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.

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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.

Equity & Leadership in Urban Schools