Sharing: The Moral Imperative (CEW Integration Inservice #1)

In my very first blog post (What Does It Take to Create a Movement?) I shared a video about sharing because sharing and collaboration help us all get better at what we do for our students. In these days of limited school funding my school district is taking steps to save money. One of those steps is to no longer require our students take our Pathways class as a graduation requirement.

Pathways is a stand alone career discovery/exploration class. To compensate for this loss (in a state that requires career development education via the Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Academic Standards) we are working to find ways to embed these learning and self discovery opportunities in core academic classes that all students are required to take. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This change is forcing us to deliver CEW in an integrated fashion-this change will create new learning opportunities for our students. It is a good thing.

This is the first of a series of posts that I will publish as we work toward this integration. I expect that this transition will take several years and that, if it is any good at all, will be an organically grown product that works for our students as a result of who we are and our community of stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, community and post-secondary programs) desires. I expect to see many layers to this integrated 9-12 curriculum as it develops.

We start by thinking about what freshman and sophomores need. Here you will see all of my materials and resources as we begin this important discussion with our core teachers and school counselors. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see participant feedback.)

CEW Integration Inservice #1

TED Talk Transcript-Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning

TED Talk video-Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the Learning:

Agenda for the day:

PPT presentation used to facilitate the day:

Graphic Organizer:

Skills ID Ice Breaker Activity (conversation starters from Smith College Career Development Office)

Skills ID build Self Efficacy Resources:

The Girl Scouts and 21st Century Skills

The 6 21st Century Skills You Really Need (source: The Bamboo Project)

Essential Outcomes (given to freshmen at the University of Wisconsin)

10 Skills You’ll Need to Succeed at Almost Anything

What Skills Do Employers Want?

Five out of 14 teachers participating wrote to me after the inservice. Here is what they said:

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Have you hugged your Educational Foundation lately?

I have just returned from a school assembly. Not just any assembly–I heard Dr. Arun Gandhi speak to our student body. Dr. Gandhi is the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi. Dr. Gandhi was living in South Africa as a child. After several beatings from various hate groups by the age of 10 his parents decided it was time for him to live in India with his grandfather.

Dr. Gandhi shared a few lovely stories about his grandfather and their relationship as they lived and learned together. The take aways for me were twofold:

  1. Violence can be against nature or humanity and we all commit these violences everyday.
  2. Keeping a journal to help cope with anger doesn’t do anything except keep the anger fresh (by re-reading) unless you also journal about how the problem could be fixed and then commit to fixing the problem. 

The message Dr. Gandhi sent to our students was truly great but what I really want to write about is our Educational Foundation. There would have been no Dr. Gandhi today without the Foundation.

The Hatboro-Horsham Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to encourage excellence and to enhance and enrich educational opportunities offered to the students of the Hatboro-Horsham School District. The parents, community members and district administrators who make up our foundations board are amazing people. They have a positive, can-do, “think out of the box” mindset. I am so lucky to be able to work with them. Their first question is always, “What do kids need?”

So what needs have been determined for our students and community members this year?

  1. A world view (Dr. Gandhi)
  2. To be kids (Race to Nowhere)
  3. Self expression (Two of a Kind)
  4. Nature (Tom Szaky)
  5. Cultural arts (Philadelphia Gay Men’s Choir)
  6. Inspiration (Flame)

*For last year’s programming scroll to the bottom of this page.

The HHEF also funds many school projects. Our robotics students compete using funding available via the foundation, our teachers, students and community benefit from video conferencing via the foundation.

My own work has been greatly enhanced by the foundation. The Green and Entrepreneurial Futures Fairs could not have been done without the foundations energy and enthusiastic support. The foundation, to my suprise, went out and brought to school Jerry Greenfield  (Ben and Jerrys) to kick off our year dedicated to that 21st century skill, “entrepreneurialism”!

The foundation encourages teachers to apply for Grants in Action. In addition to all described, “I” have been the beneficiary of several Grants in Action. My students opportunities have been greater by the additional opportunity the grant awards make possible.

HHEF, if I haven’t made this clear before–thank you for all you do!

 

 2010-2011 Hatboro-Horsham Educational Foundation Events
   

Jeff Yalden

 

   

Jerry Greenfield

   

Vince Papale

   

Futures Fair

   

“The Conspirator” Fundraiser

   

Culture Fest!

   

The Lorax

   

Grants in Action

Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century

Next month I will be attending and presenting at the Pennsylvania Integrated Learning Conference. I just learned that Bill Symonds author of the Harvard University study Pathways to Prosperity will be the keynote speaker. I have included Harvard’s press release concerning the study and links to the report on this post. This is a must read for anyone interested in education, their children’s future or our national economic security.

Report Calls for National Effort to Get Millions Of Young Americans onto a Realistic Path to Employability

Sally Madonna, Sally Spears & Sally Gaga?

This presentation is a “must see.”

My friend, Joyce Valenza, is a teacher-librarian. She always introduces herself as a teacher-librarian and what a great teacher she is. In addition to her students, she has taught me much over the dozen plus years we have been friends. I would not be the educator I am today without her influence.

Joyce was recently asked to speak at a TEDxPhiladelphiaED event. It is here that Joyce introduces “the Sally’s” in her talk titled See Sally Research. You know the Sally’s if you’ve been in education for awhile. You may have been or known Sally Madonna or Sally Spears. Sally Gaga is in your classroom today.

As I listened to Joyce’s talk I couldn’t help think about 21st Century skills and how artfully she equips her students as they learn and practice these important skills. Joyce’s students “own” their learning. They become passionate learners. Their learning empowers them.

See Sally Research was inspired by a chapter Joyce wrote with Doug Johnson for Lehmann and McLeod’s What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media.

Joyce’s blog: Neverendingsearch.

What I did this summer: Focused

I unplugged. Really. I didn’t go online except to check my email once a week all summer long. It has been so refreshing. So what did I do with my time?

I trained for a half marathon, expanded my gardens, enjoyed time with friends and family and I read. I read for pleasure and I read for professional growth. For the first time in my career, I did not write curriculum over the summer. The reason? I read Mike Schmoker’s book Focus. Mike has some clear thoughts on this topic and that thinking influenced how I spent my time.

A summary: Instead of piling on one new reform fad after another, here is a book that boils down solutions for improved schools to the most powerful, simple actions and structures that ensure you prepare all students for college, careers, and citizenship. Best-selling ASCD author Mike Schmoker explains why and how to take a “first-things-first” approach to school improvement and focus laser-like on only three essentials:

  • Coherent curriculum (what we teach).
  • Sound lessons (how we teach).
  • Purposeful reading and writing (authentic literacy).

In making his case, Schmoker delves deep into the significance of the three essentials so you get a complete understanding of what they mean to your daily practice.

This book has been a game changer for me. Upon my return to school, I learned our new Director of Curriculum will be basing our back-to-school inservice on this book. I can’t wait to participate in this discussion!

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!

“Now that the money’s gone…”

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings sing a song with lyrics that appear in the title of this post. I think it’s on the 100 Days 100 Nights CD. Today, educators have to live with less resource of every kind. The money is gone. In 2011 we have to be development experts–we must become “teacherpreneurs.”

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Kendall Glouner, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit. Kendall shared the following presentation about identifying and writing for grants.

Moral of the story: Identify what you need and why, define the expected outcome and how the outcome will be measured, explain who will benefit and how–then look for funding. You may be suprised how many potential resources you will find!

Just Sharing: The Moral Imperative