school reform

Changing Teaching from Within: Teachers as Leaders

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Author: Ann Lieberman & Linda Friedrich

Summary: For sites and individuals interested in exploring why teachers become leaders in their schools and communities and how they move into positions of leadership, this paper and accompanying slides provide a rich and in-depth look at stories from a research study of NWP teacher-leaders recognized as effective models of teacher leadership. Exemplary in its research methodology and rich in detail and examples of collaboration, coaching, reflective practice and professional growth within school reform contexts, these resources could be useful in study groups and a variety of other contexts where teachers seek to learn about teacher leadership and NWP social practices in action.
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Teaching in a Time of Dogs

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Author: Tom Goodson

Summary: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  As most teachers will tell you, there may be no truer statement about teaching. In this essay, the writer reflects on an incident that occurred years ago in his middle school classroom that has continued to serve as a guiding metaphor for “the uncertainty that is the beauty and the challenge of teaching.” In seeking to place students, not standards, as our starting point, this article could serve as an inspiration for teachers–in any inquiry group, institute or professional development program–to reflect on the lives of their students and the dynamic of teaching and learning in their classrooms. 
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The National Writing Project: Scaling Up and Scaling Down

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Author: Joseph P. McDonald, Judy Buchanan, and Richard Sterling

Summary: How does the NWP simultaneously impact individuals and school communities? What can local sites learn about strategies for scaling up their work? Teacher leaders and project directors involved in developing grant proposals, partnerships, or research focused on scaling up professional development or school reform efforts may find this chapter a useful resource and rich perspective on NWP’s successful “improvement infrastructure.” The authors describe what is meant by “scaling up by scaling down”: “to succeed in a new environment, a reform that is spreading geographically must also challenge and, eventually, penetrate habitual practice in new contexts.” NWP has promoted both spread and depth of change via three elements: an annual site review process; specialized cross-site networks; and a commitment to both internal, site-based, practitioner-directed research and external, national, and independent research. These elements, separately and together, enable the NWP to generalize from the diverse experiences of local sites and chart new directions for the work.
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Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century

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Author: Henry Jenkins

Summary: This resource challenges teachers and schools to have conversations about the social skills, technological access, and cultural competencies involved in a connected-learning approach to learning and literacy. Written by Henry Jenkins and members of Project New Media Literacies, it describes “new literacies” that rely on collaboration and networking, and argues that schools have been slow to develop pedagogies that support youth in participatory culture, with its potential benefits of “peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship.” Without school involvement, Jenkins argues, groups of students will be left behind in developing the new skills and competencies needed to succeed “as full participants in our society.” For teacher leaders who want to offer ideas and help their colleagues understand and embrace participatory culture in school settings, this resource is a place to begin the conversation.
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African American Learners Project Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: This collection of readings is intended to inform the thinking and practice of teacher leaders and teacher researchers interested in addressing the racial gap in achievement by expanding their own knowledge base as they seek to enhance the academic performance of African American learners. These texts have supported the contributors as they have examined the history and status of African American education in our nation in the context of the landmark decision rendered in Brown v. Board of Education (1954; 1955). If you desire inspiring readings to further knowledge of social justice or culturally relevant pedagogy, this bibliography offers a place to begin and to build from, adding resources that go beyond its publication date of 2008.
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Book Review: The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning

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Author: Carl Nagin

Summary: This review of George Hillocks’s 2002 book, The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning, is still a relevant read, providing history and research connected to the issues involved in high stakes state writing tests. The review details the validity and reliability of such tests, the scoring processes, the variety of tests from state to state, and the range of knowledge about writing held by teachers who score. Worthy of a teacher book group or a school-wide reading, this review could be used as a gateway to this book written by a distinguished researcher in the field of composition.
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Working with a Mandated Curriculum

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Author: Kelly Lock

Summary: Do you ever feel as if we live in a perpetual state of top-down, mandated pedagogy? How are classroom teachers responding to calls to act on these directives? This is the question Kelly Lock tries to answer as her school district orders an abrupt midyear mandated transition and required change to the writers’ workshop model. This article could be a valuable piece for educators who wish to discuss where we each draw the proverbial “line in the sand.” When do we give the new mandate a whole-hearted try and when do we adapt to include other strategies for the benefit of our students?
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Metaphors, Frames, and Fact (Checks) about the Common Core

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney and Patrick Shannon

Summary: This article offers a critique of the Common Core State Standards by examining its political history and the controlling metaphors on which it is based. It would be of particular interest to a study group or as a resource in a professional development program exploring the politics of mandated curricula as well as the practical and political implications of the Common Core.
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The Birth and Death of Portfolio Assessment

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Author: Pauline Sahakian

Summary: Although this short article is ostensibly about portfolio assessment, the author warns that promising teaching practices will only endure in a school or professional community if mentors facilitate ongoing conversations about the hows, whens, and whys of practice. In other words, regular practices cannot be taken for granted; mentors and facilitators cannot assume new leaders will simply take up time-honored practices.
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Completing the Paradigm Shift to Process Writing: The Need to Lead

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Author: Samuel Totten

Summary: In this article from the NWP Quarterly, Samuel Totten describes the ever slow shift towards teaching writing as a process and some of the barriers teachers and schools face in making the shift. While the article is over a decade old, the issues that keep teachers and schools in a mode of assigning rather than teaching remain as relevant as ever. Teachers exploring their own approach to writing, whether as part of an institute, a one-day workshop, or a study group, could use the article as a jumping off point for discussion of their own teaching of process writing and what structures support or inhibit such an approach.
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