•April 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The small group work is over. Each small group (Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Personalization, and Collaborative Leadership) spent weeks researching their area and developed a presentation that outlined the key elements or their topic and offered some recommendations for moving forward. We have included each group’s presentation in this post for you to view.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Presentation

Personalization Group Presentation

Collaborative Leadership


Circle Reports – Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

•April 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.

John F. Kennedy

The Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment circle presented their findings to the Breaking Ranks committee on Tuesday and one single word prevailed time. As we moved through slides that covered 21st Century Learning, NEASC recommendations, and research on scheduling, one thing was clear, we need more time. Time to integrate the new skills that the 21st Century Learning groups and Massachusetts have identified as crucial to our students. Time to integrate project based learning and interdisciplinary lessons. Time to meet in professional learning communities (PLCs) or with students in advisory periods. Time became the answer to our questions on how to improve curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and in doing so time became our biggest question.

Obviously addressing time means addressing the schedule. We looked at various scheduling models (4X4 block, trimesters, Copernican, modular) and realized that this type of decision requires more research and more voices than a seven person committee. We acknowledge that longer blocks of time are in our future, but we can’t say how these longer time periods will be structured. Longer blocks of time mean different things to each subject and each discipline’s needs must be carefully considered.

Outside of the time issue we explored the integration of 21st Century Learning skills into our academic and social expectations. The state of Massachusetts has adopted a 21st Century Learning model and expectations are that they will begin to embed these skills in future versions of the curriculum frameworks. In order to ensure that we are addressing these new expectations we agreed that we should begin to integrate these new skills directly our learning expectations. 21st Century skills are not technology skills, even though technology is a component. They are life long learning skills that address communication, collaboration, independence, responsibility, problem solving, and creativity. These are skills that have been identified as integral parts of existing in a global society.

Detour Ahead

•March 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Head on over to the Breaking Ranks wiki page where the committee work is happening! Just click the sign above to head on over. We are using the wiki to collaboratively build and discuss our subcommittee reports. Feel free to browse the content or join the page and contribute to the discussions. As always, we want to hear your voice.

Oh yeah, what exactly is a wiki? This video says it better than I can!

Meeting Schedule

•March 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Here is the meeting schedule for the Breaking Ranks Committee and the subcommittees.

Breaking Ranks

Tuesdays – 2:30-4:30 in the Presentation Room (Next full meeting is April 1st)

Collaborative Leadership subcommittee

Tuesdays – 2:30-4:30 in the Library

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment subcommittee

Tuesdays (3/18 & 3/25) – 2:30-4:30 in the Presentation Room

Personalization subcommittee

Tuesdays (3/18 &3/25) – 2:00-3:30 in the Presentation Room

Hope to see you there!

Committee Work

•March 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The Breaking Ranks Committee has been divided into 3 separate groups in order to begin drafting a report. The groups are Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Personalization, and Collaborative Leadership. Each group now must begin to draft a report to be presented to the whole committee.
The format of the report is as follows.

Area of Focus:

Essential Questions:


  • What are the Issues/Questions (Statement of the Problem) ?
  • Where do the 21st Century Skills Fit?
  • What are the”Change” considerations?
  • The recommendations will be filtered through commonly accepted research. (cited)
  • The recommendations will be supported by clear examples.


  • To the whole group
  • Outline of report
  • Format selected by group

Group Recommendation

  • How will the decisions be made?
  • Shaping the proposal /recommendation for school committee
  • Planning the implementation

And the work begins

•March 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

With the models of change structures and theories of change behind us the Breaking Ranks Committee is beginning to examine the three core principals of Breaking Ranks II: Collaborative Leadership/Professional Learning Communities, Personalizing Your School Environment, and Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. Each of these principles will be examined in depth by small groups during the coming weeks. In preparation of this work we used last Tuesday to begin thinking about these areas and listing some areas of focus. The results of this work are listed in individual posts to this blog. As always, we encourage your input. As you read through those posts please use the commenting feature to suggest additional focus areas or comment on those already there. Your comments will be heard by the committees.

New blogroll links

•March 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Last Tuesday Dr. Allen suggested we visit the websites for the Coalition of Essential Schools and First Amendment Schools . We have added the links to these websites on our blog roll at the right of the page for your convenience.