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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.

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!

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