Archive for the ‘Schools Making a Difference’ Category

The Secretary of Education isn’t the only one who thinks so. Behind the growing movement for social and emotional learning.

by Katherine Gustafson

In a dimmed classroom in Spanish Harlem’s P.S. 112, thirteen kindergarteners were on a journey through the Woods of Wonder. With teacher Tom Roepke they crossed over a bridge made of blocks to reach their base camp—the classroom’s carpeted corner. As the traffic of FDR Drive rushed by outside the window, its sound mixing with a soft flute on the CD player, Roepke asked quietly if anyone saw anything interesting.

“I saw lots of seashells,” whispered one boy.

“I saw a reindeer and an owl,” said another. “They had black fur and they had super eyes that see in the dark and they could even see me in the dark. I put something on the floor and he ate it and he was happy.”

“You fed the owl and he was happy,” said Roepke. “I bet he’s going to remember you! What did you see, Sophie?”

“I saw a little bird that was blue and had a flat beak and sharp claws.”

“I saw a purple salamander,” Sophie’s neighbor offered.

“I’ve been hoping to see one of those!” Roepke exclaimed. “Every time I go in those woods. I haven’t seen one yet. You are so lucky.”

Soon enough it was time to build a cellophane campfire. The children each contributed a piece of kindling to the pile and blew it into flame, which Roepke provided with the flicker of a flashlight beneath the orange cellophane. After the students had toasted imaginary marshmallows and stretched out to sleep under the stars, the night watchman reported a passing bear.

“He just spotted it in the woods over there,” Roepke told the class. “It’s not coming over here. We’re safe.”



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In Louisville, Kentucky, Jefferson County Public Schools are seeing positive results from a districtwide commitment to the CARE for Kids program made just two years ago. Read the article or watch a brief introductory video.

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December 11, 2009

By Michael Pastor
Upper School Counselor

With contributions from Ashley Harsh and Loren Moyé

Progressive educators have always been committed to educating the whole child, however the movement to promote Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools is quite recent. In 1994 Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) to promote SEL in schools. The work of CASEL and others has shown that SEL has a positive impact on students not only in the social emotional realm, but also in terms of academic success. SEL aims to recognize affective components of students’ education and strives to hone interpersonal skills, including effective communication, active listening, aspects as well as emotive and creative expression. SEL is a part of an integrated and structured holistic Affective Education program aiming to strengthen the skills and social and emotional competencies of a 21st century learner.

Prior to this year at SFDS, small steps were taken to incorporate affective education into the fabric of the upper school student’s education, mostly during health education and advisory periods. This year, with the revised upper school schedule and the Summer Learning Institute’s focus on advisory curriculum, we have been able to commit more deeply to this important part of the student’s overall learning. A group of teachers and counselors, including Anne Paine, Ashley Harsh, Leah Rosenkrantz, Tom Keller, and Michael Pastor, met over the summer to develop a seventh-grade curriculum for the activity and advisory periods. Eighth-grade advisors, Sarah Pizer-Bush and Loren Moyé, also met during the summer to create an eighth-grade curriculum. Also, plans are in the works for an expanded health-education curriculum this year for all upper-school students.

Following is a further explanation of how SEL is becoming more integrated in different grades:


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These are my notes taken this morning while listening to a panel discussion on proposed education reforms on Meet The Press with David Gregory. The panel included Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Fmr. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton. They have been touring the country in an bipartisanship effort to rally support for Obama’s Race to the Top Fund.

Notes –

48 states involved
The high goal is to close the achievement gap.

In Washington, only 9% of D.C.students eventually graduate from college.
There are 1.2 million dropouts a year nationally.

Show us reform and then we’ll give you money is The Race to the Top Fund attitude objective.

Arne Duncan is trying to move the DOE to being an engine of innovation.

Education is the #1 civil right of the 21st century – Gingrich

Schools at the bottom are perpetuating poverty and social failure – Duncan

One student said, “We don’t fight because it’s not tolerated.”(Competent adults are essential in creating order, boundaries and expectations)

Mastery Charter School is a school that turned around because of leadership, expectation and competent, caring teachers.

New racism is low expectations – Sharpton

What makes great education is adults. We all need to move outside our comfort zone. – Duncan

There’s nothing humane about a school that destroys children. Gingrich

We need parent involvement. Parent’s hold schools responsible. Sharpton

When a system is broken for (teachers), it does not work for children. Duncan

What is the knowledge most worth having in the 21st century? Gregory asks Gingrich who answers that it is knowledge of self and the ability to learn what you want to learn.

(Thought – Does the structure and discipline needed in schools today conflict with SEL?)

Parents have to say we have expectations of you. Parents have to be full and equal partners with teachers. Duncan

The rest of the community must be the parent (in communities where good parenting is absent). Sharpton

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All quotes taken from the show.

“No choice.”

“The system is stupid.”
“There’s nothing that money can’t fix.”
“How much money would be right?”
“The more the better.”
“Money is not the solution.”
You can give public schools all the money in America and it would not be enough.”
“Schools waste money.”
“It’s not about the money.”

“What are kids learning in school?”
“Learning should be fun.”

“The monopoly of education.”
“With no competition there is no incentive to improve.”
“We don’t care because we don’t have to.”
“We tolerate mediocrity.”

“Choice encourages schools to compete.”

“Public education will never change from within unless there is some competition infused in the equation, unless that occurs than they know they have a captive monopoly.”

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Guidance program promising – Hawaii News – Starbulletin.com

Shared via AddThis

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The Schools That Work category will be an ongoing search and exploration of schools that are doing it differently and what is working about these schools.

The Harlem Children’s Zone, led by Geoffrey Canada, is a massive effort to redesign education to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of children at the bottom of opportunity in this country. Canada, from the South Bronx, “aspires not to be a program at all, but an entire safety net tightly woven of everything that makes communities work — good social services, prenatal counseling, parental involvement and, most crucially, good public schools.”

How can we make change in public schools if we don’t believe change is possible? Canada believes he can make a difference and he acts on that belief. What are we waiting for? In the land of Obama, change is possible, change has come and change is coming to our schools.

Listen to Geoffrey Canada speak with Terry Gross on NPR

Geoffrey Canada

President Obama supports the Harlem Children’s Zone

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