New Canaan High School educators whose last name begins with the letter S-Z author this blog.
Those whose last name begins with A-R author nchsneasc13

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Post-faculty meeting NEAS&C activity

After the faculty meeting today, Mike explained that we are officially moving into the self-study phase of our review process. To this end, he introduced our NEAS&C activity for the afternoon.

We distributed the standards booklets, and introduced the 4 Themes 4 ED (see image on left). This was one of the activities from the Connecticut Association of Schools' (CAS) NEAS&C workshop we attended last week. 

Grouped according to standards committees, the faculty identified which theme(s) were association with which standards indicators. Then we passed around the mic to share out which indicators addressed the theme of personalization (there is an audio record of that).

We introduced the NCHSNEASC13 blog as a vehicle for continuing the conversation between meetings. We have a limited number of face-to-face meetings left this year, but we hope to use the blog to share anecdotes about our teaching and learning experiences with students to help our colleagues better understand what we do in our daily practice that addresses the NEAS&C standards. Mike posted an example in the last blog entry.

We aslo discussed plans to start collecting evidence after the winter break. It is important to start this process soon so that we have a full year's evidence when the visiting committee arrives.

Next up: January 19th faculty meeting with our NEAS&C Director,  Janet Allison.
After that: The community survey
Handout: NEAS&C First Newsletter
Resource: NEAS&C website

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mike McAteer's Pick a Poetry Project Project

While I hate the “no wrong answer” bias that students bring into poetry class, I also know that I have no single right answer about what poetry is. Some students are drawn to traditional poetry, some are drawn to children’s poetry, some are inspired by performance poetry, some want to read epic poems, others just like to be subversive. Taking all these factors into account, and knowing that any study of poetry has to involve some combination of reading, writing and speaking, I’ve developed my Pick a Poetry Project project. In this unit, students have to find their own resources, organize their time, and have an outcome in mind. While they may not all end up on task every moment of the day when we’re working on this project, it has resulted in some very provocative work.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

NEAS&C Seminar CAS 12/5 & 12/6

Just spent two days in a NEAS&C Steering Committee seminar at Connecticut Association of Schools in Cheshire. It was daunting. Most attendees' visit is scheduled for 2014, and at this point, we have a lot to do.
My notes look more like a giant ToDo list. Mike and Bryan took notes also. One thing I would like to focus on next is merging our notes and putting together a timeline starting backwards. I think it will reduce some of the anxiety I currently feel about time.
NCHS sent a team of 5: Anthony Bloss, Kris Goldhawk, Bryan Luizzi, Mike McAteer, and Michelle Luhtala

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Message to faculty about rubric development

Hello Colleagues,

Thank you all for the hard work you put into rubric writing last week. While we received a lot of positive feedback, we also know that this process is not at all easy. As we follow Thursday’s faculty meeting with rubric revision time, it’s important that we maintain perspective on the current task.
When we unanimously passed our statement on Core Values, Beliefs and Learning Expectations, we stated that we want our students to be “active participants in their learning,” by which we mean that we want them to choose resources, set goals, self-monitor, self-assess and reflect. In order to achieve this goal, we need to provide concrete information about our expectations, and that’s where the rubrics come in.

The Process
Now, the process is messy, and where we are right now is near the end of the first stage of a three-stage process:

  1. Stage one: We draft rubrics.
  2. Stage two: We use them in pilot form to communicate with students about the work we’re asking them to do, and then ask the students to assess their work using the rubric, while we do the same. From this, we identify the challenges and advantages of using the rubrics to communicate with students and assess student work, and we make recommendations for changes.
  3. Stage three: We revise the rubrics based on the data collected from the pilot experiment.
A Pressing Concern: Assessment
If there was one overarching concern expressed on our PD Day, it was, “But I can’t see how I’ll use this rubric to assess my students.” If you were one of the ones saying this, you’re probably right.

But this raises misconception number one: that our NEASC rubrics are for assessment. What we are working on are analytical rubrics, not assessment rubrics. While they will be used for assessment, their primary function is to clearly communicate expectations. If we think of them as communication of our learning expectations so that students can be “active participants,” the writing may be a bit easier.

In addition, you may not ever use the problem-solving rubric, for example. But if we can all speak the same language and communicate the same expectations when students are solving problems in our disciplines, you can imagine the effective habits of mind students will develop as they go through all our subjects in ninth grade, in tenth grade…you can see where we’re going. The clearer we are about what we want our students to do, the more quickly they will internalize our school’s standards for their performance.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. If we can understand the stages of the process, our work can be much easier on Thursday.

See you then.

Your Friends on the Steering Committee

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Professional Development Day - Rubrics

Click on picture
to see slideshow
We spent election day 2011 developing rubrics for our 21st century learning expectations. We used the NCHSNEASC13 website rubric page to access the instructions and rubric template, then brainstormed to develop indicators for each expectation. This is slide show of our day's activity.


Leadership meeting

The NEAS&C Steering Committee met with the Standards Committee co-chairs to assign expectations to standards committees and determine which departments would pilot which expectations rubrics.

We also reviewed the agenda for the Nov. 8 Professional Development day, and articipants gave feedback on the NCHSNEASC13 website's new rubric page.

It was recommended that we remove the points, values and total columns and rows from the NCHS rubric template to minimize confusion.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NEAS&C activities for November 8th PD Day

The faculty sent in several more rubrics this week, so we reassessed our meeting needs and called a quick twenty minute after school meeting with steering committee and committee co-chairs on Monday, November 7th from 2:15-2:35. At the meeting we will review the following day's activities.

As PD leaders, Cathy and Chris offered to develop a Checklist for the PD day, which was quite helpful.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Steering Committee meeting canceled

A freak October snowstorm set us back some. Since two school days were canceled, our scheduled November 1st steering committee meeting was also canceled. Our original plan to review and filter NCHS rubrics with the steering committee was deferred to the PD Day on November 8th. Mike emailed the steering committee about the new plan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Resources on creativity, critical thinking, and rubric design

A Tweep (Twitter speak for someone you know through Twitter, but have never met face to face: Twitter + peep = Tweep), a retired librarian now living in Florida, Jerry Blumengarten, just Tweeted a link to his Critical Thinking page. This prompted me to ask him about a creativity page, and resources for rubrics. They are all posted on our nchsneasc13 resources page. Twitter = the best PD resource on planet earth ;-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting with Principals

In fairness to the recorder, these notes were taken on an iPad during first and second lunch, while standing at the cafeteria ramp :-)

Big Question: How is steering committee going to spend Nov. 8? In Steering Committee, or with standards committees?

Who is writing the first draft of the rubrics?Standards committees?If standards, the steering committee should participate. If not, then steering committee should meet together.

We clearly need a rubric forcritical thinking. What indicators should be included? While observing an engineering class, Ari asked if we had an engineering rubric - one that included problem solving. The answer was yes. We should take a look at that.

We agreed to collect all the school rubrics via email. We will need both digital and hard copies (if only a hard copy exists, we will create a digital version). There was some discussion about this - whether to collect them all or just those perceived as relevant to expectations. We decided to collect them all, in case Steering Committee members saw correlation where folks who live with them every day did not.

We will align the rubrics with learning expectations, then assign each one to a department. The department will pilot using the rubric, and report back with recommendations for revision.

The Steering Committee will meet on November 1st, at which point we will sort through the collected rubrics and assign each one an expectation, and then which committee will work on which expectation.

One thing we should address on November 8th is language. Our rubrics should reflect a common language - one that students can understand. The committees will go through their assigned rubric packets and aggregate a list of commonly used terms (word cloud opportunity?). They will also determine which parts of the rubric will cross departments, and which department will pilot which expectation rubric.

When departments meet, at least one person in that meeting will have participated in the committee meeting responsible for that department's expectation allocation, and will be able to explain the rationale for the departments' assigned pilot. Then they will use the collected rubrics and NEAS&C examples to develop new ones.

We had a conversation about indicators and rubric adoption - one I was not able to transcribe - distracted and hungry? Suffice it to say that Mike spoke eloquently on the topic, and that when necessary, I am confident he will be able to reconstruct what he said beautifully :-)

After the pilot, we will look at rubric formats and scales, but we think we should live with them  for a bit before doing that.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Faculty meeting in the library

Faculty meeting in the library (NEAS&C business will not be deterred by space constraints!). After Mike provided a succinct review of the process that led us to craft the Core Beliefs, Values and Expectations, and a "screening" of the nchsneasc13 website, the faculty approved the document without discussion :-)

Shhhhh! Food in the Library!
Habla usted Espanol? 

Ouvrez vos yeux, Mme Swan!
Ms. Brown, Ms. Goldhawk, and Ms. Floryshack Windman

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting with Principal

Mike and I met with Bryan today to plan for Thursday's faculty meeting.

It is going to be a succinct presentation. We will highlight the foundations of our Core  Beliefs and Values Statement - communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, respect, and empathy. Present the Core Beliefs, Values, and Expectations page of our NCHSNEASC13 website, and vote to proceed with self-assessment using it as a guide. We will also clarify that this is a living document, it is not written in stone, and that we can update it and revise it throughout the process.

We also discussed rubric templates, pulling together a team to attend a steering committee workshop in December, and self-study survey results.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Selection Committee co-chairs meeting

Mike and I met to decide how to present the first draft of the Core Values, Beliefs and Expectations. We settled on uploading it to the web, and allowing for comments rather than sending a Google Doc. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steering Committee meeting

Productive Steering Committee meeting. We used laptops to revise our Core Values, Belief and Expectations in Google Docs, and showed the committee our nchsneasc13 portal.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting

Mike and I met this morning to discuss our technical options for the hover text in the Core Values, Beliefs and Expectations working document. We don't want to encumber the message with wordy explanations, but we want to emphasize its alignment with our Vision of the Ideal NCHS Graduate (our work from the August 25 professional development day and the homeroom activity with students). Darien effectively uses the hover to elaborate on the details of mission and expectations. We like this model and hope to emulate it in ours. We composed the text for those hovers as comments in the existing Google Doc until we upload the final version to the NCHS NEAS&C '13 website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting

Mike and Michelle met (impromptu hallway meeting) to review a draft of the draft for the Core Values, Beliefs and Expectations. Mike cross-referenced the preliminary draft against the Faculty Vision of Ideal NCHS Graduate to make sure we'd covered the academic social and ethical criteria the faculty identified on August 25th.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting

Share word clouds to extract terms from teacher and student work for Core Beliefs, Values and Expectations

teacher cloud:

Student cloud

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Student activity in Homeroom - Vision of the Ideal NCHS Graduate

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we delineate and define our core values, beliefs and learning expectations, the input of the students is essential. For this Friday’s homeroom, the students will go through an activity similar to what we did during the PD days before school. The two staff members in each homeroom will need to facilitate the activity, for which Tom Honohan has created a Google Form, entitled “The Five-Question Exercise.” Here’s how things should go:

1.       When students arrive at 9:39, have them arrange their seats in configuration conducive to discussion.
2.       The TV Production class’ weekly presentation will begin promptly, ending with the anchors explaining the activity to come.
3.       The Google Form is accessed through the link, NCHS Five-Question Exercise, and one staff member can moderate the discussion while the other types in the students’ responses. A hard-copy of the same form is attached.
 4.       Try to get through as many of the questions as time allows, but it is far more important to allow substantive discussion among the students than to get through all the questions.
5.       At the end of the homeroom, click the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the form and make sure the desks are returned to their pre-homeroom state.

This is the same set of questions we discussed in our groups on the second PD day, just re-worded for students; since all of us have gone through this, I am confident that we can all easily facilitate this version for our students.

Thanks and, as always,  let me know if you have any questions.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Steering Committee co-chairs meeting

Plan co-chairs meeting schedule & plan to aggregate faculty and student responses

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Faculty meeting

Ari presented outcomes of August 25th faculty work on ideal NCHS graduate and reviewed homeroom activity for September 25, 2011.

Summary of teacher responses to Ideal Vision of NCHS Graduate activity

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Faculty activity in on PD Day - Vision of the Ideal NCHS Graduate

A Vision of the Ideal NCHS Graduate

A Vision of the Ideal NCHS Graduate

The first – and most significant – step in the NEASC self-study process is the identification, delineation and refinement of our core values, beliefs and learning expectations.  Moving beyond the traditional “mission statement,” a school’s core values and beliefs about learning provide the foundation for all decision-making going forward. This is to be a dynamic and inclusive process, beginning with the faculty and subsequently involving students and all other stakeholders, the product of which should be a collective objective to which the entire New Canaan High School community can commit.

Directions:   In your groups, brainstorm around the following questions.  Be as specific as possible, especially as to the thoughts behind your choices. DO NOT address concerns about implementation (funding, staffing, et al) as this is an exercise about ideals.  Later, we will re-convene as a faculty and each group will report out. Commonalities will quickly surface and differences will provide an opportunity for spirited, respectful and thoughtful debate.

What words and phrases best describe the ideal NCHS graduate?

What should be the goal of a NCHS education? Why?

  • What skills should each be able to demonstrate?
  • What competencies and literacies should each acquire?
  • What habits of mind should each possess?
In what specific ways can the school provide for every student to acquire and achieve this?  

  • Around what, should our program of study be built?
  • What types of experiences should every student have while in high school
  • What supports should we have in place to ensure success for all students?
  • In what specific ways should we prepare all students to be informed and responsible members of society and the global community?