Shop Class as Soulcraft

This book by Matthew B. Crawford was given to my daughter as a graduation gift from her professor at Syracuse University. I finally had a chance to read it. Shop Class As Soulcraft should be read by students graduating from high school too.Educators will find it worth discussing. The New York Times Book Review says, “A beautiful little book about human excellence and the way it is understood in contemporary America.”

Educators will also find the quote introducing the first chapter worth pondering:

“In schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and underserving of their full attention and engagement…Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

-Doug Stowe, Wisdom of the Hands (Blog)

 Doug Stowe’s blog Wisdom of the Hands is an interesting read too.

For my co-workers Russ, Lori, Heather, Sarah, Lauren, Nick, Adam, Diane, Priscilla and Linda and my friends at Eastern and Central-this one’s for you. Your work is so important.

 

Science Leadership Academy

This winter/early spring I watched this video about Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy. I was intrigued. I’m all about inquiry based learning, learning by doing, leadership development, etc. One of my PLC’s at school was studying the idea of a freshman academy so I lobbied for the opportunity to take this PLC to the SLA for a visit. The visit was arranged and hosted by Jon Amsterdam from SLA. This place is amazing. It is my dream of what a school in the 21st Century should be.

One thing I want you to know that was unique about this visit was that after we were orientated to the school we were set free to roam the halls, talk with kids and teachers at will. The remarkable and exciting thing was that every kid we (randomly) spoke to knew exactly what they were studying and attempting to learn and why it mattered. WOW! (No red T shirts at SLA)

The following is a report I prepared for my SD administrators after our visit:

Interesting videos about SLA:

Science Teacher we met yesterday and others discuss working at SLA and students discussing learning at SLA- http://youtu.be/B1p22QWEJNI

Diana Laufenberg http://youtu.be/oxtqXtPEcLc

Site visit report:

On Thursday, Christy Matik, Ed Doran, Mary Ellen Frey, Tracey DeRosier, Vanessa DeLuca, Jen Bryan and I went to the Science Leadership Academy to learn about their academy model as we research for our freshman academy. (We met briefly with Ralph Rapino yesterday and plan to have an extended meeting to discuss our reflections and what they might mean to the HH freshman academy within the next 10 working days.)

We were met by Jon Amsterdam, assistant principal. He described the essential questions they use to frame learning for each grade as the “through-line.” It is the common theme that runs through all learning, all content areas and connects that learning beyond high school. The core values at the academy are:

Inquiry

Research

Collaboration

Presentation

Reflection

SLA essential questions:

9th grade 10th grade `11th grade 12th grade
Identity Systems Change  Creation
Who Am I?How do I interact with my environment?How does the environment affect me? How are systems created and defined?How do systems shape the world?What is the role of individual systems? What causes change?What is the role of the individual in creating and sustaining change?What is the relationship between the self and a changing world? Sorry, didn’t see these and in interest of getting this report out in a timely fashion, I’ll research this at another time.

Note: Each classroom had the grade level EQ posted on a very large poster. Interesting ways this is displayed in classrooms. Ask any of us to explain.

The only rules at the school:

  1. Respect yourself
  2. Respect others
  3. Respect the learning environment

All curriculum is designed in UbD (Understanding by Design; Wiggins and McTighe).

All curriculum is framed around a common language (“so kids don’t get lost between the adults”) 

  1. Common language concerns systems, structure, pathways and process
  2. Example of common language (and common assessment) use: all rubrics are formatted this way (subject teacher will fill in expectation blanks depending on learning goals)
SLA Common Rubric

DESIGN

20

KNOWLEDGE

20

APPLICATION

20

PRESENTATION

20

PROCESS

20

Exceeds Expectations20-19
Meets Expectations18-15
Approaches Expectations14-13
Does not meet Expectations12-0
  1. Students plug into learning through their own passion for a given topic. Example: Why should we learn about the American Civil War? Students research the civil war from their interest inquiry (personal passion*). I might want to know about the role of women during the civil war, another student may want to understand how the geography of Gettysburg may have determined the outcome, etc. Units of inquiry run between 6-7 weeks. All learning is presented.
  2. SLA takes kids from micro to macro when learning by hooking them with their personal interests first. Another example from SS: What is the study of history? Who writes it? Teachers are concerned with students expressing understanding, not the content.
  3. There are no survey courses-all curriculum is a mile deep, not an inch deep and a mile wide. Students are charges with this: “you are a learner in the world-ask questions”
  4. They use few books b/c inquiry based.

We also met Chris Lehman, school principal, during our visit and other teachers. Interesting notes about the adults we met:

  1. Always talked about the students and their learning in answering our questions
  2. Always talked about being learners themselves

Teachers share common time to discuss students, projects across the curriculum (about 3 hours a week).

  1. Teachers lead about 20 kids (same kids) in a four year long advisory system.
  2. Teachers practice and teach students
  3. Distributive leadership
  4. For kids: kids become school leaders. We met a senior being a very capable and effective learning assistant in a freshman science class. We also saw kids who are Apple certified computer techs fixing tech troubles. All SLA kids intern during grades 10 and 11.
  5. For teachers: advisory boards, sports team leadership, curriculum development, student clubs, etc.
  6. Internal discipline
  7. For teachers: this keeps everyone in step via collaboration, process, etc. It allows teachers to understand their students from peers experience with the students and encourages teachers be “school teachers vs. classroom teachers.”
  8. For kids: as learners and collaborators
  9. Lead a week long 9th grade summer camp for transition to SLA

Their freshman core:

  1. Lang Arts: biography and auto biography
  2. SS: early civilizations
  3. Science: 9 & 10 bio/chem (two year study)
  4. Lang: Spanish and Computer programming
  5. Math: didn’t write this down, sorry-probably varies by student experience
  6. Enrichment: tech class, fine arts, performing arts, pe

No HR: Students can find all info online (one on one laptop school)

Many thanks to our host, Jon Amsterdam and all the students and professionals at SLA for a truly great day!

And as for our PLC and freshman academy? We are moving ahead-September 2011, our first Freshman Academy! If anyone has experience and/or suggestions I’d love to hear from you.

*Personal passion and learning is a topic I’ve been learning about this year via my PLN! I’m currently involved in a book study focusing on the book The Passion Driven Classroom by Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold. More on this topic soon!

I feel a rant coming on…

Today did not start out as a good day. This morning I woke up to the news that the Department of Education is withdrawing support to school libraries. We say we want our schools to be the best–like Finland. Is this how you do it? Then, the information that threw me over the edge was announced as I ate my breakfast.

Matt O’Donnell (6ABC-pictured above), announced that of college graduates over the past several years, only 50% are employed full-time and of that working 50% the average salary is $30,000.

The idea that college is the only route to success is one of my issues.

“Among recent college graduates, a growing number each year leave college with student loan debt, a degree, and no job. Many ultimately join the ranks of “gray collar” workers–workers who are employed in jobs that are not commensurate for their education and pay too little when compared to the cost of these degrees. It is estimated from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (1993) Baccalaureate and Beyond study that as many as half of all baccalaureate graduates find themselves in this situation.” Getting Real: Helping Teens Find Their Future  -Ken Gray, Penn State University

Dr. Gray wrote this in 2009–before the “great recession.” This is not new information, it’s “just” getting worse. Why are so few educators and school counselors talking to kids and their parents about alternative avenues to success? And of those who are, why is no one listening?

Disclosure (why I know what I’m talking about):

1. I work in a high school.

  1. Too many students have no idea why they are going to college. For some it has become “13th” grade.
  2. Teachers and school counselor’s are well-intentioned but are still pushing college as the only way to succeed.
  3. College’s protect their dirty little secrets: (1) only 20% of students who begin a four-year degree program will graduate within 5 years and (2) only 11% of students who begin at a community college will have a four-year degree ever. (National stats)

 2. I have two children.

  1. Child #1: 2007 graduate of a prestigious New England Liberal Arts college; magna cum laude; Pi Beta Kappa and now a Fulbright Scholar; interned every summer during college at prestigious institutions related to field, etc., etc…
  2. Child #2: 2010 graduate of a prestigious North Eastern private comprehensive university (because Penn State, our “public ivy” did not offer her major-I know, strange but true); summa cum laude; won best in major award three out of four years, studied abroad (in one of the few rigorous study abroad programs); interned every summer during college at prestigious institutions related to field, etc., etc… 

Both children left college with promising jobs only to be down-sized, laid off, or whatever you want to call it. Both children are now cobbling together a living working several jobs and volunteering in their fields. It isn’t easy to work long hours at various places and continue searching for full-time work but somehow they are “doing it all.” There is no doubt about it, times are tough for the “20 somethings.”

The point of bringing up my own children’s experience is this: they did everything right. Studied hard in high school, discovered a passion for their field of study, worked hard in college and graduated in four years. They had what Dr. Gray calls “career maturity” when they graduated from high school. Educators know that few students graduate from high school with career maturity. In fact, it’s relatively rare (at least in the Philadelphia suburbs).

What happens to kids who don’t have career maturity when, in today’s world, even driven students struggle? (Remember I work in a high school.) As educators who care about student success after high school, what can we do?

  1. Encourage students to determine their goals. Do they want college or college and a career?
  2. Expose students to all career gateways: postsecondary education (community college, business/tech college, 4 year college or university), military, workforce (full and part-time jobs, contract work), internships and entrepreneurship.
  3. Explain to students that there are many avenues to the same goal. They need to be flexible and resilient.
  4. Teach students and their families to view post-secondary education as a costly business decision. Ask them to approach it in the same way they would in buying an expensive car. Buyer beware-most colleges are in a buyers market. Use this as an advantage.
  5. Inform parents about remedial education in college. They deserve to know that colleges admit students who cannot do academic work at college level. Parents should also know that remedial education may be a second chance for some teens; but for most teens right out of high school it is a strong predictor of dropping out.
  6. Help students develop a plan B-the one they will pursue if plan A doesn’t work out.
  7. Students (and their parents) need to understand the importance of a career focus. Most teens drop out of college in the sophomore year when a college academic major must be selected. (Gray)
  8. Explaining high priority professions in your region is also helpful to students and parents when they are trying to focus on a field of study. Introduce the ideas of career clusters , related occupations and career ladders.
  9. Get students out! Informational interviews, shadowing, interning, working, invite professionals into your classroom to help teach a particular topic and explain how and why it is important-ask your community to help students connect to their passions and learning.
  10. Send your teachers out to shadow. If a teacher has been in education their whole working life, they may not know how their subject matter is used outside of school. I have seen a teacher shadow day reconnect teachers to their academic passions. When this happens great things happen in the classroom.

For teens, developing career maturity does not mean forcing them to make a decision about the one perfect career or locking them into a decision by age 18. The hope is that there will be a narrowing down process based on personal interests, passions, skills and aptitudes, during high school and not at great financial cost in college or with enduring disappointments in the labor market.

Your students may change their mind later, but if they make good decisions now, the next time their new interests should relate to current interests leading them to even better decisions.

“Career maturity is as important as academic maturity. Both predict post-high-school success.” Thanks Dr. Gray for your research and wisdom.

And for my own children? Does anyone need a passionate arts administer or talented interior designer?

PA Career, Education and Work Standards & ASCA Career Standards are aligned!

*Image source: http://www.globalfoodschool.org/

I received 2 emails from friend and mentor, Mike Thompson, this week. Mike is a fellow member of the PA Career Development Leaders Network. He has asked that I share this information. This information is important to all educators but if you are currently working to comply with PA Chapter 339 school counselling plan, you will find this information particularly useful.

#1

Dear Colleagues, 

At a recent board meeting of the Capital Region Partnership for Career Development a motion was approved to allow non-profit school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the right to print the “I” Statements without a cost under the condition that recognition be given on all printed documents to the Partnership. A finalized draft of this statement will be forthcoming. In the meantime, permission to print the attached documents is allowed (links to I Statemnents and ASCA Crosswalk  below). The attached documents are without the watermark that says, “Do Not Copy”. Please keep the statement at the bottom and the attached logo. 

The intent of these “I” Statements is to give school districts a manageable way to integrate the Career Education and Work Standards into all grade bands (K-12) and across disciplines. Another possible benefit of using these outcome statements is to develop a K-12 gap analysis where educators can strategically develop career development interventions to address all 4 grade bands and 4 strands over time. Additionally, these can serve as a great resource for parent and even IEP transition conferences when used in the form of a Career Portfolio. 

A revised statement at the top of all four of the documents describes the intent of the “I” statement outcomes. 

Currently, I am contracted to assist counselors within school districts across Pennsylvania to comply with the Chapter 339 requirement of developing a K-12 Guidance plan. The Pa. School Counselors Association has developed a Companion Guide to the ASCA National Model and a corresponding toolkit/implementation guide. The three domains that counselors are to impact for all students are:

v      Academic Development

v      Personal/Social Development

v      Career Development 

The CEW Standards and the ASCA Career Standards are aligned to enhance the career development/maturity of all students K-12. (Attached is a first draft crosswalk of the ASCA Career Standards and the Pa. Career Standards, compliments of Donna Cartia and Judy Bookhamer). 

The “I” Statements can be used by school districts to assist counselors developing a K-12 plan for cross discipline integration. I am very excited about the opportunity that school districts and all of their stakeholders have in developing a plan for career development for all students. Forward this email to as many people that you feel may benefit from its contents.  

Please contact me if you have questions. 

Mike 

PA CEW and ASCA Crosswalk & “I” Statements

PA Career, Educaiton and Work Standards

#2

Dear Colleagues,

Attached is a PDF of the 16 career clusters and the 5 career pathways model that is used by Middletown Area School District(and many others across the nation). The statement below is the rationale for using a cluster/pathway approach in education. Notice that this addresses academic and career maturity simultaneously. All stakeholder groups are addressed in this approach. Thinking with the “end in mind” for all students is critical. College and Career Readiness for all students and potential workers is our goal! Comprehensive Career Development leads to greater workforce development and ultimately the economic development of local communities and the nation(The“3 D’s”). 

Career Clusters/Pathways Deliver Multiple Benefits 

High Schools can be organized around career clusters/pathways to prepare students to meet the demands of postsecondary education and the expectations of employers. 

Educators can use a curriculum framework that can be adapted to meet local needs.  Assessments will be developed for each cluster, which educators can use to gauge how well they are meeting the academic and career needs of all students, regardless of their interests or employment goals. 

School Counselors can use career clusters/pathways to help students explore options for the future. Current information on the academic,technical, and college requirements students need for a wide range of careers can be found in the current Career Clusters/Pathways Knowledge and Skills and Career Clusters/Pathways Plans of Study. 

Employers and Industry Groups can partner with schools to contribute to the development of high academic standards that help students prepare for work and help workers keep their skill up-to-date. Employers gain workers prepared to learn new skills, adjust to technological change, and advance in their careers. 

Parentscan learn what academic and technical courses their children need for college and a variety of career fields.  Clusters/Pathways and the high standards that go with them reassure parents that their children will be fully prepared for college and the workplace. 

Students can use career clusters/pathways to investigate a wide range of career choices. The career cluster/pathway approach makes it easier for students to understand the relevance of their required courses and helps them select their elective courses more wisely. 

www.careerclusters.org —–Check it out! 

Mike

Popular Career Cluster Format in PA high schools

States Career Clusters

Michael D. Thompson

www.centralpenn.edu

“If we want to equip young people for the new world of work—and, more important, if we want them to lead satisfying lives…”

For my last post, I simply passed along a video summary of the book Drive (Pink), that Zoe Weil had posted on the blog Cooperative Catalyst. Zoe said, “When learning becomes its own motivation and reward, we’re golden, and when we realize this simple fact and hire engaging teachers who love to learn and love to share their learning, and abandon our carrot and stick approach in schools, we may find that our students astonish us with their capacity to learn, produce new ideas, and go on to teach what they know to others.” The video: RSA Animate YouTube film Daniel Pink shares what really motivates us.

I finished reading Pink’s most recent book, Drive. He says, “If we want to equip young people for the new world of work—and, more important, if we want them to lead satisfying lives—we need to break Motivation 2.0’s (carrots and sticks—the incentive of good grades, or the fear of bad grades, and the incentive of greater privileges and the fear of removal of privileges) grip on education and parenting.”

Pink has some specific suggestions for educators. From Drive:

The Homework Test

  1. Am I offering students any autonomy over how and when to do this work?
  2. Does this assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task (as opposed to rote reformulation of something already covered in class)?
  3. Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment? That is, can they see how doing this additional activity at home contributes to the larger enterprise in which the class is engaged?

If you really think about these questions as you plan for learning you can attempt to change homework into “homelearning.”

 “Fed Ex Day” (once a quarter)

You can inject a burst of autonomy into your classroom by setting aside a day each quarter when students can work on any project they choose, however they want, with whom ever they’d like. Ask kids to come up with a problem to solve or a project to tackle. In advance, help them collect/identify the tools, information, and supplies they might need. Ask them to deliver by reporting to the class their discoveries and experiences.

DIY Report Cards

At the beginning of a semester, ask students to list their top learning goals. Then at the end of the semester, ask them to create their own report card along with a one or two paragraph review of their progress. Where did they succeed? Where did they fall short? What more do they need to learn? Once students have completed their DIY report cards, show them the teacher’s report card, and let the comparison of the two be the start of a conversation on how they are doing on their path toward mastery. You could include parents in the conference.

Offer Praise the Right Way

  1. Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence.
  2. Make praise specific.
  3. Praise in private.
  4. Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it. (“You can’t kid a kid.”)

Help Kids See the Big Picture

Whatever they are studying make sure they can answer these questions: Why am I learning this? How is it relevant to the world I live in now? Then get them out into the “real world” so they can apply what they’re studying. Think of it as the fourth R: reading, writing, arithmetic…and relevance.

Helping kids see the big picture is echoed by many: Covey (The 7 Habits: Begin With the End in Mind), Gray (Getting Real: Helping Teens Find their Future), Wiggins and McTighe (Understanding by Design), Daggett (Model Schools)…I sure there are more. As Tom Friedman once said during a discussion about his book, The World is Flat, “Why isn’t anybody telling the kids?” Why do we so often forget to tell the kids?

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose–Drive, the suprising truth about what motivates us. How do you motivate yourself? Recommended reading for anyone interested in the science motiviation.