Our Teacher Summer Institute is a wonderful way for innovative teachers to immerse themselves in a week of practical learning and curriculum design. The week focuses on Inquiry, Project-Based Learning, and Technology-Enriched Learning.The Summer Institute will be experiential and participatory. Teachers will be exposed to a wide range of model projects and methods and will use this information to design their own lessons and units. The Institute will be a combination of larger discussions of teaching and learning combined with practical applications and experiences that will directly transfer to classroom settings.

According to a past participants:

“This has been the singular most important piece of development I have ever had the privilege of attending.”

“The instructors were kind, caring, insightful and guided us through the process of taking our ideas and transforming them into something new. This is a course for any educator, new, seasoned, supervisor or administrator!”

Please consider attending and/or help publicize the Institute to other educators!

Click here for more information and registration instructions.

This week my students performed parts of several student-written plays for a larger school audience. The project was the product of my long-standing collaboration with Kate McGrath and Philly Young Playwrights. I fully embrace PYP’s model of using the arts to help young people discover their voices and be heard. PYP is a great organization and they have helped me and my students enormously throughout the years.

This document describes this year’s playwrighting project. The focus was human rights, struggle, hope, and change. It is awesome to see students immerse themselves in projects when there is a chance to do meaningful work and the opportunity to perform for a larger audience.

The students did a great job taking charge of the preparation and rehearsals in order to present high quality performances. Most impressive were the ways that students rallied to support each other. It is not easy to perform for a larger audience and many of the students do not identify as actors, yet they encouraged each other and committed themselves to the process.

Below are pictures of the performances and talk-back.  Read the rest of this entry »

[Cross-posted on Edutopia]

Anyone who has worked with young people knows the student I am thinking of right now. When greeted, he (or she) keeps his eyes on the floor while mumbling a response. He may doodle constantly, or maybe he takes every free moment to mindlessly scroll through messages on his phone. He is the connection that feels impossible to make. Nothing seems to excite him, and when he turns in work, it is usually something partially completed with little thought.

I imagine that, for as long as I teach, I will find myself preoccupied with the students on the fringes. My thoughts continually return to these quiet students who separate themselves from their peers — the boy who arrives angry, looking for a confrontation, or the highly engaged girl who loves to speak up in discussions but regularly fails to complete any other work.

I try to maintain perspective and remind myself of all the phases and difficult moments that I went through as an adolescent. I know that many of my students deal with circumstances much more trying than anything I faced. Yet, even with this knowledge, I am disturbed by the disconnect and feel I should be able to change it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Busy, Busy, Busy

March 24, 2014

This is a nice time of year for my classes. We have quite a bit going on in both Globalization and World History. Here is a snapshot of some of what went on today:

  • Student playwrights are leading rehearsals of their plays that investigate issues of hope and struggle in preparation for performances next week. Here is the description of the project.
  • Students began interviews for our Immigration Oral History project in collaboration with The Welcoming Center. Here is the description of that project.
  • Students read, wrote, and discussed the different Global Fiction books they are reading. Students have chosen to read either Half a Yellow Sun, Under the Banyan Tree, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, What is the What, The Feast of the Goat, or Mornings in Jenin. (I know they’re not all fiction– we talked about that…) The students have to write each week in response to the reading and post to a discussion forum shared by others reading the same book. Here is one of the documents describing the process.
  • Students read and responded to How to Write About Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina
  • Students read documents describing child labor during the Industrial Revolution, looked at photo essays depicting modern day Child Labor, and read the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.
  • A 12th grade photographer coordinated photo shoots for our upcoming Social Justice Alphabet public art project. Here is the description.

Busy, busy, busy!

I am thankful to Barbara Cervone of What Kids Can Do for writing this wonderful article about our Modern Day de Tocqueville projects. I was particularly touched by the poignant and insightful student quotes.

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