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2007 Microsoft US Innovative Teachers Forum Application


Team Members' Names & roles and project duration. Columbus East High School. 230 S. Marr Rd. ... difficult for them because they had to be creative in ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 2007 Microsoft US Innovative Teachers Forum Application

2007 Microsoft US Innovative Teachers Forum
Columbus East High School 230 S. Marr
Rd. Columbus, IN 47201 Smaller Learning
Communities House D Team
Section I 21st Century Learning Teams
  • A tool for school learning teams to document
    effective teaming strategies and results

Part I About the team
Columbus East High School
School name
Columbus, Indiana
9th-12th (Our team is a 9th grade only team)
Autumne Team Leader and World Civilizations
TeacherRebecca Language Arts TeacherHarriet
Keystone Teacher (Keystone in a study skills and
technology class)Steve Biology Teacher
Team members and roles
Our team was formed when Columbus East High
School received a federal grant to implement
Smaller Learning Communities. The grant is now in
its third year. Our school applied to receive
this grant because it was our belief that the 9th
grade year was an important year for a high
school student. Success during the 9th grade year
can be critical for success during high school.
Therefore, our school assigns every freshmen to a
team, which is called a house. Each house has
four teachers and approximately one hundred
students. The houses focus on creating a sense of
community and building relationships with
students. This is the second year that our
current teaching team has been together. Teams
were formed by taking one teacher from the core
classes that a freshmen usually takes and giving
those teachers a block of time either in the
morning or afternoon where the teachers could
teach together.
How and when team was formed
Part II Goals and team time
A. To establish supportive relationships with our
students and each other so we can grow
academically together and build a sense of
community, concern and respect.B. To challenge
each student at his or her level and encourage
rigorous work through critical thinking skills
and collaboration.
Team goals
Our team is held together by sharing the goals
mentioned above, agreeing that we are stronger
when we work together and we also believe
strongly in project based learning. Our team
believes that learning can occur in the most
authentic way when students work collaboratively
to solve problems, produce solutions, present
ideas, and encourage each other to achieve and
learn more. Our team also sees value in
interdisciplinary and thematic instruction as a
way to help students engage in the curriculum and
make relevant connections to the real world.
Common norms, agreements and learning beliefs
To achieve our goals and maintain our agreements
about learning beliefs, our team meets at least
twice a week for 45 minutes. We usually meet on
Tuesdays and Thursdays.Often, we meet more than
twice a week so we can discuss student growth and
strategies to help struggling learners. We also
discuss curriculum ideas and use the team meeting
times to analyze data. We are able to use this
time to schedule conferences for parents, special
education teachers, or other colleagues as we
plan units and projects.
Team meeting time, duration, and frequency
Our team communicates by the scheduled team
meetings. We also frequently email each other to
check on the progress of students and learning
activities. In addition, we teach together and
are in contact in the classroom frequently. Our
team plans together and communication is
essential when planning interdisciplinary
projects. To ensure that our time is properly
used, our team meetings follow an agenda and we
devote a certain amount of time to student
concerns and a certain amount of time to
curricular concerns. This strategy has proved
successful so far. Our team, as well as the other
Small Learning Communities Houses, participates
in monthly training sessions where all freshmen
teachers discuss strategies for student success
and share ideas for project based activities. We
ask our colleagues for feedback on unit design
and use that feedback to make modifications. This
has been a terrific use of our team planning
Team communication tools and strategies
Part III Teamwork in action (page 1 of 2)
Student achievement is at the heart of our team.
We work together to stay focused on student
achievement by analyzing student work together
and brainstorming ways we can make our teaching
better to foster higher student achievement. Our
team has been through training sessions on the
use of protocols as a way to structure these
discussions. We also strive to be reflective
practitioners and ask for student feedback from
various projects so we can improve on the work we
do. We model this reflective practice for the
students so they can also stay focused on their
How does the team organize its work to stay
focused on student achievement?
Teamwork strategy 1 Teambuilding and goal setting
How does the team use best-practice strategies to
foster professional growth and student
Our team is very intentional about developing
team relationships and common goals. After
receiving the federal grant to implement Small
Learning Communities, our school provided several
training sessions that team members participated
in. These training sessions included a critical
friends seminar where we learned how to use
protocols, sessions with Daniel Baron from the
National School Reform Council on project based
learning, authentic assessment, collaborative
learning groups, and many other topics. By
participating in these semi-formal training
sessions, our team became more cohesive as we
shared a common goal and a common belief about
how to provide a supportive, encouraging and
challenging learning environment for our
students. This is still a work in progress, but
our team shares the vision of helping all
students grow and achieve and using many tools to
get there. The time that our school has given us
to attend and participate in the training
sessions has been invaluable as it has lead to
much professional development, enhanced teamwork,
and passion for improving student learning.

Teamwork strategy 2 Instructional planning
Much of our team planning time is devoted to
instructional planning. Since we have the
opportunity for team interdisciplinary teaching,
we start by mapping the scope and sequence for
each core class and looking for natural
connections. We use the state standards as well
to see what connections we can make. Much of the
summer we spend by designing projects that
encourage critical thinking and collaborative
work and we design assessments that match our
learning goals. This is done as a team of four
teachers so we are able to get feedback for one
another. Then, at the end of the summer, all
freshmen teams meet to present their units and
projects and get feedback from the large group.
This enables us to use a lot of collaboration
when designing activities and assessments. This
type of instructional planning is much more
effective than a traditional high school planning
session where one teacher is planning. We get the
best thinking of our team and of all the freshmen
Part III Teamwork in action (page 2 of 2)
Teamwork strategy 3 Examining student work
How does the team use best-practice strategies to
foster professional growth and student
Student work and student learning results are
continuously examined by our team. Since we share
the same students, we discuss in our team
meetings how they are doing in all of their
classes. We analyze student grade data every four
weeks and implement strategies to try to help
struggling learners. We also look for patterns to
see if a student is performing strong in one
class, but perhaps not strong in other classes.
Then, we can discuss what is going on in the one
class that the student is performing well in to
see what can be adapted to the other classes.
These conversations happen frequently. We also
use assessment tools like rubrics and
self-reflections to examine student learning. The
rubrics are designed by the team and shared with
the students. Student input is often sought in
the creation of the assessment tools as well.
Teamwork strategy 4 Co-teaching and sharing new
instructional strategies
The team engages in a lot of team or co-teaching.
Our schedule is set up so that we have
approximately three hours and fifteen minutes
together as a team. We have the flexibility in
our schedule to use that time as we see fit.
Therefore, we have plenty of opportunities for
teaming. We also have a large partitioned room
that can fit up to fifty students. We use this
room for team teaching. Often, English and World
Civilizations teach thematic units or project
based lessons together. Keystone is structured so
that it can fit into a lot of different units as
well. Students in Keystone class have computers
available and often use that class time to
research and work on projects. New instructional
strategies are shared by discussing what is
working well in the classroom. As we meet, we
discuss what is going on in the classroom and
what the students are responding positively to.
Also, since we have our monthly meetings, this
provides an avenue to share new ideas and
interdisciplinary units. We are fortunate in that
we can use all the freshmen teachers to get ideas
and to brainstorm new instructional practices.
Many of our ideas come directly from the training
sessions by Daniel Baron.
Teamwork strategy 5 Developing student support
Part IV Team success (page 1 of 3)
We feel like our team has contributed to improved
student achievement. However, since Smaller
Learning Communities is still a new program, we
dont have any long-term data to analyze. Our
team has been successful in establishing solid
student relationships and we feel like this helps
student achievement. Since we discuss our
students performance often, as a team we are
able to support students and provide diverse ways
for students to be successful. Students comment
about how comfortable they feel in the teams and
we feel like this helps the students make the
transition to high school. Students do achieve
and learn more when they are in a welcoming
environment and feel supported. Our team allows
students several opportunities to work on
collaborative projects and typically students
achieve more when they are working together. In
addition, since students are together as a team,
they are able to learn from one another and form
good student to student relationships and we feel
like this improves student achievement as well.
How has the team directly contributed to improved
student achievement?
What has been the most significant team
learning thus far?
The most significant team learning this far has
been the paradigm shift from a traditional high
school model to a collaborative high school
model. Our team has learned so much from working
together and we have grown tremendously. We have
learned the benefit of collaboration. At first,
many thought that the time it would take to
collaborate would not be worth the perceived
benefit. However, now that we have been working
together and see the benefit translated in terms
of higher student achievement, we cant believe
that there was ever any hesitation to
collaborate. We have learned that feedback from
others helps us become better teachers and have
higher student achievement. We have learned to
open our classroom doors so we can learn from
each other. Our students see us working together
as well and this adds to the sense of community
that we are building. As our team is in
transition from a traditional mindset to a
collaborative one, we have learned that teaching
is much more powerful and rewarding when you are
not in it alone!

How has the team impacted the school structure
and culture?
What are other indicators of team success?
Part IV Team success (page 2 of 3)
When our team first taught together, it was a
challenge to figure out how to schedule students
and how to use our time in a flexible manner. We
met with other teachers who had been involved in
interdisciplinary teaching who could help us
learn how to best use alternative schedules.
Another pressing challenge is being able to meet
the needs of all of our students. Even though we
try many different strategies to help students,
we still feel like there are some students we are
not meeting. The is a challenge for which we are
still searching for a solution.
Teaming challenges solutions
1 Core subjects
Our team is made up of four teachers who
demonstrate the following core subjects English,
Biological/Life Sciences, World
Civilizations/History, and Keystone
(Technology/Study Skills). Our team co-teaches a
lot so each teacher contributes to the core
subjects, even if it is not his or her primary
core subject. The project our team is submitting
for consideration focuses on English and World
How does the team demonstrate 21st Century
2 21st Century content
Our team employs the 21st century content skills
whenever we can! When our team designs thematic
or interdisciplinary units, we focus on global
awareness, financial, economic, business and
entrepreneurial literacy, civic literacy, and
health and wellness awareness. Our team feels
that our students need these skills in order to
be active and informed citizens in their
community. The 21st century content skills are
skills that our students can apply to any given
situation. We feel this is more powerful learning
for the students since many times it is more
relevant than a core subject lesson. The project
we are submitting, Save the Roman Empire,
demonstrates these skills. (More information
later in slideshow).
3 Learning and thinking skills
Much like the 21st century content skills, our
team believes in the relevancy of the the
learning and thinking skills. Our students work
collaboratively a lot, much like we do as a team.
Many of the projects they develop focus on
developing critical thinking and problem solving
skills, communication skills and utilizing
creativity as well as technology. Again, our team
values this because these skills are
Part IV Team success (page 3 of 3)
4 Information and communications technology
How does the team demonstrate 21st Century
Our team exercises information and communications
technology by having a class (Keystone) that
focuses on developing these skills for the
students. In that class, students are introduced
to many technological skills, from basic computer
use to webpage design and creating a film and
digital editing. Many times, the projects that
are designed in the other core classes utilize
Keystone to help with the technology component of
the project, whether it is PowerPoint design,
Publisher work or even editing footage from a
classroom activity. Our team strongly believes
that our students need to be comfortable using a
wide range of technology to be successful in
todays world.
5 Life skills
Our team models life skills by being aware of the
skills and incorporating them into assessments
for the students. In addition, our team has taken
students on service learning trips where students
plan the activities and therefore have to take a
leadership role to do so. Embedded in those types
of trips are lessons in social responsibility,
people skills, ethics, and accountability. When
our students have volunteered in the community,
they often feel proud of their accomplishment and
we, as their teachers, feel like they are
learning valuable life skills.
Our team is fairly new to working together, but
we can already seem tremendous benefit in doing
so. Working collaboratively, we are able to
design better activities, projects, and
assessments for the students and can do so by
team teaching also! We are excited to be
considered to attend the Microsoft Forum because
we would be able to meet other teaching teams and
gain ideas and knowledge that would help us
become better educators for our students.
Anything else your team would like to share?
Section II 21st Century Projects
  • A tool for learning teams to document effective
    student project designs and results

Part I Project overview
Save the Roman Empire
Project title
9th gradeLanguage Arts and World Civilizations
Grade subject(s)
School location
Columbus East High School230 S. Marr
Rd.Columbus, Indiana 47201
Team Members Names roles and project
Autumne Streeval Team Leader, World
Civilizations Teacher, Project DesignerRebecca
Guest-Scott English Teacher, Project
DesignerHarriet Armstrong Keystone Teacher,
Project HelperSteve Hambling Biology Teacher,
Project Helper Completing the project took
approximately two weeks. Students worked for one
week on research and the second week for
presentation of work.

This project, Save the Roman Empire, focused on
having students work collaboratively as a group
of Roman Senators who were formulating solutions
to the complex problems facing the crumbling
Roman Empire. As Senators, they had to create
solutions for problems that even many modern
countries face today and so it was extremely
relevant for the students. Once students had a
set of solutions, they presented them to the
class, which acted like the Roman Senate. The
Senate questioned each group extensively about
their solutions and the implications of
implementing any given set of solutions. The
Senate sessions were full of lively debate!
Students presented their solutions using a
PowerPoint and had to create solutions for many
of Romes problems. These problems and the
project description as well as all of the student
activities for the project are attached.
Part II Project development (page 1 of 3)
The main idea for this project originated from
world civilizations class. In that class,
students were studying ancient Greece and Rome.
While teaching about the reasons why ancient Rome
was in a state of distress, students drew many
comparisons to other modern countries.
Discussions centered on the problem of a large
empire, collection of taxes, large unclean
cities, military control, etc. These issues are
important for many countries today. Therefore,
the world civilizations teacher modified an
assignment that asked students individually to
create a solution for each problem and sought
input from the English teacher. Together, we
created a collaborative project taking the idea
of problem solving and making it an engaging
project for the students. In English class, the
teacher focused on persuasive speech making for
when students would be presenting to the Roman
Senate. From there, the project idea took hold
and we developed the activities and assessments.
Idea source design steps
The concepts and themes for this project
included collaborative work, applying problem
solving skills to a very complex issue,
understanding and simulating civic responsibility
by actively participating in a decision making
body of government (Roman Senate), communication
skills by effectively presenting solution, and
understanding the importance of leadership and
ethics in government.
Essential questions
The essential question for the entire unit on
ancient Greece and Rome was What is my
responsibility to society? Using this as a guide,
we focused on the social responsibility of
education, philosophy, government, and social
class. We studied how these things were
implemented in ancient times and how they are
implemented today. The Save the Roman Empire
project particularly focused on the question of
How do citizens make change in their society and
address problems within the society? By trying to
solve the problems facing ancient Rome, students
were exercising social responsibility.
Core subject area integration
This project mainly focused on English and World
Civilizations/History. In English, the focus was
on communication and how to effectively persuade
an audience of ones ideas. In World
Civilizations, the focus was on the historical
content of ancient Rome and the problems facing
the Roman Empire. Keystone was also incorporated
into the project for technology support during
research and presentations.
Part II Project development (page 2 of 3)
Indiana focuses on Indiana State Standards. So,
when designing this project, the following are
some of the important standards that were met
Analyze the numerous reasons that led to the
complex decline of an ancient civilization (IN
standard WH.3.8, WH.3.12)Work collaboratively
with a group of peers to propose solutions to the
most pressing problems facing ancient Rome (IN
standard WH3.12)Write and deliver a persuasive
presentation detailing the specifics of the
proposed solutions using expanded vocabulary and
specific rhetorical devices to support assertions
and sway the audience (IN standard LA 9.5.4,
9.5.7, 9.7.18)Note WH World History, LA
Language ArtsA full list of the standards that
were met in this project are attached in the
project description and activities. In addition
to the learning objectives/standards that are
listed, the way that each standard was assessed
is also listed.
21st Century content
In this project, students were very engaged in
civic literacy. Students found this to be a
rigorous project due to all the problem solving
involved. If students thought that the problem of
controlling the military was solved, they soon
realized that the proposed solution might
actually create more problems. Therefore, it was
a challenging activity. Students also got to see
what it was like to be an active participant in
government and to take social action. We, as the
teachers, wanted students to get this experience
so they will hopefully be active citizens in
their community and be able to identify and go
through the process of civic action and duty. In
addition, students also gained experience in
global awareness. Many of the problems facing
ancient Rome are the same issues facing modern
countries. Through many class discussions, we
were able to compare what happened in Rome to
what is currently going on worldwide. This
allowed students to be more aware of the world
around them. Also, students had to propose
solutions to economic issues, which were really
at the heart of the Roman Empire. How to ensure
taxes were fairly issued and collected? How to
address the social divide and social inequality?
Many of these issues are economic and gave
students exposure to the complexities of a
societys economy. Lastly, students also had to
address issues that were focused on health
awareness. Many of the Roman cities were
unsanitary and those conditions needed attention.
Students had to think of solutions that would
address that concern and be agreeable to the
majority of the Roman Senate. Our team felt that
many of the problems that the students had to
solve touched on the 21st century content skills.
Some of the skills, like civic literacy and
global awareness, were covered in detail.
Part II Project development (page 3 of 3)
This project really exemplified the learning and
thinking skills. The heart of the project was
developing critical thinking and problem solving
skills. The students were presented with a
comprehensive list of problems that they had to
solve and really think through so that the
solutions would be realistic. Students also had
to communicate within their group to reach a
consensus and also persuasively communicate with
the whole class to explain the solutions that
they designed. Since the problems were so complex
and interwoven, students had to be creative and
innovative when designing the solutions. Many of
the students commented that this project was
difficult for them because they had to be
creative in designing the solutions. A simple
minded solution would quickly be devoured by the
Roman Senate. In addition, students clearly
needed to collaborate on this project. The
students were working in heterogeneously mixed
groups to design the solutions. Assigning various
tasks out to each student was delegated by the
groups. Students also used technology to research
their proposed solutions and to organize and
present their work. This learning was very
contextual and relevant to the students because
they can apply the process they went through when
trying to solve their own problems, or the
pressing problems of society.
Learning thinking skills
This project also helped students practice and
develop life skills. Students had to take a
leadership role in designing and presenting
solutions. By being leaders, they also had to
defend the solutions that they created. Related
to the leadership they assumed, students also had
to be sure that the solutions they were proposing
were ethical. Since the solutions were being
presented and analyzed by the Roman Senate,
students knew that the solutions had to be
ethical in nature, otherwise, the solutions would
not pass the Senate vote. Students also had to be
accountable to each other. By working
collaboratively, students relied on each other to
get the project done. Since there was going to be
a public display of their learning in the form of
the Roman Senate, it was imperative that the work
get done. This also meant that students had to be
personally productive and responsible, or the
group would suffer. Even though students were
working collaboratively, they still needed some
self-direction to get their assigned tasks
completed. Students also had to demonstrate
people skills in working in a diverse group to
create their solutions. They had to adapt their
own style some to be able to take the strengths
of all the students to make an effective group.
Overall, the whole project focused on social
responsibility. The social responsibility to a
society when it is in distress, the social
responsibility of leaders to design comprehensive
solutions, the social responsibility to address
inequalities in a society, and the social
responsibility to be an agent of change in your
own community.
Life Skills
Part III Project implementation (page 1 of 2)
Student project teams were created by the
teachers. We wanted the groups to be
heterogeneous and have in each group a good mix
of technology skills, academic skills, speaking
skills, etc. To ensure this, we put the students
in groups based on their different learning
styles. This way we knew we would have a mix of
strengths in the groups. Students knew that they
were being grouped by learning styles. To support
the groups, the teachers guided the students
through the research and the early phase of
formulating solutions. The English and the World
Civilizations teachers were in the room together
to help the students. We also had special
education support as well. At the end of the
project, students completed a self-evaluation and
a group evaluation. The group evaluation allowed
students to assess their peers and let the
teachers know as well. If there were any
collaboration issues, we made sure that the
students approached us and we could help guide
Student teaming strategies
The resources needed to implement the project
included both the English and the World
Civilizations teachers as the primary project
teachers, the Keystone teacher as the technology
support, and the Special Education teachers as
support. Other materials needed included internet
ready computers and printers, history textbooks,
English materials including videos to demonstrate
persuasive speech making, a LCD projector and
screen for presentations, student handouts and
materials related to the project such as rubrics,
and large classroom space for the presentations.
Large post-it note paper and markers were also
used during a brainstorming session.
Required resources (human material)
Information and communication technology
To implement the project, the following
technological resources were needed desktop and
laptop computers for research, PowerPoint
software for the presentation, Word software for
compiling research and information, a LCD
projector for displaying the presentations, and
the Internet for research purposes.
Part III Project implementation (page 2 of 2)
Note The entire project set-up and sequence is
attached. However, here are the basic steps to
implement the Save the Roman Empire project.1.
Discuss the problems facing the ancient Roman
Empire. Highlight comparisons between ancient
Rome and modern times.2. Introduce the project
using a letter to the Senators urging action and
an emergency meeting. Project Q A, Assign groups
(choose and record group roles), Reflect upon the
essential question What is my responsibility to
society? How does it relate to this project?3.
Early Senate Committee Work prioritize the
problems, design researchable questions related
to the problems, mind-map activity combining the
best thinking of all groups based on the
researchable questions, begin discussion towards
solutions.4. Begin researching/creation of
PowerPoint (in Keystone class)5.Outline
persuasive speech6. Continue to research and
revise (teachers look at the work of all
groups)7. Make needed revisions to speech and
PowerPoint, create note cards if needed, rehearse
for presentation8.Final check by teachers9.
Implementation steps
One thing that our team learned after reflecting
on this project was to be sure to give students
enough time. We did not have enough time to get
in all the presentations effectively. Students
were asking really great questions to each other
and the presentations took longer than we had
anticipated. We figured that since all the
students had thought in detail about all the
problems, the questions were really probing and
complex. Next time, we will give more time
allowances for the presentations and the
questions that come after the presentations. All
students presented, but after the first few days,
we had to put a time limit on each presentation.
Also, for this project to work well, it is
imperative that the students have a good
foundation of historical knowledge about the
problems facing ancient Rome as well as good
practice at delivering a persuasive speech.
Implementation tips
Part IV Project results
Informal and formal assessment strategies were
used to measure student growth through this
project. Informal assessment came through teacher
observation when students were working in their
groups/committees. Formal assessment came through
the self-evaluation, peer evaluation, and through
the presentation rubric. All of these documents
are attached. The formal assessments allowed us
to measure how well students were working
collaboratively, the critical thinking
demonstrated by the proposed solutions, the
communication skills in the persuasive speech,
the technology use through the research and the
PowerPoint presentation, the people skills
through the group work and through participating
in the Roman Senate by asking questions to the
groups of Senators, and the creativity used in
proposing the solutions. At the end of the
project, students reflected on the essential
question of What is my responsibility to
society? This allowed them to further define
their role in civic literacy and duty after
participating in this experience.
Assessment strategies
The primary student performance for this project
was the persuasive presentation to the Roman
Senate. This presentation demonstrated their
problem solving and critical thinking skills as
they explained the solutions they developed.
Student products/ performances
Through student reflections and comments, the
most significant learning that resulted from this
project was the understanding of a persons
responsibility to his or her community. Many
students commented that they felt empowered to
accept social responsibility to try to make
changes in a society. In addition, students also
learned a lot about complex social problems and
the impossibility of a one time fix for an issue.
Students learned how interwoven many social
problems are and why it is necessary to look for
comprehensive solutions for the good of the whole
instead of pursuing personal agendas. Also,
students further developed their collaborative
skills by working in a group as well as their
communication skills and research skills.
Students most significant learning
Part V Project artifacts
Note One of our artifacts is a DVD showing the
Save the Roman Empire project in action. Part
of this DVD shows our students working on this
project and designing solutions. Our team was
filmed by PBS out of Bloomington, IN along with
the National Commission on Teaching and Americas
Future (NCTAF). This footage will be part of a
national airing on smaller learning communities
this fall. This DVD was mailed to Cynthia Roberts
with the Microsoft U.S. Innovative Teachers Team.
Student work samples
Project descriptors rubrics
Other key project files, links, etc.
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