Celebrating the Convergence of Powerful Practices
Convergence: When two or more things come together to form a new whole. Convergence comes from the prefix con-, meaning together, and the verb verge, which means to turn toward.
Inherent in our mission and vision are the high expectations we have for all of our students. We’ve used that tenet to plan and create professional development for our staff which has promoted those practices that will support the development of our students. Specifically, we’ve looked to:
- Build curriculum which develops deep understanding and is responsive to all students.
- Support Instructional practices which engage, incite, and utilize the tools of learning.
- Support the creation of flexible learning environments that support both individual and collaborative learning
In Brighton, this isn’t just about technology, or new furniture or providing students with interdisciplinary experiences…all of these things become interwoven and seamless to the learning that’s going on. In the area of curriculum, teachers have been designing common units of study which helps focus curriculum and teaching on the development and deepening of student understanding and transfer of learning. In addition, we’ve been learning about the importance of making that curriculum responsive to all of our students. This means that we need to take time to know our students, make sure what we’re teaching them is relevant to them and give them voice to talk about the powerful ideas they are learning. As we look to our preferred instructional practices, we support those which engage, incite, and utilize the tools of learning. Specifically we promote pedagogical techniques which integrate the disciplines, make thinking visible, support inquiry and individualization and utilize technology to support the implementation of differentiated learning environments.
The purpose of our work in "Advancing Learning Spaces" is to design classrooms that are student-centered. These are classrooms where
- Spaces are flexible
- Students make choices
- Thinking is visible
- Students enter different modes of learning: Group, small group and individual modes of learning.
We celebrate the convergence of these practices into authentic experiences where students learn about the world and how to make a difference.
So, where do we go from here? Continue supporting the learning and application of these positive practices across all classrooms while layering in our learning about social emotional health because in order to achieve our mission and vision that our students need to be prepared for professions and life experiences that we have not yet imagined.
by BCSD Year Published: by BCSD Teachers Year Published:
In these examples we see…..
1.The purposeful inclusion and labeling of diverse literature in Lanni Maserowski’s room.
2.As part of their early explorer unit, 7th grade Social Studies students evaluated the myth of the Thanksgiving holiday, focusing on how Native Americans are either stereotyped or excluded from the telling of the story. They also read Native American perspectives about the Thanksgiving holiday, Students evaluated children's books from Brighton libraries and recommended to the librarians if the book should remain in the collection, basing their decision on historical accuracy and consideration of the Native American perspective. And finally, they wrote their own children's books, telling the story with historically accurate details and the inclusion of the Native American perspective. These books were then shared with fifth graders at FRES.
In the bottom pic we see students in Laura Clancy’s Rach and Rhetoric class produce authentic podcasts on a current issue of their choosing. This followed their study of civil discourse, understanding ones own implicit/unconscious bias, and the use of media to promote that discourse Working in groups students researched self selected topics and then created podcasts to share what they found. In this podcast students researched affirmative action in college admissions processes and then presented their findings along with a discussion of their opinions on the practice.
by BCSD Teachers Year Published:
In these examples we see 2nd graders in Cathy Bambury and Adele Linton’s classrooms participating in a STEM project which came about as a result of the removal of the rainbow playground. As students observed their playground being taken down by the construction workers, they read The Important Book and wrote poems about the playground as a way to cope with losing their play area. They wrote their own narratives and created video presentations using green screen technology so that they could impose themselves on the former playground. In addition, the students learned about playground structures, safety elements, and construction and were then tasked with designing their own playgrounds which they presented to Mr. Tappon for his review.
Kindergarten – Cubetto - Using Cubetto and his grid map to create a story adventure using beginning, middle and end. Students used the coding system to make Cubetto follow the story lines. They had to consider patterns, find connections, employ mathematical principles and create solutions. As students worked through a beginning, middle and end to tell the story they wrote code to each part of the story to make Cubetto follow.
And finally, we can’t talk about instructional practices without mentioning differentiation. The increased access to technology has allowed our teachers to individualize learning for our students more than ever. In these examples we see….
Students in Karen Flynn’s 10th grade English class selected from almost twenty different options to demonstrate their understanding of concepts taught through a Tale of Two Cities. Projects included the creation of newspapers, board games, greeting cards, videos, and essays comparing and contrasting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Declaration of Independence. In this example, two students have written an original song combining two genres of music, pop and rap.
In our last example Colleen Hall shares her incites into the role technology plays in allowing her to meet the individual needs of her students.
by BCSD Teachers Year Published:
In Rachel kosoff’s 4th grade classroom students utilize wiggle seats, chairs on wheels, soft seating, and floor space to work independently, in small groups, and even in larger groups. After instructions are given, students have the freedom of choice to sit (or stand!) in a spot that meets their needs. Some students gravitate towards one type of seating, and others vary their choices based on the activity. It’s amazing to see students advocate for their learning needs.
In Keri Welling’s 7th grade math classroom students routinely work in groups to solve math problems. In this example the class was sorting integer addition expressions. Each group had to justify how they chose to group the 8 expressions. Routinely teachers report that, when using thinking wall such as in this math class, students who don’t normally participate are more inclined to write on the white boards and share their thinking with the group. In this example, once individual groups were finished the class did a carpet campfire to share different ideas and used them to generalize addition rules for positive and negative integers.
We see the same above in an 8th grade SS class. According to this teacher…The biggest thing she noticed was the increased level of engagement of students. When she’d done jigsaw activities in the past, and students were typing on their own screens and there was much less conversation. She’s noticed students verbally participating now who usually sit in the background and stay quiet during group work. She’s also noticed that students being much more thoughtful of what they are choosing to write down- knowing it will be shared out with the whole group, or taken back to their small groups. The ability to move the whiteboards allows students to bring their thinking from expert groups back to their original groups when doing jig-saw activities. It also lets me know at a quick glance where any misconceptions lie and use strategies to ensure the "expert groups" have a strong understanding of the content before going back to teach their original group members.
by BCSD Teachers Year Published:
And finally, we celebrate the convergence of these practices into authentic experiences where students learn about the world and how to make a difference.
Katie Fallon - 1. Buckland Park Collaborative project- My class teamed up with Robyn Ackerman, Ashlee Rhodes, Katie Covert, and Maria Katsetos for a hands-on action based project. We posed the question: "The town of Brighton purchased 26 new acres of land next to Buckland Park- what should we do with it?" Students researched community use of land, designed the space wrote persuasive letters, and collaborated with partners at each school. Each classroom had a different role in the project. Katie applied for a School Seedling grant which supported the purchase of 50 white spruce seedlings. Here we see a flyer inviting parents and families to come to Buckland Park and plant trees together. (Students are working with George Smith at BHS and the Lorax Club to join them. The projects are currently being displayed at the Brighton Public Library for families to go see. It was a very rewarding experience, and we're looking forward to the tree planting!
In 8th grade SS, Adrienne Forkens students are learning about the Non-Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust. Students learned about the types of rescue that occurred in Nazi-occupied Europe and considered the moral and ethical choices that non-Jews made in order to help Jews survive. They also related the terms bystander, victim, and perpetrator to the Holocaust and to their own lives. The unit also incorporated the local connection to rescue efforts with the Fort Ontario Refugee Center. This study was inspired by the Antisemitism professional development that she attended a few weeks ago by the Echoes and Reflections organization.
Michelle Oravec's class participated in a world-wide St. Patrick's Day math project. 256 classes enrolled in the project with the goal of proving or disproving the hypothesis- There are more green clovers than any other shape in a box of Lucky Charms. The students sorted, counted and graphed their individual class data and submitted their results to the website where it was shared with classrooms around the world. The students then wrote and solved word problems that were generated by all of the classrooms using the collective data. Because of the collaboration between over 200 classrooms, the number values were much larger than is typically a part of the 2nd grade curriculum.. The students also enjoyed looking at the map to see the location of the other schools that participated.