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The PROSE Newsletter: February 2016 Issue
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Volume 2 | Issue 6 | February 2016

Get Your Technical Writing in PROSE Support!  

The PROSE Panel invites your school to a PROSE Mid-Year Planning Session to be held on February 26th from 2-6 PM at the UFT Headquarters. This session is open to all PROSE schools as well as schools that are applying to PROSE for the 2016 school year.  This session will offer the opportunity for schools to meet with panel members to discuss current or potential PROSE initiatives. Current PROSE schools can spend time working on new ballot proposals, and schools that are applying will be able to get feedback from the panel on their PROSE applications.  Individuals or school teams are welcome to attend for all or part of the session. If you are interested in joining us for this session, please register.  You can also access our Ask PROSE Open Community using your DOE email alias and password on the PROSE WeTeachNYC site, if you cannot attend the face-to-face session but have questions.  

 "Inno-Collaborative" Scheduling at Bronx Collaborative 

Bronx Collaborative is a member of the New York Performance Standards Consortium with a Regents Waiver based on its engagement of all students in annotated research, comparative literature papers and oral defense panels that ensure their work is validated by other students, parents, and teachers who challenge academic substance. The flexibility of PROSE has empowered the faculty to design a curriculum that is both student-centric and teacher-centric, in particular, letting them maximize their curriculum design and scheduling to support student achievement and engagement.

Taking advantage of the opportunity for innovation through PROSE, Bronx Collaborative has created a “pre-college student choice” model where students select their courses from a set of options in each subject, as in a college catalog.  In addition, they have decided to have all courses taught college seminar style in 90-minute blocks.  This is a key piece of building a college model of student choice. Lehman College, their College Now partner, has been impressed with the initiative as it helps students develop the endurance to sit through college-length classes, and the discipline to prepare for seminar and colloquia by using the multiple-days effectively in between classes.

Students have now had three semesters of participation in the student choice model and the staff has watched them develop several realizations that they often pick up through the expensive trial and error that happens at college.  Student Destiny Greaves shared, “I like that we get to pick courses because to focus on school and get good grades, you have to take part in it and find things that you want to learn.  In the future you have many options and can connect to what you want to be in the future in college.”

Every semester, the staff engages in school-wide Advisory discussions that focus on how students plan their academic choices to build toward graduation requirements, and allows them to pursue their individual interests in their courses.  Students have shared deep realizations in Advisory, consequent recognitions grounded in hands-on experience. Their realizations on “what not to do” include: taking a class because their friends are all in it, or picking a course on a topic they dislike because they don’t like the teacher.

In addition, students have realized the need for positive proactive choice-making that aligns their course design to their goals, taking courses that fit the college major they might be interested in, or recognizing that less offered courses like Japanese I might conflict with a single-section offering like Genetics and Ethics. Students have also become self reflective in deciding which subjects they are ready to take as an Open Honors option, versus which disciplines they need to shore up fundamental skills. Student Ramatu Mohammed shared, “It allows us to explore different varieties of courses so we have a feel of different courses and have a bit of knowledge in a number of subjects.”  The faculty has discovered benefits in the model as it relates to their own pedagogy and student achievement.
Ms. Deborah Katz, one of the second year teachers, notes “Aside from a civilized teaching schedule, a 90-minute seminar style provides an opportunity for staff to go in depth by eliminating the need to rush through a document, video or an activity. A traditional 40-45 minute block is insufficient to accomplish certain tasks. Labs, readings and practice opportunities are all possible when one has more time allotted by a longer block schedule.”

The model also allows faculty to teach to their expertise and passions.  Current courses include The Justice League: The History of the United Nations, Ethnic Studies, Geometry and Architecture, and Food Chemistry.  English teacher Tanya Krohn, who designed a Creep Me Out course based on her love of gothic literature, notes that “it's a thrill to have students in your class from day one who are excited about taking the specific course based on their interest in the content.”

PROSE is also used  to innovate the schedule by moving core courses to 180 minutes per week to open up the possibilities of .5 and 1 credit elective courses linked to the arts, humanities, and STEM topics of interest and expertise, including: Debate, Vocal Performance, and Coding. At a recent Principal’s Leadership Team meeting, students shared that the felt these courses and the level of both core and elective choice made their school environment feel exciting and positively different from the schools their friends attend.

The PROSE initiatives at Bronx Collaborative have required faculty to work together dynamically.  For example, the model of student choice demands nuanced vertical planning, so students who do not necessarily take the same course are still mastering the same skills and approach to their learning. The staff had to readjust to the 90-minute blocks that veer their schedules away from the traditional “one prep a day” that many were accustomed to.  They also became deeply aware that the blocks created days in which teachers had four teaching periods (light days) and their administrative duties, or six teaching periods (heavy days) and their administrative duties.

The issue of avoiding “seven periods with students” after having collaboratively created a mixed course and Advisory dynamic became a key process of the current school year, as Bronx Collaborative instituted collaborative attempts to solve the concern. The first semester approach did not hit the challenge as effectively as hoped, and the staff had transparent discussions in faculty meeting, individual faculty surveys, student leadership dialogues, and inter-disciplinary brainstorms to come up with a solution that currently balances teachers’ schedules.  Through PROSE the school community has truly expanded their depth as an innovation percolator.
 February 26 - PROSE Mid-Year Planning Session: PROSE Mid-Year Planning Session will be held from 2-6 PM at the UFT (52 Broadway, 19th Floor, Room G). This session is open to all PROSE schools as well as schools that are applying to PROSE for the 2016 school year. This session will offer the opportunity for schools to meet with panel members to discuss current or potential PROSE initiatives. Current PROSE schools can spend time working on new ballot proposals, and schools that are applying will be able to get feedback from the panel on their PROSE applications.  Individuals or school teams are welcome to attend for all or part of the session, and light refreshments will be provided. If you are interested in joining us for this session, please register using this link. When registering, please indicate if your school would like to meet with members of the PROSE panel during the session and which topics you would be interested in discussing. If you have specific suggestions for other activities you would find useful during the session (for example, a discussion with schools working on integration issues), please make a note of these on the registration form. Please feel free to contact us with any questions – we look forward to seeing you on the 26th!

 February 29 - Apply to be a Showcase School: The Showcase Schools program is designed to recognize, celebrate, and share promising practices across New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) schools. With tailored support and guidance from the NYCDOE Office of Interschool Collaborative Learning, Showcase Schools build their own capacity to share their promising practices by planning and hosting three visits throughout the school year.  Innovative, collaborative and successful PROSE schools are encouraged to apply as hosting schools. Apply now!!!
RESOURCE CENTER: PROSE 2016 Application:
Click above to COMPLETE the 2016 - 2017 PROSE application. An application template and scoring rubric can also be accessed on the PROSE Knowledge Base prior to your completion.  

Join PROSE Now!!!

Please note that current PROSE schools do not have to reapply.

Answers to many of the Frequently Asked Questions from PROSE schools have been posted on the PROSE Knowledge Base.
 

Option PROSE: Entering Option PROSE in Advance:
There is no selection for Option PROSE on the Advance Web Application at this time. As a workaround, some schools are choosing option 2 or option 4 (available to teachers rated “Effective” on their most recent evaluation) to allow for entering observations. At the end of the year schools should deselect the option (this will allow for calculating the overall rating, but the observations will remain saved). You can use this offline Option PROSE Score Tracker in order to track scores throughout the year.
Circulation of the PROSE Periodicals has steadily expanded over the course of the school year as the number of successful deliveries of the publication has steadily increased.  Join the PROSE mailing list to get your periodical today.
"We created [126] PROSE schools – a fresh, new model where teachers and principals work together to set aside D.O.E. and union rules that hinder innovation … so we can better serve our kids."
~Mayor Bill De Blasio
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