Melissa Alvarez, 15, spent her summer imagining how to transform an eyesore of a vacant lot in her hometown of Philadelphia. Thanks to her vision -- plus some useful advice from architects and a graphic designer -- the gritty urban space is about to be turned into an outdoor canvas where everyone from muralists to taggers will be welcome to express themselves through art.
My first year teaching a literacy coach came to observe my classroom. After the students left, she commented on how I asked the whole class a question, would wait just a few seconds, and then answer it myself. "It's cute," she added. Um, I don't think she thought it was so cute. I think she was treading lightly on the ever-so shaky ego of a brand-new teacher while still giving me some very necessary feedback.
So that day, I learned about wait/think time. And also, over the years, I learned to ask better and better questions.
It is an unfortunate reality that where a student lives plays a significant role in determining how well she will do in school. Education leaders are actively looking for strategies to address the particular challenges faced by students from low-income communities. Pathways to Postsecondary Success: Maximizing Opportunities for Youth in Poverty, a recently completed five-year study from UC researchers, outlines five key findings as the things "that matter most for understanding and improving low-income students' success in post-secondary education."
Visit schools where project-based learning (PBL) is taking hold and you are almost certain to see teachers collaborating. They may be meeting face-to-face to plan projects, using critical-friend protocols to improve projects, looking at student work together, or even teaming up virtually with project partners in other time zones.
Being back in the classroom has given me a refreshed perspective. Below, I would like to share with administrators some helpful observations and suggestions that may improve your relationship with the teachers you serve.
In honor of October's most awesome of holidays, I am going to begin a three-part series about the gentlemen zombie's choice of cuisine: the 'tween brain. However, I need to be frank. I'm not going to be able to teach you deeply about the 'tween brain here. I'm not a neurologist. What I am going to do is make an argument, hopefully a darn good one, as to why you should educate yourself further about it.
In my last post I suggested that equitable schools are those that contribute to happiness in children. Now I'd like to offer some suggestions for actions that school leaders and teachers can take in order to cultivate happier schools.
More than 20 years of teaching and leading schools that rely on project-based learning (PBL), I have heard many untruths stated as "PBL gospel." These fallacies survive as myths that get in the way of opportunities for students to learn and prepare for the world outside of school. To counter these logical fallacies, I have created a list of the most common fallacies and provided arguments for debunking each.
This year has begun with a lot of discussion about how Common Core will affect instruction, curriculum, and assessment, conversations that usually circle up to the intended outcomes of our K-12 education system. In my district in Oakland, CA, we aim to prepare students to be "college and career ready." Explorations of the achievement gap and structural inequities also point to ways in which some of our students (primarily low income black and Latino students) end up at a disadvantage when competing for jobs after going through our schools.