claims, drawing on past science learning and experiences, and developing critical thinking skills.

During last month’s institute meeting, the developers and researchers behind IQWST—P.K.  Yonge director Lynda Hayes, UF science educator Rose Pringle, and Joe Krajcik from Michigan State University—explained how to implement the new curriculum, as well as how to support existing science teachers in Palm Beach County.

Hayes is the principal investigator of the NSF grant; Pringle and Krajcik are co-PIs. Krajcik told the visiting educators that the IQWST curriculum will align with the more rigid K-12 science standards now being developed by a collaborative of more than half of the states.

“Visiting faculty left impressed by P.K. Yonge students’ use of scientific terms, their critical thinking skills, and the level of activity in the P.K. Yonge science classes,” Hayes said.

Now in the third year of using the IQWST curriculum, P.K. Yonge science instructors in the middle grades report significant improvements in student learning in their classes. According to Hayes, school faculty consider last year’s 10 percent increase in the number of students scoring at level 3 or above (on a scale of 5) on the 8th grade FCAT science test a positive trend resulting from their efforts to change the way their science curriculum works.

“Partnerships supported by this project show promise in a broad scale transformation of middle school science education to meet the needs of today’s students and to plant seeds for tomorrow’s scientists,” Hayes said.

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PKY lab school students score in Top 5 on statewide FCAT, end-of-course exams


The test results are in and a high percentage of students–and their teachers–at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School are beaming with pride for the students’ stellar performance on the 2012 statewide End of Course exams and FCAT scores. The average scores of PKY students collectively ranked in the Top 5 statewide on End of Course exam results in Algebra, Biology and Geometry and on FCAT scores on 3rd, 9th and 10th grade reading, and 8th grade writing.

Here are the complete exam results and listings of the teacher teams of the top-scoring student groups:

End of Course Exams:

Geometry: Kristin Weller
1st place in the state for 9th and 10th grades compared across districts

Algebra I:  Paige Allison and Alicia Stephenson
Tied 1st place in the state for 8th grade, in the top 5 for 9th grade compared across districts

Biology: Mickey MacDonald and Kerry Thompson
4th place in the state for combined 9th and 10th grades compared across districts.

FCAT

3rd Grade Reading:
2nd highest mean score and 3rd highest overall performance compared across districts
Angie Flavin, Lindsay Pavlik, Ross Van Boven – 3rd Grade Team

8th Grade Writing:
5th place in the state
Greg Cunningham – 8th Grade Language Arts

9th Grade Reading:
4th place in the state
Jennifer Cheveallier – 9th Grade Language Arts

10th Grade Reading:
4th place in the state
Kate Yurko – 10th Grade Language Arts

Thank you, students, for staying focused, for working hard, and for your great performances! Thank you, faculty, for providing the place, time, and expertise to help your students represent P.K. Yonge so well across the state!

Roaring Riptide robotics team makes big splash in FIRST season

The Roaring Riptide of P.K. Yonge, the school’s FIRST Robotics Team, competed in the South Florida FIRST Robotics regional competition this spring, and while the rookie squad didn’t walk away with official honors, the team was invited to present their robot at the Gator Engineering Design Expo later in the year at the UF Reitz Union, and also in the Integrated Product and Process Design (IPPD) meeting.

Pictured, above and below, members of P.K. Yonge's Roaring Riptide robotics team (wearing light blue T-shirts) set up for their FIRST regional competition.

FIRST is an international robotics competition founded by Segway creator Dean Kaman. Competing teams build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. More than 30 Blue Wave high school students are participating.

For a rookie team effort, the P.K. Yonge robot sparked a lot of interest on the competition floor. Other high performing teams worked tirelessly on fixes for the Roaring Riptide robot based on pure potential. The Roaring Riptide’s robot was able to be driven around the court, shoot baskets, and was most proficient at balancing on the “cooperation bridges” (requirements of the competition).

The Riptide squad was an ethnically mixed team and also had a nice blend of boys (11) and girls (six) among the 17 team members. Riptide faculty adviser Kerry Thompson, a physics and biology teacher, said the experience is having a big impact on the students, academically and personally.

Back at PKY, Thompson said the students were not very communicative but now interact frequently in class. Those who seemed to be lacking direction in planning their futures are now excited about robotics and pursuing engineering careers and many are eager to volunteer after school to start up robotics for younger students. Some parents even expressed wishes for seniors to stay back a year and do it all again.

“This experience has opened their eyes to their own future possibilities,” Thompson said.

She said mentors coach and guide the robotics team members, but students develop solutions and do the work. Thompson’s requirements won’t allow students to sacrifice academics for participation: “No Ds or Fs,” even when build season demands commitment six nights a week.

P.K. Yonge is excited about robotics and is exploring ways to implement similar activities in the middle and elementary school. This competition embodies many qualities of a 21st century education: a science/engineering focused, project-based, experiential, collaborative learning experience.

Mentors aiding Thompson (P.K. Yonge) included two Harp Engineering employees, a UF mechanical engineering instructor, two UF engineering graduate students and a local handyman.


Julie Henderson
P.K. Yonge Correspondent
coE-NEWS

 

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P.K. Yonge erects new elementary building in bid to become ‘technological powerhouse’

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The formal dedication Friday (May 11) of P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School’s new, technology-enhanced elementary wing marks completion of the first phase of total campus revitalization for the long-time University of Florida laboratory school.

P.K. Yonge and UF College of Education officials call it an important first step into transforming the K-12 school into a “model 21st century technological powerhouse.”

Aerial photo of P.K. Yonge's new, tech-enhanced elementary building.

The new 36,000-square-foot building will house kindergarten through fifth grade classes. The 13-month construction project, which cost $7.6 million, started in February 2011 with the demolition of one of three existing, single-story elementary school wings. Construction on the state-of-the-art, two-story replacement wing started March 28, 2011, with all but some minor finishing touches completed earlier this month.

The project is first in line in an effort to make the entire school a green campus. P.K. Yonge director Lynda Hayes says the new building achieves 25 percent greater energy efficiency than traditional school facilities and should qualify for LEED Gold certification–a benchmark of high-performance green buildings.

The entire makeover of P.K Yonge calls for tearing down all but five existing campus buildings. The master plan features several new buildings including a café, a global media center and a community outreach center. A new gymnasium, health and fitness center and a jogging and fitness track also are slated.

BRPH Construction Services of Melbourne, Fla., constructed the new elementary building and BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. designed the master plan for P.K. Yonge’s total campus renewal.

“The new elementary school embraces modern teaching methods and technology, tools and space considerations. It’s set up in a learning community model,” Hayes said.

She said a summer literacy program for younger elementary students will soon begin classes in the new building, but all elementary classes will be held there starting the next school year in August.

Officials call the new elementary school “a building without classrooms.” Traditional closed-off classrooms are replaced by learning studios with transparent walls, common areas and media centers. Computer labs are replaced by wireless devices such as laptops and tablets.

“The integrated technology will teach students how to make good decisions on the Internet and make global connections for research and communication as part of their coursework,” Hayes said.

Specialized space called the da Vinci Studio awaits students for creative science and art classes and projects. Students also have outdoor learning areas surrounded by nature, indoor reading lofts and comfortable chairs facing each other instead of all staring ahead at the teacher, as well as traditionally organized learning experiences. Teachers have designated workrooms and planning areas, accessible throughout the day to encourage collaborative teaching efforts.

Hayes, in her first year as P.K. Yonge’s director, said the school will work with stakeholders on strategies to raise the remaining $39 million needed to complete the total campus renewal project.

She moderated Friday’s dedication event and Alachua County Commissioner Paula DeLaney and other dignitaries spoke before the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. Other participants included Joseph Glover, UF provost; Ed Poppell of the University of Florida Development Corporation (which oversees development of Gainesville’s Innovation Square); Glenn Good, dean of UF College of Education; and Fran Vandiver, retired P.K. Yonge director.

The campus revitalization project, nearly four years in the making, is a key legacy of Vandiver’s 13-year tenure as school director. She retired in April 2011.

Dean Good described P.K. Yonge’s forward-thinking campus renewal effort as typical for an education innovator.

“P.K. Yonge was into education reform before education reform was cool,” Good said. “These advances will improve the educational experiences of every student at P.K. Yonge and serve as a model for other schools in Alachua County and across the state and nation.”


CONTACTS

    SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, director, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu; 392-1554, ext. 222

    SOURCE: Thomas Reilly, senior superintendent, BRPH Architects-Engineers, 321-751-3052

    WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Performing Arts students to stage ‘Spelling Bee’ musical comedy at annual spring show

 

 

 

 


SAVE THE DATES: March 23-31.

That’s when the Performing Arts Center at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School will be presenting the musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Spelling Bee features another super-talented cast of students from PKY’s award-winning Performing Arts program and promises to be another P.K. Yonge landmark production.

Spelling Bee won two Tony awards during its Broadway run and features one of the funniest, most original concepts in Broadway history.  Young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. They are a quirky, yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.

Tickets for reserved seating go on sale soon. For more information, contact the P.K. Yonge Ticket Hotline 352.392.1850, or online at http://springmusical.pkyonge.ufl.edu/.

P.K. Yonge biology instructors pilot new standards-based grading approach

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School instructors Mickey MacDonald and Kerry Thompson are partnering to prepare the UF laboratory school’s biology students for this year’s inaugural end-of-course biology exam.

MacDonald

With traditional grading practices often rewarding students for work completion or class participation as a substitute for knowledge of content, Thompson and MacDonald are piloting standards-based grading to focus students on mastery of content knowledge and science practices.

Standards-based grading has been implemented in many IB programs across the country and abroad. This model grades student on a scale of 0-6. In the P.K. Yonge pilot, a grade of 3 is considered the minimum level of competency needed to pass the biology end-of-course exam.

A 3-grade indicates the student is able to recall information and has demonstrated beginning skills in explaining or applying knowledge gained. Grades of 4 and 5 represent higher level skills in explaining and applying knowledge. Students attaining a grade of 6 are able to recall, explain, and apply content knowledge consistently and well.

The instructors say the standards-based grading approach is a work in progress, but students appear to be “buying in.” The system provides more opportunities for students to revisit material not mastered in the original time frame—an important advantage for students when the end-of-course exam rolls around.

“The potential of this type of grading,” says Thompson, “is that we will have a better understanding of what students really know and understand.”

MacDonald says standards-based grading coupled with the use of the College of Education’s online learning management system, Purlieu, provides opportunities for ongoing assessments for learning and offers numerous resources for mastering content.

Research in Action: A hands-on approach to professional learning

Elementary teachers at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School hosted 32 visiting educators from Duval County schools on Nov. 17.  Their visit was a follow-up to an intensive, two-week summer training opportunity, Teachers Scholars Reading Academy, provided in collaboration with the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning.

P.K. Yonge,  which is UF’s K-12 laboratory school, hosts some 300 elementary and secondary educators yearly as part of its Research in Action program, developed in 2004 in response to a growing need for teachers, administrators and reading coaches to observe research-based reading strategies in classrooms.

Program offerings include classroom observations, teacher-to-teacher mini-workshops, debriefing conversations, and time to develop action plans for implementation, Research in Action days are filled to capacity within weeks of being advertised.

— PKY Update contributor: Christy Gabbard, curriculum coordinator, PKY Secondary Division

Middle school magazine wins gold medal for literary excellence

Making waves is an activity in which the staff of the P.K.Yonge “Making Waves” literary magazine excels. The yearly publication has once again been recognized for excellence, receiving a Gold Medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

With a staff of P.K. Yonge middle schoolers, “Making Waves” competes with high school magazines around the country and, according to one judge, “it is amazing that this magazine is the work of middle schoolers”—from editing and production to literary and artistic content.

Carolyn Harrell, P.K. Yonge middle school enrichment instructor, describes herself as a “technically-challenged” organizer and cheerleader, leaving all of the production and editing work to the student staff.

P.K. Yonge has served as UF’s K-12 laboratory school since 1934.

Blue Wave lifer-alumna shares design expertise in planning new elementary building

P.K. Yonge alumna and “lifer” Jennifer Ramski has returned to the P.K. Yonge School campus to lend her expertise in the planning and furnishing of the new elementary building, currently under construction.

Ramski, founding principal of the interior design and planning firm, Ramski & Company, will lead PKY’s elementary division through a series of charrettes to identify furniture solutions that support teaching and learning needs in the elementary learning communities. Guiding principles will be centered around flexible groupings and leveraging available spaces to support variations in teaching and learning.

The combination of faculty walkthroughs of the new learning spaces and Ramski’s guided charrettes will help planners develop comprehensive design solutions for 21st century learning spaces, including enhanced digital support for teaching and learning.

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School has been UF’s K-12 laboratory school since 1934.