Teaching

Methods Briefing Room

 

TMBR New approaches to teaching are reported frequently.  New studies are released that give us guidance as to the direction we should take in our teaching and the profound thinkers of the day share with us their thoughts, all at the Senior Dad Teaching Methods Briefing Room (TMBR)

 

The U.S. has done poor job of educating children of Color and children of poverty. In order to try to seek out answers I talk with Donna Ford of Vanderbilt University about some very sticky issues around educating children. We talk about race and fairness. In this one hour session we're just getting the discussion started, including changes to family patterns surrounding education.
Teens have been an enigma for several millennium, even Socrates questioned the conduct of youth. The post-industrial revolution child-labor laws brought about the emergence of the modern teen. New pressures and new patterns of free time have molded the behavior of our modern teenager. Often surly and argumentative, our teens seem to walk around in self-selected fogs. Michael Simon, a noted psychotherapist and a specialist on teens, joins Stan Goldberg to discuss what is really going on with teens.

There is a lot of controversy today about how we teach and manage our schools. Competing forces are pressing their agendas on teacher seniority, evaluating teacher performance utilizing test scores and assessing, assessing, assessing. New twists to the old all lockstep teaching model “the factory system” called common core standards are being pressed upon the public as the ideal way to teach. Are these new ways to teach or just a new method to leech money out of the public trough into private hands? Renée Dinnerstein has been a teacher for many years and is now a consultant. She specializes in teaching children in the early grades. She is a leading spokesperson for learner motivated content-based teaching methods and is one of the founders of a teacher committee that is providing feedback and requests for reevaluation of the new core standards for the New York City public schools. She joins Senior Dad Stan Goldberg to discuss some ways that have worked in educating young children. They also discuss some of the pressing educational issues of the day such as charter schools, teacher evaluations, testing, student evaluations and a look to the future. Renée Dinnerstein a positive voice for educational change.

How do we effectively educate our children? What makes a good education system? These are real fundamental questions. David Kirp a professor at the University of California, Berkeley has spent time researching this issue in public schools that have started approaching the methods of education differently. He has written a new book called  “Improbable Scholars” where he writes about real life examples he has investigated. David shares how we can educate students and not discard the slow learners, the special education kids, older teachers or students whose first language is not English.  David joined Senior Dad Stan Goldberg for a half hour video interview that will change your perspective on the future of education.  If I had two spots open on the panel to speak about public education I would choose Sir Ken Robinson and David Kirp.

Karen Siris a bullying intervention expert joins senior dad Stan Goldberg to discuss how to stop bullying behavior. Karen is the author of "Stand" a new book to help teach kindergarten through 4th grade how to counter bullying and support positive behaviors.

A few years ago when I was investigating different methods of teaching children I encountered a teaching method that was gentle yet effective. A small widespread school district in Alaska had adopted a method of teaching where every child learned at their own pace. The method had some elements of the Glasser system which includes a heavy reliance upon choice. The method that was used in Alaska, which I called the Chugach method after the school district that originated it, was a definite paradigm shift. It changed the factory model of education where time is the constant and learning is the variable to a model where learning is the constant and time is the variable. I spoke with Bob Crumley the superintendent of the district and learned about the program. In the ensuing years I have spoken to many people about this method of teaching. I have to confess after this period of time I am still in enamored with the method. Bob Crumley joins me again and we discuss his districts use of this IEP for all and everyone at their own pace method of teaching.
An intriguing question. We talk like every child can learn to read equally and at the same pace. But in reality, is this true? There has been a lot of quality research into why and how children learn to read. Recently, I was fortunate to speak to Dr. Joe Torgesen, Director Emeritus of the Florida Center for Reading Research. Joe was a very likable guy and we covered many reading issues. Watch my hour chat with Joe.
The Spark Program identifies at-risk middle-school students who need to be motivated by the relevancy of school and matches them with people in industry that are employed in the student's dream job. The student then becomes an intern at that profession for one semester going to the job after school hours. Chris Balme, Co-Founder and Executive Director, shares the genesis of Spark and what they are doing to reduce dropouts. What type of job does a child want?
When school districts create short lists to evaluate their progress with their small schools, or want a road map to move toward small learning environments, or a coach or consultant to help them refine their small school directions, these short lists have one thing in common. That common element is Inquiry and Learning For Change, based in Oakland, California. John Watkins, Principal of the firm joins me to talk about small schools and a wide range of topics about how our schools and learning environments are changing and the political conditions that may help or inhibit this process. John Watkins- A thinking man's perspective.
Learning and reading are unquestionably tied together. No doubt someone can learn without knowing how to read but it makes the acquisition of information a lot harder. Amber Lamprecht specializes in teaching different types of learners how to read. One of of techniques she uses is multi-sensory learning. We discuss this as well as how the 20 percent of our population that are dyslectic-thinkers need to be trained to use their talents to learn to read. We also focus on the effects on children when we delay addressing the issues around learning to read until later grades. Amber shares with us what parents should look for as signs that their child may need additional help in learning to read. Amber Lamprecht- It's not as simple as ABC
Kris Olson was one of the founders of Parents for Public Schools in Waco, Texas. Kris has witnessed some very critical times for her city and its school system. Kris was in school when the courts ordered desegregation. In her lifetime she has seen the system go from promoting busing to discontinuing busing. Her entire family is a product of the Waco school system. Her city has grown and learned and Kris shares with us what that journey was like.
The small school movement and the charter school movement are definitely forces that are having increasing impact on public schools. It is hard to find a more out-spoken advocate for both of these movements as Joe Nathan. He was active in the formulation of small charter schools at the beginning of the modern-day small-schools movement. He is the Director of the University of Minnesota Center for School Change. The center features and promotes charter schools. This is Joe's first visit to a Senior Dad Briefing Room, and we discuss his background, beliefs, and define areas of agreement and disagreement. Some of Joe's ideas are controversial and are hotly debated by national leaders of the small school movement and by opponents of the charter school movement. Joe Nathan- What type of change do you want?

There is much discussion about the best way to educate children. Many education educators provide techniques for not only teaching to the middle. These are valuable techniques for trying to modify a design flaw in our educational system. Teaching to the middle frequently winds up being beneficial to no one. And what about special education? The terminology alone may set up a false promise. It’s not always so special and in many cases the education falls far short of a learner's potential.

Differentiated education is being viewed by many as a direction that must be assessed. We need to evaluate if this method of educating the whole child has merit, every child at their own pace , intriguing. How can a teacher manage so many different educational paces? We know that every child is different, that not everyone learns the same way, or at the same speed. We already make a differentiated education plan for 10% -12% of our student population that has been identified as having extra needs. That process is cumbersome, very adversarial, and definitely not something we would want to replicate. But if every child was given the help that they needed, at their own pace, it could revolutionize special education and shift it to the norm.

The Chugach school district of Alaska has been using a differentiated education system since 1992 and every child has their own education plan. There was a major paradigm shift as the district disconnected time and learning and every child learns at their own pace. It is a small school district and faces some unusual challenges. They found that one of the central components to success was the teaching of local values and ethics as a component of the curriculum. I was fortunate to speak with three superintendents who have experienced this system to learn what they did and why.

Steve Atwater is superintendent of the Lake and Peninsula School District in Alaska. He decided to try using the Chugach system after viewing their results and believing that it might be a way to aid his school district be more effective in preparing the student for life. In a candid, far reaching audio interview Steve answers all questions about the genesis of the system in his district and how they established local values. We discuss the process of setting up the education method in a school district and where extra care is needed. Can the lessons learned in Alaska be applied to other school district environments including large urban districts? Are we asking too much from our teachers?

There is much discussion about the best way to educate children. Many education educators provide techniques for not only teaching to the middle. These are valuable techniques for trying to modify a design flaw in our educational system. Teaching to the middle frequently winds up being beneficial to no one. And what about special education? The terminology alone may set up a false promise. It's not always so special and in many cases the education falls far short of a learner's potential.

Differentiated education is being viewed by many as a direction that must be assessed. We need to evaluate if this method of educating the whole child has merit, every child at their own pace, intriguing. How can a teacher manage so many different educational paces? We know that every child is different, that not everyone learns the same way, or at the same speed. We already make a differentiated education plan for 10% -12% of our student population that has been identified as having extra needs. That process is cumbersome, very adversarial, and definitely not something we would want to replicate. But if every child was given the help that they needed, at their own pace, it could revolutionize special education and shift it to the norm.

The Chugach school district of Alaska has been using a differentiated education system since 1992 and every child has their own education plan. There was a major paradigm shift as the district disconnected time and learning and every child learns at their own pace. It is a small school district and faces some unusual challenges. They found that one of the central components to success was the teaching of local values and ethics as a component of the curriculum. I was fortunate to speak with three superintendents who have experienced this system to learn what they did and why. Bob Crumley is currently the superintendent of the Chugach school district. He was head teacher when the school district first started the differentiated education system. In a video interview, Bob talks about how the process got started and how it works, the effects on students in a school district that never had a student go on to college. He shares the effects on the community, the school staff.

There is much discussion about the best way to educate children.  Many education educators provide techniques for not only teaching to the middle. These are valuable techniques for trying to modify a design flaw in our educational system. Teaching to the middle frequently winds up being beneficial to no one. And what about special education?  The terminology alone may set up a false promise. It’s not always so special and in many cases the education falls far short of a learner’s potential.

Differentiated education is being viewed by many as a direction that must be assessed.  We need to evaluate if this method of educating the whole child has merit—every child at their own pace—intriguing. How can a teacher manage so many different educational paces? We know that every child is different, that not everyone learns the same way, or at the same speed.  We already make a differentiated education plan for 10% -12% of our student population that has been identified as having extra needs.  That process is cumbersome, very adversarial, and definitely not something we would want to replicate. But if every child was given the help that they needed, at their own pace, it could revolutionize special education and shift it to the norm.  

The Chugach school district of Alaska has been using a differentiated education system since 1992 and every child has their own education plan. There was a major paradigm shift as the district disconnected time and learning and every child learns at their own pace.  It is a small school district and faces some unusual challenges.  They found that one of the central components to success was the teaching of local values and ethics as a component of the curriculum. I was fortunate to speak with three superintendents who have experienced this system to learn what they did and why.

Roger Sampson was the superintendent of the Chugach school district and is now the President of the Education Commission of the States. Roger talks to me about the background that motivated him to try such a bold and creative change to his schools system’s teaching methods. Roger also speaks to the issues they encountered and what their results were, both good and bad.

A while ago I went to a School Site Council meeting at the school my daughter attends.  At that meeting all the parents participated in a first grade math lesson based on the teaching methods of Marilyn Burns. The parents were read a story and then had to solve a problem based on the information in the story.  We were seated at tables and each table became its own work group.  Each group addressed the solution in its own way.  The experience taught us all on many different levels.  It was comforting as a parent to see the gentle, caring method that was being used with our children. After experiencing this (three cheers to the school staff for presenting it) I was eager to chat with Marilyn to learn what the mind that created this method was thinking about education today.  This interview was that encounter.  Marilyn Burns- How did you solve that?

For some reason the issue of inclusion seems to invoke strong passions.  Everyone views it differently.  Add in the prescription for a least restrictive environment, and wow that gets everyone really churning. You can just see everyone in the room tighten their backs as they set their positions in stone. Walking blindly into this loaded mine field, Senior Dad Stan Goldberg meets educator Paula Kluth, a fifteen year veteran of special education.  Paula has helped schools and school districts transition from exclusion to inclusion. She has held workshops to broaden the understanding of both parents and educators on the benefits of inclusion.  The discussion moves through the hot topics and then on to some common ground when discussing the positive benefits of inclusion (it’s not just that it can be less expensive for a school district).
Bill Glasser is a psychiatrist who developed Choice theory he also has a position on redefining mental health. There are 12 schools in the country designated as Glasser Schools which means the teach the Choice theory as part of their curriculum.  Bill is truly one of the great creative thinkers of our time and in this first part of our multi-part conversation with Bill we learn some of the events that shaped his thinking.

The environment that a child learns in can determine outcome.  At school how we treat the child not only effects how the child learns but also teaches the child how to treat others. If a teacher uses power, force or abuse to teach, that is what a child will learn. The Grand Traverse Academy in Traverse City MI uses none of these. It is a Bill Glasser inspired school and it uses "a gentle way to teach". Kaye Mentley the superintendent of the school district tells us how they do it


Sir Ken Robinson is one of the foremost critical thinkers in the world today in the fields of creativity, ingenuity, and education.  He is to those fields what Stephen Hawking is to physics. We learn Sir Ken’s views on the best direction for education to change, including No Child Left Behind, Inclusion, ADHD, education and the arts, education for the workplace and equality in schools.

Sir Ken has sampled first hand different types of educational methods.  He was born into a modest income family in Liverpool, the fifth of seven children. He contracted Polio when he was four and was sent to a school for disabled children. Later, he was included in a regular school, went on to university, and then on to an outstanding career in education.  We learn how his background shaped his ideas and provided the foundation for his insightful understanding of education and creativity today.

One of the founders of the modern day small schools movement Deb Meier looks back at the small school movement and sees dangers she never envisioned.  Still a supporter of small schools she sees nonetheless a possibility for oppression.  Deb tells us what she thought when she started the modern day small school movement years ago in Harlem.
Jose Barillas is the Principal of Thurgood Marshal Middle School in Chicago IL and is a hero.  I thought about our conversation for 1 month after we recorded it before I could edit it. His story so gripped and troubled me I needed the time to gather perspective. He has taught for 30 years. His school which is a small school (400 students) has been selected one of the “Schools to watch”.  Now in the sunset years of his career he looks at what has changed and what needs to be done. Jose’s school has 97% free lunch and 85% Latino.  Jose helps us understand what is happening with parental involvement at his school and how it affects the children.
Jake Vigdor is Associate Professor of Public Policy Studies and Economics of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy of Duke University. Their latest study looks to see if K-6 is better than K-5 for children.  The Duke research has a chart that shows a significant improvement in behavior in the K-6 environment vs. the K-5 and that that behavior change carries forward for several years.  It also mentions that the students were behind in scores and caught up during the sixth grade in K-6, although that finding needs more thought.  There is also the factor that if you configure schools K-6, 7-9, 10-12 the ninth graders would have a more immature social structure and possibly reduce some of the issues connected with being a ninth grader in a high school.
Gayle Andrews is an Educator.  She is the co-author of two books, "Turning Points 2000, Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century" And "Making the Most of Middle School". She is an assistant professor at the University of Georgia. Gayle understands the dynamics of teaching in middle schools.  Some middle schools are so large the student can fall through the cracks and get missed. How to survive the transition to middle schools and more.
Ingrid Shafer has team taught at the college level for 40 years at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. She is a Professor of Philosophy and Religion and more degrees to boot.  She is a new friend and I asked her how we should teach our quicker learners. That's where our conversation started.  I hope you enjoy listening to Ingrid as much as I enjoyed thinking with her.
Mel Levine didn’t do well in elementary or grade school.  He had a sense of humor and made his classmates laugh. When his classmates came to his house to play he told his mother to tell them he wasn’t home.  He would rather play with his animals and play in his own mind.  His older brother got into Harvard and had Mel visit him on weekends. These visits excited Mel’s mind and he became an A student from then on.  Mel’s brother found the way in to help Mel learn. Mel graduated first in his class at Brown, became a Rhoades Scholar at Oxford, went to Harvard Medical School and is now the Director of the University of North Carolina Center for the Study of Development and Learning.  Mel is one of the leading figures in the world in the study of the different ways that people learn.  Mel doesn’t believe that one way or 5 ways or 10 ways fits all. There is a way to reach every child we just have to follow the clues.  Mel spurns labels like “Autism”, “Bipolar”,  “ADHD” and likes to visualize the child as they will be at 24.  Mel founded the All Kinds of Minds Institute and has changed the way we view learning, all because a kind older brother took the time to find the way in. We learn who Mel is and what he thinks of the world around him.
June Jordan High School of San Francisco is a small school, by design.  Started five years ago by a group of upstarts, comprised of teachers, students and community activists who were not satisfied with how the system was addressing the needs of underserved youth in the inner city who aspired to attend college.  These bold, brash, and outspoken individuals got June Jordon rolling and perhaps ruffled a few feathers in the school district in the process.  With test scores sinking, the faculty is becoming aware that solutions in concept are easier to achieve then solutions in reality.  We speak with Matt Alexander, Principal of the school about the genesis of the school, the school structure and the challenges the school faces today.  Are we seeing a very public, public school sink or are we viewing an intelligent well planned mid-course correction?
A few months ago I interviewed Eric Mar, one of the Commissioners of the Board of Education of the San Francisco Unified School District.  While chatting about some of the issues facing the school board we discussed the expenditure of Board of Education funds to defend lawsuits brought against the SFUSD by parents of children with extra needs, Eric said “there must be a better way”.  That statement haunted me the past few months as I learned what parents and children were experiencing as they tried to cope with their children’s needs while dealing with the frustrations of dealing with the San Francisco School system.  The Winkelman case, just decided by the Supreme Court, establishes a parent’s right to represent their children without an attorney in a special education matter.  This one case changes the playing field from the parents going uphill to level for the first time in history.  Last week we recorded a parent panel that analyzed some of the implications of Winkelman, but more importantly we discussed the issues that cause parents to file suit, and as well as ideas for sensible ways to update the process so that both the parents and the professionals in the schools can work in harmony. An important step in moving towards change is for everyone to hear about the impact that our own school system is having on our community. Parent Panel Stan Goldberg, Rachel Powell Norton, Katy Franklin
Mike Klonsky became attracted to the modern day small schools movement when he was exposed to the ideas and actions of the leaders of the movement in the 1960’s.  As a teacher, he helped create some of the first charter schools in Chicago.  Today he is one of the champions of the small school vision that is embodied by the Chicago small schools movement, pioneered by Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington, in the 1980s.  We discuss the history of the movement, which was motivated by attempting to create the type of school that works best for children, how we should gauge student results, what we’ve accomplished with testing policies, team teaching, how to change teaching, and charter schools.  Mike runs a yahoo listserv that is a think tank for small schools professionals called Smallschools@yahoo.com.  Mike is firmly committed to equity and social change for the benefit of all children
The High School for Independent Learning of Albany and Piedmont California addresses the learning requirements of those students where a typical learning environment has not been successful.  This school seeks to enable these students to be successful and enjoy learning, perhaps for the first time in their lives.  The student body also includes youth who have work or practice requirements that preclude going to regular school.  We talk with Shary Nunan, the Co-Director of the school, who tells us how the school got its start and how the needs of its students are addressed. Teaching a less traveled way
Heddi Craft is an educator.  She has taught school on most levels K-6 and has been a consultant for the Curriculum Leadership Institute.  After moving to Santa Cruz, California, and beginning to raise a family she noticed how quickly her son learned the lessons from his $12-20 puzzles.  Looking around for a better solution than purchasing more learning tools at the pace of her son’s voracious appetite, she founded the Educational Resource Center of Santa Cruz, a membership based lending library of educational toys, games, and learning materials.  In conversation with Senior Dad, Stan Goldberg, she shares her ideas of “No Child Left Behind”, homework, teacher retraining and actions for parents.  Heddi Craft reaching children differently