Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Tribe by Sebastian Junger: Book Club Meeting Summary from 10/25/17

This morning the ECV PD Book Club had an excellent discussion about the ideas Sebastian Junger raises in his book: Tribe. Some of the main points we discussed were:

  • We feel disconnected from our students and each other.
  • What do we do/have that shows we are part of the same tribe here at ECV?
  • Lack of balance in our lives and how people use technology is contributing to this feeling of disconnection.
  • Work is stressful--we have many demands on our time and attention. It's easy to become isolated when everyone is so busy.
  • We want a community where everyone knows they are valued and needed, but we are guarded, and that keeps us from fully trusting each other.
  • The book discusses the unification that happens in communities in the wake of disasters (natural and man-made).
  • We don't want to have a traumatic event, but we do want to build more community--especially among our staff members.
  • Our school used to have more get-togethers, and that helped build trust and community. We have gotten away from that. We should strive to get together more--outside of work--and just get to know each other better. This is an important step toward showing each other that we are on the same side--we are part of the same tribe.
Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Innovator's Mindset: ECVHS PD Book Club, Discussion 1 Notes #IMMOOC

Thanks to Amber, Sheilah, and Steve for your participation in a great book club conversation this morning in the library! Just as a quick summary of the talking points of our discussion:

  • Our use of technology leaves a lot of room for innovation. We frequently use our Chromebooks as expensive pencils.
  • Being a creative educator is challenging, given the system we are operating in. We could be experimental, but at the end of the day we still divide classes into periods, we still have to issue grades, we still have nearly 40 students in our classes. Factors like these make innovating difficult.
  • Perhaps our school system (district, state, country) is not build with learning as the focus. That is, perhaps out education system isn't designed for learning and for learners. If it were, it would look different. We would collaborate with other teachers differently. We would have a different number of students. We would give students feedback differently.
I hope to see more ECVHS PD Book Club members at our next meeting on 3/29 in the library (calendar invite coming soon).

Also, George Couros is having another Innovator's Mindset MOOC, which started on Monday, February 27th. You can view the conversation here, as well as a few guiding questions. We used some of those questions to drive our fantastic conversation this morning.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Discussion Notes from 11/30/16: Teaching with Poverty In Mind by Eric Jensen

The ECV PD Book Club had a great discussion last week around the ideas presented in Jensen's text. Some of what we discussed include:

  • Long term poverty has a significant impact on the brain's development. Living with the chronic stress of poverty causes the over-development of the amygdala (emotions, fight/flight/freeze) and the underdevelopment of the frontal cortex (long term planning, behavior regulation). 
  • There are only SIX hardwired emotions: sadness, joy, disgust, anger, surprise, fear (anyone ever see Inside Out?). Everything else (humility, empathy, optimism, patience, cooperation) needs to be taught!
  • Having high expectations for the academic capacity of all students, especially students living in poverty. Often, the behaviors students living in poverty present lead teachers to believe that they are apathetic or that they don't care about their future, when in reality we are only seeing symptoms of what happens to an individual living with the chronic stress of long term poverty.
  • Many examples were in the text showing schools experiencing success working with a high poverty student population. Those schools shared the fact that they had a plan (like our SPSA) and a staff who knew the plan, believed in the plan, and worked to implement it.
We also shared personal stories and examples from our teaching careers that applied to what we learned from the book. Please share your insights below so we can continue the discussion!

Thank you,

Friday, October 28, 2016

Teaching with Poverty In Mind: Fall 2016

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Our text for the Fall 2016 semester is: Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen. We had a great discussion on Wednesday to set the stage for reading the book.

Our next planned meeting is November 30th, 2016 at 7:30am in the ECVHS Library. Please try to read as much of the book as you can between now and then.

As for our meeting this past Wednesday, here are the notes from that meting:

How is poverty currently affecting our students?
  • Not thinking ahead: parents not re-applying for free and reduced lunch. Some districts do this automatically.
  • Do poverty and language issues go hand in hand?
  • Students coming to school tired from working: Sleepy students while at school.
  • Stress that looks like apathy. Adults under stress may not be their best, we see the same from adults. They seem like they “don’t care,” but it might be a stress issue.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is affected by poverty and who isn’t.
  • Is poverty relative for students who may be coming from extreme poverty in other parts of the world?
  • The mentality of: “I just get what I get--I must accept my circumstances.”
What have you done to mitigate the effects of poverty?
  • Teach critical thinking skills? Is there a difference in critical thinking skills between students living in poverty and students not living in poverty?
  • Is poverty related to parenting quality?
  • With good things: focus on a problem and how it was solved (turning a problem into a good thing).
  • Can flipping the classroom be part of the solution? Lectures on their own time, working on projects and group work in time.

Please feel free to respond to this post, or the text itself, in the comments section.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Designing Groupwork

In the spring of 2016, our PD Book Club read Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom, 3rd edition. This post seeks to summarize/paraphrase some of the major points that we discussed.

  • The point of the groupwork should be to facilitate conceptual thinking.
  • A groupworthy task is one that
    • has students struggle. A primary goal is to design groupwork that leads students to discover concepts.
    • affords students the opportunity to use the language to build knowledge.
    • requires/facilitates interaction among all group members (currently, many group projects are tasks that could be done individually). Students need to build listening and speaking skills in small groups to facilitate using language as a learning tool. (NGSS: "students need to be able to examine, review, and evaluate their own knowledge as well as critique those of others" (15)).
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  • The group has the necessary resources to complete the assignment successfully:
    • cognitive skills (such as working together vs. side-by-side)
    • linguistic skills (and linguistic scaffolds)
    • relevant information (hello information literacy!)
    • and clear instructions.
  • Conceptual vs. algorithmic tasks:
    • conceptual: work that requires students to verbally share their understanding of concepts (the comprehension of the concept, and expressing that comprehension, is the key element of of the task--not necessarily the the end product alone).
      • "Putting concepts into words in the context of explaining to a peer is particularly helpful for concept attainment (Durling & Shick, 1976). 11
    • algorithmic: tasks that could be completed individually, but having students do it in groups instead (so, students divide the task and complete their individual parts--no real interaction required).
  • Explicit instruction/practice in how groups learn together:
    1. new behaviors labeled and discussed (helpful/unhelpful behaviors)
    2. students learn to recognize when new behaviors occur.
    3. students are able to use labels and discuss behavior in an objective way.
    4. students have a chance to practice new behaviors (that are useful/helpful to the goal of the group).
    5. new behaviors (that are useful/helpful to the goal of the group) are reinforced when they occur.
  • Form groups heterogeneously: multiple ability levels/types within groups.
    • This is important to help students build skills of cooperation (skills many adults lack).
  • Preventing dominance: see page 54 of the text.
  • Tasks should not be too complex. Learning from group activities comes from the interaction/discussion that the group undertakes. If students are confused by a difficult task, this will detract from learning.
  • Avoid "collaborative seat work".
  • Equal exchange model: "...strive to create a situation that encourages as much talk among the members of the group as possible" (65). 
  • Evaluate for individual and group accountability.
Designing Groupwork:
  • closed: well defined task to arrive at a predictable or predetermined answer
  • open: "...provides opportunities for students to access the instructions and the information required to engage in the task, facilitate equal status participation, and allow students to demonstrate the multiple intellectual abilities and the different academic and social skills they use to complete the task successfully" (68).
  • Let students discover the concept: "Remember that an orientation is only that; it's best not to preteach the content of the group task. Students need to explore the questions or conduct the inquiry you had planned in the first place" (71).
  • Groupworthy Tasks (page 85):
    • open ended, productively uncertain, require complex problem solving
    • provide opportunities for students to use miltiple intellectual abilities to access the task and to demonstrate intellectual competence
    • address discipline-based, intellectually important content
    • require positive interdependence and invidual accountiability
    • include clear criteria for the evaluation of the group's product and of the individual
  • Sample:
  • Sample: Devine's play project.
  • With instructions, don't provide too much detail; that numbs students intellectual curiosity. Instead "...pose questions for students that will stimulate them to discuss, to experiment, to discover, to use trial and error, and to develop solutions for themselves" (95).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

ECV PD Book Club Meeting 4/20/16 @7:30am in the Library

We are going to hit the ground running at our next ECV PD Book Club meeting! We just received copies of our new text: Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom, 3rd edition.

During our first meeting on April 20th, book club participants are invited to discuss the first 3 chapters of this text (pages 1-40). Please come with discussion questions, or add discussion questions below this blog post as you think of them.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

ECV PD Book Club Meeting 1/20/16 @ 7:30 in the Library

At our last meeting, we decided to complete our reading of Culturally Responsive Teaching by breaking up the final chapters amongst ourselves. Please come to our next meeting on January 20th ready to share your final thoughts on this text, or add your final thoughts in the comments section below. One thing we should think about: What should our next text selection be? Think about it. See you all soon!
  • Readers (summarize and share your insights):
    • Chapter 4: Sedore
    • Chapter 5: Millican
    • Chapter 6: Michelson
    • Chapter 7: Devine
    • Chapter 8: All group members
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