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On the blog: Teacher Learning Circle

February 5, 2014
by Anna Huntington, community arts coordinator for The Sculpture Project

"People are not cans of beans."

That's one of the few things the truly exceptional Rapid City High School teacher Gabrielle Seeley said during a Teacher Learning Circle meeting I observed recently that I was actually able to comprehend and put down in my otherwise sparse notes.

Frayer model. Action research.  Common summative assessment. Formative assessment. IIST Those are on my paper, too.

Yep, beans. I get it. People, including students, are individuals.

Twelve middle school and high school teachers are participating in the TLC. They are collaboratively and analytically implementing the cross-disciplinary, standards-based curricula Mrs. Seeley created based on The Sculpture Project. Five-hundred-and-fifty Rapid City students are learning about poetry, geology, public art and, most uniquely, Oceti Sakowin history and culture, through lessons that draw on sculptor Masayuki Nagase's design and themes for Passage of Wind and Water.

The teachers come together in a series of evening meetings to game plan how to best teach the curricula and foster student understanding and original thinking in the process. They also do a lot of assessment along the way to gather information about what works and how their students are learning.

As Mrs. Seeley said, "We are experts in our thinkers."

One last glimpse into this inspiring teacher's approach:

"I always ask myself, 'Is what my students are doing really, really awesome?' If not, I change course. And if yes, I am not stopping there. I make it better by being flexible and willing to change."

Read more and download the curricula here.

The curricula was developed with support from a grant from the South Dakota Arts Council, which receives support from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The TLC is made possible through support from the Rapid City Public School Foundation and Black Hills Community Bank.



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