Sunday, December 16, 2018

Week of December 17th

UAI Staff News

    Volume VI
    Issue 17
    December 17th, 2018
    (99 instructional days remaining)


    Lessons from Visits, Observations, and Intervisitations.  In the final teaching days of 2018, it's a good time to take stock of some key feedback and observations that we've had (or have done) in the last several weeks.  The biggest trend is around how we are working with our Lesson Look Fors.  We are improving significantly as a group in articulating quality look-fors that demand higher order thinking from our students.  As a result, our students across grades and classrooms are definitely being pushed to think beyond "identify" of "matching" or copying.  More of our students are posing questions, sharing their ideas, and putting their thinking into writing as a means to consolidate their learning.

    One common stumble that we are seeing through our intervisitations and observations is in teacher circulation.  In pursuit of finding the look-fors, teachers are pausing too long with turn and talk pairs to elicit them from students.  This means that many teachers are spending 2-3 minutes with a single pair, while the remaining talking pairs are either finished with their discourse and/or making the same conceptual mistakes without prompts or guidance.

    This week is a great one for taking stock of your own practice by looking at thinking and circulation:

    Planning for Student Thinking
    Continue working on your lesson look-fors.  Evaluate them using Webb's DOK (what level of thinking are you demanding).  Look at your lesson time allotment.  How much time are students spending at Level 3 or 4 for the duration of your lesson (students should be thinking at Levels 3 or 4 for a minimum of 30 or more min during the period)?   Suggestion:  About every 5 minutes, students need to be asked to be doing something (writing/talking/engaging in an activity to figure something out).  At the end of a piece of instruction, create a quick turn and talk (or stop and jot) to help students engage in thinking.

    Pay attention to your timing and circulation.  How long are you spending with each pair?  Are you picking up trends across multiple pairs?  What are you doing with the trends and patterns that you find? Suggestion:  During student discourse or work, use the first 1-2 minutes to get a lay of the land - visit every pair or group and take stock of what you hear first.  THEN, make a decision with what to do with it - what hints can you drop to put pairs on the right track to think independently without you?  Do those hints work for the class as a whole - if so then pause the talk and give it to everyone!

    To Do This Week

    Monday PD.  We are rescheduling our Parent-Staff extended PD from this Monday to a Monday in late January/February.  We are still finalizing plans with Mr. McLean, Damon, and Doris.  Stay tuned!!  For this Monday, we will be giving the time over to grade teams to complete DESSA evaluations, January Plops, coordinate any logistics for trips this week (if applicable), and share any final scheduled assessments.  To the extent possible, please do not overburden students by giving multiple exams on the same day.  Having 4 major course content exams on the same day is unfairly taxing on students.  Please check in with one another to avoid this outcome as much as possible.  LDC teachers will continue to meet in 305 with Marsha and Rebecca.  All other members of grade teams will meet in the following rooms immediately at 3PM

    • 6th Grade:  Alison (facilitator), Jennifer, Amanda, Tracy, Jennifer, Marni
      • (Laura, Sarah & Phillan will be in LDC)
    • 7th & 8th Grade:  Natalie (facilitator), Megan, Matthew, Cherry, Joanna, Jake, Natalie
      • (Kristina, Christina, Marsha will be in LDC)
    • 9th/12th Grade:  Jamie (facilitator)Meaghan, Zach, Elana
      • (Damon will be at SLT; Cassandra, Rebecca C., Rebecca F will be at LDC)
    • 10th/12th Grade:  Danielle R (facilitator), Nina, Kristi, Suzannah
      • (Elena will be at SLT; Tiffany & Freida will be at LDC)
    • 11th/12th Grade:  Kelly (facilitator), Judy, Tom, Giselle
      • (Joey will be at LDC)
    Holiday Craft and Karaoke.  Please remind your advisee's families that we have our annual UAI family craft and karaoke night on Monday, December 17th at 5:30PM.  Please invite them to tjoin us!

    Tuesday Outreach.  Please let families know that we will be doing a rapid dismissal at the end of 6th period at 2PM on Friday, Dec 21st.   There will be no after school, and all staff must make plans to rapidly dismiss the building along with the students.  We will be closing the building for the holiday just after dismissal.  If you are planning a trip, students will not be allowed into the building after 2PM.  So, if students need to re-enter, please return to school no later than 1:30PM.

    Tuesday, December 11, 2018

    Week of December 10th

    UAI Staff News

      Volume VI
      Issue 16
      December 10th, 2018
      (112 school days remaining)


      More on "Multiplication if for White People" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, by Lisa Delpit.    As we finish up our 2nd round of observations focused on assessment and student look-for, this quote from Delpits chapter "How would a fool do it? Assessment" brings up Mike Schmoker's work from Results Now.  Delpit cites Schmoker's ideas for elevating student achievemetn by forming teacher teams focused on the following:

              • being clear about what is to be learned and assessed
                     [e.g. Lesson Look Fors]
              • using assessments to evaluate a lesson's effectiveness and making constructive adjustments on the basis of results
                     [e.g. listening into to Turn & Talks or Reading student writing]
              • conducting checks for understanding at certain points throughout the lesson
                     [e.g. student discourse, student summaries, or written work]
              • having kids read for higher-order purposes and write regularly
                     [e.g. reading for learning or analysis; writing every day]
              • clearly explicating and carefully teaching the criteria by which student work will be scored or evaluated.
                     [e.g. clearly stating/showing the criteria for success]

      These are exactly the Look Fors that Annie and I use as we move around your classrooms to evaluate practice and student learning.  In your planning teams, continue to support each other in refining and elevating the quality of these points in your plans.  As you increase the quality of your Look Fors, your ability to respond and adjust to student thinking (as shown through your assessments and checks for understanding) will also improve.  As you increase the clarity of your Look Fors, your articulation and communication to your class about what it means to be successful will also increase.  The Lesson Look -Fors are the first step to high quality planning and lesson execution.  They are not a checklist of what you want students to say or do - rather they are an articulation of the type of thinking you want to see students execute in class. 

      To Do This Week

      Annual UAI Winter Staff Celebration.  Our annual winter celebration will be on Friday, December 14th from 4-6PM at Commonwealth Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Please give Del $20 if you wish to attend.  All are welcome!  If you'd like to bring a guest, you are welcome to do so.  Please just give $20 for them as well.  The $20 includes an open bar and food (TBD - but I am open to suggestions if you have any!) from 4-6PM.  Please at least RSVP to Del by the end the day Tuesday so that we have an accurate head count and can move forward in ordering food!

      Tuesday Outreach.  Please announce to parents this week that we are hosting our annual UAI family craft and karaoke night on Monday at 5:00PM.  The PTA meeting will also be the same night.  We are also recruiting for our SLT and PTA Executive Board.  So, if you have parents who may be interested, please let Del know ASAP!  Also:
      • 12/14 - School Assembly at 2:00 - parents are always welcomed to attend if they would like
      • 12/17 - PTA meeting and Family Craft Night - PLEASE GET PEOPLE TO ATTEND THIS EVENT   Everyone that attended had a lot of fun last year 5:00-6:30
      • 12/21 - Rapid Dismissal at 2:00 PM and no after-school - Start of Winter Break!!!!

      SEL This week

      6th grade SEL-
      We have been learning about peer pressure in SEL. The girls learned about how their peers can be both a positive and negative influence. They made up skits showing what negative peer pressure may look like and then used the tools they learned in class to show various ways they can resist doing things that don’t feel right to them. They practiced saying no and standing their grounds in some very creative skits!

      This past Wednesday, several Middle School and High School Girls Inc. students were invited to participant in the Annual PopUp Shop hosted in the Metlife building in Manhattan. These amazing students have the opportunity to the sell items they made in their respective clubs. Some of those items included cook jars, book marks, essential oil roller balls, candle holders and body scrubs. By the end of the night these entreprenuers were able to sell all of their products! 

      9th Grade SEL: Last week, we dove deep into our unit on bullying and social media. We participated in thoughtful turn and talks and completed readings on our essential question: "How do our interactions online impact our everyday experiences and relationships?". Although there were tough moments where we had to be completely vulnerable and really put ourselves out there, we were able to use our experiences to become more mindful of other perspectives.

      This week, we will continue preparing for our next Socratic Seminar around this focus question as well as the following supporting questions:

      • How can hearing another person’s experience with bullying change our perspective?

      • What resources are available to teens who are being bullied?

      Sunday, December 2, 2018

      Week of December 3rd

      UAI Staff News

        Volume VI
        Issue 15
        December 3rd, 2018
        (117 school days remaining)


        More on "Multiplication if for White People" Raising Expectations for Other People's Children, by Lisa Delpit.   The lessons from this book are endless.  This week, I found the following ideas from the chapter, "Warm Demanders:  The Importance of Teachers in the Lives of Children of Poverty" particularly inspiring:
                • Successful teachers of low-income, culturally diverse children know that their students are "school-dependent"...Children who are not part of the mainstream [privileged culture] are dependent on schools to teach them whatever they need to be successful. 
                • ...[Inequity], family issues, poverty, crime and so forth all affect poor children's learning opportunities....[The] quality of teaching has six to ten times as much impact on achievement as all other factors combined.
        At UAI, our mission is to bring the type of learning and educational experiences our students need to successfully compete in STEM fields and careers.  Inherently, our mission is one of social equity.  In order to build the skills and resilience necessary for our students to overcome the hurdles placed before them, our students depend on UAI and the amount of work, effort, and attention to quality that our teachers put into planning and executing high-quality instruction everyday.  Instructional work is neither easy nor simple.  Our work each day is to plan and execute the best learning experiences that push student thinking to higher order levels and use that level of thinking to acquire new knowledge and skills. 

        Last week, several folks expressed interest in intervisitation for classroom management.  When students' minds are challenged and when they are provided with entry points with which they can actively engage in the challenge, behaviors follow suit.  Behaviors are a by-product of instructional planning.   While it can be necessary at times, the goal in instructional planning is not to find ways to control behaviors.  Rather, the goal is to perfect learning activities and lesson execution so that student behaviors promote critical thinking.

        Each visit will have the same agenda.  All visits will start in Room 401.

        • 10min Review the lesson and examine the look-fors and protocols for classroom visiting
        • 15min Classroom Visit
        • 20min Debrief & Discuss the Visit and Lesson Plan

        Please click the link to sign up for a specific classroom visit.  You will be provided with coverage if you teach during the same period.  To the extent possible we will try to get everyone into their first choice!  Here are the visit details:

        • Wednesday, 05DEC at 8:30AM:  
          • Earth Science; Exploring Convection with Ms. Kristi 
        • Thursday 06DEC18 at 9:25AM:  
          • 9th Gr. ELA; Writing Strong Arguments with Ms. Cassandra & Ms. Rebecca F
        • Friday, 14DEC18 at 8:30AM:
          • 8th Gr. CC Algebra; Exploring inequalities with one variable
        • Date still TBD
          • Spanish II; Irregular Verbs - finding and applying patterns

        Girls Inc. Does it Again!  This month, seven High School Girls Inc. participants were invited to the Adidas Creator Farm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They worked in groups and were guided by women who work in a wide range of roles across the sneaker industry to create a design and sales/marketing strategy for a shoe. The girls had an amazing time presenting their new creations to a group of talented Fashion professionals. 

        To Do This Week

        Annual UAI Winter Staff Celebration.  Our annual winter celebration will be on Friday, December 14th from 4-6PM at Commonwealth Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Please give Del $20 if you wish to attend.  All are welcome!  If you'd like to bring a guest, you are welcome to do so.  Please just give $20 for them as well.  The $20 includes an open bar and food (TBD - but I am open to suggestions if you have any!) from 4-6PM.  

        Monday PD.  This Monday is the first Monday of the month.  We will be meeting in Grade Teams in Room 409 to continue writing plops for December and January.  All teachers should meet in 409 for announcements.  Please complete this brief survey so that we can make sure we cover your concerns.  After announcements, we will go straight into PLOPs and/or team meetings.

        Tuesday Outreach.  This Tuesday, please focus your energies on reaching out to families to get emails.    Please CLICK HERE to see which of your advisees still need an email.  We want to improve the reach of our newsletters, and direct email to families is the best bet.

        Conference Outcomes.  As a school, we saw 60% of our families in person.  While I know some of you had phone-conferences with your families, the in-person conferences have much more impact.  Face-to-face conferences better enable us to build critical relationships with families that lead to student achievement.

        As a reminder, Tuesday Outreach is designed for phone conferences.  We should be conducting phone conferences with each of our advisees at least once per marking period.  By now, you should have had at least two phone conferences with each of your advisees.  These conferences should be reviewing student progress and setting goals.

        No Per Session Updates This Week