Category Archives: PD & Coaching

Japanese Lesson Study

This fall I will be offering two Lesson Study Group for teachers who would like to focus on developing their professional practice in the area of literacy and in particular, writing.

Lesson study is a professional development practice in which teachers collaborate to develop a lesson plan, teach and observe the lesson to collect data on student learning, and use their observations to refine their lesson. It is a process that teachers engage in to learn more about effective practices that result in improved learning outcomes for students.

book image LLSStepanek, Jennifer; Appel, Gary; Leong, Melinda; Mangan, Michelle Turner; Mitchell, Mark (2006-12-20). Leading Lesson Study: A Practical Guide for Teachers and Facilitators (Kindle Locations 432-434). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

In my own experience as a classroom teacher, a year of lesson study at New Mission High School was the most valuable professional learning experience I received. Our humanities team was trying to understand how students used evidence from primary and secondary sources in their studies of history and the social sciences to support their opinions. We were a little skeptical about the process of opening up our classrooms to the two professional developers leading our work. It was was the first time that we had our lessons videotaped, the first time we opened up our classroom doors to our colleagues, and the first time we were leading the work during our PD blocks. It quickly became the highlight of our week, getting to plan together and finding new ways to share in the constant and all-consuming problem solving work that is teaching. I am hopeful that the teachers I have the privilege of learning alongside in New York City public schools will find it equally engaging and worthwhile.

A few basics about lesson study and how it works. First, the figure below provides a visual of the cyclic learning process that is lesson study from Stepanek et al. (2006):

Lesson study process visual

 

Lesson study begins with teachers jointly setting up goals for the entire process and then beginning to draw up a detailed plan for the study lesson. One teacher of the team then teaches the study lesson in a real classroom while other group members look on and/or watch via video. The group then comes together to discuss their observations of the lesson to reflect on and revise the lesson. Another teacher teachers the revised study lesson in a second classroom while the group members observe. The group comes together again to discuss observations, reflect on the group’s learnings and share the results.

There are many great resources available, including the Stepanek et al. (2006) book. Below are some of the key resources to get a group going with the work of lesson study:

Lesson_Study_Protocol
LS_Report_Guidelines
Example_Descriptions_for_LP
Blank_LP_Template
LS Overview PPT

 

 

Curriculum Mapping, Part 3

This post is designed as a three-part training series for middle and high school teachers working in school teams to write and revise their curriculum maps.

How do I add skills and assessments to my curriculum map?

Step 1

Begin by watching this 3-minute focusing on one school in Princeton, NJ and their work with designing 21st Century Learning and Teachin. (Link to SchoolTube)

As you watch, consider the following questions:

  1. What are the most relevant skills for students to develop in 21st Century high school classrooms?
  2. How do teachers and students feel about the design performance assessments and projects in the video?
  3. Who is the 21st Century student? How will you open up new learning opportunities for these students?

Step 2

Consider what you want students to know or be able to do in order to demonstrate mastery or understanding of the content in your class. As we work to revise the Skills column in your curriculum map, consider these aspects of writing Skills into your curriculum map:

  1. Are specific, observable, and measurable
  2. Include benchmarks and critical skills from district consensus map (NYC)
  3. Begin with action verbs and are precise (examples from Ann Johnson):
    • Find the main idea and supporting details.
    • Estimate sums and differences using rounding techniques to the nearest 1000.
    • Alphabetize to the second letter.
    • Interpret data represented in a bar graph.
    • Identify root words, suffixes, and prefixes.
    • Label the parts of an informative speech.
    • Explain the difference between fact and opinion.
    • Locate and identify parts of a book: title page, table of contents, index, and gloassary.
    • Compare and contrast the benefits and limitations of a hybrid car an SUV.
    • Define the hypothesis and conclusion of an “if-then” statement.
    • Analyze four primary documents written by John F. Kennedy.
    • Tell time to the minute.

Now, begin to revise or add to the Skills column of your curriculum map, either for your targeted unit or for the entire map, depending on time.

Step 3

Next, consider assessments. Assessments are:

  1. Demonstrations of learning
  2. Tangible products, projects, or observable performances; for example:
    • Grant proposals
    • Screenplays
    • Surveys
    • Diagrams
    • Essays (creative, persuasive, descriptive, expository)
    • CAD blueprints
    • Documentaries
    • Lab reports
    • Broadcasts
    • Digital portfolios
    • Tests (essay, objective, short answer)
    • Media criticism
    • Webcasts
    • Spreadsheets
    • Teleplays
    • Graphic organizers
    • Web page
    • Story Maps
  3. Written in non form
  4. Able to give a more complete picture of learning when multiple types are used
  • Portfolios
  • Projects
  • Performance and Authentic Tasks
  • Academic Prompts
  • Quizzes/Tests
  • Observations/Dialogues
  • Informal Checks for Understanding

Step 4

a) Add to or revise the Assessments column on your Curriculum Map for each unit of study. If you are not able to draft questions for each unit, focus on the unit you have chosen to focus on for this workshop.

b) Continue adding Skills to your curriculum map. You can fill in this part of your curriculum map for all units of study or just the unit you have chosen to focus on for this workshop, depending on the time allotted.

Curriculum Mapping, Part 2

This post is designed as a three-part training series for middle and high school teachers working in school teams to write and revise their curriculum maps.

How do I choose a curriculum map template and add essential questions?

Step 1

Begin by watching this 5-minute focusing on one school in Chattanooga, TN and their work with essential questions and curriculum design. (Link to YouTube)

As you watch, consider the following questions:

  1. Why exert the energy to shift from planning learning activities to planning learning outcomes and key understandings?
  2. What is the relationship between rich, higher-order questions and rich, higher-order answers?
  3. What is your theory about how to support all students increase their depth of knowledge in your classroom and in your curriculum?

Step 2

All curriculum maps will have at least four components:

  1. Essential Questions
  2. Concepts/Content
  3. Skills
  4. Assessments

Most will also include a section aligning to Standards and noting Resources. We will begin with Essential Questions, the over-arching interrogatives that provide focus and engage students (A. Johnson). Essential questions als0 encourage higher-level thinking, help students make connections beyond content being studied, and focus on the “So Why Am I Teaching This?”

Sample Essential Questions include:

  • What is my story?
  • Where do we find cells?
  • Is everything quantifiable?
  • Who are everyday heroes?
  • What is the difference between a scientific fact, theory, and a strong opinion?
  • Is the Civil War still going on today?

Choose one unit of study from your existing curriculum map, and write or revise an essential question for that one unit. You may need to draft several possible options and check with colleagues for their ideas as well. Use the list of key concepts you created as a pre-assignment for this work as a starting place for your essential question generation.

Step 3

Choose a template for your map that fits your context — either a school-wide template or one that makes sense to you. It should have the elements mentioned above. Sample curriculum map templates are below:

  1. Curriculum Map A
  2. Curriculum Map B
  3. Curriculum Map C
  4. Curriculum Map C (ELA 9/10 Standards Included for NYS & CCSS)

Step 4

a) Add your draft Essential Questions to your Curriculum Map for each unit of study. If you are not able to draft questions for each unit, focus on the unit you have chosen to focus on for this workshop.

b) Add Concepts/Content to your Curriculum Map as well. You can fill in this part of your curriculum map for all units of study or just the unit you have chosen to focus on for this workshop, depending on the time allotted.

Curriculum Mapping, Part 1

This post is designed as a three-part training series for middle and high school teachers working in school teams to write and revise their curriculum maps.

What is curriculum mapping?

Step 1

Begin by watching this 11-minute animated video by Sir Ken Robinson. (Link to YouTube)

As you watch, consider the following questions:

  1. What claims does this video make? What is Sir Ken Robinson urging educators to do differently?
  2. What connections, if any, do you see between this video and the curriculum mapping process your school is undertaking?

Step 2

Before turning to your existing curriculum map, select 2-3 of the sample maps below and skim them for information. Ask:

  1. What information can be gleaned from a map?
  2. What are the common elements on the maps that you reviewed?

Sample Maps (High School)

Step 3

Discussion & Journal Questions

  1. What is a curriculum Map?
  2. What are the components of a curriculum map?
  3. Why are we mapping at our school?

Consider some curriculum mapping terms and definitions: CM Terms PDF

Step 4

a) Choose one class or prep for your curriculum mapping work. The Curriculum Mapping, Part 2 session will start with your existing map.

b) Consider your entire curriculum, and list the 5-8 most important concepts that you want students to understand.

iPad Apps for Special Education

First off, get online and look at what other folks are discovering. Make it a daily or weekly priority to spend 10 minutes surfing the web for what others are using that might apply to your school context. For a very comprehensive list of where to start your search, begin with NYC DOE’s Apple consultant’s site.

One of her many great recs includes a wiki from a NYS district. Vicki Windman (Clarktown Central School District, NY) has a terrific wiki site for Special Education. She clusters App recommendations by topic (Organization, ELA, ASD, Basic Operations in Math, etc.). She also has attachments at the bottom of the page such as iPad Apps to meet IEP goals that are detailed and well-researched.

The trick is that schools interested in learning how to integrate iPads into their school communitites need to encourage teachers, tech folks, and administrators to spend the time investigating Apps that will meet their students’ and teachers’ needs.

Some schools create Technology Spotlights in their weekly team meetings where 3-5 minutes of each meeting agenda are given over to one or more team members presenting on new educational technologies they are trying in their classrooms. This practice is a perfect way to build a school’s repertoire with iPad Apps given that it always feels like there is never enough time in the day. Make it part of how business is done, and iPad Apps for Special Education will be part of the fabric of the work rather than an add-on.

Ning and Jing for Education

Due to recent interest and the fact that their names rhymed, I am writing this post to provide updates on two free Web 2.0 Tools used to support professional learning communities in schools.

I have joined and created several Ning networks for education and found it to be a great place to build professional online learning communities. In the last 6 months, I have not been active in those networks but recently visited the site again to check in, and this is what I found.

Ning is becoming a subscription pay service as of July 2011, but Pearson has offered to sponsor small “Mini Ning” communities for education, thereby ensuring that Education Nings can remain free of advertisements. The details can be seen in this blog post: http://education.ning.com/profiles/blogs/pearson-to-provide-ning-mini. The long and the short of it is that for Nings of 150 members or less, it will be free as long as you complete the application form for Pearson: http://go.ning.com/pearsonsponsorship/

Jing is an amazing and free tool for creating screenshots and screencasts. The free version of the software allows you to record short videos (up to five minutes) and narrate using your computer’s built in microphone (or an external if you prefer). After you’re finished recording, Jing will share the screencasts via Facebook, Twitter, Screencast.com, or Flickr AND provide a hyperlink for you to share via email, chat, websites, etc.

CNET has a great review of the software which you can check out here: http://download.cnet.com/Jing/3000-13633_4-10744274.html.

Educational organizations tend to use Jing to provide quick How-To videos for disseminating technical knowledge (e.g., how to fill out a new purchase request or budgeting form) as well as instructional knowledge (e.g., how to create an essential question while curriculum mapping).

What’s on my iPad?

My iPad 2 arrived about 6 weeks ago. Despite the fact that the injection of apps and constant connectivity have left my brain awash and adrift in seemingly limitless technological possibility, and despite the fact that I at times feel like a car engine flooded by the overzealous driver’s repeated pedal pumpings, I do really love my iPad.

Below is a list of 5 Apps currently residing on my iPad. I chose 5 that I use daily.

For Taking Notes

I love Penultimate and even was inspired this week to research and order a stylus for my iPad. Even before the stylus arrived yesterday, I was using this App daily to take notes at meetings, make to-do lists, draw with my niece, and send my friends silly notes via email just because. As of June 2011, the App costs $1.99 and is worth the splurge.

For Ruling the World (or at least my computer)

Logmein is a REAL pricey App at $30 bucks, but what it allows me to do is worth the initial investment. On many days, I have been able to leave computer at home and rely entirely on my iPad. I leave my computer on and open at home, connected to the internet, and then as long as my iPad has cell/wireless access, I can see an image of my computer directly on my iPad. This means I can access all files and all software on my iPad without having to upload to the cloud or purchase mobile versions of Beta software in order to reproduce computer functionality on my iPad. Way too cool!

Kindle for Your iPad

While the world decides on the best hardware for eReaders (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.), I’m taking full advantage of the FREE Kindle software for my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad. I have both iBooks and Kindle at the moment (software), and I find that I’m more apt to open a book on Kindle than iBooks. Not sure why yet, but the result is that I really love my free Kindle software. I have a few free books and a couple I’ve paid for through my Amazon account.

Top-“Selling” Free Apps for Education

One of the most fun Apps I downloaded is PaintSparkles. It is very, very simple and very, very fun. My niece and I spent all last weekend drawing, practicing letters and numbers, and generally just admiring the very simple and memorizing sounds and graphics that follow the movement of the finger as it draws on the iPad touch screen.

PBS Kids is a slam dunk. Free and wonderful. Just download it.

 

 

A recent NYTimes Article publishes a list of the best children’s books on iPads. Definitely worth a read! (Link to article)

Book Talk: One Year to an Organized Life

I found this book under the Christmas tree this year, already unwrapped with it’s shiny blue cover beckoning.

My mother had asked for this book for Christmas, but seeing as she had to go right back to work after Christmas I seeing as I had been snowed into Vermont for 4 days longer than I had expected to be, her new-found Christmas treasure and I became very well acquainted in the week after Christmas.

So the idea is super gimmicky. I love it! Every month you focus on a new organizational skill and a different room in your house or area of your life. January’s skill is time management and January’s focus area is the kitchen. Before I say more about how this book has become the Brita system for my life’s proverbial water, I’ll tell you one more thing about the set-up of the book. Each week, Leeds assigns you a task that is part reflective and part action-oriented; on average the week’s task takes 1-2 hours.

I am proud to say that yesterday, one day before the month’s end, I finished the tasks of Chapter One (January), and the kitchen in my house is now in much better shape. I can’t say it’s exactly how I want it, but then again, imposing order on an entire kitchen’s worth of stuff is more than a month’s worth of organizing and thinking. I can say that my bags of chips now have a happy home in a Muji storage unit fit for the task, and my cupboards are no longer bursting at the seams with oil, vinegars, and chipped coffee mugs.

One interesting byproduct of the month’s “work” is my relationship to time management. I’m generally an organized and goal-oriented person, but the exercises in the book were helpful in identifying where I was spending time that had nothing to do with my life’s goals. Interestingly, I hadn’t been thinking lately about what my goals were, and I found that having a chance to write them down pushed me think about them really productive ways.

Here’s one last plug for the author and book: I’m getting my financial act together at the same time as I’m getting my house in order. The day after Christmas while I was reading my mom’s copy of the book, I said I’ve got to have this for myself! I went to book store with my cousins and sister in tow, and alas, the store didn’t have a copy of the book. To my good fortune though, they did have One Year to an Organized Financial Life. Not usually my thing, but I thumbed through it and decided maybe it was time to invest. Bought the book, and guess what? I like it even more than the Organized Life book! I even redid my entire filing system in my house and organized all my tax information from 2010 and have started the paperwork to start my own small business. Pretty cool! Definitely worth poaching from a friend or loved one who may have left their copy momentarily under the tree 🙂

Gifts from the universe

3fish2The treasures hidden from plain view are within reach. Here in New York, they seem to be placed carefully and rather blatantly along the path I tread. The universe in my experience usually is not so kind with its placement of said wisdom and treasures. Still I wait for time and age to bring me more of these gifts, but for the few I have now, I thank the cosmic forces that make them available to me.

A friend sees the world at present through the lens of David Foster Wallace who shares the story of two young fish swimming through the water. An older fish swims by, and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” and they reply in the affirmative. After the older fish passes, the young fish turn to one another and ask: “What the hell is water?” The cosmic, aquatic punchline being that in front of us the jewels of wisdom abound. They have been place secretly within our grasp, and in our youth, we pass them by unable to see what is in plain view.

Another friend and recently acquired mentor says she listens intently and accepts the wisdom of the gifts the universe bestows upon her–whether they initially present themselves as such.

Without full wisdom, we experience almost entirely the pain, sadness, frustration, and agony of the beautiful struggles the universe showers upon us. How can we be fully open to these struggles before the wisdom of each decade makes itself available to us? I so often crave the wisdom that I know will come with more days and years making meaning of the experiences here on this earth. And yet in the recent bounty of realization upon realization born through the beauty and agony of struggle, I am grateful.

And the other gifts beyond struggle? They are present, too. Forgiveness, acceptance, and appreciation. Every day we are capable of giving these to ourselves and to others. I feel so grateful to have a husband and to have close friends who have given me these gifts. The best things in life are free–hard-fought and not without struggle but free to give and receive.

The ever present discussion

As a white person, I lag behind my peers in my understanding of my own cultural and racial identity. In working as an educator in city schools, I have begun to build cultural competencies that I didn’t develop growing up in rural, white Vermont. I am deeply humbled by what I do not know about myself in relation to my own racial identity even as I consciously and constantly endeavor in my public and private lives to communicate effectively and empathetically across difference.

A friend directed me to a post this morning, and the author’s questions, dispositions, and background in many ways mapped directly onto my own. In the quote below she tries to reconcile her anti-racist values and activism with her skin color:

How do I utilize my White body, my White voice, my White privilege? No, but REALLY? Oppressed people did not choose to be oppressed. I choose to go against Whiteness in the ways that I know how and I am still learning, but it will never be enough. Ever. No matter how much I “choose”. Every second of my life I will continue to benefit and no matter how much I try to push up against my Whiteness it will just laugh at me.

I read this passage several times as well as the comments others posted in response. The writing elicited an intensely emotional albeit intellectual response. When it comes to white people and race it is always a choice. Born in this skin, I get to choose when to acknowledge that the rules of the game are fixed in my favor. It was my choice to leave Vermont and live in cities and work with non-white students and colleagues. Working for social justice is my choice, on my terms, whenever I feel inspired or compelled, I choose to engage in anti-racist activities. This is a privilege exclusive to white folks, and I am one of those white folks. No matter how often I choose to engage in anti-racist work, it is still a privileged choice.

It is hard to put the resulting grief of this realization into words. My choices have been just that: choices–active decisions to do something and in this case social justice and anti-racist teaching and advocacy. Those conscious choices are as much foundational to my identity as the food, language, values, and experiences I had growing up white and “country” in Vermont. To complete the thought, the realization of just how white and privileged I am, especially in the way that I engage in social justice or anti-racist work, is devastating. Going back to the blog post referenced above as the author talks about white guilt and white grief:

I also think that grief is a great word to use when talking about Whites relation to our past, present and future. How can we not feel at some level, grief? We have failed so many children in the school system, imprisoned so many men and women, infiltrated drugs into communities tearing apart family structures. On a deeper level I think people DO feel grief although I think others would argue that that isn’t possible since our actions persist. But,grief isn’t a comfortable feeling to sit with or examine either.

AND

I Googled images of slavery to put at top because the root of our guilt comes from slavery, although we should not forget about Native American genocide either. I was surprised how few of the pictures had White people in them, very few illustrated White participation. That struck me. How detached we are from our past. Who lynched Black men? Who tore families apart? Who allowed and at times facilitated their husbands rape of Black women? We did. When we learn/teach about slavery how do we fail to emphasis that? Slavery was not just an event in time. The actions of White people established a foundation that has influenced our past, present and future. It is okay to talk about that. It is okay to be ashamed of that. Vulnerability might be our only option and most valuable tool to destroy what we built.

I can tell you vulnerability is the word of the day for me. Remaining open to this discussion is painful, and while it feels right, it also feels futile. This has to be an ever present discussion (I lifted that phrase from the blog as well; it has profound significance for me today). It seems that I don’t understand the goals or the nature of my work and my life after all, maybe all I can hold on to is the commitment and desire to make this discussion and development ever-present everyday.