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April 2012 Vol. 19 No. 5 Focus on Engaging Curriculum

Giving teachers more say

Photo: Jessica Kourkounis for NewsWorks

George Washington High School English teacher Brenda Wolbransky says the School District’s curricular mandates have made many teachers feel like “robots.”

By by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks

Something in Brenda Wolbransky's classroom doesn't feel right.

The 32-year District veteran is pacing the rows of her honors English class at George Washington High, coaxing her students into a conversation about Lord of the Flies, the classic tale of British schoolboys who get trapped on an island and descend into anarchy.

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More in this edition

Tougher standards, better readers?

By by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook and WHYY/NewsWorks
What will you read this week? As part of our April print edition on engaging curriculum, the Notebook and NewsWorks took a multimedia peek inside the reading lives of local high school student Zach Morales and School Reform Commissioner Lorene Cary

Zach Morales learned early that high school would go more smoothly if he kept certain things to himself.

But privately, the unassuming teen is proud of his passion for reading. So he hesitates for only a moment before opening the door to his small bedroom.

"I have a vast collection of books," says Morales, sweeping an arm towards shelves packed with horror novels, Harry Potter books, and biographies of professional wrestlers.

"Every book in this bookcase, I've actually read," he proclaims.

Listen to more of Zach's story in reporter Benjamin Herold's radio feature.

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Lessons from teachers

Ask any teacher, whether at a neighborhood, magnet, or charter school, and most would agree that to keep students engaged and create meaningful learning, they need some autonomy – some room to be creative.

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