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Project Zero Ideas Impact Teachers in Classrooms Year-Round

When educators come to Project Zero’s (PZ) Classroom, intensive weeklong summer programs for pre-K–12 educators, the goal is to take back what they learn to their schools and incorporate it into their classrooms. A recent exhibit by Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CLRS) teachers, who put their learning on display for other educators, shows that this goal is being realized.

Last summer, CRLS sent 17 educators to the PZ Classroom, Teaching for Understanding: Enhancing Disciplinary Understanding in Teachers and Students. The recent exhibit displayed the impact the ideas presented in the program had on both the teachers who attended and their students.

“I’m thrilled,” says Steve Seidel, HGSE lecturer and director of the Arts in Education Program and Project Zero. “It’s an extraordinary story of a 20-year history of Project Zero researchers and faculty and administration at CRLS working together. The exhibit makes visible how much has developed in CRLS classrooms from PZ ideas. It turns out to be much more than we knew.”

The exhibit, in which 15 teachers demonstrated their work through posters, attracted an audience of graduate students, administrators, and educators from other communities, as well as representatives from Project Zero and the Center for Collaborative Education, an organization that partners with public schools and districts “to create and sustain effective and equitable schools.” Ideas presented in the exhibit included how to use visible thinking to better teach for understanding, how to use questions in arts in education to help to teach for understanding, and how to make learning visible in teaching for understanding.

“The feedback we got from people was how did we find each other? How could they get involved,” say Joan Soble, professional development teacher coach for CRLS. “What I didn’t hear was, ‘I could never do this with my students,’ which was really good. A lot of people looked carefully at this.”

"We were blown away,” says Project Zero Researcher Mara Krechevsky. “When I saw the exhibit, it was very moving. It was really emotional — teachers sharing their identities as learners and researchers, describing paths that have and haven’t worked. We were very impressed that the teachers tried to integrate different PZ ideas that we have not integrated ourselves.”

Project Zero’s mission is to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines, at the individual and institutional levels. CRLS has a long relationship with Project Zero that it hopes to continue in the future.

“Project Zero has been a very good friend to our school for a long time — we are lucky to have a relationship with them that a lot people can’t because we can walk across Cambridge common,” Soble says. “Over the years, whether we were developing portfolios or trying to teach for understanding systematically or getting involved with making learning visible, whenever we have called for help, they’ve always come…. They do everything in their power to make sure the ideas they believe are really important can take hold in schools.”


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