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The Inspired Teaching approach engages students to appreciate the joys of learning rather than seeing it as a passive process.
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Instigator of Thought – March 2016
Letter from Aleta Margolis, Executive Director
“What is student agency? Why is it important?” Recently, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation hosted a #WhatIsSchool Twitter chat, which focused on strategies to develop student agency in the classroom. Like the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Inspired Teaching believes that developing students’ ownership over their learning is crucial in teaching them to become creative, critical thinkers. At Inspired Teaching, we think about student agency all the time: what it means, what it looks like, how to cultivate it, and how to encourage teachers to embrace it in their classroom practice. Distilling our thoughts on this complex topic into 140 characters was an excellent exercise, and now I’m happy to illustrate our Tweets with stories from the classrooms of Inspired Teachers. [Read the full piece here.]
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You’re invited! On April 21, 2016, Inspired Teaching will host Chocolate Inspiration at the Embassy of Italy, a gala celebrating 20 years of Inspired Teaching and featuring the finest DC-area chefs who prepare and serve their most creative, decadent, and delicious chocolate creations. At Chocolate Inspiration, we will present the Inspired Teaching Changemaker Award to longtime writer, educator, and activist Jonathan Kozol. Visit our website to learn more about Chocolate Inspiration and buy tickets.
This March, teachers are posting photos showing evidence of Student as Expert in their classrooms. We have received some wonderful examples, including the one above. In April, take a photo showing evidence of Purpose, Persistence and Action in your classroom. Post your image to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook* with the hashtag #20YrsInspired. Every week we’ll share top posts on our social media channels!
Each month, we also feature conversations with Inspired Teachers from all programs. Showcased this month are two alumni of Inspired Teaching Institutes: Mr. Oscar Ramirez (Summer Institute 2003) and Mr. Abdu’l-Karim Ewing-Boyd (Summer Institute 2006).
*Please carefully follow your school’s social media policies. Protecting students’ privacy is critically important. If you would like to share an image but keep your social media profile private, please post directly to the Inspired Teaching Facebook page.
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PREPARE new teachers for successful and sustainable careers:
This February, Mara Duquette, Inspired Teaching’s Manager of Teacher Certification, and Athena Kopsidas, 1st grade Master Teacher at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School presented at and participated in the Ashoka U Exchange in New Orleans. From evaluating learning outcomes, to forming partnerships, to revising college admissions, the Changemaker Education track of the Exchange brought together partners and influencers to discuss how we spark systemic change that will transform schools into learning labs for the leaders of the future.
Click here to read more about their presentation at this exciting event.
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SHIFT the practice of inservice teachers:
– Are you a charter school teacher or school leader interested in strengthening your school’s ability to provide inquiry-based, standards-aligned education to your students? If so, now’s the time to sign up for our BLISS: Building Literacy in the Social Studies and SCALE: Science Curriculum Advancement through Literacy Enhancement program! Click here for more information. The deadline to register is March 25.
– “She handed me a piece of paper with one triangular shape on it and told me that participants were drawing a fossil….I shyly told her that I really didn’t know much about fossils, and she smiled and said, ‘that’s the beauty of it. It can be anything!'”
Caitlin Wolf, Program Associate at Inspired Teaching, shares her experience at a DC Public Schools (DCPS) Professional Development day. Caitlin was there to participate in a session facilitated by SCALE Teacher Leaders about a Cornerstone they developed for DCPS teachers. Read the full blog post here.
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MODEL Inspired Teaching in action:
– “With the knowledge I’d gained and experiences I’ve had since high school, I was ready to plant in them what’d been planted in me a year prior by Mr. Hunt. As the facilitator, my job was not simply to lead the discussion, but to stimulate ideas – helping those students take everything they had learned thus far, develop that information into an argument, and then apply that to the real world.”
Zawadi Carroll, a 2014-15 Real World History student and currently a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reflected on her changing role from student to facilitator when she returned to facilitate an interschool seminar in December. Read the rest of her blog here.
– Jabesso is a Real World History student who is completing an internship this semester at President Lincoln’s Cottage, where he is helping prepare for the upcoming Students Opposing Slavery Summit. Below is an excerpt from his blog at the Cottage, in which he reflects on the impact human trafficking has had on his own life.
“Just within my first two weeks of internship, I was exposed to my role in the human trafficking industry through an online interactive test called The Slavery Footprint Survey. This survey was very shocking as it revealed through my everyday habits how much I benefited from modern slaves…As an average African American boy – the son of two Ethiopian immigrants – I was disturbed to learn that my lifestyle choices relied on the backs of unpaid workers. This was most disturbing due to the fact that my parents came to America seeking freedom, education, and safety, all of which are deprived from forced labor workers.”
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COMMUNICATE, leverage, and elevate:
– This month, Center for Inspired Teaching is pleased to feature Amanda Huron, assistant professor of interdisciplinary social sciences at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Last year, Amanda lent her expertise in DC history as a content expert for BLISS: Building Literacy in the Social Studies, where she supported the work of a BLISS Teacher Leader who was developing a module for use throughout DC Public Schools.
– Inspired Teaching has been featured on Euronews’ Learning World, an international program dedicated to covering education innovation across the globe. The news program visited the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School to observe inquiry-based, student-centered instruction and to learn what’s possible when classrooms embrace the 4 I’s and 5 Core Elements.
– On Saturday, March 12, Inspired Teaching staff members Cosby Hunt, Caitlin Wolf, and David Yarmchuk led a workshop at the Teaching & Learning Conference in Washington, DC. The national conference, put on by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, brought together educators from throughout the country to learn and strengthen their practice. Inspired Teaching’s workshop, entitled “The Inspired Teaching Classroom,” highlighted Inspired Teaching’s 4 I’s and 5 Core Elements through a series of engaging activities. Teachers learned strategies for using these components of the Inspired Teaching model to transform their instruction.
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VISIT Inspired Teaching in action:
Learn more about upcoming program visits and RSVP here.