Saturday, January 24, 2009

Educon 2.1 Session: Transition To Teaching in a Progressive School




Taking the advice of David Jakes, and given that all of the sessions are being streamed and archived here, I skipped Gary Stager's session on "The Best Education Ideas in the World" and attended this session by SLA Teachers Larissa Pahomov (English), Caitlin Thompson (Math) and Rosalind Echols (Physics).


They were 3 of 9 new teachers this year. They were all fairly young, and had experience teaching with "Teach for America" and two taught in foreign countries.

This was my experience as a "student" in the classroom.
Feature of SLA-
Advisory
Wednesday Meetings
Joint Responsibility for Planning School
Curriculum Planning w/Understanding By Design
Collaboration (Internal, External)

Caitlin (Math) shared her experience with collaboration within her department.
All teach the same block, so they have 12 blocks a week free for planning.
No department head...All co-teach a class. (Same class-more like a job share)
Geometry with Brad Latimer-similar teaching style. Helps w/creation of projects.
80% of freshman take math at the same time every day.
Laptops-
1) Computers open in class vary by teacher/subject. Not as often in math, all the time in English and history. She uses it for Geometer's sketchpad. Need to be monitored! (Teachable moment when students are off task.) They have remote desktop.
She stands behind students to monitor.
2)Textbooks-more of a resource than as a daily tool. Not using on-line books as much. More classroom sets. Participant said she uses on-line text for social studies more with the interactive maps. Caitlin talked about the disadvantages w/online text.

Technical/Pedagogical training-Teachers were selected most were within first couple years of teaching. More malleable. Hadn't used tech or project based learning. A week of afternoon training w/whole week of professional development with the rest of the staff.
Every week they meet on Wednesday afternoons. Marci Hull also works one-on-one with staff on tools they are interested in. Extra time on Wednesdays from 1-3:30 as students are out at internships at Franklin Institute or businesses.

How much time are staff creating the curriculum each week? She's using the PBL curriculum for Algebra and Geometry created by another staff member. Write benchmarks and UBD from scratch. (12 prep periods per week)

Rosalind (Physics)-3rd year teacher. Teach for America experience. In the past, take the benchmarks, use Blooms, here's the standards...
Totally different here! Lot's of observation/feedback. Teaches all Juniors.
What's the goal, what can I do in class to help acheive the goal! Focus now on applications in the outside world.
When riding the bus home, observe different things. Come back with questions. "Why did I land in the same place when I jumped on the bus?"
Assessed w/ Rubrics
How were you trained in dealing with the cultural diversity? Many teachers grew up in Philly or the area, and it hasn't been an issue, though it was an interview question.
Students work through the issues. Some African American students never went to school with white students prior to coming here, and vice-versa. Staff have done some roll play on this with students. Students apply to go here.

Advisory: Monday and Thursday 40 minute advisory after school. 9th graders-Transition to SLA-A student-"I'm working harder than I ever did in Middle school and only getting B's and C's."
Narative report cards twice a year (First and Third quarter) for strengths/ areas for growth. SchoolTool-Open source Student Information. (Participant from Texas uses Edline/GradeQuick-Update weekly!!!) (Great Britain: Resorcefullness, Resilliance, Respect, and Reflection: The "Learning Power Score" in addition to a subject grade!)

Larissa (English)
With the writing process, she really focusses on Inquiry and Collaboration (part of SLA core values). Narrow writing promts lead students to write similar things. 11th grade has a bi-weekly 2 page writing assignment (analytical paper) where they write about anything they want. "Turn the lens" of inquiry on anything they want. Focus on the Thesis statement. Unique, Isightful, Debatable

Use Moodle for course management.
Monday/Tuesday: Thesis argument forum. Discuss first in class. Students post ideas in class. Students then respond to 3 in 15 minutes. "Craig is writing the same thing I am, but his is better"--Led to student going to collaborate with other student.
Turn in on Friday.

Pick 3 to look at in class. What worked, what didn't. Try to make it diverse. Not always the "A" paper. "The color of Crayola crayons can teach you about multi-culturalism!"
MLA citation
When you ask kids to write whatever they want, they have the presure to come up with something unique. Gun control-Zoom out and try to come up with something that is your own!

Laptops-People imagine they are out and used everyday. They're the tool, but not the focus. Closed during discussion. Some 5 minutes only. Friday, kids were sharing so that they were online reading, others could follow along.
Drupal blog for each class, kids can choose to post publicly. Some kids/teachers find it to be a pain.
"For the rest of class, just read other people's writing."

Kenneth (Math)-"Scribe for class" Uses Promethean to post to his blog for classnotes. Wikispace is the finished class notebook. Students write an entry to explain each topic. The finished product. "Can't survive w/out Moodle" Message, assignments, grades.
Everything in math can be described without using math!

One major project each quarter that is a benchmark (District Requirement-SLA uses their Rubric for this). Coordinate to make sure the projects are diverse (Presentation, essay, lab reports...)

See video for Physics rubric. Students created a Web site.
Discussion:
The computer allows for differentiation with what can be presented. Individualized Learning Plans help. Different students have different goals. All notes can get loaded every day on Moodle. "We have a lot of kids w/chronic illness who miss school, so having the notes out there helps a lot."

Every class has a blog that is viewable to the public via Drupal. Sometimes have to encourage kids to post. We still have struggling learners with public speaking, etc...
Extended Acceptable Use Policy.

See wiki for more information.
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