<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - ]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcmiami.com/feature/education-on-6 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:29:20 -0400 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:29:20 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ft Lauderdale Fire Rescue School Supply Drive]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:25:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/back+to+school+supplies.jpg

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue is holding a Back to School drive to benefit Kids in Distress. This marks the fourth year the department has collected school supplies for disadvantaged kids in the community.

Firefighters are asking for the following items to be donated to help children ages 5 to 17: school supplies, backpacks, money, gift cards, new clothing and new sneakers. Donations will be accepted every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from July 11 to August 11, 2014.

Donations can be dropped off at the following rescue stations:

Station 2 – 528 N.W. 2nd St.
Station 3 – 2801 S.W. 4th Ave.
Station 13 – 2871 E. Sunrise Blvd.
Station 16 – 533 N.E. 22nd St. in Wilton Manors
Station 29 – 2002 N.E. 16th St.
Station 35 – 1969 E. Commercial Blvd.
Station 46 – 1515 NW 19 Street
Station 47 – 1000 S.W. 27th Ave.
Station 49 – 1015 Seabreeze Blvd.
Station 53 – 2200 Executive Airport Way
Station 54 – 3200 N.E. 32nd St.

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<![CDATA[Elementary and Middle School Grades Released by State]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:20:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*132/testscores.jpg

The Florida Department of Education released grades for elementary and middle schools Friday.

The number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary “A” grade increased by 195, or 7 percentage points, over last year, according to preliminary data released by the Department of Education. Statewide, 962 elementary and middle schools earned the top grade.

“The increase in the number of schools earning an ‘A’ this year is great news for students and teachers who have worked hard for this success,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a press release. “I appreciate the work by the educators, students and their families in the Big Bend and know they will continue to improve in the future.”

However, the state said the number of schools earning an "F" grade also increased.

In Miami-Dade County, the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary “A” increased by 30 schools in 2013-14, with 43 percent of Miami-Dade County schools now earning an “A” compared to 35 percent in 2012-13. Additionally, 22 Miami-Dade County schools improved two or more letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14, including four schools that improved from a “D” to an “A” and two schools that improved from an “F” to a “B.”

In Broward County, the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of “A” increased by 16 schools in 2013-14, with 34 percent of Broward County schools now earning an “A” compared to 28 percent in 2012-13. In addition, nine Broward County schools improved two or more letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14.

This is the final year school grades will be calculated using the current formula. The new grading system next year will support the more rigorous Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment which will replace the FCAT. The new school grading formula will be more simple and transparent, according to the Department of Education.

“The new grading system that will start next year will continue to be crafted with input from parents, teachers and educators,” said Stewart. “Its focus on student achievement and gains will help ensure a fair accountability system that helps measure student knowledge of the new Florida Standards.”



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Coding Becoming A Core Class For Elementary Students]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 19:15:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000013054608_1200x675_272388675641.jpg Computer coding has become more than just a hobby for some, it's becoming a core class for students helping them get ahead in the high-tech industries today and in the future.]]> <![CDATA[Kids Finding Code to Advance Learning]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 19:16:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/computer2.jpg

Instead of playing video games, the kids gathered in the media center on this day are designing games; and they’re only in elementary school.

“In 4th grade, being able to go home and say, guess what I did today? I created a game on the computer, that’s huge,” said Dr. Jonathan Leff, principal of Silver Shores Elementary School in Miramar.

The students at Silver Shores are part of an exploding trend in education: teaching computer coding, which used to be called programming, to young students.

“They come to school, boom, they’re ready to learn, they’re ready to engage in whatever it is they’re doing,” said Leff, pointing out that coding has extremely beneficial ripple effects.

Coding is simply instructing the computer to do what you want it to do. But the process not only excites the kids, Dr. Leff said it teaches valuable skills that carry over into their other classes.

“To us, we see collaboration. We see higher-order thinking. We see logic. We see critical thinking. We see kids looking at a computer screen and solving multi-dimensional problems.”

“And those are skills they need, and they don’t even realize they’re doing it,” added Dawn Lopez, Media Specialist at the school. “They’re just having fun.”

Lopez said one of the best things about learning how to code is that kids from any academic level can do this; this isn’t just for the gifted classes.

The web site www.hourofcode.org guides the teachers here, and it has a video featuring computer visionaries such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and also, somewhat inexplicably, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, encouraging kids and adults to learn computer programming.

“Coding is something that can be learned. I know it can be intimidating, a lot of things are intimidating,” Bosh says in the video.

So can kids learn this on their own at home over the summer?

“Absolutely,” responded Lopez, “and the kids ask me this almost every day, can we do this at home? Absolutely, they can go to that hour of code site and go in and play the tutorials on their own.”

There’s your summer school assignment, kids: break the code on learning how to code. As the push to intensify science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education continues, it can only help students to get ahead of what’s coming to schools all over the country.

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<![CDATA[FCAT Releases 3rd Grade Reading & Math Scores]]> Fri, 23 May 2014 12:14:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/199*120/Generic-kids.jpg

A little over half of third-grade students scored at passing levels on Florida's standardized exam in math and reading.

Fifty-seven percent of third graders scored at a level 3 or higher in 2014, the same as the previous year. Fifty-eight percent reached the passing score in math, also unchanged from 2013.

The Florida Department of Education announced the results Friday.

Florida students must score a level 2 or higher in reading on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in order to advance to the next grade. Nineteen percent scored a level 1 in 2014, though it was still unknown exactly how many of those students would be retained.

This year marks the last administration of the FCAT. Students will take a new exam aligned with the Common Core standards next year.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[10-Year-Old's Project Helping Kids Turn The Page]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 19:02:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/bookgirl.jpg

It’s circle time at the preschool, and the boys and girls are about to get a surprise: free books, courtesy of a girl who’s only a few years older than them.

“I wanted to inspire the kids to read,” said Sabrina Schpaliansky, a 10-year-old who started a project to collect used children’s books for needy kids.

Her project was spectacularly successful, and now Sabrina gets to see, first-hand, the rewards of her idea. Faces light up, little girls and little boys are smiling wide, hugging and thanking this big girl who showed up with 2,300 books.

“I’m proud of myself, I think they’re excited,” Sabrina said, after spending 20 minutes reading to the children.

The goal was to persuade parents to donate 500 books. Thanks to the generosity of everyone at Sabrina’s school, Sheridan Park Elementary in Hollywood, the fourth-grader far surpassed her benchmark.

She decided to donate the collection to Kids in Distress, a non-profit organization in Wilton Manors that provides services for at-risk children, some of whom have virtually nothing at home. Sabrina is hoping the books will open a world of possibilities for the kids at KID.

Many of our kids come to us with nothing,” said Mark Dhooge, the CEO of Kids in Distress. “Whether they’re a foster child or living with a relative care giver, they come to our school and don’t have the resources at home to be able to transfer the things they learn at school home, so to be able to bring some books home can make all the difference in the world.”

Dhooge calls Sabrina “a hero” for her efforts.

“This preschool time, birth to five, is paramount in child development and if we can get set up these kids for a successful pre-school opportunity, the ability for them to succeed in school is ten-fold,” Dhooge said.

Sabrina’s parents could not be prouder of their daughter’s spirit of community service.

“And it’s important,” says her dad, Nestor Schpaliansky, “that she keeps her perspective on things and that she understands that she’s doing this because it came from the heart and she’s doing this because she understands that other kids don’t have what she has.”

Sabrina is hoping that other kids see her as an example that philanthropy isn’t just for grownups.

“I think that a lot of kids are gonna learn from this because they’re saying, wow, just a fourth grader can make such a big difference in the world,” Sabrina said.

As the song says, Sabrina’s book is still unwritten, but the first chapter is a real page-turner.

To donate to Kids in Distress, go to www.kidinc.org.

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<![CDATA[Kids & Parents Hit The Ground Running With School Program]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 15:27:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/running-generic-workout.jpg

Early in the morning, before some people are even awake, a group of students at North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach are ready to start the day running.

“Is everyone awake? Ok, and if you’re not, you will be soon, right?” barks out physical education teachers Michele Rivera-Pike. “Good job, and then run back as fast you can, sprint, sprint, sprint, sprint.”

Welcome to the North Beach Elementary Running Club.

“It’s not just running, we also do some sports activities, I make it fun,” explains Rivera-Pike. “It’s not just, come out here and run a bunch of laps.”

The kids, and a handful of parents, get a good sweat going before the first school bell rings.

“Some are here just to hang out with their friends, some are here to really improve their health and their wellness,” Rivera-Pike said. She started this program five years ago.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Liliana Sordo, who comes to run and exercise with her daughter, Angelina. “It promotes good health habits and it brings the family together.”

On this day, the kids not only ran laps, they also did relay races dribbling basketballs, and did a jumping-through-hula-hoops thing that must be seen, it defies written description.

“It makes them happy,” said Ashlee Cramer, who runs with her daughter, Jennifer. “You see all the kids afterwards; they’re all smiling and energized.”

“Every single one of these children here who have participated in our running club has improved their mile run aerobic capacity by folds, and that’s amazing,” Rivera-Pike said.

At this point, you might be thinking, does all that running and sweating before school help or hurt the kids once they’re inside the classroom?

“I think it helps them academically as well as physically,” explains the school’s principal, Dr. Alice Quarles. “Children have a lot of energy, they need to do something with it, and it can either be positive or negative, and this is a positive.”

The parents NBC6 spoke to all agree with the concept of the running club or they wouldn’t be out there sweating with their kids.

“I think any time you can get going early in the morning, get the blood pumping, it helps them for the rest of the day,” said David Wrubell, the only dad in the group on this day.

Research would appear to be on his side. Some studies show exercise can lead to increased cognitive ability, so the Running Club members might be sprinting, jogging, and jumping their way to better grades. They’re also receiving another reward: a field trip to a local Cross Fit gym.

“What better thing to do for a running club than to do something healthy?” says Rivera-Pike. “And they’re so excited, I’ve never had more parents want to come to a field trip, ever.”

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<![CDATA[More Money for Public Schools?]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 15:16:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/022014-school_generic.jpg

Just 15 percent of Broward County’s public school students attend charter schools, but statewide, charter schools have received the state’s entire pot of capital improvement dollars for the past three years.

In Tallahassee, legislators are arguing about whether that money should be shared with traditional public schools.

“There’s not enough to go around, but I think public education in general needs to have more support and more funds,” said Devarn Flowers, principal of Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School.

Last year, Pines Charter’s gym shelter rusted out. They had to spend about $400,000 to replace it. Principal Flowers says that’s an example of why charters need the state’s capital improvement money.

“The charter schools deserve to have equitable funding and public schools receive those funds in a different form," Flowers said. "We need to receive those funds as well.”

The money Flowers is referring to is local property tax dollars that public school districts receive for the same purpose.

At the state level, that money is raised from taxes on telephone land lines. As they’ve dwindled, so has the money in that pot, down to about $150 million. It would certainly help maintenance at charter schools like Flowers’, but it’s just a drop in the bucket for any of South Florida’s public school districts, who would each receive a sliver of the pie.

“So I think having an argument of trying to figure out who’s gonna get the most out of $150 million is the wrong conversation,” said Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie. “The conversation should be, 'How do we find enough dollars in this state to prioritize investment in public education?'”

Robert Runcie says per pupil spending in Broward is about $7,000. As a comparison, he says Massachusetts spends $18,000 per pupil, also pointing out that the state of Florida has slashed funding for his district by more than $750 million since 2008.

“And that resulted in this district putting over a billion dollars worth of property and maintenance work on hold,” Runcie said.

Runcie and Flowers agree on this: it’s smarter to maintain facilities than it is to let them rot and then have to replace them entirely.

Runcie says Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale and Northeast High in Oakland Park are two examples of many facilities in dire need of renovation, but there just hasn’t been enough money to pay for the projects.

“We all need to recognize that the value of our property as homeowners, the quality of life in our communities, is inextricably tied to the public school system," Runcie said.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[FIU Launches Beer Academy]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 15:14:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Beer-Tap-Generic.jpg

Students at Florida International University now have the opportunity to learn the whole beer-making process in Dr. Barry Gump’s brewing science class.

“People think that we just sit here and drink all day long but it’s really about the science and the art of making the beer and enjoying it,” said graduate student Matthew Eeintraub, who has used what he’s learning in class to land a job brewing for the Miami Brewing Company in Homestead.

Students have to be 21 to take the class, and passion is required.

“We spend a lot of time reading books studying up on the subject,” said graduate student Mo Saade, who hopes to start up his own craft brewing company some day. “There’s a lot of science behind it, you can make beer, but if you want to take it to the next level, it takes a lot of studying.”


The craft brewing industry is growing in South Florida, and to tap into that market, students learn all phases of beer production: from grinding barley and malt, to cooking the mixture, to treating the water so its mineral content is just right, to selecting the type of hops to give the beer its flavor.

“We add hops straight to the fermenter, post-fermentation, so you get that big, big aroma,” said Saade, describing the batch of India Pale Ale he and Weintraub were cooking up during our visit to the beer lab.

There’s so much science involved, the class really is an application of what’s commonly called S.T.E.M. education (science, technology, engineering, and math). It’s uncommon to see a chemistry professor teaching in the hospitality school, but this might be the only brewing class in the nation.

“Beer is just applied chemistry,” Dr. Gump said.

The dean of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Mike Hampton, said this class melds different disciplines and yields a product: students ready for the brewing industry.

“Brewing and wine making and spirits are all science, it comes from the research that they put together on all the elements of chemistry and biology so it’s an exciting proposition for students, it’s not just about the end product, it’s how we get to it,” Hampton said.

Students are tested on their knowledge of the process and on their ability to taste subtle differences in beer styles. They’re also judged on the quality of their final project, for which they have to brew their own creation.

“We’re really only taking one-ounce tastings and a lot of times we don’t even swallow it,” said Weintraub, and then added, “No, I’m serious!”

FIU has its own labels for its beer, but the University doesn’t sell it. FIU brew is only produced for special school events and  educational purposes.

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<![CDATA[Schools Prepare for FCAT in Unconventional Ways]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 15:11:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/fcat+prep+students.jpg

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is better known as a four-letter word: FCAT.

Miami-Dade public school students take the high-stakes test Wednesday, so schools are busy with last-minute FCAT preps.

It turns out some schools have a radically different idea about the best ways to get kids ready to deal with FCAT pressure. Coral Park Elementary in Westchester threw a party Monday, complete with dancing, a dunk tank and sports games.

“The students and teachers have worked very hard during the year, so we’re doing this as a party for them because of their hard work,” said principal Maria Nunez, who was ready for the dunk tank, wearing swim fins, a dive mask, and an inner tube around her waist.

The idea here is simple and obvious: to relieve the FCAT pressure for students and faculty.

“For the past ten years, we do this every year, and it has worked out," Nunez said. "We’re still an “A” school."

The kids even got an FCAT shoutout from singer Pharrell Williams, whose latest hit "Happy" is on the top of the charts. The singer with the trademark hat recorded a video specifically for Coral Park Elementary School, and it certainly made the students happy. No pun intended.

“All positive attitudes and positive energy toward you guys doing really good on your FCAT,” Williams says in the video. “We know you’re gonna do some amazing things and you’re gonna get an incredible FCAT score back.”

Across town at Virginia Boone/Highland Oaks Elementary in Northeast Miami-Dade, the principal handed out medallions that say, "Believe in yourself on the FCAT!"

"How many of you think believing in yourself is a key component of doing well on the FCAT?" Principal Scott Saperstein asked a room full of fifth-grade students.

A forest of arms shot up.

"They rise to the level of what teachers expect," Saperstein said. "We tell parents to make sure their child is relaxed, that they’ve done the work throughout the entire year, and that the teachers have done a great job preparing their child for this test.”

At a perennial “A” school like Highland Oaks, the teachers expect excellence from their students. Saperstein said the students at his school are not drilled to death.

"We want the children to do well on the test, but it is, again, only one part of the whole school year. It's a little piece of the puzzle and hopefully that last piece fits in just right," Saperstein said.

He added that parents can do their part by making sure their kids get to bed early the night before the test and feeding them a high-protein breakfast Wednesday morning.

McDonald's is offering free breakfast to students taking the FCAT and to public school teachers on Wednesday morning, but only at participating locations.

Broward students take the FCAT next week.



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Broward Adds Cops to Patrol Elementary Schools in 6 Cities]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 15:10:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/classroom5.jpg

In an effort to increase security at schools, 12 officers will patrol elementary schools in six Broward County cities by year's end.

Broward middle and high schools already have at least one officer patrolling.

The school district will pay $555,000 for the newl officers, and the schools police will pay any additional funds for benefits and other costs. But the municipalities would hire the officers and decide how to divy them up throughout the schools.

The officers will patrol schools in Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Lauderhill, Pembroke Pines, Wilton Manors and Davie.

Golt said he wants to add more school resource officers each year. Pembroke Pines has already hired all five of the officers that it is getting.

The officers will also be tasked with helping to stop drug use and crime within the schools by creating bonds with the student body.

Golt also said that keeping schools and students safe is also because of a "team approach" between students, parents, police and the sheriff's office.

Coconut Creek and Hollywood will use retired officers, the South Florida Sun Sentinel said.

The Broward school system is the sixth largest in the nation, and it has 145 officers in schools.

Officials looked at security after the Newtown Massacre.

"I think nationwide, after Newtown, everybody re-examined what they do," Golt said. "I think if it didn't play a role then that in itself would be a problem. You have to re-evaluate what you are doing."

More on NBC6.com:

 

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