1. My colleague and I spent three days in Harlem attending the High Achievement Institute at Teachers College. Here are some highlights.
  2. This video, shared on the first day, reminds us of the importance of making lessons relevant to our students' lives.
  4. Mary Ehrenworth gave an engaging keynote address. Mary demonstrated how she helps struggling readers, especially the type of student who carries around books that are too hard for them to read. Some key points:
  5. - Be honest with students; tell them when a book is too difficult
  6. - Remind students of their strengths ("You're really good at knowing what kind of book you want to read.")
  7. - Offer alternatives and set goals. Give the student other texts with similar topics/themes/characters that will help them reach the goal of reading the original book. Sell the texts to the student. Be specific and set goals with the student.
  8. Mary also spoke of how important it is to teach with texts that are relevant to our students' lives.
  9. Cornelius Minor set the stage for the institute by outlining six principles. He also had many words of wisdom . . .
  10. This was an important theme throughout the institute . . .
  11. During our small-group sessions, I worked with Cornelius Minor, Carla España and Natalie Louis. All were amazing presenters. As I've been telling colleagues ever since I returned, I learned as much from watching these presenters model lessons and presentations as I did about the content they were teaching.
  12. Here are a few of the many ideas that stuck with me.
  13. One of my biggest takeaways is Mr. Minor's idea of teaching in 7-minute chunks. I have been trying it out in my classroom; it has given me a whole new way to look at planning and teaching.
  14. I am mindful of one of the principles of the institute - that nothing goes well the first time. I am far from perfecting the 7-minute mini-lesson, but after trying it just a few times I am seeing incredible results. My students are responding, and they are appreciating the structure and routines of the class.
  15. The closing session left many of us speechless. Carla, Natalie and Cornelius once again spoke profoundly about the work we do. I will never forget what Mr. Minor said in the final minute of the three days: Teaching that is compliance-based traps kids in their social class. It creates a society of employees rather than change agents.
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