As we reimagine curriculum at Sammamish High School around a comprehensive problem-based learning approach, we find ourselves reimagining the bounds of the classroom and the singular nature of The Teacher. One way that we have been expanding the classroom and the role of the teacher is through expertise. In ninth grade AP Human Geography, a full-inclusion class, the use of experts has increased students' motivation within challenge cycles, as well as given students a view into various careers in or related to geography.
In the fall of 2006, Clarence R. Edwards Middle School ("the Edwards" as it is known locally within Boston Public Schools) became one of the first schools in the state of Massachusetts to implement the Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Initiative. The reasons why were simple: we were not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and we wanted to make significant academic gains with our students. As it turned out, making our school day longer was one of the best things we could have done to help reform our school model and improve student outcomes. Our statewide exam scores, student enrollment, daily student attendance rate, community and family engagement, and time for team teaching/collaboration all improved as a result of ELT.
As we near the end of the school year, it's time to take stock of our efforts in teaching, learning and leadership, and how well they’ve worked. We should also be looking at what has or has not worked in regards to engaging all of the families in our school community.
The video series A Year at Mission Hill has continued to encourage discussion, gather support, and inspire offshoots of wonderful new content, like "Line One, Page One," a compelling and poetic video produced by UK Filmmakers Veez Nixon and Christian Britten for Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative, as part of a video series to complement Mission Hill. And if you haven't seen it yet, it's also worth a visit to the excellent Prezi on Mission Hill, which continues to expand as more chapters are released.
Anthropologist and humanist Ashley Montagu stated: "Love is profound involvement in the well-being of others." Several weeks ago, I experienced this kind of love in West Humboldt Park, an impoverished, gang-and-violence-infested inner city Chicago neighborhood.
The film Won't Back Down is scheduled to open in wide release on September 28. Yet, weeks in advance of this date, there has been a veritable deluge of extremely strong emotional and critical responses. Both the film and the responses deserve our attention, because they are each symptomatic of the polarization that is plaguing both public education and national politics in this country. Every teacher and parent should see the film, but should also be fully prepared to view it critically.
Though I've long been intrigued by the idea of design thinking, it was the recent launch of a "Design Thinking for Educators" workshop here at Edutopia that compelled me to learn more about it. What I found is that design thinking can be a powerful tool for problem-solving in any discipline -- and what's more, it's hands-on, creative, collaborative, optimistic, and fun.