CLARK — Ericka Barrett, a teacher at the Clark Preschool Annex, was one of only 25 teachers statewide selected to present at the Curriculum Fair of the New Jersey School Boards Workshop in Atlantic City this past week. Each year the workshop seeks to highlight what they believe to be the most innovative curricular programming ideas in the state.
Teachers are encouraged to apply by writing a description of their programming to the Professional Development Committee of the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA). The committee then selects the 25 programs they feel are the most innovative and invites those program creators to present at the statewide workshop in Atlantic City. Program creators then make informal presentations at the workshop to board of education members, superintendents, and other educational leaders throughout the state so that the programming ideas might be adopted in other districts.
Barrett’s “Children’s Engineering” program uses problems identified in children’s literature to give students opportunities to create tangible solutions. Children identify the problem, consider how it could be solved, ponder what they could make, plan and build a solution. Next, they test their solutions to determine whether or not their creations meet the needs of the problem.
Students are encouraged to seek multiple solutions to promote the understanding that there is more than one working solution. As a closure activity, students revisit the story to compare their solutions with the one provided in the literature. This circular process integrates math, science and technology in a hands-on learning approach.
Clark Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Knops said, “Ms. Barrett is a very gifted and creative teacher. Due to the popularity of her presentation, there was no room left at the table provided to her. The Children’s Engineering Program has been a big success here in Clark, and I’m sure it will be adopted in many other districts throughout the state after Ericka’s presentation.”
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