Grades: Grades 9-12

Encouraging students to explore new cultures in ways that foster their critical thinking, independence, and collaboration.

On January 23rd and 30th, I’ll share how I help my 6th-12th grade students become better critical thinkers and more independent and collaborative learners. I’ll present the details of an investigative, project-based learning unit that brings them in contact with a new culture and with individuals from other countries. I’ll explain how this three-month long exploration encourages my students to recognize the value of being contributing members of their community, challenges them to responsible citizens of the world, and gives them the opportunity to work together to explore and solve complex social problems that they identify themselves.

The key to this approach is encouraging students to cross boundaries with which they’re familiar—geographic boundaries, cultural boundaries, even language boundaries—and to come together to solve a problem or champion a cause that’s central to the lives of other students who they don’t already know.

To do so, I look within my curriculum for themes that can be connected to global issues. After narrowing it down to a driving question I make connections with teachers, community leaders, and with students with whom my students can collaborate and then introduce the project to my class. The teachers involved and I work together with students, helping them investigate the issue from a perspective they choose and helping them to make the connections with individuals they can learn from.  At the end, they are able to present a product or a proposal for action to each other, and to other members of our learning community.

In our first session, I’ll describe the process by which I plan and develop this project and the way in which I focus specifically on the end goal. I’ll also share how I’ve been able to integrate interdisciplinary learning and peer collaboration using digital software like the Google Suite.

With this background, you’ll have the chance to align this project with your own content standards, and when we gather for our second meeting you will have the chance to think through how to create an outline for your own similar project and the assessment tools that best align with your project goals. At this time, I will also share the detailed timeline I use to help the students and teachers move toward our common end goal in a timely manner.

Using tableaux to strengthen students’ literary analysis skills

On October 25 and November 1, Meg O’Brien and I will together share a theater strategy that can help students deeply analyze and understand complex texts and ideas: tableaux. Meg, who is Interim Co-Director of Education and the Access Coordinator at the Huntington Theatre Company teaches with me in our ninth grade Humanities class, encouraging students to use tableaux to literally embody ideas and pieces of literature. This seemingly simple structure helps them explore nuances of meaning, literary techniques, multiple perspectives, symbolism, and more. Working together on tableaux can also help students build social and emotional competencies. The best part? It’s not just for theater classes. Even students (and teachers!) with no background in acting or theater can be successful using this strategy.

On October 25th, we’ll introduce this strategy in a free, one-hour workshop. You’ll have opportunities to participate in some basic theater exercises, see and discuss student work, analyze how bringing tableaux into your class could address Common Core State Standards for ELA, and reflect on how you might incorporate these ideas into your own practice. By the time you leave, you’ll have concrete resources to help you get started with this technique in your own classroom.

On November 1st, we’ll reconvene to share ideas, debrief how it went, and help fine-tune everyone’s approach to this new strategy.

Register for this TeachingPartners Live Workshop now, and TeachingPartners will immediately send you an appointment you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to October 25th to make sure you’re ready.

Keeping students on the same page by hosting classroom-based “accountability socials”

On October 1st and October 8th, I’ll share the strategy I’ve found works best for making certain that my accounting students all start on the same level playing field. I’ll share the way I introduce and then continue to reinforce accounting’s systematic processes for working with, understanding, and presenting financial information. I do this through a repeated classroom activity I call our “accountability social.”

Every year students take either the Principles of Accounting course or College Accounting 1 with me. I noticed over the years that when students come to my classroom from different teachers they as a result begin the year with a different foundation of accounting skills and processes. To make sure my students are all starting from the same place I begin working with them from the outset on identifying, recording, measuring, classifying, verifying, summarizing, interpreting and communicating financial information  in our classroom “accountability social.” The purpose of the accountability party is to go over accounts, types of accounts, how they relate or how they differ in the accounting cycle or process without the students realizing that is what they are doing and they have fun with it at the same time. Each “party” can contain many lessons, and can go for one day or span multiple days or periods.

A regularly scheduled accounting social helps my students begin the year learning the same skills and practices together. As the year goes on the accountability social gets more difficult and more rules come into play. No matter what topic we’re covering throughout the year, my students learn new skills while at the same time having fun.

On October 1st, I will introduce the materials needed and the various ways you can host your own accountability social with your students. You’ll then have a chance to think about how you’d host your own accountability social and what you’d need to incorporate or modify from the way I’ve described this and then, on October 8th,  we’ll meet again to discuss any concerns, any troubles, or suggestions to make the event better.

Register for this free, credit-bearing TeachingPartners Live Workshop now! TeachingPartners will send you an appointment confirmation you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to October 1st to make sure you’re ready.

Enlisting industry partners to bring real-life expertise to your career-academy classroom

On December 5th and December 12th, I’ll share the approach that I’ve found most consistently delivers real-life industry expertise to my classroom: enlisting industry professionals as co-teachers of key parts of my curriculum.

At key times each year, I invite industry professionals to help teach lessons directly to my career-academy students. I work with these speakers in advance of their visit to give them the context they need to present their experience in ways my students will understand and benefit from. I also make sure that they are prepared to illustrate key skills or concepts with real examples taken from their current jobs or their previous work histories. Presenting these examples helps make classroom ideas concrete for my students. It also empowers each guest speaker to share the one thing that makes his or her experience unique—and uniquely engaging for my students.

On December 5th, I’ll share how I approach potential guest-teachers, how I think about integrating them within a lesson or a unit, and—once they agree to take part—how I prepare them to make their time in the classroom most successful. Because professionals work by checklists, deliverables, and deadlines, I’ll also share effective ways to engage them in reviewing and contributing their ideas to handouts, activities, and other resources that will support their teaching time.

We will meet again on December 12th, after you’ve had a chance to reflect about this approach and to think about how this strategy might work best for your students. Together with other teachers, you’ll then share your ideas and give feedback to others similarly eager to enlist professionals in their classroom.

Register for this TeachingPartners Live Workshop now, and TeachingPartners will immediately send you an appointment you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to December 5th to make sure you’re ready.

Organizing “Career Lunches” that establish lasting connections between students and industry leaders

On December 4th and December 11th, I’ll share the one approach I’ve found most successful for connecting industry leaders with my career-academy students. As often as I can, I organize school-based lunches in which my students get a chance to meet with and learn from a local industry professional.

These events provide immediate and long-term benefits to my students. Right away, they give my students a chance to learn more about the requirements of a particular career. Students learn first-hand what’s needed to prepare and to succeed at a job they might soon have themselves, and they begin to imagine themselves with this responsibility.

These lunches make it equally possible for industry leaders to learn more about my classroom in an authentic way and—even more importantly—to make one-on-one connections with my students. Almost always, these professionals feel more connected and invested than they would otherwise, because they can see the impact they have on young people just beginning to think about their careers. Very often, this first meeting leads a lunch-time speaker to real engagement on our advisory board, and sometimes to internships and to other ongoing student support.

On December 4, I’ll share the ways I’ve learned ensure a student-hosted lunch comes together for maximum success. I’ll discuss the ways I first identify and contact a prospective classroom speaker, and then how I collaborate with this speaker to create an agenda for a classroom visit. We work together before the lunch to anticipate the things students will most want to learn from the visit. I’ll present the ways I’ve found to advertise the session and to gain student interest, and I’ll provide details about what I expect of my students: how they should prepare, how they should dress, and how they should present themselves professionally throughout the lunch.

You’ll have a chance to reflect about this approach and to think about how this process might work for you, and then our group will meet again on December 11th to share ideas and feedback so that you can employ these approaches in your own classroom.

Register for this TeachingPartners Live Workshop now, and TeachingPartners will immediately send you an appointment you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to the start of our first session to make sure you’re ready.


Starting the year by establishing a safe and engaging career-focused classroom

In the teaching profession, we get two New Year’s Day opportunities: back-to-school time and New Year’s Day itself. The time when students return to school to begin their year is the perfect time to set up your classroom for learning and for safety.

On October 2nd and October 9th, I’ll share what I’ve found to be the best way to start the year for my students. In my classroom, I begin by introducing a career portfolio. This foundation sets the climate for my classroom, gets my students to know each other better, and gets my kids focused on college-and-career readiness skills—all on day one!

National Academy Foundation students prepare resumes, cover letters and more in their classrooms. With a little planning, you can align your set-up early in the year to create a safe and engaging classroom that supports these career-focused activities throughout the school year.

On October 2nd, I’ll share the process of integrating a career portfolio within your classroom during the first days of the school year. In this free, one-hour workshop. I’ll share specific strategies that enable you to:

  • Establish your own self-managing classroom
  • Decrease discipline issues by establishing shared class values.
  • Build classroom rapport and teamwork that fosters a safe, trusting learning environment
  • Develop your students’ empathy for diverse cultures/backgrounds; and
  • Increase classroom attendance by building students’ motivation and helping them take responsibility for their actions and performance.

You’ll have a chance to reflect about this process and then our group will meet again on October 9th to share ideas and feedback so that you can employ these approaches in your own classroom.

Register for this TeachingPartners Live Workshop now, and TeachingPartners will send you an appointment you can drop right in your online calendar. You’ll also get a reminder closer to October 2nd to make sure you’re ready.