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This week, some guidance and support for new OUSD teachers

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New Oakland fourth-grade teachers take a break from lesson planning under the guidance of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School teacher Dana Graham during this week’s New Hire Induction Institute. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Dunlap/Oakland Unified School District)

Each year, on the first day of school, more than 100 teachers are experiencing their first day in an Oakland classroom. The first days of school are notoriously daunting for new hires — I vividly remember the tension on Andy Kwok’s face on Day 1 of his three-year teaching career at McClymonds High in 2007.

To  smooth out those first few days in the classroom and introduce new teachers to some of their colleagues (new and veteran), OUSD’s Talent Development Office held its second New Hire Induction Institute this week. About 100 new teachers came, on average, on each day of training, said Margaret Dunlap, who coordinated the event at Madison Middle School. Substitute teachers were invited this year as well; about 20-25 came each day.

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Another reason for summer school: national security?

Staff PhotojournalistRetired military officers think so.

The nonprofit Mission: Readiness (affiliated with the public safety-related group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids) put out a report this week arguing that summer inactivity was contributing to the obesity crisis and high dropout rate — which, in turn, poses a threat to the economy and the military’s ability to recruit.

What do you make of that link? I wrote about it in today’s Oakland Tribune.

While we’re on the subject: In case you missed it, summer programs at Global Family Elementary School, Roosevelt Middle School and Madison Middle School were featured in Sunday’s paper.

Along with the story, you’ll find a video of the new summer science classes at Global Family (free STEM courses are in place at 17 Oakland elementary and middle schools this year) and a very practical feature on how to make s’mores without a campfire. (As my friend Sandler found out, solar ovens are great for melting chocolate, but don’t do much to marshmallows.)

photo by D. Ross Cameron/Oakland Tribune

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Improper fractions and scale, on a warm summer day

Staff Photojournalist photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

On a hot (by Oakland standards) summer afternoon this week in Oakland’s Sobrante Park neighborhood, a group of almost 50 soon-to-be middle schoolers were in the thick of problem solving at their local school.

I mean, check out that whiteboard!

The topic was measurement and scale, a concept that’s fundamental to our lives — and to the work of engineers, architects and planners — but sometimes difficult for kids to wrap their minds around.

To demonstrate the pitfalls of creating small-scale models with inexact measurements, Ryan Patrick O’Neill, an Oakland math teacher, pulled up an ancient map of the world and compared it to a modern one, made with the benefit of satellite technology.

“What’s wrong with this map from 200 CE?” he asked the class of 10- and 11-year-olds, later noting the different sizes and shapes of India, Australia, and the African continent.

The history and purpose of units of measurement could easily be a dry lesson. But at the new summer engineering academy at Madison Middle School (also in place at Frick and West Oakland middle schools), students learned the value of a ruler by moving around the room and measuring various lines with a juice box, a pencil, an umbrella and other objects that proved a bit unwieldy.

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