Alice Deal Middle School

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Week of:
 November 16
Bell Schedule

Monday -Bell I 
Tuesday - Bell I
 Wednesday - Bell I
Thursday - Bell I
Friday -  Bell I
Upcoming High School
Open House Dates
McKinley Technology HS
Saturday, November 21 at 10:00 am
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Friday, November 20 at 1:30 pm
Friday, December 11 at 1:30 pm
Wilson HS
Friday, November 20
Friday, December 4
Friday, December 18
Friday, January 8
Friday, January 29
Friday, February 5
Friday, February 19
Friday, March 5
Friday, April 9
Wilson's Open Houses will be held from 9:00 am - 11:00 am in the Wilson Library.
Columbia Heights Educational Campus HS
Saturday, December 5 from 12:00 noon to 2:00 pm High School Fair.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mr. Santiago. 
Upcoming Dates
November 17
Deal Open House #1;
9:30 am - 2:30 pm
Deal Information Night @ Bancroft ES; 6:30 pm
Family High School Information Night
6:30 - 8:30 pm  

November 18
Buddy Day - Murch ES
Deal Information Night @ Shepherd ES; 6:30 pm

November 19
Faculty meeting; 3:20 pm

November 20

Buddy Day - Lafayette
 International Night;
6 - 9 pm
6-8 pm, Food served in Cafeteria
8-9 pm, student entertainment in the gym
November 24
Buddy Day - Janney ES  

November 25

Thanksgiving Assembly (Bell III)

November 26 & 27
Thanksgiving Holiday, No School

December 3
Word Language international trip information meeting, 6 pm
Deal Night, 6:30 pm

December 5 & 6
Deal Holiday Greens Sale

December 7

Parent Teacher Conference Day 
from 12 - 3 and 4 -7
   (students not in school)

December 8
Picture Make-up Day with Blanton Studios
December 9
Buddy Day - H.D.Cooke ES 

December 10
Winter Concert
December 11
Buddy Day - Shepherd ES 
December 12 & 13
Final Weekend of the Deal Holiday Green Sale
December 14
Buddy Day - Bancroft ES 

December 15
Deal Open House #2;
9 am - 3 pm
Family Math Night, 6:30 - 8:00 pm

December 17

Faculty Meeting; 3:20 pm

December 21
1st day of Winter Break

January 4
1st day back from Winter Break

January 9
Deal Open House #3; 9 am - 12 pm

January 15
Professional Development Day (no school for students)

January 18
Martin Luther King Holiday

January 22
End of 2nd advisory (students dismissed at 12:15 pm)
January 27
Team La Paz's trip
to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Wilson SHS
Quick Links
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Stay Informed!
Buddy Day Dates

Wed, Nov 18th - Murch ES

Fri, Nov 20th - Lafayette ES
Tues, Nov 24th - Janney ES
Wed, Dec 9th - H.D. Cooke ES
Fri, Dec 11th - Shepherd ES
Mon, Dec 14th - Bancroft ES

BUDDY DAYS are a wonderful opportunity to proudly share our school with others.

Remember to keep your IB Learner Profile characteristics in mind.  We are all expected to help our visiting Buddies have a super positive experience. 

Thank you!

Human Growth and Development Workshops
Ms. Irene Addlestone, MA will be supplementing the PE teachers and providing classes in growth and development for  8th graders this year. 
Workshop Dates

8th grade
November 16, 18, 19, 21, and 25

Zeroes Aren't Permitted

ZAP! runs all week during all 3 lunch periods. Teachers and parents should feel free to suggest that students visit ZAP! to catch up on late homework.

ZAP! provides students a chance to get one-on-one help, approach a problem from a new angle, or work with peers on group work. Remember to remind students that they should come directly to ZAP! with their books at the beginning of their lunch period. Students will be given a pass to get a fast lunch and then  return to ZAP! refreshed and ready to work!

Explorer Time Comes to Deal!!

The DCPS Office of Out-of-School Time and Deal MS are offering a new after school program open to all Deal students. "Explorer Time" will run from 3:30-6:15; Monday through Friday and features:
  • Participation in Deal clubs, sports, and tutoring support
  • Nutritious snacks
  • Academic Power Hour with homework help and instruction from teachers
  • A structured approach to organizing assignments and getting work done
  • Supervised fun, recreational, social, and skill building activities
  • Partnership with Latin American Youth Center  (LAYC)
Participation in the program requires a formal application and co-payment of $5 per day, with free and reduced options based on family income.  Families may enroll for a regular schedule of less than 5 days a week (e.g., Mon, Wed & Fri) however the program cannot accept students on an emergency drop-in basis.
Enrollment forms are available on the Deal website.  The program coordinator for our school is Margot Berkey, a former Deal parent with extensive knowledge of our community, as well as with managing programs for diverse groups of adolescents.  For more information, e-mail or call the school and Ms. Berkey will return your call between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.   Ms. Berkey is available to receive your enrollment application with necessary documents, and discuss payment between the hours of 3:00-6:00 pm.   Enrollment in the after school program is similar to the annual proof of residency process that you've already completed.  Have your child become a Deal Explorer!
(items on this list are not endorsed by Deal)

Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) After-school  Program
Students who are interested in participating in the LAYC After-school Program should pick up an application in the cafeteria during their lunch period.  The program will take place Monday - Wednesday from 3:30 - 5:45 pm.
El Centro de Juventud Latino Americano va a empezar su programa después de clases aquí en DEAL!!!
Que es? Un programa que ayuda con tarea y muchas actividades Como Aplico? Las aplicaciones se pueden recoger la próxima semana en la hora de comer Para quien es esto? Para TODOS, nadie en particular Que hora? 3:30-5:45.
Space Camp/Aviation Challenge Scholarship Program for Students  and Teachers 
The Space Camp/Aviation Challenge Scholarship Program is offering scholarships for students and teachers.  Full scholarships cover attrition, room & board for any week-long, age-appropriate camp and are good for one year.  Transportation and incidentals are the responsibility of the scholarship recipient. 

Applicants may apply in one of four categories:  financial need/disadvantaged, special needs, academic achievement, or general. 

Each applicant must answer an essay question, design a mission patch, describe a science project using the scientific method, and provide three letters of recommendation.  A selection committee reviews applications and scholarships are awarded based on available funding. 

The 2010 scholarship applications are due by December 11.  For further information and to apply for the scholarship please visit


The Weekly Bulletin

"Think Globally.  Listen Compassionately. Act Inclusively."
Our mission:
Alice Deal Middle School inspires excellence, curiosity, and compassion through intellectual and social engagement.
Thought for the Week
 "If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."
Ignacio Estrada

Message from Principal Kim

On Tuesday, we host Deal's first Open House.  As you know, we work hard to make sure that the middle school transition is as smooth as possible for students.  We are so pleased that our current 6th and 7th graders experienced so much success with their transition to middle school, and we are committed to ensuring an even smoother transition for next year's 6th graders.  We know that one key to a successful transition is bringing prospective students and their parents to Deal as much as possible while they are still in elementary school. Once they meet our incredibly talented teachers, our welcoming staff, and friendly students, they start to visualize how they can fit in with our school community.  To that end, we have started to host Buddy Days with students from our feeder schools.  My evenings are busy with visits with feeder-school PTAs.  Open House is another opportunity to show off our school during the school day!  I am grateful to all the student council members who will serve as tour guides, to our teachers and students who will welcome visitors into their classrooms, and to our PTA volunteers who will spend several hours with the visitors to show the strength of our parent involvement.  I am thankful to everyone for the role you play in building the success of our school.

Also, I appreciate the parents who have adjusted your morning plans to get students to school on time.  We still have students arriving late, but your teachers and I have noticed that there has been an improvement since I started making my requests.  Please keep up the good work and get your child to school on time!

Finally, if you have not yet turned in your impact-aid forms, please send it to your child's homeroom teacher today.  I know this might seems like just another form to you, but it is the most important form of the year as it has a direct impact on our school's budget.  Thanks for your cooperation.

Have a wonderful learning week.

Principal Kim
This week at Deal. . .
Deal Open House
Deal hosts our 1st Open House this Tuesday.  Please welcome our guests and visitors!  We are already preparing to welcome another wonderful group of 6th graders to our school!

Thank You
The Counseling Department would like to give a huge thank you to all of our wonderful parents and friends of Deal who presented their expertise for Career Day.  The students enjoyed hearing about the diverse careers options. Special thanks to the PTA for providing a lovely reception for our speakers.  Also, thanks to Mr. Simmons and his video production crew for setting up all the video equipment for the presentations.  We could not have done it without you!
Good Luck!
Team Beijing wishes Nina Clemente luck as she speaks at a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.  She will be urging Congress to pass legislation for healthier school lunches with more fruits and vegetables.  Nina has also recently spoken at the Washington, DC Climate Change Conference on the link between climate change and a healthy diet.  More information about the healthy lunch campaign can be found at Good luck Nina!!!
Family High School Information Night
We will sponsor a Family High School Information Night on Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:30 pm.  We will hear from representatives from Wilson, School Without Walls, Banneker, McKinley, Roosevelt, Dunbar, Duke Ellington, Columbia Heights Education Campus, and more. There will be opportunity to speak to parents and former Deal students who currently attend these schools.  All Deal students and parents are welcome. We strongly recommend all 8th grade students and parents to attend.  Students must be accompanied by their parents.
Fencing Club Finale
The Deal Fencing Club finished its season for the year with a record for participation. Over 85 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade girls and boys took a stab at fencing and each other over the last three months. All fencers are asked to take their uniforms home and wash them before turning them in to Mr. Hughes in room C217.
Girls' Basketball Tryouts 
Girls' Basketball tryouts will continue this week - Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 3:30-4:45 pm. Monday will be the last open tryout day. Players will be grouped for a series of scrimmages for final evaluation. A list of selected student/athletes will be posted on Tuesday with the names of the players making it to the next round. Good Luck Lady Vikings!
Team Addis Ababa Study Hall
Team Addis Ababa study hall today. Please note that we will meet in Mr. Koplowitz's room for this week only. If you have any questions, please email .

Science Fair Workshop (Team Singapore and La Paz)
Need to catch up on your science fair assignments? Need some extra help on your project?  If so, stop by the team Singapore/La Paz science fair workshop offered every Tuesday from 3:30 - 4:30 pm in room E301.  Mr. Roose and Ms. Epstein will help you get back on track with your science fair project.  You must bring a note from your parent/guardian giving you permission to stay after school.
Afternoon Studio Club
The Afternoon Studio Club will meet Tuesdays at 3:30-4:30 pm in room C224. Come to explore different materials and possibilities in art making! All levels of artistic skills and grade levels are welcomed! Email Mrs. Bustos for further information or questions at [email protected]
Team Athens Hosts November BIO Event
Team Athens will host it's November "By-Invitation-Only" event on Wednesday from 3:30-5 pm. Invited students will investigate mummification procedures used by Ancient Egyptians and model the process by preparing mummified apples.   In addition, students will delve deeper into the social and cultural roles mummification played in Egyptian society.  Invited students will then share this knowledge with their classmates prior to Thanksgiving break.
International Cooking Club 
The B Group of the International Cooking Club will meet after school from 3:30-4:30 pm on Wednesday in the faculty lounge (2nd floor).
Organization Help
Need help getting your binder organized? Is your locker a mess? Then come Tuesdays after school from 3:30-4:30 pm to RM W106 to get and stay organized with Ms. Bordogna! All grades are welcome, but 6th graders are especially encouraged to attend. Please bring a note from a parent with permission to stay after school. 
ZAP with Team Beijing
Every Wednesday and Thursday Ms. Popadich hosts ZAP for team Beijing students in room E105. It is a great time to get homework completed and to study for tests. Before students come to ZAP make sure they get a lunch pass from Ms. Popadich.
Girl Power Program
The girl power program will meet on Thursday in the cafeteria. We will have a special guest and a fun activity. Please be sure to mark your calendars so that you do not miss the special surprise! All members are encouraged to wear something comfortable and to bring a towel. Ms. Wisniewski and Ms. Mazzone look forward to seeing you there!
, our students will be collecting used (not abused) shoes for this worthy cause. Please place shoe donations in the collection bins located in front of the welcome center and by the gymnasium. We look forward to your donations. If you have questions please contact the Physical Education Department at [email protected] or Coach Downing at .
Comics as Literature with Mr. Lotts
Students who participate in Comics as Literature with Mr. Lotts should make sure you are working on your contributions to the first issue of the Deal Comic Book.  The deadline for submissions to the first issue is November 30, so get to work on your writing and drawing.  Contact Mr. Lotts if you need any help with ideas.
Ancient History Podcast for the Week
Tune in each week as a new episode from class is recorded and added to the class Edline Calendar by Mr. Lotts and a group of seventh grade students.  Listen to hear what we've learned this week about Ancient Egypt!

High School Brochures Available 
Students interested in Duke Ellington School of the Arts or McKinley Technology HS should see Mr. Santiago.  Brochures/applications are now available.  
Reading Romans Challenge
Team Rome, remember to fill out your Reading Summary Cards for each book that you read during our challenge.  10,000 pages of text to go. . . so start reading.

Spring Trip to Spain or France?
Parents who plan to send their children to the Madrid, Cordova and Sevilla trip and have not enrolled with EF Tours, please remember that deadline is soon approaching. Students who enroll now will have to pay the initial $95.00 enrollment fee, $450.00 thirty days after, and the remaining balance by December 7.  Please contact EF Tours if you have any questions or concerns at Customer Service 1-800-665-5364 ( or Mr. Santiago 202 939-2012.  Our tour number is 924196.
Band & Choir Students
It is imperative that you check with your director, Mr. Frye or Mr. Jackson to assure that your name is on the official Music Department roll and spelled correctly.
Department of Music Listserv
The Music Department uses a listserv in order to communicate information to its students and parents. All students involved with the Department of Music should sign up to be a member of this listserv. To become a member send an email mail to .
Lost and FOUND Textbooks
Christopher Askew - Social Studies
Aram Barnett - Social Studies
Michael Bayliss - Reading
Jordan Belton - Pre-Algebra
William Bowman - Pre-Algebra
Aaliyah Bradford - Math
Boshaad Butler - Reading
Mendiany Cadet - Social Studies
Alexander Conte - Spanish
Naim Collins - English
Nelson Davies - French
Reuben Dubester - Spanish
Whitnee Epps - English
Breyouna Evans - Reading
Keron Gaines - Science
Fabiola Garcia - Social Studies
Weldon Henson - Science
Natika Jackson - Chinese
Evonne Lidoff - English
Jared Marshall - Spanish
Rahsaan Martinez - Social Studies
Akil Mondie - Science
David Nguyen - Science
Minh Nguyen - Social Studies
Virginia Reed - French
Kareema Soweels - English
Students, please see Mrs. Streeter in the Welcome Center as soon as you realize you've lost your books.  Also, please take better care of your books!
Student & Parent information...
Thank You!
A huge thank you to Big Planet Comics in Georgetown for the donation of several dozen manga and graphic novels to Deal's library.  As we rebuild the library, the people at Big Planet have already been a huge help in constructing a section for graphic literature for our students.
Robotics Team Victory
Congratulations to the Deal Robotics Team for winning first place for "Research Presentation" and "Robot Performance" at the FLL regional robotics tournament this past Saturday.  The students who participated were Daniel Dulaney, Tanvir Azim, Tobias Shapinsky, and Josh Schuster.

Meet an Astronaut!
Sign up at for free tickets to meet astronaut Dr. John Grunsfield on Tuesday at 7:30 pm at the National Air and Space Museum.  Dr. Grunsfield has made 8 space walks to repair and refurbish the Hubble telescope.  He will be speaking about his experiences at the Imax Theater.  See Mrs. Clements or Mr. Hyun if you have any questions.
Book Fair Begins
Parents, please don't miss a great opportunity to shop affordably for the holidays, keep our kids reading, and help our Deal library grow. The Alice Deal PTA is launching an online book fair and fundraiser this Wednesday, November 18. To participate, log onto, click on online/virtual book fair, scroll down to Organization Code and enter Alice. From there you can shop for fiction, graphic novels, reference and audio books for kids of all ages and adults. Click on Teacher Wish Lists to learn how to contribute directly to your child's classrooms. Deal earns funds (in cash and books) from every order. Feel free to share the site and organization code with friends and family. Have fun!
Meeting at U.S. Department of Education
Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education, Kevin Jennings, in the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools invited peer mediation coordinators Marsha Blakeway and Diane McFarland to participate in a meeting last Thursday afternoon at the Department of Education for a discussion of civic and character education. Student mediator, 6th grader Mark Custer also participated in the meeting.  Secretary Jennings believes "that a truly safe school is one where all students feel like they belong, they are valued, and that they are physically and emotionally safe and secure".  This meeting was one of several ongoing discussions "to engage a broad array of community-based and professional organizations to hear their thoughts."

The 8th graders who have requested a replacement card will have their photos taken during their lunch period Wednesday. We will continue to take photos on Thursday at lunch time if needed. If you have any questions see Mr. Dacoba or Mr. Simmons.
As part of our community and global outreach, we are collecting used tennis shoes and cleats to help eradicate poverty and support rainforest preservation. In conjunction with the Perpetual Prosperity Pumps Foundation
when you log onto Archives on Demand to find everyday examples of relevant stories that you can use in  your classroom right away. You'll see current news from the NBC Nightly News and TODAY show, with full source information, plus correlations to state standards.

After-School Activities and Tutoring
All after-school activities are going great! The number of students that participate is encouraging. It's important that students who stay after-school are supervised at all times. Once your activity is over, teachers must escort students to the 1st floor lobby for departure.
Notes for Student Absences
Teachers this is just a reminder that all notes for student absences and early dismissals should be brought to the main office. Students cannot be excused for tardies or absences without a note. If you have any notes from students from earlier in the year, please bring them to Ms. Mills in the Welcome Center.
Staff information. . .
Please be prepared for the interruptions during Open House on Tuesday
There is no need for you to do anything differently for our visitors for Open House, but you should be aware that we will have hundreds of visitors in the building on Tuesday.  This means that you should consider how you will deal with the regular disruptions by visitors to your class so that it will minimize the lesson.  Other than that, do what you do normally.  You are already great and I cannot wait for the larger community to see it!

Archives on Demand

If you're looking for video resources for students, check out educational videos on Archives on Demand. With a subscription to Archives on Demand, you can download videos, create personal playlists, and find state standards correlations from their major collections. Go to the In the News section (

Before & after school activities this week...
Monday AM
Concert Choir practice, 7:45 am - RM CG17
Spanish tutoring, 8:10 am - RM C310
Beginning Band, 7:45 am - CG01 
Monday PM
A Little Extra Time, 3:15 - 3:30 pm - cafeteria
Girls' Soccer practice, 3:30 - 5 pm,
Scrabble Club 3:30 - 4:30 pm, cafeteria
Team Addis Ababa Study Hall, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, C104
Volleyball play-off game
GeoPlunge, 3:25 - 4:30 pm - cafeteria
Debate Team, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E304
Run for Fun Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM  W101
National History Day Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM C308
Team Nairobi Tutoring, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, RM E207
Ms. Hampton's Science Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - W301
Cafe con Leche Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM CG06
Tutoring with Ms. Popadich, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E105
Cheerleading practice, 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, cafeteria
After School tutoring with Ms. Brown & Ms. Bruce, 3:30 to 4:30 pm  
Deal Dance Team, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Gallery
Indoor Track practice,  3:30 - 5 pm  - Gym
Girls' Basketball try-outs, 3:30 - 4:45 pm - gym  
Tuesday AM
6th Grade Chorus, 7:45 am - RM CG17
Jazz/Concert Band, 7:45 am - RM CG01
Tuesday PM
A Little Extra Time, 3:15 - 3:30 pm - cafeteria
Drumline practice, 3:30-4:30 pm - RM CG01
Science Tutoring, 3:20-4:15 pm - RM C315
Afternoon Studio Club, 3:30-4:30 pm - RM C224
Rugby, 3:30-5 pm - RM C104
Team Nairobi Tutoring, 3:30 - 4:30 - RM E201
Team Athens Tutoring/Homework Help, 3:30-4:30 pm - Team Athens Hallway
Gardening, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM C309
Video-Audio Visual Club, 3:30 pm - gallery
The Ultimate Frisbee Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM C205
Boys' Soccer practice, 3:30 - 5 pm
Tutoring with Ms. Popadich, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E105
Math tutoring with Ms. Hutter,
3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E307
After School tutoring with Ms. Brown & Ms. Bruce, 3:30 to 4:30 pm 
Future Educator's Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, RM W304
Knitting Club, 3:30-4:30 pm, RM E306
Team  Rome Tutoring/Homework Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm E204 
Girls' Basketball try-outs, 3:30-4:45 pm -Gym
Indoor Track Practice, 3:30-5 pm - Gym
Team Singapore and La Paz Science Fair Workshop, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, E301
Organization Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, RM W106
Wednesday AM
Concert Choir practice, 7:45 am - RM CG17 
Jazz Combo 7:45 am - RM CG01
Spanish tutoring, 8:10 am - RM C310 
Wednesday PM 
A Little Extra Time, 3:15 - 3:30 pm - cafeteria
Group B of the International Cooking club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, faculty lounge
Deal Dance Team, 3:30 - 4: 30 pm  
Show Choir 3:30 - 4:30 pm
Student Council, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E205
Ms. Washington's Homework Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm RM C212
Team San Francisco After-School Academic Assistance, 3:30 - 4:30 pm-RM W101
Team Beijing Tutoring, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E105
Cross Country practice, 3:30 - 5 pm
Science Tutoring, 3:30 - 5 pm - RM E307
Improv Club, 3:30 - 5 pm - RM E307
Alice Deal Science Olympiad Team, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E101
Golf Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM W304
Girl's Basketball Try-outs, 3:30 - 4:45 pm
Robotics Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E301
Indoor Track Practice 3:30 - 5 pm - Gym

Thursday AM
6th Grade Chorus, 7:45 am -  RM CG17
Jazz/Concert Band, 7:45 am - RM CG01 
Thursday PM
A Little Extra Time, 3:15 - 3:30 pm - cafeteria
Boys' Soccer practice, 3:30 - 5 pm
Cheerleading practice, 3:30 - 5 pm, cafeteria
Team Beijing Tutoring, 3:30 - 4:30 pm - RM E103
Ruby, 3:30 - 5 pm - RM C104
Deal Dispatch, 3:30 - 4:30 - cafeteria
Team Beijing Tutoring, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, RM E103
 Team  Rome Tutoring/Homework Help, 3:30 - 4:30 pm E206
Girls' Basketball try-outs, 3:30-4:45 pm, Gym
Boys' Basketball try-outs, 3:30 - 5:00 pm, Gym
Indoor Track informational meeting, 3:30 to 3:45pm
Photography Club, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, RM W204
Girl Power, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Cafeteria
Friday AM
Peer Mediator meeting, 8:00 am, RM E103
Team Cairo tutoring with Ms. Mazzone, 8:10 am - library media center
Friday PM
A Little Extra Time, 3:15 - 3:30 pm - cafeteria
As always, students should have parent permission to stay after school for any activity!
Food for thought...
This article reminds us once again that teachers make the biggest difference in student achievement.  Please take the time to visit each other's classrooms to raise the bar across our school.

Variations in Instructional Practices from Classroom to Classroom

"One of the best-kept secrets in educational research, it seems, is the fact that differences in the quality of instruction from classroom to classroom within schools are greater than differences in instructional quality between schools," says Robert Rothman in the Harvard Education Letter.

This is the conclusion of the just-released University of Michigan Study of Instructional Improvement: the amount of time students in different classrooms spend on higher-level thinking skills and content varies dramatically from classroom to classroom in the 112 schools studied - this despite the fact that the schools were involved in comprehensive school-reform models (Accelerated Schools, America's Choice, or Success for All) that supposedly required teachers to follow quite prescriptive procedures. The study "reinforces the notion that what matters most is the teacher you get in school, not the school you go to," says Richard Correnti, one of the authors.

The same was true in Katherine Merseth's 2009 book on high-performing Massachusetts charter schools. "In every other aspect, these schools were astonishingly coherent," she says. "But they were loose inside the 'black box' of instruction... We can't agree on what good teaching looks like."
Are these teachers tailoring skills and content to their students' varying needs? Apparently not; variations seemed to be based on teachers' personal preferences and what they believe will work for their students. Variation also occurs when some teachers shy away from topics with which they're not comfortable, which happens most frequently in math. Harvard Professor Richard Elmore advocates teachers observing each others' classrooms more and working collaboratively to raise the quality of instruction across the board. "The kind of variability that's good is variability from a high bar," he says. "The problem is, the base is too low."

The Michigan study produced another interesting finding. Researchers compared teachers who taught higher-order, medium-challenging, and low-level reading and writing skills and found that the middle group of teachers got the best student achievement gains. Why? Because the higher-order teachers taught an average of 13 instructional items per lesson - a mile wide and an inch deep - while the medium-order teachers taught only 6 or 7 items. Teaching somewhat less challenging material in more depth produced better results.
"Behind the Classroom Door" by Robert Rothman in Harvard Education Letter, November/December 2009 (Vol. 25, #6, p. 4-6)

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Alice Deal Middle School | 3815 Fort Drive, NW | Washington | DC | 20016