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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spirited Talk at Lowell@Lincoln...About Their Future Location

I attended the PTA meeting at Lowell@Lincoln. Good crowd, I'd say about 50+ people (not including the FACMAC and PTA leaders). And they had brownies.

Opening the meeting, the investigation was topic one. But they felt it imperative to keep to the agenda because this meeting had been previously postponed. They said that Ms. Geoghagan and Nancy Coogan would have a coffee hour soon with parents. (I hope it's an evening coffee hour because clearly you would not draw as many parents in the morning.)

Frankly, everyone in the room seemed fine to move onto the agenda.

I really enjoyed the presentation by several teachers about bringing in more project-based learning. Those are some sharp and caring teachers. They were so energize by this idea and had good answers to many questions. I loved the explanation by one teacher about studying owls (and owl pellets!). They spoke wistfully about the desire for more collaborative time and more professional development.

Principal Geoghagan stood by,arms crossed,as the teachers spoke; she looked exhausted. You had to feel for her.

The main event was a discussion about a home for their program. They do face down many issues, including capacity management issues throughout the district, fewer building options, a possibility of another split, and a place with room for their own growth as Spectrum continues to change and weaken in an unfettered manner.

Members of the FACMAC committee had just come from their meeting and had seen a preview of some preliminary BEX IV ideas. It seems that the Capital staff had ideas and were eager to listen to FACMAC members' ideas.

The main wish/demand/hope (depending on what part of the room you were in)is to stay together as a cohort in a self-contained building. That would be what I would advocate for them as well.

And it's not about wanting their "own" building. They've endured splits, moves and uncertainty. They are not the only program in the district to experience that but this is a program that works for many, many students and is growing.

They could split but you'd have to find them places to be above the ship canal.

There are two choices in the northeast. One, if Thorton Creek is rebuilt (good chance), they have a large site and it could be made bigger. Two, at Jane Addams, which could be built-onto with new addition.

In the NW, they could co-house at Broadview-Thompson (I'd have check their site size) or Salmon Bay (if SB were renovated).

But it is not as easy as finding room. Granted, you can control the enrollment at an option school (that might let B-T out). However, these are established schools with their own vision. You can certainly ask them what they think but it would be a short timeframe. It's kind of like when you go to visit your grandma in the summer, you get there and she says, "You're going to be with your cousin, Suzy, in this room." You don't know Suzy from Adam but there you are. Sure, you can make the best of it but it sure wasn't what you planned for the summer.

One other distant thought is if they built a new K-8 at Wilson-Pacific, they could include K-5 APP. That would mean growing a new school together, a shared vision. But I suspect the district wants a middle school more than a K-8.

There was a poignant moment (at least for me from my vantage point of going through SPS twice) when one woman asked if maybe people will think them elitist to be advocating for their children's school.

I had the opportunity to say that every single parent in this district can ask for their child's academic needs to met, no more and no less. No one is elitist for asking for that.

The evening ended with a reminder of the upcoming BEX IV community meetings next week.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was glad to see you there Melissa. As a L@L parent of a current student, with another incoming next year, I was energized and encouraged by tonight's meeting. I'm very excited for the project-based learning that is being worked on by the teachers, together with Rina. Although I'm not privy to the dynamics within the staff this year at L@L, it certainly seems like some pretty positive things are going on and that teachers are collaborating well with one another and with Rina on well-planned improvements in the teaching model.

The letter recently written and signed by the teachers and staff of Lowell @ Lincoln--which advocates for keeping the entire northend APP cohort together--appears to reflect cohesion among the staff. As Melissa mentions, keeping the whole cohort together, self-contained, was also the overwhelming sentiment expressed by parents tonight.

As for the PTA leaders and many other parent volunteers, in my opinion, they rock. They've accomplished a ton this year, facilitating and adapting to the school move in myriad ways, creating a new PTA, advocating effectively for our students, our teachers, and the future of APP, and communicating well with parents (even on Facebook, which can get messy).

I hope that parents who have chosen to send their children to the northend APP elementary program won't be scared off by some of the comments and opinions they may read online.

-Optimistic L@L parent

apparent said...

John Marshall?

Maureen said...

Granted, you can control the enrollment at an option school

I know this has become an accepted truth on this site, but I feel the need to point out that it is only true to a point. No Option school will stay alive if they can't maintain some sort of predictable enrollment over the years. If APP enrollment spikes for three years, you can't just not enroll any Option kids for those years. The program would die. Option schools don't have to admit whoever wants a seat so you don't have the issue of two kids being guaranteed one seat. But they don't provide an infinitely adjustable buffer for APP.

IMHO, if we're looking for flexibility, an opt in Spectrum Option program might be a better fit: kids who are strong in one subject could have access to their APP peers in that subject. Teachers could move more easily between the two programs as enrollment changes. No one is guaranteed a Spectrum seat, so may be happy to move a kid to access it even at upper grade levels. It would be great for families who have one sib in APP and another who just missed it. The staff and admin wouldn't be pulled apart by the competing needs of two very different programs. It would draw kids from heavily enrolled schools that are housing Spectrum now.

Anonymous said...

-Optimistic L@L parent
The few parents I talked to, who are thinking about to move their kids from L@L or not come next year, are telling me that they are not satisfied how the investigation was handled in Lowell and the district and because of the program insecurity. NOT because they read something online (either in the ST or any blog).
- Just to clarify the situation

Anonymous said...

Agree with Maureen. I am a parent at Salmon Bay and our school depends the same kids being there. In addition (I said this on the APP blog):
Salmon Bay is currently in the middle of a two year expansion (district numbers that I have seen for SB enrollment do not reflect this expansion). I see no way another program could be housed in the building even with renovations unless the entire building was rebuilt (the expansion is requiring some facilities work that is being done without district help).
This expansion was done with much community input and decision making on what would work best for our school community. I will also say that we are at max capacity for things like the lunch room/auditorium and gym (which is now in use all day every day)-- it has taken a lot of work to figure our how that is going to work for this expansion. So If they wanted to do this they really could not add on a few classrooms-- they would really need to rebuild the whole school. Which seems crazy if what is needed is a contained APP program.
beth

Anonymous said...

I really think APP elementary needs a location of its own. It absolutely can't be housed with a neighborhood school because you can't have two programs with guaranteed admission sharing the same location. Previously I'd said sharing with an option school would be fine - but I agree with the points that Maureen raised as well - Option schools need predictable capacity as well.

My priorities are to keep the north end APP co-hort together in one site at a central location. If that means John Marshall, I can live with that. I also wonder if the possibility of keeping L@L at Lincoln and then using John Marshall as the interim site when schools are being renovated is a realistic option.

Finally, I'm quite concerned that no analysis or review of the population at Hamilton seems to be taking place. My daughter is in 6th grade APP at Hamilton and I'm very much hoping that she can stay there through 8th grade. But I keep hearing how Hamilton is overcrowded and is going to get worse. I'm worried that if the District isn't proactive in analyzing the population and capacity at Hamilton, they will pull the same stunt they did at Lowell - announce in June that they don't have enough room for everyone who is enrolled for September - so goodbye APP.

Jane

Melissa Westbrook said...

I failed to mention that the options I wrote down for co-location are mine and NOT anything the district has suggested or the AL committee. Everything I suggest is MY brain doodling.

I'm just trying to get some dialog and you can already see that Option schools have their own vision. I agree Spectrum might be a better fit especially if the district is moving towards cluster grouping.

Jane, you are right. To this day, I do not know why the district picked Hamilton for middle school APP. They were not built bigger and the district knew (had to know) the building would fill.

Here's another thought - Whitman could also use a rebuild and has quite a large site. They could build bigger and you could move middle school APP north there.

As well, Washington needs a rebuild and they could expand (somewhat) and maybe take a little pressure off Hamilton.

Or the Spectrum program at Hamilton could end.

From what Hamilton parents have been saying, something has got to give.

TechyMom said...

Maureen said:
"IMHO, if we're looking for flexibility, an opt in Spectrum Option program might be a better fit: kids who are strong in one subject could have access to their APP peers in that subject. Teachers could move more easily between the two programs as enrollment changes."

FYI, this is exactly what was happening in the lower grades of Lowell's ALO program before all the drama started last year. I think an option ALO alongside APP would work really well by allowing siblings and other kids who want access to advanced learning to be in an environment that really values it.

Anonymous said...

I believe it was SPS leaks who posted a pro TFA letter last week written by Chris Carter and in it he said Hamilton is "packed to the gills." He wrote the letter this past fall. Next year Hamilton will, obviously, be even more full. I am very concerned we have another Lowell on our hands.

-reality bites

Floor Pie said...

"Or the Spectrum program at Hamilton could end."

Is this hyperbole or is ending Spectrum at Hamilton really on the table? Is there precedent for ending a Spectrum program at a neighborhood school to make room for foreign language immersion and APP? If they're going to do that, why not just make Hamilton an option school and give us neighborhood folks a more reliable middle school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Floor Pie, again, these are MY thinking outloud thoughts.

Is there a precedent? Not that I can recall but yes, Spectrum programs have come and gone from buildings.

In your last sentence, you exactly hit on some of the issues that this district faces. Specialty programming versus neighborhood need.

NESeattleMom said...

4 - 5 years ago, the PTA president from Hamilton, (which was under-enrolled at the time, but had a plan for the completely rebuilt school)came to Lowell to a PTA meeting to offer Lowell APP families an idea of a possible north Seattle APP site cohoused there--this was prior to the north south APP middle school split. It was being offered as a middle school that had space for another program. But I think the school district did not crunch numbers on the growth in the other feeder elementary schools besides John Stanford. The upside of the final destination of the north Seattle APP families going there was a lot of energy by APP families to get a music program going at Hamilton. Now there are over 500 kids (more than half of HIMS) involved in music at Hamilton,which includes fantastic growth in general ed music also.

Anonymous said...

Cohesion for curriculum development and collaboration is necessary to keep APP alive. As soon as you have separated schools, they really lose touch with each other. I was a teacher at Lowell, and we completely lost touch with our colleagues at Thurgood Marshall, inspite of the best of intentions to communicate on a regular basis. Even when people are in one school, communication is an issue.

We now have basically a brand new staff at Lincoln who did not have training in Gifted Education. I know how hard we had to advocate for the needs of gifted curriculum with the school district over the years. To separate the Lowell at Lincoln school into small programs, housed at separate sites, would make it almost impossible for parents to come together over the needs of the APP community at large.

Former Lowell teacher

Lori said...

I want to echo what Optimistic said in the very first post here.

I loved listening to our amazing teachers last night talk about not only what they are doing in the classroom but also how they too want to stay together as a cohort to continue the collaboration and professional development that directly benefits our kids.

I was personally really happy to hear the examples of successful project-based learning pilots that are going on. It explained why my own kid has been coming home recently all jazzed up about science and saying things like, "I can't wait to go back to school on Monday and work on our science project." Huh? I don't think my child has ever said that on a Friday afternoon! Very cool to see the passion that her teacher has inspired in her. Wow.

Melissa raised a good point last night about making sure that we keep other programs and schools in mind as we advocate for our needs. It's hard sometimes as a parent to keep an eye on the bigger picture when you feel there are mortal threats to the program that has changed your kid's life (and I'm not exaggerating about the benefit of being in APP for some kids, my own included), but we are all better off if we try.

I really appreciate Maureen's comments about the potential negative impact on option programs if a guaranteed placement program like APP were to be co-housed or co-located. She's right that it wouldn't be fair to the option program to have to significantly reduce a grade level cohort simply because more families chose APP that year. Over time, that could seriously harm the option program. I don't want that. I'm sure no APP family wants that.

The overwhelming position of families at the meeting last night was for Northend APP to remain a single, self-contained cohort. I hope others outside APP will help us advocate for that. It's not elitist; it's a desire borne out of the splits we've already suffered and the urgent need for some stability. And certainly we don't want to create problems for other communities by being crammed into their buildings and stifling their growth.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone comment on the cohesion (or lack) between Hamilton APP and other middle school APP.

We chose APP Hamilton for 6th grade but frankly, there are a lot of kids from our elementary school qualified to go there. Probably attributable to the excellent math training at North Beach Elementary. Regardless, I can't believe that the district is prepared to handle the influx. I can easily see them setting up APP middle school in some portable warehouse in the boonies at the drop of a hat!

- NB parent

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote about faculty not being able to work collaboratively while being split up is right-- that is not possible. If APP is trying to do project based learning it is crucial. If the district is attempting to solve a capacity problem by opening buildings and has enough APP students for that program to have its own school, what is the problem? It seems to me that the district has a question to answer: Are we going to nurture this program or not? If the program is one that the district thinks is important, go for it. It is the perfect time (while buildings are being opened etc).
-go for it

Anonymous said...

I can speak to the "collaboration that does not happen" between the schools that are split. Collaboration on curriculum takes regular and focused work together.
That never can happen for the teachers who have split schools.

When we got together with the entire district for science, math, reading, or writing workshops, we were not together. We could gather together having refreshments, or see a few of our colleagues during lunch. The talk was on what was happening in our lives, how certain former students were doing, and how other staff was doing, etc. We were not working on curriculum together at all. We were reconnecting socially. Also, once or twice a year we might see each other at a retirement party. We were (are) clueless as to what is going on in the classrooms of each other's school. There is no attempt to share curriculum at all. In fact, as soon as it is brought up, we see that we are doing completely different things and there is no need to discuss the matter any further. Each is excited about their own curriculum.

The only cohesion possible is within a school itself. We'll need large enough numbers to make that happen. If the program is large, then it is possible to make a case for "gifted curriculum" workshops or collaboration. If the numbers are not large, then everything goes to workshops that are about "all school" connections. That is important, too, but not at the exclusion of the separate program needs for curriculum building.

Former Lowell teacher

Anonymous said...

My suspicion was that JM was being fixed up as short term middle school space to deal with Hamilton...we'll see.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have to delete Anonymous' post as it is, well, anonymous.

"My suspicion was that JM was being fixed up as short term middle school space to deal with Hamilton...we'll see."

Okay so going from that supposition, then they would be building a new middle school at Wilson-Pacific and/or enlarging Eckstein (unlikely). This seems to me not a good idea because parents would howl at who gets moved out and then moved out again once something is built at W-P.

However, it is in the back of my mind that Capital projects may be thinking of JM for that purpose OR for Lowell APP OR, as Charlie said, combining the foreign language immersions - McDonald and JSIS - and they become neighborhood schools again. That would certainly add capacity back (without building new) AND make those an option school with access to all in the north end.

dw said...

I also wonder if the possibility of keeping L@L at Lincoln and then using John Marshall as the interim site when schools are being renovated is a realistic option.

JMarshall isn't nearly big enough to house most high schools during a remodel. Nor a large middle school like Eckstein.

Finally, I'm quite concerned that no analysis or review of the population at Hamilton seems to be taking place. ... I keep hearing how Hamilton is overcrowded and is going to get worse.

Yes, this is certainly a worry. It wasn't really discussed last night because it was a L@L meeting, not an APP-wide meeting.

I assume Hamilton is being discussed in depth at the ALTF meetings, as all the facilities/enrollment pieces affect each other.

Jan said...

So -- here is a question. IF they decided to make JM an option immersion school (and grandfather in the sibs of existing kids), could they then make ONE of the former schools a neighborhood attendance school, and use the OTHER for North End APP? Are the sizes of the buildings right? Would one school in that neighborhood be sufficient for attendance (given that there is new immersion capacity at JM that is very attractive to neighborhood kids?)

Jan said...

And - for those with Hamilton kids who are worried about a 'Lowell-like' catastrophe right at, or after, the end of the school year, here are my thoughts (no kids there myself, so I am just musing):

it seems to me that now that open enrollment is over, the District has in hand all the data they need to pretty closely determine the number of kids who will be in the school next year (barring those that walk in the door next fall who qualify by attendance - I assume they can guesstimate those). I would ask the Exec. Director and the principal to set up some sort of meeting with someone from enrollment downtown so that everybody gets a handle on this in April (rather than July). I mean, it is what it is. There really are no "variables." The mistakes, if any, were made years ago when bad assumptions or data were used as to demographics, attendance, APP growth, etc. At this point, there is all upside, and no downside, in getting the fall projections out there and making sure that they can either shoehorn everybody in -- or not.

Frankly, I wonder whether, if they can't fit them all in, they will maybe try to "overflow" some 6th grade APP stuff into the existing Lincoln building, since the two buildings are so close and there are already APP kids there. I don't have any clue how horrible that might be -- and am not proposing or supporting it. I am just imagining where they might look for some relief. But whatever it is, I think you are better off convincing the District to talk NOW, and not putting the kind of stress on parents and staff that the L@L folks had to endure last year.

Anonymous said...

Jan-

I wish the district did things like look at numbers and think about them. You know, they had the numbers at this time last year for Lowell, and we all know how that turned out.

Even though I keep hearing that the people who made the horrible decisions last year are long gone, I don't hold out a lot of hope.

The Hamilton principal is no fan of APP and has even been heard talking about how APP will be gone soon. He won't be trying to do APP any favors. He has yet to meet with upset 6th grade parents about teacher issues this year.

-reality bites

Jan said...

reality bites said: "You know, they had the numbers at this time last year for Lowell, and we all know how that turned out."

Very true. But my recollection from last year was that since the school/district did "nothing," it sort of "froze" the parents (gee -- they must have SOME solution in mind -- more portables? split days? commando raid to occupy nearby houses and take them over?) The reality was -- there WAS no plan, until finally someone higher up got wind of it, and the whole thing blew up in late June.

Now that that has happened, it gives parents a little credability to go in and say -- not again; that "fool me once" thing that Melissa quotes. NOT assuming you have a workable plan for next year. SHOW us the numbers, and TELL us the plan. But I concede your point. Maybe they will pretend Lowell never happened, and refuse to discuss it.

reality bites said: "Even though I keep hearing that the people who made the horrible decisions last year are long gone, I don't hold out a lot of hope." Hmm. No hope. Could that be because maybe they have been replaced by OTHER folks who make horrible decisions -- with even less institutional memory? Or that the wrong people were purged. You are right. Reality DOES bite.

Jan said...

But THIS is the one that really gets me riled! reality bites says:

The Hamilton principal is no fan of APP and has even been heard talking about how APP will be gone soon. He won't be trying to do APP any favors. He has yet to meet with upset 6th grade parents about teacher issues this year.

How can this be tolerated!?? How can the Exec Director and the Superintendent permit a principal at a school to cut the legs out from under one of the programs that has been entrusted to his care? Who tolerates this BS? The kids in APP north deserve a principal who will support their program, just like every other kid does. Why is this person the principal of this school? This is simply outrageous. Off with his head (not really -- ONLY speaking in Lewis Carroll metaphors here)! There, I am done now. But it really is a travesty. Ok. I'll stop. Really done.

Anonymous said...

Seattle teacher
Jan is absolutely right. A principal should be a strong advocate and supporter for the programs under their care, just as teachers should be for their students. Any school with an APP program site, should be supportive of the needs of that program.

It doesn't surprise me that Hamilton is allowed to have a principal who is not thrilled to have the APP program. I actually have seen the Seattle School District try to curtail the strength of the gifted program by putting people, who we as teachers saw, as trying to dismantle the current functioning of the program. These leaders, we believed to be somewhat hostile to "gifted education," and that is what made them attractive to Central Administration.

Another point is that schools can loose money by having gifted programs. Gifted programs raise the academic average for how a school performs. Then that school doesn't qualify for as much help for students who need help. That is a sore point for any school pared with a gifted program.

Seattle teacher

Anonymous said...

Jan-

The district actually did A LOT of work trying to cram 700 kids into Lowell. They told the Special Ed families that their classrooms would be cut into tiny pieces and put into inconvenient places. They had construction people measuring out rooms throughout the school. Plans were drawn up to turn hallways into classrooms. Quite a bit of employee time was spent on nothing.

Lowell Staff and parents were telling the district this would never work. As usual, no one outside of school headquarters has anything of value to offer.

-reality bites

Anonymous said...

Don't the L at L students need to be placed in a school that is located in the north end? Many of the school sites mentioned were south end schools.

North end person

Anonymous said...

Seattle teacher.... is the loss of funding you mention perhaps offset by the higher scores those children bring, esp. now that test scores are being tied to teacher evaluation and compensation, and that closing the achievement gap has a nice bonus for principals ($10K, right)? I have speculated that we may see more teacher support (from the gifted program) naysayers, now that this is a factor.

RE: APP and Hamilton... aren't some junior high schools in other parts of the country only 7th and 8th grades. Would Hamilton be stuffed if the incoming 6th graders stayed at Lowell (making Lowell a 1st - 6th)? I'm not advocating this but throwing ideas out there. I guess this means they'll just fill 6th grade w/ attendance area kids, leaving no room for the APP 7th and 8th graders to matriculate the following year, so maybe it's a dumb idea....

-sps mom

Anonymous said...

"How can this be tolerated!?? How can the Exec Director and the Superintendent permit a principal at a school to cut the legs out from under one of the programs that has been entrusted to his care? Who tolerates this BS?"

This has been happening all throughout the district for some time now, particularly to Spectrum programs. Lawton and Wedgwood come to mind. I hear the SPED programs have been suffering as well.

- agree about the travesty

Anonymous said...

Moving in the right direction

It excites me to see L @ L moving back to building project based learning into the curriculum. Over the past eight years, subjects became separate, each demanding a considerable amount of time. All integration of subject, and almost all projects that helped to integrate the subjects, were eliminated. Teachers, who advocated for integrating projects, were weeded out. It is wonderful that project based learning is once again being supported. The pendulum is swinging back.

Pleased

Anonymous said...

@ SPS Mom

It depends on how they use the statistics. When APP was pared with another program, the school appeared balanced and doing an OK job.

When it comes to qualifying for Title I money, and other types of needed support staff, the programs that are not APP end up losing the support they need. At Lowell, when ALO was pared with APP, we lost much of our Title I support, along with other help that ALO would have formerely qualified for. Our PTA picked up the cost to replace what was lost. That could only be a temporary fix, as that was too much to ask of them over the long haul.

We never got to see how the long haul would play out, as we had only two years together.

Seattle teacher

Anonymous said...

I look forward to getting north end APP setteled in a permanent site. They need the stability in order to build their program back up.

I do hope that there is a different principal that goes with the new placement. We want a principal that supports gifted program needs, supports the children and the staff. It takes someone who is fair to all to be a good leader.

Hopeful

Jan said...

SPS Mom: it also depends on whether they measure scores as an absolute, or as growth. The APP model is odd in that it is accelerated two years -- but never increases after that. Some of these kids have extremely high scores early on -- and then the scores don't move much, because the tests aren't accurately showing movement at the high (99% plus) end. So they show "low or no growth" -- which is really bad if growth is the measurement of teacher effectiveness.

Also, historically, the fear has always been the opposite -- That teachers, wanting to "seed" their regular classes with a few more high-scoring-test kids to raise the class's test performance, would try to dismantle gifed ed programs and disperse the kids among general ed classes -- which is what seems to be happening at WW, Lawton, etc. with respect to Spectrum -- though I don't have any evidence that testing issues are behind the effort.

But I do know that co-housing with a gifted program can screw up Title 1, as it happened at TM. I hadn't realized it was an issue with Lowell as well. I think this could be solved if the District measured the programs separately -- but I guess it chooses not to (or maybe, it can't. I am not sure.

Jan said...

Hopeful -- you are so right. I have come to see SNAPP as sort of the "Bedouin children of North Seattle" with their books piled high on their camels, plodding along Ravenna and Lake City Way, peering through the sand and wind in hopes of espying an empty building, ANY empty building (north of the ship canal, that is), where they can put down permanent roots. Really, the District needs to find a solution. They have been divided, displaced, housed in a building out of their area, etc. for too many years now.

But I am curious what you think of "Pleased"s comment above. I have a fairly negative view of Rina's leadership, based on teacher attrition at Lowell, the whole reporting debacle, the staff survey, etc. And I don't think you get a "good leader" pass just because you do some things well or some people (whom you treat well) like you -- if at the same time you are being unfair or abusive to others. (After all, most bullies have friends, among those whom they think might be useful to them -- while the knives come out for the others). Leaders have obligations to treat EVERYONE whom they supervise fairly, kindly, and with compassion and dignity. 90% nice doesn't cut it if you are a complete tyrant to the other 10%. But is there merit to what Pleased says? And if so, are the positive changes attributable to Rina? Should we all be more "Hopeful?"

Anonymous said...

Hopeful

My pleasure at the curriculum based projects was due to the validation that it gives to the teaching that we always did. Teachers were ousted because they believed in those types of approaches. I am thrilled that the tide now seems to be turning.

I do not give Rina credit for being an administrator who should continue on as principal for APP.
Our program suffered too much under her leadership last year.

I just want to be willing to smile and be happy about hearing of successes in a program that I deeply care about. I love what project based learning brings to a classroom, and also integrating subjects. That is what a gifted classroom should include. Gifted students are naturals at making connections between subjects.

Hopeful

Anonymous said...

Pleased

The principals don't get the credit for project based learning being allowed to come to the classroom once again. When whole language, and a host of other project centered approaches, were thrown away in recent years by the Central Administrative Curriculum choices, our principals stood with the district's demands and pressured teachers to stop. Mr. King and Rina G. were not standing up for giving time to creative, project based learning then. They had a building full of teachers who were skilled at project based learning curriculum, but those teachers had been required to "bag" their former practice.

Now, it seems, that project based learning is getting the thumbs up from Central Administration. Our principal must have the go ahead to jump on board, which she has done. The old staff are no longer there. The new staff will thrive on this "old" approach, as it suits the needs of gifted beautifully.

Rina gets "credit" for protecting her job security for following the wishes and directives from central administration. When this was not in favor, she did not promote it at Lowell. When it is now in favor, she will.

What we need is a principal who would have stood up for the needs of gifted students whether something was favored by Central Administration , or not. A principal who would have believed and supported what the teachers knew.

Pleased

Anonymous said...

Did project based learning continue without interruption at Thurgood Marshall?

Charlie Mas said...

Now that we have the BEX IV plan, and we can see that it makes no accommodation whatsoever for north-end elementary APP, I think that the best recommendation is for the District to build a new elementary school on the Wilson-Pacific property and for that to be the north-end elementary APP site.

Anonymous said...

Pleased

I'm not sure about Thurgood Marshall. The staff there is mainly a senior staff, well versed in integrating curriculum in the past. The climate survey from last year's staff gave Julie a huge thumbs up. I do know that the colleagues that I talked to, expressed that with all the new demands, there was no time to teach in the creative way that they would like.

Rina was a new vice principal and needed to follow directives from central administration and Mr. King. She did a good job in following directives.

Former Lowell Teacher

Anonymous said...

Pleased

I would like to retract saying that teachers got "ousted" because they supported project based learning. Technically they would have been ousted for other reasons. They fell into disfavor, and were almost seen as rebels, if they used approaches that were not found in the recently adopted curriculum.

Pleased

Anonymous said...

An integrated curriculum, or Project Based Learning as they are now calling it, is one of the reasons we chose APP years ago. It's almost absurd that they are now billing it as something new.

What's perhaps different is that you actually need to cover the state standards...the Klondike project cited as an example has been done for years, but it also supports WA State and local history, which is part of the curriculum for 4th grade.

I'm all for creativity, but you need to support the grade level learning standards. If these aren't being covered, then?

You could argue that all kids could benefit from this approach, not just APP.

2cents

Anonymous said...

I agree with 2 cents.

All the integration of subjects were about combining projects with the standards.

Pleased