Thursday, September 25, 2014

Glad to See You

It was so wonderful to see you all again--and to meet the wonderful new Grand teachers.  While I won't be seeing you until February, please know I am just an email away! Contact me anytime at

Below are the materials that we used in our workshop in September.


Reviewing Your Unit

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Congratulations on a Great Year of Study!

Instructional Goals for Next Year

At our final professional development session, you reviewed the data generated from your survey of instructional practices and identified the following three areas that you would like to study further.  

1.  Accommodating individual differences in learning

2.  Using assessment to support learning
  •           student self assessment
  •           effective feedback
  •           authentic assessment
3.  Expanding skillful use of literacy strategies

Your major focus next year in professional development will be drafting and critiquing two new units as well as reviewing  the work generated this summer by each department. But you can easily begin to explore these areas in study groups and department and building meetings.  These three areas can grow into major areas of study over time as your curriculum begins to come together. Studying instruction as you are designing curriculum allows you to build into your designs the best practices in supporting students' learning.

Our Most Recent Frank Winner: the Fabulous Keith WIlliams

Keith's work with his students caught the eye of Connie Rich who awarded him the Frank award at our final professional development session. Keith's unit combining musical theatre and social justice definitely highlights his creativity. And his skillful service as a team leader reinforces his ability to collaborate. Congratulations to Keith! A real design thinker!

A Wonderful Celebration of GCAA

Inspired by “I am from” by George Ella Lyon.  Created by the students of GCAA.  Arranged by Cindy Kalachek.

                                               I Am From GCAA

I am from the building that stands on Grand Avenue; a structure that was rehabbed, reconditioned and reinvigorated to support all the ideas that thrive inside.  I study in the district surrounded by theater, classical music and jazz, in the shadows of universities and libraries.  The Sun Theater now casts its radiance upon me. I am in awe of its dazzling dimension yet I feel at home in the warmth of the stage lights.

I am from middle school and high school.  I am from book bags, back packs, beakers and ballet barres. I am from document based questions,  thesis driven essays, six-eight time, and three dimensional perspectives.  I am from algebra and arabesques, from grand pianos and marble launchers. I am from Katherine Dunham, Leonardo DaVinci, and Harper Lee. I am from lab-write-ups and saxophones.   I am from  Shakespearean plays and  Newton’s laws.  I am from cylinders and sculptures and similes and scripts and soliloquies and set design and sonatas and subject- verb agreements. I am from designing, observing, tinkering, questioning, reflecting, editing and performing.  

I am from teachers who are artists and artists who are teachers. I am from “5, 6, 7, 8!  Write! Write!  Write!  Create your own ideas.  Point your feet.  Buenos Dias!  Take out your work.  Cell phones away.  Here’s today’s Power Up.  Open your journals.  What you do in this class, you will do on the stage.  Form follows function.  Creative Genius.”  

We will be from colleges and conservatories, apprenticeships and internships, galleries and universities, experiences locally and globally, and we stand under the stage lights, behind the canvas, in front of laptop screens, amid the designs, and next to inspiration.  We are from Grand Center Arts Academy.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Great Webinars on Literacy Instruction

Great Webinars to Check Out

Creating Group Norms Makes a Difference!

In February each of your teams set specific norms  based on what you have learned about each other. As we look forward to summer work in your departments and also some interdepartmental work, do take the time to talk about what each individual brings to the group and needs from the group and build group norms to help you collaborate effectively.  Below are  the norms developed by your teams.

Norms for Team Dazzle
Everyone has an equal voice.
We will meet our deadlines.
We encourage and celebrate risk-taking.
We will keep the big picture in mind.
We will be sensitive to each other's needs.

Norms for Merange 6
We will value different opinions.
We will practice patience.
We will ask questions.
We will assume positive intentions.
We will take risks.

Norms for A Cubed
Start tasks on time.
Consider all ideas.
Be better than the other groups.
Follow through on expectations.

Norms for M and M's
See the bigger picture.
Acknowledge it's okay to fail.
Remember there is is an "I" in team.
Have the eagle check the checklists.

Norms for the Magnificent 7
We all have a voice.
We will be positive.
We will be open minded.
We will have a sense of adventure.

Norms for the Jet Sharks
Respect the protocols.
Hear each other.
Seek and give constructive feedback.
Respect Our Differences.

Norms for Juice
Have a team goal.
Be opened minded.
Follow through on tasks.
Listen to each others' ideas.
Do our personal BESTS! 

Norms are not something you set once and then forget about. At the beginning of each session, your team should review the norms. And when the team is stuck or having difficulty, returning to the norms may help resolve the problems.  Ask yourselves, "Do these standards we have set for ourselves offer insight into resolving this issue?"  So often this makes a difference.

Remember to Use the Five High Impact Reading Strategies

Remember that one of the most powerful ways to build achievement in your school is for everyone to consistently implement the high impact reading strategies.  This doesn't mean everyone doing a strategy once a month--it means EVERYONE EVERY WEEK IMPLEMENTS A LITERACY STRATEGY! The strategies and worksheets are under the pages section of the Blog.  Let's make this happen.  Make a commitment to having an impact!

 Choose one of the strategies to include in your unit and incorporate it throughout the unit.

                                               Five High Impact Strategies
                                                     Pausing and Predicting
                                                      Writing in the Margins
                                               Reading and Analyzing Visuals
                                                           Marking a Text
                                                          Charting a Text

February Professional Development: Moving Forward with Our Work

                                                                                                      What a successful professional development session we had in February! I believe most of us saw the power of critique to  improve our work.  For too long teachers as a profession have worked in isolation, in large part because schools have not supported structurally opportunities for collaboration. Lynne's skillfulness in creating time for teachers to work together is making a profound difference in the culture of Grand Center.

I am hoping all of you are spending a bit of time working on the stage 3 of your units.  Remember to keep in mind that the strategic placement of activities is critical to the work.  This part of your work is not just a collection of activities that have to do with your topic. Make sure you are working closely with your understandings, questions, and declarative and procedural knowledge.  You have promised   that students will be learning these things.  Are your activities clearly leading students there? Use the WHERE to shape your instruction. 

W: activities to show where the unit is going.

H: activities to hook the students on the learning.
E: activities to engage students in the subject, 
     developing meaning and building concepts, 
     struggling with the essential questions, exploring the 
     enduring understandings, building skills and 
R: activities to review the key work of the unit and to 
     correct misconceptions.
E:  activities built into the unit to allow teachers to 
      formative assessments.

The Ladder of Inference in the Classroom

 Amber found a wonderful way to help her students explore point of view using the ladder of inference.  Here are her comments.

I just wanted to share a couple examples of ladders of inference my students did in class as part of our “To Kill a Mockingbird” unit. I introduced the ladder and gave them an example using a character from the book. They then read an article about the Trayvon Martin case and created their own in groups. They could choose to write it from George Zimmerman’s perspective or from their own perspective on the case. I thought they turned out pretty good! Obviously, we tied it into themes about race and justice and they connected it to Tom Robinson. Today, they had to do another one related to a character in the book, and I’m going to have them do one on themselves at the end.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Connie Rich demonstrated that with solid design a unit on the Spanish subjunctive can be highly engaging to teenagers.   Make sure you ask to see her unit and give her a pat on the back!

        Have you designed today?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

So Proud of Grand Center Arts Center Art Academy


So proud of you all.  This video is absolutely fabulous.  It captures so beautifully the work you are doing here.  Congratulations.

Monday, January 13, 2014

December Professional Development Session Was Highly Successful!

I could not have been more pleased with our work in December. Almost everyone is far along in the creation of an assessment package for units, and the quality is extremely high.  If you have not yet sent me your assessment package for your unit, please do so!