Branco Weiss develops original pedagogical models that provide teachers with tools to spearhead diverse learning processes that challenge pupils and are relevant to them. We create a learning community of fellow teachers, which is based on mutual learning, and feedback.
In our pedagogical incubators, teachers and pupils try out innovative instructional methods together. All our developments are based on a close link to the field with immediate implementation in the classroom to find out what works and what doesn’t and to optimize them for the school environment.
- Development is a team effort
- Every developer is responsible for implementing the project as well, in the incubator stage, as an integral part of the development process
- Every project is supervised by experts in the relevant area
- Relevant strategic partnerships are forged while the development is still taking place, to permit wider future implementation in the schools
The R&D Team
The development team consists of individuals with experience in running programs and/or in teaching. Its members have analytical and academic skills as well as the ability to direct and moderate educational work in the field. They have diverse academic specialties (e.g., philosophy, Bible, anthropology, history, Mathematics and Science), so as to create cross-fertilization in the thinking process.
Video-based Profeesional Development of Teachers
Watching and analyzing videos of classes is a powerful tool for professional development and for fostering an optimum pedagogical discourse.
Instructional videos allow teachers to see the lesson from a different point of view, at a different time, and in a different context than they could in the past. When teachers watch a recorded class, they can focus on the details of what happened, identify opportunities, explain decisions, and assess the costs and benefits of decisions.
Branco Weiss has developed a model for teachers to work with filmed classes, which has been adapted to suit various environments.
Here is one example: Resource-room instruction in an Arab elementary school (Tamra): Working with teachers by means of videoed classes and fostering change in teachers’ attitudes to instruction, and learning in individual-instruction hours. In the video, Sausan Diab and Manal Natour talk about the program’s goals at the Ibn Sina School in Tamra and share their fears about and initial experience with filming and watching the lessons.
Writing for Undersatnding
Writing-based Disciplinary Pedagogy
Writing-based disciplinary pedagogy was developed at the Branco Weiss Institute. It has two goals: deepening pupils’ understanding of school subject matter, and enhancing their literacy skills. Writing-based pedagogy accomplishes these goals by integrating writing of various narrative and expository texts into routine teaching and learning practices of school disciplines.
In the classroom, writing-based disciplinary pedagogy is comprised of three components:
1. Prompting: Prompting precedes writing, and its function is to render content relevant to writing accessible to students. Prompts are tailored to pupils’ abilities, as well as to the required writing task.
2. Writing: Pupils write texts in diverse narrative and expository genres (such as diary entries and short stories; explanations and arguments).
3. Sharing: students share their texts with the class and receive structured feedback from other pupils, as well as from the teacher. This gradually creates a dialogic learning community, in which learners/writers learn about the effect of their texts on an audience, and acquire strategies and skills to create effective texts in diverse contexts and for various purposes.
From Writing Class to Writing School
Implementation of writing-based pedagogy in several different disciplines and professional communities can gradually lead to a pedagogical change in the entire school: implementation of writing-based pedagogy in various disciplines can engage teachers and students in a school-wide discussion regarding significant disciplinary texts and content, thereby creating a dialogic, collaborative school environment, focusing on teaching and learning for understanding.
The Pedagogical Incubator is a teacher-training model developed by the Branco Weiss by R&D unit.
Once a week, throughout the year, the teachers and Branco Weiss mentors meet for two hours. The pupils, too, participate in the first hour of the incubator session. The teachers don’t just talk about pedagogy; they demonstrate and practice it with their pupils in the Pedagogical Incubator’s sessions — in other words: they have real-time training.
Branco Weiss mentor guides them through observation, responses, and patience, by praising and empowering teachers for their courage to drill and for their actions. The pupils cooperate, are willing to try, drill, ask questions, and offer feedback.
During the second hour, the pupils leave, and only the teachers and mentors remain to discuss the pedagogical issues that came up in the class as well as educational dilemmas and questions.
In the incubators, 7th–12th grade math, physics, and general science teachers learn together. They are all from the same school, and the instruction takes place on their “home court” in their own school.
A math teacher from one of the pedagogical incubators: “My drilling on wait time was very important for me. After the experience, I had greater awareness of the importance of giving pupils time to think, and I really feel that it makes a difference. Suddenly it’s quiet. The pupils are thinking. And these moments are critical for teaching.”