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Farewell to Schauff 1924 –2013

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Catlin Gabel seeks to form bold learners who become insightful questioners, responsible thinkers, and inspired action-takers for life. Catlin Gabel is an independent, non-sectarian, progressive coeducational day school serving 757 students from preschool through twelfth grade. Its roots go back to the Portland Academy, founded in 1859. The school occupies 60 acres on Barnes Road, five miles west of downtown Portland.

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Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s Of Leading and Learning by Lark P. Palma, Ph.D. Schauff’s Great, Unbroken Circle Can Praise Harm? Grading Gets a DDeveloping Minds, Developing Teachers How to Teach Boys and Girls Equitably The Rise of Online Teaching and Learning Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century Catlin Gabel News Alumni News Class Notes Focus on Philanthropy: A Love of Learning That Lasts a Lifetime

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Inset: Manvel “Schauff” Schauffler

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by Lark P. Palma PhD, Head of School

In January I was heartbroken to learn of the death of former headmaster Manvel “Schauff” Schauffler, one of the school’s most distinctive and important leaders. He established many practices that continue to this day, about caring for and respecting one other and the school, and about learning through experience. When teachers load students into a bus to go learn firsthand about their community and the world around them—that’s Schauff. I have heard so many stories about the many ways he supported students, moved them towards an understanding of how to act gracefully and compassionately, and made them feel like useful members of the community. Schauff did that for me, too. He would write me unexpected and encouraging letters about leading Catlin Gabel, knowing that we shared many of the same joys and challenges. I’ve saved all those letters, which are a treasure to me. I hope that we all strive to be as generous as he was, and learn how to make others believe in themselves the way he did.

Ruth Catlin, one of Catlin Gabel’s founders, established her school with the intent “to contribute to the community and its schools an educational laboratory, free to utilize the knowledge and wisdom of leading educators.” This issue of the Caller celebrates Ruth Catlin’s devotion to continued education, and examination of what it means to teach and learn, by featuring the educational research of some of our faculty members and division heads. Catlin Gabel’s philosophy and practices emphasize equipping educators with the tools they need to provide the best possible education for our students. In practical terms, this means that we offer professional development funds for every teacher and staff member. With this freedom, they can immerse themselves in the latest thinking about their chosen field, learn about best practices in independent schools, meet with their peers to learn how to put new concepts into use, and engage in their own research. The articles that follow demonstrate the fruits of Catlin Gabel’s commitment to teaching and learning, for both adults and children, and the quest to discover more about how education works best in an independent school. From gender to mathematics to technology, you’ll read about just a very few of the current issues in education that will continue to evolve.

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By Dawn Sieracki and John Mayer

Schauff’s Great, Unbroken Circle Farewell to longtime headmaster Manvel Schauffler

Catlin Gabel lost one of its most beloved, formative, and charismatic community members when Manvel Schauffler, headmaster from 1967 to 1980, died on January 8 at age 88. He was known to everyone as Schauff. Schauff led Catlin Gabel with good humor, optimism, and gusto, by his example fostering civility, cooperation, and involvement. Among his many accomplishments—an open meeting policy, establishment of the senior trip, mentoring teachers and leaders of other schools—he above all set the tone for a strong, warm sense of community and humanity. A New York City native, Schauff attended Williams College before joining the U.S. Navy in 1943. He then attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he met many of the people who would be his friends for life—including his wife, Verna Raattama. For several years they and others from Black Mountain lived on a farm in Estacada, Oregon, with the goal of cooperative living and contributing to a small town. Schauff taught at Estacada High School and led a Boy Scout troop, while earning his BA and MA at Lewis & Clark College. Schauff began working at Catlin Hillside in 1951; he became Catlin Gabel’s headmaster in 1967 and held that position until 1980. In his years at Catlin Gabel he taught 8th grade U.S. history and social studies; coached basketball, track and field, and soccer; led ski trips and camping trips; directed plays; helped to run the Rummage Sale; taught countless students to make a wooden boat or light a Coleman camp stove; and reminded young people over and over to leave a place cleaner than



they found it, to shake hands with a firm grip, and to exercise their right to vote. Schauff celebrated Catlin Gabel’s progressive, creative, experiential approach in and out of the classroom. He made each student feel respected and recognized. Schauff’s mark on Catlin Gabel included a de-emphasis on grades. Drawing on his philosophy that students are at the center of education and their voices should be heard, he made the student body president an ex officio member of the board of trustees and brought each year’s president to the NAIS annual conference. After leaving Catlin Gabel Schauff taught middle school at the Bush School in Seattle for many years, and founded the Zushi Kaisei summer program for students from Japan. He was active in the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Independent Schools. After he finished his career at Bush Schauff helped to found two more schools: Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island and Explorer West in West Seattle. Throughout his long career in education he was an inspiration to scores of students and colleagues who remember him vividly today.

Everyone who knew Schauff will remember these favorite expressions: “I’ll take three volunteers— you, you, and you,” “Be sure to take care of each other,” “Never put a hot pancake on a cold plate,” “Lady with a baby,” and “The sun always shines on the righteous.” Schauff Circle, at the crossroads of our campus, serves as a reminder of Schauff’s ability to bring together people of all ages and all walks of life. Schauff is survived by his wife, Verna; his daughters, Robin ’68 and Deborah ’70; his son, Allen ’73; and his grandchildren, Robin ’01 and Alex ’06 Macartney. He was the uncle of Will Neill ’71 and cousin of former CG teacher Dave Schauffler, Allen Schauffler ’42 (dec.), Julia Schauffler Bernard ’44, and Christine Schauffer Weitzer ’47 (dec.). The family suggests some good ways to honor Schauff: cook a pancake, chop some wood, ride a ferry, sail a boat, register to vote.

Schauff, Verna, & their children Allen, Deborah, and Robin

Outpouring of stories and tributes from alumni Many alumni came together to talk about Schauff on a Facebook page, “Schauff’s Circle,” just before and after his death. Here are some excerpts. Sharla Settlemier ’82 In 7th grade a friend and I thought it would be a good idea to draw a funny picture on a porch post at the back of the Middle School. Schauff walked up to us at that moment, looked us each in the eye and said, “Meet me back here at noon.” We were terrified as to what the punishment might mean for us. We arrived at the appointed hour and Schauff proceeded to happily take us on a tour of the school, pointing out to us the original farmhouse wallpaper in the classrooms of the upper school, the beautiful apple trees from the original orchard, and the cared-for books in the library. He asked us if we thought the school would be such a beautiful and special place if the students and teachers didn’t respect it over all those years of the school’s history. His gentle, caring, respectful tour humbled us and taught us more than any punishment ever could have. He was an amazing man! John Stilwell ’80 My most vivid memory of Schauff was a sleepy Saturday morning in the early phase of the Rummage Sale. I was in a group of roustabouts over on Thurman, staring incredulously at endless piles of unsorted rummage on several floors, wondering where to even begin.

In came Schauff. He gave us a Rummage strategy and tactics pep talk. His engaging, deliberate, eye-to-eye talk motivated us to go about our business with a sense of purpose. . . . That to me sums up the Schauff phenomenon: in just a few words, he made order out of chaos, embraced others with dignity and a human touch that always made them want to be better human beings and allowed them to feel part of a larger, worthwhile cause. It was a deep privilege to know him and be a small part of the Catlin experience he shaped. Kenneth Morris ’75 Schauff on a camping trip near Three Sisters taught me how to sail a boat. I didn’t know how to come back. I ended up on the other side of the lake, but Schauff stayed with me yelling instructions from the other end on how to get back (I thought I was in trouble, it took a while). When I made it back (expecting the worst) he took my hand, grabbed me around the shoulders, smiled and said “good job,” then walked, talked, and laughed with me back to camp. Paul Folkestad ’82 I visited Catlin in the middle of 8th grade. At the end of a long day Sid

Eaton asked me what I thought. I pointed out that all the people who worked here looked the same: the guy driving the bus looked like the guy directing traffic and the guy at the track picking up hurdles, and he looks just like the history teacher, Mr. Schauffler. Bo Neill ’71 Schauff always had a plan . . . always, and he made you as an individual feel that you were truly the linchpin, that the plan would not work without your participation. Such amazing empowerment for young people. Wick Rowland ’62 By example and without ever preaching, Schauff somehow helped us come to see what was best. How many of us still ask ourselves, “What would Schauff do?” There can be no greater measure of a legacy than that. He still speaks to each of us, and when we stand up for or lend a hand to others he is there. He lives on within the best of us as individuals and in the best of what we do together.

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P r a i s e harm ?


ur 2nd grade class is huddled in a circle on the rug, we’ve cleaned up from our math workshop, and we’re about to leave for lunch. Before we go, we attend to our daily ritual of discussing what we found challenging during math time. I ask, “Did any of you have any ‘Aha!’ moments during math today?” At least five hands shoot into the air, students eager to share what new learning happened for them. Sydney responds, “I was trying to balance a number sentence, but I couldn’t get it to work. I kept trying different numbers and then I realized there was a pattern. I tested the pattern and it worked!” “Hmm,” I respond, “I notice Sydney mentioned it was hard for her, but she kept trying different strategies.” Alex interjects, “Yeah, she didn’t give up because if she did she wouldn’t get smarter.” Twenty heads nod in agreement as they scamper out the door. During lunch, my students sit casually discussing the perennial thought of seven-year-olds, “What do I want to be when I grown up?” They give varied answers from scientist to writer to doctor. The reality is, in our world where the amount of information continues to grow exponentially, they don’t know—as their teacher, I don’t know—what jobs will look like a decade, two decades from now. I do know they will need to know how to access information, how to learn, and, perhaps most importantly, they will need a highly defined internal drive to become flexible, continuous learners. Gone are the days when someone could develop a specific skill set—say, become a software engineer—and then work at that job until retirement. Instead, today’s

students will need to survive in an ever-changing environment where the necessary skills and knowledge are continuously expanding. A hug in 2nd grade

Catlin Gabel has long dismissed the outdated factory model of education, with teachers as dispensers of information, and students as receptacles, moving passively through the system. In the 21st century, we do not need students who are compliantly ingesting information; we need students who are actively creating knowledge. How do we create classrooms that, by their very structure, build a capacity for continuous learning?

What is a growth mindset? Through the ways we talk to and praise children, parents and teachers are passing along our society’s notion of intelligence. According to psychologist Carol Dweck, four beliefs about success are common in our society: n students with high ability are more likely to display mastery-oriented qualities (the desire for challenge with an attitude of perseverance in the face of adversity) n success in school directly fosters mastery-oriented qualities n praise, particularly of a child’s intelligence, encourages mastery-oriented qualities n students’ confidence in their intelligence is the key to mastery-oriented qualities

Above: A 2nd grader explains how the brain works Left: John Mayer finds Kenya on the map with his 2nd graders

By Dawn Sieracki and John Mayer

2nd grade teachers Dawn Sieracki and John Mayer

Surprisingly, research shows those beliefs are not true. Dweck’s research has demonstrated that children who have internalized our society’s beliefs about success develop a fixed mindset, the idea that intelligence is wholly innate and they do not have control over it. Children who have internalized a fixed mindset are more likely to shy away from challenges and give up when faced with setbacks. These children often seek out easy successes in order to confirm their self-perception. In other words, the very praise teachers and parents bestow on them, believing it will shore up children and enable them to take on challenges, may be having the opposite effect. In contrast, those with a growth mindset, the notion that intelligence is malleable and they can choose to strengthen it, are more likely to seek challenges and persevere when faced with difficulties.

Just as any of us can practice in order to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic, so too can we can encourage the habits of mind that help children see challenges as possibility and recognize that easy is not always good. Sydney and Alex’s willingness to discuss challenges is an example of children in the midst of developing a growth mindset. How did we get here?

Although language and behaviors fostering a fixed mindset are common in our culture, they are not necessarily prevalent across other cultures. Education researcher Jin Li has studied the cultural frames of children’s learning beliefs, as well as conversation patterns between mothers and children. She found European-American mothers often spoke to their children in ways that supported a fixed sense of self, “I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart.” In contrast, Eastern Asian mothers were more likely to reinforce a malleable sense of self, “I remember when you weren’t very good at _____. How did you get better?” Other cultures are developing a growth mindset in their children; how can we do the same for our children?

We teachers are intentional about orchestrating every aspect of our classroom to support this notion of growth. In response to correct math answers, we don’t celebrate with high fives and cheers, but rather ask, “How did you do it? How are you sure? Could you do it another way?” or, depending on what the child had been doing recently, we might respond with, “Last week that was hard for you, what did you change?” Likewise, incorrect answers are not met with, “Try again” but rather we might say, “Aha! Now you’re doing a mathematician’s work . . . let’s find where it went wrong.” These are very small adjustments to any classroom, but the pattern serves to buttress the idea that we are all on a path, moving forward is our goal, and mistakes help us get there—even more than “being correct.”

What we can do to support a growth mindset Luckily for all of us, human experience has taught us that the growth mindset can be cultivated, and neuroscience is catching up with supportive evidence of our brain’s malleability. Knowing so, we want to empower children to have a shame-free and lifelong relationship with the possibility of growth. A classroom is the perfect place for such a relationship to begin.

In our classrooms, we have purposefully created a community that honors challenge. We have done so by ritualizing conversations in which perseverance is of primary value because we know it will lead to mastery and success. Dialogues such as the one between Sydney and Alex are now commonplace in our days. In addition to being delightful to listen to, they are important markers of a shift in the tone of the discussions.

Something meaningful happens to a child’s affect in the classroom with these types of interventions and praise. Many children stop asking if they got it right, because they know that such a question will be met with the challenge for the proof. Rather, they approach the teacher—and one another—with something more like, “I think this is the answer and here’s why.” This confidence and independence is ultimately our goal in the early years of education, when

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children learn the fundamentals of how to learn—which means to be independent, reflective, and thoughtful about the process. When confidence is paired with a lack of shame that comes from mutual celebrations for sticking with something hard, children know they are on a path like we all are.

Stretch projects: a shift in thinking In combination with these everyday ways of talking to children, perhaps the most profound shift in our classrooms happened when we implemented what we called “stretch projects.” Students designed and built projects where they would intentionally work on getting better at something that is hard for them. We’d been learning about Harvard researcher Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. We presented the idea that we are all good at lots of things but also have plenty to stretch towards, and that no two people’s stretches would be exactly the same. When asked early in November to articulate their struggles to the class, there was a predictable embarrassment from some kids until one brave boy spoke clearly and openly about his struggles to learn to read. “I’ve been trying and trying and I see some of my friends reading hard books that my mom reads to me. I know I’ll get it, but it’s hard for me.” Here is a child who inherently understood that his struggles were just that, his struggles, nothing to be ashamed of. At this public admission, the ice broke; the empathic stories of struggling to learn to ride a bike, write letters in the right direction, or make a friend on the playground came pouring out. The truth that we all struggle was coming out into the open. Once there, we decided to collectively tackle these challenges by designing projects that would stretch us in purposeful ways. Upon systematizing the practice, and giving language to what it is to struggle, the playing field of the classroom was newly leveled. There weren’t smart kids and less smart kids; there weren’t math kids and reading kids. Instead the classroom identity is a collective one of learners grappling with how to grow purposefully. Second grade teacher John Mayer has been at CG since 2006. He holds an MAT from Lewis & Clark College. Dawn Sieracki has been a 2nd grade teacher at CG since 2011. She holds a BS in elementary education from Bradley University and an MA in educational leadership from Maryville University. Citations and references for this article may be found online at



grading gets a By vicki swartz roscoe


s a young, conscientious teacher I wanted to figure out a way to grade my 3rd graders fairly. I asked colleagues to show me how they assigned letter grades; the more I asked, the more confused I became, and the more I questioned how grading worked. I talked to my principal, then my professors in graduate school, and decided to take it on as my master’s thesis. I truly wanted to grade well. For years and years we have accepted letter grades as a natural part of schooling. It has been part of the education system, so there must be a good reason for it. You can imagine my surprise to learn that this practice is actually unsupported in research. My goal was to evaluate and compare research that supported grading with the research that supported non-graded alternatives. However, after a year of searching, I found so little research to support letter grading that I had to convene a gathering of my thesis committee. How could I compare the balance of research that was utterly lopsided? Should I reframe my initial goal? With knowing glances, they suggested that I instead conduct interviews of educators and parents who favored letter grades to analyze the perceptions that have kept grading practices alive and well. So I did. These perceptions are the same I hear from some of our prospective families who ask why we don’t give letter grades.

The perceived advantages of grading students, based on interviews, include: Grades are objective and clear. Parents can understand them, for society in general likes to classify things. n Grades focus the school’s efforts into measurable academic skills and content rather than on hazy areas that are best dealt with at home. The premise here is that perhaps we should not be dealing with the “whole child.” n Grades and percentile rankings give parents an ideas of where their student stands in comparison to other students. n Grades promote healthy competition with self and others, motivating students to work harder and try more. n Top students are recognized and reinforced. n Students take their work more seriously when they know they are being graded. n Grades are a valid predictor of future achievement, which helps college admission officers select whom should go to college. n Grades offer a ranking scale to determine those students most worthy of scholarships, or participating in student government, sports, and other special privileges and programs. n Most of us were raised with grades and people feel more comfortable with the familiar. It is much easier to keep things the way they are. n

> grades do not motivate most students

< there is ample evidence that students achieve better in a cooperative social context. Vickie Roscoe, Lower School head and assistant head of school

Based on research that has grown exponentially over the years since I began my own research, disadvantages of grading students include: Grading encourages lower-level, rote-memory learning. Student and teacher energy is focused on those tasks that lend themselves to being measured, making goals that aren’t or can’t be graded less valuable such as critical inquiry, engagement, problem solving, perseverance, creativity, or working cooperatively with a group. n Grading discourages individualization or differentiation, since grading involves comparing students to a single standard. Grading essentially places in order, from highest to lowest, the students on a given test or skill to show group comparison. The focus of teaching is on the group, and everyone goes through the same curriculum at the same time. Grades are not part of the learning process; they are a consequence of it. n Grades do not motivate most students. Many parents are deceived by a belief that grades are a strong motivating factor for learning. This fallacy continues in spite of much evidence that far greater and more beneficial learning takes place through individual goal setting and the development of self-commitment based on personal meaning. Current research on the “growth mindset” (see article by John Mayer and Dawn Sieracki) shows that students who believe they can improve their abilities have greater motivation and higher achievement than do students who believe their abilities and grades are fixed, and that teachers can be a powerful influence on students’ mindsets. This includes establishing high expectations for each student; creating a risk-tolerant learning zone; giving feedback that focuses on the things students can control such as their effort, challenge-seeking, persistence, and effective strategies; and introducing students (even at a very young age) to the concept of the malleable mind. n Grades have a built-in system of failure, and make teachers less accountable. By simply pointing to a student’s low marks, a teacher is not accountable for a student’s failure. All one needs to do is point to the famous “bellshaped curve” to justify the awarding of a spread of letter grades. Competent teachers know better; it is our job to n



pick up the stragglers, motivate the indifferent, challenge the able, and completely replace the normal curve by affecting qualitative changes in our students. n Grades create unhealthy competition and cheating. Competition exists only when there is not enough of something to go around. If graded on the “curve,” where the number of As given is controlled, there really aren’t enough marks to go around. For every winner, there must be a loser. There is ample evidence that students achieve better in a cooperative social context. n The reason for a grade may be unclear. What does a B in math mean? Does it mean that Sue did excellent work in multiplication, probability, and 2-D geometry, but “blew it” in fractions? Does it mean she had excellent scores but was absent for one test, lowering the final average? Does it mean she didn’t hand in some of the daily work, yet aced the tests? Does it mean that Sue mastered most of the skills taught? Or that she was virtually failing math until the last two tests, and was rewarded for her marked improvement? Or might it mean that in actuality Sue already knows these math skills and is feeling a bit unmotivated to strive for excellence? If Sue wants to improve this B to an A, what must she do? n Research points out over and over again that grades are in fact subjective and not objective. Teachers have different values and expectations that influence the way they grade, causing great discrepancies in grading practices. Even young students perceive inconsistencies in the grading process, which causes them to mistrust their school experience. n Grading does not foster favorable attitudes towards school and learning by most students. The vast majority of

> grades do not provide helpful feedback to students.

research shows a more favorable attitude toward school when students weren’t graded. Some students see grades as restrictive—they may not explore a personal interest or a challenging class because they might be penalized with a lower grade. Lower-achieving students are constantly reminded of how poorly they do in school, even if they are making strong growth and working to their potential. The pressures for good grades can smother students’ innate quest for learning. Many of the brightest students do not wish to play the grading game and would much rather be challenged with appropriate curriculum. Another group of students finds grades repulsive and a direct threat. The one group of students who had a more positive attitude toward school when they received letter grades were the higher-achieving students who liked having their achievement recognized. Fortunately, this band of students can be motivated in a number of intrinsic ways that will prepare them to be lifelong learners, so they are not dependent on outside recognition. n Graded programs have not proven to produce higher academic achievement. The vast majority of studies cited advantages in achievement for students attending schools employing non-graded alternatives. n Grades do not provide helpful feedback to students. Formative assessment, consisting of ample feedback and opportunities to use that feedback, enhances performance and achievement. Such feedback is goal-referenced, differentiated, tangible, transparent, actionable, userfriendly, timely, ongoing, and consistent. According to researcher Grant Wiggins, letter grades are utterly useless as actionable feedback. n Grades encourage extrinsic and not intrinsic rewards. When self-discipline, self-awareness, efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and lifelong learning are the ultimate goals, grades just do not cut the cake. Students have the ability to do well because they want to do well—if this attitude is nurtured and valued. Even at a young age, students can come to know their strengths and weaknesses and set their own goals, which is much more meaningful. n Abstract activities and tests used to determine grades are developmentally inappropriate for youngsters who are not yet at the abstract level of reasoning. Elementary and middle schools overuse paper and pencil tests and activities to come up with letter grades even when students are at a concrete level of development. n Grading encourages “academic cloning.” Teachers typically give the highest grades to students who think

along the same lines as they do. Opportunities must be provided for students to exercise some degree of freedom, nonconformity, originality, and uniqueness; indeed, the notion of “academic cloning” rubs against the very heart of freedom and democracy. Supposedly there is about a 5-year lag between research and practice in the business world, but that there is often a 25-year lag in education. In the case of letter grades, there is an inexcusable gap of more than 100 years. Well-meaning and skillful teachers across our country are put in the position of figuring out how to work within a system requiring the assignment of letter grades, which is actually incompatible with the learning process. Administrators are put in the position of justifying letter grades that were never meant to show learning. Letter grades are found in most schools in our country and are still required for admission to most colleges. Because we want our Catlin Gabel students to go on and further their education, we give “grade equivalents” in the Upper School. But our goal is to send intrinsically motivated learners on into the world. Alternatives to traditional letter grading, many of which we employ, include written narrative evaluations, developmental continuums, self-evaluations, student goal setting, parent-teacher conferences, student-led conferences, performance-based rubrics, and competency-based assessment and reporting. Progress reporting and evaluating student learning are outgrowths of a school’s philosophy of education. If a school has a clearly defined mission and core values—as we do here at Catlin Gabel—then we know what we are aiming for. Our evaluation process must support what we believe. It has been a pleasure to come to Catlin Gabel and join a group of educators who have known the limitations of letter grading all along and have been courageous enough to swim upstream and align our assessment and reporting with our values. Vicki Swartz Roscoe has been Lower School head since 2002. She holds a BA in early childhood from Central Washington University, an MA in teacher education from the Bank Street College of Education, and an educational leadership credential and licensure from Lewis & Clark College. Citations and references for this article may be found online at

developing minds, developing teachers What and how teachers need to learn to equip their students for the future By Hannah Whitehead


hen I began teaching in the late 1960s, no one had heard of multiple intelligences, neurodevelopment, or differentiated instruction, to name a few important additions to the way we think of teaching and learning that have developed in the intervening years. I would no longer have a job if I were teaching as I did 40-some years ago; I and all teachers must continue to learn. Schools need to project into the future, since we are educating our students to enter that future well equipped to bring positive and successful approaches to whatever comes their way. To remain relevant, schools and education have to be responsive to the rapidly changing lives that our students will lead, affected by things we havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet imagined. Preschool students who

began in the Beehive in 1998 are graduating this year into a world of social media that didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist until they were in 5th or 6th grade. The pace of change affects all of us individually, but also our institutions, businesses, governments, and schools. All must figure out how to plan for an unknowable future. Not surprisingly, the knowledge base of the teaching profession, like others, is evolving. Our role in our studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; learning is being reshaped by discoveries in neuroscience and the possibilities of the internet, to name only two important factors. To explore the skills and understandings that teachers will need to be flexible and inventive in the face of great change, we might look to people such as Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson, the folks at Project Zero, and

educators looking at gaming and new technologies with an eye to their application in education. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, a curriculum expert, feels that most schools are preparing their students for 1991. Get rid of the number two pencil, she says. This symbol for filling in testing bubbles should be

5th grade teacher Jordan Heintz, LS math specialist Courtney Nelson, 3rd grade teacher Herb Jahncke, and Hannah Whitehead study the teaching of mathematics together 12


Schools must be re-envisioned as places where we learn to collaborate with global peers, and as places of deep inquiry into the complex problems of the world.

BS and LS teachers Marcelle Donehower, Mimi Tang, Leondra Brackett, Tiffany Kenaley, and student teacher Emmarose McDermott study children’s identity development

abandoned as we move to the apt use of web 2.0 applications and social media to enhance the concepts schools are teaching, especially the ways in which students can show understanding. She points out that by the time textbooks are printed their content in many disciplines is obsolete; the notion that teachers are dispensers of knowledge has never been an effective model, but is even less so when it is impossible to keep up with the flow of new knowledge. Sir Ken Robinson goes further, with his assertion that education must be personal, rather than standardized, since people and their brains, interests, and talents are individual, and each learner is the constructor of his or her learning. He makes a strong case for education being collaborative and active, given what we know about distributed intelligence and

the methods by which people learn and understand things deeply. Education must also be flexible and dynamic to encompass the complexities and interrelatedness of the world. He suggests that we move from thinking about curriculum as subjects to thinking about curriculum as disciplines, where the focus is on skills, procedures, and processes. Assessments, instead of being judgmental, should be descriptive, as is appropriate to the continuous learning needed to encompass change. Pedagogy should focus on coaching and guiding, rather than lecturing and telling. These are not new ideas, but they have not been widely adopted. Will Richardson agrees with Jacobs that schools need to be conceived differently. He quarrels with the fact that schools often do not allow students the full use of the

technology that they already use in their lives outside of school. Take your phone out of your pocket and you have a billion possible teachers and the sum of human knowledge. Why aren’t we using that potential? Schools must be re-envisioned as places where we learn to collaborate with global peers, and as places of deep inquiry into the complex problems of the world. Howard Gardner and his team at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, known for their earlier work on multiple intelligences, now focus on identifying the kinds of minds we will need to develop for the future. He and his team of investigators have defined what they call “the five minds for the future.” These are ways of thinking that they have identified as necessary for the lifelong learning one needs in order to be successful in a world of rapid change. They call these five minds the disciplined mind, the respectful mind, the ethical mind, the creating mind, and most important for the 21st century’s overwhelming flow of information, the synthesizing mind. Each of the five minds has limitations and strengths, so collaboration is also an important skill for leveraging their use. According to Gardner, the future of education will involve teaching to produce continuous, lifelong learners. With globalization, the digital revolution, and what we are learning from neuroscience, we

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. . . students using these practices become excellent posers of questions, thoughtful, creative investigators who reason with evidence and have disciplined processes to engage . . .

can see that successful people need to be flexible thinkers who draw from varying disciplines to solve complex problems. In order to do this, we need to learn to think in non-linear, systems-oriented ways. Harvardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Project Zero gives us an example of educational methods aimed at putting the ideas of such thinkers into practice. Last year three investigators from Project Zero published their work with schools in several countries on seeing such thinking at work. In their book, Making Thinking Visible, Ritchart, Church, and Morrison outline 21 practices to nurture thinking in the daily life of students. Schools that teach and use these thinking routines, which are targeted at solving specific kinds of problems, have shown that students using these practices become excellent posers of questions, thoughtful, creative investigators who reason with evidence and have disciplined processes to engage when a problem is put before them or when they identify one themselves. As educators, we naturally look to our evolving knowledge of how learning best occurs to think about what would enhance our own learningâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;effective adult professional development. Neuroscience has supported a constructivist notion of learning. It has confirmed what we suspected all along: each brain is unique. We now know that we create the architecture of our brains



4th grade teacher Mariam Higgins, student teacher Sara Etter, and LS music teacher Peggy McDonnell study advances in arts and the brain together

by how we use them to process our experiences. Knowing that students (and teachers and parents) are literally constructing their brains leads us to want to make sure that the time we spend together, in school and out, is filled with experiences rich in possibility, intriguing problems, and questions to engage with. Since our brains are uniquely wired, it follows that one size does not fit all in any learning situation. So, what kind of professional development translates into making a real difference in student learning? What is effective for adults who need to keep up with the fast-changing world of education? The Annenberg Institute for School Reform, housed at Brown University, and the National Staff Development Council (now called Learning Forward), among others, have in the past 10 years compiled research focused on answering

this question. They have identified a few key elements as important factors in effective continued learning for teachers, or anyone, really. Happily, these elements will look familiar to anyone with experience in a Catlin Gabel classroom. First, new learning should be ongoing. This means that one-shot workshops, lectures, and conferences, while often interesting, rarely lead to change in the classroom. This result can be improved by adding follow-up coaching to the original experience. Second, learning should be embedded in the job and the needs of the teacher. When this is the case, practice is built into the situation and is purposeful and relevant. We know that all of us have to live with, experiment with, and reflect upon new learning for it to be fully understood and useful. This takes practice over time,

LS and BS teachers Brendan Clark, Jennifer Feucht Marcus ’73, and Michael de Forest study new technologies together

sometimes years. To justify putting this kind of time and effort into it, the purpose needs to be clear. Third, for change to be truly systemic, it needs to be part of a larger reform or change effort. A single teacher or a small group may introduce an innovation, but to create systemic change, it must be picked up by others who come to see its advantages. Fourth, inquiry-based collaborative learning creates the most improvement in instruction. Learning together in teams is much more likely to lead to systemic innovation than finding oneself the lone practitioner of a great idea. Using evidence of student learning is a key piece of the inquiry. Peer coaching enhances collaborative learning, as Bruce Joyce’s work has shown. Peer coaching helps consolidate new learning and integrate it into one’s teaching repertoire.

Everyone concerned, coach and coachee, benefit. Professional learning communities appear to be the most effective model for this, according to the Annenberg Institute. Professional learning communities embody all of the above attributes and mirror the kind of learning we expect in Catlin Gabel classrooms: collaborative and inquiry-based, centered on engagement in reflective dialogue about ideas, which is then shared with others. Sound familiar? A good example of the power of learning communities can be seen in the Lower School. The division identified math as an area for improvement. Several excellent workshops were offered to the division faculty as shared professional experiences. However, things really took off when Courtney Nelson, who had taught several of the workshops, was hired as a math specialist for the Lower School to support

teachers and students with planning, curriculum design, and coaching. She now co-plans with grade level teams and co-teaches some lessons with homeroom teachers. She helps teachers look at student work and analyze its strengths and errors, and then helps plan the next steps to move the students’ math understanding forward. Teachers report that this embedded assistance and coaching has been essential in consolidating their own learning and has strengthened the math understanding of Lower School students. The fact that everyone is aware that change takes time and focus has helped, too. One teacher said, “It’s going to take me years to learn everything Courtney has to offer. I appreciate that we are just focusing on one thing this year. It really means we can dig in and make progress.” Learning communities that investigate, practice, coach, evaluate, and research together over time hold great promise for Catlin Gabel, or any school. Working in such a collegial environment is also a great joy. One of the great gifts of being in education is that lifelong learning is built into the profession. One year is never like another, a lesson is never the same twice, and no student is exactly like another. It’s a beautiful thing. Hannah Whitehead, Beginning School head, has been at CG since 1982. She holds a BA in English literature from Reed College. Citations and references for this article may be found online at

winter 2013



How to Teach

Boys +Girls

B y Bar ba ra ostos a nd Lark P. Pa lm a


Creating conditions where everyone flourishes

A short history of equity in education The education of boys and girls has been debated since the establishment of formal education in the United States. At the end of the 18th century, society’s established gender roles, cultural norms, and perceived futures for boys and girls resulted in boys being granted higher educational opportunities than girls, for the most part. Colonial expansion demanded more literacy of women who were often involved in family businesses, leading to increased equity for girls’ education—but this was often still segregated and not the same as that of the boys. America’s westward expansion led to more coeducational opportunities, because population was small and educating boys and girls together made financial sense. Depending on state and private or public school systems during this period, education became more accessible for both genders, but access did not necessarily mean equality. The passage of Title IX in 1972 made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in public schools in athletics, financial aid, career counseling, admission practices, and the treatment of students. Two years later, the Women’s Educational Equity Act provided support to schools to recruit girls for math, science, and athletic programs. Teachers received training to increase awareness of possible gender bias in the curriculum and their pedagogy. Twenty years later, the American Association of University Women commissioned a study, completed by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, that challenged the common assumption that girls and boys were being treated equally in public schools. They

CG girls compete in Lego robotics tournaments



Head of school Lark Palma and Middle School head Barbara Ostos

reported that girls do not receive equitable amounts of teacher attention, are less apt to see themselves reflected in the materials they study, and often are not expected or encouraged to pursue higher-level math and science. This report, with its 40 recommendations, sparked a 20-year debate on how best to teach boys and girls and the nature of single-gender and coeducational schools.

What do we know now that’s different? Because of advances in brain science and educational research since those days, we are now able to pose a question that could not have been asked or answered in the 1700s, 1972, 1992, or even 2002: What do we know about boys and girls that informs how they learn? Girls’ and boys’ brains are different, and these differences manifest themselves in how they learn. As a coeducational school, Catlin Gabel is committed to serving both genders well in an environment that allows them to thrive and enjoy each day of school. For many years, debate over structural differences in the brain due to gender has been lively. Myriad theories have been posited, but what is broadly accepted is that different regions of the brain develop in a different sequence in the two genders. For instance, researchers reported at a recent National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE) conference that while the areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills mature earlier in girls than boys, the areas of the brain involved in targeting and spatial memory mature earlier in boys. As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, this type of insight connects to what we know about how boys and girls learn.

Teachers understand that relationships provide fertile ground for learning and strive to create the kind of classroom in which students are free to discuss, disagree, formulate ideas, and wonder.”

Differences in how the two genders learn are most pronounced at the younger ages and transcend personality and cultural constructs. Girls tend to evaluate themselves more judgmentally than boys, hold themselves to a higher standard in the traditional classroom environment, and tend to outperform boys in school (as reported at NASSPE). Ironically, girls are more likely to be excessively critical of themselves and lack self-confidence, while boys demonstrate high estimates of their abilities and are more confident than girls. Not surprising, psychologists have found that motivation for boys and girls also tends to differ. Eva Pomerantz and Jill Saxton wrote in the journal Child Development that girls are more concerned than boys are with pleasing adults, while boys are motivated by material that interests them personally.

Strategies to guarantee success Knowing these differences between the genders, what are some strategies coeducational schools can use to help guarantee the equitable success of both boys and girls? How does Catlin Gabel address this challenge for the benefit of all students? The core values that guide teaching and learning at Catlin Gabel lay the best foundation for coeducational teaching: relationships, spirit of inquiry, community, critical and creative thinking, experiential learning, and integrity. Student confidence and success build on the relationships students develop with their teachers and each other. As described on Catlin Gabel’s website, “Students learn in a social context that colors their experience and impacts their learning.

The spirit of inquiry at Catlin Gabel supports students’ confidence in asking questions, independent thinking, and respect for diverse views. The voices of boys and girls in the room enhance the learning environment and foster curiosity, openness to differing perspectives, and the desire to keep learning. Children learn to become competent, caring, respectful, contributing members of a community at school—just as in communities outside of school, where a diverse group of men and women work together. Sharing community from an early age at a school that gives credence to all student voices allows boys and girls to learn how to communicate and collaborate with one another. We strive to create conditions that encourage students to know the power of their own ideas, develop new-tothem ways of doing things, be able to think inventively and reason well, and critically assess ideas and events. A school that encourages creativity, teaches critical thinking and analysis, and supports discussion with broad perspectives from both genders provides for the development of thoughtfulness and confidence for both girls and boys. Experiential education means that students learn through real and direct exposure to places, events, and people. Active learning helps both boys and girls learn deeply and retain their experience and connections. Exploring beliefs and values in a setting where students listen to and begin to understand others’ points of view gives them the freedom to explore their own core beliefs, then test and revise them—all within the context of a supportive community. Helping students develop integrity and understand its value is an important goal at Catlin Gabel. In addition to the school’s core approach to working with students, other aspects of Catlin Gabel’s philosophy lead to the success of a coeducational environment. Reading and discussing issues that connect to the real world, as well as to students’ lives, builds a foundation upon which students can have strong opinions and feelings. The curriculum

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strives to make connections for students and asks them to speak about their thoughts and feelings. The ability to confidently verbalize ideas is a lifelong skill that leads to success across disciplines for students. As a coeducational environment, when appropriate, we can separate boys and girls to address various issues or dynamics. For instance, during human sexuality and health classes when discussing sensitive issues, separation can provide a level of comfort for discussion. Students appreciate these divisions, but often comment that while they like it for a little while, they are glad to be reunited. While teaching pedagogy is at the core of creating an environment that balances the needs of boys and girls, perhaps the most important factor for successful coeducation is having teachers of both genders so students can see themselves reflected in their classroom leader. At Catlin Gabel we are fortunate that all divisions benefit from male and female teachers. While the beginnings of education were androcentric, education in the U.S. has become accessible to both genders. Science has allowed us to better understand brain development of boys and girls, leading to thought– ful discourse on how to best serve students in a co– educational environment. Catlin Gabel’s progressive roots and our commitment to community and respect allow the school to feel confident in its service to both boys and girls now, and for many years to come. Barbara Ostos has been Middle School head since 2011. She holds an EdD in educational leadership from the University of California, San Diego, an MA in nonprofit leadership & management from the University of San Diego, and a BA in government from Harvard University. Lark Palma has been Catlin Gabel’s head of school since 1995. She holds a PhD in English literature and an MEd from the University of South Carolina, and a BA in English from George Mason University. Citations and references for this article may be found online at



Barbara Ostos completed her doctoral dissertation last year at the University of California, San Diego. Her work, Tapping on the Glass: The Intersection of Leadership and Gender in Independent School Administration, explored questions of transformational leadership— how heads of independent schools can provide vision, stability, and inspiration and lead teams of people in cooperative ways—as well as the relationship between leadership style and gender. Her study’s findings, supported by extensive research in the public sector, constitute a call to action for independent schools to develop policies and establish practices that resolve the gender disparity in independent school leadership. You may download her full study at http:////

By Dan Griffiths

the rise of Online teaching and learning In what ways does it work best?

We adults tend to evaluate current classroom techniques through the lens of our own educational experience. None of us had access or exposure to the wide variety of technology that is commonplace in the 21st-century classroom, and attitudes toward educational innovation often tend to be conservative—if traditional teaching methods have been successfully educating our children for generations, why risk introducing distracting gadgets in place of “proper” teaching? Information technology also has its champions, who see the internet, social media, and ubiquitous access to the required hardware as tools that are capable of driving an educational revolution. My feelings fall somewhere between these two extremes. In his book The Shallows Nicholas Carr cites TV and radio pioneer David Sarnoff: “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or

bad; it is the way they are used that determine their value.” This quote neatly encapsulates my thoughts about the role of technology and online learning in a 21st-century school. As a direct replacement for a classroom teacher, online learning is of limited value. But in the hands of a skilled educator, it is an incredible tool that can enhance the educational experience of our students. One of the major concerns about online learning is the absence of interpersonal relationships that are crucial in both social and intellectual development. This fear arises from a vision of children downloading information into their brain and then demonstrating via some kind of automated test that this information has been saved on their mental “hard drive.” In this model, the computer is merely a substitute for a lecture-style class with a standardized test at the end of the course

(which is a model that we accepted for many years both in schools and colleges, but when put in these terms it sounds sinister). This concern was more valid in the early years of online learning due to limitations in both software and hardware. With the advent of social media, Voicethread and Skype for example, it is much easier to develop a course that requires interaction between both student and teacher and groups of students. Online courses that are thoughtfully developed by skilled teachers are no longer a lonely pursuit of factual knowledge. The central role of the teacher in an effective online course cannot

Middle School students in a class on media awareness A n n u a l R e p owritn t2e0r0 82 –00193

19 19


be overstated. In his review of the integration of learning theories and technology, Norbert Pachler identified the need for teachers to “identify appropriate learning outcomes, choosing appropriate software and activities and structuring and sequencing the learning process.” To see online classes as simply a new way to deliver information limits its potential to just another transmission model of education, where the student is an empty vessel to be filled with information. If the full potential of online learning is met, it can be a highly progressive teaching method in which each student can have an individualized, discovery-based experience consisting of a wide variety of interactions with students and teachers from different backgrounds. Such an online experience can develop essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration as effectively as any physical classroom, arguably in a way more easily translated to the world outside academia. Online learning is not a new concept, particularly in higher education. Providers such as the University of Phoenix have been operating an online program since 1989, and more recently the University of Texas launched an online and blended learning school, Western Governors University. Both of these seek to make education in high-demand fields more accessible and affordable to working adults. Many colleges now give access to their courses in a variety of formats such as podcast series and videos of lectures with accompanying course notes that allow public access to educational content. Massive open online courses (MOOCs), with offerings from providers such as Coursera, EdX, and Udacity (with content provided by professors at colleges such as Stanford, Princeton, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania) attract millions of users from hundreds of countries. The completion rate of their courses, however, is reported to be less than 10 percent. These MOOCs were founded with the noble



goal of providing access to high-level education for all, with the only limitation being access to a computer and an internet connection. Peer reviews and assessments, discussion boards for posting questions, and enrollment in global study groups provide the social element of learning. One of the most interesting outcomes of these courses is that they are challenging how we assess learning and raise questions about how we measure success. Critics point to the ease with which students can plagiarize and cheat on assessments, but for now the age-old adage of “you are only cheating yourself” holds true because completion of the course comes with a certificate that has The global reach of George Zaninovich’s GOA urban limited currency in terms planning class. Each flag represents students taking of gaining qualifications the course. from established schools or an advantage in the job with a wide variety of software, and market. The stakes, however, will our classrooms are well equipped be raised if and when MOOCs gain with IT hardware. In 2011 Catlin credibility with employers and posGabel was a founding member of sibly even qualify for academic credit a consortium of highly academic (the University of Washington is now independent schools that formed giving credit for a Coursera course). the Global Online Academy (GOA, Most early online-only courses were aimed at students in higher eduFaculty from member schools teach cation, but information technology all online GOA classes. A rigorous has been integrated into the classselection process requires applicant room since the turn of the century. teachers to show that their class will Virtual learning environments (VLEs) be innovative and well structured, have been widely used in schools, and will take full advantage of the often making use of learning manage- tools made uniquely available by ment systems such as Moodle and both an online environment and Haiku. They give students access access to a diverse group of students. to course notes, quizzes, and other The classes are designed for colresources and allow interactivity laboration, with a blend of individual through discussion forums and wikis. and group assignments. Students As these platforms mature, they are are required to have regular Skype becoming more intuitive and can conversations with their teacher, take advantage of an increasing and the workload is equivalent to number of multimedia applications. a full class in a bricks-and-mortar Catlin Gabel has been at the school. GOA classes follow an forefront of digital innovation in asynchronous schedule, which schools, adopting a one-to-one laptop means the students work in their program in the Upper School in own time and set up virtual meet2002. Many courses use Moodle as a ings with teachers and classmates content management system, student at mutually convenient times. GOA and faculty laptops come preloaded has plans to expand in number

and geographical diversity over the next six years from its current 24 member schools in the U.S., Japan, China, Jordan, and Indonesia. In the GOA’s first year, Catlin Gabel teacher George Zaninovich taught an urban studies class, and four CG students enrolled in a variety of classes. This year, three Catlin Gabel teachers offer GOA classes, and 19 students are enrolled in classes such as Medical Problem Solving, Bioethics, and Global Health. The many benefits GOA offers our students include the ability to interact with students and teachers who bring a wide variety of perspectives to the class. For example, George’s urban studies class had students researching and discussing community issues in Jordan and in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Honolulu. It also allows them to take classes Catlin Gabel can’t offer due to staffing and scheduling limitations. Students enrolled in online classes are challenged in different ways than in a physical classroom. They need to learn efficient time management skills and take ownership of their learning in a more explicit way than at their home school (a skill that will be invaluable in college). Finally, asynchronous online classes allow those involved with activities such as high-level athletics, dance, or drama to balance classes with the time demands of training or rehearsal schedules that clash with the traditional school day. Teachers also benefit from involvement with online education. In preparation for teaching her Hispanic Experience class for the GOA, Lauren Reggero-Toledano attended a weeklong workshop that she considers the best professional development experience of her career. She came back brimming with ideas not only for her online class but for her current Spanish courses at Catlin Gabel. Teachers who think about how to teach a class online must also reexamine how they teach in general. It exposes teachers to a whole other set of tools with which to engage their students.

Middle School students with their shared laptops in the commons

The Global Online Academy is just one example of how online learning can enhance the educational experience of our students. “Flipping” the classroom, another idea, is receiving a great deal of attention, and this teaching technique certainly has its merits. The basic concept is that students read or listen to lectures and presentations at home, either prepared by the teacher or from online services such as the Khan Academy. Their time with the teacher is then spent discussing and analyzing what they learned. When reading about such innovations, I am always struck by how familiar they sound. Classes in the Upper School regularly involve students reading and researching, then presenting and discussing in a student-centered classroom environment. The chalk-and-talk delivery model of teaching is discouraged, and student engagement is a central theme in our classrooms, be it in a problem-based math class or a senior English elective where students often take the lead in teaching. The flipped classroom helps public schools with large classes by allowing students to control the pace of content delivery. It is a less novel concept at Catlin Gabel, where small class sizes, differentiated curricula, and availability of teachers to meet with students individually are commonplace. Although information technology can be a highly effective tool in the

hands of skilled educators and has the potential to enhance the experience of students at all levels, it is not a panacea for our educational challenges. Any ill-conceived and poorly executed use of technology in any field will lead to poor results—and online learning is no exception. When the Catlin Gabel faculty and staff discussed joining the GOA, some felt that “if we don’t get on this train, we will be left behind.” We can extend this metaphor by saying that it is foolish to get on a train that might be going somewhere you don’t want to go. I am confident, however, that in this case we are going in the right direction, and the journey will be an exciting one. My hope is that in the next few years all students at Catlin Gabel will take advantage of the opportunity to sample an online class, and that our faculty will blend the best of online learning with the exemplary methods already used in our physical classrooms. Dan Griffiths, Upper School head, has been at CG since 2007. He holds an MA in biological sciences from the University of Oxford and a PhD in zoology from the University of Cambridge. He was formerly the IT director at St. Columba’s College in Ireland. Citations and references for this article may be found online at

WINTER winter 2013



By Courtney Nelson and Kenny Nguyen

Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century


ow should mathematics be taught in the 21st century?” This question affects every aspect of mathematics education discourse from conference topics, creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) departments at universities, to the writing of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. To begin answering it, we need to examine “the grammar of mathematics education.” LS math specialist Courtney Nelson and US math teacher Kenny Nguyen David Tyack and Larry Cuban Two salient issues lie at the core of the current coined the phrase “the grammar of grammar. The first is K–5 mathematics. Once considered schooling” in their book Tinkering Toward Utopia, where a place for “back to basics” teaching, research has shown they defined it as “the organizational forms that govern that children are capable of more than arithmetic and instruction.” It includes familiar schooling features such that the foundation for advanced mathematics needs to as age-grading of students and division of knowledge be established here. The second is the question of what into separate subject areas. In essence, it delineates constitutes rigorous mathematical thinking and whether the acceptable rules and behaviors that a “real school” any one course, be it algebra or calculus, fulfills this need must follow. Tyack and Cuban argued that 20th-century in the 21st century. educational reformers largely failed because they sought utopian change through large-scale systemic reform Mathematics Education in the Lower School without regard for the grammar of schooling. Because Lower school mathematics classes today should look those reforms did not work well in the classroom, assumed and run differently than the ones we remember from unrealistic resources, or increased teachers’ daily work our childhood. Just as health care facilities, government routines without compensation, teachers modified the offices, and stock exchanges have evolved to meet the reformers’ original ideas. Hence, the history of educational challenges of our society, so too has our understanding reform is a story of “local, gradual, and piecemeal” of the teaching and learning of mathematics. Preparing change resulting from teachers acting as “tinkerers” who students to be confident participants in their communities experimented with “practices that ripped through corners and leaders in their fields requires mathematical literacy of the traditional pattern of schooling” implementing that involves more than getting correct test answers. Not change that “preserves what is valuable and remedies what only do all students need to grapple with the universal is not.” disciplines of the content of mathematics, but they and What is the current grammar of mathematics their teachers must also develop the skills and dispositions education? The latest Trends in Mathematics and Science that will enable them to think flexibly, take risks, and work Study provides evidence that it is not different from that collaboratively in our modern global culture. of the 19th century. Most mathematics classrooms in A recent piece on National Public Radio’s All Tech the U.S. still consist of students sitting in rows listening Considered highlighted five “movers and shakers” of the to a teacher explain, using rote procedures to solve tech world. One of them, Babak Parviz, professor of specific problems while asking cognitively undemanding electrical engineering at the University of Washington questions. If we want to answer the question “How should and project leader on Google’s Project Glass, pointed out mathematics be taught in the 21st century?” we must at a recent TED talk, “I would hazard a guess that the era change the grammar.



3rd graders learning math

of the solo star scientist is probably over.” Reporter Steve Henn noted, “In fact, none of the men and women I just mentioned do much of anything alone. . . . Today’s big problems are so complex—so interdisciplinary—that all of these people make their marks working in teams.” This echoes the work of Tony Wagner, the Harvardbased education expert. In his 2008 book The Global Achievement Gap, he explained that students need three basic skills if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy: critical thinking and problem solving, effective communication, and collaboration. In his 2012 book Creative Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, Wagner’s list grew into the “Seven Survival Skills.”

The teacher must, then, cultivate a classroom culture where students understand that autonomy and collaboration are equally important. If a teacher’s words and actions honor risk-taking, active investigation, and clear communication, students will sooner come to see themselves as competent mathematicians who thrive on cognitive challenges. However, if students are nurtured to believe that teachers are the keepers and distributers of mathematical knowledge, there is little evidence to suggest that students will rely on their own reasoning to solve future problems encountered inside and outside of the classroom. Teachers are also working to promote effective mathematical discourse in the classroom, which requires students to organize their thoughts, formulate arguments, listen to and consider other students’ positions, and communicate their own positions. It is through discourse that the ideals of collaboration and autonomy intersect, are nurtured, and are celebrated. Today’s mathematics teachers must be willing to step out of the spotlight and think of themselves as “directors” rather than the “lead actors” in the classroom. Some of the behaviors and metacognitive disciplines that teachers in the Lower School work to nurture are listed below. You might recognize some of the examples from students’ work, or witness them in action when visiting the classroom.

Mathematical Behaviors Fostered in the Classroom


Reflecting: Helping students learn to monitor and adjust their progress in problem solving.

How does it help you? What should your solution look like?

Conjecturing: Stating a mathematical hypothesis believed to be true but has not yet been proven or disproven.

Dividing the fraction one-half by any whole number will always yield an even denominator.

Justifying: Convincing yourself and others that a conjecture is true.

Students use multiple examples and assemble mathematical evidence to prove their conjecture is true, or to look for non-examples before generalizing.

Generalizing: Drawing attention to the mathematical relationships that hold true beyond specific cases.

Will that always work? Is that true for all problems?

Analyzing: Examining the par ts in order to understand the whole.

What about these is similar, what is dif ferent?

Innovating: Applying a concept in a new or novel way.

I star ted by using Catherine’s strategy but changed it to solve this new problem. winter 2013



Our goal is not to insist that all students enter the fields of engineering, mathematics, or science, but to ensure that they are well prepared to have these choices available to them, and to be able to collaborate knowledgeably with people in various disciplines.

Rigorous Mathematics

The National Math Advisory Panel’s report Foundations for Success targeted algebra as the most critical mathematics topic and renewed the question, “Should all 8th graders take algebra?” The question originated in the 1980s, when policymakers and educators concluded that algebra was a gatekeeper to coursework needed for a middle-class income and was mathematical training all students needed. However, because of the current narrow definition of algebra as symbolic manipulation, the question is inadequate. As experienced mathematics educators, we know that “algebraic thinking” (see Driscoll, 1999) involves acquiring the “habits of mind” of “doing-undoing, building rules to represent functions, and abstracting from computation.” Mathematician Lynn Steen recognizes algebra as the language of the information age not because of its symbolic rigor but because “it is the logical structure of algebra, not the solutions of its equations, that made algebra a central component of classical education.” Research shows that preparation for algebra requires developing algebraic habits of mind and strong proportional reasoning skills (see Harel & Confrey, 1994; Lamon, 2007). Therefore, the question should be: “How do we develop algebraic thinking throughout K–12 education, how do we know when students are cognitively ready for algebra, and how will algebra courses develop students’ flexibility in mathematical thinking?” In short, we need to move beyond the notion that students need to pass an antiquated version of 20thcentury algebra and toward the mathematical sciences. In a talk at the Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education Conference, Confrey defined the mathematical sciences as “An umbrella term embracing the techniques of mathematics, numeric analysis, visualizations, and statistics cast in an appropriate formalism. It recognizes the importance of mathematics and statistics in modeling and analyzing phenomena.” Students need these skills to be successful 21st-century citizens. As for the question of “rigorous mathematics,” that debate has shifted from algebra to calculus. However, as Steen (2007) argues, calculus is not the only type of rigorous mathematics: “Aiming school mathematics for calculus is not an effective strategy to achieve the goal of improving all students’ mathematical competence. Good alternatives exist. They can be found by looking carefully at all ways in which mathematics appears in postsecondary contexts. Notwithstanding other purposes and pressures, secondary education does not respond to the demands



of higher education. If colleges say that calculus is what everyone needs, or that good students are those who can quickly manipulate algebraically intricate expressions, then parents will demand, and schools will focus on, this type of mathematics. But programs with these mathematical requirements represent only the one-third of postsecondary education encompassed by STEM disciplines. Moreover, these kinds of courses, which rely on very specific skills, have the effect of filtering out many otherwise interested and able students.” Indeed, probability and statistics is more relevant in the current job market, where nearly every field uses data-driven decision-making.

What’s Next? Developing 21st-century mathematics skills requires changing the extant grammar. Beyond fluency in symbolic manipulation, students must learn to think flexibly, take risks, develop algebraic habits of mind, engage in mathematical discourse, and connect various disciplines together to solve complex problems. At Catlin Gabel, we constantly “tinker” to achieve these goals. In the Lower School, teachers work on implementing best practices by studying current research, discussing, and planning in grade level teams on a weekly basis. They constantly weave innovative research more deeply into the study and discourse of their classrooms; this year, for example, the focus is on measurement. In the Middle School, a wide selection of mathematics courses prepare students for deep algebraic thinking based on their cognitive development level. And in the Upper School, problem-based courses develop students’ discourse abilities, authentic problems are embedded in the curriculum, and two statistics courses are offered as an alternative or in addition to calculus. We are in a unique position at Catlin Gabel because, as a progressive school, we are privileged to define our own grammar of schooling. Working together as pioneering tinkerers, not naive agents who throw new pedagogy against the wall to see what sticks, let’s bring our knowledge and experiences to seek unconventional solutions to unique problems. We hope this edition of the Caller ignites discussion in the community, and we look forward to jointly defining a progressive Catlin Gabel grammar of schooling. Courtney Nelson has been the Lower School math specialist since 2011. She holds a BS in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst and an MA in elementary education from Lewis & Clark College. Kenny Nguyen has been an Upper School math teacher since 2012. He holds a BA in mathematics from the University of Chicago, an MA in learning technologies from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in mathematics education from North Carolina State University. Citations and references for this article may be found online at


Aline GarciaRubio

Kate Grant

Blythe Butler

Leanne Moll

The Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund awarded Catlin Gabel $75,000 for the Creative Arts Center. Construction can be viewed real-time at http:// . . . Upper School assistant head Aline Garcia-Rubio won an Osherson Fellowhip to attend an intensive seminar in psychoanalytic principles at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara. In addition, Aline and Brett Mathes attended the NAIS People of Color Conference, while Kassi Carter-Howard ’13, Perla Alvarez ’13, Jowelle Mizero ’14, and Eric Wang ’15 met with student leaders from across the nation at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference there. . . . Director of college counseling Kate Grant attended the “Attributes That Matter: Beyond the Usual in College Admission and Success” conference presented by the University of Southern California Center for Enrollment, Research, Policy and Practice. Associate director of college counseling Blythe Butler serves on the group that guides professional development offerings for the National Association of College Admission Counseling. . . . Facilities manager and events coordinator Kitty Schainman was certified as an educational facilities professional by APPA, formerly the Association of Physical Plant Administrators. . . . Beginning School head Hannah Whitehead received a heartfelt ovation from the entire faculty and staff for leading the school through its self-study and visiting team portions of the NAIS accreditation process. . . . US teacher Leanne Moll presented a paper, “Nurturing Student Voice Despite the Common Core Standards,” at the Oregon Council of Teachers of English conference.

writers Zoe Schlanger ’13, Hannah Rotwein ’13, Olivia Streb ’14, and Kelsey Hurst ’14, and visual artists Lauren Wu ’13, Chris Reimann ’13, Layla Entrikin ’13, and Elise Thompson ’14. . . . An essay by Rowan Treece ’19 was chosen as the middle school winner for the fall 2012 YES! Magazine national student writing competition. SPORTS & ATHLETICS

Cross-country coaches John Hamilton and Chris Skrapits were named district coaches of the year. . . . For the first time in six years, both the boys and girls cross-country teams qualified for state. MS girls earned 2nd in state. . . . Benji Linn ’13 was one of 20 fencers from the U.S. invited to the world cup competition in Poland. . . . Chloe Lewis ’18 and Logan Bye ’16 titled in novice ice dance at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship. . . . Tristan Furnary ’16 broke two state records at the Corvallis Aquatic Team Senior Open. He placed 3rd in the nation in 100m freestyle, and 4th nationally A group of students in the 100m backstroke and from Shanghai 200m backstroke. . . . Miguel visited and performed Gachupin ’17 qualified for this winter cadet under 17 men’s foil in the Junior Olympic Fencing Championship. . . . Francesca Pozzi ’21 placed 2nd on the balance beam at level five at the Oregon Women’s Compulsory State Gymnastics Championship, and Isabella Pozzi ’19 won 1st place on the vault, uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise, and all-around.


The CatlinSpeak newspaper staff won praise from local media for their mayoral debate between Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith. . . . Students in the collaborative science and history Public Health class, which is part of the PLACE program, presented their project on mitigating the health impacts of trucking in north Portland at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. . . . Two MS Lego robotics teams came home with wins in the state tournament: Team Sigma was 1st runner-up overall, and the RoboSNAILS won 1st place for teamwork. . . . Kallisti Kenaley-Lundberg ’15 led workshops on Using Your Assertiveness to Create Peaceful Relationships at the Oregon Peacemakers Conference at the University of Portland. . . . The William T. Colville Foundation awarded a grant to eight US students to participate in a poetry and art exchange with students from Wilsonville High School:

Creative Arts Center construction is barreling along towards the building’s opening in the fall!

CG students and visitors from Japan’s Gifu Kita High School made lasting friendships

alumni news

Lauren Dully ’91, associate director of development

Susie Greenebaum ’05, alumni relations officer

Alumni Association Board Portland members Front row L to R: Susie Greenebaum ’05, Debbie Ehrman Kaye ’73, Owen Gabbert ’02, Courtney Mersereau ’99, Bobby Bonaparte ’06. Back row L to R: Peter Bromka ’00, Len Carr ’75, Ashley Tibbs ’92, Molly Kitchel Honoré ’02, Sarah Lowenstein ’11, Lauren Dully ’91. Not pictured: Bill Crawford ’97, Katey Jessen Flack ’97, Drew Fletcher ’03, Duncan McDonnell ’99, David Reich ’80



Momentum from Alumni & Homecoming Weekend has continued through the fall and winter. The alumni association board’s four subcommittees are doing great work, thanks to 13 local members, 10 regional members, and 2 ex-officio staff members. We are grateful for their dedication and enthusiasm. We welcome your suggestions and feedback as we continue to do our best to keep Catlin Gabel alumni around the world connected to each other, our students and teachers, and former faculty-staff. Service opportunities in Portland have bloomed. In early December, 27 alumni and 3 faculty members worked together to unload and sort more than 11,000 pounds of food at the Oregon Food Bank. In early March the alumni service committee hosted a productive morning of tree planting with Friends of the Trees. Events in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland have connected us and provided opportunities for social and business networking. There are additional events planned for spring, so be sure to join us! Recording school history moves forward. Community and alumni board members are rejuvenating the oral history program with motivation and excitement. Together we are also working toward a streamlined approach for maintaining the school archives long-term. Additional participants are welcome. Distinguished alumni award recipients are honored in the fall, and the alumni board is currently accepting nominations. Please celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni by submitting an online nomination form: Deadline is April 15. Alumni Weekend 2013 is set for September 27–28. We expect another fun-filled weekend celebrating reunions for classes ending in 3 and 8. If you are interested in helping plan your reunion, please contact Susie Greenebaum ’05. Catlin Gabel flourishes because alumni care enough to invest in it. Alumni invest in our students and their alma mater through their expertise, time, and resources. Please keep in touch, visit campus, and get involved.

Alumni, faculty, and staff volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank Reunions: What the class of 1998 is reading! Will Decherd: Bruce by Peter Carlin, an inspiring biography of Bruce Springsteen Winslow Corbett: Cheryl Strayed’s outstanding memoir Wild Brenden Schaefer: The Responsible Company by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley Libby Kottkamp: Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup Peter Chaillé: Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson Xan Young: Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond James McDonald (beachside): Belize Lonely Planet Andrew McCartor: Michael Lewis’s Home Game Katie Sharff has given up reading to spend more time sleeping and taking care of her new baby boy.

F O C U S ON P hila n thr o py

A love of learning that lasts a lifetime John Chun ’87 & Elizabeth Baldwin ’89 John and Elizabeth married in 2003 and live in Seattle with their children, Naomi, 6, and Hugo, 4. John is a member of the Catlin Gabel alumni association board.

Education John: BA Columbia University; JD Cornell Law School Elizabeth: BA Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon; MA Columbia University Teachers College; JD Seattle University School of Law

Profession John: Trial lawyer and partner at Summit Law Group in Seattle. Practice areas include litigation, labor & employment, corporate, and environmental. I enjoy working with brilliant and funny colleagues and outstanding clients, being in court, and helping find solutions to complex problems. I’ve never had a boring day. Elizabeth: Part-time lecturer at the UW School of Law, teaching legal research and writing to LL.M. students— international legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, magistrates, and academics. I love that I get to work closely with professionals from all over the world, and I have made particularly meaningful professional friendships with lawyers and academics in Afghanistan, and Indonesia and have learned from their global perspective.

How a Catlin Gabel education helped you succeed John: Catlin Gabel worked wonders for my confidence. The substance of what I learned was important. But at least equally so was the process, in which hard work, creativity, and passion were encouraged. I felt like, “If I try really hard, I can figure this out. I can do this.” Much credit must go to my teachers, coaches, and schoolmates who helped me along the way. Elizabeth: The writing instruction I received at Catlin Gabel, like Dave Corkran’s emphatic reminders to limit our papers to the call of “the question,” has been invaluable to my education and work. Small classes allow teachers to give students real feedback and concrete instruction on their writing, which continues to inform my approach to writing and teaching.

Favorite causes? John: Catlin Gabel alumni association, board of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and a trustee of the King County Bar Association. Elizabeth: Legal Voice works for women’s rights through legislation, self-help resources, and litigation; volunteer grant writing at our daughter’s language immersion public school, McDonald International.

Guiding principle? John: I have many, including the Golden Rule. I also like what the Buffetts told their grandkids: show up, tell the truth,

pay attention, do your best, and don’t be overly attached to outcome. Catlin Gabel emphasized hard work, integrity, and respect. And it strongly encouraged community service. Elizabeth: Do what you know is right. Catlin Gabel helped me develop this sense of “right.” One of my favorite ideals that CG stressed is “Always leave a place cleaner than you found it.”

Why do you support Catlin Gabel? John: Catlin Gabel had a huge impact on my life. My three siblings and I received an excellent education, and I cherish memories from the school. I believe deeply in Catlin Gabel and its mission. Elizabeth: I was sad to hear about the passing of former head of school Manvel Schauffler. His commitment to financial aid will continue to inspire my own giving. People like Schauff had the vision to keep CG relevant to our community—to make sure that kids of all backgrounds would have the opportunity to benefit from its unique approach to educating the whole child. Financial aid is one of the main reasons that Catlin Gabel continues to be� such a special place. Catlin Gabel flourishes because alumni care to invest in it. Support what you love. Support the Catlin Gabel Fund. Make a contribution at

Catlin Gabel School 8825 SW Barnes Road Portland, Oregon 97225 Change Service Requested


Families: if alumni are no longer living at home, please send their new addresses to or call 503-297-1894 ext. 310.

Catlin Gabel Caller Winter 2012-13  

Catlin Gabe's alumni & community magazine

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