Book Riff

Good Ones

American Teacher: responding to students, environments and conditions

SMW, December 5, 2013 4:22 PM

"There are very few schools
that purposefully try to create lines and connections between different fields. The way most high schools are set up,
you're in history class, and then the bell rings;
then you go to science class,
and then the bell rings.

-teacher Michael Goodwin

Video & Excerpt Below

American Teacher is a new book celebrating 50 great teachers who share one thing in common: each is doing something unique that responds to their students, environment and conditions. Below is 7 minute clip from MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Also check out the excerpt below the video of teacher Michael Goodwin's "School Within a School" which takes students out of their usual classroom for a semester that is inter-disciplinary and multi-sensory.

Video featuring author Katrina Fried, along with teacher Michael Goodwin, discussing the educators who are "Heroes in the Classroom."

Michael Goodwin
11th-12th Grade English, Concord-Carlisle High School

Concord, Massachusetts

Michael Goodwin first launched his experimental interdisciplinary program, Rivers and Revolutions, in 2010, as a two-week tuition-free summer intensive for secondary-school students. It has since grown into a semester-long accredited "school within a school" that offers blind admission to interested juniors and seniors at Concord-Carlisle, where Goodwin himself went to high school, and where he has taught since 2008. The pioneering program's main mission is to provide students with a meaningful context that unifies the various strands of study in a traditional curriculum.

In this excerpt from American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom by Katrina Fried, Goodwin describes his journey as a teacher.

Ever since I was a teenager I have wanted to be involved with education. When I went home after my first day of high school, I envisioned coming back years later, clutching a grade ledger and an attendance book. Ironically, I did just that.

I wanted to teach high-school students because they are at a very hinge-like moment of transition. You're capturing them at such a critical time. And there's a piece of me that's very academic so I really love reading complicated texts and talking about big, meaty ideas. The capacity of older students to engage in that work is great, but it is still hard to reach everyone no matter how enthusiastic I can be. If I get up and teach about the events that led up to the American Revolution, and I reenact the ride of Revere, Dawes, and Prescott to warn that the British are coming, no matter how exciting I make it - and I can really ham it up - not every kid is going to connect to the historical narrative. However, if I bring in The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Grant Wood - this really odd and bizarre painting made during the Great Depression - all of a sudden I've captured, perhaps, those two or three kids who needed that visual. I've found that the more I bring art, music, and science into what I am teaching, the higher the level of engagement. It's all about creating a greater number of access points.

There are very few schools that purposefully try to create lines and connections between different fields. The way most high schools are set up, you're in history class, and then the bell rings; then you go to science class, and then the bell rings.

 You go through a whole day and a whole semester constantly being pulled from one thing to the next. I think that prevents students from having the time and space to really develop a relationship with the material. I find it is critical to break down barriers among disciplines and between the classroom and the world that exists outside.

I am currently running an interdisciplinary, experiential "school-within-a-school" program of my own design: Rivers and Revolutions. Through the lenses of literature, social studies, mathematics, science, and the arts, teachers and students investigate the following units of study: rivers, revolutions, air, fire, love, migration, seasons, and equilibrium. Time in the classroom is matched by time in the field as the cohort explores sites of cultural, historical, and ecological significance.

I wanted to make sure that these units were broad and would provide us with the capacity to actually reflect on the human condition. So, all these phenomena sort of tie the world together and are bigger than just the human experience and bigger than just a specific place or specific time or specific culture. For example, we're studying love right now and we are considering the question, "How can you define love?"

How have poets and novelists tried to do that? We're acting out scenes from Shakespearean sonnets about love but we're also studying what attracts people to each other through biology and even chemistry. We are studying the symmetry in a person's face and evaluating the mathematics of attraction through population growth and magnetism. We are creating life-size body maps in order to better understand ourselves in relation to those we love. What is the conversation surrounding love and social movements, or the Endangered Species Act, or social justice? What are the different ways of thinking about love, and is love ultimately definable?

Really good education is all about risk-taking and about making a mess; learning is chaotic, right? And if you don't have an environment in which there is a sense of trust, then teachers and students are going to be a lot less likely to engage in those kinds of risky activities. I'm constantly encouraging students to step into zones in which they're not totally sure they can succeed, where they maybe feel slightly unprepared, because that's where growth really occurs. So, when you create a space that is not specific to one field of study, that's not particular to one notion of intelligence, it really allows a much greater number of students to come to the table, to share what they learn, and to gain a greater sense that they can achieve and that they have something to offer.

Enhanced by Zemanta

    Looks fantastic! Can't wait to go out and read it!!

blog comments powered by Disqus


Thumbnail image for Make Just One Change.jpg

Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions

CJ Westerberg, 10.18.2017

Now, here were college grads looking for jobs, and not recognizing that showing curiosity and asking engaging questions could show MORE about WHO they were than reciting some resume paragraph to interviewers in a random interview. -C.J. Westerberg

Read Post | Comments
bad-habit.smoking. harvard.jpg

The Bad Habits You Learn in School

CJ Westerberg, 10.17.2017

And it's not about smoking. John Coleman via Harvard Business Review

Read Post | Comments

Shaping Serendipity for Learning: Conversations with John Seely Brown

CJ Westerberg, 10.11.2017

"Conventional wisdom holds that different people learn in different ways. Something is missing from that idea, however, so we offer a corollary: Different people, when presented with exactly the same information in exactly the same way, will learn different things." - John Seely Brown

Read Post | Comments

Is Math Art? Dream or Nightmare? TOP 10 BEST BOOK

CJ Westerberg, 10.09.2017

"A Mathematician's Lament"
Every parent & educator should check out this book excerpt

Read Post | Comments

Learning Math: The Symbol Barrier

CJ Westerberg, 10.06.2017

Street Math, School Math, and Video Games

Read Post | Comments

Schools and Parents: A Kabuki Dance?

CJ Westerberg, 03.06.2017

We asked then, why do some schools still play a kabuki dance when it comes to parental/family engagement?

Read Post | Comments

Would You Hire Your Own Kids? 7 Skills Schools Should Be Teaching Them

CJ Westerberg, 01.11.2017

Tony Wagner, Former HS teacher, Principal & Co-Director At Harvard School Of Education Posts. "The Ability To Ask The Right Questions Is The Single Most Important Skill."

Read Post | Comments

Are we creating innovators? 22 Insights

CJ Westerberg, 11.04.2016

C.J. Westerberg dissects Tony Wagner's "Creating Innovators" Video Trailer

Read Post | Comments

Late Bloomers (Guess what? You didn't peak in high school ;)

CJ Westerberg, 06.22.2016

How 2012 Nobel Prize Winner Dissed by High School Biology Teacher - CJ Westerberg post

Read Post | Comments

Seven Questions: Is your child a recipe-follower or a real learner?

CJ Westerberg, 10.22.2015

John Holt: The Seven Ways to Picture a Student's Understanding - - - by CJ Westerberg

Read Post | Comments
Sparks of Genius. Thirteen Thinking Tools.jpg

How the Arts Prepare for a Life's Work in any Discipline

CJ Westerberg, 07.24.2015

Including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Read Post | Comments

Chinese Super Schools?

CJ Westerberg, 11.09.2014

"No one, after 12 years of Chinese education, has any chance to receive a Nobel prize, even if he or she went to Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge for college . . ." Yong Zhao

Read Post | Comments

Author John Green: Teenagers Think the Big Questions in Life Matter

SMW, 06.02.2014

Why Do We Give Them Short-Shrift? The Teen Whisperer: How the author of "The Fault in Our Stars" built an ardent army of fans

Read Post | Comments

It's Personal: How a Parent Perspective Changes Everything

SMW, 12.09.2013

"For every problem that technology solves, it sort of creates a new one."

Read Post | Comments

American Teacher: responding to students, environments and conditions

SMW, 12.05.2013

"There are very few schools that purposefully try to create lines and connections between different fields. The way most high schools are set up, you're in history class, and then the bell rings; then you go to science class, and then the bell rings."

Read Post | Comments

Choke: Test-taking - - - a different way to look at test-prep?

CJ Westerberg, 10.28.2013

"Most students will not find a steady diet of test-prep drills and worksheets to be particularly meaningful, and accordingly, they will not put forth optimal learning effort."

Read Post | Comments

Today's WOW Story: Yong Zhao's "Be Careful What You Wish For"

SMW, 10.03.2013

Flipping Standardized Testing on its Ear

Read Post | Comments

The "Anti-Creativity Checklist"

CJ Westerberg, 06.30.2013

14 Ways To Say NO to Innovation: Harvard's Youngme Moon

Read Post | Comments

John Green's "Brilliant" Commencement Speech: The True Hero's Errand

CJ Westerberg, 06.17.2013

Best-Selling Author of "The Fault in Our Stars"

Read Post | Comments