Monday, December 31, 2007

Dreams and Nightmares

Up until now, I have reserved this blog for letters from administrators and my written responses. I haven't mixed my personal life with my life as a U-rated target.

However, Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva. New Year, New Life.

I am one person, and I have only one life. When they write me negative letters, or bring me up on charges, it affects my teaching and all other aspects of my life. When I have to spend my free time writing responses or planning defensive/offensive strategies instead of relaxing or spending time with family and friends, it affects my teaching. It affects my family. It affects my friends. And guess what, it affects my students too.

And it affects my health--and perhaps my lifespan.

Last night I was sitting in my warm, cozy livingroom . The Christmas tree was lit in the corner by the window. The whole room smelled of basalm. I was watching Bill Moyers on PBS--one of my favorite shows. I was in my home, in my safe space.

There were interviews with Thomas Cahill and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

This was was the Cahill quote that most resonated with me.

"All societies have a dream and a nightmare. And our nightmare has been, I think, our racism. We practically committed genocide on the people who were here, the Native Americans. We enslaved another race of people, the Africans. And then we dropped the atom bomb on Asians. We would have never dropped that bomb in Europe in my view. And I think that's what proves the racism of it. That's the nightmare of America.

The dream is just the opposite. The dream is that there is no country on earth that has tried to actually embrace all the people that we have tried to embrace. All you have to do is walk through New York City to see that — or any of our cities and not a few of our countrysides at this point."-- Thomas Cahill

Today I went to Moyer's website to get that quote from the transcript . Then I went to the transcript for the Archbishop Tutu interview. There was something he said about forgiving your enemy that impressed me, but after reading the entire transcript, I was more in tune with this quote:

"... we had to say to our people, 'You know, in the end, justice and goodness will prevail. This is a moral universe.'...In the Book of Revelation, there's a wonderful passage where there are souls under the altar. And they cry out, as all who suffer cry out, 'Oh, Lord, how long?' Now the answer we would have expected to get would have been the answer that says, 'Don't worry. It will be OK.' It does say that, but it says, 'Before it is OK, a few more of you must suffer and die.' And we used to tell our people at home, 'It is going to be OK. The victory has already been won.' But in the process of our apprehending this victory, appropriating it, there are going to be causalities. More of our people are going to be detained. More are going to be imprisoned. More are going to be killed. 'But my dear people, we used to say, 'we have already won. They have lost. Those who support injustice have lost. They may have guns. They may appear to be powerful. But don't let it kid you.' And we used to say to the white people in South Africa, 'We're being nice to you. We're inviting you, join the winning side.' And that was in the dark days." -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Moriah's Thoughts:

I think that the feeling we get when we are treated unfairly by another person must be programmed into our DNA. It comes not from the heart, or the gut, but from the very center of every cell in our bodies.

It is more difficult to connect with other people who are suffering an injustice when you haven't suffered. I guess that is why it is good to suffer injustices now and then.

We need to distinguish between the Good Guys and the Bad Guys without being influenced by whether they are wearing white hats or black hats; or whether they have pale skins or dark skins--and injustice is the key.

Being on the receiving end of injustice is extremely unpleasant and dangerous to your health. But it does do one thing. It gives you the Moral Highground--or Moral Credit.

You can build up a great deal of Moral Credit without realizing it because you are suffering so much at the hands of the Unjust.

At this point I occupy a Moral Highground. So does Adila. (See "If a President can Lie, So Can a Principal"). Every teacher who has been abused under the Bloomberg/Klein reigime has Moral Credit.

Bloomberg may have billions, but he is in extreme Moral Debt. His regime will ultimately collapse under the weight of it, crushing everyone who did his bidding.

Before we get there though, more people will be set up, framed, sent to the rubberroom, forced into retirement, fired.

But in the end we will win. Those who support injustice have already lost.

Do yourself a favor. Join the winning side.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mailing List

I have begun a mailing list for my antimayoral control campaign. I was going to contact only my representatives. However, both the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly have Education Committees. So I am also beginning to slowly contact the members of those committees. So far, I am doing this by e-mail. I know that we are supposedly paying dues for this, but no one at the UFT is opposing mayoral control or Mayor Bloomberg.


Committee: Education






Education Chair Catherine Nolan


Carmen E. Arroyo
Michael Benedetto
James F. Brennan
Karim Camara
Barbara M. Clark
Ruben Diaz, Jr.
Patricia A. Eddington
Steve Englebright
Aurelia Greene
Earlene Hooper
Susan V. John
Tom Kirwan
William B. Magnarelli
Alan Maisel
David G. McDonough
Joel M. Miller
William L. Parment
Amy Paulin
Phil Ramos
Bill Reilich
Bob Reilly
Joseph S. Saladino
Teresa R. Sayward
Robert K. Sweeney
Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Harvey Weisenberg

Friday, December 28, 2007

Re: Mayoral Control--Where's the Ball?

Dear Senator, Council Person, etc.

I am a registered Democrat. I live and teach in Myneighborhood, Queens. I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your excellent work on the part of the citizens of your district.

I am also writing to you because I oppose Mayoral Control of the public schools of our city. It seems to me that the New York State Legislature gave Mayor Bloomberg the ball and told him to run with it—expecting him to stop as soon as he crossed the goal line. Instead the Mayor has run out of bounds, off the field, out of the stadium, and is still running.

Please stop him and get the ball back.




I am going to e-mail this letter to every democratically elected official who represents my neighborhood--City, State, and Federal.

I have thought about writing letters to public officials for a long time, but I wasn't sure how much good it would do. At this point I still don't know how much good it will do, but we are now in an election year. I may get more attention as an individual citizen/voter.

In the beginning I had a very long letter--most of it very angry. But then my teaching experience kicked in. I have decided to write many letters instead of one. Each letter will be as clear and concise as possible and carry some kind of mnemonic device, so that the point won't easily be forgotten.

No, I am not dummying it down for these officials. They are very busy people, who have many balls in the air. I want them to pay attention to the one that is affecting me.

I also want to keep it light. I will be writing to them often. I want them to look forward to hearing from me--not regard me as some kind of crazy stalker.

I will post each letter that I write on the day that I send it out.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Going Public

I have been thinking about the suggestion to publicly expose the principal of my school on this blog. I have visited the websites and blogs of other teachers who do just that. They use their own names and the names of principals and assistant principals. (See I applaud the courage and honesty of these teachers. However, I have decided not to follow their example for now, and I will give my reasons.

1. This is not just about Principal S.T. vs. Me. This is about Bloomberg/Klein vs. every teacher and student in the New York City Department of Education. What is happening to me is happening throughout the five boroughs. I feel that using real names would divert attention away from the pervasiveness of the problem.

2. The Principal involves children in her war against me without regard for their reputation. Take for example the incident involving Randy R.. I wouldn’t be writing about it if she weren’t trying to use it as evidence of how unprofessional I am. Every 8th grader in my school knows all about the Randy R. incident. They all know his real name. He’s famous. Anyone who knew the name of my school could stand outside at dismissal time and engage in conversation with some of the 8th graders. It would take this person about two minutes to find out the real name of Randy R..

3. Visitors to the blog should be able to give their opinions without worrying about being held responsible for comments about a real person. For example, no one can be sued for saying that Principal S.T. is a T-Rex Bitch.

4. . Let children have their childhood. Without real names, there is little risk of students finding their way to “Untamed Teacher”. Adults who use children in their wars with other adults are child abusers. Unethical administrators like Principal S.T. are using children to do the dirty work of harassing and framing teachers. Most teachers, including myself, try to protect students from Bloom/Klein fallout.

However, I do agree that this Principal should be reported and held responsible for what she has done. I have already sent letters to Union Officials and to the Chancellor’s Office to no avail. I have decided to report my concerns to the publicly elected officials who represent this neighborhood. I live here and I teach here. I can walk over to my council person’s office and hand-deliver a letter.

The only thing left to do is to write the letter.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Harrass This

December 20, 2007

Mr. Z.

As you well know, the events of Friday, December 14, 2007 occurred as follows:

1. During science class in room 327, Randy R of class 8B asked to go to the bathroom.  As he was leaving the room, a condom full of liquid fell out of one of his pant legs.

2. I called for security staff who responded immediately and took Randy R. out of the class.

3. I called the custodian who came immediately and cleaned up a cloudy white liquid from under Randy R.'s chair and along the aisle where he had walked.

4. I informed you immediately of the incident as soon as the class was over.

5. I called the mother, Ms. R., informed her of her son’s behavior, and asked her to consult her husband and then call me so that we could set up an appointment for both parents to meet with a counselor and with me.

I made no unprofessional statements, but behaved in an absolutely calm, professional manner throughout the whole affair. My response and the quick response of security and custodial staff meant that the rest of the students went on with their studies quietly.

No one behaved badly during this affair except Randy R.

As you well know, the actions of Randy R. constitute sexual harassment against me and all other females in the classroom. I had not intended to file sexual harassment charges against Randy. I felt that Randy was exhibiting inappropriate behavior that might be a call for help. I was waiting for his parents to meet with a counselor to decide what was best for Randy.

However, due to the fact that allegations have been lodged against me, I have changed my mind. If your intent was to intimidate me into silence, your letter has had the opposite effect.

I am formally lodging a complaint of sexual harassment against me and the underage females in the class on that day.

I am formally lodging a grievance against the administration of I.S. 666 for trying to intimidate me in an attempt to cover up a case of sexual harassment so that the SCHOOL REPORT CARD GRADE will not go down.


December 20, 2007

Randy R.

Today I received this letter. This meeting is set at the very end of the day before vacation. This is a pattern. Since Adila was sent to the Rubber Room, I have received a negative letter one or two days prior to every vacation.

December 19,2007


Please meet with me on Friday, December 21, 2007, at 12:45 PM, in the principal's office regarding an allegation of unprofessional statements made by you on Friday, December 14, 2007. Your period seven class will be covered by a substitute on that date.

You may be accompanied, at your option by the UFT chapter leader, or his designated alternate, as this meeting may lead to disciplinary action.

As per our discussion during period four today, Ms. R. , parent of Randy R. of class 8B requests the following:

Do not speak to Randy R. for any reason not involving instruction.
Do not attempt to contact any family member other than Ms. R., mother.
Do not attempt to contact Ms. R unless in the presence of an administrator.


Assistant Principal R. Z.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I had my meeting with Assistant Principal Z this morning at 7:45 AM. My UFT Chapter Leader was present.

The Assistant Principal asked me if I had given my students their report card grades prior to report cards being distributed.

I replied that I had.

He asked me how I had given the grades.

I replied that I had gone around the classroom writing the grades in the students' lab books. (I had also given them the option of writing the grades on any piece of paper they handed me.)

The Assistant Principal then told us that a parent called the school complaining that her child had come home crying because she had been embarrassed in front of her classmates. According to the child, I had announced everybody's grade publicly.

I was not allowed to know which child lied to her parents about me, or which mother complained about me without talking to me first.

The Assistant Principal then said that he had carried out an investigation and that the students in the class had verified my manner of giving the grades, and backed up the fact that I had not announced grades publicly.

You might think that I am happy about the way this matter was handled by the administration. I am not.

They talked to the kids before they talked to me. When they couldn't find witnesses to support the complaint, they had to give up. Then they contacted me.

This is a new understanding of KIDS FIRST.

My word is only as good as the number of 13-year-olds who agree with me.

I don't feel good. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Investigate the Investigators

I found the following letter in my mailbox as I left the school building on Friday. They love to leave letters like this on Friday afternoon or on the day before a holiday.

November 30, 2007


Please meet with me on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at 7:45 AM in the principal's office regarding an allegation of verbal abuse.

You may be accompannied, at your option, by the UFT chapter leader, or his designated alternate, as this meeting may lead to disciplinary action.

Assistant Principal Z

I'm fine with any investigation with regard to anything I may have said to any student.

I also want investigations.

I want the President and Vice President of the the United States investigated for possible High Crimes against this this country and its citizens and against the Nation of Iraq and its citizens.

I want Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein investigated for possible civil and human rights violations.

I want every Principal in the city to be investigated regarding emotional and psychological abuse of teachers during the Bloomberg administration.

So let the investigations begin!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If a President can Lie, so can a Principal

My "U" rating was not just about my lesson plans, or my teaching ability, or my salary, or my age, or my political views. It really started with my reaction to a frameup.

Another teacher, K.N., was framed for child endangerment. She spent all last year in a Rubber Room Gulag. She was offered a deal--admit to a lesser crime, and pay a fine and you can keep your job. She accepted the deal, and signed an affadvit swearing to never speak of the matter again. She could have returned to her school, but she refused. She is now an ATR. Case closed.

When K.N. was first accused, she went to a private lawyer, and I went with her. At some point during the interview, I said, "But the principal lied, and we can prove it!". The lawyer replied: "Everybody knows that President Bush lied about the Weapons of Mass Destruction, and no one cares, so why should anyone care if a principal lies?"

The lawyer was right of course. A web of lies had reached from the loftiest office of the land down to our lowly little school in Queens. That just shows why public leaders should to be held to very high standards.

Representative Kucinich has just introduced a motion to impeach the Vice President. The fact that his motion was not automatically tabled, shows that there is a glimmer of hope that we can turn this country around.

K.N. does not want her case reopened. She wants to get on with her life, and put the nightmare behind her. But I am going to write about her case anyway. (Sorry K.N.). We are all victims of the trickle down effect of Washington's lies. This is not just about one teacher's sad story. What happened to her can happen to anyone, as long as liars rule.

So here begins the telling of THE PRINCIPAL'S LIE

K.N. was standing in the doorway of her classroom at the beginning of 5th period, as all teachers were required to do. She was expected to supervise not only the students in the hall, but also her seventh graders who were already in the classroom. The hallway was extremely crowded, because the school itself was overcrowded. We were on double session, but this didn't keep the halls from being regularly converted into mosh pits by squealing students who gleefully pushed one another back and forth when they got caught in a traffic jam.

The administration's answer to this problem, was to get the students from classroom A to classroom B as soon as possible (3 minutes) and then to keep them out of the hallways until the students had to move to classroom C. Regular "sweeps" were made to pick up lagging students who were then "written up". Bathrooms were locked during the first two periods and the last two periods of the day (a period lasted 45 minutes). Bathrooms were also locked during the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes of each period. Aides sat outside the bathrooms writing down the names of the students who entered and the teachers who had given the passes. Teachers were "written up" if they failed to mark students late, or if they gave too many passes to the bathroom. Principal S.T. regularly got on the loud speaker and irritably reminded teachers to stop giving passes during the prohibited times.

So in this environment, K.N. was trying to get her students into the classroom as quickly as possible. A few girls were playing around down the hallway--putting off going to the classroom until the last possible minute. A boy named J.F. came running up from the opposite direction. He pushed past K.N., and in doing so he tripped and almost fell, but he recovered his balance at the last moment. He must have presented a comic figure to the children in the classroom, because they all laughed at him. Perhaps to cover his embarrassment at his own clumsiness, J.F. shouted," Ms. N. made me trip".

Just as the bell rang, five or six girls tried to run into the classroom at the last moment, but K.N. stopped them and dutifully placed an "L" for Late next to each name in her attendance book. The girls were incensed. They argued that they weren't late because they had gotten to the door as the bell was ringing. K.N. told them to sit down, but one of the girls--the leader of the group--left the class without a pass saying that that she had to talk to her counselor.

A month later K.N. was called into the principal's office. J.F.'s mother was there. It seems that J.F. had complained that he had been tripped by K.N., and he had six witnesses to prove it. Now it was K.N.'s turn to be incensed. She had done no such thing! But there were witnesses, insisted the mother. K.N. consulted her attendance book. The so-called witnesses weren't even in the classroom at the time--they were the girls who had run up to the door just as the bell rang. When the meeting ended, K.N. felt that she had established her innocence.

A couple of months passed. K.N. received a letter saying that a Chancellor's Investigator was coming to the school to hold a hearing about charges of child endangerment. She was told by the UFT that she would be represented by Ms. Baker, but Ms. Baker was unavailable until the day of the hearing. K.N. saw her for perhaps three minutes before the hearing started.

The Investigator asked her about the incident with J.F., and K.N. told the same story she told the principal and the mother. Then the Investigator started asking her about a second incident. K.N. realized that she had been brought up on two charges. She was hearing about the second one with no warning at all.

The second charge involved a child named Karl. Karl had come into K.N.'s third period class one day asking to go to the bathroom. She told him that she would give him a pass in ten minutes as soon as the bathrooms were open. Now remember, Karl had already been sitting for two periods in math class with no access to the bathroom, because all bathrooms were locked during the first two periods of the day. When he had asked his math teacher for a pass to the bathroom, she had said the same thing that K.N. did--bathrooms are locked. But Karl couldn't wait. He had diarrhea--a detail which he failed to mention to K.N.--perhaps because he was already running out the door in an attempt to keep from having an accident. But the bathrooms were locked, remember? The aides were not yet sitting next to the door. There was no one to unlock the bathrooms--none of the teachers had keys. So poor Karl had a very messy accident. And poor K.N. took the fall for it.

K.N. told the Chancellor's Investigator that she didn't know that the child had an emergency. She told him that she had no way of opening the bathroom door, because she had no key. The Investigator called the principal and asked her about the bathrooms. Were they indeed locked? NO, answered the principal. BATHROOMS ARE NEVER LOCKED.

K.N. told the Investigator that all he had to do was to go down the hallway and look at the bathroom door. There was a huge sign that read:


Bathrooms Closed: Period 1,2,8,9 & Homeroom

Per. 3- 10:03 – 10:31
Per. 4- 10:52 – 11:20
Per. 5- 11:41 – 12:09
Per. 6- 12:30 - 12:58
Per. 7- 1:19 - 1:47

The principal hadn't even bothered to take the signs down. Why should she? The Investigator refused to get up and go look, as the principal knew he would. Ms. Baker, who was there to represent K.N., said and did absolutely nothing.

So because a child tripped and almost fell, and because a child couldn't get into a locked bathroom, K.N. spent a year in the Rubber Room Gulag.

No, I didn't leave anything out. There were no other incidents. No other crimes. I read the charges. I went with her to the lawyer. I swear those were the only incidents.

If a teacher can be sent to a Rubber Room Gulag on charges like those, none of us are safe. And I think that the principal did that to K.N., because she wants us to feel that way. Unsafe. The principal has the power to ruin our lives.

But my life is already ruined, because I can't stand the thought of such a horrible injustice being done to someone who had done nothing bad to anyone--including J.F., Karl, and the principal. It knaws at me. People don't understand why I can't let it go. The District Representative, just the other day said, "You're not K.N.'s mother--let it go".

I can't. I don't think that the principal of a New York City Public School should have that much power. And it isn't just my principal. She isn't a trend setter. She isn't a loose cannon. She is very much a team player. She is doing exactly what she is told to do by higher ups. She wouldn't still be principal otherwise.


I don't know why the UFT is putting up with this. I don't know why New Yorkers are putting up with this. I don't know why Americans are putting up with this.

I have told this story over and over. I wrote to the Chancellor's Investigator offering to send him the sign that was still on the door. I wrote to Randi Weingarten. I wrote to The New York City Teacher's Advocacy Group. I signed all letters with my real name.

I am going to keep writing. It's not OK to frame teachers. This is not going to go away.

Those in power are abusing that power and that means that THEY need to go away--preferably to a specially prepared RUBBER ROOM GULAG just for them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Passing Lie

I had a conference with one of my students today. We’ll call him Nathan. Our conversation went something like this:

MS UNTAMED: Nathan, you’ve been acting out in class lately and doing no work at all. You did some good work at the beginning of the marking period, and then you started slacking off. What’s going on?

Nathan: I dunno.

MS UNTAMED: You’re falling right back into the same old pattern you had last year. And what happened? You failed science and math. Do you want to spend next summer in summer school like you did last summer?

Nathan: I didn’t go to summer school last summer.

MS UNTAMED: What? How could you be in eighth grade if you failed two major classes and didn’t go to summer school?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: What did you do last summer, if you weren’t in summer school?

Nathan: I went to D.R. with my parents.

MS UNTAMED: Well, if I failed you last year and your math teacher failed you too, and nothing happened, then why should you do any work this year?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: That’s the message you’re being sent. Play all day, you’ll pass anyway. Well, let me tell you something. Last year the whole class learned science while you played, and this year won’t be any different. Even though it looks to you like you’re getting away with something, you’re not. You snooze, you lose. You’re not learning anything. Principal S.T. might give you the diploma, but she can’t give you the knowledge. Only you can do that.
What do you say?

Nathan: No answer.

MS UNTAMED: Ok, Nathan, think about it. I’ll see you tomorrow.

OK, OK. I probably could have been a little nicer to the poor misunderstood child—but I went into shock when I realized that the principal had changed my grades. I don’t fail many students. Last year I failed four out of 150. They did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING all- year- long--180 days---No work-- At all--NADA.

Yes, I called parents. Yes, I talked to guidance. Yes I wrote referrals. Yes, I “differentiated”. Yes, I gave them positive reinforcement.

Nathan passed. MS UNTAMED failed. MS UNTAMED got an UNsatisfactory rating. And so did the math teacher, who is no longer in the school. She made some kind of deal—if she agreed to move on to another school, the principal would give her a Satisfactory. Maybe the math teacher also agreed to change Nathan's 55 to a 65.

At Bloomberg and Company, it’s the teacher’s fault if a student fails.

I am really shaken by this, and I am trying to figure out why. This is nothing new. It happens all the time. It happened before Bloomberg. They just passed kids on without justification. Diplomas meant nothing.

But“NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” was supposed to fix that, wasn’t it? We have STANDARDS now, don’t we?






Friday, October 19, 2007

Meet Me Afterschool


Principal S.T.: When I walked into your classroom on Oct 5, I asked you for a lesson plan and you said it was on your website. So then I walked around and saw that the children were working on their projects. I asked them about your website and they told me that you did have a website, so I took down the email address and that night I went on your website, but I did not see the lesson that you were teaching that day. You did hand in a lesson plan to Mr. Z. later, but you didn’t have the lesson plan available immediately on your website.

MS UNTAMED: I thought you said you went on my website that night.

P: Well, later that evening.

UNTAMED: Well, at night I work on the website. So I take things down and move things around.

P: But you said it was on the website and it wasn’t.

UNTAMED: Yes, but that was once I was home and working on it.

P: It wasn’t that late. It must have been 5:30 or 6:00.

UNTAMED: But at 3:00 as we were leaving, I gave Mr. Z. a written lesson plan that I took off the website. Sometimes, especially on weekends, I change the website after I go home,

P: The lesson plan you taught that day was not the lesson plan that was on the website..

UNTAMED: It was on the website at the moment you were in the classroom. Later that evening I was working on the website.

P: But that lesson plan that you gave me on Monday was not on the website on Friday.

UNTAMED: It was available when you came in the classroom that Friday, and it was available by the end of the weekend.

P: Between 3:00 and 6:00 you moved it off the website?

UNTAMED: Yes, because I gave it to Mr. Z. before I left the building. You had it .

P: You did not have a lesson plan available when I asked for it.

UNTAMED: It was available at that moment. It was available on the website when you came in.
When I go home, I can move things around so it might not be on the website two or three hours later because I am home working on it.

P: I have said this over and over again. You must have a lesson plan on your desk available to me when I come into your classroom.

UNTAMED: I understand that you say that, but what is the difference between having the lesson plan at the exact moment you walk into the classroom, or five minutes later, or an hour later?

P: The difference is that I can read the lesson. I can ask questions. As I’m looking around I can make sure that it matches up with what you are doing.

UNTAMED: That is why I have the website. You can look at the lesson plans before you even come in.

P: You told me that your lesson plan was on the computer and to go check. Why would you take it off?

UNTAMED: Because you already had it—I gave it to Mr. Z. before I left. On weekends, I go home and work on the website for the next week.

P; I went on again and couldn’t find it.

UNTAMED: Would you like to go on now?

P: No,

UNTAMED: Why not? Because I might be proved right?

P: No, because I’m not asking if it’s there now. Lesson plans need to be available when I come in.

UNTAMED: I made this website specifically so that you can go look at my plans before you come in and be familiar with what is going on.

P: Those lesson plans are not dated, they don’t go for the week. They are not in detail. Those lesson plans, I looked at them. They are not thorough. They do not go from day to day.

UNTAMED: (To the UFT representative) Now what do we do?

UFT Representative: At this point, lesson plans don’t need to be dated.

P: So then, have the lesson plan for the day available. Then it doesn’t have to be dated.
Her lesson plans are very general and broad. There wasn’t a lesson plan for that day. I couldn’t find it.

UNTAMED: I have proved that I have detailed lesson plans. My website is proof of that. The fact that I can’t provide it for you while I’m teaching in the classroom. I don’t think that should be a problem. I put everything on the website so that you and Mr. Z. can be familiar with what I am doing.

P: You are going to have to print out your lesson plan because I am not going to go to a website to look at it. That is not my rule. That is the Chancellor’s.

UNTAMED: Did they say I have to print out the lesson plan?

UFT Rep; I don’t think there is a precedent for lesson plans being on line and accessible to any administrator.

P: There is a precedent that says you must have a lesson plan and you must give it to an administrator when asked. There should be a lesson plan on the desk so that I don’t interrupt. And that’s it. I’m ending it.

UFT Rep: Ok if you’re ending it that’s fine. I’m going to do some research into this because the Regulations say nothing about a website, and I’m going to take the opinion that if the website is there, the lesson plans are there, and I think it is a wonderful idea, and I think that being on the website could work out well for everybody.

P: Not if I don’t have it.

UFT Rep: I think it could work out well for everybody. Let me try to find a way of making it work well for everybody,

P: That’s the end of it. MS UNTAMED, you’ll be getting a letter for your file.

UFT Rep: We’ll talk about it later.

P: No we won’t talk about it later.

UFT Rep: We’ll talk later and find a way of making it work.

The meeting ended.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


My homeroom is an 8th grade honors class. They all have high scores on the statewide reading and math tests (4's). They are also extremely well-behaved. They were all sitting in their seats engaging in polite conversation in low voices while I took attendance. Suddenly, Principal S.T.  appeared in the doorway and yelled at the kids because they weren't doing silent reading. Then, she went back to her office and got on the loud speaker and began a tirade about how Ms. Untamed's homeroom class was the WORST CLASS in the school when it came to silent reading. She had been walking around the school and she had seen a lot of classes where at least SOME students were doing silent reading as they should, but in Untamed's homeroom class there wasn't even ONE student doing silent reading. NOT ONE. And that was in UNTAMED'S class.

She repeated my name three or four more times emphasizing how my class of all the classes in the school was the absolute worst. She didn't mention the name of the class, 802. It was UNTAMED'S CLASS.

All day long teacher's came up to me and asked if I had been able to count exactly how many times she repeated my name over the loud speaker.

My union representative stopped by and told me to "write it down" because what she had done was harrassment without a doubt.

So write it down I have.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Well it didn't take long. Last Friday, Principal S.T. did a "walk through" with an assistant principal. Today, the following Friday, I received this letter in my mailbox just before I left for the weekend. The letter reads as follows:

October 12, 2007

Dear Ms. Untamed,

I have scheduled an appointment for you to meet with me in my office on October 18, 2007 at 3:00 PM to discuss your lesson plan.

This conference may lead to disciplinary action. Please bring a union representative.


Ms. S.T.,Principal

Cc: Mr. P.B.,Union Representative

Now, please don't hold it against if I take a few seconds to GLOAT.


Sorry about that, I couldn't help myself.

It's the heady power of prediction. Last weekend I wrote down every detail of last Friday's lesson.

I can't tell you how many of these meetings I have attended "with my union representative" and how frustrating and depressing they always were. Now everything is different, because I can see her coming a mile away. I know what she is going to say ahead of time. I will take incredible delight in describing every detail of the meeting on this blog and in as many other public venues as I can find. I am soooo glad I took the trouble to write everything down as soon as she came into my classroom a week ago. I can now enjoy this weekend without wasting a minute of my time thinking about her.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Scooping the Principal

If you look back through my posts, you’ll see that I only write in response to written attacks. They write me a letter, I write them one back. Now, I’m about to change my strategy. Principal P and Co. have established a pattern that has become fairly easy to predict.

On Friday, October 5, Principal P. and Assistant Principal Z. both came into my classroom and walked around for about ten minutes asking students questions and writing things on little note pads. This is what I predict will happen next. They will wait for at least a month and a half and then hit me out of nowhere with a letter describing what a terrible lesson they saw. They will make sure to give me this letter just before a vacation or long weekend. By my calculations, that should be Thanksgiving weekend. So during my whole Thanksgiving Vacation, I will by trying unsuccessfully not to think about what they said. The following Monday, I will be faced with having to respond to a letter about something that happened six weeks in the past.

So instead, I am going to write that letter now. I am going to scoop them. Unfortunately, I have to use some of my Columbus Day weekend to do that, but I’m better off taking the initiative while the lesson is still fresh in my mind. By Thanksgiving, it will simply be a matter of cut and paste.

Dear Ms. P and Mr. Z.,

Thank you for visiting my classroom on Friday, October 5, 2007. You picked a great day to do so, because as you saw for yourselves, my students were working independently to complete their September Almanac Badge. This year I have designed an incentive program in which students will be awarded “badges” for accomplishing specific tasks. I call them badges because I got the idea from the badges that are awarded in the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.

As I am sure you discovered in your conversations with my students, they had been working on the Almanac Badge since the beginning of school. On Friday, they were working in pairs to evaluate the assignments and then complete the badge by organizing and placing all the tasks in a folder to be turned in by the end of the period. I saw a student show you the list assignments which read as follows.

1. Make a Solar Calendar.
Trace the movement of Earth as it moves around the sun.
2. Make a table of the times of sunrise and sunset for one week.
3. Use the table to make a graph of the times of sunrise and sunset.
4. Make a table of the time of moonrise and moonset for one week.
5. Use the table to make a graph of the times of moonrise and moonset.
6. Write a data analysis that compares and contrasts the two graphs.
7.Make a graph of the times of moonrise and moonset for Sept. 18 through 30.
8. Write a paragraph about the patterns you see in the graph.
9. Write a report of information about solstices and equinoxes.
10. Explain the term: Harvest moon.
11. Write September Sky Events

1. Write your favorite weather proverb.
2 Draw or print an image of each of these clouds types: cirrus, cumulus,
3. Write a description of cirrus, cumulus and stratus clouds tell how to use
them to predict the weather.

Write some interesting facts about pets.

Write some interesting facts about the outdoors.

Reference: Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids at

I am sure that you took the time to admire at least one example of each of these assignments and to let the students know how impressed you were by their work.

The list of September Almanac assignments also appears on my website, My website has pages dedicated to each badge. There is also a homework page which reminds students of daily, weekly, and long term assignments. I have also included a separate web page with my lesson plans. I believe that this and other information available on the site can help students and parents understand exactly must be done to pass my class with a good grade. Teachers of other subject areas can also access the site to see what their students are doing in Science.
In the near future, I hope to publish examples of the students’ work.

Badges do not carry a grade, but I do assign number grades 1,2,3, or 4 to the individual assignments. An assignment must carry a grade of 2 or more to qualify for the badge. As I have informed my students, successful completion of all required badges guarantees a grade of at least 65 to 75.

The assignments are a mixture of work we did in class and work that students did independently at home. Some students do not have computers or an internet connection. In that case, I referred them to the local library or supplied them with supplemental materials.

In the coming month of October, we will be working on the October Almanac Badge and the Navigator Badge.

I am attaching a “Certificate of Achievement” for the September Almanac Badge which basically lists the tasks and certifies that they have been successfully completed. I need 160 copies of the certificate. This is all I can give my students for now, but I would like to investigate other possible rewards. If you have any ideas on this subject, I would be happy to hear them.
I am also attaching my lesson plan for Friday. Although I already made one available to you on Friday, I do not usually include the full New York State Science Standards with my in-class lesson plans.

Lesson Plan for October 5, 2007


Time: 1 or more periods

Materials: Textbooks, reference books, teacher generated materials, information researched by students etc.


1. Students choose one or more of the tasks that must be completed in order to get a badge.
2. Students work together with partners or groups to evaluate and complete all tasks.
3. Students occasionally use the teacher as a consultant, but generally work on their own to complete the badge.
4. Those who finish early can complete an additional task for extra credit.

NYS Standards for Lesson Plan for October 5,2007

Standard 1

Mathematical Analysis
Key Idea #2 M21a, M21b
Scientific Inquiry
Key Idea #1 S1.1, S1.2, S1.3 S1.4
Key Idea #3 S3.1, S3.2, S3.3

Standard 4 The Physical Setting
Key Idea #1 The Earth and celestial phenomena can be described by principles of relative motion and
perspective. PS 1.1e-j

Standard 6--Interconnectedness
Key Idea #5 Patterns of Change

Standard 7—Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
Key Idea #2 Solving interdisciplinary problems involves a variety of skills and strategies, including effective
work habits; gathering and processing information; generating and analyzing ideas; realizing ideas;
making connections among the common themes of mathematics, science and technology; and
presenting results.

Accounting Minutes

On October 1, 2007 I received this letter in my mailbox.

September 25, 2007

Dear Ms. Moriah:

The following is an accounting of the times that you have arrived late to work since August 30, 2007:

September 25, 2007 1 Minute Late
September 27, 2007 3 Minutes Late

Total 4 Minutes

As you know the school day begins at 8:00 a.m. It is imperative that you report to work on time each day so that students can have the availability of your services. Also, your lateness place as a burden on your colleagues.

When your lateness totals 3 hours and 20 minutes the EIS system will automatically deduct 1 full day from your CAR.

If this pattern continues, a letter will be placed in your file and further disciplinary action may be taken.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


Principal P.

Moriah's Comment: This letter does not deserve a comment. I'm just posting it so that everyone can see what I have to put up with.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

UNceasing Fire

I got this letter on Friday morning:

September 6,2007


The “No Show and Roster Correction” form for class 8A was not returned to the main office with the ATS sheet this morning as required. This memo was attached with a paper clip to your ATS sheet.

Accordiing to Chancellor’s Regulations, a clearance of register process has been established to investigate the status of all students on the school roster. The fact that a student who is on register has not appeared at the beginning of school is extremely serious and must be investigated as soon as possible. This form is an instrumental part of this process and therefore must be completed and returned to the office in a timely manner when requested.

Distribution of these forms will continue for several days as identification, outreach and processing of nonattending students continues during the opening weeks of the school year. During this time, it is essential that priority is given to the completion and return of these forms.


Assistant Principal Z

Approved by Principal S.T.

Translation: A student was placed in my homeroom, but didn’t appear on the roster. I personally went to the Paraprofessional who handles the attendance and told her about it. She asked for the student’s name, but I wasn’t sure of the spelling, so I contacted the student, got the name, and then sent down a note. The form that was attached with a paper clip probably got unattached, because I didn't get it. I sent down the note with a student--it probably got in the wrong box—or they pretended it didn’t get there. But since the note wasn’t on the correct form, they took the opportunity to send me this letter.

I informed Assistant Principal Z that I would be visiting Ms Attendance Paraprofessional every single day the first free period I have after homeroom.. After all, everything that comes from me is sent down with a thirteen- year- old child. (Not to dis the 13 year olds—they are usually extremely dependable).

Today I went to Ms. Attendance, and showed her the letter I had received from A.P. Z. I told her to put aside everything from 8A, because I would be checking with her personally everyday to make sure that everything got down to her Ok.

So of course you know, this means war.

Moriah Untamed

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

UNcanny beginnings

Today I taught my first classes of the 2007-2008 school year. I have to admit, it went very well. Surprisingly well. UNcannily well.

Last year I was assigned to teach seventh grade science , and I had to travel from room to room pushing my science equipment on a cart. At the end of last year, when they asked for my preferences for this year, I asked to follow the same students to eighth grade. I have always been an eighth grade teacher, and I am used to preparing my students for the 8th grade science exam which covers the entire sixth, seventh, and eighth grade curriculums. My problem was that I was given only 4 periods a week to get it done. Last year I had the luxury of teaching each class 5 periods a week. If I followed my students to the eighth grade, I would have another year of 5 period weeks to prepare the students for the test.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw at the end of the year that I had been assigned the same program: seventh grade and “traveling”. UNsatisfactory teachers don’t get their preferences.

When I walked into the building last Thursday, I tried to be prepared for anything—including being reassigned to some UNcomfortable place in Bloombergland. Instead, to my great surprise, I learned that I would be teaching most of my students from last year—just what I had requested. But I was still traveling. And they didn’t have the schedules ready. This meant that I could get a really horrendous traveling schedule (Basement one period, 4th floor the next, basement the next, etc) and still have to prepare the kids for the test—not to mention the 8th grade exit project.

Today, I walked into the building, and found that I was assigned to a science lab—for every period. Now I had the best of all worlds—eighth grade; same kids as last year; and no traveling.

Then I hear over the loudspeaker, “Ms. UNTAMED, please report to the main office; Mr. UFTREP, please report to the main office.”

Great. Now what?

I went into the Principal’s office. Mr. UFTREP was already there. Principal S.T. sweetly asked me if I was content with my program. I hesitated. Was this a trick question? I answered that this was the program I had requested on my preference sheet , and I was happy to get my preference. She asked if I would rather teach 7th grade and travel. I replied, that Noooooo. I preferred not to travel. Then she said that I had traveled last year, and they tried to be fair, so one of the other science teachers would travel this year.

Uncanny-- Too strange or unlikely to seem merely natural or human.

I taught the rest of the day, and then found out that I was assigned to teach an after school Enrichment Program. Under the contract, we must teach an additional 37.5 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. However, as of Friday, only a Chosen Few had been assigned to the Enrichment Program. I was not surprised that I was not one of the Chosen Few—being seen as UNsastisfactory in quite a few areas. But today, I was suddenly assigned to this program. I was asked if I had an area of talent or special interest that I might like to teach to a small group of kids. I like to shoot and edit videos. So now I’m going to design an afterschool program for ten students in which we will make movies.

It just gets better and better. And weirder and weirder.

What happened? I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth…but there is a scientific principle that we teach in Earth Science:

IF IT HAPPENED BEFORE IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN—meaning earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. But I apply it to human behavior with a certain degree of accuracy. This is not the treatment I’m used to. What happened to make things change?

Moriah Untamed

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bite the Bullet. Spew the U.

Someone has asked me, “Well, did you finally get a U-rating or not?”

The answer is—Yes. Of course. That was the purpose of all the negative letters and observations. But how can I chronicle a U-rating without putting it into writing?

So let me make it official:

Teachers are rated as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory in the following areas. Here are the ratings the principal gave me at the end of the 2006-2007 year.

A. Personal and Professional Qualities

1. Attendance and Punctuality--S
2. Personal Appearance--S
3. Voice, speech and use of English--S
4. Professional attitude and professional growth--U
5. Resourcefulness and initiative--U

B. Pupil Guidance and Instruction

1. Effect on character and personality growth of pupils--S
2. Control of class--S
3. Maintenance of wholesome classroom atmosphere--S
4. Planning and preparation of work--U
5. Sill in adapting instruction to individual needs and capacities--U
6. Effective use of appropriate methods and techniques--U
7. Skill in making class lessons interesting to pupils--U
8. Extent of pupil participation in the class and school program--U
9. Evidence of pupil growth in knowledge, skills, appreciations and attitude--U
10. Attention to pupil health, safety and general welfare--S

C. Classroom or Shop Management

1. Attention to physical conditions--S
2. Housekeepting and appearance of room--S
3. Care of equipment by teacher and children--S
4. Attention to records and reports--S
5. Attention to routine matters--S

D. Participation in School and Community Activities

1. Maintenance of good relations with other teachers and supervisors--U
2. Effort to establish and maintain goo relationships with parents--S
3. Willingness to accept special assignments—S


Sunday, August 19, 2007

UNinformed and Inflexible

LESSON 05/29/07

On May 29, 2007 Assistant Principal I.T. observed my science lesson with class 702, an honors class. Ms. I.T. found this lesson to be unsatisfactory. I disagree with her evaluation.


Ms. I.T. has misquoted me and has presented a very garbled version of the lesson. Her version shows fundamental misconceptions about the science inquiry process. I find that administrators who have not been scientists or science teachers often do have misconceptions, because they themselves were probably never taught science as inquiry, and they may not have used inquiry in their own disciplines. In November, 2006 I made an effort to inform administrators about science inquiry by giving Principal S.T. my lesson plan template aligned with the New York State Learning Standards for Science. (see attachment).

Most of us are aware of what is called “The Scientific Method”. Anyone who has ever done a science project has had to list these steps: Problem, Hypothesis, Materials, Procedure, Results, Conclusion. These steps may or may not reflect inquiry on the part of the student.

I tell my students “In science, we don’t test people, we test ideas.” True inquiry allows students to confront the ideas that they have been forming about nature since they were born. For almost every question that students are asked, there is already an idea in their heads about what the answer may be. Many of these ideas are partially or totally inaccurate—what we call misconceptions. Research has shown that these incorrect concepts will hang on in the mind despite the best efforts of teachers to explain them away. The student may learn to regurgitate the right facts on a test, but two or three months later, a similar test will reveal that old, incorrect ideas have grown back in and pushed recently memorized facts out of reach. On the other hand, research has also shown that if students state their ideas in writing, and then test them in an experiment, these young scientists are much more likely to relinquish the idea that was proven incorrect, and to permanently substitute the idea that was supported by the evidence.

The scientific method is a powerful learning strategy, because it operates on the principle that me must compare our ideas to a measurable and repeatable reality. In order to test an idea, we must begin by stating very clearly what that idea is. We call this the Hypothesis.

Traditional science education does not usually ask students to state their preconceived ideas before teaching them facts about nature. Many would argue correctly that we have discovered so many facts, that it is impossible to have students go back and discover them all, one by one, through the inquiry method. However, we can choose the most important ideas; the great theories and laws of science. We can also choose those ideas that go against common sense (a 10 pound ball and a 100 pound ball fall at the same speed). These are the concepts that students should learn by first stating a hypothesis and then testing that hypothesis by performing an experiment.

By the end of the lesson under discussion, I wanted my students to state a hypothesis about how blood flows between the heart, lungs, and brain. However, that hypothesis would not be stated in the traditional form, If……., then, ………because. Instead, my students would draw a flow chart, showing their preconceptions of the direction of flow and the connections between one organ and another.

Before committing themselves, however, I wanted them to have the opportunity to explore different options. I therefore designed a simple interactive model that would allow them to easily connect and disconnect the organs. The human body was represented by a drawing of the head and torso on chart paper. Each one of the organs: brain, heart, and lung were represented by a plastic baggie with a label. The heart was divided in half by staples and the right and left sides of the heart were labeled. Red beads represented oxygen rich blood flowing through blood vessels and blue yarn represented oxygen poor blood flowing through blood vessels. Students would attach the heart, lung, and brain to the chart paper. They would manipulate the red beads and blue yarn to show how the blood flows until they reached a group consensus and then they would draw their hypothesis. I expected the lesson to take 2 periods. The beginning of the first period would be taken up by discussing the challenge , the model, and fundamental facts of the circulatory system. Students would then explore the different options allowed by the model. During the second period, groups would finalize their hypothesis, draw their version of the blood flow, and present their hypotheses.


As I entered the room at 10:05 AM you were asking the students questions. The students had their textbook pages open to 65-69 which were the pages they had to read for the DO Now. The students read for about four minutes.


For the DO NOW, I instructed the students to scan pp 65-69 in the textbook Human Biology. I agree with the Ms. X’s version of the opening as she entered the classroom.




You asked the students,”How can a brain cell live without oxygen?” No one answered the question so you answered it by stating, “The brain cell can live 30 seconds to one minute without oxygen”. You asked, “What carries oxygen to the brain?” A student responded , arteries or veins. You then continued to ask, “What makes blood red?” A student responded, oxygen. You then asked, “What converts it really red?” No one answered the question. You then responded to the question. At about 10:15 AM you told the student that they have a challenge today. You then gave each student a sheet with facts about how blood is carried through the heart, lung and brain. You then held up a sandwich bag containing an index card labeled brain. You showed the index card to the class and stated loudly “Brain” as you pointed to the brain. You then placed it on the outline of the human head with a thumb tack. You held up another sandwich bag containing an index card labeled L-Left and R-Right for the heart and placed that on the Torso. You had a sandwich bag with an index card labeled lung and you placed it on the Torso. You then had red beads representing rich blood cells and blue yarn representing poor blood cells. You explained to the students that the blue is not the true color of the poor blood cells. It is really purplish red. You then called on individual students to read the facts.


Ms. I.T’s version of the minilesson segment is inaccurate and incomplete. Ms. I.T. claims that from 10:09 to 10:15, a period of six minutes, this exchange occurred.

Teacher: How can a brain cell live without oxygen?
Students: No response
Teacher: “The brain cell can live 30 seconds to one minute without oxygen.”

Teacher: What carries oxygen to the brain?
Students: Arteries and veins.

Teacher: What makes blood red?
Student: Oxygen

Teacher: What converts the blood really red?
Students: No response.
Teacher: Responds to question.

It is obvious that the account of the first six minutes of the minilesson is incomplete, because it takes less than a minute to read the script that Ms. I.T. has written for me.

What is more, the questions are not written as I asked them. At this point a tape recording of the lesson would help a great deal in reconstructing the first six minutes of the minilesson. In the absence of this impartial evidence, I will attempt to give a more coherent version of the beginning of the minilesson.

Teacher: How long can a brain cell live without oxygen?
Student: 3 minutes?
Teacher: Brain cells can live about 30 seconds to one minute without oxygen.

Teacher: How does oxygen get to the brain? What carries oxygen to the brain?
Student: Arteries and veins.

Teacher: What do arteries and veins carry?
Student: Blood

Teacher: What makes blood red?
Student: Oxygen

Teacher: Oxygen is part of the answer. Red blood cells are already red before they take in
oxygen. When oxygen mixes with a red substance in the blood cell, it
becomes a brighter red.

Teacher: So does anyone know what red blood cells are composed of?
What really makes them red?
Students: No answer

Teacher: The substance is called hemoglobin. It’s a red pigment that has a lot of iron in it. Oxygen easily attaches to this substance and can just as easily detach. So as the red blood cells flow through the lungs their hemoglobin takes up the oxygen. Then as the blood cells flow through the body, they give up the oxygen to the other body cells, including the brain cells. As red blood cells give up the oxygen they are still red, but they become a darker, deeper red.

There were two purposes served by this question and answer period. First of all, I wanted to arouse the curiosity of these very motivated students (How long can a brain cell live without oxygen?). Secondly, I wanted to assess their previous knowledge of the subject . There is a very strongly rooted misconception among students that blood is normally blue, but that it turns red when mixed with oxygen. It was apparent to me that many students agreed with the boy who answered “oxygen” to the question, “Why is blood red”. I made an effort to explain away this misconception. Students also failed to name “blood cells” as the carriers of oxygen; naming instead, the blood vessels that are simply pathways through which the blood travels. This is like saying that the streets carry the mail instead the mail trucks.

At approximately 10:15 AM, I introduced the challenge of the day. I told students that they would be using a model to figure out the heart/lung/brain connection. There were certain rules that they should take into consideration when making their model. I gave each student a list of “Rules”

1. The blood can’t move unless the heart pumps it.
2. The heart has a wall that separates the right side from the left. Blood never passes directly between the two sides.
3. Blood vessels are connected to the top and bottom of each side of the heart.
4. Blood enters through the top and exits through the bottom.
5. Blood leaves the heart through the arteries.
6. Blood returns to the heart through veins.
7. Veins are connected to arteries by very thin vessels called capillaries.
8. As the red blood cells move through the body, they give up their oxygen to the cells.
9. Oxygen-poor blood returns to the top right side of the heart.
10. The heart must pump oxygen-poor blood to the lungs where the red blood cells will pick up more oxygen.
11. After the blood has picked up the oxygen, it must be pumped to the rest of the body cells.

We read the facts together, and then I introduced them to the model that they would be using. An outline of the human head and torso was fixed to the chalkboard with magnets. I showed the class a baggie marked “Brain” and then placed it at the top of the outlined head. I used a small magnet to keep it in place, not a thumbtack, as Ms X alleges. I then placed a baggie marked “Heart” near the center of outlined chest. I told the students that our model would have only one lung—pretend he had the other removed, and I placed the baggie marked “Lung” to the left of the heart. I showed the students the blue yarn that would represent oxygen poor blood flowing through blood vessels and the red beads that represented oxygen rich blood flowing through blood vessels.

At this point, it was necessary to insist that even though oxygen poor blood was traditionally represented as blue—the true color of oxygen poor blood is red.

I then gave students the starting point: The blue yarn (oxygen poor blood) would enter at the top right side of the heart. Then I referred students back to the rules. If the blood is entering the top of the heart, where will it flow next (To the bottom and out). Will the blood gain oxygen before it leaves the heart? (No. It gets oxygen in the lungs). So, as the blood flows into the lungs is it still oxygen poor? (Yes). So do I use blue yarn or red beads to show oxygen entering the lung? (blue yarn). As blood exits the lung, will it be oxygen rich or oxygen poor? (oxygen rich) Then should I still be using the blue yarn? (No. we switch to the red beads).

After that introduction I challenged students to continue the flow, making sure that oxygen rich blood reaches the brain, and oxygen poor blood gets taken away from the brain. I reminded them that they had plenty of time. They had the option of using the book or trying to work it out with logic only. Although there was only one right answer for the human body, they were welcome to come with another acceptable answer. As long as their model showed a logical means to get oxygen to the brain, it would be correct.

The challenge was: “Keep the Brain Alive”


During the lesson, when you asked the students, “How can a brain cell live without oxygen?” and what converts it really red? You answered the questions without giving students the opportunity to respond. This demonstrates that the student needed prior knowledge and proper “wait time” to think about how to answer the question. In the future please, allow for proper “wait time”. You must make sure that you differentiate your instruction and questions to meet the needs of all students in your class.

Although you presented a mini-lesson, it failed to achieve its objective. You did not model for the students what they were clearly expected to do and where they were going to get their information. The objective of a minilesson is to model and/or explicitly teach students the strategy to be used during their group work or independent work time.

This lesson needs to be planned with more exciting and meaningful activities. Ten minutes were spent on reading and discussing the fact sheet you handed to the students and less time was spent on the challenge. Therefore, the students did not accomplish the stated objective. Try to carefully plan creative activities to promote effective learning.


Ms. I.T. mentions certain fundamental rules that teachers should take into consideration when questioning their students:
1. Do not answer your own questions.
2. Allow “wait time” so that students have time to think before answering.
3. Ask students questions that they are able to answer from prior knowledge.

While I agree with these rules, I would like to emphasize that these are guidelines and not dogma. It should be possible to break these rules under certain circumstances, such as the ones stated below.

1. Students are highly motivated to learn, and have good self-esteem with regard to academics.
2. The teacher is conducting a short, informal assessment of prior knowledge and understanding before giving information.
3. Students attend after-school enrichment classes and may have additional background knowledge.
4. Students are being invited to solve an intellectual challenge or puzzle, where too much prior information is an insult to the intelligence of the student.

This was an honors class, and students did not mind being asked questions that they could not immediately answer. It didn’t make them feel stupid, disrespected, or frustrated. It simply made them feel challenged to find the answer. What is more, some of the students attended weekend biology classes at Long Island City High School and they had prior knowledge that I thought they might be able to share with the class. I find that if I throw out a question that is then answered by a student from previous knowledge learned outside the class, other students will remember the information just as well as if I give it to them.

Ms. I.T. wants me to differentiate and meet the needs of all students by giving them prior knowledge and sufficient wait time to be able to answer correctly. In other words, I can’t ask a question unless the students are guaranteed to be successful in their answers. This might be true for struggling students who get upset when they are asked a question that they cannot answer. They have poor self esteem and do not always take well to challenging questions. However, class 702 was a group of highly successful students. By May 29 they had developed sufficient trust in me to know that I was not asking questions that they didn’t know just to make myself look intelligent and them look stupid. I had good reason to think that some might know the answers already.

Ms I.T. then states another rule to be followed: The goal of the minilesson is to clearly model what the students are supposed to do. I agree with this is often a primary goal of the minilesson.

I am confused by Ms. I.T.’s statement: Although you presented a mini-lesson, it failed to achieve its objective….The objective of a minilesson is to model and/or explicitly teach students the strategy to be used during their group work or independent work time.

I believe that I clearly demonstrated how to use the different parts of the model to show the flow of blood. I did not give them the answers to the challenge, because if I did, it wouldn’t be a challenge. I would like Ms. I.T. to clarify exactly how she would introduce an inquiry challenge to a group of honors students in a way that would meet the objectives of a minilesson.

I am sorry that Ms. I.T. did not find my lesson exciting and meaningful. Perhaps Ms. I.T. could direct me to a better hands-on inquiry lesson about the direction of blood flow between the heart, the lungs, and the body. I am always looking for more exciting and meaningful ways of teaching science concepts.


At 10:25 AM you started the group work period, you stated to the students “You are going to problem solve but not finish. You are not going to meet the objective today. You are going to continue for homework and I tomorrow’s lesson.” The challenge was to place the sandwich bags with index labeled brain, RL and Lung on the correct part of the body on the chart. You state that the red beads represents oxygen rich blood and the blue yarn represents the oxygen poor blood. You state, “You have to demonstrate by using the beads and the yarn on the outline of the head and torso, how the blood flows between the heart, lungs and brain using the beads and the heart. Some of the students read the book to figure out where to place the beads and yarn, other students tried to figure it out on their own.


At 10:25 AM I had monitors help me hand out the following materials:

1. The outline of a head and torso on chart paper.
2. Red beads
3. Blue yarn
4. Plastic baggies marked heart, lung, and brain

I instructed students to use their books, the fact sheet that we had read together during the minilesson, and the above materials to show the blood flow between heart, lung, and brain.

Then I circulated among the students as they tried to solve the problem.


At the beginning of the work period you stated, “You have to demonstrate by using the beads and the yarn on the outline of the head and torso, how the blood flows between the heart, lungs and brain using the beads and yarn.” I suggest, you should demonstrate what you want the children to do during the mini-lesson.

The assignment seemed easy for some students because they figured out on their own how to use the textbook and the fact sheet. The other students seemed unclear because they were trying to figure out on their own and were not sure. It was not stated during the lesson how they were going to find the answer. Students need clear directions in order to understand what is expected of them.


Ms. I.T. states that some students found the assignment so easy that they finished by 10:40, while the students were still problem solving after 15 minutes. She seems to find something wrong with this scenario. I find it very normal. Some groups finish before others. I had not expected anyone to finish in 15 minutes. I would have expected them to take this time to familiarize themselves with the information and the model. The real problem-solving would take place the next day.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that “students seemed unclear because they were trying to figure out on their own and were not sure.” The figuring out is a part of inquiry science. Everyone knew that there was no time constraint on them. They knew that they had the rest of the period, plus part of the next period to solve the problem. They were not under pressure to perform. Even so, one group out of eight solved the problem in 15 minutes. Good for them.

Ms I.T. seems to be uncomfortable with the inquiry method. She does not want to see students struggling. She wants the answers to come easily—even to the point of having them provided by the teacher. That is not how scientists operate. They have questions and they have a method. They don’t have to know all the answers right away. Student scientists are not supposed to know exactly what to do. They are set in a particular direction and are supposed to figure it out on their own.


At about 10:40 AM you stated, “We will continue tomorrow during the whole period.” You asked students, “Where is the glucose liberated?” The students did not respond to the question. You answered it by saying. It is the Mitochondria. Glucose and oxygen meet in the Mitochondria. You asked students to clean up and tomorrow they will know what materials to pick up.


Ms. I.T. did not hear a student ask me to tell her the name of the part of the cell where the energy of glucose is liberated through cellular respiration. I said, “Good question, does anyone remember where glucose is liberated in the cell? No one responded, so I responded to the student: “It is in the Mitochondria. Glucose and oxygen meet in the Mitochondria.”


You failed to engage students in the lesson when you did not allow students to go over their findings during the closing of your lesson. Please refer to specific interactive teaching techniques attached referring to the Accountable Talk Toolbox.

When students completed the work period you never addressed their findings. It is important to share what students have discovered in order to assess and check for understanding of the modeled lesson.

You asked students to clean up without summarizing your lesson. As a method of summarization and of determining if the objective have been met, ask each student to state what was learned from the material. Look for opportunities to call on selected students to establish a summary of key point. The students and teacher need to review major areas presented, in order to demonstrate that students understood concepts.


Ms I.T. says that I failed to go over the findings of my students. The problem was that after fifteen minutes, one group had the answer and the other seven groups were still searching for the answer. I preferred to wait until the next period to address the finding of all the groups. To do otherwise would have been to rush most of the students through the challenge and not allow the time to think it through.

It is very possible that those who figured out the answer then shared their findings with those who didn’t during lunch that day because by the next day, all the other groups reached the correct solution in approximately fifteen minutes. I have no problem with this. A science teacher’s best dream would be to have students discussing the circulatory system over lunch.


I have written this response within the context of the Workshop Model. However, it is obvious that my inquiry lesson did not quite fit. I think this is because the Workshop Model was originally supposed to work within a 90 minute session. Therefore, teachers were supposed to teach a twenty minute minilesson, then move to a 40 minute work session and then have a good half hour to review findings and state what students had learned from the material, and call on selected students to establish a summary of key points, and review major areas presented, and demonstrate that students understood the concepts.

When it became necessary to fit the Workshop Model into a 45 minute period, someone, I don’t know who, thought that all you had to do was cut in half the time spent on each segment. The minilesson shrank from 20 to 10 minutes, the group work from 40 to 20 minutes, and the closing went form 30 to 15 minutes.

So now, what happens when the teacher needs fifteen or twenty minutes to prepare students for an inquiry lesson? What happens if the students need a full 40 minutes to solve a problem or carry out an experiment? What happens if at the end of a 45 minute period, students are not yet ready to share. I have been asking these questions since the Workshop Model people have taken over this school system. The only answer that I get is that I have to stay within the time constraints that I have been given. This is not helpful.

I am not opposed to the Workshop Model. However, I am opposed to dogmatic, mechanistic thinking. I am trying to teach my students not to engage in that kind of thinking. That’s not science. That’s not how we got to the moon. That’s not how we are going to cure cancer.

Moriah Untamed

UNdisciplined Lies


RE: LESSON 03/22/2007

This is statement in response to a letter dated March 28, 2007 in which Ms I.T. threatens me with the following statement: “Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including an unsatisfactory rating and charges that could lead to your termination.

The charges leveled against me violate the contract which is presently in effect between the United Federation of Teachers and The City of New York.

I will respond to this letter, by copying its contents in their entirety, interspersed with my comments.


March 28, 2007


On Tuesday, March 27, 2006, I met with you and your union representative, Mr. P.B., in room 100 to discuss your lesson plan on March 23, 2007.

MS UNTAMED’S COMMENT: We did not meet on March 27, 2006. We met on March 27, 2007.


On Friday, March 23, 2007, I entered your classroom, room 322, at the beginning of period 6. I was accompanied by Ms. Assistant Principal #2. You were assigned to teach class 7E Science.


I am a traveling teacher. Therefore, the use of the words “your classroom” is misleading. On Fridays, I teach in room 410, 322, and 326. The rest of the information in this portion of the letter is correct.

However, it is important to note that Ms I.T. makes sure to mention that she was accompanied by another Assistant Principal. This is not accidental. By having two administrators present, she is laying the groundwork for charges that can lead to a U-rating.


I asked you for your lesson plan for the class. You did not have a lesson plan with you to show me. You told me that you had the lesson plan in the lab and that you would give it to me later in the day. You came to my office during period 7 to give me the lesson plan.


And that’s all that Ms I.T. has to say about the lesson. So let’s stop a minute and talk about what was really going on in room 322 during sixth period on Friday, March 23, in the year Two Thousand and Seven.

Many of the children in class 7E have learning disabilities. Others do not have learning disabilities but need extra help because they are still learning English. They have low scores on statewide Language Arts and Math tests.

As Ms I.T. walked in, she saw that I had approximately fifteen large science project boards on my science cart. I was explaining to the students that we would be holding a class science fair. Because there would be only two or three minutes to visit each project, I wanted the students to focus on the problem and the conclusion. What was the question, and what was the answer. They should also notice the hypothesis, data, visual presentation, and art work. Next Monday, we would begin the group presentations. This would give students a chance to preview the science boards up close before the group presentations.

Ms I.T. interrupted me as I was giving the opening instructions. I informed her that I couldn’t stop at that moment, because it would interrupt the flow of the lesson. The lesson plan was probably under 15 science project boards at the moment—or it might be in the lab, I wasn’t sure. I told her that I had lunch next period and would bring the lesson plan to her office.

Ms I.T. and the other assistant principal turned around and walked out of the class. They wanted to see my lesson plan, but they did not want to see my students’ science projects. This was obvious to me, and it was obvious to my students.

After the two assistant principals left the classroom, my students moved all the desks to the edges of the room. We placed the science projects around the room. They took out their journals, and visited each project. They were very interested in each others’ work. I had never seen them as motivated about science as I did that day.

The science projects represented a tremendous amount of work on the part of my students—and Ms I.T. couldn’t be bothered to take ten minutes of her time to view it.


During our meeting on March 27, 2007, I asked you why you did not have the lesson plan for class 7E with you during period 6. You said, “I did not have a lesson plan with me, it was in the lab and I gave it to you seventh period. My lesson was already flowing.”


Please refer to the New York City Department of Education Teachers’ Contract specifically Article 8E –Education Reform

“The development of lesson plans by and for the use of the teacher is a professional responsibility vital to effective teaching.

The organization, format, notation, and other physical aspects of the lesson plan are appropriately within the discretion of each teacher.

A principal or supervisor may suggest, but not require, a particular format or organization …"

Nothing is said in the contract about where the lesson plan should be kept.


I conclude that you failed to fulfill your professional responsibility when you did not have your lesson plan for class 7E with you during the period 6 class. Attached for your reference please find the November 6,2006 Principal Memo #10 regarding Lesson Plans. All staff members must be prepared with lesson plans daily for their classes and be able to show the lesson plans to a supervisor during the class period upon request.


As of November 6, 2006, had all staff members at I.S.666 received U-ratings or formal warnings? I ask that question, because according to the contract:

“A principal or supervisor may suggest, but not require, a particular format or organization except as part of a program to improve deficiencies of teachers who receive U-ratings or formal warnings.”

Principal Memo #10 violated the contract. I am sure that Principal S.T. does not like Article 8 Section E. That’s OK. There are certain sections of the contract that I don’t like either. However, the contract is legally binding—unless you find some unethical way to sidestep it—like creating a U-rating or formal warning by inventing deficiencies that don’t exist.

Therefore, I have filed a grievance—not only for myself, but for all the staff members at I.S. 666.

The grievance is worded as follows:


Dear Ms. Principal,

Pursuant to the procedures of Article 22B of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education, please arrange a conference to discuss the following complaint:

Being asked to produce a lesson plan on the spot during a class session and it leading to file letters. The lesson plan is available, but asking for it in a specific location or on demand especially during an instructional period is in violation of Articles 8E and Article 20 of the teachers contract.

I will be represented at the conference by my UFT Chapter Leader or his/her designee.

Very truly yours,



Please be advised that this incident may lead to further disciplinary action including an unsatisfactory rating and charges that could lead to your termination.

Very truly yours,

Assistant Principal I.T.


You have created a disciplinary incident where there was only a hard working teacher and a group of motivated children. I did not fail to fulfill my professional responsibility to my students. On the contrary, their science projects proved that everyone in that classroom had been doing a good job all year long.

Perhaps that is why you found it necessary to leave in such a hurry.

Moriah Untamed

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Third UNsatisfactory Observation

OF LESSON ON 02/16/07


On February 16, 2007, Mr. R. Z., Assistant Principal in charge of Science at Intermediate School 999, observed class 7D in classroom 3___ during period 8 (2:04 to 2:49). On March 20, 2007, I received a Formal Observation Report in which Mr. Z described the lesson from his point of view and then gave it an unsatisfactory rating.

I disagree with Mr. Z’s version of the lesson and with the unsatisfactory rating.


Education is a process, not an event. Therefore, I would like to discuss the background of this lesson so that it can be seen in context.

Beginning on the first day of school, students in all my classes, including 708 had been doing hands on inquiry experiments. Each experiment had been written up as a Lab Report. This is a list of the lab reports that my students had done previous to this lesson.
(dates may vary by one or two days).

9/6/06 What is a solution?
9/12/06 Why does salt dissolve in water?
9/14/06 Will ice melt faster in tap water or in salt water?
9/18/06 Which has a lower temperature: frozen salt water or frozen tap water.
9/27/06 If we mix 10 mL of salt into 90 mL of water, what will the volume of the
mixture be?
10/03 06 If we mix 10 g of salt with 90 g of water, what will the mass of the
mixture be?
10/24/06 Can soap float?
10/31/06 Are pennies 100% copper?
11/15/06 What will happen if we connect a hot object and a cold object with a metal
11/22/06 How does the temperature of water affect the speed with which a drop of
dye moves through water?
1/11/07 How do plants make their own food?
1/19/07 How does __________ affect seed germination?
2/01/07 How can we measure the pH of a solution?
2/01/07 How can we design an experiment that uses the pH test?
2/07/07 How does respiration affect limewater?

I had begun in September by designing the whole experiment and having my students follow the procedure and gather data. However, as the year progressed, I slowly added parts of the experiment that they had to plan and execute on their own. By February, most students were capable of designing an experiment after they had been given a problem. However, they still needed practice at identifying and isolating variables. In my experience this is the aspect of the science project that gives my students the most trouble. In order to help them isolate variables , I gave them the Project Template and had them use it to analyze experiments that they had already done and to plan new ones.

During the week of February 12, I designed an “Idea Fair”. Eight groups would be working on separate experiments. During this week, I wanted them to start firming up their ideas for their independent projects, but I wanted to make sure that their projects were controlled experiments and that they identified the variables.


Mr. Z. begins by stating the Objective and Agenda that were posted. I have a few changes to make with regard to format and content.

OBJECTIVE: SWBAT plan their science projects

MINILESSON: Project Description Template

Represent the project as a simple Drawing ________________ VS _________________

Hypothesis: If I ________________ then _______. I think this way because ________________.

Independent Variable: _________________
Dependent Variable: ___________________
Controlled Variables: __________________

Problem: How will _____________ affect _______________?
independent variable dependent variable

GROUP WORK: Fill in template for an experiment

SHARE: Plan how you and your partners will work on the project during the vacation

HOMEWORK: Bring in project written in lab report form by February 26


It is the teacher’s professional responsibility to adequately plan for, have readily available, and use a lesson plan during each lesson. At our meeting on Monday, February 12, 2007, we discussed your set of lesson plans for the week (copy attached) The observed lesson did not follow any of these specific lesson plans. You state it had become necessary to modify your plans for class 708 due to a building evacuation occurring on Monday, February 12, 2007. In the future, should the need arise to modify a planned lesson, it is necessary to create and follow a new lesson plan specific for that period.

The posted objective was “SWBAT plan their science projects.” This objective is vague and general. As per our pre-observation discussion of the Science Professional Development Matrix (copy attached), the agenda should contain a focused daily teaching point (explicit objective) reached by using a strategy or tool. There was neither skill nor strategy specified in this objective.


On Monday, February 12, 2007, Mr. Z and I were in the middle of a pre-observation conference when a bomb threat was received by telephone and the building had to be evacuated. During that conference, I had given Mr. Z my lesson plans for the week, including the Goals of the Week. To my knowledge, my lessons, including the objectives, had been approved.

I had already realized that some classes would lose one or more lessons, because Tuesday was a half-day due to parent /teacher conferences. The bomb threat took more time away from some classes. Class 708 lost the most time of all--three out of five periods. However, the main goal was for students to become familiar with the Design Template that I wanted them to use. The week’s lesson plans were designed to take students through this template over five days. However, it was possible to take students through the template in one or two days.

Mr. Z’s assertion that I should create a lesson plan specific for every period—and rewrite it every night if necessary-- suggests to me that he wants me to write a script for each period, and follow it word for word. In my opinion, insisting on a script with specific wording and a specific timeline stifles scientific inquiry and cannot coexist with the discovery method of teaching science. The administration of I.S. 9999 has a major contradiction between its goals (inquiry science) and its methods (micromanagement of lesson plans to the point of scripting).

Mr. Z asserts that the objective was unsatisfactory. However, he does not restate the objective in a “satisfactory” way, so I will try to do so.

SWBAT use a project template (THE TOOL) to identify the problem, hypothesis, independent variable, dependent variable, and controlled variables of a controlled experiment (THE EXPLICIT OBJECTIVE).

Is that “satisfactory”?

Is it necessary?

No. My students did great science projects anyway. It is the students’ work that Mr. Z should be looking at-- Not the exact wording of my objectives. Did Mr. Z ever ask to see my students’ final science projects? NO. Did Mr. Z ever ask to see my students’ portfolios? NO.

By the end of the year, my students had planned, performed, and written at least ten controlled experiments in correct lab report format. But who cares? According to Mr. Z, I’m an unsatisfactory teacher because my objectives are too vague.

MINILESSON 2:05 – 2:21


As I entered the room at 2:05, you explained that students would first work in class groups, then change into project groups during the period. You stated that you would be using the design template, and described examples of “____________ vs ___________ experiments. Included were muddy garbage vs wet garbage, aluminum foil vs paper and thermometer on the ceiling vs on the floor. The class was observed to sit passively during this time; some students were writing in their notebooks.

You stated that over the vacation, students were to create lab reports, and save the project board for the final presentation. You reinforced that the project must be in the ___________ vs _______________ format, and that if necessary, you would provide assistance to students in formatting their ideas in that manner. At 2:15 you distributed the “Urban Advantage Grow Rubric.” Student volunteers each read aloud components of Section II.


As Mr. Z entered the room, I was reviewing what we had done during the last lesson which had taken place on Wednesday, February 14 during 8th period. During that lesson I had introduced the Project Template and we had practiced using it. I had modeled its use by demonstrating one of the experiments in the Idea Fair and students had then practiced using it with one of the another experiments. I was reminding them about three experiments that we had analyzed using the Project Template.

The first was “How long does it take a material to decompose? A controlled experiment is really a comparison-contrast. There are two experimental groups that are the same in every way except for one aspect. This one aspect is called the independent variable. By having students express the experiments as _______ vs ________, I was helping them identify the independent variable. In wet garbage vs dry garbage, we were testing to see how the presence of water affected the decomposition rate of garbage. Water is the independent variable and rate of decomposition is the dependent variable.

The second problem was, “How do insulators affect heat transfer”? By stating this as it as aluminum foil vs paper , we were isolating the one difference between the two experimental groups.

The third problem was: “How does height affect temperature”?
i.e. thermometer on the ceiling vs thermometer on the floor.

Then I explained that, for further practice, I wanted them to go to their journals and go back to one of the ten controlled experiments that we had done as a class and use the project template to break it down into its variables.


Students were observed to sit passively during the minilesson, without a task assigned.


“Students were observed to sit passively.” Who was the observer? How many students were sitting passively? Who were they? How do we know they were passive? What is the criteria for passivity? What task should have been assigned in order for this to be a satisfactory minilesson? Is the purpose of this report to accumulate evidence for an unsatisfactory rating, or is it to clearly suggest specific improvements that could have made the lesson satisfactory in the eyes of the supervisor?

GROUP WORK 2:22 – 2:34


At 2:21, you asked the groups to discuss experiments that they had previously completed, and write down at least one idea for a _________ vs ____________ experiment. Students were observed to take out lab books and engage in discussions about previous science fair projects. Projects mentioned included: “Electricity; temperature; food; water; hours of sleep/energy; flashlight batteries.” At 2:25 you wrote due dates of 2/26 for lab report and 3/12 for project on the board. You visited each group, monitoring and speaking with students. A few students including R.C. and V.J. were observed off task or sitting idly.


Mr. Z acknowledges that most students were doing their work. They were engaged in accountable talk. They were working in their lab books. We have two names of students who were off task. If Mr. Z named two, why didn’t he name the others, or at least give the number. How did Mr. Z know that the students were off task? How did Mr. Z know that the students were sitting idly and not just thinking?


Incorporate questioning techniques designed to facilitate active participation. Examples include: “Everyone think of; each person find; all students come up with.”

Students were not held accountable for the work period task beyond unrecorded teacher observation.

At the start of the work period, students could engage in a “Turn and Talk: to review and prepare information prior to its application in an appropriate task designed to increase higher order thinking opportunities and extensions.

During the work period, each student can be assigned a group role (recorder, timekeeper, presenter, noise monitor).


All students were to fill in the project template using one of the experiments that we had done that year. They wrote the information in their science journals, making them accountable to the teacher, to each other, and to themselves. This was a higher order thinking assignment. Students were engaged in analyzing past projects in order to find the variables. The groups were not large enough to assign group roles. Pairs worked together to identify the variables.

SHARE: 2:34 – 2:41


At 2:34, you allowed students to change their seats to sit with students with whom they would be working on their project. Approximately ten students changed seats. You instructed the class to exchange phone numbers and set up dates to work on their projects over the upcoming mid-winter recess. You circulated amongst the groups monitoring and discussing ideas. By 2:41, most groups were observed to have written one or two possible experiments following the ________ vs ____________ format. I left the room at 2:46, two minutes before the first bell.


If Mr. Z acknowledges that most students by the end of the share period had one or two possible ideas for a science project, then he is stating that we met our primary goal. In addition all students shared phone numbers. All students received my approval for the projects they came up with. Why was this lesson unsatisfactory?


This lesson included no class share, assessment, summary or closing. Incorporate questioning techniques designed to facilitate active participation.

During the share, a presentation rubric or checklist could be used, or students could create a question or brief comment for each presentation.

Engage your classes in evaluative share-out and closings to provide evidence that the focused teaching point was achieved.


Is Mr. Z saying that any lesson that does not have a whole group share segment is an unsatisfactory lesson? This seems rather dogmatic to me. Why can’t the assessment be made by the teacher as she goes from group to group? What if the students are still involved in group work and interrupting them would not allow them to finish the task? What if finishing the task takes priority over sharing? It was the day before the vacation. I wanted to make sure that partners and groups had a vacation plan. I assessed that they did.

In the end all except two (V.J. and one other boy) finished a science project.


Moriah Untamed