Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Advisory Board Meeting Report

Voices Rising Advisory Board The Voices Rising Project held its first Advisory Board meeting at Suffolk University today. The Advisory Board meets twice a year to hear a status report on the project's outcomes and plan for future activities. Professor Robert Allison, project co-director welcomed the group to Suffolk. TRITEC executive director, Cindy Fiducia, gave a project overview on the project's themes focused on immigrants and disenfranchised groups. She emphasized the project's year three focus on the essential question, How did people in America secure their rights?
Next, Diane Schilder, project evaluator, reviewed the evaluation activities that we are using to assess impact on teacher performance and student achievement. One strong indicator of success was that teachers participating in Voices Rising performed 14 scale points above a comparison group of non-participating teachers. Dr. Schilder also noted a marked increase in teachers' use of primary sources in their classrooms (51% to 86%).
Suffolk University historian Pat ReeveSuffolk historian and Project Coordinator, Pat Reeve, gave an overview of the Summer Institute held from August 18-22, 2008. The group was then treated to a slideshow composed of photographs taken by Robert Simpson during the week-long immersion into American history that ranged from a walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail to a day at the U.S.S Constitution Museum.
Voices Rising Summer Institute Slideshow from Robert Simpson on Vimeo.
Molly Laden demonstrates wiki discussion pageNew communication technologies were presented by Molly Laden, Teacher Learning Center Director in Medford. Molly explained our decision to use a wiki to host fall historian seminar content, teacher discussions and workshop materials. The Voices Rising wikispace allows users to easily add, update, and edit content on the site. We will also use the wiki to begin the lesson development process by sharing lesson ideas across districts and posting primary source materials in the form of images and links. The photo above shows an example of the wiki used by teachers to respond to historian prompts on their seminar readings.
Simpson gives update on PBU Builder 2.0Robert Simpson, Teacher Learning Center Director in Malden updated the group on TRITEC's new PBU Builder site used to host American history lessons and provide easy access to district students and teachers. We then transitioned to a Student Response System (SRS) activity based upon primary source content from the grade 3 Project-Based Unit (PBU) The Grass is Always Greener. We acquired the Qwizdom SRS from a state Technology Enhancement Grant. Half of the advisory board responded using their remotes that they had never used a SRS prior to today's meeting. In one multiple choice question, participants were asked to analyze a painting depicting early 19th century farm life. Answers were sent and then displayed as a bar graph on the computer projector. Simpson emphasized how the SRS engages students and allows teachers to make real-time adjustments to instruction. If you're interested in viewing the full SRS activity visit the Voices Rising wiki.
The meeting ended with a brief discussion on the next round of TAH grant funding which would support up to five years.

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