LINKS VI Makes a stop at College of San Mateo


College of San MateoLate October days in Northern California are generally quite nice, but on October 26,2012, participants were treated to a particularly stellar day and an extraordinary view at College of San Mateo’s College Center, home of Northern California’s LINKS VI sponsored by 3CSN.  A number of faculty and administrators from Northern California community colleges gathered to explore the elements of a powerful classroom.   The day included an overview of 3CSN’s Theory of Change and the network infrastructure it has built to generate this change.  With the idea of change in mind, participants explored key questions pertaining to valuable learning experiences and powerful classrooms.

Value of Learning Environments

The day started with two key questions pertaining to student and instructor perspectives on what makes learning valuable:

  • What do students value about learning?
  • What do teachers value about learning?
[table style=”1″]
Student Perceptions Faculty Perceptions
Looking for outcome Exposure different perspectives
Exploration and Self Discovery Peer groups
Creating a community Feeling of belonging
to get a good job Seeing different perspectives
acknowledges role of technology in lives Learning something new
Interacting with instructors
Taking a special interest in ‘me’ as a learner
Excitement in being in a learning environment
Relevancy and connetions

Exploring the co-existing views


  • focus on getting a good job or a good education
  • how technology enhances or inhibits learning
    • how to use technology to enhance learning
  • Generational differences in what is valued in education
  • There’s a generational difference in what technology is available and how we use that technology



Powerful Classrooms

Through inquiry and collaboration, the group then explored defining elements of a powerful classroom.  Words and phrase such as noisy, engaging, showing respect , valuing students, and sharing were central to the conversation.  Cleavon Smith and Carol Wills each shared their current practices for generating more powerful classrooms. Cleavon discussed the effectiveness of Acceleration for generating more energized and engaging classrooms while Carol shared  Reading Apprenticeship routines she uses in her reading classes.   With these ideas in mind, the group engaged in a classroom scenario featuring Carol Dweck’s article, “Brainology: Transforming Students’ Motivation to Learn.”  Using the Think Aloud  and Talking to the Text routine, Jigsaw Puzzle reading activity, and three, speed-dating discussions participants explored ideas in Dweck’s article while simultaneously engaging in a powerful classroom environment.

Talking to the Text Example

Example of Talking to the Text

Conversations continued during lunch while we all caught glimpses of the gorgeous Bay Area afternoon surrounding the College Center building.  Immediately following lunch, faculty from three different schools and three different disciplines gave mini-presentations highlighting their successes and next steps in building powerful classrooms.  Teresa Martin from College of San Mateo talked about Reading Apprenticeship, Debra Howell and Cindy Stubblebine, both from Chabot, shared the ways in which Habits of Mind are used in biology and math classes respectively.  The final mini-presentation featured Jim Sauve from City College of San Francisco, where he has been integral in creating accelerated English classes.  Debra Howell’s spoke about several Habits of Mind she emphasizes in her Biology classrooms, in particular, managing impulsivity is a must in a Biology Lab.

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