Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs)

Registration for our 2013 ItAGs is now, click here to learn more.

On this page you will find:

ItAG FAQs
Testimonials from ItAG participants
2012 ItAGs
2011 ItAGs
2010 ItAGs
2009 ItAGs
2008 ItAGs
2007 ItAGs
Past ItAGs

ItAG Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an ItAG?

An ItAG is an Inquiry to Action Group An ItAG is an Inquiry to Action Group. It’s similar to a study group, but the goal is that after the group inquires into a particular topic, they will together create action around their area of study, making it a true community of praxis. The topics and themes chosen are always consistent with NYCoRE’s points of unity, which have to do with issues of education and social justice.

Do I have to be a teacher to participate?

No! Over the 5 years of ItAGs we have had teachers, parents, students, activists, retired teachers, pre-service teachers, teaching artists, doctoral students, teacher educators (and even one lawyer) participate in our ItAGs!

Who leads the ItAGs?

They are co-facilitated by a teacher and one other person who has knowledge in the topic area. For example, when we offered an ItAG on Parent Organizing for Teachers, the group was facilitated by an elementary school teacher and a parent organizer who had both worked at a school that was started by parents in Brooklyn. The ItAG facilitators typically have prior relationships with NYCoRE and our ongoing work, either as former ItAG participants or members of working groups. The ItAGs themselves are coordinated by NYCoRE. The facilitators, and NYCoRE members, are all volunteers.

Why isn’t there an official syllabus I can see in advance?

One of the things that make ItAGs different from a traditional class or professional development workshop is that our goal is to have the eight-week experience be co-constructed by the participants. The facilitators carve out an area and a framework for the topic, but leave enough flexibility for the participants to say what it is that they want to focus on and what they want to get out of the ItAG. Often times the participants facilitate a session, suggest readings or bring in guest speakers who they know who can add to the topic.

What is the “Action” part of it?

This is always left up to the participants and facilitators. It takes different forms depending on the topic and the people involved. Some examples from past groups: The African Diasporic Arts ItAG created a curriculum called Through Culture We Resist! Supporting English Language Learners created resource guides for parents and teachers The NYQueer working group grew out of an ItAG on Supporting LGTBQ students and continues to meet on an ongoing basis.

Is 8 sessions really enough?

Often times, the participants feel that the eight weeks is just too short and continue working together either formally or informally. Several of the NYCoRE working groups were formed and are now lead by former ItAG participants. For example, NYQueer started as an itag two years ago on supporting LGTB students. It now meets on an ongoing basis and has held two conferences and other events.

Why do you hold the first and last meeting with all the ItAGs together?

Part of NYCoRE’s goal with the ItAGs is to help social justice educators who are often isolated at their schools feel connected. We bring everyone together at the kick-off so that we can build a larger network and community of committed people and so people can see that they are part of something bigger. Over the next 6 weeks, the individual ItAGs meet on their own, and then we come back together at the end to share what each group worked on. This allows everyone to benefit from the work that went on in each ItAG. Plus the food at the kick-off and finale is delicious!

Why is there a fee?

NYCoRE is committed to making the ItAGs affordable, so we keep the fee low at $30, and have never raised the price. We do incur some costs for running the ItAGs for food and materials, so the registration fee covers that, plus supports NYCoRE’s ongoing work. We also offer a discount of $25/person for 2 or more people who register from the same school or organization. We do this because we want to encourage you to find an ally in your context who can help you to bring this work back to your location. If you find the registration fee to be a hardship, you can speak with the ItAG coordinator to work something out. If you feel that your ItAG experience was worth more than $30 and you can afford it, we encourage you to donate money at the kick-off or finale.

Can I get credit for this?

At this point, no. As far as our preliminary research has gone, our understanding is that to offer this as a course that you can get UFT credit for, we would have to significantly raise the registration fee. We are committed to keeping the cost low for the ItAGs. If anyone has any additional information or ideas about how teachers can receive credit for ItAG participation, please share it with us, as we would love to learn how this could happen.

Testimonials from past participants

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I think the ItAG puts the idea of actions and acting in the forefront of my brain as I’m considering daily practice– not just my actions, but in how I teach students to consider their own roles w/in the school/class community and also in the larger society. What’s our larger purpose?

Each week I would bring back to my school sections of our readings from my ItAG. By sharing resources with my colleagues I have found a new network in my school that I would not have found otherwise. Now there are a group of about 5-6 teachers in my school that want to participate in future ItAGs and that now are meeting to discuss our own practice.

Being in the ItAG helps me see that teachers are vital not just for good teaching in the classroom, but also for advancing the field of education on the larger scale (like shaping good education policies).

I already held the view that teaching is inherently political, that it is a deep practice, based on love (and rage) in many ways, delicate, and important. Friere and Boal’s ideas, as well as discussion with my ItAG colleagues, sort of reinforced some of my own assumptions and challenged me to explore/push those assumptions further.

Being a part of this ItAG has rekindled my excitement about teaching and learning, which is helping me to reach out to other members in my school. It’s interesting they ways in which this ItAG has helped me reflect upon my practice. I knew after my first ItAG that I would bring aspects of it into my classroom practice.

Participating inspires me with questions: How can we work together to improve public school education across the city? How can teachers across schools collaborate to tackle challenging social issues?

 

Registration for our 2013 ItAGs is now, click here to learn more.

 

2012 ItAGs

2012 ItAGs

1) No Justice, No Peace: Creating a Culture of Peace Through Nonviolence Education

2) Re-Imagining the Identity of Special Education

3) Write On!: Writing for Social Justice

4) Public Education for the 99%

5) Pipeline Pedagogy

 

1. No Justice, No Peace: Creating a Culture of Peace Through Nonviolence Education

Countless lesson plans have been created to help young people 
identify bullying as a form of violence. Yet so often our attempts to teach peaceful conflict resolution in the classroom ignore the structural violence that many of our students and their families face on a daily basis.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” So can we hope to teach peace in the 
presence of injustice?

This is an ItAG specifically for educators who work with
 elementary school children.  Participants will examine the various forms of violence that overtly and covertly manifest themselves in daily life. We will explore the philosophies of practitioners of nonviolence including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, and discuss how to introduce and break down these concepts to even the youngest of learners.  Our goal
 is to develop curriculum that goes beyond anti-bullying to help students identify the pervasiveness of violence and the power of nonviolence.

FacilitatorsKarla Tobar is a fourth grade bilingual teacher in the
 Bronx. She is a 2011 Ahimsa Center Fellow, an experience that sparked her interest in nonviolence education.  Alanna Howe is in her seventh year of teaching in New York City
 Public Schools.  She is currently teaching 5th grade at a dual immersion school in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. 

Location: Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, 4th Floor, Manhattan

Dates: Tuesdays from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on1/31, 2/7, 2/14, 2/28, 3/6, and 3/13.

 

2. Re-Imagining the Identity of Special Education

What is “Special Education”?  Good question!!

This ItAG seeks to redefine, reinvigorate, and re-imagine what it means for us (educators, service providers, family members) and our students to be a part of the Special Education SYSTEM (roar…). Through the sharing of stories, critical readings/discussions, and transformational art (yes, you might get dirty!) we will collectively re-imagine and recreate the World of Special Education.

 

Facilitators: Margrit Pittman-Polletta is a Brooklyn native and early childhood Special Education teacher at PS 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  Emily Clark is not a Brooklyn native.  She teaches ninth grade English at Manhattan High School, a District 75 high school, in Manhattan. 

 

Location: Manhattan High School, 317 West 52nd Street (Between 8th and 9th Aves), Manhattan

Dates: Thursdays from 5:30-7:30 pm. Kick off on1/27; sessions following on 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 3/1, 3/8, and 3/15.

3. Write On!: Writing for Social Justice Write On Cover

This ItAG will explore what it means to write for social justice.  Participants will engage in writing activities as both writers and teachers of writing. Participants will discuss standards, literacies, and definitions of social justice in relationship to writing as an educational, artistic, and social act.  Ultimately, our goal is to develop strategies, insights, models, and tools that enrich our teaching practice.

Facilitators: Ama Codjoe is the poetry-teaching artist with A.C.T.I.O.N. (a social justice and arts program) and the co-facilitator for the Social Justice Pedagogy Team at DreamYard Project in the Bronx.  Chrissy Williams is a high school English instructor at Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy in the Bronx.

 

Location: Institute for Urban and Minority Education, 2090 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. 8th Floor, Manhattan

Dates: Thursdays from 5:30-7:30pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 3/1, 3/8, 3/15 and 3/22.

 

 

4) Public Education for the 99%

The Occupy movement has taken over the country! This ItAG will begin by exploring public education from the vantage point of the 1% (What’s Wall Street got to do with our schools?) and end by re-imagining what public education will look like when democratically run by the 99%. The ItAG will collaborate with members of Occupy the Department of Education (DOE), Occupy Wall Street (OWS), and will be action oriented throughout the process.

 

Facilitators:  Alba Lamar is a third grade teacher in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  She is a member of NYCoRE and a member of Occupy the DOE.  Leia Petty is a high school counselor in Bushwick, a member of Occupy the DOE and a contributor to www.socialistworker.org.

 

Location: The Atrium at 60 Wall Street

Dates: Sundays at 12pm (noon). Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 1/29, 2/5, 2/12 2/26, 3/4, and 3/11.

5) Pipeline Pedagogy

The School to Prison Pipeline is a system of policies and practices within the DOE and the NYPD that push young people away from schools, into the streets, and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Also known as School Pushout, these policies disproportionately affect youth of color, youth with special needs, and youth from low-income families. In these sessions we’ll explore the origins of the pipeline in New York City, what pushout looks like today, and ways in which stakeholders including parents, teachers, administrators and students might work together to help dismantle the system that is depriving the most vulnerable youth populations of a quality education.

 

Facilitators: Wazina Zondon is a social justice-minded educator and NYCoRE member. She currently teaches sex ed to 8th graders in downtown Brooklyn. Angela Jones is the Coordinator of the School to Prison Pipeline Project at the New York Civil Liberties Union. Her work focuses on improving school safety policies and putting an end to the path that leads students away from schools and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Location: Project Reach, 39 Eldridge Street, 4th floor, Manhattan

Dates: Mondays from 6:00-8:00pm. Kick off on 1/27; sessions following on 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/27, 3/5, and 3/12

2011 ItAGS

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1. Interrupting Islamophobia

In this ItAG we will examine Islam through multiple lenses including gender, sexuality and culture. This exploration will form the basis for understanding the ways Islamophopbia manifests and impacts Muslim youth while identifying strategies for interrupting it. We invite anyone who is interested in becoming a resource in their community (school, organizational, or personal) on this issue.

Facilitators: Terna Tilley-Gyado is a dervish in the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order. She was a NYC teacher for 5 years and now works for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Wazina Zondon is a Muslim-identified Afghan woman. She currently teaches sex ed in Brooklyn.

 

2. Queer! Fag! Tranny! Dyke!: Exploring Gender, Sexuality, and Anti-LGBT Bullying

A wave of tragic suicides by LGBT youth took place this year, many a direct result of bullying in schools. This ItAG is designed to explore the multi-faceted explanations for the rise of anti-LGBT bullying. Through media, panel discussions, guest speakers and an interactive format, our discussions will be geared towards having a better understanding of gender and sexuality. Where do anti- LGBT ideas come from? What does transgender mean? How do we define sex vs. gender? What language should we use when discussing sexuality with our students? The goal of this ItAG is to empower teachers and counselors with the language, skills and knowledge it takes to transform classrooms into safe spaces for all students, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity & expression. As a closing to our ItAG, participants will plan and participate in a political action that will address a specific issue that relates to anti-LGBT bullying.

Facilitators: Ramon Javier: Born and raised in Washington Heights, Ramon has been working with young people for over 10 years. Currently, he is a counselor at a charter school in the Bronx. He and his wife are expecting their first child in February. Leia Petty is a guidance counselor at a high school in Bushwick and helps organize a Gay/Straight Alliance. She is also a political activist and contributor to www.socialistworker.org. Benny Vasquez was born and raised in Brooklyn! He is currently the Director of Diversity at a local NYC independent school, prior to his current position, Benny was the Director of Education at GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network).

 

3. Filling in the Gaps: Support and Action for Developing Teachers

The goal of this ItAG is to empower first- to third-year teachers with the language, skills, and mindset that it takes to transform classrooms into communities for change. This ItAG will focus on filling the gaps in the training and support for Alternatively Certified teachers (e.g., New York City Teaching Fellows, Teach for America, and Peace Corps Fellows). In particular, we will explore radical pedagogy, teacher identity development or definition, and what it means to be a part of a union. Our action will center on a constructive critique of Alternative Certification Programs. All educators are welcome.

Facilitators: Emily Clark is a former New York City Teaching Fellow and currently works at Manhattan High School as a special education Teacher. Kayty Himmelstein is a second year New York City Teaching Fellow; she works as a math teacher at West Brooklyn Community High School.

4) My Classroom is Anti-Racist: Theory to Practice to Action

What does it mean to be an anti-racist educator? This ItAG will focus on how racism in the U.S. shows up in our personal interactions, in the classroom, and in the school environment. We will examine the education system as a system that maintains and perpetuates racism, and we will develop and share tools to support anti-racist pedagogy, practice, and action. Note: This ItAG will be a safe space that requires a commitment to engaging in “difficult conversations” and a level of risk-taking and openness.

Facilitators: Erika Bernabei is an anti-racist organizer, a researcher at a social justice- oriented nonprofit, and a Ph.D. student focusing on oppressions and systemic intersections with education. Ama Codjoe is a poetry and social justice teaching artist with the DreamYard ACTION Project and teaches young women’s leadership with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project. Rachael Ibrahim is an Anti-Racist Social Work Community Organizer and activist using an anti-oppression framework with a focus on youth of the African Diaspora and international solidarity; Rachael also does contract work with The Hunter College School of Social Work teaching Community Organizing.

2010 ItAGs

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Be The Change: “Walk the walk” in your teaching

In this ItAG our group will explore the “teaching” in teaching for social justice. How does social justice impact our teaching practice? Participants will explore the “how” and “why” of creating/maintaining a socially just classroom. Collectively, as social justice educators, we will generate a list of shared values and discuss how they inform our practices. Our goal is to develop an active list of tangible strategies that can be used immediately.

Facilitators: Ama Codjoe is the poetry teaching artist of A.C.T.I.O.N. (a social justice and arts program) and the coach of the Dance Department at DreamYard Project (a teaching artist organization) in the Bronx. Maile Ogasawara is a former high school math instructor at Washington Irving High School and is currently the School Partnerships Coordinator at DreamYard Project.

Applying Popular Education to the Classroom

This ItAG will explore Paulo Freire’s pedagogy and Augusto Boal’s repertoire and how they can contribute to an education for liberation in NYC public schools. Texts will include excerpts from Pedagogy of the Oppressed [red edition], Games for Actors and Non-actors, and assorted letters and “talking chapters” by Freire and others. The goal is to bring these texts to life and make sense of them for NYC Public School finding ways for people to put radical pedagogy into their daily practices, while also using theater of the oppressed tools and practices. We will look at how different groups and collectives have used Freire’s pedagogy and Boal’s techniques to do educations around particular topics, like Palestine, Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Katrina. This ItAG is a joint collaboration between NYCoRE and members of the Palestine Education Project (PEP) In addition to other radical educators from NYC. For more info on PEP visit www.thinkpalestineact.org.

Facilitators: Una Osato, an educator, performer and babysitter, has been working with NYCoRE and PEP for years. Ora Wise develops multi-media curriculum and facilitates with PEP and is the Director of Education at Kolot Chayeinu, a progressive Jewish congregation in Brooklyn. Brian teaches theatre at Brooklyn College Academy and works with PEP. Lindsay Hockaday is a teaching artist who has studied Theater of the Oppressed techniques and feminist pedagogy.

Revolutionizing the Classroom: Transforming Mainstream Curriculum into Social Justice Teaching

In this study group, participants will explore what social justice in teaching means to them and how to achieve this in the current standards crazed context of NYC. Participants will examine mandated curriculum for opportunities to incorporate cultural relevance and social action. Teachers will work together to transform their own curriculum while still reaching the required standards.

Facilitators: Adam Manson Weinstock is in his 7th year at Tompkins Square Middle School, now as a dean of students and formerly as a 7th grade Humanities teacher. Novella Bailey is a 10th year humanities and performing arts teacher at West Side Collaborative Middle School in Manhattan.

What does it Mean to be a Radical Educator? A Space for Beginning Teachers to Explore and Learn

This ITAG is designed to explore and extend the definition of what it means to be a “radical educator” through the perspective of new teachers (yrs 1 – 3). The goal of this ITAG is to empower new teachers with the language, skills, and mindset that it takes to transform classrooms into communities for change. Radical teaching happens not only in the content of our curriculum, but also in the way we speak about, view, and interact with the world, our community, and the students in our classroom.  In both theory and practice, we wish to radically re-write the stories that our students hear about the world and tell about themselves.

Facilitators: Marissa Torres works with Elementary students at the Hamilton Heights Academy in Harlem. Annie Schmutz works with Middle and High School students at the Henry Street School for International Studies in LES, as well as being a part-time instructor at City College of New York.

Restorative Justice in Schools

Evidence shows that suspensions in schools lead students on a downward spiral toward getting left back and dropping out of school. Suspensions often serve as a student’s first step into the criminal justice system. This ItAG looks at the theory and philosophy behind alternative systems of discipline. We will examine systems of discipline that shift the question of what the student did to what the student needs and consider the value of restorative justice approaches.

Facilitators: Dolan Morgan teaches English and Liana Maris is the Student Services Coordinator at the Bronx International High School.

 

2009 ItAGs

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Social Justice in Teacher Education

In an era where NCATE standards are narrowing teacher education to mechanistic dispositions and have eliminated the social justice language from its conceptual framework, this group will come together to share how teacher educators can navigate the space within radical teaching practices that promote social justice in the world of NCATE requirements. We will explore the different ways teacher educators can include issues of Social Justice in their curricula and we will discuss pedagogical approaches that can enhance student’s critical consciousness and empower them to activism. Participants are encouraged to bring their course(s) syllabi to share ideas on how issues of discrimination and privilege can be included in any teacher education course.

Facilitators: Shelly Chin is Assistant Director of the Peace Corps Fellows Program at Teachers College, an alternative teacher certification program preparing teachers to serve in low-income schools. Jolie Medina is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Borough of Manhattan Community College/City University of New York where she teaches Social Foundations of Education.

Teachers as Organizers

What organizing lessons can we learn from the labor movement in order to create a collective work ethic in our students and ourselves? This inquiry to action group will provide a setting for educators to reflect on the role that educators play as organizers in their classrooms and as union members. We will explore how power dynamics affect our government, communities, school system, schools and classrooms through analyzing labor organizing strategies and campaigns as a way to break down power dynamics for us as educators and for examples to share with our students. We will discuss readings, ideas, and materials to help us find new ways to bring these ideas into our classrooms and connect our students to current movements. In addition to looking at global and local collective actions and campaigns, we will explore some turning points in the history of the UFT and challenge ourselves to reflect on our own orientation to the union as individuals and as part of a collective of social justice educators.

Facilitators: Rosie Frascella is a former labor organizer, a teacher at the High School for International Business and Finance and a member of NYCoRE working group NYQueer. Seth Rader is a teacher at the James Baldwin School and a core member of NYCoRE.

Revolutionizing the Classroom: Transforming Mainstream Curriculum into Social Justice Teaching

In this study group, participants will explore what social justice in teaching means to them and how to achieve this in the current standards crazed context of NYC. Participants will examine mandated curriculum for opportunities to incorporate cultural relevance and social action. Teachers will work together to transform their own curriculum while still reaching the required standards.

Facilitators: Natalia Ortiz is a born and raised New York City Latina. She currently teaches Social Studies to 16-20 year old students at West Brooklyn Community High School. From Boston to Brown to Brooklyn, Adam Manson Weinstock is in his 6th year at Tompkins Square Middle School, now as co-Dean of Students, exploring restorative justice models of discipline, and formerly as a 7th grade Humanities teacher and Advisory coordinator.

What does it Mean to be a Radical Educator? A Space for Beginning Teachers to Explore and Learn

This ITAG is designed to explore and extend the definition of what it means to be a “radical educator” through the perspective of new teachers (yrs 1 – 3). The goal of this ITAG is to empower new teachers with the language, skills, and mindset that it takes to transform classrooms into communities for change. Radical teaching happens not only in the content of our curriculum, but also in the way we speak about, view, and interact with the world, our community, and the students in our classroom. In both theory and practice, we wish to radically re-write the stories that our students hear about the world and tell about themselves.

Facilitators: Marissa Torres works with Elementary students at the Hamilton Heights Academy in Harlem. Annie Schmutz works with Middle and High School students at the Henry Street School for International Studies in LES, as well as being a part-time instructor at City College of New York.

Combating the Banking Mentality: Integrating Media and Youth Culture into the Classroom

This ItAG explores the integration of media and youth culture in the classroom to provide educators and activists the tools to create interactive spaces for engaged critical thinking. Participants will create a vision of the kinds of classroom environments they hope to create through the integration of youth culture and will be introduced to a variety of strategies and methods. Participants will gain a better understanding of what resources and strategies they can use to create interactive classrooms that build on students’ interests.

Facilitators: kahlil almustafa is a performance poet currently developing a Multimedia Performance to promote his collection of poetry Growing Up Hip-Hop. www.kahlilalmustafa.com. Charan P. Morris is a poet/performer/educator transplanted from Chicago to New York. She has taught race, class & politics through literature in New York City public schools for the past 5 years. www.charanp.com This ItAG is cosponsored with Urban Word NYC.

Rethinking Discipline/Building Community

How can we create truly democratic schools that empower young people and give them opportunities to collaborate in making just communities? How do we do this in the face of a reactionary school system that too all too often suspends or criminalizes young people? We can do it but we must rethink our core understanding of discipline. Much evidence shows that suspensions lead students on a downward spiral that forces many to get left back and drop out. This first step often introduces them to the criminal justice system. This ITAG will be to look at the theory and philosophy behind alternative systems of discipline. We will examine whole school systems of discipline that shift the question of what did the student do to what does the student need and consider the value of restorative justice approaches, drawing on examples from schools in or near New York City. These approaches teach moral development, a missing ingredient from most schools. They offer opportunities for students to take responsibility for misbehavior and allow them to address the needs of those harmed. And depending on the interest of the participants, we hope to investigate student centered classroom practices as well.

Facilitators: This group will be co-facilitated by Daniel Jerome and Josh Heisler. Daniel Jerome is the Dean at the Banana Kelly School in the Bronx, is a founding member of NYCoRE and board member of Teachers Unite. Josh Heisler teaches at Vanguard High School and is also a board member of Teachers Unite.

2008 ItAGs

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Bridging the Gap: CBO Partners working in schools for social change

This ItAG aims to provide a space for people working as liaisons and specialists for community based organizations in New York City public schools. For many new and small schools, the liaison is a valuable role that links community organizations and services to the everyday life of a school. Yet still, the role remains largely undefined and open to negotiation. This ItAG will be a space for those who are in those positions as well as those who are creating and supporting those positions in their schools or CBO. We will be examining the essential question: How can these roles be used to further the vision of social change each school holds? We will also be looking at what makes a school/CBO partnership successful? How can a CBO support a school? How do we sustain these partnerships when funding runs out? How can we strengthen the connection between teachers and cbo partners?

Co- Facilitators: Tene Howard is a Youth Development Specialist at the High School for Global Citizenship. She has worked for 8 years in youth development and after school programs. Carly Fox is Puentes Program Coordinator at Pan American International High School, which opened this year in Queens and serves exclusively Latin American recently arrived immigrant students. Puentes is the name of the partnership the school has with Make the Road NY. Coco Killingsworth is a Youth Development Specialist at the High School for Global Citizenship. She has been working in this position for 4 years and was a large part of the school’s planning and visioning team.

Unveiling Islam for Greater Community Awareness

With Islam emerging as the fastest growing religion in the United States, we are reminded about this country’s rich diversity of its people. Unfortunately, this richness with regards to the people and their belief systems has not always transferred to the larger sphere of public discourse. This ItAG will examine the need for more student and teacher discussion, support, and activities for those whose religious/spiritual belief practices do not coincide with the traditions, ideas, and even mis-conceptions of the larger body- politic. Participants will examine some basic principles and practices within Islam in order to begin the discussion as to why many students may feel ostracized from larger societal activities. We will examine some polarizing vocabulary such as anti-Semitism and Zionism. Also, we will attempt to brainstorm methods in which these sensitive topics can be addressed between students and classroom/societal models that would foster greater communal acknowledgement and respect for one another.

The group will be facilitated by Alprentice McCutchen. Alprentice is currently an 11th year History Teacher in the New York State Department of Education. For the past nine years Alprentice has also been involved in the local Muslim and non-Muslim community of New York City as a member of Majidus Sabur Inc.

Education for Liberation: Bringing Freire & Boal’s ideas into NYC Public Schools

This ItAG is a joint collaboration between NYCoRE and The Institute for Popular Education of the Brecht Forum. The group will explore Paulo Freire’s pedagogy and Augusto Boal’s repertoire and how they can contribute to an education for liberation in NYC public schools. Texts will include excerpts from Pedagogy of the Oppressed [red edition], Games for Actors and Non-actors, and assorted letters and “talking chapters” by Freire and others. The goal is to bring these texts to life and make sense of them for NYC Public School – finding ways for people to put radical pedagogy into their daily practices, while also using theater of the oppressed tools and practices. Questions to be explored will include how we create dynamics for people to become more interested in reading the world and the word so that they become involved in transforming the world? How can literacy be framed as critical consciousness so that folks become revolutionaries or authors of a new world? How can we build senses of solidarity & community to battle the rugged individualism of capitalist America and the fratricidal, dog eat dog mentality found in many schools.

This group will be co-facilitated by Una Osato and Fernando Reals. Fernando is a humanities teacher on Rikers Island and a member of the Institute for Popular Education at the Brecht Forum. Una is an educator, performer and babysitter, who integrates the arts and social justice into all of her work, and is member of NYCoRE’s CACY working group.

Making Schools Responsive to Immigrant Youth

In this group, we will focus on the voices of immigrant youth as a springboard for exploring how to create safe spaces for these students. We will also explore current local and state policy pertaining to English Language Learners and examine how we can use these policies to advocate for our students and where these policies limit our ability to improve their educational outcomes.

This ItAG will be facilitated by Nelson Flores and Maryam Dilakian. Nelson is an ESL teacher in the Bronx and a graduate student in Urban Education at the Graduate Center. Maryam Dilakian is a teacher at the High School of World Cultures in the Bronx, a writer, and an immigrant.

2007 ItAGs

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African Diaspora Cultural Arts Education and Social Justice in the Classroom

In this group, teachers and teaching artists will work together to learn about various cultural arts of the African Diaspora (Latin American, North American, Caribbean, and African) including music, dance,

visual arts, theater, literacy and storytelling. Each week will introduce a new cultural art/artist, and teachers will design lesson plans tailored to their student’s needs that address a social justice issue while learning about the cultural art. The learning process will be rooted in popular education, dialogue, peer exchanges, group coaching of individual teachers, artist and teacher partnerships, and personal exploration of the social justice issue as a point of departure to teaching youth. Teachers of color are highly encouraged to participate.

This ItAG will be facilitated by Manuela Arciniegas, Director of The Legacy Circle, cultural artist,community organizer, and mother, and Diana Quinones, public school teacher of Sixth graders at New Day Academy in the South Bronx, cultural artist and mother.

Radical Math

In this ItAG, participants will explore the connection between social justice and math education. We will look at both the integration of issues of social and economic justice into mathematics curriculum, as well as the attainment of mathematical literacy as a justice issue. There will be opportunities to discuss these issues in the k-12 classroom context in a space that fosters the sharing of knowledge, experiences, ideas, and resources. Participants will work together to create a presentation(s) for a conference on Math Education and Social Justice occurring in New York this April.

This group will be co-facilitated by Jonathan Osler and Anne Marie Marshall. Jonathan is a high school mathematics teacher at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in Brooklyn, and the founder of RadicalMath.org. Anne Marie, a former elementary school teacher, is a mathematics education doctoral student at the University of Maryland and an adjunct instructor at NYU.

Creating Safe Community for LGBT Youth and Straight Allies

How can we, as educators, foster safe communities for LGBT youth? Some topics might include supporting student activism, working within an anti-oppression framework, working with parents, trans youth in schools, and educating our co-workers, among others. LGBT identified and straight ally participants all welcome.

This group will be facilitated by Reina Horowitz and Benny Vasquez. Reina teaches high school science in Manhattan, is a GSA advisor, and has organized Safe Schools for LGBT Youth programming at high schools in Massachusetts. Benny is the Director of Student Organizing at The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and facilitated a NYCoRE ItAG in 2006 on Social Justice Teaching.

Media Justice

This ItAG will explore media’s profound influence on the lives of young people as well as the ways that youth can speak back to media power. In the new century, educators and activists must equip youth with the literacy skills necessary to deconstruct and critically analyze the multitude of images, sounds bytes, and print text with which they are bombarded on a daily basis, particularly the subtle and not-so-subtle message delivered surrounding issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, religion, and language. Though collaboration with community and activist organizations, participants will develop an action plan/curriculum that addresses the above goals.

This ItAG will be facilitated by Kari Kokka, a high school math teacher at Vanguard High School and member of the NYCoRE working group on anti-military recruitment in schools. The co-facilitator will be announced shortly.

Past ItAGs

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Transforming Mainstream Curriculum into Social Justice Teaching

In this study group, participants will explore what social justice in teaching means to them and how to achieve this in the current standards crazed context of NYC. Participants will look at a variety of approaches to examine mandated curriculum for opportunities for cultural relevance and social action. Teachers will work together to transform their own individual curriculum while still reaching the required standards.

The group will be co-facilitated by Benny Vasquez and Seth Rader. Benny currently serves as a director of a community school in the South Bronx. Seth is a Middle School teacher in East Harlem and a NYCoRE member.

Authentic Assessment in a Test Crazed Context

In this inquiry-to-action group, participants will explore the testing culture of the public school system– where it originated, what its’ ramifications are, and where it’s leading us. Additionally, we will consider alternative assessments, including portfolios. The participants will work together to devise a counter assessment to the one-size-fits-all approach of standardized tests. Possibilities for authentic assessment include extending learning rather than merely measuring it and leveraging a child’s home knowledge and experience, rather than ignoring it.

The group will be co-facilitated by Sara Lippi and Jen Lee. Sara is a middle school teacher at a dual language school in East New York, Brooklyn and a member of NYCoRE. Jen is a first- second grade teacher at River East Elementary in East Harlem and has also taught special education.

Creating Powerful Parent/Teacher Relationships for School Change

In this study group, participants will explore what parent involvement means to them and how teachers can create the conditions for meaningful parent/teacher relationships. Non-traditional forms of parent involvement will be examined and privileged. We will also examine the range of ways community groups and schools are promoting the active engagement of different stakeholders to improve education: parents, teachers, community residents, students, or the public at large. The group will look at efforts to promote collaborations among a broad array of stakeholders in education, including community-based organizations, civil rights organizations, faith institutions, and youth.

The group will be co-facilitated by Madeline Perez and Laura Ascenzi-Moreno. Madeline is a student at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Urban Education PhD program and has eight years of experience as a parent/community organizer. Laura has worked as a coach and second-grade dual language teacher for the Cypress Hills Community School (P.S. 89) for the past seven years.

See All That You Can See: Understanding and Teaching About the Military Industrial Complex from a Systemic Perspective

What is the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) and how can educators committed to social justice facilitate a critical, systemic understanding of it? This Inquiry to Action Group will move from theory to pedagogy. We will first critique existing curricula and develop a common vocabulary that can be used to teach others how the MIC operates systematically. We will use a variety of texts (including film, radio documentary and live testimonials) to deepen our understanding and propel us towards the action component of this Inquiry to Action Group. During the final weeks participants will be encouraged to focus on designing curricula, resources, and potential actions that can be used to teach a systemic understanding of the MIC in a variety of educational contexts.

This ItAG will be co-facilitated by Edwin Mayorga and Leanne Stahnke. Edwin is a fourth grade teacher in the Upper Westside of Manhattan, and a member of NYCoRE. Leanne Stahnke is an educator and activist who teaches radio production and critical media literacy to teens in public high schools. She also is a member of the Wake Up Call production team at WBAI.

Who do I contact to get involved with the ItAGs?

Please email: Natalia@nycore.org or Ariana@nycore.org