VATN at Redwood Heights Elementary

JANUARY 23, 2016 at Redwood Heights



Participants: Teachers – Deborah Green/Oakland Tech;  Nestor Gozalez/Bunche Academy; Deborah Gordon / Castlemont High; Michelle Lewis/Glenview Elementary; James Tucker/Fremont High; Carissa Moline/New Highland Elementary; Ernest Alatorre/Greenleaf Elementary; Kevin Ingersoll/Dewey Academy; Claudia Goodman-Hough/Redwood Heights Elementary; Peter Heckel/Oakland Tech; Ana Ponce/Skyline High; David Mertens/Oakland High; Facilitators: Roxanne Padgett/MOCHA; Ann Wettrich/OUSD Visual & Performing Arts consultant

Thanks to Claudia Goodman-Hough for hosting the meeting in her classroom art studio at Redwood Heights!

1 . Intros / Check-ins / Announcements

We did a quick round of intros and check-ins. A few highlights to note:

  • Roxanne announced that this her last meeting to serve as lead for the group due to heavy load of responsibilities as Executive Director at MOCHA.  Ann will be taking over this role.  Roxanne expressed her enjoyment in working with the group and getting to know everyone.  She is proud and happy to know such a passionate, caring and creative group of people dedicated to teaching in Oakland public schools.  She offered her support in providing access to the MOCHA site for meetings and exhibitions and may fill in for Ann if the need arises.  The group expressed appreciation to Roxanne for her on-going support and leadership.
  • Claudia pointed out that the taxidermy spread around the room is on loan from Lindsey Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek—a great resource for life drawing.
  • Jim at Fremont is in his first year there is creating a print based curricula and using a $1,000 grant for materials to purchase materials and equipment.
  • Peter at Oakland Tech, who teacher 3 levels of animation, is using Flash and his advance students are learning to navigate multiple canvases.
  • Michelle, art and dance teacher at Glenview will be partnering with the African American Quilters Guild during African American history month in February. Their quilters will be working directly in the classroom with the students.
  • Kevin, art teacher at Dewey is also teaching a Pathway Course in Health and Fitness connected to Peralta College where he integrates the arts.
  • Ernie announced, as prep teacher at Greenleaf for the past three years, he will be leaving this post next year and is seeking a replacement art teacher.

OUSD Business Updates

  • January 29th – VAPA PD day 8:30-3:30: focus on the question: How can we use a museum and the arts as a way to promote academic discussion acadeicdiscussion within the contexts of our individual classrooms and subject areas.   La Esquelita School / Oakland Musuem. Mildred Howard, Michelle Perkins, Amy Bilstrom; Engage Thinking Routines / Academic Discussion protocols in looking at art and artifacts in the museums three galleries. There will be multidiscpinary exploration groups and disciplinary debrief group at end.
  • Materials Budget – $40,000 secured (spread over two years)…Phil will be contacting a few of you for input on ordering materials
  • Spreadsheet for Equipment Inventory & Exchange on Google Docs for you to add content and items to.
  • Restorative Justice. Responding to interests expressed in learning more about restorative justice community circles, we will have a joint meeting with music teachers in February focused on Restorative Justice with David Yusem who will discuss: what is it, how does it work, where it is being implemented, what can we do in our own work with it. David is reputed to be a great presenter, and it’s a way to learn more about on OUSD’s cutting edge work in this area.
  • Design Thinking / Maker Spaces. Brooke Toczylowski, former art teacher at Oakland International is now working with OUSD and Agency by Design to advance design thinking and maker spaces in Oakland schools. She has offered to do a workshop at one of our upcoming meetings. The group expressed an interest and Ann will work to schedule her for April or May meeting.
  1. Teacher Exchange / Presentation and Dialogue on Academic Dialogue Summary
  • Dewey Academy: Kevin engages academic discussion in an easy low stakes social dialogue way at the beginning—to bring student voice into the room and cultivate community. This can be a challenge for new students. He implements a reciprocal teaching strategy—teaching the students tricks for immediate social success.
  • Oakland High: As a former ESL teacher, David used PROPS to weave themes into everything. He brings a commerical art focus and structures his classroom like a business where students hold meetings, create companies and hold titles like VP and Creative Director. They have to come up with marketing sales and marketing campaigns. This propels student research, reading, writing and discussion. Written forms may include writing a slogan or copy for a web or print ad. They also use technology as a medium for communication and blog discussions.
  • Greenleaf: Based on the topic or theme, Ernie poses questions for dialogue to deepen learning, for example in a lesson on color, they experiment with prisms and consider rainbows he might pose a discussion question for the class like:“How does this phenomena happen in nature?”
  • Redwood Heights: Claudia has students, first thing, come and sit in a circle where they do turn and talk. During class she often asks them What do you notice or think about this or that? She uses Studio Habits and Gallery Walks to promote focused dialogue about what they learned; or what was easy or challenging. She also posts do nows at the start of every class, often having students create goals. At the end of class they write about what they learned and liked best.
  • Castlemont High: Academic Discussion is school-wide with protocols like: challenge, agree, disagree cards that support different points of view. Deborah also uses Agency by Design thinking routines to promote discussion. Students often lack confidence and she uses sentence stems to scaffold their participation and help to frame and articulate their ideas.
  • New Highland: K-5 supports academic discussion. Carissa engages pair/share reflection at the end of the class period and uses sentence frames. She has created arrows on the tables so that students know who their pair/share partner is. They practice this routine regularly. Students love it. The challenge is establishing trust and holding students accountable for listening. Older students are more reluctant. She often used prompt question like: What is a choice made in your work today that made it different or personally meaningful? A good grade specific source to help create inquiry prompts within the core competency areas of Create/Perform/Connect Respond can be found on the National Standards website under visual arts.
  • Bunch Academy: Academic discussion is strong and pushed by the school. Training for the entire staff is provided—meeting daily. Nestor uses critiques and gallery walks to promote discussion. He gives prompts using arts vocabulary and academic language and has students break into small discussion groups before coming back into whole group dialogue where they respond to the question: What did you discover? For final preparation he uses academic discussion to help them develop five paragraph essays. This involves going into a new space (they use the restorative justice room) and includes doing preparatory quick sketches and practice using art vocabulary and academic language to communicate, intellectualize their ideas and speak out loud.
  • Glenview Elementary: As the time in an art class for academic language is very short, Michelle uses VTS and Gallery Walks as a way to engage deeper looking, reflection and academic discussion.
  • Skyline High: Many of the students are behind and struggling, so Ana uses Studio Habits and mapping strategies to help them articulate and communicate their thoughts.
  • Oakland Tech: Employing silent literacy strategies Deborah has her students do written reflections on every piece and also does Gallery Walks where students use post-it notes to comments. She subscribes to Scholastic Art Magazine and selects articles for students to read and complete worksheets. She is inspired to add the turn and talk routine to provide an opportunity for peer-to-peer academic discourse.
  •  Peter attended PD for academic discussion that was centered on English and History. He is struggling with this protocol and relation to art that he believes comes from the heart and not the head. He does a little academic discussion by having students view and talk about short films and through the process of critiques, gallery walks and reworking and refining drafts. He likes the idea of pair/share where everyone gets to talk.
  1. Teacher Exchange / Free Style
  • Maker Fellows Program – Claudia and Deborah participated. Debora wrote an article for the Oakland Tribune soon to be published on this program.   They learned how to create classroom maker spaces. This is a new well-funded professional development wave. It comes out of STEAM and Agency by Design. Deborah is interested in using design-thinking strategies school-wide in considering the question: How can we make Castlemont a safe school?  Claudia talked about how it provides another lens for learning that engages tinkering, and playing, and making a wide range of things (i.e. a meal, a garden, a boat).
  • Teaching & Learning Strategies – David shared: 1) Smart Phones: Students love to use smart phones and David decided to use their interest to focus their learning. He created an engaging classroom website they can access on their phone. The site provides instructions and resources to scaffold, motivate, propel and reinforce learning. 2) Grading: David came up with a new assessment—giving students a grade at the every class to keep them focused.
  1. Upcoming Meetings
  • Friday, January 29th 8:30-3:30 – La Escuelita School, 1050 Second Avenue and the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak Street at 10th. Lunch from 11:30-12:30 on your own. The Oakland Museum has a wonderful cafe or you can bring your own lunch.
  • Wednesday, February 10th 2:30 – 3:40 at International Community School/Teach College Now, 2825 International Boulevard. This joint workshop with music teachers on Restorative Justice. David Yusem will come talk to us about Restorative Justice in the district: what is it, how does it work, where it is being implemented, what can we do in our own work with it. David is reputed to be a great presenter, and it’s a way to get caught up on OUSD’s cutting edge work.


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