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Kindergarten Class Holds Sock Drive to Help San Jose Flood Victims

March, 2017

In Ms. Charlotte’s kindergarten class at Nea Community Learning Center (Nea), learners begin a life-long love of learning with a project- based curriculum where they Engage, Excel, Explore. The flexibility of project- based learning allows facilitators (teachers) to alter projects to fit the needs and emergent interests of the children, while engaging students in fundamental learning.

One of the cornerstone projects for Nea’s youngest scholars is a curriculum based on weather. Kindergarten learners study different weather patterns throughout the unit, which encourages science exploration. Most recently, Ms. Charlotte’s class studied rain and what happens when it rains too much. This learning occurred at the exact time that rain in San Jose caused major flooding. Nea’s flexible learning model makes project-based learning dynamic. Facilitators can modify aspects of projects to make them relevant to current events or student interests, resulting in more engaged learners.

Ms. Charlotte felt it was a perfect opportunity to marry the weather unit with a service project. She told learners what happened in San Jose, showed news coverage of the flooding and asked them if they would like to help. Based on learners’ enthusiastic responses, Ms. Charlotte contacted the Salvation Army of Silicon Valley and determined that learners could do a sock drive.

With Ms. Charlotte’s help, learners created a video that was emailed to the Nea community, encouraging families to donate socks to the flood victims. Learners also created signs and posters encouraging donations, which were hung around the school. 

Once the donations are received, the learners will write letters to the community thanking them for their donations and also to the Salvation Army. Incorporating skills such as video production, poster making and letter writing into the project is an engaging way to teach and strengthen core language skills.

For the math component of the project, learners will need to count, organize, chart and sort what they have collected. This incorporates a number of kindergarten standards and makes math relevant to everyday life.

In addition to academic standards, Nea learners are required to demonstrate their ability to uphold the Nea principles of compassion, organization, teamwork and problem solving. Once the socks have been amassed, Nea will arrange for the Salvation Army to come talk to the learners about community service while collecting the socks and letters.

Jana Chabre, Nea’s Assistant Lead Facilitator explains the benefits of project- based learning. Jana explains, “Project-based learning is interdisciplinary and brings social studies, humanities, math, science, language arts and geography together all at the same time instead of separate processes.” Within Nea’s projects, common core standards are taught in an all-encompassing curriculum.

Jana continues, “One specific benefit of Nea’s core projects is bringing the outside world into the classroom, rather than limiting learning to a schoolroom or textbook.” Core projects in different grades expose learners’ understanding of the world around them by bring together individuals, local history and customs from the community.

Finally, Jana mentions that the themes of family and community are woven throughout core projects in every grade. Learners explore their own family histories, visit elders, and read Cinderella stories from around the world. Locally, they learn about plants that are native to Alameda and the Bay area. Older pupils learn about the bridges in Alameda and their importance in commerce and engineering, which culminates in a walk across the Bay Bridge. Throughout Nea’s project-driven curriculum learners are actively captivated and encouraged to Engage, Excel, Explore. 


Daniel Pasker named Engineers Alliance for the Arts Teacher of the Year -- November, 2016

 Daniel Pasker, Teacher of the Year                        Nea Alumni  

Dave Miller, Patrick Murren, Daniel Pasker                    Fallon Funseth, Morgan Rawson, Malia Robillard
(Receiving their awards at the ceremony)            (Nea’s award-winning all-girl EAA bridge competition team)

Daniel Pasker, a Facilitator (Teacher) at Nea Community Learning Center (Nea) in Alameda, California was named Teacher of the Year by Engineers Alliance for the Arts (EAA).  EAA is a non-profit organization that brings professional engineers into high school classrooms to teach a course in structural engineering, that culminates in a San Francisco Bay Area-wide student bridge building competition at the PG&E auditorium in San Francisco.

EAA brought it’s Student Impact Project to Nea over 5 years ago, and Daniel has been welcoming EAA into his classrooms for the last 3 years.  His teams have won multiple awards at EAA’s Bridge Showcase and Competition, which in the past have included the President’s Award and Best in Class.  This year Daniel’s all-girl team placed second overall.

Patrick Murren, EAA’s Vice President of the Student Impact Project said when presenting the award,  “The EAA Board has unanimously chosen Daniel to receive the 2016 Teacher of the Year award in recognition of his contributions to EAA, enthusiasm for the program, and work in providing hands-on, project-based learning opportunities for his students.”  The award was presented at the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California’s November meeting in downtown San Francisco.  The presentation was followed by a celebratory dinner hosted by EAA.

In his acceptance speech, Daniel thanked engineers Kellen O’Connor (O.co), Sandra Jung (Cushing and Associates) and Brylle Cabucungan (KPW Structural Engineers) who worked in the classroom with his learners (students).  These volunteers donated their time to work in Daniel’s classroom to instruct and mentor students for 10 weeks. Daniel said, “They have been an amazing team to work with and have inspired my students to strive for excellence.” He continued, “We all have someone who gave us that spark, to open up our eyes to new possibilities.  Having these professionals in the classroom working with our learners gives them an idea of what they might be able to become and possibly ignite that spark.”

Annalisa Moore, Lead Facilitator (Principal) of Nea explains, “Daniel’s background of working as an engineer prior to his teaching career, and bringing EAA into the classroom, has proven to be a winning combination strengthening our project-based learning experiences.”

Additionally, Oakland resident Dave Miller, a design professional with Degenkolb Engineers, was named EAA’s Volunteer of the Year. Dave was lauded at the ceremony for his work on EAA’s curriculum committee and as the lead instructor in the Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco’s classroom. 

Read full article here...

Nea Student Receives Award in National Science Competition

Nea 7th grade student, Shino Kawazu, has won a place as a semifinalist in the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS®, a program of Society for Science & the Public. This honor places her among the top 300 middle school science and engineering projects in the United States from over 6,000 nominees. Shino’s teacher, Daniel Pasker, inspired and assisted Shino with her science fair project.

“Working with Shino on her project titled, The Effect of the Position of Arms on How Well You Execute a Pirouette, was a great example of Nea’s project-based learning model”, said Mr. Pasker.  “ She not only incorporated math, science and engineering into her subject, but also used her language skills and passion for dance and the arts to complete a well-rounded project”, Daniel continued.  

The Broadcom MASTERS® (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) rewards sixth, seventh and eighth grade students who follow their personal passions in science or engineering at 300 regional and state science fairs and inspires them to continue their studies in math and science throughout high school. As the students apply project-based learning to the scientific method and the engineering process through hands-on challenges and competitions, they learn the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

Read full article here...

Nea UV Robotics Club takes 1st-place in initial competition


Nea's UV Robotics Club started out strong by taking first place in their initial competition of the 2015-2016 school year. Besides offering a chance to practice before the big competition in the Spring, this contest offered a chance for the kids to gain in confidence and momentum as they move forward in the program.

Competing against several schools in the Bay Area, Nea was in first place as they headed into the finals with six wins, two loses and 256 points. After more exciting rounds in the finals, they held their lead and won 1st place overall!

Congratulations to Mr. Harris, Angelina Truong, Luis Razon, Kai Schniedergers and Zack Finer for their stellar performance.

Preparations before going into competition...

48,000 pounds of trash recovered in coastal clean-up


Nea Facilitators and learners help in coastal clean-up efforts...

ALAMEDA -- Colette Ratliff, on her hands and knees, sifted through the Crown Memorial State Beach sand on Saturday, picking up tiny pieces of garbage and placing them into her bag.

"It's the tiny pieces of plastic that I'm concerned with," the 54-year-old Oakland resident said. "Animals will eat it."

Ratliff and her Alameda library colleagues were just some of the 457 volunteers to show up to the 2.5-mile beach Saturday, one of many Coastal Cleanup sites across the state.

Cherian Zachariah, 44, of Alameda, came with his wife, son and daughter and strolled along the water's edge.

"We keep talking about the reuse of resources," Zachariah said. "We can't keep treating the environment like a trash can. We've got to clean it up."

The family held a bucket and bag full of a beer bottle, cigarette butts, a plastic straw, crochet cross and bottle cap.

Zachariah's 10-year-old son, Sam, a fifth-grader at Nea Community Learning Center in Alameda, was completing his two-hour community service requirement.

"We're learning about our community at school, but if we don't help the community, there's nothing to learn about," he said.

Read entire article HERE...

 

Can You Beat a 5th-grader at March Madness? EdSurge 3/25/15

Good luck filling out your March Madness bracket; according to Nate Silver’s blog, FiveThirtyEight, the chances of getting a perfect bracket this year are 1 in 1,610,543,269. With such lousy odds, it’s no wonder that many people rely on weird ways to make their picks: by favorite mascots, school colors, or asking their pets.

But not so in Nea CLC, a project learning-based charter school in Alameda, CA that my daughter, Mathilda, currently attends. Here, two classrooms totaling 52 fifth-graders are doing the math and calculating the odds. Math facilitators Rachel Howson and Lesley Pace have been leading the kids in a math learning project around March Madness, the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament that generates over a $1 billion in advertising revenue in a year.

But using March Madness—or basketball—to teach math doesn’t have to cost anything. Howson and Pace started the project by taking the kids out of the classroom and onto blacktop where they held a free throw competition. The kids tallied each other’s shot percentages and discussed probability and statistics. They explored questions like: If a student shot just one free throw and it went in, and another only made one out of three shots, theoretically the first person has a 100% success rate while the other person had only a 33% success rate. Should one really use that success rate to make predictions?

Read the full article HERE...

New Schools Take Root, Alameda Journal July/August 2013

John Love is a lot like other 17-year-olds; he likes video games, robots, and space, and has his own website.

Yet unlike a lot of teenagers, this mildly dyslexic boy with self-deprecating charm and a voracious appetite for science is starting his first year at UC Berkeley this fall with 60 hours of college credits already under his belt. Love, a bright student likely to be bored with Advanced Placement classes, earned his high school diploma two weeks after he earned his associate’s degree at the College of Alameda. His success is due, in part, to the Nea Community Learning Center, a K–12 charter school in Alameda that encourages students to take college classes while they simultaneously earn a high school diploma. While completing the two programs at once, Love also managed to squeeze in an internship at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center.

Read the full article here!

Nea Student Set for Big Things, Alameda Journal 5/30/13

John Love, an unassuming 17-year-old, has made the most of his time in school.

Technically a junior at Nea Community Learning Center, Love will graduate from high school on June 14 a year early. In addition, three weeks before graduating from high school, he earned his associate arts degree in social and behavioral science from College of Alameda.

During his time at Nea, he also completed an internship at the Chabot Space and Science Center, and is a member of Alameda CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).

Love also completed his intersegmental general education transfer curriculum, meaning that when he begins college, he will enroll as a freshman with 60 UC units and jump to junior status. The accomplished student will attend UC Berkeley this fall, and plans to study astrophysics and hopes to do an interdisciplinary studies degree in astrobiology, perhaps even a double major in math.

Read the full article here

Nea Students Engineer Victory, Alameda Sun 5/24/13


Six high-schoolers from Alameda based charter school Nea brought home the top prize at Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) competition held April 27 and 28 at the Lawrence Hall of Science. The Nea robot, "BRIX JR," built by the students with the help of volunteer advisors, went undefeated in a series of skill-based challenges designed by the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where the competition was held.

Read the full article here

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