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Daniel McFarland

"Learning Moments" and the Nature of Student Interactions

Creating environments in which students are engaged in disciplinary work has long been a goal for many teachers and education reformers but has proven difficult to create and sustain. In such environments students are envisioned to be actively and publicly engaged in their learning while utilizing disciplinary language, ideas, and methods. This case explores a specific series of discussions in an elementary school that utilized disciplinary thinking (Engle & Conant 2002; Engle 2006; Engle, Conant & Greeno, 2007).

The Mill Town Case and Small Schools Reform

This case describes the conversion of Mill Town High School (MHS), a large urban school in the Northeast, into five small schools. The conversion at MHS can be seen against the backdrop of a large national reform movement advocating the creation of small schools and the conversion of existing large schools into small ones. And like the specific efforts in Mill Town, this larger reform movement is funded significantly by the Bill Gates Foundation which, in the early 2000’s, made small schools the cornerstone of its domestic philanthropic agenda.

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