All posts by Mark Silberberg

Mark is thrilled to be a member of LREI's vibrant learning community and is inspired each day by students and colleagues alike. Mark began his formal adult life in schools as a teacher of physics, chemistry, English and an experiential business simulation class in the public schools where he also worked as a school administrator and technology coordinator. For the ten years prior to coming to LREI, Mark was a co-founder and co-director of a progressive K-12 public charter school. When not immersed in things LREI, Mark enjoys spending time with his family and completing sundry home repair projects. He is an avid soccer player and skier and wishes he had more time to play the guitar and bass.

Exploring Our Guiding Principles with New Faculty & Staff

As we move towards the end of the year, I thought it might be useful to return to some of the work that our new faculty and staff engaged in at the start of the year during our orientation sessions. After brainstorming personal connections to our guiding principles, participants formed groups based on the guiding principles that most resonated for them. These groups then affinity maped the collection of responses that had been generated in the brainstorming exercise. Each group mapped these ideas into one of three overarching themes that they felt amplified the core guiding principles. New faculty and staff were then asked to think about how these themes might serve as a guidepost for their wayfinding and learning work throughout their first year at LREI.

With much work already behind us, perhaps useful for all of us at LREI to ask how these guiding principles and the related themes developed by our newest community members are guiding and supporting our work with learners and pushing each of us closer to our learning edge?  

Continue reading Exploring Our Guiding Principles with New Faculty & Staff

Exploring Our Progressive Purpose

It’s been an exciting start of the year for students, faculty and families at LREI. I’m privileged in my new role as Director of Learning & Innovation to be able to discover each day more about the rich learning experiences that weave their way through and between our lower, middle and high school and afterschool programs. Continue reading Exploring Our Progressive Purpose

Opening a Pandora’s Box of Possibilities

Dear Colleagues,

Consider this as an open letter from our newest colleagues to those of us returning for the beginning of a new season of learning at LREI. In a short ideation session, new faculty identified essential elements of our progressive purpose, stated goals for “being” at LREI and uncovered some questions for which they will look to you for support and guidance.

Continue reading Opening a Pandora’s Box of Possibilities

Considering Their Future Selves

This is a guest post from Monica Snellings (@InquiringMonica). The original posts can be found here and here.

Mark Silberberg, middle school principal at LREI (and a big supporter of Inquiring Minds), integrated our lesson, My Future Self, into a class on values. The student’s schedule for this class is only once a week so getting 5th graders to retain their focus and stick with this provocative thought experiment took some ingenuity on his part. Continue reading Considering Their Future Selves

My Future Self

With our eighth graders off in DC (#lreidc) exploring memorials and monuments and making connections to their humanities inquiry and the seventh graders in Williamsburg (#lreiwb) doing research for their Colonial Museum exhibits, our fifth and sixth graders have gotten to stretch their wings a bit in our middle school spaces. Our fifth grade civilization simulation is just getting under way and sixth graders are using insights gained from the religions they created to begin to explore the impact of religion on life in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Our fifth and sixth grade student reps have also been hard at work planning for the activities that they will run at this weekend’s Halloween Fair.

In Fifth Grade Adolescent Issues, we have started a project that asks students to envision their future selves that we’re doing with our friends at Inquiring Minds  (@InquiringMonica  and  @InquiringDK). We started this process by exploring some general thoughts and ideas about the future. We will then will take a trip back into the past as students research  people that they admire to tease out qualities and characteristics that they would like to cultivate in themselves. Students will then use these insights to design a possible future for themselves. Continue reading My Future Self

When the familiar becomes this sort of alien world

At our first divisional faculty meeting, we used some provocative insights from Warren Berger‘s A More Beautiful Question to examine some of our familiar routines and practices through the lens of our important summer learning experiences. We wondered together about how might these powerful experiences reframe how we look at the familiar so as to make it seem new again and open for inquiry. Continue reading When the familiar becomes this sort of alien world

Designing for Innovation

What do you get when you bring together faculty teams from each division and frame mission-focused inquiry around a design thinking framework? You get our first successful Innovation Institute. Over a five-day period this summer, a diverse group of faculty came together to explore the concept of time and how it impacts teaching and learning at LREI. With facilitation by designers from the School of Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation program (@InquiringMonica and @playlabinc), the participants explored how a design thinking mindset can be used to forward our mission through the cultivation of empathy connected to purposeful action. Within in this framework, participants identified questions connected to problems whose solution will have a positive institutional impact on our work and culture. Continue reading Designing for Innovation

When Students Take the Lead, Discovery Follows

discoveryLast Friday saw the roll-out of Discovery Afternoon version 2.0. Our 2013 inaugural run of Discovery Afternoon drew on the expertise and passion that exists within our own faculty. It was an opportunity for students and teachers to get to know each other outside of the classroom and to strengthen our middle school community of learners.Discovery Afternoon provided an opportunity for experiential learning guided by teachers through activities that extended beyond the daily academic routine. Activities offered gave teachers an opportunity to share a hobby, passion, or favorite city location with a small group of students. Activities were designed to help students grow intellectually and emotionally as they pursued new interests or explored passions shared with their teachers. It was a great success. Continue reading When Students Take the Lead, Discovery Follows

Art as Experience

artsIt was a pleasure to see so many of you at last night’s Middle School Art Show and Performing Arts Festival. For an evening that would suggest a focus on product and performance, I was struck by how much emphasis there was on highlighting the artist’s process. Visual art teachers Jeremiah Demster and Nathalie Hall and our young artists were engaged in regular conversations about the evolution of the work throughout the evening. At the same time, performing arts teachers Deborah Damast, Susan Glass, Joanne Magee, and Matt McLean and their students made sure that the evening’s performances were also balanced with insights into each groups working process as well. Continue reading Art as Experience

Be the Change

Sometimes the best way to start a story is at the end.  While yesterday’s Middle School Social Justice Teach-In was a celebration and affirmation of the committed work that has engaged our eighth graders for the past six months, our closing assembly provided us with an opportunity to reconnect with former eighth graders who continue to be deeply engaged in social justice work in the high school. Continue reading Be the Change

The “discovery of the connection of things”

As the philosopher and LREI supporter John Dewey wrote in Democracy and Education in 1916:

To “learn from experience” is to make a backward and forward connection between what we do to things and what we enjoy or suffer from things in consequence. Under such conditions, doing becomes a trying; an experiment with the world to find out what it is like; the undergoing becomes instruction, [a] discovery of the connection of things.
This “discovery of the connection of things” was at the center of an experience shared directly by a group of our eighth grade class and indirectly by the grade as a whole. Continue reading The “discovery of the connection of things”