A. Questions Asked by School Administrators

1. What will a Yardstick program adoption cost compared with what we have now?

If you currently have a textbook-based program, the investment in new materials will be comparable. If you currently have a hands-on program, Yardstick Curriculum is comparable in price. If you have a hybrid program that uses student reading as the primary mode of instruction with supplementary materials to provide an optional hands-on experience, Yardstick will cost much less.

2. Will achievement scores increase?

Yes, typically student scores increase. A lot depends on what test is used. If a standardized memory-based test is the measure of student achievement, Yardstick will not necessarily produce better achievement results. But scores will not decline, either. Yardstick provides achievement in other areas.

One of the goals of the Yardstick program is to break from the old paradigm of standardized tests that engage students in the lowest level of cognitive performance—memory—and to usher in a new breed of assessments that permit students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of new ways that require many dimensions of cognitive performance.

3. Does Yardstick align with the state standards and/or national framework?

Yes, Yardstick Curriculum is mapped and completely aligned to state and national frameworks.

4. What are the teacher-training needs?

This question is hard to answer without knowing a number of specifics. The amount of teacher-training required depends on a complex of variables, including the experience of the teachers with active learning, the enthusiasm of the teachers for change, the kinds and level of support surrounding the adoption, the number of other pressures and extenuating circumstances that distract and overburden the teachers, the science background of the teachers, the number of teachers, and the amount of time allocated for completing the implementation.

5. What is necessary to successfully implement the Yardstick program?

In a nutshell, there are several categories that need to be attended to in a thoughtful way. Not surprisingly they are all covered in greater detail by other questions in this document. Take time to identify these questions and read their answers carefully. And consider the following:

  • A first-rate Yardstick adoption involves systemic reform. Enter into the process with your eyes open; take time to understand the many facets of the change process.
  • Include everyone in the process. Teachers are the stars in the process. They are the gateway through which the energy of the program must pass. Teachers make Yardstick happen. Everyone else supports the teachers. Principals set the tone and the agenda.
  • Ongoing professional development and staff development. These two aren't the same. Professional development produces change in individuals; staff development produces change in whole school staffs. The two are fundamentally different, and both are essential in a successful implementation.
  • Materials management.Adoption of a program like Yardstick represents a considerable investment. A successful classroom teaching experience depends on a fully supplied, complete kit of materials.

6. Why use hands-on science instead of a textbook?

If using a textbook means reading about science rather than doing science—encountering science as symbols rather than as concrete objects in tangible environments— it makes the same amount of sense as learning to play cricket by reading about it or learning to dance by reading about it. You may acquire some stories about someone else's experiences, ideas, and struggles, but you have none of your own. After any amount of reading you may be able to talk the talk, but you still can't bowl a googly, and hit a long drive, and you most certainly can't dance. The same is true of science.

Students should have hands-on personal experiences with objects, materials, and organisms in order to understand the natural world. Real experiences provide the foundation for concept development. Work with materials produces complex thinking.

This does not mean that there is no place in a contemporary science program for a textbook, but it should not be the primary source of information. Using a textbook as a reference resource to look up more information about a topic under investigation is great.

7. Can this program be integrated with other subject areas?

Yes, it not only can, but should. Science is the quest for knowledge and understanding of the natural world. There is real stuff to deal with, provocative interactions going on, and principles governing behaviors of systems. Things are alive, moving around, tending to mysterious business, coming and going in cycles, and struggling for their time and place. This is content—one of the three content areas of the curriculum—and elementary students can discover a lot by just observing and making sense out of their observations.

But there is more. Students can use their two fundamental skills—language and math—to enhance their science experience. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are essential parts of science, because they communicate our observations and express our understanding to others. And mathematics allows us to quantify our observations and organize them in order to see relationships and predict the future. Mathematics is one of the most powerful tools of the scientist. The skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic are dry, empty, and boring without content. But with content, students will have reason to sharpen those skills.

8. How long will the program last?

A Yardstick adoption is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We expect it to last forever.

9. How much teacher training is necessary to implement the Yardstick program?

The program will be implemented in a phased manner. It would be done in a span of 2 -3 years. You will have to conduct just enough teacher training to get the job done, and that will require some time out of class for the teachers.

10. Is the program comprehensive; that is, is there enough content?

Yardstick is the most content-rich program available. Every activity and action is designed to provide experience with some aspect of the natural world. The natural world is the content of science.

11. How can we get more teachers interested?

Lots of ways. Teach a demonstration science lesson in the classroom of a colleague. Team teach with the teacher later to help him or her get started. Do workshops at local, state, and national conferences.

B. Questions Asked by Curriculum leaders

1. What prior knowledge is required of the teachers before using Yardstick?

The prerequisites for using Yardstick Cirriculum are minimal. The Yardstick program is done in a phased manner, i.e slowly and steadily increasing the competency and understading the eco system.

2. Are all the materials really in the box?

No, we don't put, everything in the box. With few exceptions we do not put food in the kits. Of course the living organisms are not in the kit.

3. Are there opportunities for homework assignments?

Many of the extensions could easily be made into homework, but homework in the traditional sense is not a high priority.

4. How do we accommodate changes of teachers and administrators after the Yardstick program is instituted?

Maintaining momentum through changes in personnel and curriculum adoptions can be tough. Change of teachers is probably the easiest to remedy. If a new teacher joins a staff where "we do Yardstick" and the support structures are there, he or she will be ushered into the process with the utmost of grace.

C. Questions Asked by Parents

1. What is Yardstick?

Yardstick's vision is to make learning enriching and joyful experience. Yardstick designs and implements learning programs for children, engaging their keen, inquisitive and imaginative minds via hands-on educational activities. At Yardstick, we believe in “celebrating children”, so they too can become knowledge creators instead of passively acquiring information from textbook learning alone.

Yardstick provides specific services to all the stakeholders in a child’s education – from parents, teachers and administrators to the students. Our activity-based curricula mapped to the syllabus encourage children to understand, appreciate and apply the subject being taught. Our team attempts to give personalized attention to each and every child.

2. How will this program prepare my child for the future (e.g. college)?

In the best possible way. Yardstick programs empahsis on the following

  1. Increasing scienctific temper
  2. Higher order thinking skills, like logical ability, analytical thinking, etc.
  3. Equips them with self learning
  4. Application of lerning to real life
  5. Creativity

In this present world, children should be equiped with skill of learning to learn rather than loads and loads of information.

3. Why do my kids like this so much?

Because the subject is the natural world, they are challenged to think about it in ways that are age appropriate, and they get to do it with their friends.

4. How are safety issues addressed?

The Yardstick content developers make every effort to provide investigations that employ materials that are safe for young students. Each Yardstick materials kit includes a safety poster describing how to conduct a safe science investigation. Changes in materials may occur to provide a safer experience.