Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bringing in the New Year

Our plan for January '08 celebrations will be a focus on each team. Team Unity has already given an indication of the success experienced in '07, so these pages will be well worth reading. We'll also be including photo slideshows and teacher podcasts. February will feature some web tv!

7 Math Celebrations

by the 7 Math team

  • Voluntary weekend curriculum meetings to make backwards long-term plans for each unit.
  • Common assessments and grading procedures allow us to discuss student data.

On the horizon:

  • Celebrating the efforts of higher achieving students

7 ELA Celebrations

by Jenny Johns

The 7th Grade ELA Team can celebrate:

  1. ELA Test Prep at Saturday Academy: Justice, Integrity and 701, 702 students attended 8 Saturdays of test preparation and skill-building before the January exam.

  2. The 7th grade ELA teachers hosted a gradewide spelling bee on December 18. 50 students participated, and the whole grade cheered them on!

  3. The RAFT lessons during test prep and, thereby, the students' use of RAFT on short answer test questions; 7th grade students improved on average from a score of 9 to a score of 14 points on the writing rubric between the first and second Common Assessment during the test prep unit.

    On the horizon:
  • Gradewide showcase of ELA assessments/projects (in the form of a public speaking contest, performance during the drama unit, or "media that matters" film competition)
  • Videotaping "intervisitations" of ELA teachers (similar to videotaping and debriefs being held with Team Unity and soon to be Compassion) - in this way, we can see best practices of teachers in our Content Area Team and improve our own instruction

Team Integrity Celebrations

by Jose Betancourt

  1. Excellent student behavior.
  2. Successful Saturday Academy Program.
  3. Trip to the "Repertorio EspaƱol" Class: 841.
  4. I-Club After School Program for students who need extra-help.
  5. Punctuality: over 95% of students showed improvement during arrival time.
  6. Most of our classes had 100% attendance during the ELA assessment week.
  7. Positive parents' response when required.
  8. Great collaboration along with Team Justice 7th grade classes.
  9. Positive input, recommendations, and results thanks to Friday's Intervention Support Team meetings (IST).
On the horizon:
  1. Parents' workshops.
  2. Health/Values workshop.
  3. Develop life skills - Washington Mutual (WAMU) Assembly: February 6th.
  4. Sport Teams (volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, etc.)
  5. Trips.
  6. Multicultural Week.
  7. Women's History Month.
  8. Field Day.
  9. Careers Day.
  10. Team Web Page.
  11. Team Monthly Assembly.

Team Compassion Celebrations
by Patrick Blanchard

  • Attendance initiative - absence and lateness reduction
  • Consistent uniform compliance and team wide enforcement
  • Saturday Academy for ELA, Math team planning
  • Compassion teacher-student basketball game
  • Culture, tone and team-building success
  • Fund-raising

On the horizon:

  • Culture Club for students meeting attendance goals
  • Saturday GED/ ESL program
  • Video tape each teacher to improve our teaching
  • Career Fair

Team Unity Celebrations

by Jesse Spevack

  • 97% passing rate for the first quarter because of the "Power of I" grading system.
  • Students re-do work that is not up to standard.
  • I-Club after school extra-help period, every Monday and Friday.
  • Lucky 7's early morning, web-based, academic intervention servicing almost 50 below grade level students.
  • We work on reading and writing using Google Docs, and using for math
  • Monthly progress reports sent home to parents to keep them informed on their child's progress
  • Trip to the Bronx ZooTwo grade wide dances
  • Uniform classroom management system
  • We are now thinking about incentives to add to our management system. Next week we are starting the Unity Dream Team, which will be made up of students in the top 5-10% of section sheet scores. The Dream Team does not have to line up with the rest of the class during transitions. They can also use the bathroom and get water between the first and third bells. There is also talk of a "Dream Team" Badge. Look out because it's going to be loud and proud.
  • Awesome video PD which is almost through its first cycle. Video PD allows all teachers on the team to learn from one another.

On the horizon:

  • Team Unity Talent Show

8 Math Celebrations

by Blair Heiser

  • Our team has created and implemented a consistent curriculum across the grade.
  • Each teacher is using and sharing the same lesson plans, worksheets, and even SMARTboard presentations.
  • All assessments are unified which allows us to track data consistently across the grade.
  • Each teacher is also using, a differentiated online skills curriculum that helps build foundational skills in our students.
  • The 8th grade math department has utilized a Math Wikispace that is used to share all documents with each teacher.
  • 8th grade teachers also use Google Groups to share out materials and update one another on all positive trends within our specific classrooms.

On the Horizon:

  • An 8th grade math competition where students will compete within the classroom to be an ambassador for their class and then compete in an all 8th grade competition.
  • Teacher created online portfolio pieces for each unit of study
  • Specific materials geared towards our high 2s and 3s in the upcoming months to help improve test scores.

8 Science Celebrations

by Melissa Sowin

  • Science339 Wikispaces
  • 4 collaborative units - Scientific Inquiry, Measurement, Living Environment, & Reproduction & Heridity
  • Standards-based Science Assessments
  • Hands-on Lab activities & practicuums

On the horizon:

Boat contest, Science Expo, Science & Technology Center trip

Team Courage Celebrations:

by Chrissy Sa

  • fundraising efforts (bake sale, candy/candle sales)
  • trip to Transit Museum
  • J.V. Girls Basketball Team
  • Varsity Boys Basketball
  • I club

6 Math Celebrations

by Chrissy Sa

  • collaboratively creating Unit tests

Monday, December 17, 2007

December Celebration - Getting Connected

What you'll find in the posts below, and on the links from this site, are descriptions of the journey traveled thus far in the first four months of the 2007-2008 school year. We're celebrating near the mid-point, but we'll also be adding to this collection right up until June 2008.

Ideally, many more people on staff will end up recording successes that can be shared here with everyone.

Why bother? Growth is important, and so is the recording of it. It's uplifting to see that hard work pays off, and it's helpful to know what else can still be done.

Hopefully we're shifting the focus on teaching from merely earning to lifelong learning. We're not just teaching students, but also teaching each other. It's an exciting time, and everyone has taken up the challenge!

Here are the links (so far) to Celebrations Pages:

Setting the framework for 2007-2008:

Getting going with Google:

Building teams:

Technology Set-up:

A focus on teaching:

Focusing on Results:

Cyber Consultancy:

Establishing Routines, Responsibilities, Rigor, Results and Relationships

Mr. Jason Levy (December Daily Notes):

We've established many effective systems, and at this point of the year we must continue to make quality our top priority.

1. September, October, November: Roles, Responsibilities & Routines

  • Roles: What is my function in the school?
  • Responsibilities: What is my job description? What tasks do I do?
  • Routines: What systems and habits do we solidify over time?

2. December through June: Rigor, Relationships & Results!

  • Rigor: How challenging and engaging is our curriculum/instruction?
  • Relationships: How do we develop deep relationships to sustain high functioning teams and classrooms?
  • Results: How do we use/track data to achieve the measures outlined in our goals?

So what makes this year different from any other?

This has been a busy year – there’s no doubting that – but it has also been a productive one. If you compared this to the construction of a house, you’d probably say that the architects have been busy on the plans, the foundations are laid and the frame is up. Sure, the site might be a little untidy, a few tools have gone missing, the tradespeople might be falling over each other at times, and the engineer adds a few new household gadgets each week, but it’s going to be an impressive structure.

Hang on a moment, that’s a terrible analogy.

It’s ironic to be talking about building, given that the focus for the start of the year has been on removing all walls to sharing, accountability and teamwork. That’s right, tearing down the barriers to learning and growth not just for students, but adults as well. This is no easy task given that teaching, historically, can be an isolating experience. In a classroom full of 30 other bodies, you can still be on your own.

So along comes Mr. Levy to announce that you’re no longer on your own – from now on, EVERYONE has to embrace the integration of technology. Great. In an instant, you’ve moved from being isolated to being totally exposed. A techno teacher? Me? I don’t think so.

Nevertheless, we’ve all been thrust out into the world (wide web) together. Instead of walls, we’ll be opening windows. Instead of doors, we’ll be accessing the same domain. We’ll be punching more keys than ever before, and there’ll be no ceiling on our activities.

Not only that, but the coaches have now been absorbed into administrative roles and everything is all about TEAMS. What’s going on? Who’s going to tell me what I should have been doing last week? Is Prinstein still in charge of ELA, and is Bolton still overseeing Math? Someone please explain.

Then we find out that the AUSSIE consultant really will be an Australian consultant – that is, he’ll be perched in front of a laptop on the other side of the planet supposedly helping us from 10,000 miles away (not to mention the time distance). Yeah, sure, we’ll never hear from him again.

Add to the mix a score of new teachers and a few new APs, and we’ve got the makings of a circus. So thank goodness that this ‘circus’ has featured a host of new tricks, some great performers, a cracking effort by the ringmaster, and even a few laughs along the way.

We know you’re feeling tired. You should be. You’ve put in some fantastic work so far this year, and you might not even be quite ready to hear this. Maybe you’re even experiencing a few growing pains, as other teachers surely would be too. We have been stretched in every way possible, discovered things about ourselves that we never knew before, and we’ve started to see our peers in a different light. Sounds like a nasty second dose of puberty doesn’t it? Thankfully it’s just the byproducts of this shared adventure.

At the end of this year, no matter what the final outcomes, at least we’ll all be able to declare proudly that we didn’t stand still. And that’s what this is all about – growth and celebration. Congratulations on your rapid progress this year, and we hope you enjoy reminiscing about some of the triumphs.