Claire Bove, Carnegie Scholar - CASTL K-12 Program, Carnegie Foundation


If you have a minute, please leave your comments too!

FROM: Carol Rodgers
ON: Tuesday, November 8th 2005 - 03:45:33 PM

Dear Claire,

I reached your website through my friend Anna Richert's Carnegie website.I am a teacher educator at the State University of New York in Albany. I am in the process of planning a field-experience seminar for student teachers in our program next spring and was very excited by what I saw here. It's a wonderful site--so rich and full of what makes good--great--teaching and learning. Is the site open to anyone? Would I be able to use it? Could my students communicate with you as others have done?


FROM: Carol Rodgers
ON: Tuesday, November 8th 2005 - 03:44:02 PM

Dear Claire,

I reached your website through my friend Anna Richert's Carnegie website.I am a teacher educator at the State University of new York in Albany. I am inthe process of planning a field-experience seminar for student teachers in our program next spring and was very excited by what I saw here. It's a wonderful site--so rich and full of what makes good--great--teaching and learning. Is the site open to anyone? Would I be able t use it? Could my students communicate with you as others have done?


FROM: Ethan King
ON: Thursday, September 8th 2005 - 11:47:35 AM

Dear Claire,
Very informative website. I am currently a student-teacher at Longfellow Middle School with an eighth grade English/Social Studies core. I enjoyed reading your different entries, but I was particularily affected by your ideas about how to connect with the students. Such strategies as inviting the kids to have lunch and writing letters to them seem to be great strategies to reach out and make significant contact. I already plan on writing letters to my twenty students.
Ethan King

FROM: Audrey Winful
ON: Thursday, September 8th 2005 - 11:30:14 AM

Hi Claire,

I just wanted to acknowledge the wonderful work you are doing, which comes through beautifully in your website. It reminded me of my ninth grade Biology teacher, who taught me to fully appreciate the sciences and to have fun in learning.


FROM: Jason G.
ON: Thursday, September 8th 2005 - 08:48:37 AM

Thankyou for your wonderful website. Making the classroom a comfortable place for students to express themselves is a very important, and hard, part of teaching. Both letter writing and student lunches are great ways to create this comfort. I was interested in some more ways you have come across in your teaching to create a class room that is condusive to students beibg open to ask and answer questions.

FROM: Adela M.
ON: Thursday, September 8th 2005 - 12:10:36 AM

Hi Claire,

I am very fascinated by this website you have put together. I personaly love the fact that you like to get to know your students at a more personal level. I think having your students write you a letter is awesome. When I was an undergrad at Cal this approach was used a lot by my econ professors. Having experience writing a letter myself I know it is very valuable to the student as well as the teacher.
Lastly I would like to say thank you for sharing this wonderful website with everyone.

FROM: Gabriel Berent
ON: Wednesday, September 7th 2005 - 10:34:30 PM

Dear Claire,

Thank you for sharing your teaching techniques and innovative ideas with the community. I am fascinated by your creative way of getting to know your students better by having them write letters to you.
My question is how did you come up with this idea? Was it the product of a collaboration with another teacher or author or just a brilliant idea that popped into your head one day?
I think that the letter writing is a great way to get to know your students beyond the simple parameters of how well they know the class material. I wish more teachers were applying a more holistic approach to teaching, maybe we would have a higher sucess rate with students if they felt more understood as people.

Once again thanks for your work and I look forward to hearing your ideas in our Adolescent Development class.


FROM: Julie
ON: Monday, September 5th 2005 - 10:09:12 PM

Hi Claire - I love your site! Thanks for putting the time and effort into sharing your classroom with us. You have a lot of good insight and ideas.

I'm working toward becoming a middle school science teacher, and am student teaching in a 7th grade math/science core class right now. Apparently we spend most of our time teaching math and comparatively little teaching science, because this is what the kids get tested on at the end of the year.

You seem to focus on helping the kids to "discover" science, rather than force-feeding it to them. I love this approach! But it seems like it would take significantly more time. Does it for you? Do you often find yourself having to choose between teaching science the way you want to teach it and trying to meet the content demands of the school/tests?


FROM: Ciani Williams
ON: Sunday, September 4th 2005 - 05:48:42 PM

You talked about getting to know your students. What have you learned from your students and have you implemented that knowledge into your curriculum? Are your students understanding science and express interest more now than when they first came to your classroom?

FROM: Miroslaba "Lili" Velo
ON: Thursday, September 1st 2005 - 10:02:30 AM

Hi Claire,

I am really amazed by the dedication that you have put in your classroom. I have really enjoyed getting to read the letters and taking a look at the videos. If I am work at Bancroft Middle School. That is actually where my student placement is this semester. I would like to come by and observe your class if that is possible. I am in Lisa Wong's class 2nd, 3rd, and 4th period so maybe I can come by 1st or 5th, 6th depending on your schedule.

Nonetheless, I do look forward to looking over your website again and further commenting on it.

Miroslaba "Lili" Velo

FROM: iniva ngaka
ON: Wednesday, September 15th 2004 - 11:14:40 PM

ms. claire:

i have had ample time to view and review the website and i want to thank you for the insight that it provided for me.

i truly believe in community and i think that it is one of the most important asset to any learning environment. hence, i leave your site full of strategies and ideas for creating a sense of community in my future classroom and school.

after listening to one of your conversation with your past student teacher, i was left with a question. you talk about positive reinforcement and the effectiveness with which you were able to use it with certain of your students and as much as i think that it is a great way to bring out the best out of those particular students, i wonder if it does not hinder the possible process of self-motivation. it seems that the positive reinforcement method can get the student to think that they get rewarded for good behavior and participation while they are supposed to behave and participate in class. hence, i am wondering how long you keep up wih this method? do you use any "shaping" method to remove the positve reinforcement and still obtain the same respectful behavior from the student?

FROM: Sage Moore
ON: Monday, September 13th 2004 - 06:49:01 PM

Your website conveys a strong sense of your genuine concern for your students -- this is the first and most overwhelming sense I get from it. (I'm even tempted to use the words "sweet" and "loving" ...)
Here's a little feedback:
The letters to students -- I am so glad that you included this. I am in the process of writing back to a number of students and am concerned about what I say, how I say it, and its effects on the students. After looking through your examples, I feel more confident about what I am saying. It also increased my repertoire of good things to say to students. This helps.
Videos -- the sound quality is at times poor and I had difficult hearing what was being said. I know a number of my colleagues complained at how long it took to download the videos without high-speed access. I would add sound track only and would be just as satisfied hearing the conversations without the video.
I also have difficulty reading a lot of text on a monitor screen and will often print out what I want to read. The more I work on computer, the less likely I will read anything more than quick bits of information. I may not have read through the entire site if not requested by my instructor, and that would have been a shame.
So what do I suggest? Perhaps you could record yourself reading this text? Or summarize the text into a short form at the beginning of the discussion?
Thank you very much for putting together this site; I know how much work is involved. I greatly appreciate having a chance to learn about your work.

FROM: Adrienne Ratner
ON: Monday, September 13th 2004 - 04:45:13 PM

Dear Claire,

Thank you for putting this website together. It's great to be able to see your perspective on these many aspects of your teaching, and how they build on one another.

I especially like how you use journals in the science classroom for assessment at various stages of the learning process, which can then help you direct your teaching, but also so that they can see their understandings develop and deepen.

Your methods for generating discussion, relating the topic to the students' experiences, are ones I plan to borrow. I think it not only makes the discussions more accessible and interesting to students but also inspires them to listen to each other.

As a beginning teacher I also have to comment and compliment you on the neat ways you invite your students to share themselves with you. Getting to know older students is a challenge and I appreciate and plan to use your techniques. It's so important that they feel liked, heard and seen. In my experience the students who are practically unable to function in the classroom gain a lot from these kinds of structured but informal get to know you times. It is so great that you take the time to just be with them. And then I like how you nudge those conversations into science.

Thanks for putting this website together. I look forward to seeing what you write about equity, though I get some sense of your approach from other parts of your site.


FROM: Dan Plonsey
ON: Thursday, September 9th 2004 - 11:55:38 PM

Dear Claire,

I liked your letter-writing idea very much. You got a lot of information on many levels about each student. I'm another of the Mills TTS students, and my co-teacher and I were inspired to try the same thing with our 9th grade math class. Now to write back to the students - I'm looking forward to it.

I also have a question for you. You mention that the practice of science at the real research level differs from schools in that real scientists don't know the answers, whereas teachers do and students know this. Do you feel satisfied that changing the nature of the questions in school to being about the students' experience (so that the teacher won't know the answers) is really equivalent to genuine scientific inquiry? Are the teachers or the students fully satisfied? I'm thinking back to studying science (through 3 semsters of college physics), and remembering a sort of gnawing dissatisfaction: that in math class I felt I was really "doing" math (genuinely discovering proofs, even though they'd been discovered before), and in literature and history classes really "doing" those too (getting to have my own personal ideas about what I read), whereas in science classes I was never "doing" science: the experiments required either too much cleverness or expensive equipment - you couldn't just think them up yourself; they were always given to us - so there was always the awareness that I was just recreating - and often not too well. It was mostly frustrating for me. I've always had an interest in the physical world, but it's really more exciting for me to read or hear about genuine science than to go through the motions of aping scientists. My question is: is my reaction unusal? Did I have the wrong teachers? Or do you or many of your students share this feeling to some degree? I'm still in the early stages of trying to think this through, trying to understand why I recoil from the suggestion that as a math teacher I might be offered position in which I'd also teach science! I'd appreciate any insights you have!

Dan Plonsey

FROM: Dan Plonsey
ON: Thursday, September 9th 2004 - 11:21:53 PM

Dear Claire,

FROM: April
ON: Monday, September 6th 2004 - 03:17:55 PM

Hi Claire,

I would like to add my two cents for what its worth. I enjoyed your website. Kudos! for all the exciting work you have put into the site. I especially enjoyed the student-centered community you have built. Keep up the good work.


FROM: gehry oatey
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 07:35:19 PM

I first must say that you have your hands full. Managing a class and then also observing the learning process is quite an undertaking.

I thought the letter idea was a great way for knowledge gathering and an opportunity for self-disclosure for your students. The fact that you reflected back to the students some of what they wrote gives them a sense of importance in your class.

You also framed some of your questions in a manner that provided both a medium for the students to talk about their personal lives, while concurrently gaining information about their knowledge of sciene. For example the question about DNA and grandparents. You were able to creatively frame questions that provided you with some knowledge for your classroom as well.

One suggestion that I could make as a learner and observer of your site is to trim down the text some. I am a visual learner who tends to turn off when I see a site with so much text. I am not sure if you would be able to express some of the same points while removing some text, but I thought I would mention it.

It is inspiring to see what you are doing with your students and experimenting a bit with how to best make the classroom a safe and comfortable place of transformation.

I look forward to having you visit our class!

Keep up the great work!

Gehry Oatey

FROM: allison
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 12:35:22 PM

what an amazing site! I don't have internet yet at at home, so i will have to wait until I do in order to access the video clips, so that I won't be listening to the clip in a communal settting.

but the letters and the descriptions of the lunchs were great. your letters to the students were personal and encouraging, and a great way to establish a direct connection with each of the students. the lunches reminded me of a special raffle at a preschool at which I worked - all of the students had the opportunity to win the chance to do something (a movie, lunch, breakfast) with their teacher and it was such an exciting thing for them to do! I believe that this would be the case whether the students were in preschool, middle school, or high school.

I also plan to borrow both the letters and the lunch plans for my future classes. I believe that it is important for children to see teachers outside of the classroom if at all possible. it helps to establish the teacher and the student as "real people" apart from their identities as "student" and "teacher," particularly as someone with whom they can have a relationship. In turn, such a relationship can assist with issues of motivation and communication (both for the teacher and the student).

can't wait to be able to view the videos!! more letters, too, please! will make another comment when i can view the videos, and once i have a student placement.

thank you!!! allison

FROM: Ben Gleason
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 12:16:15 PM


Thank you so much for putting this site together. I think one of the best things about being at Mills is observing how experienced teachers bring theory--of equitable discourse, of inquiry-based curriculum, of education based on student interests and curiosity, of creating a community of diverse learners, etc--into action. I am impressed by the depth of this site and how well it integrates multimedia so that what was called the Hard Sciences in the past--snicker, snicker--becomes both engaging and informative. I was interested to read your commentary on student explanations, as it provided a great example of the high standards you set for students while at the same time not scaring them off (I'm thinking here of how a student's understanding of how earthquakes functioned changed as the student initially hypothesized and then, I'm guessing, did additional research to fill out that initial inquiry). As educators it is truly inspiring to see how truly 'communal' and 'communicative' education works and I will be returning to your site again (especially to see what the Equity section brings). I am most impressed with this site and amazed by how you, the students, and the student teacher really create a safe learning community through scientific exploration. Thanks for the inspiration!

FROM: Krista Danielson
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 12:00:36 PM

Dear Claire,

Thank you for sharing your great website! I am in the Mills College teacher credential program, and I found myself inspired by what I learned from your website. I felt a sense of community and excitement about science education, especially by encouraging students to formulate their own hypotheses and ideas--something that scientists do in labs or int the field. Why not get kids excited about discovery now, rather than waiting for some fabled future situation that may or may not arrive? I wonder how many students in your classes will go on to become scientists, or how they will remember your class in 10 or 20 years?

What I also noticed from your website was a balance between the Science and knowing students as individuals in a community of learners. It sounds like the extra steps you took to know your students resulted in their feeling safe enough to participate, ask questions, and take risks--big steps for middle school. I plan on borrowing some of your ideas, if you don't mind (the letters to the students and lunch with them).

Exploring your website reminded me of my 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Maben. She made science fun and accesible--we identified the plants around our school campus, learned about tropical fish and coral reefs, and, perhaps most importantly, learned the impotance of asking questions about the world and working collaboratively to solve problems. I don't know exactly how she did it, but I do remember that her class was my favorite class in all of middle school.

Thanks for all that you are doing. Your website is inspirational.
Krista Danielson

FROM: Joey Pruger
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 11:23:13 AM

In looking forward to becoming a teacher myself, I have been using Ms. Brannigan, my 7th grade history & English teacher, as my model. I don't remember exactly what she did, but more how she made me feel: comfortable, supported, inspired. After going through your site and reading about your different approaches and methods, I feel that I am seeing another Brannigan. And, by placing myself in your shoes, I feel more confident now that I may be able to live up to my role model's standard.

FROM: Rebecca Akin
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 09:25:50 AM

Hi Claire,
I�m affiliated with Carnegie and have the dream job this year of helping Anna document her use of the Carnegie work. I spent this morning wandering through your site, totally engaged at every turn. As a teacher (primary grades) one of the things I value most is having the opportunity to enter someone else�s classroom. Your site�and the way you use this form of representation�not only allowed access to your teaching and your students, but your questions and reactions as well. This is hugely valuable for me.

One of the things I was struck by was the way in which your website is infused with a focus on questioning. Before I say more I have to admit this focus on questioning and inquiry is my area of interest and so directs my comments here, which I realize may not resonate with you. That said, I would love to hear your explicit thoughts about inquiry�yours and the students. Concerning your students, for example, I noticed in the igneous rock lesson plan you have content objectives, but none around inquiry. I imagine you have objectives concerning inquiry and scientific investigations/method as the backdrop against all of the lessons you teach. I wanted to see those! (I noticed a few viewer comments, both from this year and last, wondering how this community building was all connected to science content and I wonder if being explicit about the inquiry piece--which entails trust and relationship--might help people make that connection?)

In terms of your teaching I would love to hear you talk about how your own inquiry/questioning fits in. In the lunch conversation and in the frequently asked questions section you talk about doing research, but nowhere on the site do you explicitly explore or reveal that process and how it relates to both your knowledge about building community and your pedagogy. I realize you have to limit what you include (and that you have is a strength of this site), but for me knowing how you�re asking questions about your practice and how (or if) it was that process of inquiry that helped you develop your pedagogy and your strategies for community building would provide a layer that would deepen my conception of your phenomenal work. In my opinion, this would be of enormous value to the educational community�knowing not just what you do, but how you got there and how your pedagogy evolves. Only a teacher can provide this type of transparency and yours would be immensely valuable.

Yours is the first non-humanities based site like this I have really explored. I wonder if my questions here come out of different ways of thinking about inquiry in the different disciplines (mine being much more humanities focused). As I write this I realize I might need to push on my own conceptions of inquiry and questioning, and that my questions to you here are based on my own entrenched conceptions of talking about and representing inquiry. Hmmm�. Much to think about. I love how you�ve pushed me here.

In any case, FABULOUS website!!!! My comments were fueled by my total excitement for you and your work, so I hope what I�ve said hasn�t sounded critical�my intention was absolutely the contrary. You raised new questions for me and made me want to know more. While I look forward to the �finished� product, there is something the unfinishedness of it that reinforces the conception of learning about teaching as being an endless process. Thank you.
Rebecca Akin

FROM: Suky Vong
ON: Thursday, September 2nd 2004 - 12:36:52 AM

Your site was an inspiration. I think that too often these days, teachers forget to see each student as an individual. It gets difficult when you have 150 students walking in the door each year, but in writing letters to them, having lunch with them, and in every aspect of your site, I can tell how much you value them as human beings. One of the things that struck me most was when you wrote that a "student is a human being first and a student second." I have always believed that, but have never had the words to express it. Thank you so much. I have learned so much from looking at your site and look forward to watching as you continue to build it up.

Suky Vong

FROM: Julia Larson
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 10:40:19 PM


Excellent job! I think all of us at Mills are impressed with how you've implimented your ideals in your regular practice. I have awe for how you have time to do all that you do; something that I strive for as a teacher. Even when we have big hearts, it can be hard to take action. But, you've taken action with you students and by sharing your strategies, thoughts, and experiences with others on the internet.

I sincerely agree with your driving principle to create community for you learners, something needed for learners at any level. As you pointed out in your story of childhood dinner-time experiences, even Nobel-prize winners need community. That's how they get to where they are! I think this is an important point to make to kids. Learning communities are not just for the classroom. They are what all researchers, business people, and all grown-up thinkers need to succeed. (Whoever grown-ups are?!)

Great job with the website.

Sincerely, Julia

FROM: Andrew Roy
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 10:02:24 PM

Wow, your site is truly an inspiration. Last night I was so excited about it that I think I may have bored my friends with my incessant babbling. (In truth, they were excited about it too!)

I thought the background information on the main page was very helpful in explaining why you began this project. It also helps deflect the most obvious questions about why you're spending time on non-scientific things. The connection between making the classroom feel like "home", and the success of the students is profound.

I intend to teach history, not science, but I immediately noticed parallels between the fields. Many people come into history classes "knowing" that they are "not history people". They think it's tedious, irrelevant and hard. Whereas I find it exciting, urgent, and fun. After reviewing your site, I think it will be very important to spend some time thinking about the development of my relationship with history and how that might differ from my students. And then, of course, how can I help build that foundation for my kids so they can begin to find excitement in history? Big stuff!


- Andrew

FROM: Ana M. Hernandez
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 09:47:12 PM

Dear Claire,
Thank you so much for the website. I enjoyed reading your students letters a lot. Also watching the video clips was a plus. I was amazed at the level of trust you were able to built with your students simply invited them for lunch. I am defenitely considering doing that when I have my class. It was really insightful to see you as a teacher going beyond your expectations and being willing to establish a personal relationship with your students. Thank you not just for the website, but for not just teaching but caring!

FROM: Emily Pigott
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 09:20:29 PM

Claire- Bravo for taking the time to put something like this together. I really enjoyed reading your students' letters and your responses as well. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcment and I believe that this is one of the reasons why your students obviously trust and respect you so much as not only a teacher, but a person. I also feel that the most important aspect of learning, no matter what the subject matter, is about thinking, asking questions, and investigating ideas, and not a focus on just the facts. I see this being a particular challenge for myself since so much of teaching history is centered around "the facts". Again thank you for this opportunity to share in your ideas.

FROM: Julie Honegger
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 11:06:55 AM

Thank you for an amazing web site! It is SO WONDERFUL to be able to see the actual student work and/or videos of conversations which illustrate what you are trying to show in your research. I would be interested in seeing the comparison of student work or results of an experiment between a class where you are writing letters and a class where you are not. I am curious to hear more about how you feel the atmospheres of those classes differ from each other.

Thank you! Julie

FROM: Yoni Fine
ON: Wednesday, September 1st 2004 - 11:04:57 AM

Hello Claire - In watching the lunch videos, I was wondering if it felt like a fine balance between interviewing students and chatting with them as equals. I wonder if it felt one way or the other for some students. They seemed to really enjoy sitting around as equals, as if they were all teachers having lunch together. I also wonder how you think this would work with older students.
Thanks. Your website is very valuable to us soon-to-be teachers.

FROM: micci martinez
ON: Tuesday, August 31st 2004 - 05:32:21 PM

Claire, thankyou so much for the work you put into your website. I was very interested in the area of building community within the classroom. I have just started student teaching Math and Science in Middle School. The first two days have been spent on building community. The teacher is very creative and today had the kids do a survey sheet where they had to walk around and ask other kids questions about math and each other. The purpose was to have the children get to know each other and their names. It worked great. Thanks again and I am looking forward to more!

FROM: Sarah Stein - Mills Credential Student
ON: Tuesday, August 31st 2004 - 04:56:27 PM

Thanks for such a fabulous website. It's always refreshing to get a glimpse at a classroom in which the teacher is actively engaged in helping students to feel valued as individuals. I liked your line about how students need to be seen as human beings first and students second. I enjoyed looking at the student work and reading your comments. I also appreciated the idea of grading rough drafts on the number of words to encourage students to focus more on their ideas than on writing well.
I wonder what other tangible things you do at the beginning of the year, in all of your classes, to help create a safe space. Thanks again.
Sarah Stein

FROM: Liz Powell
ON: Monday, August 30th 2004 - 07:55:15 PM

Hello Claire - thank you for such a wonderful website! I have really enjoyed reading your comments and have especially appreciated looking at the student work. Your belief in classroom community both reassures me and inspires me to work towards the same. What I find myself wondering about is how much time one should spend focused on creating community at the very beginning of school. It is great to see that the work is ongoing (through the letters and lunches) but how do you initially set up a safe enviromnent in your classroom?
Thanks again,
Liz (Mills student)

FROM: Kristi Leunig-Mills Credential Student
ON: Monday, August 30th 2004 - 05:00:43 PM

Hi Claire:
I am so impressed with your site and with the work you are doing to build community in your classroom. I think that regardless of subject matter, it is important to create a safe and nurturing learning environment if we are to expect students to take risks which contribute to the learning process. Your letter writing activity really allows the students to see that you take a genuine interest in them as individuals. I think I may have enjoyed science more in middle and high school if my teachers had followed your approach.

QUESTION: I am curious if you see a difference in the motivation of your students or the quality of their work for the classes that you do the letter writing as opposed to those you do not.

I look forward to studying your site more in the upcoming months and hopefully implementing some of your great ideas in my own teaching practice.

FROM: Anna Richert
ON: Thursday, August 26th 2004 - 06:36:28 AM

Hi Claire:
Well, today's the day I'm going to introduce your work to my Adolescent Development class. There's much for them to read, look at, and contemplate on your rich site. As we get started here our focus will be on the learners in your classroom. I want my students to see the various strategies you have developed for learning about your learners. Also, to see how what you know about your learners influences your daily teaching practice. Hopefully you'll hear from some of them over the course of our exploration.

[ Back to | read comments ]