Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bee-Fit Promotes Youth Fitness and Supports HHA PTO

A Hampstead Hill Academy Student Participates in the
Bee-Fit event to support the school's PTO.

Article By Le’Kara Hebron
Student, Hampstead Hill Academy

An event called Bee-Fit was held for Hampstead Hill Academy on October 12, 2012 at Patterson Park.  The purpose of the event was to help students get exercise while raising money for Hampstead Hill’s PTO.  The program was created and run by the PTO staff.

All pre-K to eighth grade students participated in Bee-Fit. The participants ran laps for twenty minutes.  After the twenty minutes, the participants went to get snacks. The adults called students over to different sports and exercises like soccer, sit-ups, hula hoops, badminton, trampolines, art, football, and potato sack racing.

When my friends and I ran laps, we ran 11 laps and had lots of fun. When we did the activities, we listened for the whistle, which let us know it was time to go to another activity. My favorite activities were soccer and the trampolines. Bee-Fit was very successful and a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

City Springs Restorative Practices Featured in Ed Week

City Springs Middle/Elementary School's Restorative Practices implementation is featured in Education Week.

BCP brought Restorative Practices to the four BCP charter schools in 2007 with support from Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the Goldsmith Family Foundation as well as training from the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP).

Hampstead Hill Academy recently received a grant from the Center for Dispute Resolution at the University of Maryland School of Law to support their implementation of IIRP’s Safer Saner Schools Whole School Change program.

Read the article at:

Classroom Organization and Behavior Management

Article by Jon McGill
Director of Academic Affairs

Baltimore Curriculum Project

The classroom is part of the curriculum, part of the school culture and a contributing factor in creating school climate. The layouts, the d├ęcor, the seating arrangements, the pathways inside the room, the lighting, all of these tell students something about how you will manage the learning that occurs in your room. You are reflected in your classroom:  your style, your objectives and your intentions are visible through this prism.

Do you have wall decorations and charts? Are they new or old, clean or dirty? Are they inspiring and do you refer to them? Do they “speak” to your students? Are they alive or dead? How do you arrange seats? Almost any seating plan is fine as long as it has intentions. Have you created walking paths; will you have ease of access to all parts of the room? Is the seating flexible in that you can have rows or groups; can you move things at a moment’s notice, if you wish?

Do you greet students at the door? Are you in the room before they arrive? Teachers should try to be affable, friendly, willing to behave as if they are thrilled to see the students (even when that might be a stretch!) What is your “ready to learn” indicator?  Do you have a “do now” piece? Is there a journal entry piece, some engaging activity that signals to the students that class has begun and that you are waiting for them to meet expectations? You can use overhead projectors or hard copies for this, or a Smart board.  In the olden days, pre-technology, I used my attendance book as the indicator that we were beginning: calling out the first name signaled “let’s go” and it helped me establish routines. Some teachers use music to get this starting signal: I know one person who uses a harmonica! You can raise a curtain, use hand signals, be as individual as you like just so long as the starting sign works. Sometimes I used a puzzle placed upon their desks as a signal to start thinking about the project ahead.  I took many of Edward DeBono’s Lateral Thinking riddles and shared them with kids, who rapidly became addicted and clamored for such puzzles each week.

Your classroom is a home away from home, not just for you but for your students.  That’s why you will often see classrooms with armchairs, plants and flowers, even curtains  and lamps brought from a teacher’s home, all designed to undercut the institutional feel that many classrooms might otherwise have.

Another message we send, as teachers, is contained in the housekeeping aspect of classrooms.  When I see a room with torn papers on the floor, broken chairs or desks, torn displays or other signs of either neglect or indifference, it sends a signal of dysfunction.  It is easy, then, to make the leap from appearances to the actuality: poor academic results, misbehaving children, ineffective teaching. Classrooms that are in poor condition and visually lack care and concern usually indicate poor oversight from the administration.

The appearance of a classroom matters and so, too, does the behavior of children.  We are not just in search of decorum or of “middle class standards”, one size fits all impositions.  We look for behavior that is conducive to learning and to effective teaching.  That requires a certain level of order, a certainty that there is control by the teacher, and a certainty that children have been taught what it is that we require for such effectiveness.

The two most difficult aspects of behavior management are the implementation of a consistent approach by the teacher and remembering that students need to be taught behavior just as much as they need to be taught any other subject in the curriculum. Students come from diverse environments, backgrounds, cultures and learning experiences: our task is to unify disparate children into a cohesive class, one that understands formats, guidelines and rules. There is no substitute, at least in public, inner city schools, for this.  “Discovery” methods might work in mono-cultural, economically affluent schools where a free-flowing environment is applicable to small class sizes.  However, when we deal with larger groups and great diversity, the children benefit most when a structured, engaging and reliable behavioral framework allows students to be at their best.

Children need guidance: if you want them to enter the classroom in a specific way, teach that way.  If you expect them to work in groups, teach them how to do that in ways that favor effective experiences; if you want them to leave the room in a specific pattern, teach the pattern, and remember that they will need to practice these patterns so they become habits.  Such habits become the backbone of instruction!

The Baltimore Curriculum Project works with its teachers frequently on these topics.  Our coaching methods are designed to enhance both classroom organization and behavior management, not least because both of these aspects of teaching and learning are fundamental to overall school success.

City Springs and Hampstead Hill Victorious at BUDL Tournament

Students from City Springs Elementary/Middle School
Reprinted from the BUDL website:

Baltimore Urban Debate League’s first EMS tournament took place on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at Carver Vo-Tech High School. They had over 150 students in attendance with a lot of support from parents, friends and community members.

Every team competed with much passion and the rankings were extremely close, but Hampstead Hill and City Springs were the major victors.

Although the excitement around the start of a new school year might have quieted down, the excitement and anticipation of a new competitive debate season was in full effect as the beaming smiles on the faces of our student debaters lasted throughout the day. Overall, the speeches presented were very impressive!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sun Education Reporter Erica Green Visits Hampstead Hill Academy

Baltimore Sun Education Reporter Erica L. Green
On October 1, 2012, Baltimore Sun Education Reporter Erica L. Green visited Hampstead Hill Academy to talk with students in Lauren White's fifth grade Language class. Erica shared how she loved to write stories as a student and wanted to pursue a career in writing and education. She advised students to write about their passion.

Erica explained how she goes through the writing process with each story. She described how it can be frustrating to make multiple revisions of a piece, but that she knows it is worth it because it will result in the best version of her story. Erica answered numerous student questions. Ms. White and her class thoroughly enjoyed meeting Erica and learning from her.

We would like to thank Erica for taking the time to meet with our students.

Read blog posts by Erica Green on Inside Ed:

Follow Erica Green on Twitter:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Koli Tengella and Muriel Berkeley on Marc Steiner Show

On October 2, 2012 local filmmaker, actor, and Collington Square School of the Arts theater arts instructor Koli Tengella appeared on the Marc Steiner Show to talk about his latest film about bullying called We Got This: Be Inspired and B-More.

Koli was joined by Dr. Muriel Berkeley, Founder and former President of the Baltimore Curriculum Project; Ms. Sabriyah Hassen, Site Manager for Elev8 Baltimore at the Collington Square School of the Arts; and some of his students.

The film will be screened on Sunday, October 7, at The Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Listen to the segment atL

City Springs Student in Baltimore Business Journal

Photo by Nicholas Griner - Vincent F. Connelly with
eighth-grader Kevin Davis at City Springs School in Baltimore.

City Springs Elementary/Middle School eighth-grader Kevin Davis appears with Vincent F. Connelly, President of Connelly & Associates Fundraising, in the latest issue of the Baltimore Business Journal.

Kevin Davis is the quarterback for the City Springs Eagles tackle football team, which recently bested the Calvert School 38-0

Vince Connelly conducted the planning study for the City Springs Community Athletic Complex project and serves on the campaign steering committee.Vince provides a range of services to philanthropic causes including feasibility studies, major gift and capital campaign coordination, and on-site consulting services.

Read the BBJ article:

How to Evaluate and Support Great Teachers 9/27/12 (playlist)

On Thursday, September 27, 2012 at Loyola University Maryland, the Baltimore Curriculum Project, Loyola University Maryland School of Education, and Urbanite Magazine hosted a forum to explore strategies to evaluate and support teachers including value-added measures, performance pay, and Peer Assisted Review.

Panelists included Dr. Andy Hargreaves (Thomas More Brennan Chair, Lynch School of Education, Boston College), Doug Prouty (President, Montgomery County Education Association) and Dr. Robert W. Simmons III (Assistant Professor, Teacher Education Department, Loyola University Maryland). Marc Steiner, host of The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM, will serve as moderator.

This was the sixth forum in the Baltimore Curriculum Project's Leading Minds educational speaker series. For more information

Collington Square School of the Arts at 2012 Baltimore Book Fair

On Friday September 28th the Collington Square School of the Arts Drum Line, led by Josh Soto, and Collington Square's Theater Arts students, led by Koli Tengella, performed at the Baltimore Book Festival. Thank you to the Baltimore City Schools Office of Humanities for providing transportation for the students.

Collington Square School Artists Featured in City Paper

Street Smart

Collington Square middle school students engage their community with street art

Photo: Rarah, License: N/A
Photo by Rarah - Street artist gaia helps a student at The
Collington Square School paste an image of herself on a
vacant building.
Half a dozen kids sit on the stoop of a vacant house on Federal Avenue, down the street from Collington Square, in East Baltimore at 10 A.M. on a bright and sunny school day. Though images of truancy-court graduation ceremonies flash across a TV screen inside the front door of the Collington Square School, these kids aren’t cutting class. Instead, they’re talking about the street-art pieces they created as part of a summer program with the Creative Alliance.

Six years ago, the Creative Alliance began working with a number of Baltimore schools to help make up for cuts in arts programs.

“It was focused on skill building, helping them build up their portfolios for an art-based school,” Karen Summerville, Creative Alliance’s education coordinator, says. But this year’s class used a combination of photography and street art to allow the students to try to make an impact in their community.

“We wanted them to encourage the kids to take risks,” Summerville says. “Street art is seen as risky and negative, but we wanted to make it positive. They are beautifying the neighborhood and it allows them to send a message.”

Street art is seemingly ubiquitous in Baltimore now, not only as a reality of urban life but also as a tool for social improvement and beautification. The Open Walls project in Station North has been touted by community organizations and the mayor’s office. But because there can still be that negative association, it was important to teach the students about the history of street art and what it means.

“Remember when we first started talking about street art?” asks Ryan Stevenson, one of the photographers working with the students. (Disclosure: Stevenson frequently shoots for City Paper as “Rarah.”)

“You’re talking about that man with the hole in the wall.”

“And where was that, do you remember?” asks Amelia Szpiech, a recent MICA grad and photographer, who also taught the students this summer.

“There was a war,” a young girl named Deveonna Pierce says. “Maybe he wanted to go to the beach but he couldn’t.”

“And why not?” Szpiech asks.

“Because there is a war.”

“And do you remember the artist?” Stevenson inquires.

“His name is Banksy.”

The kids all smile and nod as they recall the image and the name of one of the most famous street artists in the world. But they are here to talk about their own photography-based projects.

“When we taught photos in the winter, street art came up in a direct connection with photography,” Szpiech says. “Then we saw it was a way to let the kids be an important part of the neighborhood.”

So, this summer, they set out to combine the two, using wheatpaste to hang printed images on the boarded-up windows of derelict houses.

They set up a photography studio in the classroom and, as Stevenson puts it, “gave them tons of experience of photos.”

“I learned how to work a camera,” says Marquise Lowrey. “How to steady it, how to zoom, how to take good pictures.”

Then they went to photograph monuments all over town. Next, they asked the students that age-old question: What do you want to be when you grow up? But when they got the standard answers—doctor, teacher, lawyer—they asked the students what people in these professions would look like. They dressed the students in adult-sized clothes to “insinuate what they would grow into,” Stevenson says. With the help of Szpiech and Stevenson, the kids photographed each other in these overgrown outfits, heads held high with pride, looking out into the distance of the future.

The Collington Kids (as they were known by their art teachers) all chose the base of the monument they felt best suited their desires for the future and their images were set upon the pedestal. “The pictures are about yourself, so you can express your feelings,” a boy named Christopher Yancey says.

“It shows who you are and what you want to be,” Deveonna adds through a wad of chewing gum and a big grin. “It helps you be who you want to be.”

Finally, one day in August, when all of the images had been printed as 3-by-7-feet black-and-white images, the renowned local street artist and curator of the Open Walls project, Gaia, came out to spend a day helping them hang the pictures on the boarded windows of abandoned houses.

“We didn’t find out who owned the buildings, but we asked the neighbors who live beside them, and they loved it,” Stevenson said.

“They’d come out and spend the whole time with us, having fun with the kids,” Szpiech adds. One neighbor came out when they were looking at the pictures, and a shy little girl ran up and threw her arms around the woman’s waist.

There is still plenty of debate about the overall effects of street art on at-risk communities. But here, in East Baltimore, it has helped each of these students share a more meaningful connection with their community and gain a better understanding of themselves. And like adult artists, some are already looking forward to the next project.

“I want to do it in color,” Jade Taylor says. “And I want to put some of these in the magazine I’m going to make.”