“There’s nothing like the first day of school,” a cooperating teacher said in the first week of student teaching. And she was right. There’s nothing like meeting your students for the first time; seeing nothing but promise and possibility. But it doesn’t take long for those rosy feelings to begin to fade, and for the daunting task of the work ahead to become overwhelming. That’s where we come into view.
We've been busy this fall, working alongside teachers and school leaders, and engaging in projects that help folks hold on to the promise of the first days of school. To keep sight of those possibilities. And to get live support when things get rough. How can we support you?
Exploring global capacities with educators from Tianjin, China
We hosted our third annual Global Capacities Institute at Teachers College last month, and were joined by twenty education professors from Tianjin Normal University in China. The week-long Intensive focused on the key features of 21st century skills and experiential workshops that exemplify ways of bringing learning to life.
The TNU professors were encouraged, equipped, and empowered during their week at CPET. They were encouraged through daily keynote speakers Dr. Ruth Vinz, Dr. Jinjin Wu, Kay Gordon & Sam Shreyar, and Dr. Xiaodong Lin whose content included Teaching in the 21st Century, A History of the Educational Partnership between Teachers College and China, Early Childhood Education in China, and Innovation: How Failure Leads to a Productive Future.
They were equipped by exploring literature through multiple modalities with Literacy Unbound, imagining student publication as a path to authentic audience and focused genres with Student Press Initiative, and experiencing design thinking as a method to implement their learning during the Institute.
They were empowered to move forward with their learning as they visited local schools, observing 21st century teaching in action, followed by a Q&A with school leadership. The TNU team was also able to engage with Mr. Matt Mazzaroppi, principal of CPET partner school Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies, to consider how the social-emotional health of their students can be supported and improved by strengthening school structures to support caring relationships student-to-student, teacher-to-student, and teacher-to-teacher.
One participant summed up the experience by saying, “CPET made a perfect schedule for our study here. All the keynote speakers were really terrific. These lectures and workshops benefited us greatly in both our research and teaching, especially the teaching methods. This institute provided us a completely new perspective. Although we knew the terms ‘activities’ and ‘experiences’ before, the experience at TC [helped us understand] what ‘activities’ and ‘experiences’ can look like in our classrooms. It will be very helpful for our teaching in the future.”
Strategizing school improvement with Georgia's Osborne High School
Leaders from the oldest high school in Cobb County, Georgia joined us in September for the second annual School Improvement Institute. Osborne High School’s learning community is committed to promoting academic excellence by providing a support system that is not usually evident in the traditional high school setting, which was a great fit with our customized approach to professional development.
Osborne identified areas they wished to explore: cultivating strengths in teachers and students, designing the productive struggle, and establishing systems that support struggling students. Our facilitators provided a foundation of morning inspiration by bringing research to life and considering the implications for practice, and an afternoon practice aimed at supporting small group work sessions and developing actions plans. Each day our Osborne colleagues dug deep in the morning and planned strategically in the afternoon.
Osborne leaders identified goals at the start of the institute, including:
When the Institute closed, leaders reflected that they had met their goals, established a strong and flexible plan for implementation, and were headed back with a host of resources to use with teachers. Our connection with these amazing educators deepened, and we can’t wait until the next time we are all together again. Go Cardinals!
Connecting the dots to increase inquiry-based pedagogy & learning
Over the course of the next two years, twenty experienced, new, and pre-service social studies teachers will engage in a research-to-practice partnership to promote women’s history and inquiry-based pedagogy in New York City public school classrooms. The teachers will participate in workshops hosted at the New-York Historical Society’s Center on Women’s History and a pedagogy course on women’s history hosted at Teachers College.
Participants already started engaging with the N-YHS’s Objects Tell Stories program this fall, where they explored a variety of objects from New York City’s colonial period housed in the museum. In October, the vice president of the N-YHS libraries led a workshop on the society’s archival collections, and in November, participants will visit the museum’s new Hotbed exhibit on the history of women’s suffrage in Greenwich Village. In the spring, teachers will use what they have learned in the N-YHS workshops and the women’s history pedagogy course to create their own inquiry-based curriculum unit and implement that unit in their classrooms.
This project aims to help teachers use museums and their holdings to develop historical inquiry, use libraries and archives to find the answers to these inquiries, and increase teacher confidence to implement inquiry-based pedagogy and learning. During the program, participants will incorporate the use of museum artifacts, historical sites, and archival documents in their classrooms to increase inquiry-based learning and the representation of marginalized groups in their curriculum.
Making data meaningful with PS114
Our partnership with PS114 in Brooklyn has been focused on enhancing their teachers' ability to draw upon state test data to guide instruction. To do this, our team helped develop a multiple regression model to test existing school data as predictors of student achievement. Using this model, we identified higher and lower priority indicators of student success to track in order to plan interventions this school year. We paired this model for intervention with an emphasis on improving our own data tracking capacities and when state test proficiency data came in, we supported the school in identifying where classroom-based assessments were more predictive of end of year performance. Using this evidence, we are now working with teachers across grade levels to export these promising practices for use toward cultivating evidence responsive pedagogy.
To inform our continued work with PS114 this fall, we partnered with the school to create detailed state test reports based on the June instructional reports released by the state. These CPET-created reports presented weighted achievement results within and across domains, combined with a nuanced analysis from our data specialist.
Many teachers remarked that these reports provided the clearest and most relevant state test data they had seen. One teacher shared, “In the past, I’ll be honest, I would not even look at the data because it was too hard to read. But this was so clear that I was actually able to understand what the numbers meant for my class.”
Meet the Zankel Fellows!
For nearly 15 years, CPET has sponsored recipients of the Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship as they work in partnership with our Student Press Initiative (SPI), which focuses on helping teachers and school communities to better plan and produce all-inclusive learning experiences that culminate with students publishing their writing.
This year, we are very excited to welcome a new cohort of five fellows - Shannon Alison, Jennifer DeCerff, Alexander Lee, Andrew Ravin, and Andrea Wiley - each with impressive skills and backgrounds, including experience teaching throughout the US and abroad. We are confident each of the fellows selected this year will make wonderful additions to our team.
With support and supervision from our advanced professional development coaches, each fellow will have a unique opportunity to further their knowledge, interests, and expertise by helping teachers and students across the city to share their stories, understandings, and reflections through publication projects with our partner schools. Already in motion this year: a memoir project focused on supporting ENL students in the Bronx in sharing their experiences as immigrants, an ELA project aimed at supporting high school seniors in crafting personal statements for college applications, and a Humanities project which is still in the early planning stages.
Our Zankel fellows will support these projects by collaboratively planning with teachers and assisting in curriculum and publication design. They will also visit classrooms, lead presentations, and provide individual support to students. At the end of the school year, Fellows will also facilitate publication showcases, where students present their writing to the greater SPI community.
Along with projects with our partner schools, fellows will also participate in a CPET center project, which is inspired by their individual passions and will contribute to their growth, as well as our center-wide initiatives. This year, center projects include developing a workshop series to support student public speaking and performance skills, a research study to examine the impact of publication projects on students’ efficacy and performance in writing, and the design of a multi-media platform to share information with prospective schools about the publication process and experience.
Students may have been on vacation, but here at CPET our summer was packed with collaboration and exploration. Here are a few of the things that kept us busy.
Performed a remix of Heart of Darkness
In July, teachers from around the world joined local high school students for our fourth annual Literacy Unbound summer institute, working side by side as "players" to interrogate and challenge Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Collaborating with expert teaching artists, these student and teacher players examined Conrad’s text through multiple modalities, ultimately creating an original immersive performance piece in nine days.
In the two days following the performance, the group partnered with our Student Press Initiative, to produce a player-initiated and player-authored publication, Unbounding and Astounding: Opt In Strategies for Literary Exploration, a guide designed to disseminate Literacy Unbound practices and inspire teachers beyond the summer institute.
Following the performance, players described the profound impact of Literacy Unbound. As one student player put it: "Even though I…go to a school for collaborative studies, never had I ever felt so immersed in collaboration than I did with this process." A teacher player added, "I think the potential for learning there when we’re all trying to make meaning together is so much different from evaluating the way that you make meaning…I’m thinking about it all the time right now." Literacy Unbound will continue to guide educators and students in collaborative literary exploration through classroom-based workshops and coaching throughout the school year.
Explored group dynamics in Nazareth, PA
In August, two of our coaches traveled to Nazareth, PA for an intensive workshop with the ELA teachers of the Nazareth Area School District. This two-day workshop was designed to help grade 7-12 ELA teachers begin a yearlong process of creating curriculum for their courses. The courses are to be both horizontally and vertically aligned not only with state content and skill standards but also with the Global Capacities Framework, a research-based set of habits of mind that were developed by CPET in cooperation with universities and secondary schools in the United States, Singapore, Finland, Australia, and China. The goal of the work in Nazareth was to bring the teachers together and equip them with tools and practices that would aid them in the yearlong design process.
On day one, teachers explored the dynamics of the group and agreed to common practices regarding communication. By engaging with the “Compass Points” team-building exercise, teachers self-identified their strengths and areas of growth in regards to collaboration. Later, after having been introduced to the long-term planning process through the metaphor of a road trip, teachers collaborated in grade teams to make conceptual first drafts of each grade’s objectives and waypoints.
On day two, teachers constructed an understanding of the Global Capacities Framework and the open-source, rapid-prototyping ethos of the nascent Maker Movement subculture, a habit of mind that encourages thinking and learning through collaborative action. With these principles in mind, teachers rapidly drafted performance tasks that we aligned with their grades’ educational objectives, and began the process of backwards planning.
Our coaches will make follow-up visits in the fall and spring semesters to continue to support the Nazareth Schools ELA teachers as they undertake this project.
Equipped teachers with cohesive curriculum
In August, teachers from Brooklyn Landmark Elementary School and Brooklyn Environmental Exploration School participated in a dynamic 4-day curriculum planning and team-building retreat with our coaches. The two schools, one an elementary school and the other a middle school (housed in the same building), partnered to allow for the collaboration of experienced and newer teachers in curriculum building. As the teachers developed engaging project-based units and aligned assessments, they were also able to expand their collaborative curriculum planning skills. The joint K-8 session aimed to develop more building-wide community and a clearer vision of K-8 vertical alignment.
The workshops we facilitated during the retreat inspired shifts in thinking about portfolio use, lesson planning, and project-based assessments. Each teacher left with strong units of study and assessments within a more connected curriculum to be implemented from the start of the school year.
In feedback from the workshops, all participants rated the four days of sessions as meeting or exceeding their expectations. Many expressed that this was an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with their colleagues and prepare for the school year!
Designed the future of global education in Finland
Did you know the distance between Teachers College and the design capital of the world is only nine hours? Three CPET representatives discovered this fun fact as they took off for Helsinki, Finland in July. Over the course of two days, the founders of the Global Learning Alliance (GLA), which includes partners from Singapore, Finland and the Scarsdale District of NY, met to discuss the future of global capacities in the 21st century. Discussions ranged from organizational leadership development tasks such as the creation of a conference council, communications council and research council, to the cross-cultural scaffolding of an international student-centered research project slated to feature at the 2018 GLA conference.
The 2018 GLA conference will be comprised of a consortium of schools and universities from around the world sharing principles and best-practices on world-class education within a wide range of educational contexts. For this reason, the featured cross-cultural research project will entail 12 accounts by four 16 to 17 year old students from Singapore, Finland and the Scarsdale District of NY, who will be working collaboratively on globally relevant cross-cultural solutions to geographically specific issues of wellness. Apart from being able to tackle real world problem-solving, develop and demonstrate global consciousness, leverage intertextual thinking and engage with multiple perspectives across multiple modalities, each student will be invited to meet their international teammates in person to present both their context specific and holistic findings at the 2018 GLA conference. We look forward to the exciting journey ahead as a we all await the launch of the cross-cultural project in the Spring of 2018. So until then, goodbye, heippa and 再见 from the Global Learning Alliance!
NYC Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment Announces "Americanah" as Winner of Inaugural One Book, One New York Program
Excerpt: "Throughout February, New Yorkers voted for the book they want the whole City to read together as part of “One Book, One New York,” and today, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) Commissioner Julie Menin and BuzzFeed announced New Yorkers have chosen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah as the winning book. Nearly 50,000 votes were cast online and at kiosks throughout the New York City subway system, generating a citywide conversation online about which book should win this first-of-its-kind competition. During the next several months, MOME will present a series of free, open-to-the-public events throughout the five boroughs for New Yorkers to gather in discussion of Americanah, and engage with its poignant and timely themes of immigration, feminism, and race.
In addition, the Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) at Teachers College, Columbia University will adapt its Literacy Unbound program to serve the needs of One Book, One New York, dispatching teaching artists to work collaboratively with participants in workshops in all five boroughs. These workshops will encourage artistic forms of self-expression around the themes presented by Americanah. CPET will also release a readers’ guide for group discussion of the book; a curriculum guide that aligns to standards for NYC public high schools; and instructional podcasts for book club facilitators."
Read the full press release via the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment
When was the last time you read a really good book? It’s been a while for me, personally. It can be hard to feel motivated to read a work of fiction when we’re bombarded with the real news, the fake news, lengthy discussions on social media, debates between friends or family members, tweets (both hysterical and horrifying), and so much more. At a certain point, we just collapse underneath it all. But here’s the thing -- in times like this, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is reach for a piece of literature. At a time in which our culture is extremely divided, One Book, One New York has the potential to bring diverse groups of people together through the process of shared reading.
No offense to informational and persuasive writing, but the act of reading narratives allows us all to peek into the lived experiences of others, to see the world from new perspectives, and to locate ourselves as readers in the landscape of the story. Letting the story unfold for us as we finger through the pages of the book, or slide our fingers across the screen, we get to live another’s life, walk a mile in their shoes. And often times, when reading a text that really speaks to us, our first instinct is to want to talk about it with others. Whether it’s small talk among friends, posts in social media, or in more formalized settings like book clubs or courses -- we want to talk about what we’ve read, and what we make of it, and hear what others have to say as well. It is this exchange between the readers and the text that creates a dynamic and (sometimes) transformative experience. When we read as a community, we forge new bonds where once there were boundaries. When we read as a community, we create connections, and increase our capacity for compassion and empathy.
This is why we are so thrilled to participate in the One Book, One New York project, which was launched by the New York City Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment earlier this year. Throughout the month of February, New Yorkers voted on five different texts, and chose Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah as this year's selection. Our goal is to support all of NYC’s readers to engage with the book, and with each other, in ways that bring the book to life. Throughout the three-month reading experience, CPET will be providing a wide range of resources that will be available to all readers. Beginning with our Invitations, readers will be invited to Connect, Question, Contemplate, and Create alongside the text. These Invitations will be shared on our website, as well as through social media under the hashtag #OneBookNY. In addition to the invitations, we’ll be providing resources to support shared reading with book club facilitator guides, promising practices for great book clubs, and even a special podcast series where we talk about the book!
At our core, CPET is a professional development organization, so we have to have something special for all of our teachers! Teachers who want to bring the One Book, One New York selection into their classroom will have all the support they need with CPET’s original, Common Core-Aligned Unit Plan and a free professional development workshop for teachers who sign up.
Stay tuned for more resources, opportunities, and events! Now stop reading this and go get your copy of the book!!!
-- Roberta Kang, Initiative Director
Over the past year, our team has partnered with teachers and schools in the tri-state area, facilitated workshops at the Global Learning Alliance conference in Singapore, and welcomed delegates from visiting schools, including Tianjin University of China, to Teachers College for professional development institutes. To learn more about what we've been up to, we invite you to read through our annual report below.
Date: February 14, 2017
Summary: Incarcerated high school students at East River Academy, which is part of the network of schools on Rikers Island, are learning the Shakespeare classic "Romeo and Juliet" this month, like many other New York City ninth graders. While it's part of the city's public school curriculum, many of the 16-and-17-year-old students at the jail read well below grade level so their teachers said recently they had to get creative.
Excerpt: "With the help of professional development training, offered by [CPET coaches Courtney Brown, Laura Rigolosi, and Uzma Hossain], teachers learned to take a step back from Shakespeare and focus on one big idea: love. The point was to connect students to the big themes in the play, and begin with simpler text. 'Once upon a time I would have just taught Romeo and Juliet,' said Essie Brew-Hammond. 'Now we’ve had two weeks on ‘what is love?’…And they give you their definitions and you're writing it on the board and you’re challenging them.'"
Read the full article at WNYC
Publication: Singapore American School
Date: December 6, 2016
Summary: New this year, the advanced topics program seeks to provide relevant, real-world problem-solving experiences for students. Writing Seminar, the English department’s first AT course, offers a way for students who already have an interest in creative writing to delve deeper into the world of letters, through building a community of writers and spending the spring semester on a collaborative project: a published book. In an exciting new partnership with the Center for Professional Education of Teachers (CPET) at Teachers College, Columbia University, consultants Cristina Romeo Compton and Lora Hawkins were at SAS, working directly with AT Writing Seminar students for a week-long launch of the publication project.
Excerpt: "When asked what she took away from her first week with SAS students, she is effusive. 'I learned from the students,' she says. 'They’re open and honest and candid. They collaborate with one another with respect and collegiality. It’s really remarkable.' Hawkins is impressed with the structure of the AT Writing Seminar course. 'The first semester was based on community building and practicing skills.' What’s innovative about that? 'In certain contexts that behavior gets dismissed as ‘fluffy.’ People ask, ‘why spend so much time building intimacy amongst your colleagues?’ I think the way the students interact with each other justifies taking time to establish those practices and those relationships.'
Read the full article at Singapore American School
As part of this year's Re-imagining Writing: Publishing Beyond the Classroom workshop series, teacher participants worked with their students to build professionally designed, print-based publications for their classrooms.
To showcase their hard work, we're hosting a special event on June 2nd where teachers, students, and school communities will come together to reflect on this process and celebrate the release of each publication. Students will also share select pieces from each of the publications below.
This event is free and open to all who wish to attend!
In Practice is a unique conference that leverages critical reflection, peer to peer discourse, and inspirational workshops to help educators reflect on their school year and begin to turn their sights towards next year in a meaningful and productive setting.
What to expect:
This conference is a free event at Teachers College with limited attendance - register now to reserve your spot!
We hope to see you on June 9th!
Over the past several months, EdLab has been tagging along with CPET's Erick Gordon as he follows his impulse to explore and seek adventure in his role as a teacher, the creator of the Literacy Unbound program, and as a Senior Research Fellow with CPET.
Dr. Gordon's work has been driven by the belief that it's important to create learning spaces that feel less like school and more like places where art, relationships, and an authentic sense of wonder come together. This belief is especially present in his work with Literacy Unbound - a performance program that's not only about presenting media, but also the belief that in voice, body, and movement, there can be a process of constructing understandings.
Perhaps the best way to summarize Erick's work and his impact on students and colleagues comes from one of his former students, Nathan Blom: "...he's best at creating moments of wonder - moments that are going to be etched in people's minds."