February 11, 2015 , Issue #2
Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, February 12th


Location: The Bay School

Facilitator: Erin Murphy

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Designing Writing Assessments to Improve Student Writing (LA)

Thursday, March 12th


Location: Windward School

Facilitator: Kate Moore
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Digital Citizenship: Issues and Pragmatic Approaches (LA)

Thursday, March 5th


Location: Brentwood School

Facilitator: Karen Bradley
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Designing for Deep Thinking and Powerful Learning (LA)

Wednesday, March 11th


Location: Campbell Hall

Facilitator: Ron Ritchhart

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Be Well. Teach Well: Reinvigorate your school year, your students, and your life (SF)

Wednesday, March 18th


Location: The Bay School

Facilitator: Dave Mochel

Learn More

What is the BATDC?

The Bay Area Teacher Development Collaborative (BATDC), is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional growth opportunities for teachers and administrators from independent schools. Its member schools represent the diverse range of small and large elementary, middle, and high schools from all over the greater San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.

What is the mission of the organization?

The aim of the BATDC is to 1) Promote enriching professional development opportunities, 2) Support collegiality and cooperation among teachers and schools, and 3) Inspire teachers to become educational leaders.

Why does a "Bay Area" organization also operate in Los Angeles?

The BATDC started in the San Francisco Bay Area in the year 2000, and has since grown to include a network of over sixty independent schools in the region. In 2012, a group of LA area heads of school asked if the BATDC could replicate its proven model by launching a branch of its operations in Southern California. Now, following the completion of the two-year pilot program, and with a thriving group of over twenty member schools in Southern California, it might be time to consider a name change! 

How can I take part in the BATDC's offerings?
1) If your school isn't already a member, encourage them to join here

2) Register for our upcoming events, and keep an eye out for our spring schedule of workshops.

3) Get in touch and let us know what kind of professional development opportunities you're looking for.

4) Let us help you leverage the power of the network by connecting you with colleagues from other schools. 

5) Join our mailing list to stay up to date on all our future workshops and events.

Welcome from the Executive Director, Janet McGarvey
How can we get better at knowing what is going on inside our students' heads as they learn?  Assessment and scaffolding would be so much easier if we could; so would differentiation.  Researchers at Project Zero have probed this profound question for several years, and those involved in the Making Thinking Visible project have provided powerful strategies for teachers to "get under the hood." Through frameworks, routines, and other pedagogical supports, researchers like Ron Ritchhart have energized educators all over the world by giving them new ways to deepen students' learning. Teachers help students to go beyond "showing their work" to showing their thinking by placing thinking at the center of all student engagement.


I have had the pleasure of watching Ron in action for over 14 years and can attest to his enormous resonance with teachers of all grade levels and subject areas. By showing new ways of questioning, listening, documenting, naming, and more, he and others show us that there is more at stake than learning to think better.  We aim for getting better at thinking to learn.


In this, our second edition of The BATDC Buzz, our online newsletter, we focus on how making thinking visible happens and why it is so powerful.  You'll read about a group of almost 80 Bay Area teachers who are collaborating throughout the year on self-identified areas of inquiry around making student thinking visible; they plan to model ways of showing how their own thinking has developed. You will also see how two local schools are using the work of Making Thinking Visible in their daily pedagogy. I am so honored that Ron has committed himself to continued work with the Collaborative now and next year (and beyond, we hope!) 


 I hope you find inspiration as you read.

- Janet McGarvey,
  BATDC Executive Director
How to Make Learning Visible?
By Crystal Land

"Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself." - John Dewey

Project Zero, experiential learning, Multiple Intelligences, Reggio Emilia, student-centered learning. There are many terms floating around in the world of progressive education that all focus on the need for the student's experience to be at the core of deep, sustained learning. The roots of these approaches started with philosophers such as John Dewey who believed that education is an interactive not didactic process--and that learners should be fully engaged and active in their learning process rather than passively receptive.

Ron Ritchhart, a researcher at Harvard's Project Zero and author of Making Thinking Visible provides teachers with both the theory and practice of how to put this into action in our classrooms. Richhart says, "With the learner at the center...rather than at the end, our role as teachers shifts from the delivery of information to fostering students' engagements with ideas." (26)

How do we make this happen in our classrooms?

  • Creating classroom habits of mind and "thinking routines" to focus on what students are pondering instead of what they are memorizing

  • Asking authentic questions where the teacher does not know the answer--meaty, interesting, probing questions that promote engagement, inquiry and discussion

  • Following up with more nuanced and layered questioning about why a student thinks a particular way:  "What makes you think that?" and "How can you justify or support that?"

  • Deep listening! Italy's Reggio Emilia pre-schools believe that active and deep listening is the base of the relationships between teachers and students, and between students with one another.

  • Documenting student learning throughout the process of discussion through shared note-taking, photographs, whiteboard work, diagramming through a variety of media and mediums.

Recently, 75 teachers from Bay Area schools worked with Ron to explore the ideas behind making thinking and learning visible and to test their own assumptions about developing these cultures of thinking and learning. 


Ian Walters, a 6th grade teacher at Head-Royce School finds dozens of ways "in" through Ron's materials: "his approach encourages me to rigorously evaluate the habits of mind I am helping my students build. From student-centered assignment design to participating in organic, dynamic activities, I find myself analyzing my own classroom routines from the bottom up within an exciting framework that places active student thinking at the center. I love experimenting with this exciting work in my classroom, and helping my students 'see' their thinking in authentic ways."

Creating A Culture of Thinking
By Tori Hogan, The BATDC

Mitch Bostian, Head of The Berkeley School, in front of one of the many examples of visible thinking in the 4th/5th "Cerrito Creek" classroom.

If you ask any of the teachers at The Berkeley School about Project Zero (PZ), they'll beam with excitement as they tell you how much it has changed their teaching. The school, which enrolls students from preschool to 8th grade, is well known for its commitment to creating a culture of thinking among its students and staff. In fact, every teacher is required to attend Harvard's Project Zero Classroom Institute in Cambridge within the first three years of joining the school, and the impact is evident.


I took a tour of the classrooms with Head of School, Mitch Bostian, and it was impressive to see all the different ways that teachers were making the students' thinking visible. "I'd never really thought about what we put on the classroom walls," Mitch admitted. However, after participating in the PZ Institute years ago, he began to realize that when you walk into a space you should be able to see where the students are in their thinking process. At The Berkeley School, that means showing work that is in progress (not only finished products), posting thinking routines on the walls, and being thoughtful about the physical learning environment.


An unintended outcome of the school's strong commitment to the PZ approach surfaced in 2009 when the faculty and staff found themselves in a tough transition period following the loss of their Head of School, Janet Stork, to cancer. Janet had been a champion for Project Zero after serving for years as a foundational contributor to the PZ team at Harvard, and there was a strong sentiment among the faculty to continue in the new direction she had inspired. "The faculty were amazing in the interim," Mitch says, "because they were empowered by the PZ approach to slow down and figure out what's going on." After engaging in countless thinking routines for over a year, the faculty and staff settled on a new direction for the school and they were able to clearly show their own thinking to the parents and school community to get them on board.


"When you start doing the Making Thinking Visible work, you realize how invisible that thinking really is," Mitch said. "Both the children's thinking and our own thinking." However, through their commitment to making PZ a key foundation of the faculty's professional development, The Berkeley School is making extraordinary strides in creating a culture of thinking.  


Photo Essay
Photo Essay by Tori Hogan
What does it look like when we make thinking visible? Click here or on the picture above to check out our photo essay showcasing Live Oak School in San Francisco.