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Jarvis STREAM steams ahead

A small group of almost 30 sixth grade parents gathered on Monday, Sept. 22 in the Jarvis Middle School Auditorium to learn more about the the school’s new STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum.

Prior to the meeting, Jarvis Principal Melissa Hoskey asked parents to send in any questions they had about the program. She used those questions to help create a PowerPoint that she shared that evening. (See a PDF of the PowerPoint text)

Jarvis launched the STREAM program this fall in an effort to better align education with the real world. The school randomly selected roughly half of the sixth grade students to participate, making certain the group was representative of the entire grade.

She said that she and the district are committed to this model, expecting to begin STREAM for seventh and eighth graders in 2015-16.

“The meeting answered parents’ most pressing questions and gave us an opportunity to better explain STREAM. It must have been successful, because excited parents went home and told other parents. The next day, we had other sixth grade parents calling the school asking how their children could participate,” she said.

Why STREAM?

“This is the direction education is heading. The single content classroom is no longer the best way to prepare students for their futures,” said Mrs. Hoskey.

“This program teaches students to problem-solve, to critically think and to communicate. Employers tell us that these are skills our students lack when they enter the workplace.”

Mrs. Hoskey said that parents have many questions about the initiative. This program is far different from when mothers and fathers attended middle and high schools with traditional classroom—where a teacher taught just one subject.

“You would sit in English class where you studied Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage;” then you moved to Social Studies class where you studied the American Revolution; then it was on to science to learn about the weather. Each subject was completely separate from the others.

“That is not how it is in the real world. Today’s jobs ask us to connect things we learn across all disciplines to help solve problems. STREAM is patterned after that need. The classroom is not bound by a single subject. Our team of teachers might ask students to use skills they learn in ELA and math to solve and explain complex science problems. Or they might ask students to write an ELA essay that analyzes and compares multiple historical documents in social studies.”

Mrs. Hoskey stressed another key component to the STREAM model—collaboration. Again like the real world, students are asked to work together to identify a problem, to solve that problem and to follow through on the solution to completion.

“As educators, we need to provide our students with these integrated opportunities as often as possible if our students are going to be prepared for their futures,” she said.