Students

Syndicate content

Catlin Gabel News, Winter 2014

Send by email

From the Winter 2014 Caller

NEWS FROM AROUND HONEY HOLLOW

The Oregonian published an opinion piece by Vicki Roscoe, head of the Lower School, about the importance of teaching and learning handwriting. . . . Officials from the U.S. Department of Education came to campus (left) as a result of Catlin Gabel’s recognition as a Green Ribbon School. They saw how the school excels in wellness, environmental education and impact, and STEM education. . . . Catlin Gabel hosted two regional robotics events, the Girls’ Generation and the Rookie Rumble, designed to raise awareness of and student confidence in science and engineering.
 

OUR REMARKABLE TEACHERS

Stanford University’s Teacher Tribute Initiative recognized three Upper School teachers for their positive impact on Stanford first-year students: English teachers Leanne Moll and Ginia King, and history teacher and PLACE director George Zaninovich. . . . MS Mandarin teacher Li-Ling Cheng is co-author of Language through Culture, Culture through Language: A Framework for K-8 Mandarin Curriculum published by Peking University Press. . . . US math teacher Kenny Nguyen is a reviewer for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education and also reviews manuscripts and conference proposals for the Journal for Mathematical Behavior, Cognition and Instruction; the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; and the International Conference of the Learning Sciences. . . . US history teacher and PLACE director George Zaninovich was selected for the Portland Art Museum’s education department teacher advisory council. . . . US English teacher Leanne Moll was an adjunct professor of education at Portland State University last summer and teaches online graduate-level curriculum, instruction, and reading courses for Read Oregon. . . . US history teacher Meredith Goddard presented at the Center for Geographic Education’s annual conference at PSU on student-centered strategies for teaching the geography of Afghanistan. . . . Fifth grade teaching assistant Katie Boehnlein published an article about 6th grade English teacher Carter Latendresse and Catlin Gabel’s beekeeping program in Clearing magazine.
 

“SCUMBOT” SOARS

A team of Upper School students won a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT grant, awarded to innovative student engineering projects nationwide. Their robotics project, “ScumBot,” addresses the realworld problem of algae and duckweed infestation in a central Oregon lake. They will travel to MIT’s EurekaFest in June.
 

ATHLETICS & SPORTS

The US cross country coaching team of Chris Skrapits, Dave Corkran, Anna Connor, and John Hamilton was collectively named district Coach of the Year. . . . Sandy Luu was named to the Oregon Athletic Directors Association executive committee and serves on committees of the National Athletic Directors Association.
 
Several students have won national recognition in their sports: Mahala Lambert ’24, taekwondo; Connor White ’21, Mo Duk Pai Kung Fu; Omeed Azari ’21, taekwondo; Adrienne Tam, swimming; Miguel Gachupin ’16, fencing; Luke Selliken ’16, kart racing; Ethan Hanson ’15, triathlon; and Elli Wiita ’15, synchronized swimming.
 

Oregon Book Award winner Willy Vlautin, author of The Motel Life, worked with US students in English and music

The Class of 2013

Send by email
Their college destinations & awards
From the Winter 2014 Caller

Perla Alvarez
University of Oregon
Community service & Spanish awards
 
Valerie Balog
Colgate University
 
Mady Bennink
Linfield College
 
Will Bishop
University of Denver
Ceramics award
 
Ella Bohn
Brown University
English & French awards
 
Jamie Bonaparte
Clark Honors College, University of Oregon
 
Rahul Borkar
Oregon State University
Music award
 
Mpho Bowie-Molefe
Lehigh University
 
Maggie Boyd
New York University
 
Evan Brandaw
Gap year, College of Wooster
 
Kassi Carter-Howard
Santa Clara University
 
Brandon Chang
Boston University
 
Owen Chapman
Pomona College
 
Gabri Chodosh
Clark Honors College, University of Oregon
 
Casey Currey-Wilson
University of California, Berkeley
Spanish award
 
Audrey Davis
Tulane University
 
Marina Dimitrov
Stanford University
Science award
 
Abby Doctor
Smith College
 
Nicholas Elliott
Gap year
Jazz band award
 
Layla Entrikin
Tulane University
 
Flora Field
Scripps College
 
Allison Foltyn
Simon Fraser University
Technical theater & modern languages awards
 
Margaret Fossand
Occidental College
 
Emi Foster
Colgate University
 
Siobhan Furnary
Oberlin College
 
Anne Gilleland
Southern Methodist University
 
Tucker Gordon
Bowdoin College
 
Evan Hallmark
University of Southern California
 
Hannah Hay-Smith
Brown University
 
Mira Hayward
Harvard College
 
Jeremy Howard
Chapman University
Jazz band award
 
Cody Hoyt
Ithaca College
Pat Ehrman & media arts awards
 
Kanaiza Imbuye
Wesleyan University
 
Naomi Iverson
University of Colorado, Boulder
Science award
 
Ian Jones
Portland State University
 
Matthew Junn
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Visual arts award
 
Maya Kinley-Hanlon
American University
 
Ben Kiyasu
Tulane University
Thespis award
 
Zach Lewis
Gap year, New York University
 
Ellie Lezak
Oberlin College
 
Benji Lin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
Ruth Lind
University of St. Andrews
 
David Lovitz
University of Puget Sound
Athletics award
 
Eve Lowenstein
Lewis & Clark College
Community service award
 
Trevor Luu
Illinois Wesleyan University
 
Alan Mayhew
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Japanese National Honor Society
 
Mairead McCarron
New York University
 
Keegan McCarthy
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, AZ
 
Max Meyerhoff
Macalester College
School ring, Pat Ehrman & theater awards
 
Elizabeth Moore
Saint Louis University, Madrid
Modern languages award
 
Fiona Noonan
Stanford University
 
Conor Oliver
Colgate University
 
Tyler Quatraro
Whittier College
 
Christopher Reimann
Whitman College
Community service & outdoor leadership awards
 
Emma Ronai-Durning
Gap year, Middlebury College
Chinese award
 
Hannah Rotwein
Plan II Honors Program, University of Texas, Austin
Athletics & English awards
 
Rachel Savage
Wesleyan University
Creative writing award
 
Zoe Schlanger
Oberlin College
 
Will Schneiger
Gap Year, Colorado College
 
Ben Shmulevsky
University of Southern California
 
Lianne Siegel
Carleton College
 
Eli Skeggs
Oregon State University
Computer science award
 
Rachel Spiegel
Pitzer College
Japanese award
 
Curtis Stahl
George Washington University
 
Lawrence Sun
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
Terrance Sun
Brown University
 
Devon Utter
George Washington University
 
Alexandra van Alebeek
Stanford University
 
Mark Van Bergen
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, AZ
Thespis & science awards
 
Maggie Weirich
Gap year, Stanford University
 
Allison Weston
George Washington University
 
Kenny Woods
University of Portland
 
Lauren Wu
University of Washington
 
Gene Yamamoto
University of Oregon
 
Jaime Yu
Whittier College
 
Koby Yudkin
Bates College
 
Not pictured: Spencer Immel, Portland State University, Japanese award
 
 

More Room to Make Art!

Send by email
A student's view of the new Creative Arts Center

From the Summer 2013 Caller

 
Every week last year I watched as the new Creative Arts Center evolved from a hole in the ground to a beautiful building I cannot wait to explore. I like to do artwork involving found materials and fashion. This year, I made a dress out of plastic bags, as well as a vest out of pencils in my 3D arts class. Although working in the 3D studio in the science building this year has been great, I look forward to being able to spread out a bit more on larger surfaces. I wanted to bring my dress form and sewing machine into the studio this year while I was working on the pencil vest, but I didn’t think there would be enough space. I am excited for the new facilities, because I think the spacious building will inspire students to bounce around ideas and create.

One aspect of the Creative Arts Center that excites me is that different art types will all be together in one building. This close proximity opens up a chance for crossover between the arts. I got a little taste of what this might be like as the 3D class worked on natural outdoor sculptures inspired by Andy Goldsworthy. We worked with media arts teacher Nance Leonhardt to combine sculpture and photography by photographing our works and keeping the pictures as our final product. Photography and sculpture is just one combination, and I am eager to see how other arts can overlap in the CAC.

 
Art is a fundamental piece of who I am, and I know that other Catlin Gabel students feel the same passion. With all the highway bustle of academics, art for me is a garden pathway urging me to slow down and appreciate.  

Financial Aid is Absolutely Critical to Catlin Gabel's Health

Send by email
The Campaign for Arts & Minds supports increased endowment, which directly increases the school’s financial aid budget

From the Summer 2013 Caller

By Sara Nordhoff, admission and financial aid director

“An effort shall be made to have students of the school represent a cross-section of American life, having various economic backgrounds and religious beliefs, and chosen for their promise in qualities of character, intelligence, responsibility, and purpose.” —founder Ruth Catlin, 1928  

Catlin Gabel has funds right now to offer financial aid to 26 percent of our students. If we had $250,000 more each year for financial aid, we would have had enough funds to admit the following students—but we could not: Kids from schools in neighborhoods that would add more diversity to Catlin Gabel’s community, kids at the top of their classes with passions they pursue in meaningful ways, competitive athletes, excellent artists and writers, scores of siblings and legacies, kids devoted to service, and many more deserving, wonderful students who would have an enormous impact here and beyond—kids for whom a Catlin Gabel education would change their lives.

Faculty feedback on students we could not admit: “this is one of the best candidates I’ve ever seen,” “I would love to have this student in my classroom,” “admit this incredible student!”

Some examples of students we had to turn away:
A published author at the age of 10
An athlete who would have been a game-changer in our Upper School girls basketball program
A competitive chess player and violinist with one of the highest SSAT scores of the pool
An accomplished ballet dancer
A Parkour champion
A young martial arts master
A brother and sister, both at the top of their class
A three-sport athlete completely devoted to community service
A top gymnast with international living experiences
 
Catlin Gabel is affordable to only about three to five percent of the greater Portland population. In order to attract the very best and brightest students and live out our mission, we must sustain our commitment to a strong financial aid program. Our goal is to make a Catlin Gabel education accessible to as many qualified students as possible, regardless of socioeconomic status. Our discussion- and team-based learning environment is successful only when disparate voices and viewpoints are heard. We devote a greater percentage of our budget to financial aid than many of our peer schools. Catlin Gabel grows as our commitment to financial aid grows. Reaching out and enrolling a diverse population is a high priority for our enrollment strategy. We think of diversity as having a broad definition, including socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic diversity. We’ve made strides towards broadening our reach to a larger population of families, in large part due to our stronger commitment to financial aid. Catlin Gabel will flourish, along with its students, with a financial aid budget that allows us to admit all the students we’d like to admit—with mitigated concern for their ability to pay tuition. A successful finish to the Campaign for Arts & Minds will supply the $250,000 per year we need to make this happen and keep Catlin Gabel healthy and relevant.
 
• The average financial aid award has increased from $14,430 in 2010–11 to $16,200 in 2013-14
• In 2013–14 CG allocated $3.3 million in tuition assistance, out of an entire budget of $17 million
• Families who received awards had annual household incomes ranging from $8,400 to $168,000 (CG uses a national formula to determine aid awards that takes into account income and variables such as the number of children in tuition-charging schools, including colleges. Awards at the higher income levels are smaller and do not include books and laptops.)
• Average grant: $16,200
• Awards range from $1,800 to $25,750
• Tuition ranges from $19,200 to $25,850
• Our ultimate goal is to admit all students without regard for their family’s financial situation, but that would require more than $50 million in new endowment funds. The steps we take today are important in moving us toward that future.
 
% OF FAMILY NEED THAT CATLIN GABEL MET
2009–10 (92%)
2010–11 (93%)
2011–12 (92%)
2012–13 (90%)
 
% OF STUDENTS RECEIVING ASSISTANCE
2009–10 (26.25)
2010–11 (27.8%)
2011–12 (25.7%)
2012–13 (25.8%)
2013–14 (27.4%)
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR FINANCIAL AID
• We create classes that lead to diverse viewpoints in the classroom
• We grow financial aid responsibly, meeting need in a sustainable way
• Relevant independent schools keep financial aid at the forefront
 

"My story, like the stories of many others who have received financial assistance at Catlin Gabel, is a testament to the power of philanthropy. . . . Without a Catlin Gabel education, my life would have looked drastically different. The growth each student experiences here is indescribable. In fact, without the financial assistance that allowed me to receive such an enriching education, I’d probably still be the same shy child I was seven years ago. But today I can tell you with all sincerity that Catlin Gabel has changed me. It’s given me the opportunity and support to redefine myself in ways I never thought possible. Catlin Gabel equips its students with everything we need to face the future."
—Anthony Lin ’09, graduate of Duke University in neuroscience and computer science

"Running a high-quality, progressive, independent school is an expensive proposition, and thus tuition remains beyond the reach of many. To match reality and idealism, Catlin Gabel must have a robust endowment for financial aid, to open our doors to every deserving, qualified student regardless of her family’s means. Without this, our school’s expressed commitment to our ideals and our community becomes hollow and less meaningful. Catlin Gabel without generous financial aid would not be the Catlin Gabel we chose as the right school for our children. It would become a more homogeneous community, less interesting and vibrant. It would ignore the reality of economic diversity that all of our children must understand and appreciate. It would shield our children from the “real world” in which they will all live and work as adults. It would deny the value and contribution of children from all walks of life, from a wide range of circumstances."
— Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, trustee, parent, donor

The Campaign for Arts & Minds

Send by email
What sets Catlin Gabel apart?
Campaign Components
Creative Arts Center
This new building fosters the ability to create and provides the encouragement to be original. It brings multiple disciplines inside one facility for intense, collaborative teaching and learning. Students will experiment in the black box theater, hear each other play instruments, view and critique each other’s work in the school’s first proper gallery, and learn from guest artists.
 Expanding Our Endowment
Launching new programs, admitting more students with financial need, and compensating outstanding teachers requires stable and robust funding. We must pursue these initiatives with the confidence that they can be sustained. The campaign for the endowment is how we’re doing it.

 

CHRIS PARK ’14
Senior, student body president

"Catlin Gabel gave me confidence in my own thoughts, while not completely blocking out those of others. It taught me that there are often more perspectives to every situation than what one might initially think. The confidence I gained from our small class discussions encouraged me to take part in our school’s student government. This school has given and taught me more than I could possibly repay."

MIRA HAYWARD ’13
Entering Harvard College

"As my class prepares to leave for college, the mark that Catlin Gabel’s holistic approach to education has left on us shows clearly: our strong academic skills are matched by our strong characters; our passion for learning matched by our passion for life."

BRIAN GANT
MS life skills and PE teacher

"Catlin Gabel takes pride in supplying students with a quality, well-rounded education. Students learn to take ownership of the direction of their passions, as well as to respect and appreciate individual differences." 

ALLEN SCHAUFFLER
Longtime preschool teacher

"Do you wish that you had attended a school where you were asked to examine 60 acres, be stretched to discomfort, navigate the idea of community, have fun with the basics, and use what you know to serve? Imagine a place children come each day, where what they bring with them is treated as the fertile ground of possibility rather than something to correct or change."  


 

ALINE GARCIA-RUBIO ’93
US science teacher and assistant head

"At Catlin Gabel we teach how to sing, how to talk to a crowd, welcome others, disagree, advocate for ourselves, talk to adults, write our congressional representatives, read between the lines, learn what’s not in front of us, include others in play, weave and intersect with other cultures, and find balance in our lives. We learn from our students every day. We educate whole children. We educate ourselves. Every day.

TONY STOCKS
US English teacher

"Whenever visiting writers come to share their work with our students, or parents attend Back-to-School Night, or folks new to the school come to Open House, they always say: ‘Wow!! I wish I could have gone to high school here.’ They see the school’s serious, but freewheeling, intellectual atmosphere, the strong bonds it forges between teachers and students, its deep commitment to building a community of trust and mutual support, and realize what a special place this is to be a teacher or a teenager."

NADYA OKAMOTO ’16
Sophomore, Malone Scholar

"I love Catlin Gabel not only for the friends I have made and the resources it can provide, but also for the atmosphere of support, in-depth curiosity to learn, and a rigorous and beneficial learning experience. It also served me as a second home and support system as my family went through a major move." 

RIVFKA SHENOY ’09
Student at New York University Medical School

"After Catlin Gabel college seemed easy. At Catlin Gabel I didn’t just learn the facts, I learned how to learn and use those facts in novel and creative ways. The biggest lesson I learned, which I always carry with me, is that education and ambition are not accessed passively, but instead actively.

Washington County teen scientists headed to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

posted in
Send by email
Oregonian article, April 2013

6th grade Surgery Day video and photo gallery

Send by email

Warning: not for the squeamish!

Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century

Send by email

 From the Winter 2012-13 Caller

By Courtney Nelson and Kenny Nguyen

“How should mathematics be taught in the 21st century?” This question affects every aspect of mathematics education discourse from conference topics, creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) departments at universities, to the writing of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. To begin answering it, we need to examine “the grammar of mathematics education.”
 
David Tyack and Larry Cuban coined the phrase “the grammar of schooling” in their book Tinkering Toward Utopia, where they defined it as “the organizational forms that govern instruction.” It includes familiar schooling features such as age-grading of students and division of knowledge into separate subject areas. In essence, it delineates the acceptable rules and behaviors that a “real school” must follow. Tyack and Cuban argued that 20th-century educational reformers largely failed because they sought utopian change through large-scale systemic reform without regard for the grammar of schooling. Because those reforms did not work well in the classroom, assumed unrealistic resources, or increased teachers’ daily work routines without compensation, teachers modified the reformers’ original ideas. Hence, the history of educational reform is a story of “local, gradual, and piecemeal” change resulting from teachers acting as “tinkerers” who experimented with “practices that ripped through corners of the traditional pattern of schooling” implementing change that “preserves what is valuable and remedies what is not.”
 
What is the current grammar of mathematics education? The latest Trends in Mathematics and Science Study provides evidence that it is not different from that of the 19th century. Most mathematics classrooms in the U.S. still consist of students sitting in rows listening to a teacher explain, using rote procedures to solve specific problems while asking cognitively undemanding questions. If we want to answer the question “How should mathematics be taught in the 21st century?” we must change the grammar.
 
Two salient issues lie at the core of the current grammar. The first is K–5 mathematics. Once considered a place for “back to basics” teaching, research has shown that children are capable of more than arithmetic and that the foundation for advanced mathematics needs to be established here. The second is the question of what constitutes rigorous mathematical thinking and whether any one course, be it algebra or calculus, fulfills this need in the 21st century.

Mathematics Education in the Lower School

Lower school mathematics classes today should look and run differently than the ones we remember from our childhood. Just as health care facilities, government offices, and stock exchanges have evolved to meet the challenges of our society, so too has our understanding of the teaching and learning of mathematics. Preparing students to be confident participants in their communities and leaders in their fields requires mathematical literacy that involves more than getting correct test answers. Not only do all students need to grapple with the universal disciplines of the content of mathematics, but they and their teachers must also develop the skills and dispositions that will enable them to think flexibly, take risks, and work collaboratively in our modern global culture.
 
A recent piece on National Public Radio’s All Tech Considered highlighted five “movers and shakers” of the tech world. One of them, Babak Parviz, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington and project leader on Google’s Project Glass, pointed out at a recent TED talk, “I would hazard a guess that the era of the solo star scientist is probably over.” Reporter Steve Henn noted, “In fact, none of the men and women I just mentioned do much of anything alone. . . . Today’s big problems are so complex—so interdisciplinary—that all of these people make their marks working in teams.”
 
This echoes the work of Tony Wagner, the Harvard-based education expert. In his 2008 book The Global Achievement Gap, he explained that students need three basic skills if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy: critical thinking and problem solving, effective communication, and collaboration. In his 2012 book Creative Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, Wagner’s list grew into the “Seven Survival Skills.”
 
The teacher must, then, cultivate a classroom culture where students understand that autonomy and collaboration are equally important. If a teacher’s words and actions honor risk-taking, active investigation, and clear communication, students will sooner come to see themselves as competent mathematicians who thrive on cognitive challenges. However, if students are nurtured to believe that teachers are the keepers and distributers of mathematical knowledge, there is little evidence to suggest that students will rely on their own reasoning to solve future problems encountered inside and outside of the classroom.
 
Teachers are also working to promote effective mathematical discourse in the classroom, which requires students to organize their thoughts, formulate arguments, listen to and consider other students’ positions, and communicate their own positions. It is through discourse that the ideals of collaboration and autonomy intersect, are nurtured, and are celebrated. Today’s mathematics teachers must be willing to step out of the spotlight and think of themselves as “directors” rather than the “lead actors” in the classroom.
 
Some of the behaviors and metacognitive disciplines that teachers in the Lower School work to nurture are listed below. You might recognize some of the examples from students’ work, or witness them in action when visiting the classroom.
 

Mathematical Behaviors Fostered in the Classroom

Examples

Reflecting: Helping students learn to monitor and adjust their progress in problem solving. How does it help you? What should your solution look like? 
Conjecturing: Stating a mathematical hypothesis believed to be true but has not yet been proven or disproven. Dividing the fraction one-half by any whole number will always yield an even denominator.
Justifying: Convincing yourself and others that a conjecture is true. Students use multiple examples and assemble mathematical evidence to prove their conjecture is true, or to look for non-examples before generalizing.
Generalizing: Drawing attention to the mathematical relationships that hold true beyond specific cases. Will that always work? Is that true for all problems?
Analyzing: Examining the parts in order to understand the whole. What about these is similar, what is different?
Innovating: Applying a concept in a new or novel way. I started by using Catherine’s strategy but changed it to solve this new problem.
 
Our goal is not to insist that all students enter the fields of engineering, mathematics, or science, but to ensure that they are well prepared to have these choices available to them, and to be able to collaborate knowledgeably with people in various disciplines.

Rigorous Mathematics

The National Math Advisory Panel’s report Foundations for Success targeted algebra as the most critical mathematics topic and renewed the question, “Should all 8th graders take algebra?” The question originated in the 1980s, when policymakers and educators concluded that algebra was a gatekeeper to coursework needed for a middle-class income and was mathematical training all students needed. However, because of the current narrow definition of algebra as symbolic manipulation, the question is inadequate.
 
As experienced mathematics educators, we know that “algebraic thinking” (see Driscoll, 1999) involves acquiring the “habits of mind” of “doing-undoing, building rules to represent functions, and abstracting from computation.” Mathematician Lynn Steen recognizes algebra as the language of the information age not because of its symbolic rigor but because “it is the logical structure of algebra, not the solutions of its equations, that made algebra a central component of classical education.” Research shows that preparation for algebra requires developing algebraic habits of mind and strong proportional reasoning skills (see Harel & Confrey, 1994; Lamon, 2007). Therefore, the question should be: “How do we develop algebraic thinking throughout K–12 education, how do we know when students are cognitively ready for algebra, and how will algebra courses develop students’ flexibility in mathematical thinking?”
 
In short, we need to move beyond the notion that students need to pass an antiquated version of 20th-century algebra and toward the mathematical sciences. In a talk at the Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education Conference, Confrey defined the mathematical sciences as “An umbrella term embracing the techniques of mathematics, numeric analysis, visualizations, and statistics cast in an appropriate formalism. It recognizes the importance of mathematics and statistics in modeling and analyzing phenomena.” Students need these skills to be successful 21st-century citizens.
 
As for the question of “rigorous mathematics,” that debate has shifted from algebra to calculus. However, as Steen (2007) argues, calculus is not the only type of rigorous mathematics: “Aiming school mathematics for calculus is not an effective strategy to achieve the goal of improving all students’ mathematical competence. Good alternatives exist. They can be found by looking carefully at all ways in which mathematics appears in postsecondary contexts. Notwithstanding other purposes and pressures, secondary education does not respond to the demands of higher education. If colleges say that calculus is what everyone needs, or that good students are those who can quickly manipulate algebraically intricate expressions, then parents will demand, and schools will focus on, this type of mathematics. But programs with these mathematical requirements represent only the one-third of postsecondary education encompassed by STEM disciplines. Moreover, these kinds of courses, which rely on very specific skills, have the effect of filtering out many otherwise interested and able students.” Indeed, probability and statistics is more relevant in the current job market, where nearly every field uses data-driven decision-making.

What’s Next?

Developing 21st-century mathematics skills requires changing the extant grammar. Beyond fluency in symbolic manipulation, students must learn to think flexibly, take risks, develop algebraic habits of mind, engage in mathematical discourse, and connect various disciplines together to solve complex problems. At Catlin Gabel, we constantly “tinker” to achieve these goals. In the Lower School, teachers work on implementing best practices by studying current research, discussing, and planning in grade level teams on a weekly basis. They constantly weave innovative research more deeply into the study and discourse of their classrooms; this year, for example, the focus is on measurement. In the Middle School, a wide selection of mathematics courses prepare students for deep algebraic thinking based on their cognitive development level. And in the Upper School, problem-based courses develop students’ discourse abilities, authentic problems are embedded in the curriculum, and two statistics courses are offered as an alternative or in addition to calculus.
 
We are in a unique position at Catlin Gabel because, as a progressive school, we are privileged to define our own grammar of schooling. Working together as pioneering tinkerers, not naive agents who throw new pedagogy against the wall to see what sticks, let’s bring our knowledge and experiences to seek unconventional solutions to unique problems. We hope this edition of the Caller ignites discussion in the community, and we look forward to jointly defining a progressive Catlin Gabel grammar of schooling.
 
Courtney Nelson has been the Lower School math specialist since 2011. She holds a BS in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and an MA in elementary education from Lewis & Clark College. Kenny Nguyen has been an Upper School math teacher since 2012. He holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Chicago, an MA in learning technologies from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in mathematics education from North Carolina State University.  

REFERENCES AND CITATIONS

Carpenter, Thomas P., Megan Loef Franke, and Linda Levi. Thinking Mathematically: Integrating Arithmetic and Algebra in Elementary School. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003.
 
Confrey, Jere. “Steering a course for preparing students for the mathematical sciences in the 21st century.” Paper presented at the Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education Conference, Raleigh, NC, 2009.
 
Driscoll, Mark. Fostering Algebraic Thinking: A Guide for Teachers Grades 6–10. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.
 
Harel, Guershon & Jere Confrey, eds. The Development of Multiplicative Reasoning in the Learning of Mathematics. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.
 
Henn, Steve. "Tech Idea List: 5 Nerds To Watch In 2013." NPR, January 2, 2013. Accessed January 14, 2013.
 
Lamon, Susan J. “Rational Numbers and Proportional Reasoning: Toward a Theoretical Framework.” In Frank K. Lester, Jr., ed. Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. 629–668). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc., 2007.
 
Moses, Robert P. & Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights. Boston: Beacon Press, 2001.
 
Steen, Lynn Arthur. “Algebra for All in Eighth Grade: What's the Rush?” Middle Matters, 8(1), 6–7, 1999.
 
Steen, Lynn Arthur. “Facing Facts: Achieving Balance in High School Mathematics.” Mathematics Teacher, 100, 86–95, 2007.
 
Tyack, David, & Larry Cuban. Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
 
Wagner, Tony & Robert A. Compton. Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World. New York: Scribner, 2012.
 
Wagner, Tony. The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need—and What We Can Do about It. New York: Basic Books, 2008.
 

 

The Rise of Online Teaching & Learning

Send by email
In what ways does it work best?

 From the Winter 2012-13 Caller

By Dan Griffiths

We adults tend to evaluate current classroom techniques through the lens of our own educational experience. None of us had access or exposure to the wide variety of technology that is commonplace in the 21st-century classroom, and attitudes toward educational innovation often tend to be conservative—if traditional teaching methods have been successfully educating our children for generations, why risk introducing distracting gadgets in place of “proper” teaching? Information technology also has its champions, who see the internet, social media, and ubiquitous access to the required hardware as tools that are capable of driving an educational revolution.
 
My feelings fall somewhere between these two extremes. In his book The Shallows Nicholas Carr cites TV and radio pioneer David Sarnoff: “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determine their value.” This quote neatly encapsulates my thoughts about the role of technology and online learning in a 21st-century school. As a direct replacement for a classroom teacher, online learning is of limited value. But in the hands of a skilled educator, it is an incredible tool that can enhance the educational experience of our students.
 
One of the major concerns about online learning is the absence of interpersonal relationships that are crucial in both social and intellectual development. This fear arises from a vision of children downloading information into their brain and then demonstrating via some kind of automated test that this information has been saved on their mental “hard drive.” In this model, the computer is merely a substitute for a lecture-style class with a standardized test at the end of the course (which is a model that we accepted for many years both in schools and colleges, but when put in these terms it sounds sinister). This concern was more valid in the early years of online learning due to limitations in both software and hardware. With the advent of social media, Voicethread and Skype for example, it is much easier to develop a course that requires interaction between both student and teacher and groups of students. Online courses that are thoughtfully developed by skilled teachers are no longer a lonely pursuit of factual knowledge.
 
The central role of the teacher in an effective online course cannot be overstated. In his review of the integration of learning theories and technology, Norbert Pachler identified the need for teachers to “identify appropriate learning outcomes, choosing appropriate software and activities and structuring and sequencing the learning process.” To see online classes as simply a new way to deliver information limits its potential to just another transmission model of education, where the student is an empty vessel to be filled with information. If the full potential of online learning is met, it can be a highly progressive teaching method in which each student can have an individualized, discovery-based experience consisting of a wide variety of interactions with students and teachers from different backgrounds. Such an online experience can develop essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration as effectively as any physical classroom, arguably in a way more easily translated to the world outside academia.
 
Online learning is not a new concept, particularly in higher education. Providers such as the University of Phoenix have been operating an online program since 1989, and more recently the University of Texas launched an online and blended learning school, Western Governors University. Both of these seek to make education in high-demand fields more accessible and affordable to working adults. Many colleges now give access to their courses in a variety of formats such as podcast series and videos of lectures with accompanying course notes that allow public access to educational content. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), with offerings from providers such as Coursera, EdX, and Udacity (with content provided by professors at colleges such as Stanford, Princeton, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania) attract millions of users from hundreds of countries. The completion rate of their courses, however, is reported to be less than 10 percent. These MOOCs were founded with the noble goal of providing access to high-level education for all, with the only limitation being access to a computer and an internet connection. Peer reviews and assessments, discussion boards for posting questions, and enrollment in global study groups provide the social element of learning.
 
One of the most interesting outcomes of these courses is that they are challenging how we assess learning and raise questions about how we measure success. Critics point to the ease with which students can plagiarize and cheat on assessments, but for now the age-old adage of “you are only cheating yourself” holds true because completion of the course comes with a certificate that has limited currency in terms of gaining qualifications from established schools or an advantage in the job market. The stakes, however, will be raised if and when MOOCs gain credibility with employers and possibly even qualify for academic credit (the University of Washington is now giving credit for a Coursera course).
 
Most early online-only courses were aimed at students in higher education, but information technology has been integrated into the classroom since the turn of the century. Virtual learning environments (VLEs) have been widely used in schools, often making use of learning management systems such as Moodle and Haiku. They give students access to course notes, quizzes, and other resources and allow interactivity through discussion forums and wikis. As these platforms mature, they are becoming more intuitive and can take advantage of an increasing number of multimedia applications.
 
Catlin Gabel has been at the forefront of digital innovation in schools, adopting a one-to-one laptop program in the Upper School in 2002. Many courses use Moodle as a content management system, student and faculty laptops come preloaded with a wide variety of software, and our classrooms are well equipped with IT hardware. In 2011 Catlin Gabel was a founding member of a consortium of highly academic independent schools that formed the Global Online Academy (GOA).
 
Faculty from member schools teach all online GOA classes. A rigorous selection process requires applicant teachers to show that their class will be innovative and well structured, and will take full advantage of the tools made uniquely available by both an online environment and access to a diverse group of students. The classes are designed for collaboration, with a blend of individual and group assignments. Students are required to have regular Skype conversations with their teacher, and the workload is equivalent to a full class in a bricks-and-mortar school. GOA classes follow an asynchronous schedule, which means the students work in their own time and set up virtual meetings with teachers and classmates at mutually convenient times. GOA has plans to expand in number and geographical diversity over the next six years from its current 24 member schools in the U.S., Japan, China, Jordan, and Indonesia.
 
In the GOA’s first year, Catlin Gabel teacher George Zaninovich taught an urban studies class, and four CG students enrolled in a variety of classes. This year, three Catlin Gabel teachers offer GOA classes, and 19 students are enrolled in classes such as Medical Problem Solving, Bioethics, and Global Health.
 
The many benefits GOA offers our students include the ability to interact with students and teachers who bring a wide variety of perspectives to the class. For example, George’s urban studies class had students researching and discussing community issues in Jordan and in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Honolulu. It also allows them to take classes Catlin Gabel can’t offer due to staffing and scheduling limitations. Students enrolled in online classes are challenged in different ways than in a physical classroom. They need to learn efficient time management skills and take ownership of their learning in a more explicit way than at their home school (a skill that will be invaluable in college). Finally, asynchronous online classes allow those involved with activities such as high-level athletics, dance, or drama to balance classes with the time demands of training or rehearsal schedules that clash with the traditional school day.
 
Teachers also benefit from involvement with online education. In preparation for teaching her Hispanic Experience class for the GOA, Lauren Reggero-Toledano attended a weeklong workshop that she considers the best professional development experience of her career. She came back brimming with ideas not only for her online class but for her current Spanish courses at Catlin Gabel. Teachers who think about how to teach a class online must also reexamine how they teach in general. It exposes teachers to a whole other set of tools with which to engage their students.
 
The Global Online Academy is just one example of how online learning can enhance the educational experience of our students. “Flipping” the classroom, another idea, is receiving a great deal of attention, and this teaching technique certainly has its merits. The basic concept is that students read or listen to lectures and presentations at home, either prepared by the teacher or from online services such as the Khan Academy. Their time with the teacher is then spent discussing and analyzing what they learned. When reading about such innovations, I am always struck by how familiar they sound. Classes in the Upper School regularly involve students reading and researching, then presenting and discussing in a student-centered classroom environment. The chalk-and-talk delivery model of teaching is discouraged, and student engagement is a central theme in our classrooms, be it in a problem-based math class or a senior English elective where students often take the lead in teaching. The flipped classroom helps public schools with large classes by allowing students to control the pace of content delivery. It is a less novel concept at Catlin Gabel, where small class sizes, differentiated curricula, and availability of teachers to meet with students individually are commonplace.
 
Although information technology can be a highly effective tool in the hands of skilled educators and has the potential to enhance the experience of students at all levels, it is not a panacea for our educational challenges. Any ill-conceived and poorly executed use of technology in any field will lead to poor results—and online learning is no exception. When the Catlin Gabel faculty and staff discussed joining the GOA, some felt that “if we don’t get on this train, we will be left behind.” We can extend this metaphor by saying that it is foolish to get on a train that might be going somewhere you don’t want to go. I am confident, however, that in this case we are going in the right direction, and the journey will be an exciting one. My hope is that in the next few years all students at Catlin Gabel will take advantage of the opportunity to sample an online class, and that our faculty will blend the best of online learning with the exemplary methods already used in our physical classrooms.
 
Dan Griffiths, Upper School head, has been at CG since 2007. He holds an MA in biological sciences from the University of Oxford and a PhD in zoology from the University of Cambridge. He was formerly the IT director at St. Columba’s College in Ireland.   

REFERENCES AND CITATIONS

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.
 
Lewin, Tamar. "One Course, 150,000 Students." New York Times online article. July 8, 2012. Accessed January 2013.
 
Long, Katherine. “UW to offer fee-based courses through Coursera.” Seattle Times online article. Accessed January 2013.
 
Pachler, Norbert. “Theories of Learning and ICT.” In Leask, Marilyn & Norbert Pachler, editors: Learning to Teach Using ICT in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience. London: Routledge, 1999.
 
Pereira. Eva. "Coursera: Opening Ivy League Universities to the Masses." Forbes online article. June 28, 2012. Accessed January 2013.
 
Sloan Consortium. Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. Online survey report. Accessed January 2013.
 
Wukman, Alex. "Coursera Battered with Accusations of Plagiarism and High Drop-Out Rates." Online Colleges online article. August 22, 2012. Accessed January 2013. 
 

 

How to Teach Boys & Girls Equitably

Send by email
Creating conditions where everyone flourishes

 From the Winter 2012-13 Caller

By Barbara Ostos & Lark P. Palma

A short history of equity in education

The education of boys and girls has been debated since the establishment of formal education in the United States. At the end of the 18th century, society’s established gender roles, cultural norms, and perceived futures for boys and girls resulted in boys being granted higher educational opportunities than girls, for the most part. Colonial expansion demanded more literacy of women who were often involved in family businesses, leading to increased equity for girls’ education—but this was often still segregated and not the same as that of the boys. America’s westward expansion led to more coeducational opportunities, because population was small and educating boys and girls together made financial sense. Depending on state and private or public school systems during this period, education became more accessible for both genders, but access did not necessarily mean equality.
 
The passage of Title IX in 1972 made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in public schools in athletics, financial aid, career counseling, admission practices, and the treatment of students. Two years later, the Women’s Educational Equity Act provided support to schools to recruit girls for math, science, and athletic programs. Teachers received training to increase awareness of possible gender bias in the curriculum and their pedagogy. Twenty years later, the American Association of University Women commissioned a study, completed by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, that challenged the common assumption that girls and boys were being treated equally in public schools. They reported that girls do not receive equitable amounts of teacher attention, are less apt to see themselves reflected in the materials they study, and often are not expected or encouraged to pursue higher-level math and science. This report, with its 40 recommendations, sparked a 20-year debate on how best to teach boys and girls and the nature of single-gender and coeducational schools.

What do we know now that’s different?

Because of advances in brain science and educational research since those days, we are now able to pose a question that could not have been asked or answered in the 1700s, 1972, 1992, or even 2002: What do we know about boys and girls that informs how they learn? Girls’ and boys’ brains are different, and these differences manifest themselves in how they learn. As a coeducational school, Catlin Gabel is committed to serving both genders well in an environment that allows them to thrive and enjoy each day of school.
 
For many years, debate over structural differences in the brain due to gender has been lively. Myriad theories have been posited, but what is broadly accepted is that different regions of the brain develop in a different sequence in the two genders. For instance, researchers reported at a recent National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE) conference that while the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature earlier in girls than boys, the areas of the brain involved in targeting and spatial memory mature earlier in boys. As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, this type of insight connects
 
Differences in how the two genders learn are most pronounced at the younger ages and transcend personality and cultural constructs. Girls tend to evaluate themselves more judgmentally than boys, hold themselves to a higher standard in the traditional classroom environment, and tend to outperform boys in school (as reported at NASSPE). Ironically, girls are more likely to be excessively critical of themselves and lack self-confidence, while boys demonstrate high estimates of their abilities and are more confident than girls. Not surprising, psychologists have found that motivation for boys and girls also tends to differ. Eva Pomerantz and Jill Saxton wrote in the journal Child Development that girls are more concerned than boys are with pleasing adults, while boys are motivated by material that interests them personally.

Strategies to guarantee success

Knowing these differences between the genders, what are some strategies coeducational schools can use to help guarantee the equitable success of both boys and girls? How does Catlin Gabel address this challenge for the benefit of all students?
 
The core values that guide teaching and learning at Catlin Gabel lay the best foundation for coeducational teaching: relationships, spirit of inquiry, community, critical and creative thinking, experiential learning, and integrity. Student confidence and success build on the relationships students develop with their teachers and each other. As described on Catlin Gabel’s website, “Students learn in a social context that colors their experience and impacts their learning. Teachers understand that relationships provide fertile ground for learning and strive to create the kind of classroom in which students are free to discuss, disagree, formulate ideas, and wonder.”
 
The spirit of inquiry at Catlin Gabel supports students’ confidence in asking questions, independent thinking, and respect for diverse views. The voices of boys and girls in the room enhance the learning environment and foster curiosity, openness to differing perspectives, and the desire to keep learning. Children learn to become competent, caring, respectful, contributing members of a community at school—just as in communities outside of school, where a diverse group of men and women work together. Sharing community from an early age at a school that gives credence to all student voices allows boys and girls to learn how to communicate and collaborate with one another.
 
We strive to create conditions that encourage students to know the power of their own ideas, develop new-to-them ways of doing things, be able to think inventively and reason well, and critically assess ideas and events. A school that encourages creativity, teaches critical thinking and analysis, and supports discussion with broad perspectives from both genders provides for the development of thoughtfulness and confidence for both girls and boys.
 
Experiential education means that students learn through real and direct exposure to places, events, and people. Active learning helps both boys and girls learn deeply and retain their experience and connections. Exploring beliefs and values in a setting where students listen to and begin to understand others’ points of view gives them the freedom to explore their own core beliefs, then test and revise them—all within the context of a supportive community. Helping students develop integrity and understand its value is an important goal at Catlin Gabel.
 
In addition to the school’s core approach to working with students, other aspects of Catlin Gabel’s philosophy lead to the success of a coeducational environment. Reading and discussing issues that connect to the real world, as well as to students’ lives, builds a foundation upon which students can have strong opinions and feelings. The curriculum strives to make connections for students and asks them to speak about their thoughts and feelings. The ability to confidently verbalize ideas is a lifelong skill that leads to success across disciplines for students. As a coeducational environment, when appropriate, we can separate boys and girls to address various issues or dynamics. For instance, during human sexuality and health classes when discussing sensitive issues, separation can provide a level of comfort for discussion. Students appreciate these divisions, but often comment that while they like it for a little while, they are glad to be reunited. While teaching pedagogy is at the core of creating an environment that balances the needs of boys and girls, perhaps the most important factor for successful coeducation is having teachers of both genders so students can see themselves reflected in their classroom leader. At Catlin Gabel we are fortunate that all divisions benefit from male and female teachers.
 
While the beginnings of education were androcentric, education in the U.S. has become accessible to both genders. Science has allowed us to better understand brain development of boys and girls, leading to thoughtful discourse on how to best serve students in a co– educational environment. Catlin Gabel’s progressive roots and our commitment to community and respect allow the school to feel confident in its service to both boys and girls now, and for many years to come.
 
Barbara Ostos has been Middle School head since 2011. She holds an EdD in educational leadership from the University of California, San Diego, an MA in nonprofit leadership & management from the University of San Diego, and a BA in government from Harvard University. Lark Palma has been Catlin Gabel’s head of school since 1995. She holds a PhD in English literature and an MEd from the University of South Carolina, and a BA in English from George Mason University.
 
Barbara Ostos completed her doctoral dissertation last year at the University of California, San Diego. Her work, Tapping on the Glass: The Intersection of Leadership and Gender in Independent School Administration, explored questions of transformational leadership— how heads of independent schools can provide vision, stability, and inspiration and lead teams of people in cooperative ways—as well as the relationship between leadership style and gender. Her study’s findings, supported by extensive research in the public sector, constitute a call to action for independent schools to develop policies and establish practices that resolve the gender disparity in independent school leadership. You may download her full study

REFERENCES AND CITATIONS 

Boyatzis, Chris, E. Chazan, & C. Z. Ting. “Preschool children's decoding of facial emotions.” Journal of Genetic Psychology, 154, 1993.
 
Costa, Paul, Antonio Terracciano, & Robert McCrae. "Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: robust and surprising findings." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, volume 81, number 2, 2001.
 
Feingold, Alan. "Gender differences in personality: a meta-analysis." Psychological Bulletin, volume 116, 1994.
 
Hanlon, Harriet, Robert Thatcher, & Marvin Cline. “Gender differences in the development of EEG coherence in normal children.” Developmental Neuropsychology, 16(3), 1999.
 
Higgins, E.T. “Development of self-regulatory and self-evaluative processes: costs, benefits, and trade-offs.” In Gunnar, Megan R. & L. Alan Sroufe, editors, Self Processes and Development, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.
 
Labarthe, Jean Christophe. “Are boys better than girls at building a tower or a bridge at 2 years of age?” Archives of Diseases of Childhood, 77, 1997.
 
Madigan, Jennifer C. The education of girls and women in the United States: a historical perspective. Montgomery Center for Research in Child & Adolescent Development, Advances in Gender and Education, 1, 2009.
 
NIH/NIMH. "Sexual dimorphism of brain developmental trajectories during childhood and adolescence." NeuroImage, volume 36, number 4, 2007.
 
Pomerantz, Eva, Ellen Altermatt, & Jill Saxon. “Making the grade but feeling distressed: gender differences in academic performance and internal distress.” Journal of Educational Psychology, volume 94, number 2, 2002.
 
Pomerantz, Eva, & Jill Saxon. "Conceptions of ability as stable and self-evaluative processes: a longitudinal examination." Child Development, volume 72, 2001.
 
Riordan, Cornelius. Girls and boys in school: Together or separate? New York: Teachers College Press, 1990.