Patrick Higgins, Jr.

Posts Tagged ‘amysandvold’

The Detached Mouse Ear v. The Attached Mouse Ear

In administration on May 19, 2010 at 7:50 am

Today I spun a phrase that I blatantly stole from someone, but at the time could not remember who that was.  Upon further review, I stole it from Amy Sandvold.

Amy, here is your attribution (not that she asked for it by any means, but I felt giving credit to the source was the proper measure to take).

We are moving our middle school into the world of balanced literacy for the second time.  We tried a few years back, and for the most part were successful in moving towards it.  However, in light of some great work our elementary teachers have been doing using the Good Habits, Great Readers program, we felt that using some elements of that program, coupled with some of the elements we have cobbled from Fountas and Pinnell, would really move the needle, so to speak.

To accomplish this, we’ve pulled together all of our middle school language arts and Connections teachers for two days to work with a representative from Pearson whom we have used before and truly respect.  However, listening to her speak to the teachers, and listening to their reactions to some of the things she is saying made me remember this phrase, which I broadcast out:

In many ways, what our presenter was saying was not wholly different from conversations we had engaged in previously in department meetings, other smaller workshops, and in one-on-one discussions with teachers.  However, she had geography on her side.

And this is where Amy’s quote sprang up for me.

Last year at ASCD, I sat in a session that was a panel discussion of literacy and literacy coaching in schools, and I wrote about it here and here at length.  Amy discussed the idea that we had to take advantage of “prophets in our own land” (to steal one from @bethstill) but rather there was a mileage component that determined expertise.  That component, she judged, was roughly fifty miles.  To boot, she added these great illustrations of her concept:

In this one, Amy was detailing how when the presenter is not from the district there is a greater instance of their perceived credibility, but what we should be moving towards is something I believe she called the “one-eared Mickey Mouse.”

Okay, I might have made that last part up, but in looking at these images, observing the teachers and presenter today, and from my own experiences in districts or at conference as a presenter, I see Amy’s theory as having some definite credence.  Why is it that anyone with a great idea from within a district is not taken as seriously as someone who comes in for a day or two and makes the same claims?  My all time favorite instance of this was when a teacher in my district was taking the requisite educational technology class for their doctoral program and one of the required readings for the first week was a post I wrote about the need for informed leaders who were models of technological literacy.  I had to chuckle a little (and celebrate on the inside).

Don’t get me wrong here–I enjoy working with districts and I think some great changes have come about individually within some of the people I have spoken to, but I don’t understand why we can’t celebrate the expertise that exists within our walls.  Or, better yet, we can create sustainable professional development models that require multiple investigations into the concepts that are introduced by a one-time speaker.  It’s those systems I feel are more lacking when it comes to our professional development of teachers.

It’s OK. You Can Let Go.

In 21st Century, ascd on March 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Last year, I used a book on assessment from Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey in a study group with teachers.  When I saw their name attached to this morning’s panel discussion on Literacy in the 21st Century, I was intrigued.  My thinking was that they would have some great foundational elements to add to the what I’ve been thinking lately.

What happened was much more than what I thought.  Amy Sandvold, a colleague of Angela Maiers, was also on the panel as well.  Here is what I pulled out.

Fisher, Frey and Sandvold advocated a Gradual Release of Responsibility in the relationship between teachers and students.

grrA few years back, when I really began this journey, I saw Alan November present about the need for teachers to outsource what they do to the students to prevent them from being the only voice in the classroom.  What they advocated and described here is exactly that.  Focused instruction, according to Fisher, is pointed modeling of expert thinking and behavior. It’s in this mode of instruction where we help students build the requisite background knowledge and vocabulary they need for success in higher level tasks.  This argument, which is raging throughout the educational world right now, about content v. skills, then becomes moot.  Is there direct instruction in this model?  Absolutely, but it is followed by gradually removing the emphasis on what you as a teacher do in front of your students.  Once you model and instruct, move into more collaborative and shared modes of teaching and learning, until the end result is full on student responsibility.

And this from Frey:

Students and teachers must know stuff in order to do stuff.
Teachers now stuff.
Students know stuff too
Teachers and students learn from one another by interacting and collaborating.

I truly believe that learning takes place in many forms and through many processes.  One that I will recommend to anyone is that of conversation and communal learning among students and teachers.  Even today, sitting there discussing our greatest learning experience we ever had (my partner had a great one where she remembers finally being able to move from snow-plow skiing to parallel skiing), I didn’t realize my own until we began talking to others in the room and listening to the stories of people learning.  Collaboration is a powerful tool for learning.

There is so much more to come out of this session, but I am finding that it’s hard to process, especially in light of what occurred directly after this session.  That’s coming too.

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