Oakland Teacher Leadership on Display

On Saturday, May 5, Agency by Design Oakland concluded this year's Teacher Fellowship with 30 Oakland educators. Over 100 attendees came together to engage with fellows' inquiry work and leadership, through a morning of presentations, workshops, and documentation booths.

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"This was both the most applicable and inspiring teacher event I've ever been to." - Jane Lee, Instructional Coach & Math Teacher, Roots International Academy

  The event kicked off by welcoming Agency  by  Design Oakland’s new Fellowship Director, Paula Mitchell. Paula is a Teacher on Special Assignment at Grass Valley Elementary and has been an educator in Oakland for 25 years. She joined the Agency  by  Design Oakland community during the second phase of research, which commenced in 2016. Check out this  video  about Paula’s work at Grass Valley to learn more.

The event kicked off by welcoming Agency by Design Oakland’s new Fellowship Director, Paula Mitchell. Paula is a Teacher on Special Assignment at Grass Valley Elementary and has been an educator in Oakland for 25 years. She joined the Agency by Design Oakland community during the second phase of research, which commenced in 2016. Check out this video about Paula’s work at Grass Valley to learn more.

 Four powerful Ignite Talks from  Teacher Fellows Cicely Day, Roxanne Martínez, Reina Cabezas,  and  Ed Crandall  set the tone for the event, providing incisive research perspectives on the ways the fellows have demonstrated leadership in their maker-centered work. Look for full videos of the talks on our site soon!

Four powerful Ignite Talks from Teacher Fellows Cicely Day, Roxanne Martínez, Reina Cabezas, and Ed Crandall set the tone for the event, providing incisive research perspectives on the ways the fellows have demonstrated leadership in their maker-centered work. Look for full videos of the talks on our site soon!

  Teacher Fellow Reina Cabezas , a CTE Engineering Coach with OUSD, focused on decolonizing STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, & Making), and how she has experimented and explored this idea with students.

Teacher Fellow Reina Cabezas, a CTE Engineering Coach with OUSD, focused on decolonizing STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, & Making), and how she has experimented and explored this idea with students.

  Teacher Fellow Roxy Martínez , Resource Specialist at Grass Valley Elementary School, OUSD, in her talk entitled, "Students of Color Sustaining and Creating Identities in Maker Education," spoke to the importance of maker education not being another tool to oppress our students, and instead a means of liberation.  

Teacher Fellow Roxy Martínez, Resource Specialist at Grass Valley Elementary School, OUSD, in her talk entitled, "Students of Color Sustaining and Creating Identities in Maker Education," spoke to the importance of maker education not being another tool to oppress our students, and instead a means of liberation.  

"Using maker education, we can demonstrate how to question the systems we live in and show students that they wield the power to change inequities in these systems." - Roxy Martínez

  Teacher Fellow Ed Crandall , the Science, Making and Robotics Teacher from Lighthouse Community Charter School, spent his time in the fellowship focused on the Agency  by  Design thinking routines by consistently incorporating them into his classes. In his talk entitled, "Thinking Routines Work - If Used Routinely," he described thinking routines as a powerful tool for shifting the way our students engage with ideas. 

Teacher Fellow Ed Crandall, the Science, Making and Robotics Teacher from Lighthouse Community Charter School, spent his time in the fellowship focused on the Agency by Design thinking routines by consistently incorporating them into his classes. In his talk entitled, "Thinking Routines Work - If Used Routinely," he described thinking routines as a powerful tool for shifting the way our students engage with ideas. 

"Thinking routines are a strategy that will change your students forever." -  Ed Crandall

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 Images from  Teacher Fellow Amy Dobras'  workshop, "Agency  by  Design 101: Parts, Purposes, & Complexities," in which participants collaboratively took apart an object through the usage of a core Agency  by  Design thinking routine. Amy Dobras is the Middle School Making Teacher at Lighthouse Community Charter School. 

Images from Teacher Fellow Amy Dobras' workshop, "Agency by Design 101: Parts, Purposes, & Complexities," in which participants collaboratively took apart an object through the usage of a core Agency by Design thinking routine. Amy Dobras is the Middle School Making Teacher at Lighthouse Community Charter School. 

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On the left, Zaretta Hammond, author of "Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain," attending Teacher Fellow Tim Bremner's packed workshop titled "How are cognitive thinking routines a tool for culturally responsive teaching?" Participants used an Agency by Design thinking routine to become  familiar with Ms. Hammond's Ready for Rigor tool. Tim Bremner is a Pathway Coach at Castlemont High School, OUSD. 

"Yes, cognitive routines are social justice. Getting a kid on reading level—that's social justice." - Zaretta Hammond

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 Images above from  Teacher Fellow Aáron Heard's  workshop, "Think, Feel, Care: Using the TFC Thinking Routine to Gain Insight Into Your Students' Experiences." Ms. Heard is the Drama Teacher at Alliance Academy of Integrated Learning, OUSD.  

Images above from Teacher Fellow Aáron Heard's workshop, "Think, Feel, Care: Using the TFC Thinking Routine to Gain Insight Into Your Students' Experiences." Ms. Heard is the Drama Teacher at Alliance Academy of Integrated Learning, OUSD.  

"I thought Agency by Design was just about "maker" stuff and would have nothing to do with me, but it's about so much more. It's applicable to everything I do in the classroom and think about in my practice."  - Attendee

 Participants collaboratively building during a design challenge in "Building Collegiality around Maker-Centered Learning - BRING THE FUN BACK TO LEARNING," with  Teacher Fellows Clayton Evans , Physics and Engineering Teacher &  Leah Jensen , Teacher Librarian, McClymonds HIgh School, OUSD  

Participants collaboratively building during a design challenge in "Building Collegiality around Maker-Centered Learning - BRING THE FUN BACK TO LEARNING," with Teacher Fellows Clayton Evans, Physics and Engineering Teacher & Leah Jensen, Teacher Librarian, McClymonds HIgh School, OUSD  

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 In "Ancestral Tech/Making: Making as Ancestral Work," attendees learned how to make a medicinal skin salve while exploring the intersections of ancestral tech and health in modern times. This workshop was led by  Teacher Fellow Crystal Barajas Barr , Art and STE(A)M Teacher at Urban Promise Academy Middle School, OUSD. 

In "Ancestral Tech/Making: Making as Ancestral Work," attendees learned how to make a medicinal skin salve while exploring the intersections of ancestral tech and health in modern times. This workshop was led by Teacher Fellow Crystal Barajas Barr, Art and STE(A)M Teacher at Urban Promise Academy Middle School, OUSD. 

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Teacher Fellow Angelica Rubi, along with students, led a community making circle throughout the event, in which participants created Ojos de Dios, to represent the power of seeing. Rubi's inquiry in the fellowship focused on students' development of maker identity and empowerment. Angelica Rubi is a Work Based Learning Liaison, at Castlemont High School, OUSD 

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Teacher Fellow Susan Wolf designed and distributed zines titled "Making/Un-Making Memoir," for participants to fold and engage with. Susan is an Artist, Educator, and Integrated Learning Specialist with ACOE. She works with teachers at Roots International Academy and Alliance Academy of Integrated Learning to develop integrated interdisciplinary curriculum.  

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 Documentation Booths throughout the event invited viewers to learn about fellows' inquiry work. "Super Learners" tells the story of  Teacher Fellow Stephanie Taymuree , Special Education Teacher for Moderate/Severe students, at Redwood Heights Elementary School, OUSD. To read more about Stephanie's work in the fellowship this year check out her  blog posts . 

Documentation Booths throughout the event invited viewers to learn about fellows' inquiry work. "Super Learners" tells the story of Teacher Fellow Stephanie Taymuree, Special Education Teacher for Moderate/Severe students, at Redwood Heights Elementary School, OUSD. To read more about Stephanie's work in the fellowship this year check out her blog posts

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Thank you to everyone who attended and engaged in the day's activities, but a special thanks to the hardworking educators who shared their thinking and leadership at the event! 

Photos by Nabil Alwan, Carrie Hott, Brooke Toczylowski, Aaron Vanderwerff, Sarah Chung, & Angi Chau 

Exploring Complexity with the Help of Thinking Routines

By Paula Mitchell, Senior Fellow, Agency by Design Oakland & Teacher on Special Assignment at Grass Valley Elementary School, OUSD 

How do you spark curiosity? How do you get your learners to understand complexities? How can a teacher use thinking routines to show what’s going on in a child’s mind? What’s the best way to use thinking routines with moderate to severe handicapped students?

These are all questions that Agency by Design Oakland fellows tackled in the Thinking Routines and Capacities inquiry group, which I had the opportunity to facilitate and coach over the past few months. This group, which includes educators from Alliance Academy of Integrated Learning, Lighthouse Charter School, Redwood Heights Elementary, and Oakland International High School, focused on exploring the role of Agency by Design thinking routines in deepening their learners' understanding of academic content and skill building.

 Capacities for developing Maker Empowerment within the Agency  by  Design Framework 

Capacities for developing Maker Empowerment within the Agency by Design Framework 

More specifically, these fellow focused on the Parts, Purposes, and Complexities thinking routine and the capacity of Exploring Complexity. Below are examples of three of the fellows in my inquiry group and some of the interventions they’ve experimented with in the classroom over the last three months.

  Amy Dobras, Lighthouse Community Charter School’s middle school making teacher, focused on Parts, Purposes, & Complexities in a pen take apart. After using this thinking routine several times with students, Amy noticed that her students struggled with identifying complexities. Amy says she realized she needed to find a way to scaffold the concept of complexities through modeling and the use of sentence starters, in order to get greater student understanding and participation.

Amy Dobras, Lighthouse Community Charter School’s middle school making teacher, focused on Parts, Purposes, & Complexities in a pen take apart. After using this thinking routine several times with students, Amy noticed that her students struggled with identifying complexities. Amy says she realized she needed to find a way to scaffold the concept of complexities through modeling and the use of sentence starters, in order to get greater student understanding and participation.

  Redwood Heights teacher Colleen Gravelle hacked two thinking routines: Parts, Purposes, & Complexities and Imagine If, to create her own thinking prompts that asked her first graders to think more deeply about the purpose of the use of a particular space in their classroom. Colleen’s goal is to have her students think critically about how everyday objects are designed and what the purpose is behind the design.

Redwood Heights teacher Colleen Gravelle hacked two thinking routines: Parts, Purposes, & Complexities and Imagine If, to create her own thinking prompts that asked her first graders to think more deeply about the purpose of the use of a particular space in their classroom. Colleen’s goal is to have her students think critically about how everyday objects are designed and what the purpose is behind the design.

  Redwood Heights special education teacher Stephanie Taymuree’s   MakerSpace display board focuses on the Parts of a machine. In this experience, Stephanie’s students learned that the choice of materials for the parts affects how the machine moves. This is a key scientific concept for moderate to severe special education students that was made more accessible with the use of the Parts, Purposes, & Complexities thinking routine.

Redwood Heights special education teacher Stephanie Taymuree’s MakerSpace display board focuses on the Parts of a machine. In this experience, Stephanie’s students learned that the choice of materials for the parts affects how the machine moves. This is a key scientific concept for moderate to severe special education students that was made more accessible with the use of the Parts, Purposes, & Complexities thinking routine.

To learn more about where these teachers’ inquiries led them and see the other inquiry groups, make sure to come to our Culminating Event on Saturday, May 5. And if you’re new to Agency by Design ideas, don’t miss Amy Dobras’s workshop at the event, “Agency by Design 101: Parts, Purposes, Complexities,” in which participants will be exploring the complexity of everyday objects through a take apart experience, using the PPC thinking routine.

What Teachers are Saying about their Fellowship Experience

Thirty educators from 15 Oakland schools and institutions have been working all school year to learn about the Agency by Design framework and pursue personal inquiries in maker-centered learning. Here are what a few of them have to say about their experience and the impact of the fellowship has had on their classroom practice and learners.   

“My students, using the Agency by Design framework have had the opportunity to engage in maker-centered learning AND we have together been able to explore those impacts. Students have connected more to their school work (increased authenticity), have felt an increased sense of accomplishment and more concrete vision of community at Grass Valley.” - Roxanne Martinez, Resource Teacher/Education Specialist, Grass Valley Elementary School

“This fellowship and the Agency by Design framework has had a profound impact on my instructional practice, leadership, and vision for my school. The two most important aspects are being able to learn what teachers are doing at other schools and gain ideas and partnership, as well as learning about the Agency by Design framework. Having the support of the fellowship and the team makes sure I am going beyond just doing making to creating maker identities in incorporating thinking. Last year I feel the maker instruction I did was more about doing projects without the deeper thinking.” - Annika Mcpeek, Lead Science & Engineering Teacher, Hoover Elementary School

“This time spent in professional development has been critical for me, as these fellow educators have become my thinking partners and have supported me in developing teaching strategies that are engaging and center the student." - Crystal Barajas Barr, Art & STEAM Teacher, Urban Promise Academy Middle School

“I’m here for the people! The network and peer-learning has been invigorating.” Clayton Evans, 11th grade Physics Teacher, McClymonds High School

“My students are seeing themselves as independent learners and managers of their own learning and time because of some of the routines put in plan in our room. The framework has guided me in redirecting authority to make that happen.” - Theresa Sanders, 3rd Grade Teacher, Redwood Heights Elementary School

“[During the fellowship] is when I think about going beyond the cultural responsiveness and Ethnic Studies to marry empowering content with empowerment practices.” - Reina Cabezas, CTE Engineering Coach & Teacher, OUSD

Learn more from the fellows directly at the Culmination Event on May 5th!

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Experience how teacher action research into Maker-Centered Learning is transforming classrooms and schools in Oakland!

Teacher Action Research in Maker-Centered Learning
Saturday, May 5, 9am-12pm
at Lighthouse Community Charter School
444 Hegenberger Rd, Oakland, CA 94621

Breakfast will be served, followed by presentations in:

  • Leadership & Coaching: How do we ignite and support maker-centered learning at our school sites?

  • Curriculum: How can the Agency by Design framework be integrated into my unit plans?  

  • Instructional Strategies: What tools and structures can we create that support strategies like “Re-directing Authority” and “Co-Inspiration”?

  • Thinking Routines and Maker Capacities: How do the Agency by Design thinking routines promote looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity with my learners?

  • Maker Identity: What does it mean to be a maker? Am I a maker? Do my students see themselves as makers?

  • Systems Thinking: How does current maker/engineering curricula, and professional development, disrupt or perpetuate systems of oppression for students of color?

This community of thirty educators represents 15 different Oakland schools and institutions. To learn more about our individual fellows check out the Who We Are section of our website.  

See presentations from educators representing the following schools and institutions:

Alliance Academy Middle School, OUSD
Burckhalter Elementary School, OUSD
Grass Valley Elementary School, OUSD
Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland
Lodestar Charter School, Oakland
McClymonds High School, OUSD
Oakland International High School, OUSD
Park Day School, Oakland     
Integrated Learning Specialist Program, ACOE
CodeNext Oakland
Castlemont High School, OUSD
Hoover Elementary School,  OUSD
Redwood Heights Elementary School, OUSD
Urban Promise Academy Middle School, OUSD
Urban Montessori Charter School, OUSD

Free and open to the public. Breakfast will be served.
RSVP here on Eventbrite.

We hope to see you there!

Behind the Scenes With Our Innovative Teacher Leaders

This past year thirty Agency by Design Oakland fellows have engaged in a city-wide professional learning community focusing on teacher research in Maker-Centered Learning. These dedicated educators have experienced a deep dive into the Agency by Design framework, outlined in the book, Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds. They have then each chosen a personal inquiry to pursue in a variety of topics, including Leadership & Coaching, Curriculum, Instructional Strategies, Thinking Routines and Maker Capacities, Maker Identity, and Systems Thinking.

The Leadership & Coaching Inquiry Group, which is comprised of seven educators from five distinctly different schools (Castlemont High School, Alliance Academy of Integrated Learning, Park Day School, McClymonds High School, and Urban Montessori Charter School), is tackling the question: How do we ignite and support maker-centered learning at our school sites?

From leading professional development sessions, to one-on-one coaching, to thinking deeply about how Agency by Design ideas connect to school-wide goals, these educators are going above and beyond their job responsibilities in order to have a greater impact on the students they serve. Below are just a few of their inquiries and reflections—don’t miss the chance to learn more at the Culmination Event on May 5th! More Info Here.

Clayton Evans

“My colleague and I led a professional development experience for our staff during the January in-service day. It brought our staff alive in a way we haven’t been all year, and teachers are excited about making it happen in their rooms. One teacher mentioned that what we are doing currently is not working, and making is something we should take seriously as a pedagogical shift that will increase engagement and achievement for our young people.

- Clayton Evans
Physics and Engineering Teacher; Engineering Pathway Director; Science Department Head, McClymonds High School, OUSD

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I am curious to discover best practices for documentation and explore which methods of documentation best serve our adult staff. [One thing I’ve done is] I started implementing PIctures of Practice during the first 10, then 20, and now 30 minutes of each full staff meeting on Wednesdays!

- Gretchen Baglyos, 
Arts Integration Specialist and Choir Teacher, Alliance Academy Middle School, OUSD

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How might Agency by Design (the cognitive routines specifically), be a tool for teachers to work collectively to develop as Culturally Responsive educators that create engaging & relevant classrooms in partnership with students as independent learners?

- Tim Bremner, Pathway Coach, Castlemont High School, Sustainable Urban Design Academy (SUDA) Community Health Equity Academy (CHEA), OUSD

 What do you think makes a good leader? What makes a transformational leader? At our most recent fellowship meeting the Leadership & Coaching Inquiry Group reflected through a chalk talk after having read Chapter 2 in  The Art of Coaching Teams , by Elena Aguilar.

What do you think makes a good leader? What makes a transformational leader? At our most recent fellowship meeting the Leadership & Coaching Inquiry Group reflected through a chalk talk after having read Chapter 2 in The Art of Coaching Teams, by Elena Aguilar.

Learn more about what the Agency by Design Fellows have been exploring this year at our upcoming event: Teacher Action Research in Maker-Centered Learning on Saturday, May 5, at Lighthouse Community Schools in Oakland. More info here!