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Local engineer helps RPS 205 students meet challenges

Chris Underwood knows the stakes are high for his volunteer work in the Rockford Public Schools.  He has been part of a math tutoring program at Lincoln Middle School since it began as a pilot in 2010. For four of those years, he has organized the program. This past year, Underwood, a systems engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems, joined 20 of his colleagues as tutors and mentors. Chris Underwood is a UTC Aerospace Systems engineer who tutors students in math at Lincoln Middle School. Underwood (third from right) at a RPS 205 volunteer...

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Daughter of immigrants finds teaching path at RPS 205

Jasmine Chavez-Espinoza didn’t know it at the time, but her stuffed animals helped find her calling. When she was little, her favorite toy was an erase board. She drew and erased, and drew and erased, without as much as a raised googly eye from her audience. It was only later—at Jefferson High School—that Chavez realized what the stuffed animals were telling her. “It wasn’t until my senior year, when I discovered how much I loved art that I realized what I wanted to do: I want to inspire students the way I’m being inspired by my art teachers....

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Fifth grade students in RPS 205 have ‘growth mindset’

Students in Aaron Park’s fifth grade classroom at Spring Creek School were among the top in the Rockford Public Schools for growth in math. Five of the students took a break during the last week of the 2016-17 school year to talk about why they improved in math and what Park did to help them. All of the students said they knew their scores on the Measures of Academic Progress or MAP assessments given three times a year. They not only knew their scores, they knew where they needed to grow. They were in a “growth mindset”—a concept popularized...

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Ford features RPS 205 project at summer STEAM event

Six current and former Guilford High School students will travel to Dearborn, Mich., next week to participate in the inaugural Ford STEAM Day. The Guilford team was chosen because of its second place earlier this year in the Ford STEAM Challenge. The team received $10,000 to launch its idea to promote a sustainable community–installing solar-powered cell phone charging stations and creating an outdoor learning lab in the Guilford courtyard. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art/design and math. In advance of the...

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Math teaching being transformed at RPS 205

The world used to be divided into math people and “not-math” people. You either got it, or you didn’t. Some teachers in Rockford Public Schools are challenging that assumption. They are on the cutting edge of a new approach to math instruction with concepts that include: –There’s no such thing as a math brain –Mistakes are how we learn –Sometimes the best teacher isn’t in front of the class but right next to you Innovation in math teaching can be credited to two things: online professional development through Stanford...

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Project learning is part of RPS 205 high school academies

If Omar Mastache ends up following his interest in police work, there’s one part of the job that won’t be a surprise to him. “There’s a lot of paperwork. You have to document everything,” he said. A sophomore at East High School, Omar has time to figure out whether law enforcement is the field he wants to enter. Introducing students to careers now—before they  find themselves miserable behind a desk—was part of the plan of Rockford Public Schools’ teacher Raquel Jardon Martin. The chemistry teacher at East designed a five-day,...

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Goal of RPS 205 Peer Reviews: Make schools better

As a teacher in the Rockford Public Schools, Chris Watts spends all day listening to students. But there’s something special about listening to students during a Quality Peer Review. You step back and appreciate students for the keen observers they are. “I think we need to let them in on the conversation,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, they know exactly what is going on.” Watts, who teaches eighth grade English at Thurgood Marshall School, participated in two peer reviews this school year. The district held eight Quality Peer Reviews at...

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