Monday, October 23, 2017

Save the Date: Community Socrates Cafe, Monday November 13, 2017

Community Socrates Café
 with Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy
“How do we balance freedom and security in our Democracy?"


6:30-8:00 PM Monday November 13, 2017
Harwood HS Library, Duxbury, VT

Co-Sponsored by the Joslin Memorial Library and the Waterbury Public Library


For more information contact:

Katherine Cadwell, HUHS@ katherinewcadwell@gmail.com
 Joy Worland, Joslin Memorial Library @ programs@joslinmemoriallibrary.com
Judi Byron, Waterbury Public Library @ judi@waterburypubliclibrary.com


Friday, October 6, 2017

What is a Harkness Classroom?

This is a Harkness Classroom

While meeting with a group of Elementary Math Educators today, we happened to be located in one of the classrooms at HUHS using the Harkness Method for classroom instruction. What is Harkness? they all wondered. Many of our Harwood Educators are participating in a course with teacher Kathy Cadwell who focused on this practice through her 2016-17 Rowland Fellowship, and continues her work by sharing these effective practices with others in our school. 

Click here for a video showing this practice in action and to learn more about Kathy's vision to support teachers in transforming their classrooms from teacher-directed to teacher-facilitated to student-driven learning environments. This video features Harwood students learning from one another using the "Harkness Table" methodology. These practices are completely aligned with the shift to proficiency-based learning, and are a key part of a student-centered learning design.  Check out Kathy's Blog to learn more.... 


From Kathy's Blog.... History of Harkness

Harkness refers to a method of teaching that was developed in the 1930s at the Phillips Exeter School in New Hampshire. The philanthropist Edward Harkness challenged Exeter with an offer: he would make a sizable donation of money to the school if they could originate and implement a radically student-centered method of teaching, and then use this method in all classes. After having their first proposal rejected by Mr. Harkness as “not radical enough,” Exeter eventually committed to moving away from the traditional model of teaching in which the teacher lectures information to students, the students copy the information onto paper, and later, the “regurgitate” the previously instructor-fed information back onto tests and essays. In a Harkness class learning takes place through discussions held around a circular “Harkness Table.” Sitting at the table, all members of the class must question, contribute, and contemplate in order to learn and succeed. Today all classes at Exeter, from English Literature to Algebra, from African History to Chemistry, are held around Harkness tables and use the Harkness method of learning.

Why Harkness?

Of the many different arguments in favor of the method, the most important may be that it goes beyond the mechanistic transmitting of information, and experientially teaches students how to learn.  It is false to assume that students know how to learn. Academic learning requires a series of complex skills, such as the ability to analyze texts, verbal and written articulation of questions and ideas, listening, critical thinking, dialogue and research, to name a few.  If students only learn in the traditional way, receiving information from their instructors in bite-sized chunks, and then later repeating the information onto tests, the skills they will have learned from this experience can be called little more than “parroting”: a parrot can be trained to repeat what it hears, but it holds little, if any, understanding of the meanings of the words it says. Likewise, students can learn to repeat what they are told without having to actually understand what they are repeating. Furthermore, the implicit message of lecture instruction is one that ultimately disempowers students.
As “unbiased” as teachers try to be, educating is, based on the content and pedagogical approach to the curriculum chosen, a political endeavor. By maintaining their place at center stage—their classrooms filling stations for the empty-vesseled students, and they the Guardians of Truth—teacher-centered teachers convey the lesson that their students’ ideas and questions have no explicit worth outside of how well they relate to the teacher’s own ideas and questions. Additionally, teacher-centered classes reinforce the state of intellectual powerlessness common to most students and adults: only “qualified” authorities possess truth, and their opinions we must seek: truth is had by only “qualified” authorities, and we must seek their opinions. While the results of the teacher-centered method may be a pleasant boost to the teacher’s own sense of intellectual superiority, the students are taught to distrust their individual ideas, and to rely too heavily upon the opinions of others; they learn not to trust in their own capacities to discern truth.
The Harkness class lessens students’ ability to simply “parrot” information. As members of the learning group, students must engage with the class by asking questions and contributing their own thoughts. In general, Harkness teachers will minimize the amount of information and answers they give directly to their students. Instead, they will give their students’ resources in which the information and ideas can be found, or at the very least, they will help their students locate the necessary resources. Because of this approach, students will experience the complex process of learning. This is a process in which they must involve themselves to a much greater degree than they may normally be required: students may not simply write down what teachers say. They must search for the ideas and information and then wrestle with that which they find. Students who engage themselves with the Harkness class will finish with a greater sense of autonomy and empowerment, knowing that they know how to learn. They will also finish the class with an increased ability to verbally articulate their questions and opinions in discussions. Additionally, Harkness students will come away with the important understanding of the power and necessity of listening, as well as the skills needed in order to be effective listeners.
What Harkness is Not
Harkness is not the Socratic method of teaching.  As it is generally understood, Socratic teaching involves asking students questions about their ideas, continually pointing out weaknesses in the ideas until students “realize” the correct conclusions. The conclusions, however, are predetermined by the teacher, and the students only qualify as having realized if they agree with, or surrender to, the teacher’s ideas.   This type of teaching is teacher centered: the teacher is the sage on the stage, throwing forth pearls of wisdom to the flock of befuddled and bewildered minds below. Socratic teaching is excellent in terms of providing students with the experience of intensive critical thinking, of seeing an intelligent and intellectually engaged adult in action. The downside, however, is that the method focuses too much on the personality and interests of the teachers, perhaps leaving them feeling masterful and smart, but imparting feelings of subordination, stupidity, and even harassment onto their students. The Harkness class will generally have, nonetheless, a Socratic feel, in that students’ ideas are questioned and commented upon. For the most part though, these questions and comments will come from the students’ peers rather than the teacher.
Harkness is not just “teaching through discussion.” While many teachers use class discussions in their courses, the discussions still tend to be very teacher driven: the teacher asks the questions, keeps the class focused, decides when to move on, and for the most part, still sits in the dominant role as expert holder of Truth. Conversely, some class discussions become very loose “blow-off-steam” forums in which members of the class (usually the dominant ones) shout out their opinions and argue back and forth.   Unfortunately, these quasi-debate style classes almost always contain more hot air than substance—they lack the structure necessary for the type of critical inquiry that leads to substantive conclusions upon which a class may build in the future. Furthermore, these types of discussions give students a bad model of intellectual dialogue: combativeness, blind position-taking, and immaturity are the lessons learned.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Social Studies Curriculum Resources

As you may know- several HUUSD Teachers worked on redevelopment of our K-8 Social Studies curriculum this past summer. At the next Shared Staff Meeting, these lead teachers will be sharing the work done to date and asking for teachers to try out some of the new instructional materials in order to collect feedback to inform the next stage in the development process. The drafts of the Social Studies Units can be found in Drive and are linked here. As you teach from the units- please provide feedback using the following form. 

The last stage in the development will occur in Summer 2018. Please contact Sarah Ibson or Lori Morse for additional information about this committee work. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

2016-17 HUUSD Assessment Results

HUUSD and Vermont 2016-17 Assessment Results Released

On 9/13/17 Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe announced statewide results from the 2016-17 Smarter Balanced Assessments, a set of computer adaptive tests for English Language Arts and Mathematics developed by a national consortium currently made up of 15 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Bureau of Indian Education. This was the third year Vermont students, statewide, participated in the Smarter Balanced program.

These tests, which were administered this spring to students in grades three through eight and grade 11, were designed to assess student mastery of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards are deliberately ambitious, to ensure we have high expectations for our students. Over time, the results will provide community members, teachers and parents with an increasingly reliable and accurate snapshot of children’s mastery of these standards as well as the progress of our schools at improving the performance of our students relative to these standards.

HUUSD and Vermont’s statewide results:

MATHEMATICS

2017 Smarter Balanced Results

Proficient Scaled Score
STATE of VERMONT
HUUSD
Scale Score
Total Proficient and Above
Scale Score
Total Proficient and Above Proficient

Grade 3
2436
2438
52%
2452
62%
Grade 4
2485
2476
47%
2488
54%
Grade 5
2528
2505
42%
2514
46%
Grade 6
2552
2519
39%
2535
41%
Grade 7
2567
2541
44%
2552
50%
Grade 8
2586
2555
41%
2551
43%
Grade 11
2628
2555
37%
2549
25%


ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS


2017 Smarter Balanced Results

Proficient Scaled Score
STATE of VERMONT
HUUSD
Scale Score
Total Proficient and Above
Scale Score
Total Proficient and Above Proficient

Grade 3
2432
2425
49%
2442
60%
Grade 4
2473
2466
59%
2497
63%
Grade 5
2502
2508
55%
2520
61%
Grade 6
2531
2531
52%
2562
72%
Grade 7
2552
2555
55%
2570
59%
Grade 8
2567
2570
55%
2548
51%
Grade 11
2583
2599
59%
2580
54%







Like several other SBAC consortium member states, Vermont saw its scores decline slightly this past year. “The relationship between strong academic skills and financial security and wellbeing is stronger than it has ever been, regardless of whether our students are headed to careers or college when they graduate. Tests don’t measure everything that matters to a happy and successful life, including our ability to participate in democratic life,  but there is no path to prosperity for students who don’t master reading, writing and mathematics,” said Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe. “We were disappointed to see those score declines. The achievement gaps between our vulnerable youth and students with greater privilege remain, and in some cases were narrowed, but this was largely a result of score declines for more privileged groups. As we work to implement more personalized learning and flexible pathways, we need to make sure we continue to challenge and engage all our students, while providing the extra support our more vulnerable children need to thrive. And, we need to support our schools and teachers as they figure out how to support better learning outcomes.” This is the first year scores will be used to calculate the growth measures (to show change in performance from the preceding year) in Vermont’s state plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Federal dollars are used to provide extra support for students for whom those dollars will make the greatest difference. 

The Smarter Balanced Assessments, which challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills in areas such as critical thinking, analytical writing and problem solving, are computer adaptive tests, administered online. Computer adaptive tests adjust the difficulty of the test question based on how a test taker responds to each successive question. If a student answers incorrectly, for example, the computer delivers a slightly easier question. If the student answers correctly, the next question is a bit harder. This process continues until the best possible prediction of a student’s ability is determined. This means very few children take a test that feels too hard or too easy. It also means the test can provide a more precise measure of what students can and cannot do.

Comparative results showing HUUSD in relation to other schools like us and showing result over the three years will be compiled and posted to the HUUSD website soon. This entire data report will include demographic breakouts including Gender, Social Economic Status, and IEP comparisons.  




















Source: Vermont Agency of Education
Press Release 09/13/17

Friday, September 1, 2017

Proficiency Feedback Form for Middle and High School Teachers

Throughout the year we will be collecting feedback from Middle and High School teachers on any of the Learning Expectations, Performance Indicators, or Proficiency Rubrics that you are using this year. Your feedback could be about anything -- something missing, something to consider, grammatical error, etc... In Spring of 2018 a team will convene to review the feedback and tune things up for 2018-19. You can add your feedback anytime throughout the year- and fill out as many forms as needed. You can access the form here and in drive

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weekly Update Sunday August 27th, 2017


MAP Assessment Window 2017-2018


Thanks again for those of you in attendance at this week MAP Assessment Training. Following the training I had a chance to do a quick huddle with a few of the principals and we have established an amended administration schedule for this school year. As a reminder, MAP Growth will be given in Grades K-10 in both Mathematics and Literacy. MAP Skills, the progress monitoring tool, will be brought on in the second half of the school year for grades 3-8. The updated Administration Window is listed below. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Administration Window 2017-18

Fall 
Grades 1-10
Sept 11-22, 2017
Make Up Tests - week of 9/25
All testing completed by 9/29

Winter
Kindergarten -Required
Grade 1-10 -- Optional
Feb 5-16, 2018
Make Up Tests- Week of 2/19
All testing completed by 2/23

Spring 
Grades K-10
May 14-25, 2018
Make Up Tests - week of 5/28
All testing completed by 6/1

_____________________________________________________________________

Mathematics Program Evaluation Update

The group piloting the Elementary Mathematics Programs for review were provided an overview of  Investigations 3rd Edition by company representative, Paula Freidson on 8/24. The group was also given a number of materials including teachers editions, student workbooks, and cards games for use during the pilot. There are additional materials still available if anyone wants to stop by Central Office to pick them up. The only caveat being that used materials need to be returned to the company if we decide not to purchase Investigations next year. Either way the student workbooks are ours to keep.

Meanwhile the group fine tuned the program evaluation rubric we will use to rate the programs as we proceed through the pilot. Please click here to see the rubric. If you have additional questions you can contact me directly- or reach out to one of the committee reps. The group next meets on Inservice Day 10/6 for an overview of the Bridges Mathematics Program, by South Burlington teacher Kim Audette.

Fayston School: Doug Bergstein (5th), Jean Goldhammer (2nd)
Warren School: Elizabeth Tarno (5th)
Waitsfield Elementary: Ann Beattie (Kindergarten), Ali Hale (4th)
Moretown School: Brenda Hartshorn (Kindergarten), Deb Fadden (4th)
Crossett Brook Middle School: Melinda Anderman (5th)
Thatcher Brook Primary School: Pam Menz (2nd), Anne Hutchinson (3rd)