Common Principles for Uncommon Schools

Horace Instruction

“Student as Worker” Applied Outside the Classroom

Strongly implemented in CES schools across the country, the ten Common Principles have an impact on thousands of students. With the Common Principle “Embracing the metaphor ‘student as worker’,” students are able to revolutionize student culture to reach new heights, bringing it outside the classroom and into the whole school community through student activism. Having students as workers provides a

Horace: Instruction Published: December 9, 2006 By: Lou Vargas Topics: Instruction, Student-as-worker

“The Perfect High School”

Transition from middle school to high school can be very tense. You constantly worry about hairstyles, clothes, new teachers, harder work and the events of your social life. Upon attending a small school that’s focused on academics, you notice you miss out on things students at regular schools enjoy. For instance, there are no pep rallies or football games at

Horace: Instruction Published: December 9, 2006 By: Kimberly Hill Topics: Instruction, Student-as-worker

A Network to Help Out Mentor Programs

Adult mentors who work with young people in or out of school can powerfully affect their success in learning, much research has shown. But getting a mentoring program off the ground often proves difficult for schools already swamped with academic demands. The National Mentoring Partnership addresses this problem by providing training and other resources to organizations that want to initiative

Horace: Instruction Published: May 11, 2001 By: Topics: Instruction, Personalization

A Student and Her Exhibition: One Teacher’s Portrait

by Peggy Silva, Souhegan High School, Amherst, New Hampshire Peggy Silva, an English teacher at Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire, followed several students’ experiences closely in the process of writing a book about this Essential school founded in 1992. Here she describes a student preparing for the Division One Exhibition Souhegan requires midway through the high school career,

Adventures in Web 2.0: Introducing Social Networking into My Teaching

“As new technologies shape literacies, they bring opportunities for teachers at all levels to foster reading and writing in more diverse and participatory contexts.” –“A Changing World for Literacy Teachers,” 21st-Century Literacies: A Policy Research Brief, National Council of Teachers of English Five months ago, I introduced Web 2.0 technology to my students, and already, there is a story to

Horace: Instruction Published: July 21, 2009 By: Honor Moorman Topics: Instruction, Technology And Information Literacy

At This Summer School, Teachers Learn Too

At Brown University, where Theodore R. Sizer founded the Coalition and where he is now Professor Emeritus, the department of education has for 32 years sponsored a laboratory summer high school that benefits teachers and schools as much as it does students. About 350 students from Providence, Rhode Island and the surrounding area come to the four-week day school, paying

Horace: Instruction Published: May 11, 2001 By: Topics: Instruction, Personalization

Boosting Achievement by Reporting It Better

How teachers report student progress could have far more impact on student achievement than we commonly assume, according to some researchers and educators. In fact, the format and limited content of most “progress reports” typically imply not progress but the lack of it, said Ross Abels of Iowa’s Solon Community School District, who suggests that teachers substitute narrative comments for

Horace: Instruction Published: May 11, 2001 By: Topics: Instruction, Personalization

Change with Our Help and Change for Our Sake

Set in Denver, Colorado, this year’s CES Small Schools Project Summer Institute was a large success—especially because 60 students attended. The welcoming, almost family reunion-esque atmosphere created the perfect catalyst for discussing and sharing innovations in the small schools process. There were group workshops (set in rooms with an overabundance of Jolly Ranchers, pads of paper and pens), lively discussions

Horace: Instruction Published: December 9, 2006 By: Jurion Jaffe Topics: Instruction, Student-as-worker

City Schools and the American Dream: Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education

By Pedro Noguera (Teachers College Press, 224 pages, $19.95) BUY NOW! Educators who seek to make a difference in the lives of students face tremendous challenges working in urban public schools that are under-resourced and over-burdened. In response, Pedro Noguera maps out his vision of hope and pragmatism in City Schools and the American Dream. Building on his experience as

Horace: Instruction Published: April 10, 2004 By: Lisette López Topics: Cooperative Learning, Instruction

Classroom Discourse: The Language of Teaching and Learning Second Edition

by Courtney B. Cazden (Heinemann Press, 216 pages, $24.00) reviewed by Zaretta Hammond Courtney Cazden examines two questions fundamental to successful CES practice: How do patterns of talk in classrooms affect the equality of students’ educational opportunities and outcomes? How is discourse a support for deeper student learning? Cazden focuses on a variety of different types of discourse that occur

Horace: Instruction Published: December 10, 2003 By: Zaretta Hammond Topics: Instruction, Personalization

Coaching Students to Think and Speak for Themselves

A theatre arts teacher and a Critical Friends Group coach for the Narragansett, Rhode Island school system, Jan Grant works closely with teachers in three Essential schools-elementary, middle, and high school. Her work with high school students there sparked the following reflection: The concept of Collaborative Inquiry was easy for me to accept when I first encountered it at a

Confronting the Moral Questions Within Academic Disciplines

Across the disciplines, teachers tend to quickly dismiss politically and morally charged topics when they arise. But how can we promote critical thinking if we are shy about tackling our critical issues? How can teachers help high school students explore moral and ethical questions with the thoughtfulness necessary for a democratic society to function fully? How can they build academic

Horace: Instruction Published: June 11, 1999 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Essential Questions, Instruction, Personalization

Defining CES Practices in an Elementary School

The Common Principles, originally developed and applied to high schools, guide schools to evaluate what is happening and strive, through reflection and common understanding, to seek improvement. What distinguishes the application of the Common Principles in an elementary school? And what makes a CES elementary school different from other elementary schools? An examination of Windsor Elementary School sheds some light

Horace: Instruction Published: February 22, 2008 By: Michael Routa Topics: Instruction

Democratically Led Professional Development for Schoolwide Literacy Improvement

Since its inception in 1999, Poland Regional High School and Bruce M. Whittier Middle School (PRHS/BWMS) has been at the forefront of school reform. Some of our programs and structures that help our students learn and grow: our students are grouped heterogeneously, we use a co-teaching model to include our special education population in the mainstream, our advisory program reinforces

Horace: Instruction Published: June 9, 2006 By: Heather Manchester Topics: Instruction

Designing Assignments Across Discipline

The challenge teachers face in integrating their course work across the disciplines is often a matter of coming up with the right questions. At Brimmer & May School, the faculty uses Bloom’s theory of the six levels of cognition- knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation-as they design tasks for students. The result is assignments like this one from a

Horace: Instruction Published: February 12, 1989 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Instruction, Student-as-worker, Subject Integration

Digital Portfolios: Documenting Student Growth

The digital portfolio process at Camino Nuevo High School (CNHS) offers an essential 21st century skill to our students. All students are trained in basic web design to build and maintain their digital portfolios. These skills equip them with tools they will likely use in their future endeavors in college and the professional world. We believe using the Internet as

Horace: Instruction Published: December 2, 2009 By: Topics: Instruction, Technology And Information Literacy

Distance Learning and the CES Common Principles

Sometimes our classroom is quiet. You might hear the tapping of the computer keys and an occasional chuckle or a sigh. Two or three students sit at separate tables; one is focused on the laptop screen diligently writing her second draft of her science report. In the other room, a student meets with Mr. D. about his math project. Sometimes

Horace: Instruction Published: July 21, 2009 By: Jennie Hallisey Topics: Instruction, Technology And Information Literacy

Do Boys and Girls Need Different Things in School?

Research interest has grown over the last decade in how schools and families can provide different kinds of support to help both girls and boys develop self-confidence and thrive academically. Studies by the American Association of University Women, for example, observed that teachers call on boys more in class, give them positions of more responsibility, and the like. And a

Horace: Instruction Published: June 11, 1999 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Essential Questions, Instruction, Personalization

Dos and Don’ts with Refugee Students

As an English as a Second Language teacher at Chicago’s Sullivan High School, Naomi Nakayama works with many refugee students who have come to the United States after years of disjointed or unavailable education. Refugee students take on the challenge of learning English while acquiring academic skills that many of their peers had the opportunity to master years before; often,

Horace: Instruction Published: June 10, 2003 By: Topics: Instruction, Personalization

English Language Learners in Essential Schools

We recognize the fact that no two of our students are exactly the same, and that each changes over time. All this bubbling variety is inconvenient. It would be handy if each thirteen year old was a standardized being, pumping no more or fewer hormones than any other thirteen year old and speaking no language other than formal English. Life

Horace: Instruction Published: June 10, 2003 By: Jill Davidson Topics: Instruction, Personalization

Essential Literacy Partnerships at the South Lawrence East Elementary School

Since joining the Coalition of Essential Schools in February 1999, the South Lawrence East Elementary School has used the CES Common Principles as the foundation for enhancing our school culture and ensuring student success. We regard literacy skills – the abilities to decode and comprehend grade-level text, to engage with text thoughtfully, and to express oneself clearly in writing –

Horace: Instruction Published: February 22, 2008 By: Topics: Instruction

Essential Math and Science: How Can It Work?

PROBLEM: Your skateboard is stuck under a dumpster. To get it out, you have a 4′ by 6′ sheet of plywood and a curb. You weigh 150 pounds. Can you lift the dumpster to get it out, and how? Faced with this question, students confront several of the Coalition’s nine common principles at once: they must take steps on their

Horace: Instruction Published: February 12, 1989 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Instruction, Student-as-worker, Subject Integration

Essential Schools as Inclusive Education Leaders

All learning communities contain a multidimensional spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. By embracing this truth in their values and practices, Essential schools are well poised to respond effectively to the challenge of inclusion. Students in inclusive educational settings take many paths toward the achievement of meaningful educational and personal goals. Inclusion reorganizes a school’s environment: it opens to all students

From 16 to 20, Student Development Demands a Different Kind of Schooling

“The school was structurally incapable of taking me seriously,” one student at a well regarded suburban high school said. Schools often dismally fail the developmental needs of young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty, concluded a year-long study just completed by the Coalition of Essential Schools. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and led by Kathy Simon, CES’s

Horace: Instruction Published: June 11, 1999 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Essential Questions, Instruction, Personalization

Getting Students to Do More with Less: One Teacher Whittles Down her Humanities Curriculum

by Carol Lacerenza-Bjork, National Re:Learning Faculty memberAt West Hill High School in Stamford, Connecticut, English teacher Carol Lacerenza-Bjork and her ninth-grade students developed a curriculum that would achieve their objectives by giving more attention to fewer required texts. Here is her account of how that year-long course took shape, as they planned backwards from the outcomes they aimed for: DEFINING

Horace: Instruction Published: April 11, 1995 By: Kathleen Cushman Topics: Instruction, Projects & Units, Student-as-worker