Monday, February 28, 2005


1. Leadership Team provided with overall school stats via email and on this blog.

2. Leadership Team provided with proposed actions to focus on via email and on this blog.

3. Actions revised and turned into memo.
(a) Sent on BG List
(b) Uploaded to Yahoo Groups

4. Recommendations to leadership team to distribute same memo via mailboxes, face to face and follow up / monitoring.

5. Each Explorations crew leader received an individualized message with the data breakdown for their 11th graders.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Actions to Take

In addition to whatever further study is going on with data, I think it’s important to take some action that we believe might spur student improvement through teaching and / or get people working on the problem themselves. What I mean is that the action does not have to be the exactly right action (as if we knew what that was) but it should stir things ups – get people doing something new with their students or get teachers to create new solutions as they help us all address this issue.

From Heifetz: “…with adaptive problems [complex, not solved via some technical fix], authority must look beyond authoritative solutions. [However] authoritative action may usefully provoke debate, rethinking, and other processes of social learning, …then it becomes a tool in a strategy to mobilize adaptive work toward a solution , rather than a direct means to institute one.”

So, what I would like to do is send out another set of practices to norm in Explorations. 3 are procedures or systems that could affect instruction and 1 is directly about instruction or the interaction between teacher and student.

Mentor meetings: Ideally there should be 3 check ins with mentors over the course of a quarter: opening, middle and end meeting. We need to help develop structures for each of these. In the meantime, this quarter each crew leader should have the 3 time meeting with at least one mentor (of an undercredited 11th grader) and at least one check in with the other mentors. These can be a mix of visits and phone calls. Ideally everyone should be visited at least once.

Learning Plans: Everyone should have learning plans by now. What’s important is to check that students are aware of them, that there’s purpose behind the projects listed and that there’s an apprenticeship connected project on each one. This can be checked in a massive SAMs effort in one week. If each SAMs picked one Explorations room and did a check in: physically check learning plans, interview students present about apprenticeship and purpose, and bring notes back to meeting so we can collect and respond to data.

Grids: Al will create a short form on which crew leaders report the projects completed as reflected on the grid. This will be turned into “credits” for internal monitoring purposes. For example, if Yvonne needs 8 credits a semester to get back on track for graduation then she needs 4 credits this quarter. In 8 weeks that’s a half credit per week. We can see if she’s on track if she completed enough projects (even if they are spread out over various subjects) to equal a half credit (equivalent of one intersection). This should be monitored weekly.

Conferencing: I think many crew leaders already meet 1:1 with their students and often push them to do something more in terms of activity. We should add that, if it’s not already being done, there is some instructional component to each conference. What specifically is the crew leader doing to push their thinking, capturing that thinking and leading to conceptual development with regards to performance expectations? Crew leaders should keep a record of this to be checked.

Those are the four authoritative actions. I’m interested in feedback but only in the spirit of getting into action NOT delaying it. We have had the undercredited 11th graders on our radar since December 14th (my notes from assignment 7). Less talking about it and more doing so we can then talk about and analyse the doing.

“Talking does not cook rice.” Chinese proverb


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Data Analysis


I looked at the credits earned in January and analysed the credit accumulation for all our 11th graders. It is very likely that some of you may respond that the data is not all accurate and that is true. However, it is my opinion that it is accurate enough to make the general conclusions made below. Although we should still be working on accuracy, for the purposes of looking at our 11th graders I think this data is good enough. In order to avoid being on some radar screen for a school in need of improvement, we would have to be wrong on about 40 of our students by a semester’s worth of credit. If we are wrong on anything less than 40 students or by less than a semester’s worth of credit, it is not going to make any big difference anyway. Remember that when we are talking about 3 or 4 kids who have significant credit differences. Or even if we have dozens who are off by a few credits. It really won’t matter much.

I looked at three things.

+++On Track Students: Did the students in your crew get on track, off track or stable compared to how they started in September.

Not one student who was “off track” get “on track.” Even if they did better this semester than the past, they were still so behind that it was not enough to get them on track (Out of 65 students only 12 students actually earned more in January than they usually do per semester).

8/12 crews saw no change in this category and “did no harm.” However, 4 crews had a student who was previously “on track” fall “off track.”

+++Earning Power: How many credits did a student earn in January compared to their average credit earning per semester. Did they earn less, as much or more than they had in the past?

12 students earned more credit in January than they usually do. These students are spread out over 7 crews.

50 students earned less credit in January than they usually do and 5 crews saw all their students earn less than that student’s average.

+++Burden: Every student – even those on track – have a certain number of credits they need to earn per future semester in order to graduate on time. Did these burdens increase, decrease or stay stable?

59 students saw their burden increase. That is, they fell more behind than they were in September.

7 crews had every one of their students see their burdens increase. That is, all these students are in a worse position than they were in September.

4 crews each had a single student reduce their burden. 1 crew had one student stay stable.

So, as a school we lost more kids to the off track status, increased the burden of 90% of the students, and saw 77% of the students earn less credit than they had in previous semesters.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Changing Instruction / Behavior

There is nothing wrong with any of the following and in fact may be great ideas:


BUT, am I the only one that thinks this has something to do with instruction or the educational interaction between the crew leader and student?

For example:
>>"We agreed that every teacher will have a specific concept in mind (as a learning goal) when they are conferencing with a student and will go through the I DO/You WATCH through YOU DO/I WATCH model." OR

>> "We agreed that all students will be in cooperative learning groups and each will be taught explicit roles to play as they check in on each other's learning with crew leader facilitation." OR

>> "We agreed that a 'bridging' activity will be used with every major concept (2 or 3 per quarter) to help forge a connection between new concepts and prior knowledge. The Building Background Knowledge sequence can be used as a bridging activity."

These samples address teacher behavior in the instructional interaction. I don't see any of that in the recommendations. Either that's because (1) y'all don't really think that's at issue -- fine, then let's discuss further or (2) y'all think you ARE doing it by doing the above -- then I need to understand better or (3) y'all agree but it's hard and all the above is a form of work avoidance.
I'm interested in where people are at with this.Michael

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Analysis of "Problem" - class notes

What's the problem?: 68% undercredited 11th graders?
Why is that a problem?: We're supposed to graduate kids in 4 says society.
What about this is of most concern to us?: Eventually we'll be labeled a failure, loss of freedom = constraints on our capacity to work.

[I would like to dig deeper than this. What are we working on that we believe in so much that constraints would be a problem OR are we just concerned for personal freedom regardless of results?]

If these were symptoms of some disease, what would the disease be called?: Arrogance.

[This doesn't resonate with me. I think it's something like "fear" ].

Imagine there were a solution...what would it have to do to affect [the disease]?

We said, "the solution would have to help us see that our arrogance was getting in the way of student's learning and that external constraints were not a problem." It's US not THEM.

After Birdsell's presentation we were pushed to come up with a message that would forward the solution. We had "one kid at a time" and "In 4 years." [I'm not sure about either and would like to keep looking].

We need a message that addresses the disease (assuming proper identification of disease), causes actions / behaviors different than what we have been doing, and provides the lift we need. Think about how it affects decision rules. Think about how it can be implemented in any situation. What does the audience believe that makes them favorable towards this message? What does the audience believe that makes them unfavorable?

Martin Van Buren and Chester Arthur were the missing presidents.


Collecting Data / Taking Action

James has added the credit accumulation from every report card that Al sent me. Some staff's report cards are missing. This spreadsheet has been emailed to Al.

James is currently inputting the POL scores.

I think that as long as the data is provided to me (and much I have) we have the time to input the data.

I'm afraid that the we may allow ourselves to be seduced by inputting data or creating new systems (i.e., new graduation plans) without taking direct action on the core issue of the undercredited 11th graders: instruction.

I believe we have all the systems we need but they are not all implemented (i.e, does each student have internalized what their learning plans say...are they real live plans of action OR does each student have a rich project connected to their apprenticeship?). Inventing new systems may be enticing while not addressing the hardest work.

I would like to hear about what actions are being taken in the classroom and in the interactions with students. What are people trying out? What results do we see? How will we track those results (I suggest grids...another system in place but underused)?

Any thoughts? Debate?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Collecting Data / Assignment 7

I titled this "collecting data" because that's the aspect I'm stuck on right now. I have three sources of data that need to be transferred to our master spreadsheet and each has it's own way of getting done:

1. Transferring Regents scores from Sue's spreadsheet to the master spreadsheet. Apparently this can be done with look up tables and Phil will show Joan and me how to use them.

2. POL scores need to be typed by hand into the master. (Also, we need to revisit this sheet to see who didn't present, if there are incorrect records, and work on what to do next with the kids).

3. Report Card Credit Accumulation. This requires adding info from report cards to the spreadsheet.

Joan and I will work on this, but I'm wondering what everyone thinks (if I set it up right) about taking some admin time and everyone putting some data in. That is, if Sue were available for 20 minutes at 10 am, she would go to the folder and add what she could...indicate where she left off...and move on with life. At noon, I come by and put in 15 minutes and get as far as I can. If the setup were there we could get this done in no time. Comments?

I think with this blog we can add comments directly addressing this post and/or create brand new posts. Maybe we should only create brand new posts for new topics but I'm not sure of the best way to use this.

Hope this helps.