Members of the Piñon book group, from left, Whitney Holland, Marianne Wallin, Barbara Kress, Kati Steinberg, Karen Forsyth, Mandy Ferran and Jo Mazuranich. Not pictured is Andrea Weems. Courtesy photo
Teachers collaborating together has been shown to improve student outcomes and teacher happiness.
The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation helps facilitate this important work by providing book grants to LAPS teachers twice annually. One such grant was awarded recently to a group of teachers from Piñon Elementary. These teachers meet together once a month on Mondays after school to discuss the book, “Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom” by Thomas Armstrong.
The book is about using the multiple intelligences (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist) in everything from curriculum design to classroom management to assessment. Recently one of the LAPS Foundation board members, Melanie McKinley, joined the group to hear what they’ve been learning.
“From the moment they got together, the discussion was lively and engaging and ranged from reactions to that month’s reading (chapters 10 through 12), to how the teachers have been trying to incorporate the multiple intelligences into their classrooms, to shortcomings of the current method of assessment,” McKinley said. She noted that throughout the meeting, everyone fully participated, offering stories from their own classrooms of what has worked and not worked and suggesting ideas for incorporating new teaching methods into future lessons.
As is always true, time is such a difficult constraint for teachers. McKinley, a teacher herself, observed that there were a lot of ideas of how to teach things differently to help reach students who do not learn in the narrow linguistic band that is typical of much of the curriculum. In order to help other teachers who have not been able to participate in this group, the participants are planning a Dr. Seuss Day to highlight teaching with multiple intelligences.
“It is obvious that these teachers have a great deal of respect for one another, for their students, and for the teaching profession,” McKinley added.
The book group was funded by the LAPS Foundation last fall, through one of its Professional Book Group grants. These grants are intended to give educators the opportunity to read about and discuss topics that will help them broaden their pedagogical knowledge.
“The book groups are very popular with educators,” LAPS Foundation Executive Director Laura Loy said. “This particular group at Piñonwas one of four book groups that we funded last fall. We’ve received requests for another four more this spring.”
The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has donated more than $1 million to fund opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments in the Los Alamos public schools.
The Foundation raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values that excellent public education is every child’s right, and that excellent public education systems depend on: a well-informed and supportive community, caring and competent educators, a supportive and responsive school environment, and sufficient financing to achieve educational goals.