Friday, December 19, 2014

Thirty-eight new National Board Certified teachers

With 252 National Board Certified teachers now working in SFUSD, the district is growing the number of teachers with this distinction at a faster rate than the national average and has a greater percentage of Board-certified teachers than any other California district.

Like board-certified doctors and accountants, teachers who achieve this certification have met rigorous standards through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review. They build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videos of their teaching, and a thorough analysis of their work. Teachers must demonstrate an ability to meet diverse student needs and show that they collaborate with a learning community outside of their classroom.

National Board Certification also requires several characteristics of its candidates, including that they recognize students as individuals and adjust their teaching methods accordingly, that they treat students equitably, that they master their subject matter, and that they think systematically about their teaching while learning from experience. It is a voluntary program.

All the work submitted by candidates is reviewed by committees of peer educators from across the nation.

Elizabeth MacNab, who teaches second grade at Carver Elementary, says earning the National Board certification was a long process.

“It made me look more closely at my teaching than I ever have before,” said MacNab, who has been teaching for 13 years. “The process makes you so much more aware of what you are doing and why.”

She added, “It’s not about becoming a perfect teacher; it’s about figuring out what works for the students and striving toward your goals.”

The 38 new National Board Certified teachers will be honored at the January 13, 2015 SF Board of Education meeting.

Find out more about SFUSD's National Board Support Program.

Correction: SFUSD now has 252 National Board Certified teachers, as opposed to the previously stated 269.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Everyone can code!

SFUSD students—from first grade all the way up to high school—set aside an hour (or more) to learn the basics of computer coding for Hour of Code, a global event to celebrate Computer Science Education Week. Younger students created Lightbot and Code Monkey games. At Thurgood Marshall High School, students enrolled in a game design class showed classmates what they’ve been learning all semester. This districtwide activity is one way SFUSD and our community partners are inspiring success in college and 21st century careers.

Even though it's not officially Computer Science Education Week anymore, anyone can still participate in Hour of Code. Try it out yourself with's Flappy Bird tutorial—no programming knowledge needed! 

We don't limit computer science education to an hour either. The Marshall High class is a two-semester program, and students also participate in events such as Game Design Night with Balboa High's game design class.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mission High’s Dante Club, 8 years and many successes later

Photo: Liz Hafalia / The ChronicleDesigner Khiem Vo (left) and graphic designer Diem Nguyen
(right) work on logos for their 3-D architectural renderings and
design company at La Boulange in San Francisco, Calif.,
on Monday, November 24, 2014.
Eight years ago, they were high school students who spent every Saturday morning together trying to gain a foothold in their adopted country by drinking coffee, eating bagels and studying one of literature’s most revered and difficult masterpieces.

Now, they’re busy professionals — some starting companies, some raising children — who, like most adults, catch up with each other now and then. But they say they credit their beloved high school social studies teacher and her unlikely Dante Club with paving their paths to success.

On March 20, 2006, The Chronicle featured an article about the Dante Club, a group of a dozen students from San Francisco’s Mission High who got together each Saturday at the Morning Due Cafe to read Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” together over breakfast.

The teenagers, mostly impoverished students who were new arrivals from Mexico, Central America and Asia, were still learning English and finding their way in a big, daunting, urban high school.
Their social studies teacher, Callen Taylor, believed they lacked “cultural currency” compared with their wealthier peers and persuaded them to bring their dictionaries and highlighter pens to puzzle over the difficult work with her every week — just for fun.