Several groups from Oakland County have visited Reuther this past year to observe our classroom culture and school environment. The SIP team felt it was important to show our entire staff the incredible things happening here at Reuther. We wanted to take the time and reflect on the aspects and characteristics that make Reuther great, as well as provide opportunities for staff members to learn from one another to further enhance our school culture.
Staff members rotated through four different classrooms to see the cultural forces in-action. A specific focus was placed on the use of language. Each session ended with a time of discussion and feedback.
As a way to identify opportunities for staff members to focus on improving the use of language in their classroom, the PD day ended with the Back to the Future protocol. The staff was asked to vision into the future and tell what the language in your classroom will look and sound like by the end of the semester. Then, they looked back and described how they were able to accomplish this vision. The protocol helped to guide purposeful steps to take in order to achieve their classroom language vision.
Staff members constructed meaning on the essence of the culture force of language as they engaged with a Found Poem Routine.
When lesson/unit planning, starting with the understanding map ensures these types of thinking will occur within a given lesson.
The lesson planning frameworks below can be used as resources to help design lessons that reach for deeper understanding and teach for learning and not work.
At today's PD, staff used photos to serve as metaphors to explore their mindsets, values, and beliefs to best answer the question, "What are you teaching for?" SIP member Erika Lusky facilitated a learning through metaphors exercise to guide staff members in answering this question. In Dr. Ron Ritchhart's latest book, Creating Cultures of Thinking, he speaks to the purpose of using metaphors to shape our realities as we perceive the world, in this case our profession. Reuther discovered we are teaching for.....
From there, staff members examined how what they are teaching for connects with the beliefs Ritchhart outlines in chapter 2 of Creating Cultures of Thinking.
Reuther was asked by Assistant Superintendent Debi Fragomeni to host the Peer District Committee on Tuesday, October 6 from 1:00-4:00 pm. The Peer District Committee is made up of superintendents from across the State of Michigan. It was Rochester schools turn host this month’s meeting and selected Reuther as the host school because of our work in Cultures of Thinking.
The afternoon began with a welcome message from our Superintendent, Dr. Robert Shaner, and then members of the Reuther SIP team presented on our four year journey.
Principal Cheryl Gambaro shared about the start of our journey from year one. SIP Co-Chair Rachel Mainero then went on to share about the key points in year two. SIP Co-Chair Natalie James shared about year three and transitioned into where we are now in year four. The infographics below highlight the key events from each year's journey.
The force of environment has been key is setting the stage for developing our Cultures of Thinking. We wanted to share with the members of the committee some of the ways that our environments are changing to better suit the learning needs of our students. A video about the New Think Tank was played so that members could hear how this environment helps deepen students' thinking and facilitates thoughtful interactions.
Members of the committee also had the chance to tour the Maker Space room in the Media Center. This old storage closet has been transformed into a space where students take the lead in a variety of learning concepts from code, web design, green screen technology, DIY projects, graphic design and more. The space is available to students during lunch and after school.
As members exited the Maker Space they were divided into groups for classroom observations. SIP team members Erica Rossell, Bill Staugaard, Erika Lusky, and Amy Hoesktra welcomed the guests into their classrooms so they could see the Cultural Forces in action.
The afternoon ended with a panel discussion. Members of the committee had the opportunity to ask teachers and students questions about the lessons they just observed and our Cultures of Thinking journey.
The district kicked off the new school year by welcoming back Dr. Adolph Brown, motivational speaker and educational expert. Staff then attended a variety of break-out sessions on relevant topics, including technology integration, the 8 Cultural Forces, and visible thinking routines. Staff members also attended a mini-keynote session on the Strategic Plan. Cultures of Thinking is embedded into the Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment goal of the Strategic Plan. The second annual Moving Learning Forward Conference was a great start to the 2015-2016 school year!
The SIP team set out to create an alternative learning space that encourages collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Below is a photo timeline of the before and after photos. This space is sure to be highly sought out by staff and students this upcoming school year.
The Completed Think Tank
A big thank you goes to the Rochester Hills Home Depot who generously donated the three white boards pictured on the lime green wall. These boards will be used to capture students thinking. We are excited to see how this space enhances students' understanding as they discuss their thinking, share ideas, debate viewpoints, and engage with other learners.
Members of the SIP team met in the morning to brainstorm ways to enhance classroom environments. Natalie James, SIP co-chair, started the discussion by sharing the story of Steven Mattice, a math teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in San Francisco. Steven and the designers from The Third Teacher Plus worked together to create an environment that enhances creative collaborations and shared learning experiences.
The Leaderless Discussion strategy was used to share out our thinking and learning from the environment chapter in Ron Ritchhart's new book Creating Cultures of Thinking. The conversation ended with a generated list of ways to create campfires, watering holes, and caves within our classroom environment. The group planned to meet again on August 18 to transform the environment of an alternative learning space that can be used by all teachers and students.
This is Reuther Middle School's Culture of Thinking journey.