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Case Study: Madison Middle School, Oakland USD
By Barbara Bray May 10, 2012 -- 09:15 AM
Oakland Unified School District is an urban district that is trying everything they can to stop students from dropping out. Madison Middle School is in East Oakland with a determined principal who wants to make a difference in their children’s lives.
Teachers were working hard and test scores were improving, but students were not motivated to learn. The lessons needed to be more rigorous and engaging. The teacher turnover rate was too high. The principal, Dr. Lucinda Taylor, not only wanted to increase student achievement and improve student engagement, she wanted to build a Professional Learning Community, a real caring community of learning for both teachers and students.
The principal hired Barbara as a technology and project-based learning coach to work with all teachers (13) on their prep times and collaborative planning time once a week. The principal also set up a retreat before school for three days to build community. The school received netbooks for each student and installed wireless infrastructure. This was all new for the teachers but many were excited for the change and challenge. Each teacher was to create a project to be showcased for the school community. Many of the teachers created projects using My eCoach. A team was set up for teachers to share ideas and resources.
Teachers resisted and were concerned about meeting the goals to increase test scores. We set up an online community in My eCoach and used the communication tools to nudge teachers and to set up appointments. Before long teachers were asking for help in designing curriculum projects that motivate their students. One eighth grade teacher wanted to create a project that had all students doing the same project. With a little encouragement, we designed a project around the Bill of Rights where students work in teams of four about the pros and cons of one of the amendments. This project was such a success, the teacher designed another project on his own about Civil Rights and had the students have a voice in what they were going to do to demonstrate evidence of learning. There were two showcases that had over 500 people attend for a school of 309 students. A big success!
Market Math with videos of students creating 30 second commercials about discounts and sales.
Bill of Rights where students worked in groups on one amendment, showing the pros and cons of the amendment, and doing a video of a poem, skit, or song about the amendment. Another one on Manifest Destiny.