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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Teachers Network in the News:
Affiliates: New York City

Article courtesy of New York Teacher

Prospecting for lesson plans?
Stake your claim at Teachers Network Web site for educator's award-winning nuggets

ABOVE: Meagan Bender, busily engaged with her 3rd graders at PS 58 in Brooklyn.  Bender’s research looked at how a community of practice that focuses on collaborative team teaching affects student learning.


One of the best kept secrets in the education community is the gold mine of award-winning lesson plans—appropriate for all subject areas and all levels- just waiting for teachers to discover.

Panning for this gold is easy.

The lessons, all created and tested by New York City public school teachers, are available at the Teachers Network education Web site: www.teachersnetwork.org.  For more than 25 years, Teachers Network has awarded thousands of grants and

fellowships to teachers throughout the city public schools, empowering them to transform schools into creative learning communities.

This year is no exception.

At the recent annual awards ceremony held at the McGraw-Hill headquarters, Teachers Network again honored projects chosen as “representing the creativity and commitment of New York City public school teachers.”

Just such a project in the category of classroom-tested. Web-based curriculum units is Maureen Reilly’s LEGO Robotics: Measuring Speed.  And now it, too, is part of the gold mine.

ABOVE:  David Myrie checks the work of students in his science class at the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars where his project explored whether small-group lesson study affects the quality of student learning in science.

Reilly, a 4th –grade teacher at PS 261, Brooklyn, who became a teacher after ten years as a writer and producer for commercials and Web sites, designed her plan to develop math, science, technology and literacy skills for grades 3-6.  All the details of the plan, which describes as “grounded in real-world problem solving and fun,” can be found at wWw.maureenreilly.com/robotics

Like many of the stars in the Teachers Network, she is a multiple winner.

She panned the Network gold mine to “go creative” with a pre-existing unit and won teachnet Adaptor Grants for her Celebrating Explorers and Help Save Wilbur.

Reilly, a second-year teacher, said, she’s at work on another project for the spring “because I love writing curriculum.”

PS 261, in turn, has turned out to be a gold mine for the Teachers Network.  Anne Farmer, Allison Levy, Danielle Taylor and Rebecca Sacra are also Adaptor Grant winners.  Add to that list Taylor, Rebecca Ponka and Jamie Fidler whoa re members of the Teachers Network Leadership Institute.  They conduct classroom research to study the effects of public policy on their students so they can make informed recommendations about those policies.

A speaker at the awards ceremony, Elissa Berkowitz Cussano of IS 62 in Brooklyn, is another multi-grant winner, this year for the Great Debate, which won a Teachnet Disseminator Grant that requires a curriculum unit composed of at least four lesson plans.  She explained that she discovered while implementing her project that students could compile research material but had a difficult time speaking.  So, back to the drawing board, she devised a way to train children to respond orally, directly and to the point.

ABOVE: At the Henry Street School for International Studies, Darren Kawaii confers with students in a small-group setting. For his Teacher Network Leadership Institute research, he studied how a small, new school supports new teachers.

Looking for innovative lessons plans and units?

Go to www.teachersnetwork.org, choose lesson plans” under the quick link at top, and press go!  There you can see lesson plans organized by subject and grade, the site’s most popular teacher-created lesson plans, and lesson plans by new teachers for new teachers.

Want to submit your own lesson plans for possible grants?

Go to www.teachersnetwork.org and click on “grants” in the left-hand column.  You can apply for grants according to subject area, grants that support student use of the Internet, and “adaptor grants” that award teachers who use and adapt an original Teachnet project for their own classrooms.

Within a few weeks, she made another discovery:  Essays had improved tremendously: the skill had definitely transferred from the oral mode to the written mode of communication.”

Afraid to touch a computer seven years ago, Cusano, a grandmother of eight, said, "Now I can’t live without a computer.” And so, when every child was given a desktop for use at home by JP Morgan Chase, she began creating technology-based lessons that would force teachers and students “to actually use the computers for more than games and shopping.”

Daric Desautel of PS 228 in Queens also spoke at the ceremony, explaining how the challenge of being a MetLife Fellow in the Leadership Institute had saved him from “burnout.”  He said that TNLI’s focus on research, policy and advocacy has enriched his teaching experience by creating an “invigorating, challenging and rewarding experience.”

“TNLI,” according to Ellen Meyers, senior vice president of Teachers Network, “serves to bridge the disconnect between policy-makers and teachers so policy is more in line with supporting practice  that improves student achievement.”

* * *

RIGHT:  Teacher Network award winners John Pettorino (left) and Andy Szeto of Bayside HS are joined by colleague Melissa Stepanian, who is at work on a project for next year.

RIGHT:  Claire Cassacio (right) of PS 384 in Brooklyn and Tracy Butler of Arlington MS in Poughkeepsie share honors for their collaborative effort.  Cassacio was Butler’s student teacher.

Other members of the Leadership Institute honored for their classroom research projects include:  Daniel Abramoski, Daniel Bellino, Megan Bender, Judi Fenton, Brenda Gonzalez, Morgan Hall, Prudence Harris, Peter Hoppmann, Darren Kawaii, James Kopchains, James Longwell-Stevens, Claire Lowenstein, Rachel Marshall, Denise Mitchell-Johson, Lesley Morris, Amber Moss, David Myrie, Jodie Newberry, Tara Redican, Keri Rodgers, David Rothauser, Kathleen Rucker, Anokhi Saraya, Frances Schuchman, Cara Shuckett, Melanie Smolev, Augustin Vecino and Mary Whittmorre.

Senior TNLI member Maureen Connelly, Richard Gadsby, Elizabeth Gil, Leslie Jirsa, Amy Kopchains, Erica Litke and Karen Ramirez were honored for conducting at least two action research studies.

Photography by Miller Photography and Kristen Larsen


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