Search This Blog


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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Berkeley High Teacher/Activities Director Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

by Mark Coplan
Berkeley High School’s Student Activities Director Chris Young has won the “Distinguished Award in Teaching” offered by the Fulbright Program within the U.S. Department of State.
To win the award the educator must have at least five years teaching experience and a Master’s in Education.  Twelve educators from the U.S. are selected every year to travel abroad and twelve from abroad are selected to come to the US.  Each one proposes a three to six month educational action research project.  Mr. Young will be funded for a six month project of his design in Argentina from March to August, 2013.
Listen to a Flip Video of Chris Young explaining his plans.
BHS Student Activities Director with Sophomore Leaders
According to Chris, “I will be doing research on ‘Youth Learning and Leadership through Guided Action Research in Community Settings’.  In other words, I will be exploring how to most effectively help young people develop academic skills and social leadership abilities through their own self-developed social change projects that address issues or problems in their local to global community.”
Chris started teaching at Berkeley High School as a social studies teacher in 2004 and was one of the lead designers of BIHS and its first lead teacher in 2006-2007. After that he did informal research on peace education in South America in 2008 and helped evaluate and develop a joint microfinance-forest conservation project in Uganda in 2009 before returning to BHS as Director of Student Activities for the 2009-2010 school year.

Congratulations, Chris!  We are proud of you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Focus on Linking Assessment to Instruction at Berkeley High

We invite you to share your thoughts on the following position paper authored by BHS PD Leads. Please use the comment section below.  Anonymous or unprofessional comments will be deleted.

A Focus on Linking Assessment to Instruction at Berkeley High: 
Foundational Principles

Note: Some terms within this document require definition so that everyone is using them the same way.  Please see the BHS Assessment Glossary here.

The 2012-13 PD Calendar offers a structure that supports learning communities and departments in a focus on linking the results of assessment to instruction.  This calendar has been approved by both the PD Leaders Team and our Learning Community Leadership Team.  Much of the work of the PD Leads team in 2011-12 has focused on the rationale and methods used for this purpose as presented in Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s Driven by Data.   In alignment with the Berkeley High School Action Plan, WASC visiting team recommendations, the 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth, and evidence-based practices that demonstrate high-leverage professional development experiences, the Professional Development Leadership team supports the following concerns and priorities to ensure that the focus is implemented effectively:

Need for Coherence

1.  As public school employees, we recognize our responsibility to teach to a common set of outcomes, known as the state standards.  However, we also recognize the problems inherent in the current standards, including their breadth and number.  We are hopeful that the new Common Core State Standards will address some of these issues.

2.  The art of teaching should be a combination of teacher skill, responsive pedagogy, and school goals. Teachers should have a wide range of tools which they can effectively use  to promote student learning.  Strong assessment skills need to be one of these tools.

Equity for our Diverse Student Body

3.   Calibrating instruction around common outcomes supports high standards for all students and supports our goal of a more equitable school.   Access to a curriculum aligned with the standards is a powerful equity strategy.  We believe that all students, in every classroom at Berkeley High, should be provided standards-based instruction.

4.  However, teachers must also be allowed a certain degree of latitude to respond to the challenges of our diverse student body.   Because it is also the responsibility of the teacher to address remediation, differentiation, and significant “teachable moments,” it must be understood that there are times when lessons must be tailored to meet the needs of the students, rather than solely driven by the standards. 

Fostering a Growth-Based Model

5.  Common formative (pre-, interim) and summative (final) assessments can be powerful tools for instructors to adjust instruction in order to meet students' learning needs. Supported by a strong professional learning community, these tools can highlight effective practices, identify those (students and teachers) in need of additional support, and help target instruction towards student progress on outcomes. A growth-based assessment model lets us be proud of our students’ efforts and see results in the same school year, rather than wait for scores after our students have moved on.

6.  Assessments are most effective when they support the identification of strengths and weaknesses and allow for teacher monitoring of student growth towards outcomes.

No Connection to Evaluation

7.  Data from common pre-, interim, and summative assessments should NEVER be used to evaluate teachers. Doing so will undermine any attempts to expand our use of what can be a powerful teaching and professional growth tool.

8.  Using a single summative assessment (common or not) is not an effective practice. Using data from a single summative common assessment to evaluate a student without having done a pre-assessment cannot be linked to meaningful feedback toward student growth or the effectiveness of teaching practices.

9.  Standard 5 of the California Standard for the Teaching Profession (CTSP) emphasizes how a teacher uses assessment and not the results of assessments themselves. We strongly support that teacher evaluations must recognize this critical distinction. This standard addresses teachers’ knowledge of different types of assessments, as well as how teachers use assessment data to inform instruction, involve students in their own assessment, and provide their students meaningful and timely feedback.

10.   This plan promotes autonomy by encouraging each learning community to develop consistent internal assessments that meet its goals and students’ needs.  These will be used in concert with common school-wide assessments.  This is a critical part of the plan, as too many variables in the master schedule prevent a balanced distribution of students’ academic skills to use single summative or CST assessment information to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching practices. 

We believe this pre-interim- post assessment inquiry cycle will be an ongoing process, encouraging reflection and enhancing opportunities for meaningful collaboration among staff.  By taking ownership of this process, teachers will ensure that its impact is on student achievement, where it belongs.

Dave Stevens and Susannah Bell, School-wide PD Co-Coordinators
Matt Carton, Angie Dean and Ben Sanoff, AC PD Leads
Mat Glaser, AHA PD Lead                          
Allen Boltz, AMPS PD Lead                                             
Matt Meyer and Nick Pleskac, BIHS PD Leads                    
Leah Katz, CAS PD Lead                                   
Andy Peck, Green Academy PD Lead 
Rachel Chodorow-Reich, LTEL Coordinator
Heidi Ramirez-Weber EL Newcomer PD Lead                                  
Amy Burke, Math PD Lead
Glenn Wolkenfeld, Science PD Lead
Eileen Jacobs, Special Ed. PD Lead
Tamara Friedman, World Language PD Lead

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Below is a letter from Pasquale Scuderi outlining his support for voting in support of our current 8 days of advisory.  Please provide your own thoughts in the comments section below.

Rules for commenting: 
-All comments must include your name. Anonymous comments will be deleted.
-This is a forum for professional discourse.  We encourage a healthy debate but inappropriate language or personal attacks will result in comments being deleted.

Over the past two years, we have been implementing an advisory program as a means to accomplish what I believe are some very important goals for our students.  As a strategy, advisory has supported us in making sure that for the first time ever at BHS that all students have had the opportunity to sit down with an adult and their peers to consider their academic progress towards CSU-UC eligibility, post-secondary plans, course selection, and get and give advice across grade levels.
On Monday morning the entire BHS staff will gather in the library at 8:00 a.m. sharp to vote on advisory for the 12–13 school year. BFT will facilitate that vote
The current proposal jointly submitted by the teacher leadership and the administrative team is for a continuation of eight (8) days of advisory in the 2012-2013 school year.
I have often expressed my support and belief in both the current program and future potential of the advisory program here at Berkeley High School and so I will attempt to be brief in summarizing why I believe the current program should continue. (moved next two paragraphs to the end)
In the long term, Advisory is a strategy to impact four specific outcomes:
1.    Increase UC-CSU eligibility by helping students plan and monitor their academic progress.
2.    Increase graduation rates through increased personalization and academic progress monitoring and support.
3.    Increased rates of post-secondary education and training through goals 1 and 2 above as well as supporting students to take a multi-year look towards their futures each year.
4.    Increased personalization as a goal in and of itself. We know that a single strong relationship with an adult can have significant impact on a student’s future.
In addition to monitoring the annual goals of advisory, we will continue to measure progress on the long-range outcomes. 
The primary reason I continue to believe in our current program and its future promise and potential is that it offers a systemic rather than a fragmented way to convey essential information on post-secondary planning to all of our students regardless of their background, socioeconomic status, or level of academic readiness.
Depending on pockets or isolated programs in the school to get students and families the information they require and help them conduct the self-analysis and planning they are now getting in the advisory program is a fragmented strategy. With the advisory program, all of our kids get a guaranteed channel of access to the information and outcomes.  This is a systemic strategy, one with far more potential in terms of equity. 
Thus far, our program has given all students at BHS the opportunity to create an academic five-year plan. The program has also allowed us to reach out and ensure for the first time ever that all BHS students have the opportunity to understand A–G requirements, and to identify and analyze their progress towards meeting those requirements. The advisory program has also continued to calendar an annual designated time and place for students to go through the course catalog with an adult, and to discuss with that adult and their peers, their class choices for the following year. The program provides a space where students have a designated adult who can check in with them on a monthly basis, thus increasing personalization and furthering our efforts to have each of our students connected to at least one adult on campus.
As we did last year, we will incorporate the feedback we receive from surveys and individual teacher input into the design of the advisory lessons for 2012-13 and will continue to be mindful that our stated outcomes and objectives are properly designed and aligned with current capacities in mind. 
While we are realistic about the impact that eight advisory sessions can have, I believe that with fidelity of implementation, we will see measurable benefits. However limited an impact advisory can have in so few meetings, it does play a role in helping BHS become more comprehensive and confident in its ability to explicitly articulate where it has generated growth for students as well as be a welcoming, caring, and personalized place where all students stay connected.
In 2012-13, advisory will remain focused on four long-term school-wide measurable outcomes: increased personalization, increase graduation rates, increased UC/CSU eligibility and increased rates of post-secondary education and training.
As you consider and discuss your vote on advisory over the next few days please keep in mind that we are asking for your vote in support of not just advisory as a program, but to an ongoing commitment to making sure that a structure for communicating post-secondary planning, post-secondary requirements, and personalized connections to staff exists for all students on campus.
Pasquale Scuderi

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

Berkeley High School is fortunate to have an amazingly talented staff.  Below is a sampling of teachers who have been acknowledged by their teacher leaders and administrators for their hard work, creativity, and dedication to their craft and their students.  Please add to the list in the comments section below.

Molly Lawerence 
Tamara Friedman:  "Molly goes above and beyond to engage and support her students. As students walk into her classroom they are immediately welcomed by her ever-present smile and warm personality. She engages her students through cultural projects including dance lessons, creating altars, and music. She works long beyond her work day tutoring and supporting individual students. We are lucky to have her."

Amanda Levin
Mat Glaser:  "Amanda jumped into her first year of crazy AHA life and hit the ground running-field trips, inter-disciplinary projects, and incredibly rigorous and inspiring teaching."

Lauren Benjamin
Mat Glaser:  "Lauren puts the funky-fresh in our AHA world. Its only her second year and it seems like she has been here since the beginning-dancing, drawing, musical theater, karaoke- she has got it all!"

John Tobias
Allen Boltz:  "John is always there to help anytime, despite the fact that he teaches 6-8th periods. He is always present at PD meetings and willing to take on extra tasks to support students."

Kate Trimlett
Andy Peck:  "For her tireless advocacy of the 4R's and hands-on environmental science instruction. Her students are constantly engaged and active participants in their own learning. And for her consistently enthusiastic and supportive work with her colleagues."

Colleen Simon O'Neil
Glenn Wolkenfeld:  "For her fabulous work in Anatomy and Physiology."

Allen Boltz
Glen Wolkenfeld:  "For his great work bridging different philosophies on the chemistry team to support our goal of a common assessment."

Nicole Nagappan
Angie Dean:  "Nicole is above and beyond dedicated to her students.  She follows up with them in later years, always continually coaching, motivating, and advocating for their overall success as productive human beings, not just as students."

Amanda Green
Angie Dean:  "Amanda's dedication to growth, both her own and her students', is amazing and enviable."

Andy Waranoff
Amy Burke:  "Andy is an exceptional teacher who forms strong relationships with students and staff. His classroom is relaxed but focused, he creates content, supports daily, and shares them with grateful colleagues!"

Dave Goodrich
Amy Burke:  "Dave is a foundational member of our staff. In creating, organizing, and sharing his thoughtful lessons, students across the school benefit.  His calm and focused demeanor in the classroom is a model I aspire to replicate. Thank you Dave!"

Cathy Dao
Matt Meyer:  "Cathy is a dedicated teacher who always puts students first. She organized multiple field trips for our BIHS 10th graders and even volunteered to organize a field trip for students she does not currently teach."

Elieen Jacobs
Susannah Bell:  "Eileen has an extraordinary way of relating to students and holding students to a high standard.  I have learned so much from her."

Rolando Morales
Susannah Bell:  "Rolando works a certain magic with a group of our kids who need a lot of love and support. I have seen him in action and he is brilliant!"

Kate Newton
David Stevens:  "Kate transcends the traditional role of Speech Pathologist and finds ways to work with her students in their regular lives.  From joining them in their classes to helping supervise field trips Kate takes advantage of every opportunity to find ways to help her students grow."

Amy Crawford
Leah Katz:  "Amy has so many tricks up her sleeve that students can reveal any interest, question, or writing challenge and she knows how to address it with humor, integrity, and love."

Kate Garfinkel
Leah Katz:  "Dr. G manages to get to every group, every student, and every raised hand as if by magic.  Students flood her room after school for the help that she provides patiently, ever so patiently."

Lauren Lovett
Diane Colborn:  "Lauren works tirelessly and creatively to foster the inclusion of her students with learning and behavior differences in all aspects of high school culture.  She deserves special recognition for giving of her own time to organize a cooking club and social skills group."

Audrey Portley Bernstein
Rachel CR:  "Audrey goes way out of her way to support students, spending extra hours in their classes, designing academic supports, and helping students to believe in themselves."

Heidi Ramirez-Weber
Dave Stevens:  "Heidi is a tireless defender/supporter of those in need. Whether it be her Newcomer students, LTELs, students with disabilities, or a struggling teacher, Heidi always sees crisis as opportunity and can always be counted on for a thoughtful response."

Jenny Roebuck
Matt Carton:  "Jenny came in under hard circumstances- she had to replace a legend, Tim Moellering. She has embraced what Berkeley High is about. Its always great to see a young teacher who "gets it"."

Matt Laurel
Matt Carton:  "Oh to be young again. Matt Laurel is as good an English teacher as I have ever worked with. And to think he was born the year David Bye began at BHS..."

Kate Haber
Evy Kaveler:  "Kate goes above and beyond what most teachers do.  She helps out new teachers as well as veteran teachers in ways that would amaze you. Thanks Kate!"

Sam Rozen
Evy Kaveler:  "Sam is a favorite among chemistry students.  His daily welcome is repeated daily by both teacher and his students."

Lauren Benjamin
Shannon Erby:  "Lauren Benjamin has inspired the creativity in students in both visual and performing arts. She has also successfully worked with a student with autism, supporting him to perform in front of his peers."

Amanda Levin
Shannon Erby:  "Amanda has had success with students who have typically only known academic failure. She is a patient and skilled teacher."

Marcela Taylor
Heidi Ramirez-Weber:  "As a master Spanish Teacher, she has taken on the new challenge of teaching ELD4 this year.  She is also an immigrant who went through the BHS ELD Program for a few years and then mainstreamed into the big school.  Besides being an excellent language teacher, she is a role model for her EL students and teaches about culture, acculturation, and immigrant experiences. Moreover, she constantly challenges her ELS to improve their critical thinking and problem solving skills."

Christina Mitchell
Heidi Ramirez-Weber:  "Christina teaches SDAIE World Literature this year and as a new teacher of all English Learners she has become excellent at teaching language to ELs by directly teaching vocabulary, facilitating structured language practice like "give one get one for lines of communication", and writing objectives with academic language that can be assessed during or at the end of the class in an exit slip or exit ticket."

Angela Dean, Matt Carton, Gideon Goldman, Jordana Anderson
Daniel Roose:  "Consistently reliable with attendance records, daily attendance, paper audits, and field trips. Thank you!"