District Deeds Sunday Reads 3/18/18: Do Discipline Differently; Talking WITH Brain Development; Lullaby of Algebra



Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…



Inside One of Three Denver Schools Serving as a National Model for How to do Discipline Differently

Quote from Article:

What struck Erika Strauss Chavarria the most was the mutual respect she saw between adults and teenagers at Denver’s North High School. Having watched her own students in Maryland get handcuffed by armed police officers in the hallways, the Spanish teacher said North seemed almost like “a utopian society.”

“It’s like the little things that make this building great,” Strauss Chavarria said. After she and other visitors sat in on a history class, the buzz was not about the lesson but about how the teacher trusted students enough to go to the bathroom without asking permission.

North is one of three Denver schools serving as national examples of restorative justice. Educators and community members from around Colorado and the country have been invited to spend a day in one of these schools to see what it looks like when teachers and students are encouraged to sit down and hash out their conflicts.

Restorative justice – or restorative practices, as Denver Public Schools calls it – is an approach to school discipline that focuses on repairing harm rather than doling out punishment. In action, it looks like students or teachers who are in conflict having a conversation about how their actions affected each other and what they can do to fix the situation. Advocates say the method reduces punitive discipline and builds relationships that feed a positive school culture.

District Deeds Synopsis:

How refreshing to see a school district get it right with “Restorative Justice/Restorative Practices (RJ).

What a different story in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

There was a lot of RJ propaganda promises spewed by Supt. Cindy Marten back in June, 2016 that we exposed in “A 12 MONTH DISASTER!!! 2015/1016 SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten Performance Evaluation – Period 3: April, 2016 – July, 2016: Fakes and Fiascos – Restorative Justice, EL Plans, Brain Drains and Hiring Mistakes”

District Deeds even named May, 2016 as SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten’s SECRET “Fake Restorative Justice “Plan”” Month!

As predicted, there has been very little meaningful RJ in the SDUSD since then through draconian budget cuts that left highly trained RJ staff without any of the supports required for a successful implementation.

All we got out of it was Marten’s “Secret Pyramid”:

At the time we said:


District Deeds is hanging the Restorative Justice Pyramid upside down because the SDUSD Restorative Justice Program is in DEEP distress!

The worst thing?


Unfortunately in March, 2018, our prediction has come true.

The RJ program is not just in deep distress, it is nonexistent.

Just another Marten lie in the graveyard of her broken promises to the neediest of Students and Families.

Why Talking — and Listening — To Your Child Could Be Key to Brain Development

Quote from Article:

A new neuroscience study finds that back-and-forth conversation is related to brain activity and verbal aptitude.

More than 20 years ago, psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley discovered what they called the “30 million word gap.” Through family visits, they estimated that children under 4 from lower-income families heard a staggering 30 million fewer words than children from higher-income families. That study was embraced by Hillary Clinton and it spurred a White House conference on the topic, public service announcement campaigns, and the creation of at least two outreach organizations. The clear message:  talk to your babies a lot.

But now a team of scientists from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania is questioning whether the quantity of words matters much at all. A study they published last month in the journal Psychological Science found that young 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds who engaged in more conversation at home had more brain activity while they were listening to a story and processing language.

“What we found is that the sheer amount of language, the number of adult words, was not related to brain activation or verbal skills,” said Rachel Romeo, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at a joint Harvard and MIT program. “But what was related, strongly related, was the amount of back-and-forth conversation between children and adults. We think this research finding suggests, instead of talking at or to your child, you really need to talk with your child to have meaningful brain development and language development.”

District Deeds Synopsis:

Amazing study that provides even families with limited resources a tool to help better develop “brain activation and verbal skills”!  Just talk WITH your child!



Lullaby of Algebra: How Mixing Music and Math Helps Engage Students

Quote from Article:

Jami Jorgensen is the human jukebox of quadratic equations.

“Anything that’s an algorithm, I have a song for it,” said the energetic middle-school math teacher in Hayward Unified, in the east Bay Area. “I must have 100 songs. At least.”

Jorgensen, who teaches 7th– and 8th–grade math, leads her students in ditties, chants and dance moves to help them remember basic formulas in algebra and geometry. A lesson on monomial exponent rules becomes:

“You thought we were done

Having fun,

But if your exponent is zero,

Your base simplifies to one.”

Jorgensen said that weaving music into math lessons has boosted her students’ test scores, enhanced their understanding of the larger concepts, improved the classroom climate and accomplished something few would think possible of middle-school math: Made it fun.

District Deeds Synopsis:

Obviously not every Teacher has the ability to “perform” like Ms. Jorgenson but it would be interesting to see what just a few hours of professional development with Teachers to help make math classes and other classes FUN would do to improve test scores.

Let us know if this is happening anywhere in the SDUSD…we would love to know!!!

Now for our Quote of the Week:

A playful mind is inquisitive, and learning is fun. If you indulge your natural curiosity and retain a sense of fun in new experience, I think you’ll find it functions as a sort of shock absorber for the bumpy road ahead.”  

— Bill Watterson- Cartoonist, “Calvin and Hobbes”

Have a great week!!!



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