What good is sitting alone in your room?
(4. What has been the particular influence of the nominee on students, colleagues, or departmental or divisional instruction?)
Below is a sampling of occasions where I went beyond my classroom to inspire, instruct or investigate:
- Because it is so encouraged by the community at large, there are myriads of opportunities to share experiences, knowledge and activities at Horace Mann.
Issue addressed What I shared with Horace Mann Exhibits Taking our annual Ellis Island role play a step further, I wanted to enfranchise the non-history teachers who participated in the simulation, by giving them the resources and historical context to the activities they oversaw. I created job descriptions for the various positions filled by non-history teachers, enabling science teachers to talk about infectious disease in the medical ward, English and foreign language teachers to explore the vagueness and potential self-incrimination of the language of interrogation in the political investigation room, the guidance teacher was given the criteria that Ellis Island inspectors applied to cull imbeciles and morons from the immigrant stock, and so on. Responding to what I found the last time I put together my work for the Bellet award (2007-8), I realized that there was too little writing in my English curriculum and too much performance anxiety around writing in the classroom. Going back to my training with the Teachers College Writing Project, I pulled out writer's notebooks and started to focus on "process writing" for all verbal questions and strongly encouraged students to revise work after not seeing it for a week. I shared these methods with my English and history department colleagues. Responding to Morgan Yarosh's excellent presentation on memoir, I volunteered to pilot using book groups to test the books suggested by her in my classroom. With Ira observing and using Flik cameras, I worked through a (in retrospect) ambitious and a little naive implementation of the book group model. The mistakes of which really informed my colleagues about how best to implement book groups and how well memoir works in this model (very very well). Responding to my eighth grade history colleagues' frustrations surrounding their students' inabilities to cite information or format meaningful bibliographies, I decided to create scaffolded materials that would help seventh graders reappraise the importance of proper annotation in research. Working with librarians Rachael Myers and Pamela Starobin, I created a packet impressing upon seventh graders the importance of finding and using good source materials and I designed worksheets to help them find the right information towards making annotated bibliographies. Though the New York history course had come about as a textual complement to the Ric Burn's epic documentary on New York City history, showing the videos resulted in students scrambling for answers in the dark and not getting the big picture of the history the film was trying to impart. Redesigning the video guides that accompany the ten sections of the film that we use in the course, Della Brooks and I completely changed the format and tasks required so that students have more time to focus on the film, more resources (like verbatim quotes, a time line and vocabulary definitions) provided to them and understand the bias of the filmaker as well. CES workshops on framing oral arguments, note taking and peer listening skills. At a joint MD history and English department meeting I made several demonstrations and took questions. We needed an activity that would enable sixth graders to sort out spurious web resources from bona fida ones, organize their findings using graphic organizers, work as teams to cover broadly based questions about disparate pre-Columbian societies and to develop compelling cases using found evidence to convince us that their researched society is a civilization. I created a PreColumbianWebQuest that had been used for three years running across the sixth grade. The curriculum has since changed to better support the seventh grade scope and sequence. Frankenstein was taught for many years in the seventh grade. In our classrooms we would discuss and debate the issues it raises regarding sanity versus insanity and the moral questions surrounding engineering life. Inviting Dr. Kathy Howard to talk about genetic engineering and Dr. Jeremy Leeds to discuss the mental state of Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, we held a panel discussion with the entire seventh grade in Gross Hall. Trying to reinvent the typical Martin Luther King, Jr. Day school observance, Jose Leonore, Robin Ingram and I created a division-wide activity that took quotes of the late Dr. King and asked students to respond to them. The responses were posted throughout the middle division and a few were read before the entire assembled middle school. Building interest in Mandarin Chinese in the seventh grade, I undertook to add to Allen Schroeter's weekly offering of wisdom through a Latin saying at morning meeting. I would take turns with Allen by offering ancient Chinese wisdom in the form of a Chengyu which was then posted around the middle division. Creating a way for seventh graders to better use the city as an historical resource, I met with a fifth of the seventh grade on a Sunday morning to lead them on an optional walking tour. The tour had ten stops and reiterated and/or previewed content from the entire first trimester of the course. It followed three story plot lines and explored some of the patterns and themes of history that the course follows as well. Over the past summer I worked with the MD English department to structure a website that organized and made accessible to the department a whole slew of grammar worksheets, collated by content area, level of difficult and each grade's scope and sequence The wiki was uploaded as GrammarMann and featured several pages of instructions designed to get everyone competent with the site and to provide guidelines so that the resultant pages all print out in a standardized format. Desiring to impart a bit of the experiences that immigrants had upon arriving in New York at the turn of the last century, I wanted to turn the entire middle division into Ellis Island and process the seventh graders With help from many colleagues, manifest data and a lot of creativity, we processed the entire grade in a role-play simulation. I had been trained in how to interpret historical architecture and wanted seventh graders to learn this skill. Modelled after the National Park Service architectural surveys I did back in 1976, I created an activity for two-thirds of the seventh grade class to do. While on our walking tour of Brooklyn Heights, we performed an architectural census of several blocks of houses in the neighborhood. While reinventing the seventh grade curriculum, it became clear to us that students were missing out on certain resources, particularly primary resources and so we decided to augment the curriculum with these document based activities, called DBQ's. I started to create seventy DBQ's, tailored to add to or enrich seventh grader's understanding of the concepts and events in each unit of the history course. These are used across the grade.