Widget Effect: Confirmed

The Widget Effect was published in 2009 and it described the state of teacher evaluation. It identified that, using the evaluation systems used in the United States at that time, all teachers were satisfactory (less than 1% were rated unsatisfactory). The report also concluded that truly excellent teaching went unrecognized, that professional development was not connected to evaluations, and that poor performance was not addressed. Despite the overwhelmingly positive rating that teachers were receiving, 57% of teachers and 81% of administrators reported that there were poor teachers in their school. These findings pointed, we were told, toward the need for a new system of teacher evaluation. Results similar to the findings of the report were published for New York and discussed in Continue reading

The Summer of My Discontent

All of the upsetting and tragic events of the summer of 2016 (police shooting citizens, citizens shooting police, terrorist attacks in our country and in other counties) have left me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and grateful that I no longer have children at home to whom I must try to explain incidents that I don’t understand myself. This all brings back memories for me of when I was still a student in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Lots of troubling events occurred then, also – college students gunned down at Kent State, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire in Vietnam, the many slayings of civil rights advocates in the South. Continue reading

Wish Our College and Career Kids Were More Ready!

A recent walk and conversation with my son is the inspiration for this most recent OCM-PBL blog. My son recently graduated from college and is now working at a local market-research company here in Syracuse. During our walk he spoke about his day and how he was led into a room with over 40 nurses and needed to do an unexpected presentation to this audience. He said he was able to pull off the impromptu presentation to this audience of medical people, but what he said next really validated the work we are doing in PBL. He said that his only wish he had after the experience Continue reading

Engaging All Learners through Questioning

In order to help all students think at higher levels, we need to ask questions that help them to move up Bloom’s Taxonomy and deeper into Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. This is very difficult to do “on the fly”. In order to add rigor to our classroom instruction, planning for the kinds of questions you ask your students is critical. Good questions are not only relevant and purposeful, but they entice your students to openly engage in the learning. Although all of our students are not always fantastic readers, or perhaps even average writers, they can be outstanding thinkers!

As part of my job responsibilities I perform hundreds of classroom visits at various buildings throughout the school year.  One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that there tends to be more learning taking place when the teacher practices asking open questions, gives students time to think and process, and encourages a variety of Continue reading

Supporting Instructional Change Through Curriculum Materials

The upcoming New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS) based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), like other educational reform efforts will require a shift in instructional practices. The full incorporation of all three dimensions (disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices) increases the complexity of instruction more than previous reform efforts and well-designed science curriculum materials are one mechanism that can support teachers making the associated instructional shifts (Bismack, Arias, Davis & Palinscar, 2014). “Well-designed reform-based materials can be a key component of efforts to support teacher change” (Schneider, Krajcik & Blumenfeld, 2005, p. 287). Curriculum materials, as discussed herein include the materials teachers use in the classroom including published materials (printed or electronic), resources, and artifacts or manipulatives that are designed to facilitate classroom instruction (Davis, Pallincsar, & Arias 2014; Remillard, 2005; Stein & Kim, 2009). Continue reading

Using a Culture Fair to Engage Teachers, Students, Parents, and Community Members


Stacy Gunnip presenting at the 2016 WGCSD Strategic Planning Meeting

We interviewed Stacy Gunnip, ENL teacher at West Genesee Central School District, who explains how her district utilizes positive school-community partnerships to engage all families.

  1. Please give me a short biography of your education and experience.
    I have been teaching for nineteen years, and I currently teach ENL at the high school and middle school level. I majored in History and Ethnic Studies with a Spanish minor from California State University, Bakersfield. My ENL teaching career began in Los Angeles, California where I worked with bilingual students and received my TESOL certification from Chapman University in Orange, California. I have taught K-12 Special Education, ENL and General Education. My Master’s Degree is in Special Education. In 2006, I relocated with my family to Cato, NY and began as an ESL teacher at WGCSD in 2007.

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Elementary School Departmentalization

Although quantitative data are not readily available, there is anecdotal evidence that departmentalization in elementary schools is on the rise (Gewertz, 2014). Similarly, there’s not a great deal of research available about the practice. There are articles that list advantages and disadvantages and there are some survey data about teacher satisfaction, but an examination of the practice and student learning was lacking.

A recent study, however, shed some light on the issue. An economist studied the issue of departmentalization from an economic specialization perspective. Traditionally, specialization brings Continue reading