To Eat, or Not to Eat? That Is the Question on Class Pets

To Eat, or Not to Eat? That Is the Question on Class Pets
Students debate whether to kill the fish they cared for

Original article appears on The Wall Street Journal, accessible here.

Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2015
By SOPHIA HOLLANDER

This year, the seventh- and eighth-graders at Ella Baker, a public school on the Upper East Side, have painstakingly cared for a tank of tilapia. They monitored the ammonia levels of the 120-gallon fish tank, rationed daily food pellets, and refreshed the water at least twice a month.

The tilapia have been fine fish, the students agree.

Now they are trying to decide whether to eat them.

In recent years, classrooms across the U.S. have begun experimenting with school gardens, growing produce for consumption by students. A handful of private schools offer access to farms, where students milk cows and herd sheep that might later be eaten.

But the students at Ella Baker have added a spin to the local-food movement, asking whether it is ethical to raise a class pet—and then eat it.

The project is the brainchild of math teacher Michael Paoli. It is part math, part ethics and part science.

The fish tank fertilizes a vertical garden of vegetables growing above the tank. Mr. Paoli had received a grant to study aquaponic systems in Europe from the nonprofit group Fund for Teachers. His students have calculated the amount of weight the garden structure can hold and the right ratios of water to dechlorinating liquid.

“You want to make something matter,” Mr. Paoli said. “I want to think of it as an idea that matters to everybody and math is one of the ways we can learn about it.”

But looming over the year has been the prospect of a summer barbecue, leading to heated classroom discussions and occasional tears.

In a recent class, the debate still raged.

Class pets had died before, and without causing deep emotions, some students pointed out. They sensed hypocrisy.

“Suddenly this one fish matters?” asked 14-year-old Raven Garcia.

It is different to actively kill the pets instead of watching them die accidentally or of natural causes, others responded.

“It’s taking a life,” said  Julianna Angalada, 13.

You eat meat, some advocates of eating the fish noted. It shouldn’t make a difference whether you buy fish in a supermarket or kill it in a classroom. It is still dead.

But we raised them, the argument went on. It does make a difference.

That wasn’t true for everyone. Raven said she spent summers in Puerto Rico with her family. She grew used to raising chickens, caring for them and slaughtering them for dinner, she said.

“Eventually things are going to go and things are going to die,” she said her family taught her. “You might as well make use of how they go.”

Emilia Cooper, 12, said she aspires to be a doctor, and that meant she straddled the class divide. She favored killing the fish, but only so she could dissect them.

“I don’t want to eat them,” she said. “I just want to kill them.”

In a twist for Mr. Paoli’s project, the tilapia won’t be big enough to be grilled until next year. So he bought five full-size fish, all of which would have been ready to be eaten. Four died, however, and on a recent morning, the survivor swam around a second tank, puckering its mouth at students who watched.

Kaila Ayala, 13, said if the class decided to kill the fish she would stay home.

“Who are we to kill this fish?” she said. The tilapia darted behind a pipe. “Look how cute they are.”

Hiram Scott, 13, said the debate had forced him to reconsider his positions. During an earlier discussion, he was adamant the fish should be killed. Whether the class personally killed them or not, “they’re still going to die,” he said.

Now, he wasn’t so sure.

Unlike with packaged supermarket fish, “We have the choice and the option to kill this fish or let it live,” he said. “I think there is a difference because we have a choice.”

J. Nicholas Tarr, 13, who argued against the killings, said he would come to school if the fish were to die.

He would feel like “I could have worked harder to convince people they shouldn’t be killed,” he said. “It would be partially my responsibility and I feel like I would be a coward to not see them die.”

Write to Sophia Hollander at sophia.hollander@wsj.com

 

Appreciating Newest Fellow Class

Appreciating Teachers With Checks, Not Tchotchkes
Fund for Teachers hands teachers checks totaling $1.8 million for self-designed summer fellowships

May 5, 2015 (HOUSTON) A wooden apple necklace, “I love my teacher” coffee mug or $10,000? Fund for Teachers appreciates educators by distributing grants of up to $10,000 for self-designed summer fellowships. Over the past two weeks, 475 teachers in 35 states and the District of Columbia received checks and the message: “You’re worth a $1.8 million investment and so are your students.”

Each fall, the national not-for-profit invites preK-12 public, private and parochial school educators to analyze learning gaps and propose unique solutions for bridging them. The 2015 Fund for Teachers Fellows designed odysseys ranging from a local dyslexia workshop to an archaeological dig in Ireland.

  •  “This kind of professional development lets teachers grapple with big ideas and inject deeper learning into their classrooms,” said Chris Dolgos (Rochester, NY) who will research across the United Kingdom public works projects from the Classical to Modern Eras.
  • “This fellowship gives me control over the type of professional development I want and need,” said Michelle Rahn (Claremore, OK) who will participate in Science in the Rockies teacher training.
  •   “The opportunity to conduct fieldwork in India is career-affirming because I’m able to incorporate international research and outside perspectives into student work while recharging my teaching,” said Paul Creager, Saint Paul, MN.
  • “We’re thrilled to not only broaden our own horizons studying Apartheid in South Africa, but, more importantly, to share these experiences with our students to enrich their educational journeys,” said Karis Parker and Princeston Grayson (Raytown, MO).

A complete list of 2015 Fellows, their schools and fellowships is available on the organization’s website.

“We believe teachers know best what they need to maintain a level of excellence,” said Karen Webb, FFT executive director. The self-initiated/self-designed nature of our fellowships contrasts with traditional professional development and our Fellows return to classrooms more energized, informed and effective.”

Fund for Teachers is one of the largest funders of teacher learning in the country, investing $24 million in more than 6,500 teachers since 2001. For information about the application process, grant recipients or student outcomes, visit fundforteachers.org.

About Fund for Teachers
Fund for Teachers supports preK-12 teachers’ pursuit of learning experiences that impact their practice, students and school communities. By awarding grants for self-designed fellowships, Fund for Teachers empowers educators as professionals, role models, explorers and scholars.

Click here for a one-minute motion graphic video depicting how educators use Fund for Teachers grants to bridge learning gaps, inspire students and change the world.

Local teacher ‘turns off’ lights so that South Africans can ‘turn on’ theirs

Local teacher ‘turns off’ lights so that South Africans can ‘turn on’ theirs

Original article appears on Citizen Standard, accessible here.

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

By REBECCA ZEMENCIK
Managing Editor

VALLEY VIEW – Tri-Valley High school teacher Pam Ulicny has teamed up with a solar energy entrepreneur to develop a financially feasible way for South Africans in poverty to afford clean, safe solar power as a substitute for conventionally used kerosene lanterns.

During a trip to South Africa in 2011 (courtesy of the Toyota International Teacher Program), ‘Mrs. U.’ as she is referred to by her high school students, was lucky enough to have the trip of a lifetime. It was during that trip that her life was forever changed.

To continue reading about Mrs. U and her fellowship, click here.

Fellowship let two teachers expand their knowledge

Fellowship let two teachers expand their knowledge

Original article appears on Stillwater News Press, accessible here.

Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015

By MERRICK EAGLETON
Stillwater News Press

Two teachers, Susan Weaver, Highland Park Elementary and Sheila McMurry, Meridian Technology Center, were awarded grants by Fund for Teachers to use on summer fellowships.

What fellowship will you be doing?

Weaver: I will be participating in Cedarsong’s Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training Program on Vashon Island, Washington. Their mission is to “inspire and educate others about how to successfully implement a nature immersion program” with young children. I will be working with the school’s director, Erin Kenny, an expert in integrating a commitment to nature time every day within preschool programs.

McMurry:  She will spend a week in Burbank, California, working side-by-side with young filmmakers and industry experts to produce a short film.

To continue reading the Q&A with Weaver and McMurry, click here.

Improvements Beyond Test Scores

In the summer of 2012, Stacey Callaway and Erin Lloyd, attended the Boothbay Literacy Retreat in Boothbay Harbor, ME, to learn strategies for engaging a “generation of nervous writers” and turning classrooms into highly literate reading and writing workshops, as Fund for Teachers grant recipients.

Today’s Teacher Column in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, written by Stacey (and inspired by Erin), echoes the voices of many Fund for Teachers Fellows and the pitfalls in standardized testing.

“…students are much more than just the product of their scores.”

To read the article, visit the Midland Reporter-Telegram website.

Eight Norwalk teachers win grants

Eight Norwalk teachers win grants from Fund for Teachers program

Original article appears on The Hour (online), accessible here.

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

By KOREY WILSON
Hour Staff Writer

NORWALK — This summer, eight Norwalk public schoolteachers will set out on the journeys of their educational careers. And, they expect to come back better at their crafts because of it.

On Thursday, the eight were surprised to learn they were selected as recipients of this year’s Fund for Teachers program. The program annually provides grants to fund preK-12 teachers, who self-designed a traveling, professional learning experience.

The program awarded more than $34,000 in grants to all eight Norwalk teachers.

To continue reading, click here.

Hamilton, Bradley teachers receive funding for travel studies

Hamilton, Bradley teachers receive funding for travel studies

Original article appears on Times Free Press, accessible here.

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

By YOLANDA PUTMAN

Nearly two dozen Hamilton County teachers and four from Bradley County, Tenn., have earned tens of thousands of dollars in grant money to study in the United States and abroad this summer.

The national nonprofit Fund for Teachers provides the funding in partnership with the Public Education Foundation.

The teachers, who will visit more than 12 countries, applied for the grants intended to send them across the globe for learning so they could return and share their knowledge with students.

To continue reading about the 2015 Fellows, click here.

2015 Fellows Announced

Teachers Awarded “Golden Tickets” for Summer Learning
Fund for Teachers Awards $1.8 million in Grants to 487 Teachers for Self-Designed Fellowships

(HOUSTON) April 2, 2015 – Teachers work both as technicians teaching particular skills and intellectuals developing students’ love of learning.* To remain effective in both roles, they need development and inspiration. Fund for Teachers annually awards grants to preK-12 educators seeking relevant knowledge and learning experiences through self-designed summer fellowships. Today, Fund for Teachers announces its list of 2015 Fellows.

  • This year, 487 teachers representing 318 schools received Fund for Teachers grants.
  • These teachers will embark on summer odysseys spanning six continents, with the largest percentage remaining in North America.
  • Topics range from a digital literacy workshop at the University of Rhode Island to conducting field research in the Galapagos Islands and Amazon rainforest.
  • For a complete list of grant recipients, fellowship descriptions and the schools they represent, visit fundforteachers.org.

“Fund for Teachers serves as a piggy bank of sorts, funding educators’ quests for deeper knowledge or mastery that transfers directly to students,” said Karen Webb, Fund for Teachers executive director. “We all learn by knowing, by doing. These grants offer teachers more than ‘one-size-fits-all’ professional development and it’s free for the district. Everyone wins, with the biggest winners being the students.”

Fund for Teachers is one of the largest funders of teacher learning in the country, investing $24 million in more than 6,500 teachers since 2001. Previous grant recipients share the impact of their fellowships at fundforteachers.tumblr.com. For more information about the application process, 2015 grant winners or student outcomes, visit fundforteachers.org.

Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting them as they identify and pursue relevant opportunities that make the greatest impact on their practice, their students and school communities.

*Center for Public Education, Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability, 2013.