Monday, June 24, 2013

(14) Fighting a bully by wearing the same outfit every day (a lesson from a teacher in Rotterdam, N.Y.)

Updated 05/06/2013 07:40 PM

Teacher wears one outfit the entire year to fight bullying

ROTTERDAM, N.Y. -- Faith Perry is an Alternative Education and ESL teacher at Mohonasen High. Her fashion choices over the past two years have also been considered alternative.
“I'm wearing the same outfit that I've worn since the first day of school,” she told YNN.
Since last spring, Perry has worn just two outfits to school.
“Last year, there was a young man in here who couldn't afford to buy a lot of clothes, so he would wear the same things often and one day, he was called a scumbag for wearing the same clothes two days in a row,” she explained. “And then I said, ‘Well, I'll wear this outfit for two weeks!’”
Two weeks turned into the rest of the school year or four months. The decision then carried into the 2012-2013 school year.
Perry calls it her ‘outfit against bullying.’
She said, “As a society, we judge people, whether it's what we wear, our race, our sexual orientation, any of those things, and there's no reason to be bullied for those things.”

Senior Nicholas Rapp laughed as he said, “I never even noticed about her clothes, to be honest.”
Perry has been teaching him for all four years of high school.
Rapp added, “I see a wonderful person. She's definitely wonderful no matter what she's wearing or how she looks.”
If you start seeing repeat outfits across the district, that’s because Perry’s initiative is moving beyond Room 36 and into other schools, including Pinewood Intermediate. Principal Deborah Kavanaugh heard of Perry’s decision.
“That's infectious for us. We want to follow that,” she exclaimed.
As a result, this week, she and several other faculty members will also be wearing the same outfit every single day. It’s all in an effort to keep sharing that same message of respect.
“We are who we are every day,” said Kavanaugh. “Even if we show up in the same outfit, that we're still the same people, we're hoping that kids will get that message too.”
As for whether other students would get on board, Rapp answered, “I would. I mean, maybe not as long as she [Perry] would.”
And that’s going to be for some time.
“I'm going to do it for the rest of my career,” Perry said. “Every year, I'm going to pick an outfit and that will be my stance for every year until bullying stops.”
SOURCE:  Your News Now

Please click here and give a hit to the 

1) what procedure could you bring into your classroom to deal with bullies?
2)  How could you use this story in your classroom?

(12) Ask students to describe the ideal classroom: Edutopia video

Screenshots from the presentation by Edutopia


Partial transcript of the video

why is private thinking time important before we have a discussion?

what does a great classroom look like?

imagine the best place for learning... 
what would that class look like in each of those categories?

What is a great discussion?

rate yourself
provide evidence of the rating.

work together

what is a great discussion
it is not "kids raising hands"...

a good discussion is when we bounce ideas in small groups (not a whole class discussion)

how we talk
how we listen
how we ask questions

who speaks first?

how to use manners when disagreeing

use a fishbowl to observe other kids when discussing.

turn to your neighbor and talk about this idea

The Fishbowl

What are the procedures around the fishbowl?


For Discussion (Read and Call +1 954 646 8246):
(1) What questions would you ask your students to guide the discussion about "what rules do you want in our classroom?"?
(2) What is the fishbowl" and how would you use the fishbowl in your classroom?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What is your procedure for creating a "Positive Atmosphere"? (also known as "no bullying")

Bullying:  Here is a light one-minute video that might assist teachers in setting up a "culture of positive support" (anti-bullying policy).

I saw this sign at in St. Louis:
No Put Downs
Active Listening
Personal Best.
It has been the best way for me to remind kids to keep a positive learning atmosphere in and around school.  See the sign on a building in St. Louis

Here is the transcript of the video

We spend lots of time online. We text, we comment, we share. It’s a big part of our lives.  
But communicating with someone online is just like talking to them in real life. 
Everyone appreciates politeness and no one likes it when people make fun, or spread gossip, rumors or lies.  
The fact is that some people do try to hurt others online. 
It’s called – cyber bullying – and it’s a lose-lose situation: 
It makes the person being harassed feel bad – and it makes the bully look bad. 
It might lead to trouble with school authorities or even the police.
If someone is harassing you online, it’s important not to respond. 
That’s because bullies are looking for a reaction. Block them if you can, ignore them if you can’t. 
If it continues, save the evidence and ask an adult for help. 
And don't be afraid to stand up for yourself, or to stand up for someone else being cyber bullied.
This behavior usually stops pretty quickly when someone speaks up.
And when you’re communicating online – remember to treat people the way you’d like to be treated.  
Know how to handle yourself, because being online is part of your life.
So stop and think before you click.

(12) Persistence of "Old Ideas" and Intuitively Appealing Beliefs: Thank you, Annenburg Foundation, "A Private Universe" and Marlene LaBossiere for demonstrating "misconceptions that block learning"

A 9th grader's drawing of the moon's path round the earth,
showing how the phases of the moon are caused.

1)  What causes the phases of the moon?  Why do we see a full moon and a quarter moon and a new moon?
2)  What causes the seasons?

"In the summer, the earth is closer to the sun..."

" the winter, the earth is farther from the sun."

The "farther from the sun" model to explain winter.

1)  What causes the phases of the moon?  Why do we see a full moon and a quarter moon and a new moon?
2)  What causes the seasons?

In 1989, a documentary film was made with 23 graduates and fcaulty of Harvard University.

This blog post is a tribute to Ms. LaBossiere, one of the teachers who was open to seeing how her presentations of two principles were no match for "the private universe."   I'm not sure about the copyright status of this fragment, but it is a service to teachers to look at this video.  Ms. LaB. was particularly helpful to me because she was on-camera, showing her reactions -- I squirmed as I watched this piece (from 3:50 on).

Thank you, Marlene Laboussiere.   Look at Minute 4:23 in this video.

She's still at Cambridge Rindge Latin School.  That's a good idea:  keep teachers at a school so former students can easily find them!  Ms. LaBossiere was a good sport to be recorded as she watched her students explain the seasons and moon phases with an outdated concept.  That science teacher could have been me.

1)  What causes the phases of the moon?  Why do we see a full moon and a quarter moon and a new moon?
2)  What causes the seasons?
See this Fragment at 3:51 (thank you Ms. LaBossiere)

3)  What procedures can we use in our classes to overcome the Private Universe ("misconceptions that block learning")
4)  How about a click?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Session (11): What is the role of "character" in schools? What role do teachers have in shaping their classes to develop character?

Paul Tough has written about the importance of failure as a teaching tool.

Here are some observations from an interview with Paul Tough and a researcher named James Heckman

READING (from a script of This American Life, a radio show)

(1) What is the researcher's main point about the GED process?
(2) How do you handle failure in your students in your classroom?
(3) What would you add to your current academic work to build character in your lesson plans?

More reading
See the blogpost about the Paul Tough interview

Sunday, June 16, 2013

White Session (10) What is in your principal's mind?

The reading for this week comes from one of your Principal's books.

(1) Ask to borrow a book
(2) Ask your principal to suggest a chapter or a page to focus on.

Questions for discussion
What questions do you think your principal will ask you about the reading?
What questions are raised in the reading?

Red Session (9) Using Twitter in projects

How can we use social media in a project?

How can we meet the kids where they are?

How can we use what your students are using daily?

Here are two projects using Twitter.

READ and then CALL
Twitter Feed

Sample feed (actual feed of Navy Seal raid that killed Osama Bin Laden on May 1st, 2011)i:
Sohaib Athar

Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).
19 hours ago

Go away helicopter – before I take out my giant swatter :-/
19 hours ago

A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty:-S
19 hours ago

@mohcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heart it 6 km away too… the helicopter is gone too.
19 hours ago

Since taliban (probably) don’t have helicopters, and since they’re saying it was not “ours”, so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad
19 hours ago

and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/
17 hours ago

RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/
12 hours ago

I need to sleep, but Osama had to pick this day to die :-/
12 hours ago

Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.
11 hours ago


Sample Speech:
Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln

4 scor & 7 yrs ago: nu nation,
all men =! Now civil war .
But! Not die in vain.
Gr8 task b4 us: Gvt of-by4-ppl

not perish frm earth!ii

1. What would have been the instructions that you could have used to guide students toward these results?
2.  What program or toy or TV show do your students watch or use?  How could you modify a lesson to include something from their lives in the lesson?

Yellow Session (8): Narratives (in addition to Grades)

Narratives (in addition to Grades)

When we teachers think about school and our responsibilities as teachers, we often look back at our experiences as studnets.   Teachers told us what they expected to see and they told us that they would grade our work.   In Germany the highest mark is "1" -- in some countries, the highest mark is a percent -- so 95 to 100 is the higher range ... 

In his chapter about assessment, Dennis Littky quotes a student:
"I am more than a letter in the alphabet."  

One way to build a conversation into the grading process is to use narratives.   In Littky's school, the teacher writes a two page letter for each student every 8 weeks.   In the letter, the teacher talks about the goals that the student had established, the progress that the student made and where the student might want to think about work in the next 8 weeks.   

after looking at the reading, please look at the questions and then contact the trainer.

The reading from Big Picture: p. 158
Evaluating students through narratives is very hard to do. And it’s very time-consuming. Narratives are hard because they force the teacher to understand a kid’s life. He or she has to think about how to describe the way the kid gets along with adults, the kid’s attitude toward learning, his work habits, and the gaps in skills and knowledge he needs to fill. Those are really hard things to describe. It’s also true that when you’re writing narratives every quarter, it can be tough to say something new about each kid every time. For example, you don’t want to say for 16 narratives in a row that the kid’s grown and she’s got “a great attitude.”

Narrative format is important here, because if it’s designed right, it forces the teacher to go deeper: for example, to define growth and describe what he or she means by “a great attitude.” Part of our Met narratives describes what the kid has actually done in terms of work, but the rest analyzes this work in terms of the school’s learning goals (see Chapter 5, page 103), the teacher’s individualized goals for the kid, the kid’s goals for himself or herself, and the family’s goals for the kid.

For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if you could give narratives in addition to a letter grade on student papers and other work by students?
2. How do teachers evaluate growth?
3. Do you remember a particular grade you received on a school assignment? Why do you remember it? What significance did it hold?

Green Session (7): Capstone Project

Capstone Projects

A capstone project is a major event in a student's life.  Here is how a middle school describes the capstone:

The goal of this project is for each eighth grade student to find a subject that they are interested or passionate about. These topics have been as diverse as the Ballet, the 9/11 Commission findings, the 1918 Flu Epidemic and its relation to the Bird Flu Crisis, parity in the NFL since the formation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Turkish Folk Tales, among many others.

Each student works during their hour and a half Capstone period on Wednesday afternoon under the guidance of both their Mentor teacher. In the course of completing the project, each student must write a research paper in the fall, develop a technology piece in the winter, and then do something of their own choosing in the spring. Some of the personal choice pieces might involve the performance of something that they have developed (such as a dance or playing or performing a piece), writing something, making something, or conducting some kind of independent research.

after reading the excerpt from Big Picture, please answer the questions.

The reading from Big Picture:    

Celebrations, ceremonies, and rituals strengthen a school’s culture because they stand for and show what the school thinks is important. The fact that, at The Met, we sing “Happy Birthday” to each kid and often give him or her a card says something about how we respect and honor each individual. Kids don’t forget that stuff. When people are singing “Happy Birthday” to them, they can say to themselves, “Hey, this school acknowledges me.” At The Met, we also celebrate individual accomplishments. We celebrate every college acceptance. Because we see students’ transition from 10th grade to 11th grade as a big growth point, we celebrate it with a “Gateway Ceremony.” And seniors at The Met participate in two graduations: one for their families (which most underclassmen don’t go to) and another where the whole school gets together to celebrate their accomplishments. It’s also a way for the younger kids to say good-bye to the seniors and take in what graduation really means.
For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if your students could have a project that serves as a gateway to the next level?
2.  What procedures would you have in your classroom to support a student who wants to work toward a Gateway Project?

Pink Session (6): Eighth Grade Internships

Eighth Grade Internships

The reading from Big Picture:  p. 127

No matter how many successes we have at The Met, there are still a lot of critics who don’t see how focusing a student’s entire curriculum around internships is the right way to make learning real. The criticism comes from people who are caught up in the word “academic”: Intern- ships don’t seem as academic. What they mean is, internships don’t involve kids sitting quietly in a classroom vigorously staring at approved textbooks, which is some people’s definition of the “right” learning environment. Critics, too, focus on the inevitable “downtime” in an internship, forgetting how much downtime kids experience inside schools every day. If a kid is interning at the zoo, yes, she might observe the animals for hours before she starts to record data. It might take a week for a kid to figure out a computer program he needs to start his internship project, and it might take him an hour by bus each day to get to his internship site. Our critics focus on the lack of “seat time” in a class. For some reason, though, they don’t seem to factor in the value of the seat time at the internship— at a hospital, at the State House, at a violence prevention program.
The work we do at The Met is definitely more amorphous than what you find in traditional schools, but rather than see it as “truly integrated,” some see it as “soft.” What’s funny to me is that what we do is very similar to how medical schools use internships and residencies to train doc- tors. I’ve never heard anyone condemn those programs as being soft.

Of course, another kind of resistance to internships comes from the big schools that can’t imagine setting up internships for all 2,000 of their students. Because I don’t believe in big schools, I would reply that the first step is to personalize the place and break it down into small schools. Then, I would point out that my hunch is if you’ve got a school with 2,000 kids, you’re probably in an area that has plenty of places where kids can do internships. When we first started The Met, we were told we’d never find 50 internships for our first 50 students. Good thing they weren’t bet- ting. By June 2002, 310 students had come through The Met and more than 900 businesses and organizations had served as internship sites. All anyone who is concerned about a lack of internship possibilities needs to do is look at the statistics. According to the 2000 Census and Kids Count, in tiny Rhode Island there were 500,731 adults in the workforce and only 40,651 high school–age students. That works out to 12 potential mentors for each kid!

For Discussion
1. Why do so many students describe their educational experiences as boring?
2. If you could have an internship in any area, built around any interest, what would it be and who would you want to have as a mentor? Why?
3. Tell about a time when you (as a student or a teacher) were working on or teaching an assignment that you now realize was “fake real.”
4. Name five people and five resources in your community that the schools could tap to help make students’ learning and work real.

Indigo Session (5): Exhibitions

End-of Year Exhibitions

Most teachers ask students to complete a test at the end of a course.  The Final Exam.  This process works well for students who like writing.  Is there another way to find out what a student knows?
What role could exhibitions play in our learning?  How can students show what they understand?
There's a movie called Stand and Deliver.  It stars Edward Almos.  He plays a teacher who asks his students to stand and deliver what they know.

Please read the reading from the Big Picture and think about the questions below.

The reading from Big Picture:
P. 165-167
Schools that use exhibitions as a method of assessment need to make sure that the students, staff, and parents understand the requirements and purpose of exhibitions. They also need to maximize exhibitions’ incredible value in building relationships in the school.

First, exhibitions are an amazing opportunity for parent involvement. Parents get to see their kids in action and get to actually hear them talk about what they’ve done and what they’ve learned, rather than just guessing about it based on a report card grade or assuming it’s happened because the kids are walking across the stage at graduation. An exhibition is a chance for every parent to see his or her child perform, a chance to be proud. It is also a chance for them to question their child about school and not have him say, “It’s fine,” and then walk away and go to his room. Our Met parents say things like, “I loved seeing my son’s autobiography—I was so proud to see how he’d written more than 100 pages analyzing his life and his education,” and “I was amazed to watch my daughter take her love for marine biology and develop her own curriculum so she could teach it to the other kids at her school.”

Second, exhibitions are a great opportunity for teachers to really work together as a team. By sitting in on exhibitions given by their colleagues’ students, individual teachers become part of a community that is invested in helping to teach each child. This opportunity to witness another teacher’s struggles or successes with individual students also helps all teachers become better equipped to provide the kind of collegial support that is vital to a healthy school.

Third, exhibitions are an opportunity to include the outside community in education by inviting others to come in and watch: local leaders, college students, professors, mentors, school board members, everyone. Every time I watch exhibitions at The Met, I’m reminded that I’m seeing our most sophisticated student-adult conversations. The interaction between the student and the audience creates a whole new level of communication where the student is at the center but is also receiving input from everyone about his or her learning.

Fourth, exhibitions promote rather than inhibit growth. This means that when an exhibition isn’t that great, or when the kid really isn’t prepared or hasn’t shown progress on his work, it is still an opportunity for others to see and applaud growth in other areas. In situations where I don’t feel students did a great job on their exhibitions, I have to remember to ask myself, “Not great compared to what?” Even after a “bad” exhibition, I have heard parents say things like, “My son has never talked like that in front of a group before—I can’t believe he did that!” One of our students started her exhibition by warning the audience that she had a stutter. As it turned out, she didn’t stutter once during the entire presentation—but if she had, she would have been showing us her courage, her determination to keep going and to make herself under- stood. With every exhibition, there is always an upside, always some- thing learned. When you fail a test, you just fail, end of story. There is no end to the story with exhibitions. The learning keeps on happening.

Fifth, exhibitions completely eliminate cheating. In a 1998 survey by Who’s Who Among American High School Students, 80 percent of college- bound high schoolers admitted they’d cheated at least once.  As a Met student once said, “You can cheat your way through other high schools and you can cheat your way through elementary and middle school, but here you cannot cheat at all. It’s impossible. When you have to stand in front of everyone and do your exhibition, you’ve got to have something.”

Sixth, exhibitions encourage students to go deeper with their learning by requiring them to create and present a portfolio of their work. Where studying for a test may involve students looking at class notes and rereading textbooks, preparing a portfolio requires students to look at and define the many layers of their learning. This can mean sharing successive drafts of a paper, showing photos of a project in various phases of construction, and all sorts of other things. Deep learning is so important, and such a thrill to do and to watch.
Tests can do a lot of damage to a person who really wants to take learning further, branch out, learn more. I saw it myself back in college. My roommate and I were taking the same English course and had to read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. I read the book eight times (and ended up hating it) because it was going to be on the test and I knew I had to “know” it. My roommate loved the book and went on to read every book Conrad had ever written. I got an A on the test. My roommate got a D.

Clearly, deeper learning was not valued in that course. I got the “good” grade, but I knew my roommate had learned more than I had and that he had gotten more out of the book. And I envied the way he pursued his passion.

Finally, exhibitions allow, and require, students to set high standards for themselves. When they don’t do well at an exhibition, they know it—immediately. They don’t have to wait for a test score to come back to tell them they need to work harder. And if they have a personalized learn- ing plan (like all Met students do), they help determine what constitutes “doing well.” Exhibitions force students to become accountable for and take control of their own learning. Isn’t that what we’re striving for?

For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if you could hear your students give a verbal presentation instead of a written answer?
2. Do you remember a particular grade you received on a school assignment? Why do you remember it? What significance did it hold?
3. Why don’t teachers traditionally give students other kinds of feedback besides grades? 
What other kinds of feedback would you have liked to have received as a student?

Purple Session (4): Projects and Portfolios

Projects and Portfolios.

In a simple definition, a project is work that the student chooses to do.  A collection of projects could form a portfolio that shows the work of the student.

The reading from Big Picture:  p. 114

 I started noticing how these kinds of real projects got kids engaged and really got them to learn the same stuff we were trying to teach them by locking them up inside a classroom. Have you ever watched kids work on planning and organizing a prom? Oh my gosh. At Thayer, the biggest “problem kids” in the school would work until midnight helping everybody, putting stuff up, and just getting things done. Intellectual kids or not-so-intellectual kids, they were there, and they were working harder than most of us had ever seen them work. It shows you that when some- thing is real and has meaning to people—wow! Think about driver’s ed., too. In school after school, I’ve seen kids who would regularly miss days and days of school somehow manage to make it in on days when there was driver training. The kind of learning going on in driver’s ed. or when plan- ning the prom is real, and it has consequences kids can feel.

For Discussion
1.  Why do so many students describe their educational experiences as boring?
2.  What advantages would there be to you if you could ask students to do a project instead of taking a test that you (the teacher) created?

Auburn Session (3) Personal Learning Plans

Session (3)
Personal Learning Plans

What is a Personal Learning Plan?

It is not an Individual Education Plan.  IEPs are generally for "exceptional students" who don't fit the "standard" program.  At least 80% of kids are in the standard program.  

The personal learning plan is more work initially for a teacher but saves time in the long run because students often end up doing work that interests them.   People who do interesting work are generally not behavior problems....

The reading from Big Picture:
when a teacher reads a student’s paper, she is not reading it to mark the student’s progress in relation to a predetermined set of activities and goals, but to actually figure out what those activities and goals should be for that student. When you say you want to get rid of grades, some people think you want to get rid of standards altogether. It’s the exact opposite. Using narratives really forces schools to look more closely at each student’s accomplishments and gaps. The standards are determined in a really personalized way by developing an individualized learning plan, with goals and indicators of achievement for each student. Then it’s a matter of evaluating that student in a real-world way: assessing the stu- dent’s progress as it compares to what he or she will need in order to succeed in college and in life. When you think about it, you can’t hold students to any standard higher than that.

For Discussion
1. Are there any situations in life where “one size fits all”?
2. Tell about a time where something you learned motivated you to learn more. What implications does this have for education?
3.  Tell about a time when you were in school and your learning matched your interests. How was that experience different from times when your learning didn’t match what you were interested in?
4. What do we have to unlearn about traditional schooling so that we can educate one student at a time?
5. What changes would have to happen to make a truly personalized school possible? Where would you begin?

Orange Session (2) Advisories

Session (2)

People who use the advisory system believe that a school is more than just academics.  

An advisory is defined in Dennis Littky's book as follows:  "the entire school is divided into advisories of small groups of kids (I like 14) and one adult who stay together much of the day through all four years."

What happens in an advisory?
Dennis Littky says, "Spending my mornings with those kids just talking about their lives and their learning was the best part of my day. It was the most significant way I was able to use my time to get at the heart of what my role as principal was and how I could best support my staff and students."

1. an advisory system increases the range and kinds of communication among students and staff, and by spreading out the counseling function, makes problems more manageable and better solu- tions easier to come by. 

2.  an advisory system includes an adult advisor who becomes that one true advocate every student (and every student’s family) deserves.  There is one adult in the school who really knows the kid as a person and as a learner.  The advisor can make sure that all the other school structures are meeting that kid’s personal and educational needs. 

3.  With an advisory system, parents know exactly who can tell them how their kid is doing; they don’t have to chase down six or eight different teachers, each of whom only knows a small part of the big picture of their child’s education. 

What are objections to the advisory system?
Some teachers see a zero-sum situation.  Time spent in advisories takes away from academic time.
Here's a response by a student at Littky's school:  “No time to talk with kids!? Isn’t that the main thing about being a teacher?”

Please read the excerpt from Big Picture and think about the questions.

The reading from Big Picture:
page 61-62
The Advisory System
I used to think that creating an advisory system was the core of my vision for changing the way schools are structured. I now see there are a number of critical things that must be in place if we’re really committed to creating effective learning environments for kids (see this entire book). But I am still committed to the idea that an advisory system is the best structure to improve a school’s atmosphere and culture and make an already small school feel even smaller and more personalized.

George Wood talked about advisories in his piece on Thayer in Schools That Work. Here’s an excerpt I love:

Don Weisberger, a special education teacher at Thayer, describes the system’s effect this way: “Advisory in one word is communication. It makes the school smaller. . . . [Students] know someone’s there for them, they are not getting lost among all the other students. . . . In advisory we don’t talk at kids, we talk with kids.”

There are many variations on the advisory system, from the way we did it at Shoreham-Wading River, where kids met with the same small group of students and adult every morning to “check in,” to the way we do it at The Met, where the entire school is divided into advisories of small groups of kids (I like 14) and one adult who stay together much of the day through all four years. I know that the way we do things at The Met is unique and may not be possible in all schools. But I also know that setting up a system where students have a consistent environment where they are able to truly connect with a small group of kids and one adult can radically change their entire schooling experience. It was a shy and awkward but very bright kid who told a visitor to The Met, “I have 14 friends here. At my old school I wouldn’t have had any.” That was his advisory. An incredibly strong community of 15.

For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if you could work as a teacher who has an advisory?

Brown Session (1) The Integrated Curriculum with Dennis Yuzenas

Session 1
Cooperative Teaching & Learning

Some people call this "the integrated curriculum"
One teacher, all subjects.
Some schools ask two teachers to share the subjects, such as Math, Science and History (Social Studies).
the second teacher covers Writing, Foreign Language and Literature.

The advantages are more time spent with the students.
Traditional schools ask a MATH teacher to teach 5 or 6 classes of 25 students in each class.  That's 125 or 150 students per week.

With Cooperative Teaching, the 6 classes are shared.  
A teacher meets with Group A of 25 students in the morning and Group B in the afternoon.
Instead of 150 students, the teacher meets with 50 students each week.

The reading from Big Picture:  page 29

Many people talk about how difficult it is to implement an integrated curriculum, which is taking the standard subject areas and combining them. That is ridiculous. The world is integrated! What is difficult is what schools do every day: unravel the world and all its vast knowledge and put it into boxes called subjects and separate things that are not separate in the real world. What is science without math? What is his- tory without language? What are languages without their history? I first started messing with the 45-minute periods schedule in the early ’70s. I knew then that I was fighting a century-old addiction to teaching kids about the real world by locking them up in a building that looks, acts, and feels nothing like the real world. When we talk about reform, we should not be talking about tweaking the scheduling and modifying the curriculum, but about completely overhauling the entire structure of schools as we have known them for way too long.
No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.
~ Turkish proverb

Do most people even know how we got into this mess? In 1892, the National Education Association’s (NEA) National Council formed the “Committee of 10.” The president of Harvard University was the chair, and the other nine members were equally intellectual types from the elite institutions of the time. This tiny group set out to standardize high school programs on a national scale. They proclaimed exactly what subjects students should be taught, in what order, and even originated the concept of tracking, including stating that secondary education was only appro- priate for a small portion of youth. (You can bet their own kids were included in that small portion.)

For Discussion
1.  What advantages would there be to you if you could teach two classes instead of six classes per week?
2.  What changes in procedures would you need to implement if you integrated several subjects?
3.  Choose three subjects.  Describe a project that uses all three of the subjects.   

Introduction: Professional Development for Teachers

Let's start with these observations:

(1) Many teachers don't appear to have time for training during a busy week.

(2)  Training sessions in many schoools are usually given every 90 days.

(3)  Don't we learn better "a little each day"? 

(4)  Many teachers go to a training session and receive a large 3-ring binder.  That binder remains unopened on a shelf ... six, ten, even 12 months later.

(5)  We tend to learn what we want to learn.  
Procedure:  Select a reading that you want to read.  You don't need to complete the sessions in order.  There is no need to study these questions in the order set up.  That's why each session has a color as well as a number.

This blog is a place to find items for on-going professional development.  "Take the session when you are ready."
Please add to the collection by suggesting topics that you want to talk about or articles that you want to discuss.

Procedures:  Read and Call

1.  teacher 
reads a short article
2.  teacher thinks about "How could I change my procedures in my class to apply this information?"
"What will students do differently if I apply this new information?"
3.  teacher calls me and tells me what was learned and discusses how to apply the information.
4.  I listen and ask some questions and we agree on a time when the teacher will take photos or videos before and after (showing with and without the new procedure).
5.  I follow up with the teacher 2, 7, 14, 30 and 90 days to check to see how the new procedure is being used. ... 

This series of training sessions is 
a) free:  volunteers designed these materials.
b) available with videos with feedback 
c) flexible:  you can read the article and make your comments when you want to.

Send your comments and questions to:
(954) 646 8246 mobile

Professional Development  one person at a time...  

on the side
one on one
how to change the behavior
getting into intuitive beliefs

...creating lifelong learners..

This series of sessions is dedicated to the parents and children of River Cities Charter School.

The time spent by the trainers and the teachers will benefit them, but ultimately, the benefits will come to your children.