The Small Schools Network creates and uses small schools and professional development as avenues to increase student achievement, improve teacher morale and professionalism, and build relationships between stakeholders. The network conducts the Teacher Leadership Academy which uses experienced small school teachers to work with aspiring small school teachers and teacher-directors to help them realize their own visions for small schools.
Greater student-to-student connections are addressed through lessons in listening, sensitivity training, mediation, and peer mentoring and tutoring. The Teacher Leadership Academy actively fosters partnerships between schools as well as increased collaboration between scholars, researchers, and practitioners. Network schools are working to increase parental and community involvement in efforts to establish a broader teaching and learning community.
South Shore African Village Collaborative
The Local School Development Team of the South Shore African Village Collaborative primarily drives all professional development activities for teachers in network schools. Professional development for principals is aligned to develop more collegial relationships between teachers and principals. Professional development topics include school leadership, team building, parent and community involvement, developing thematic units, instructional strategies, strategic planning, and distance learning and teleconferencing.
Stone Soup: The Multicultural Literacy Network
Focusing on literature appropriate for diverse student bodies, schools in the Stone Soup Network emphasize comprehensive approaches to literacy as their route to increased achievement for all their students. Network schools utilize restructured days and implement programs to provide regularly scheduled time each month for all teachers to work together. Through the Hug-a-Book program, schools in this network are offered creative, multicultural books that teachers select to form classroom lending libraries. Staff development meetings focus on integrating multicultural books into all areas of the curriculum and developing reading and writing activities from them. The goal is to create a climate of multicultural literacy within and between the network schools.
This network focuses on curriculum innovation, professional development, and parent and community involvement to improve network schools. TL-21 schools are implementing a project-based curriculum focusing on the multiple intelligences of students. With the use of school-wide curricular themes, the network aims to unify the curriculum and connect content from grade to grade. Schools in TL-21 use art and music instruction and physical education to reorganize the classroom structure and create common planning time for teachers.
Technology for Integration on the East Side
The T.I.E.S. Partnership develops and implements strategies that enable students to better understand, interpret, and evaluate information through the use of technology and the arts. Faculty members from National Louis University, the external partner, convene with artists and technological consultants to form a Resource Cadre. Teachers from network schools attend art and technology workshops led by the Resource Cadre where they develop an integrated curriculum unit to be used in their classrooms. After School Access Academies are also offered where students and parents engage in computer technology training and gain experience using technological resources.
The Urban Imagination Network strives to improve student reading comprehension in the content areas of science and social studies by engaging students in the creation of museum-style exhibits. The project uses a structure that involves individuals within and among schools to utilize the reading process as a way of gaining and organizing information just as the museum curator researches and then displays knowledge. Museum partners connect schools to the content that is embedded in students texts. Network schools partner with a different museum every year to establish school-museum linkages for students, teachers and parents and to increase the use of museum-based approaches to teaching. Parents work with museum partners and are trained as docents for the museums. Workshops offered at network schools have focused on effective parenting, helping children read and developing museum connections. The network sponsors teacher development retreats and training opportunities.
The West Pullman Elementary Schools Network is a group of ten schools in the West Pullman community of the far southeast side of Chicago. Chicago United and the Teachers Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) have partnered to design and implement the Comprehensive School Development Process, a community development and school restructuring initiative. The initiative will help develop a learning community in West Pullman, improve teaching and learning in the schools and spark economic revitalization in the area.
West Town Learning Network
The West Town Learning Network has a goal of increasing student achievement through elementary schools that are restructured and better connected to the local high school. The network curriculum involves multiple disciplines that demand higher order thinking skills such as comprehension, design, analysis, and problem solving. "Vertical and Horizontal Teams" in English and Mathematics are established to examine current curriculum content and plan a curriculum across grades. Cross-school networking involving teachers, students and parents is fostered at "Community Saturdays" and network-wide events that provide opportunities for information sharing and skill development.
Whirlwind ArtsLab Network
Using an arts-centered curriculum as the medium for improving instruction, the Whirlwind ArtsLab Network focuses on improving instruction particularly in language arts and reading. Art-integrated training is provided for parents, career service and administrative staff. Artists attend common planning meetings with teachers and offer support in the classroom, and alternative learning assessment tools are being explored and utilized.
Woodlawn School/Community Network
Using a development model for school reform, the Woodlawn School/Community Network supports successful transition for students from elementary to middle to high school. The long-term goals of this network are to significantly increase student performance in all grade levels, to develop a personalized competency based K-12 curriculum and to integrate families and the Woodlawn community into the educational process. Team-teaching an integrated curriculum, monthly parent meetings, and the use of technology as a tool to support learning are all hallmarks of this network.
Chicago Annenberg Challenge