Saturday, July 11, 2015

Kari Kokka - high school math teacher (New York, NY) and PHD Canidate (Harvard University)

My name is Kari Kokka, and I was a high school math teacher and coach at Vanguard High School, a Title I public school in New York City for ten years (2001-2011). Currently I work at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity where I do both Performance Assessment work and am also working with a group of Bay Area teachers to co-design a 6th grade math Project Based Learning curriculum.  I am also a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education studying STEM teacher retention.

I was fortunate that my principal at Vanguard believed in distributive leadership. Our only problem was the lack of rigor in the mathematics program. 

In 2001 a group of math teachers joined the Vanguard community and committed ourselves to make the mathematics program more rigorous, introduce AP calculus, and increase our students’ mathematical skills and understanding. In order to prepare our students for AP Calculus we doubled the instructional time in mathematics, introduced Complex Instruction (a form of group work that incorporates roles, multiple abilities approaches, and status treatments) for our heterogeneous classes, and worked collaboratively as a team to meet our goals. We also needed to design Performance Assessments for our students, a graduation requirement for all students in all subject areas. As the math coach I helped organize our weekly math team meetings to work productively as a team to achieve these goals. We presented about our teamwork at the Coalition of Essential Schools National Fall Forum in 2004, titling our session “Not Only Students Engage in Cooperative Learning!: The Role of Lesson Study in Professional  Development.Our math team successfully introduced AP Calculus to Vanguard in 2007. I strongly believe that one of the keys to productive teacher professional growth is the use of teamwork and collaboration.

Tammie Adams - K-1 teacher and Literacy Specialist in the Department of Teaching and Learning (Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, CA)

My name is Tammie Adams and I am currently a Literacy Specialist in the Department of Teaching and Learning in Oakland Unified School District.    My first two years I taught Kindergarten at Whittier Year Round School, the next fifteen years I taught Kindergarten at Brookfield Elementary, then taught First Grade for the next four years and last year I was the TSA - Literacy Coach at my school site.   

I have just completed my 19th year with the district and in that time, I have seen lots of changes around Professional Development.  Previously, the district or our administrator have always dictated the focus of our Professional Development.  

When our school got a new administrator, we used our Instructional Leadership Team to create Cycles of Inquiry in the content areas of Language Arts, Math, and Science that included teachers leading professional development based on the needs of our students, staff and school community. At the end of each PD, teachers completed a "Passport" to indicate their learning needs that helped the ILT create differentiated PD that not only impacted student achievement, but helped to build the capacity of the teachers at our school. 


Please click  HERE  to view the artifacts described below.

This is a sample agenda for a PD conducted at my school site.  This PD was conducted like a "mini-conference".  Other teachers were asked to be facilitators for the various topics within Balanced Literacy.  Teachers rotated to each mini-workshop for 20 minutes.  This gave teachers the opportunity to learn from each other.  Everyone received handouts and sample lessons they could use in their classrooms the next day.  This PD was created based on questions teachers had about instructional strategies.

4th Grade Sample Lesson Plan & Student Work Sample
This is a sample lesson plan that was demonstrated during one of the mini-workshops.  It was modeled by a 3rd grade teacher, but she created the lesson for 4th grade.  The lesson plan includes the CC standard addressed, objective of the lesson, materials to use, strategies to engage students before, during and after the reading as well as ways to extend the comprehension lesson to writing.  Although the student work sample attached is not for the specific lesson modeled, it gave the teachers an idea of how to complete the graphic organizer.  During the workshop, teachers were given a blank organizer to complete for their own active engagement.

1st Grade Sample Lesson Plan & Graphic Organizer
This is a sample lesson plan that was modeled for a Reading Workshop mini-lesson.  This lesson plan includes the CC standard addressed, objective of the lesson, materials to use, the teaching point students will practice using as they read text at their independent level. The lesson also includes an opportunity for the students to practice the skill with a partner before they do it independently.  The model lesson also includes the exit ticket students must complete to keep them accountable for their independent reading.  Attached is also the graphic organizer used during the model lesson.

Linda Bauld - Director, National Board Resource Center (Stanford University)

Linda Bauld, NBCT
Director, National Board Resource Center
Stanford University

For 23 years I taught grades 2-5 in a Title I school in San Mateo. A year ago I retired and moved into the role of director of the NBRC in order to support teachers as they pursue National Board Certification and to provide a resource for teacher leadership.

Professional development in my district was spotty, inconsistent, and often
irrelevant to my needs. I was hungry to find the answers to these questions.

1. Develop herself as a professional?
2. Get a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses in her practice?
3. Collaborate over time with accomplished colleagues?
4. Make permanent changes that improve student learning?

Teacher-driven professional development focused on impacting student learning. This must occur over multiple sessions, require a high level of collaboration and analysis, and be applicable immediately.  Three ways for teachers to do this are:

1. Lesson Study
2. National Board Certification
3. Self Study

Please see the resources below.

The three Rs in professional development rigorous, reflective, and relevant!
Favorite quote by outgoing NEA President: Proceed until apprehended!


Lesson Study
A form of teacher research around an instructional challenge. Teachers
research, inquire, create a lesson, watch one member of the team teach it, collect student
data, revise the lesson based on student data, then another member teaches the revised
1. Lesson Study Step by Step How Teacher Learning Communities Improve 
3. Mills Teacher Scholars

4. Catherine Lewis Mills College

National Board Certification
Teacher created, teacher assessed, voluntary national certification. It is considered our profession’s highest certification. It involves 1-3 years, analyzing, reflecting, and documenting your practice by writing, video, and assessment. The intense analysis and reflection coupled with collaborating with other candidates results in a clear understanding of yourself as a teacher and improved instructional skills. When done as a group at a site, it can change a school.

1. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

2. National Board Resource Center, Stanford University

3. Check your local district and association

Self Study
A critical and systematic examination of an aspect of your practice in order to improve upon it.

We use the words …self-study as a component of reflection in which teachers systematically and critically examine their actions and the context of those actions as a way of developing a more consciously driven mode of professional activity (Samaras, 2002).

1. Self-Study of Teaching Practices

2. Self-Study Research Methodologies for Teacher Educators

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rori Abernethy - High School/ Middle School Math Teacher, Union Rep, Instructional Leadership CORPS (Oakland, CA and San Francisco CA


I loved teaching in Oakland for the past 13 years. I taught for 10 years at Oakland High School. Prior to teaching high school, I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th math grade for three years in East Oakland and at a private school. I am currently an Math for American Master Teacher Fellow at UC Berkeley and an Instructional Leadership Corps Member for CA.


Districts co-opting professional development that is already working well!  Bringing in consultants of "district leadership" and not respecting academic freedom and teachers as professionals.


Working outside of district constructs through my union and local universities. As well as creating a math circle within my math department.


MƒA Master Teacher Fellowship
MƒA Berkeley was launched in 2010 to provide the most promising mathematics and science teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area with professional and leadership development opportunities, and a support community of engaged professionals. MƒA Berkeley offers the Master Teachers Fellowship to provide teachers the resources and professional support they need to excel in today’s urban classrooms. The program is a partnership with the University of California, Berkeley.

What is a Math Circle?
Math Circles bring mathematicians and mathematical scientists into direct contact with pre-college students. These students (and sometimes their teachers) meet with mathematics professionals in an informal setting, after school or on weekends, to work on interesting problems or topics in mathematics. These interactions get students excited about mathematics and provide them with a community to foster their passion for mathematical thinking. Find out more about Math Circles at the National Association of Math Circles (NAMC) website, 

The Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC) 
This is a three-year project to build a statewide network of accomplished classroom teachers and other education leaders who will support the implementation of schoolwide professional learning on the Common Core Standards in ELA and Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards. The first cohort of 184 educators has been engaged in professional development this year and planning is underway for the second cohort for the 2015-16 school year.