Ripple Spring 2010
Course Catalog

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Sports and Hobbies Education Philosophy
Education Policy Teaching Practice

Sports and Hobbies

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Opening Panel: Creativity in Urban Education

Ripple will open with a panel discussion featuring Tim King, Bill Ayers, Tim Knowles, and Christina Pei, and moderated by conference co-directors Luke Joyner and Race Wright.

The focus of the panel will be creativity in urban education, and specifically on how creative ideas (both in education policy and teaching practice) have in the past and might in the future fit in to an urban education climate that has often stressed accountability and results. We hope that specific examples from Chicago (and potentially other cities) will factor heavily into the conversation, but that there will also be room for more abstract ideas to be considered. The panel will seek to explore whether creative educational ideas are at odds with "standards" and "accountability" or whether there are ways to reach good results without giving up creative methods, and if so how those ways manifest themselves.

Our panelists bring four different perspectives on education to the table:

Tim King is the founder and director of Urban Prep, an all-male charter school in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago that recently made headlines for sending 100% of its first graduating class to a four year college.

Bill Ayers is professor of education at University of Illinois-Chicago, and author of Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom among many other books about education.

Tim Knowles is the director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, which oversees charter schools, conducts educational research, and runs a masters program in urban teaching.

Christina Pei is a math teacher and alumnus of University of Chicago. She is active in maker/hacker spaces both in Chicago and New York, and is interested in using these spaces as an alternative venue for educational pursuits. She also works with Professor Paul Sally at the University of Chicago on initiatives in Inquiry-Based Learning.

Education Philosophy

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Why Teach?
Teachers: Kavita Kapadia

This workshop will be a panel of University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program (Chicago UTEP) participants at different stages of the program, engaged in a conversation about what prompted them to choose a career in teaching.

Panelists will start by telling their personal stories, and take questions from the audience. Then they'll move into more specific information about UTEP and its philosophy of teacher education.

Midday Panel 1: What is Education? (Teaching the Craft)
Teachers: Christina Pei

In this panel, several panelists from a wide variety of backgrounds will discuss what they consider to be education, and what public education would look like in a perfect world. They will each present a very brief (5-10 minute) demo lesson about a skill they’ve mastered.

Panelists will include:

- Robert Lee, a corporate veteran who now works as a consultant for non-for-profit organizations, and an expert bee keeper. Mr. Lee is interested in improving education by addressing questions such as why American students lag behind Asian students in math and science.

- Chheng Lim, a University of Chicago graduate who started and sold her first real estate investment company while in college, and joined a Beverly Hills based private equity real estate company after college. Ms. Lim was also assistant producer of a documentary series that aired primetime across China on CCTV. She continues to have interests in real estate, architecture, investments, and media.

- Elisa Shoenberger, a University of Chicago graduate who received her MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin with a specialization in Cuban History. Ms. Shoenberger currently works at the Art Institute of Chicago, and is interested in the role of popular art forms, such as comics, in propaganda.

- Ivanhoe Tejeda holds a BA in Architecture from IIT and an M.Ed from UIC. Mr. Tejeda teaches Architecture, Fine Arts, and College Success at Harold Washington College. He believes in being more of a guide and facilitator than a teacher, balancing formal and informal education to prepare students to be positive contributors to society.

Starting a Splash
Teachers: Daniel Zaharopol

The organization running this conference, Splash! Chicago, is one of several similar organizations around the country running programs based on common ideas. All the local organizations have built their programs from the ground up and make all their own decisions, so the various Splash programs all have a different flavor, but the idea still binds them together.

Leaders of several Splash programs have recently come together to start a national non-profit called Learning Unlimited, devoted to helping these programs start around the country, and supporting them once they do. The goal is not to create programs for a place, but to find people in that place who want to create programs, and help these people do so.

Dan Zaharopol, CEO of Learning Unlimited, will talk in this workshop about the process of supporting local education programs, and about the process of starting an education non profit.

More details about this workshop will be available soon.

Sports and Hobbies

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Opted out of the Keynote Address (But if you change your mind, just talk to us)
Teachers: Sanjoy Mahajan

Dismayed by the prevalence of rote learning instead of thinking, Louis Benezet, the superintendent of schools in Manchester, New Hampshire, radically changed how mathematics was taught. Students were not subjected to the usual arithmetic algorithms until grade 6. In the earlier grades, they read, invented, and discussed stories and problems; estimated lengths, heights, and areas; and enjoyed finding and interpreting numbers relevant to their lives.

Then in grade 6, with only 4 months of formal training, they caught up to the regular students in algorithmic ability - and they were far ahead in general numeracy and in the verbal, semantic, and problem solving skills that they had practiced for the preceding five years.

I will discuss how this experiment started, how and why it ended, and its lessons that could transform education today.

Sanjoy Mahajan is Associate Director at the Teaching and Learning Laboratory and Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is interested in improving how we teach science, mathematics, and engineering.

In a former life, he was an assistant professor in the physics department at the University of Cambridge, in David MacKay's Inference group; a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; and the first curriculum director of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town, South Africa.

He is also the author of Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and
Opportunistic Problem Solving, out this year from MIT Press.

Education Policy

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Understanding Title 1 ESEA (Commonly Known as No Child Left Behind)
Teachers: Sheila Wesonga

This workshop will provide an overview of the education law that seeks to help the financially disadvantaged overcome academic challenges using various strategies.

Understanding and Intervening in the school to jail pipeline
Teachers: Erica Meiners

A panel discussion about the cradle to prison nexus. Participants will include Lewis Wallace, Project NIA, Crystal Laura, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Erica Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University.

Midday Panel 2: What Will It Take for Every Child to Have a Seat at a High-Performing School?
Teachers: Leah Marshall

In Chicago and across the country, low-income and minority communities have historically been denied public schools that adequately prepare children for success in college. This reality has a devastating impact on the life options of urban students. It limits their professional opportunities, earning potential, and can lock families in cycles of poverty.

One approach to reversing this trend is the Turnaround model, which is grounded in the idea that every child can succeed when held to high expectations; surrounded by expert teachers; all within a safe and orderly learning environment.

This panel will draw on the perspectives of students, teachers, and school leaders who have gone through the school turnaround process. Hear their stories and join the discussion as we tackle the question, “What Will It Take for Every Child to Have a Seat at a High-Performing School?”

Children Should Be The Architects And Planners Of 21st Century Chicago
Teachers: Alex Gilliam

If they are not meant for children, they are not meant for citizens either. If they are not meant for citizens-ourselves- they are not cities.

-Herman Hertzberger

It is not especially hard today to find a study that makes compelling connections between the design of our neighborhoods and diminished outdoor play as well as skyrocketing rates of childhood health problem such as obesity or diabetes. Indeed, in light of recent research such as the Sheffield Study that documents a tremendous decline in unaccompanied childhood mobility since the 1920’s (six miles to 400 yards) it is hardly surprising that childhood obesity has tripled and diabetes has doubled since 1980. It is no longer possible to solely blame junk food and television for the health woes of our children, it is clear that as planners and designers we have failed our children. Simultaneously, many of our major public school systems are struggling to even graduate 40% of their student body. Aside from many of their schools physically crumbling, on a most basic level teachers labor mightily on a daily basis to bring relevance and meaning to their students’ studies. This challenge is not limited to the classroom but also civic and political life where aside from the recent Presidential election, young adult voting has been in substantial decline for many years. Much as the design of our communities has largely failed our children, so have the processes and policies through which we hope to engage them.

The reasons for these and other challenges we are facing are numerous but perhaps one fundamental underlying problem is how we perceive and approach our children. Are they inert vessels that must be steadily force-filled? Are they vulnerable members of our society who should be protected at all costs, even at the risk of isolation? Should they be excluded from public life and space because of their often overflowing energy? Are they even capable of making valuable contributions to society before the age of 18?

Or can children actually be critical agents of positive change, whose meaningful engagement in the civic life and making of the places we live is not only essential to their success and well-being but also our own?

What happens if we re-make the city as the classroom for our youth?

What happens when we empower youth to find and solve problems in their own communities?

What happens if we make children the architects and planners of our 21st century cities?

How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance

My book, How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance (Foreword by Arne Duncan and Afterword by Rahm Emanuel), has a very simple message: Every kid, in every community, deserves a great neighborhood public school. I led eight moms in a Chicago diner to make our dreams come true. Click here to take a virtual tour. I promise, it will knock your socks off.

Here's our story: When my girlfriend and I ventured inside Nettelhorst, our neighborhood’s underutilized and struggling public elementary school, the new principal asked what it would take for us to enroll our children. Stunned by her candor, we returned the next day armed with an extensive wish list. The principal read our list and said “Well, let’s get started, girls! It’s going to be a busy year…” We were eight park moms who galvanized neighborhood parents and then organized an entire community to take a leap of faith, transforming a challenged urban school into one of Chicago’s best, virtually overnight.

If eight park moms could pull our little neighborhood school out of its twenty-five year nose-dive, surely other driven parents could do the same thing. If we could spark a national grassroots school reform movement that would pull us all out of the giant mess we're in, now wouldn't that be something?

Teaching Practice

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Nanotechnology and Chemistry in a DIY Setting
Teachers: Sacha De'Angeli

Sacha has worked with chemistry as a technician, student, researcher, hobbyist, and entrepreneur for over 14 years. He is currently the president of Pumping Station: One, Chicago's premier hackerspace. He also runs where he discusses the intersection between science, art, opera, creativity, and chemistry.

In the past few decades, public opinion of chemistry has changed from a benign and fairly wholesome activity to an inherently suspicious and dangerous one. While chemical experimentation should be approached with a degree of caution, scientific history is filled with important discoveries made by at-home tinkerers. This talk will explain how to create a functioning lab capable of exploring current research topics such as nanotechnology on a home tinkerer's budget, and how to use that equipment to make materials suitable for use in art and general hacking projects.

Hooked on Drums: The Drums of the Malinke People as “Gateway” to Academic Development in Urban Youth
Teachers: Lilian Friedberg

Hooked on Drums is an organization that provides high-quality arts instruction to urban youth in a variety of settings: from schools to community centers and its own intensive camps/workshops at the Hooked on Drums studio in the Kenwood neighborhood. Focusing on the rhythms of the Malinke people from Guinea, West Africa, Hooked on Drums programs successfully engage urban youth in the pursuit of academic interests (such as foreign language learning, history, culture, logic, critical thinking) using this sophisticated musical idiom as a vehicle for sparking curiosity, creativity and motivation.

Representatives of Hooked on Drums will present their approach in a hands-on, interactive workshop designed to demonstrate the sophistication and rigor required for the study of these drum raditions and reveal the way our programs combine creativity, curiosity and culture to encourage academic development in urban youth.

The Big Questions: How to Teach Philosophy without your Brain Exploding
Teachers: Mark Hopwood

Philosophy is widely viewed as obscure and difficult, and teachers are often just as intimidated as students by the thought of introducing it into the high-school classroom. In this session, we will introduce a teaching method that uses stories, pictures, and movies to help students generate philosophical questions of their own, and demonstrate some simple techniques to encourage clear, structured, and creative thinking. We will also talk briefly about how this method has been successfully used to start up an after-school philosophy club at a local high-school.

Story and Dialogue in Teaching Mathematics
Teachers: Daniel Zaharopol

Most students come out of school without an appreciation for real mathematics. They have never paused to think about the subject carefully; they see it as pushing symbols, finding key words, and doing a procedure until an answer is found. They never consider fundamental questions about where math comes from, nor do they see the wholeness of mathematical thought. We're going to consider a range of stories or dialogues (scripted discussions between two characters) that can spur students to pause and consider the mathematics they are studying. Whereas typically, the only stories that make it into a math class are word problems — usually not very good stories nor very deep mathematics — our texts will be much more provocative for anyone, covering everything from elementary school math to advanced considerations of infinity or fundamental logic.

Drawing from Plato, classical mathematical stories such as "Hilbert's Hotel," the dialogues in "Godel, Escher, Bach" and the old TV series Square One from the Childrens' Television Workshop, we'll look at a full range of ways to stimulate students' thought. With time, we will construct our own dialogues for mathematical topics that interest us.

The Greatest Civics Project Evah. The Difference Between "Studying" for Something and "Doing" Something.
Teachers: Victor Harbison

A discussion of how to modify your curriculum to create real world learning experiences for your students and the challenging task of measuring achievement.

This session will explore the creative changes I have implemented in my classroom over the course of many years, from sneaking it in without a principal's knowledge to finally receiving full and open support from a building's administration. The years of effort finally resulted in what I call the "Greatest Civics Project Evah." The lessons learned from shepherding/facilitating a student led project. How I observed students who transitioned from resenting their impoverished community to being agents of change. A true story of serendipity and perseverance that I still find hard to believe, and I lived it.

Quick Bio: Victor Harbison, civics teacher at Gage Pak High School, was the first high school social studies teacher in Chicago Public Schools to achieve National Board Certification. He has worked on school reform and educational policy in many venues, including a stint as a blogger for the New York Times and columnist Nicholas Kristoff during the 08-09 school year.

Thinking About Places... and Interactive Teaching
Teachers: Luke Joyner

In this workshop, we'll spend 60 minutes doing a visual and interactive class that uses photographs of places (mostly cities) around the world to spur discussion about how places mean for people. Participants have to guess the places depicted and then have a broader conversation about the ideas at play. The places are grouped in such a way that different themes (cultural stereotypes and getting past them, the "designed" vs. the "organic", unorthodox topologies, etc.) emerge over the course of the class, but the whole thing rolls along based on what the students are thinking and saying, so it ends up different every time.

You'll play the role of student for the hour-long class, while also thinking about what's going on and whether it's working.

Then, for the final 20 minutes of the workshop, we'll talk about some of the techniques used in the class, and more generally about how to teach in stimulating, open-ended, and student-driven ways.

Why Math Team Matters
Teachers: Julienne Au

The answer seems obvious, doesn't it? So try convincing students, teachers, parents, administrators, anyone that math team matters... it's not as easy as you think. In this day and age of accountability, standards, and testing, we often lose sight of the significance of math team and other academically focused extracurricular activities. But students need opportunities where they can enjoy learning and doing math! Math team, in particular, provides students and teachers with the experience of going beyond the standard curriculum and engaging in conversations about the creativity inherent in mathematics and problem solving. In this session, we will discuss what the idea of "math team" is all about, the various competitions in which Chicago-area elementary and high school students participate, the community of math team coaches in the Chicago area, how to get more students involved, why math teams need more support from the broader educational community, and what you can do to get involved. Of course, we'll do plenty of cool math problems.

Julienne Au is an alumna of the University of Chicago (BS 2002, Mathematics) and is a high school math teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. She started coaching the Ray School Math Team while she was an undergraduate and has been hooked ever since. In addition to her current math team coaching duties, she is also a math contest writer, math league director, and summer instructor for the University of Chicago's Young Scholars Program.

Walking to School: Mindful Creativity and Expressive Arts
Teachers: Jenn Milam

This workshop explores the artistic and creative responses of pre-service teachers to an urban neighborhood walk/tour. Using visual arts in self-selected mediums (paints, crayons, paper, clay, photography, etc), teacher candidates shared their experience, perceptions, and understandings of the urban neighborhood and school in which they were teaching and learning. As teachers and students, we sought to engage our senses and thoughts in new and challenging ways about what it means to work, as future teachers, in an urban school.

Workshop participants will use expressive arts to (re)present their own response(s) or experience(s) in urban schools. We will also explore the promise of engaging the expressive arts to express ideas, emotions, and experiences in urban schools as well as teacher education.

The Apprenticeship Model
Teachers: David Sinski

An interactive, hands-on approach to engaging teens in the learning process.

After School Matters is a non-profit organization that offers Chicago teens innovative out-of-school activities through projects-based, hands-on programs. Our innovative model allows teens to safely take part in activities that offer positive relationships, learn skills that translate to the workplace, and gain career and educational opportunities both in their neighborhoods and throughout the city. Our programs have demonstrated a positive impact on graduation rates, school attendance and passing grades. We contract with industry professionals as instructors to lead teens in systematic explorations of disciplines related to the arts, communication, science, sports, or technology.

This workshop will provide an in-depth exploration of the After School Matters apprenticeship model, providing participants with tools that can enhance learning environments for high school aged youth.

Entrepreneurial Empowerment
Teachers: Greg Nance

The workshop explores the power of peer mentoring, structured goal-setting and business planning in developing the leadership skills of urban youth.

We'll give insight into our own experiences in running Moneythink, an undergraduate mentor program that aims to teach urban youth the basics of entrepreneurship and personal finance.

We'll also run a few in class workshops geared to learning to teach goal-setting and critical thinking, and finish the class with an open discussion on the effective methods of teaching leadership.

Some of the key questions are:
What motivates youth to take initiative?
What constitutes leadership, and why would a high school student choose to become a leader?
What are some traits that most or all of youth leaders have in common?

None! This is a class for all who are interested in teaching or education.

Rogue Engineering Skills (Lockpicking 101)
Teachers: Christina Pei

Presented by Eric Michaud of TOOOL and Christina Pei.

Eric Michaud, co-founder of The Open Organization of Lockpickers US and founder of Chicago’s hackerspace Pumping Station: One, has been teaching lockpicking as a hobby for many years. Mr. Michaud will demonstrate James Bond-esque techniques in a basic course in lockpicking as an example of an alternative, kinesthetic approach to teaching mechanics.

Hook, Line and Sinker: Capturing the Imagination of Students
Teachers: Race Wright

The popular trend towards quantitative benchmarks in education-- assessments, accountability and academic standards-- will perhaps do students a great disservice in the long run. As the future becomes increasingly less predictable due to the compounding advancements of technology, education will need to reconfigure itself to prioritize how to learn rather than what to learn. If the future is unpredictable, then education must prepare students for the unknown, a task of encouraging creativity, active learning styles, and excitement for knowledge.

Hook, Line and Sinker aims to find ways to engage student imagination, creativity, and excitement. The workshop will be devoted to practical ways that teachers can engage students as well as well as examining what makes those methods effective.