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!