Learning about the Brain

Learn how the brain is a muscle that learns and grows.
See an actual brain while learning about what the parts do.
Learning about brain signals and how they move different parts of the body.
The anatomy of the brain – use your two hands to learn and remember.
Learn about neuroplasticity and how the brain grows over time.
Basic brain anatomy helps you understand how to understand and calm our emotions.
Flipping Your Lid – what is happening in your brain when you momentarily flip your lid
Emotions are made in the brain.
Inside Out – considering how the emotions operate the brain.

Inclusivity and Equity Resources – Set 1

Family and community resources for supporting public schools to engage in equity, inclusion, and anti-bias initiatives.

What equity framework might you/your group choose to operate from? – link to Equity Frameworks (Hammond, 2017)

Consider using comprehensive resource sets from organizations like:

The Equity Project Resources Link

Engaging families and community members in a school walk through with a focus on culturally, responsive teaching, school climate, and/or inclusion can be an eye-opening experience to launch an equity initiative in a school and then return to monitor progress toward school-wide goals. A few examples of these walk through tools are linked below.

Teaching Tolerance has been a foundational organization for school communities to engage in deep equity and anti-bias education. See a few highlights of their free online resources below.

One final idea – make it real with stories and short articles. One examples linked below.

How should we sing Happy Birthday? from Rethinking Schools

From Rethinking Schools – Photo Credit Olivia Wise

Anger and Advocacy

We have the opportunity to tap into the wisdom of our feelings.

When I feel angry, I have the opportunity to pay attention to what the feeling might be telling me.

What am I angry about? What important pathway is blocked? What closely held values are being violated or ignored? What conditions need to be changed? What danger do I sense and want to protect myself or others from in this situation?

I have learned over the past year to breath deeply, to pull back my shoulder blades and open up to a more relaxed posture when I sense that anger is present in my body, mind, and heart. My mouth may feel dry, my pulse quickening , and a feeling of heat or general agitation suddenly appear in my body. I am learning to condition my body to respond to anger with curiosity and openness so that I might learn more about the source of this very powerful feeling.

More often than not, the source of my anger is institutional, but it manifests in individual professionals and parents in city schools. I am often angry about the condition of schools, the mindset of adults who see children and families as less than, the insidious nature of privilege and our inability to see and value others who have radically different views and experiences from our own.

I am curious about how we can learn ways to see our anger as productive to justice-centered endeavors. A few starting points are linked below.

Buddhist Peace Fellowship U Mad? Wisdom for Rageful Times

Six Seconds Anger Archives

Blog header image from Getty Images

Emotional Wellness In Schools

Emotions drive our actions, and developing our capacity to make space for exploring our own emotionscapes gives us greater agency in directing our energies in purposeful pursuit of our goals. Becoming smarter with feelings (EQ – emotional intelligence) is a pursuit I have recently devoted a significant amount of energy to both professionally and personally.

I have found increasingly in my work that many schools in America have normalized an enormous amount of toxic stress into the culture of teaching and learning for children and adults alike. The effect takes a toll on school administrators, educators, children, and parents in ways that change the development and functioning of our individual and collective brains, severely impacting opportunities for student learning.

Image from: https://developingchild.harvard.edu

What is also true is about stress in schools is that it can unlock new capacities in both children and adults, depending on their access to knowledge coming from recently established fields such as neuroeducation.

Are you a school administrator or district administrator? Spend 25 minutes in your next meeting with administrators or educators watching and discussing this video:

How to make stress your friend | Kelly McGonigal

McGonigal’s talk alerts us the opportunities that the neurohormone oxytocin releases in us – it stimulates us to reach out to others to whom we feel positively related during times of stress. Research suggests that our bodies are hard-wired to seek out those whom we trust and that responding with empathy and caring to others builds resiliency and may be positively related to many positive health outcomes.

My work in schools and my review of recent research confirms for me that learning the science of empathy, resiliency, and stress is indeed where we need to direct our energy. Attending to emotional wellness in schools is a critical next step for administrators, educators, and parents to take together.

For more resources related to emotional wellness in schools, please visit the Social Emotional Learning Resource Board linked below.

Made with Padlet

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.

Equity & Leadership in Urban Schools