Friday, June 5, 2009

EHS Culturally Responsive Leadership Team


Since EHS has devoted resources to the National Urban Alliance (NUA) program for the past five years, and since EHS staff development will continue to focus on literacy during the 2009-10 school year, funding has been secured for a Culturally Responsive Leadership Team to continue developing the talents of teachers to ensure personalized learning for all students.

Leadership Team Description

  • The team is facilitated by Jackie Roehl, EHS Literacy Coach
  • The team meets approximately once per month. Meetings will focus on learning new teaching strategies and discussing the school’s NUA and culturally responsive sustainability efforts.
  • Since many NUA participants over the years felt that missing instructional days was difficult, this team will only be out of the classroom for two days throughout the school year. Other meeting times will be before or after the school day.
  • During the two full-day workshops members will learn new strategies, share artifacts and ideas, discuss articles and research, discuss and possibly collect data, and plan for EHS staff development days.
  • The team is responsible for presentations at the November 24 and February 23 building staff development days.
  • Team members will facilitate artifact sharing and dialogue about strategies and culturally responsive issues at a few staff meetings.
  • Team members may choose to attend Cultural Collaborative workshops and report back to the team since WMEP is planning on bringing in a number of NUA’s senior scholars for Cultural Collaborative workshops next school year.
  • The team may work with any future equity teams implemented at EHS.

Team Members

Jackie Roehl (Facilitator)
Kristin Benson (English)
Elizabeth Barniskis (English)
Rachel Tholen (English)
Chris Dalki (social studies)
Amy Kampf (social Studies)
Dana Weiland (science)
Page Kinner (science)
Natasha Kissock (ELL)
Jenn Cordes (special ed)
Alexis Galt (math)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Podcast about NUA

The other day I received a phone call from Podcaster Stan Goldberg about the upcoming San Francisco NUA contract. Stan wanted to interview a high school teacher who was supportive of the program, so he googled NUA and found my blog—hence the reason for the phone call.

I did my best to be coherent since I was being taped for a podcast (difficult at the end of long, spring teaching day). Although I ramble at times, I did manage to mention personalized learning, differentiation, and a specific thinking map example.

Click here for the link to download the podcast if you are interested in hearing my opinions on the impact of NUA at Edina.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Engaging Vocabulary Strategies

My students spent the entire class today learning vocabulary words from the novel, Things Fall Apart, that they begin reading on Monday. The lesson went great for a Friday afternoon.

First, groups of four students created 4-square vocab quilt squares for their assigned 2 or 3 words. Here's the 4-square vocab format:
They then used their group's two or three assigned words to create a skit incorporating the words. Groups performed the skits for the class, and we used the applause meter to determine the winner.

To keep the vocabulary celebration going, students participated in "Give one, get one" where they circulated around the room with their vocab square, stopping when the music stopped to pair up and "give one" vocab word (explaining their word), and then they would"get one" vocab word before the music started and they moved around searching for new words to learn.

For homework over the weekend, I assigned creating a Thinking Map that further illustrates their word from 4-square. Students can create any Thinking Map that they want that illustrates or expands on their assigned vocab word. For example, they could make an analogy on a bridge map, define the word with a circle map, describe the word with adjectives in a bubble map, analyze the causes and effects of the word in a multi-flow map. Click on the double bubble map to the left to take the map to full screen to see a comparison of Kola (the vocab word) with coffee that the students and I created quickly as a model in class today.

A follow-up vocab strategy that my students can’t wait to do is to compete in an "I have, who has" vocab contest with the other English 10 classes for the fastest time. I even heard some students state that they were planning on studying words already this weekend.
To use the "I have, who has" strategy, a teacher simply needs to create a circular recitation of vocab words and definitions. One student says, "I have (insert vocab word). Who has (insert definition of another vocab word)?" The student who has the sheet with the vocab word that fits the previous definition responds, "I have----who has?" And so on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thinking Maps Software

EHS and Valley View recently received a campus community license for Thinking Maps software. This easy-to-use program will allow teachers to easily create Thinking Maps right in class that are projected on the big screen for all to see.

The community license also allows teachers and students to install the software on their home computers.

Teachers and students can also create thinking maps that can be exported as PNG or JPEG file formats that can be uploaded to blogs, inserted in PowerPoints, and pasted into Word documents. In PowerPoints and Word the exported picture files appear in the same high quality that the files appear when viewed in the original Thinking Maps software. However, when the files are uploaded to blogger much of the clear focus is lost when enlarged. See the below comparisons of the quality of the inserted file formats when uploaded as "large" pictures in blogger.

PNG Format

JPEG Format

The easiest work-around for the clarity issue is to upload the picture files in "small" picture size in blogger. The "small" size allows blog readers to click on a picture to take it full screen. Then the Thinking Map is clear and easy-to-read.
Try that below with this png file in small size.

Also, by having students insert the map in "small" size on their blogs, they can wrap the text that they've composed from their pre-writing map right next to the Thinking Map. This technique has the added bonus of promoting that the end product of writing is a desired outcome from using thinking maps, and that the Thinking Map is a mid-level tool that should be used before writing, speaking, discussion or other creations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Literacy Strategies Website

Kelly Wheaton, literacy coach at Valley View, found a great website the contains links to a number of literacy strategies. Many of the strategies collected there are the same strategies that people have learned from NUA.

Click on the Adolescent Literacy website to check out their descriptions of a number of strategies.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vocabulary Trifold and Essay Adaptation

At the last NUA site visit, Cohort 5 members learned the vocabulary tri-fold strategy. Here are the strategy steps:

  1. Teachers create a list of words from the text that are somewhat familiar to the students but that need some elaboration for full mastery.
  2. Students select a vocabulary word from the list of words provided by the teacher.
  3. Students take a piece of paper and fold it hot dog (i.e. landscape) style. Then they fold the paper in thirds to create a brochure/booklet.
  4. On the front page of the booklet, the student writes the vocabulary word. (panel 1)
  5. Opening the booklet, the student writes a sentence defining the word on the left-most panel. (panel 2) If students need to look up their words in the dictionary, they cannot simply copy the dictionary definition here. Students need to make their own personal meaning and their own sentence.
  6. In the middle inside panel (panel 3), students draw a visual of the word and write a first person sentence using the word. This first person sentence makes the word culturally relevant to the student.
  7. On the right-most panel (panel 4) students write down as many forms of the word as they can to demonstrate their knowledge of morphology.
  8. On the two panels that would appear on the back of the brochure when opened up, students write synonyms on one panel (panel 5) and antonyms on the other panel (panel 6).
  9. Once students have finished their vocabulary tri-folds, they move around the room until the music stops. Then they pick a partner, and the partners take turns teaching each other the word.
  10. The teacher allows for several rounds of mixing it up during the music and teaching vocabulary words when the music stops.
Writing Adaptation

The English 10 teachers at that NUA site visit liked the kinesthetic appeal of the vocabulary tri-fold strategy and wanted to try it with essay instruction, so we adapted the panels to reflect the parts of an essay. As synthesis after instruction on each part of the essay, students wrote a few key ideas about that topic on the appropriate panel of their essay tri-fold.

Here's how we adapted the panels for a literary analysis essay on The Odyssey:

  1. Essay topic and title
  2. Introduction with attention-getter and The Odyssey by Homer (so they remembered to include that)
  3. Thesis statement
  4. Body Paragraph structure including transition, topic sentence, 2 PIEs (point, illustration, explanation), and recap sentence.
  5. Conclusion with circling back to attention-getter and a reason for the reader to care about the topic.
  6. Modern Language Association (MLA) essay formatting, works cited, and in-text citation information.

The students ended essay week with a visual that we called "essay in your pocket."

One student emailed his English 10 teacher, Rachel Tholen, and had this to say about the tri-fold, pocket essay.
"I really like the way you're approaching this paper. I found the little "5 Paragraph Essay" booklet helpful, and also just the sort of "I'll hold your hand" approach, because myself, along with many other of my classmates are... well basically clueless when it comes to essay formatting. Okay, not clueless, just not very well educated. So, to sum things up, thanks."