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Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to visit our blog. We would like to invite you to contribute your ideas related to professional development in this forum. We hope to offer all teachers at BHS the opportunity to have input in the PD you are experiencing this year, and to reflect on ideas and practices of our outstanding faculty.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

They Say I Say - Online Discussion

Summer PD - They Say, I Say Online Discussion

Hi everyone!  Hope you are enjoying your summer!

During the last week of school, I placed a copy of They Say, I Say in your mailbox, along with a heuristic / reading guide.  I hope you've had the chance to begin reading this amazing text that has the potential to significantly improve our students' learning, academic performance, and college readiness.

I have set up an online discussion board at   If you already have an edmodo account, all you have to do is join the group I have set up:   PD Literacy.  Obviously, this is optional, but since this book is deep background for the PD work we will be doing schoolwide beginning in the fall, it would be great preparation.  More importantly, reading this book actively will enhance your literacy instruction regardless of your subject area.  This is important because next year we will be expected to align our curriculum to Common Core State Standards.  Literacy skills embedded throughout the standards increase rigor for our students, so our preparation is critical.

There are four steps to participate:

1.  Go to
2.  Sign in, or sign up for an edmodo account.  (It's quick and easy, and you can use it with your classes!)
3.  If necessary, enter this code to join the group:  lmtoxr
4.  Respond to any of the posted questions.

Here are some of the questions you will see in the discussion:

In what way(s) do you see They Say I Say as a complement to our work with academic language / Constructing Meaning?

How do Graff and Birkenstein respond to the argument that writing templates stifle creativity?  For what reasons do you find their rationale compelling (or not)?

How does this book begin to address the gap between the skills required of high school writers and those required of college writers?

How can this book help us develop our students' skills in reading comprehension?

What do you think about Graff and Birkenstein's reasoning behind "it's okay to use I"?

According to the authors, why is it important to incorporate critical views / opposing opinions into our arguments?  What do you think?

How can we teach our students to use transitions effectively?  What other connecting elements must we teach explicitly?

How can this book help us facilitate more substantive class discussions or online commentaries?

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 Appreciations

Wow!  The year is going by so fast!  We on the PD team wanted to take a moment to appreciate the hard work of members of our team who go the extra mile:



Cory Henrickson.
Cory's classroom routines and instructional practices represent the ideal in positive classroom management.  She goes above and beyond to engage all students including Salsa lessons, board games and also rigorous academic daily work.  Finally, she does all of this 100% in the Target Language, even in her Spanish 1/2 classes!
Tamara Friedman
Sarah Morrison.
Sarah has a tremendous rapport with her Latin students.  If you walk into her classroom on any given day you can see the magic.
Tamara Friedman
Xin Chen
Xin is our only Mandarin teacher.  On her own she has created a tremendous program and this year hosted the first ever Cultural Chinese New Year Fair.
Tamara Friedman
Donatella Carta
Donatella worked hard this year to create a new IB/AP French class offering for the department.  She's a dedicated teacher and works hard for her students.
Tamara Friedman
Claudia Gonzalez
Claudia consistently goes above and beyond her biology classes.  She mentors our students through challenging internships and leads a HOSA group and also takes on the leadership council.  She has been a great colleague for problem solving in our community.
Laurie Rodney
John Tobias
John has taken on his role with great energy and creativity.  As a relatively new teacher, he has set up a classroom that is engaging and consistent- an environment that is critical for our demographics.  In addition, John advises our student leadership taking every Wednesday of his lunch period to make things happen in our community.
Laurie Rodney
Daniella Maaze
As first year teacher, she is a stellar member of ELD and Spanish ½ team. Her students are some of the most struggling students in the school when it comes to literacy and she has created multi-domain language lessons that has lead to new learning for all.  She put up with us sending her to AIM training  in Canada, CM and Systematic ELD training last summer as well as  doing her BTSA Inquiry  while teaching  three preps all as a new teacher to BHS this year.  She amazingly wants to try it again next year.   Thank God. We need this wonderful Brazillian  ELD teacher who knows our ELD  students  experience  in a personal way, because she  also has left her family and friends behind  to move to the Bay Area.    We are so happy you are a part of our ELD family now. Daniella!
Heidi Ramirez-Weber

Carl Rogers
Carl goes above and beyond to help support students who need extra accommodations, modifications, an adult connection on campus and always strives to see the absolute best and wonderful potential of all students.  He is also the model for a team player, always stepping up and taking on extra responsibilities within the BIHS learning community.
Sue Jones
We are going to truly miss Sue next year, as she enters the traveling and relaxing phase of her next career stage in life.  Sue has led the BIHS department with her strengths in not only English, but her wisdom and insights, that yes...we all have actually listened to.  
Nakia Baird
Walking into Nakia’s room during lunch it would be understandable to think that he has an assigned class during that time with the number of students he is tutoring, giving practice exams to, making up work, etc.  Nakia has developed a structured way to help all students in class, and managed to balance the incredible work load of the BC/HL level course.  We truly appreciate all of his long hours of work and his commitment to students.
Janice Moore
Janice is retiring after 20 years at BHS. She has created a curriculum that meets the needs of a huge range of learners. She manages to find the time to look for new ways to support students and was instrumental in bringing the Read Naturally Program to both the Special Education and EL departments. She reaches out to the General Education staff to make sure that they are receiving information and education in order to support students with learning challenges.She is known for her ability to work with our most challenging students while keeping her sense of humor. She will be missed!
Special Education
Vicki Augustine
Vicki joined the Green Academy and CAS this year and has brought tremendous enthusiasm to our Physics of Energy course, as well as our Chemistry classes.  She is a great team member and always keeps a positive attitude.
Jana Luft, Hasmig Minassian, and Leah Katz
Morgan Tigerman
Morgan is a fabulous addition to the Green Academy.  He provides students rigorous, engaging curriculum and has created numerous scaffolds to help them develop their analytic writing skills.  
Jana Luft
Deborah Godner
Deborah has been with the Green Academy community since its inception.  She rose to the challenge of teaching courses she had never taught before, still finding ways to encourage students to grapple with issues of social and environmental justice.  
Jana Luft
Kate Garfinkel
Kate joined CAS last year and has become a pivotal member of our team. She took on a brand new math curriculum and always keeps kids at the center of her teaching. She models empathy and consistency as an instructor and colleague!
Hasmig & Leah
Ashley Daly
As a first year teacher, Ashley enthusiastically dove into CAS, IMP, and Berkeley High!  She has ample energy and brings life and love for learning into her classroom. Ashley is particularly skilled at engaging all learners and has been shepherding kids through their own leadership roles in CAS.
Hasmig & Leah
Shelley Grant
A long time veteran of the classroom, we are lucky that Shelley is continuing her career as a science educator with CAS and Berkeley High. Shelley is great at pushing both students and her colleagues to do the deep, critical thinking required in progressive education. She is a seasoned teacher who models flexibility and collaboration for our whole team!
Hasmig & Leah
Ingrid Martinez
After 12 years in CAS, we appreciate Ingrid for the ways in which she passes on her love of learning and literature to the kids.  She has built connections with so many students, some who are otherwise isolated or silenced at Berkeley High, and her passion for education is apparent in all she does.  We are especially grateful for the work she’s done to recruit and nurture our Summer Search students in their leadership and travel adventures.
Hasmig & Leah
Shannon Erby
Mama Erbs is the heart and soul of AHA.  Not only is her room Grand Central Station for all things happening, but Erby devotes countless time and energy to directly helping students, staff, and her community around her.  This year she has taken on organizing the AHA Parent Council and really brought parent involvement and fundraising up to the next level.  Erby leads by example every single day and we couldn’t do it without her!
Mat Glaser + Miriam Stahl
Gideon Goldman
Gideon is a voice of calm and wisdom in our community.  He is a dedicated and steady presence to our team.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, students can count on him to be available for them, and he is humble about his work.  Response to my congratulations on 86% passage rate on CAHSEE- “ Congratulate the students, they took the test.”   
Laurie Rodney
Rosa Guzman
Rosa has a fierce affection for her craft and her students.  She has sought out mentors and guides working well with others as she deepens her skills. She is a born teacher!
Laurie Rodney
Leslie Tebbe
Might be the best English teacher I have ever had the privilege to work with.
Matt Carton
Douglas Keith

Douglas is a thoughtful Art teacher and always looking for ways to connect the projects to interdisciplinary topics.  He brings in topics that range from the environment to studying different cultures around the world.    
Andrea Sanguine
Lauren Benjamin

Works very hard to get student to reflect and write about the big issues in Art.  Lauren uses the Studio Habits of Mind to guide student writing and gets students to think about their strengths, weaknesses, attitude about Art and themselves as Artists.
Andrea Sanguine

David Borrelli
The hardest working man in show business. He stays late, gives his students total focus and attention, and does all of this in a quiet and dignified way.
Matt Carton

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dana Moran, CAS History Teacher
Instructional Coaching Available for BHS Teachers

Teachers wanting to improve their practice can now request coaching from any of four teacher leaders at BHS.  Susannah Bell, Dave Stevens, Heidi Ramirez-Weber, or Tamara Friedman are available to observe your class and give you feedback on any of the above requested areas.  

Recently, Dana Moran requested that Susannah observe her 9th grade CAS History seminar to look for places where she could improve her instruction around literacy skills.  Dana kindly gave us permission to publish the following written observation to give teachers an idea of what kinds of feedback they might receive.  Dana might have been surprised to find that she was already using some effective evidence-based literacy strategies!  

Dana Moran – 9th Grade CAS Frosh History Seminar
Period 2 of a double period)
Literacy Observation – Susannah Bell, BHS Literacy Coach

Due today:  Immigration Stories
Do today:  Warm up / CAS gear info / Political Cartoons / Enrique’s Journey
Objective:  (1) Formulate opinions using analysis and evaluation, (2) Analyze immigration experience using description and elaboration

A.    Previewing text, Enrique’s Journey (nonfiction immigration account about a boy from Honduras who searches for his mother in the U.S.).  Summarize, overview, structure of text, supplementary material (maps, etc.)  Answered student’s questions.  5 minutes.

B.    Began with chapter one.  Ms. Moran read aloud to her students, incorporating emotion and emphasis.  Current research supports this strategy as essential to building literacy skills of even older students, especially English learners.  After reading the chapter, she summarizes and reflects.  Skips to chapter three.  Stops periodically to question students about unfamiliar terms, to clarify, and to “think aloud,” modeling her own insights and commentary as she reads.  15 minutes.

I am struck by the fact that this is a full class of BHS freshmen (29 students).  Not a single student is doing anything but what is expected.  They are all reading along or listening and watching Ms. Moran intently as she reads.  The only sounds they make are subvocal exclamations in response to the book’s content. 

C.    Previewing is a very important literacy strategy.  Using this strategy, Ms. Moran builds engagement with the text, promotes familiarity with terms and concepts which the students will encounter later, and sets them up for their assignment, which is a reading guide of questions such as “Why do you think the chapter is titled ‘Facing the Beast’?  Ms. Moran assigns students to read and reflect for the remainder of the period, using their guided reading sheet to formulate opinions about what they have read, evaluating the text in relation to their opinion;  in addition, they use the sheet to analyze the immigration experience described in the text using description and elaboration.  35 minutes.

D.   Prior to the period, students completed a warmup activity in which they reflected on their progress overall at this point of the semester.  Ms. Moran explained that while this is unrelated to the subject matter of the class, she feels it is important to take time to build their student skills.  This is an example of where teachers have had to fill some of the gap left in the absence of the schoolwide advisory program, which was suspended for this year.  Students have no other opportunity or time set aside for building skills such as self-reflection, time management, or goal setting, and teachers who feel these skills are necessary have generously devoted instructional time for this purpose. 

E.      Also in the earlier period, Ms. Moran addressed visual literacy skills by having students analyze political cartoons related to immigration.  Students were able to use their own background knowledge and opinions to reflect on the opinions presented by cartoonists, and join with other students in small groups to expand their own understanding and explore different perspectives. 

F.     Questions:  

1.     I wondered if Ms. Moran ever used journaling as part of her warm-up routine to further build student engagement.  For example, I wondered if she might ask the students to imagine a time they were separated from their parent and reflect on the feelings associated with the separation. 

2.    Ms. Moran explained that the class would only be reading excerpts of the book.  Her students’ disappointed reaction to the realization that they would not be reading the whole book speaks to Ms. Moran’s success at building engagement.  I wondered if she had considered collaborating with her English partner, having students read the whole text in his class as an interdisciplinary teaming project.  In my opinion, this practice would not only benefit students in terms of reinforcing skills and strengthening community, but would be a critical step in transitioning to Common Core State Standards, with their emphasis on reading nonfiction as a college readiness goal.  Finally, I was particularly impressed with Ms. Moran’s choice of text; although nonfiction, it provides a high quality literary treatment of the experience of an undocumented immigrant.  These accounts are rare but highly topical and relevant to our own students’ experiences.

After the observation, Dana asked about resources that might help her better engage struggling readers.  Susannah provided her with a copy of Cris Tovani's I Read it, But I Don't Get It, which includes explanations of strategies such as coding, comprehension checks and double-entry diaries, and Dana reported that she found the book's ideas quite helpful.

Here is some background information on each of the coaches that may help inform your request of a particular coach.  We can observe anything you want, from an individual student interaction to the roll-out of a project.  All coaching is confidential.

Susannah Bell - Taught English and reading, grades 6-12, since 1989.  Literacy, scaffolding, differentiation, assessment, classroom management.  Completed Constructing Meaning three-day institute, College Board AP English training, Education Specialist.

Dave Stevens - Taught high school math and science since 1991.  Differentiation, assessment, classroom management.  Completed Constructing Meaning three-day institute, Coaching for Equity.  National Board Certification.

Heidi Ramirez-Weber - Taught high school English to Newcomers and Long-Term English Learners since 1994.  Completed Constructing Meaning three-day institute, Coaching for Equity, Systematic ELD.  Classroom management, academic language, literacy.

Tamara Friedman - Taught high school English to Newcomers and Long-Term English Learners and high school Spanish since 1994.  Completed Constructing Meaning three-day institute, Coaching for Equity, Systematic ELD.  Classroom management, academic language, literacy.  National Board Certification.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

People we are grateful for this year...

At Berkeley High School we are extremely fortunate to work with a highly competent, caring, and dedicated staff. Below is an incomplete list of the many who have stood out this year:  
(Please add your own in the comments section.)

Allen Boltz for his smart and innovative way of looking at science education. Allen is a scientist at his core and he applies this philosophy to both his teaching and his leadership.

Academic Choice English teachers (Matt Carton, Kate Rosen, Amanda Green, Madalyn Theodore, Leslie Tebbie, Matt Laurel, Zora Tammer, and David Borelli) for their collaborative work and leadership in developing strong interim assessments for their 9th and 10th graders. You are breaking ground and setting the standard.

Tamara Friedman for her visionary and intelligent leadership in the World Language department as well as in our PD Leadership meetings

Belinda McDaniel for so many things we can't list them all but especially for always making people feel comfortable no matter how ridiculous our requests are.

Hasmig Minassian for sharing her thoughtful comments in both the PD Leadership and Lead Teachers meetings. CAS and BHS are lucky to have you.

Eileen Jacobs for her continuing work as an advocate for students with disabilities and always reminding us of the broad range of students we are committed to serving.

Jordanna Anderson for being an excellent teacher for all her students and being an early, persistent, and consistent practitioner of academic language instruction.

The PE department for their dedication to their program and their students despite all the challenges they face. They always graciously adjust their lessons to accommodate the various distractions of construction, testing, and inclement weather.  We can all learn from them.

Wanda Kelly for her professionalism and for quickly becoming one of the integral people at BHS.

Rhonda Jefferson for her calm support around the craziness of purchasing and getting people paid through BUSD.

Aaron Glimme for being on the cutting edge of Illuminate implementation. Aaron's classroom is an ongoing experiment finding new ways to make the most of Illuminate's potential.

All the students at Berkeley High School for their sophistication, critical thinking, amazing creativity, intelligence, kindness, and generosity.  They are really what makes this such a unique place to work.

Pasquale Scuderi and the entire administrative team for keeping teaching and learning at the center of it all and for challenging us to always improve ourselves to better meet the needs of all of our students.

And last, but not least, the entire Berkeley High School teaching staff for their hard work, dedication, and commitment to education.  You are the links between theory and practice and between curriculum and students. Happy Holidays and enjoy your well deserved rest.  Great challenges await educators in 2013 and beyond but there is no better staff to take them on and we are honored to work with you everyday.

Dave and Susannah

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Masha Albrecht Published in the "Mathematics Teacher"

Berkeley High School's own Masha Albrecht recently had a letter published in the December/January issue of "Mathematics Teacher".  Masha's letter praised MT for including letters from educators raising the issue of political influence on pedagogy. Additionally, she expressed concern about a number of missed opportunities for a more public discussion of topics ranging from educational funding, the privatization of education, the impact of standardized testing, and the new math standards.

Masha currently teaches Algebra 1B and AP Calculus. She is the author or co-author on three books including: 1) Navigating Through Measurement In Grades 9-12 (Principles and Standards For School Mathematics Navigations Series, 2) Discovering Geometry: With the Geometer's Sketchpad, and 3) SIMMS Integrated Mathematics: A Modeling Approach Technology Level 4

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keeping Academic Language in the Driver's Seat

John Becker modeling his compare-contrast lesson.
In my 14 years at Berkeley High, I have to say I have never seen a school-wide focus implemented with such consistency and fidelity as our efforts with academic language instruction.   Dave and I are so impressed with the level of passion and determination we have seen growing across learning communities and departments in this area.  From 20 new inductees into the Constructing Meaning program, to teachers consistently writing good learning/language objectives, to our improved CAHSEE results from last March - the evidence is everywhere that this focus is working for teachers and students.

The other day, I happened upon an excited Matt Carton who was teaching a lesson on style.  Now, those who have seen Mr. Carton in action know that excitement is not an unusual state for his classroom.  To say the man is passionate about his subject is an understatement.  But on this day, Matt was trying something new that he learned from his work with Heidi Ramirez-Weber, Tamara Friedman, and Heather Tugwell.  And I could tell that he was genuinely thrilled about the potential for student learning that was taking place.   I saw John Becker similarly thrilled the other day when he was teaching a lesson on comparison-contrast.   This is professional development - and it is academic language, but it's not just for English teachers.

Recently, Monique DeBrito Guedes gave a presentation to Academic Choice teachers on how she has used principles of academic language instruction in her science classes.   Sam Rosen, Aaron Glimme, and Nick Pleskac created templates for using academic language in speaking and writing about science, and teachers throughout the school have created posters of these for their own classrooms.  These and other curriculum ideas are shared in your google drive.

If you have any stories, curriculum or photos about academic language in action, please send them my way.  If you feel you have a good example of a learning objective, take a picture of your board and send that to me too.  We need to share these examples so that teachers can continue to grow and students can continue to develop these important skills.  Keep up the great work, BHS teachers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"What I did this summer...."

Berkeley High Teachers continue to learn throughout the summer:

Allen Boltz conducted research to help improve the Berkeley Darfur Stove through the Berkeley National Laboratory.

Monique de Brito Guedes spent the summer working with the  HydroEcological Engineering Advanced Decision Support (HEADS) which develops models to manage wetlands in the San Joaquin Basin of California.