Cynthia is involved with high school placement counseling and Humanities curriculum development, and teaches Humanities.
What are you currently teaching and doing at Nueva?
This year, our first semester curriculum for seventh and eighth grade included something called from “Space to Place.” It asks, “How does a place like Manhattan go from an overgrown, swampy, hilly place with relatively few inhabitants to Manhattan as we know it?” There are now eleven identified megacities (for example, Mexico City, Shanghai, and Tokyo) and we ask, “Why are these the megacities?”
I developed a curriculum called “The Cultural Identity of a City.” Students first learn what “cultural identity” means — that it’s anthropological, it’s sociological, and there’s a lot of geography involved. We ask, “How does geography affect history?” Then students do a research project based on a place of their choice. If studying Japanese, they might focus on Kyoto in the tenth century, or Granada in the twelfth century for Spanish, or fifthteenth-century Beijing for Mandarin.
Ed. note: "Professional Development" is one of those items in any school's budget that parents often wonder about. Is it really worth it? How does it affect my child? In tight economic times isn't it one of the first things that should be cut? In fact it has been cut, but in terms of its direct impact on your child and what happens in the classroom tomorrow it is still one of our most valuable expenditures.
This past summer Maya Sissoko was one of a group of Nueva teachers who traveled to the east coast for Alan November's conference on technology in education, and her experience is a shining example of how professional development can change the educational lives of a teacher, her students, and the school as a whole. Read her account below.