Rethinking High School: Best Practice in Teaching, Learning, and Leadership / Edition 1

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We've read educational essays packed with ideas, and we've read narrative accounts of individual schools. Rethinking High School is a rare and delightful marriage of the two. . . . It's hard to imagine anyone involved with high schools who won't come away from this book both impressed and enlightened.
- Alfie Kohn, Author of The Case Against Standardized Testing and The Schools Our Children Deserve

Rethinking High School is an important book for anyone who has ever wondered about what high schools could look like at their best. . . . This is a book for dreamers and doers, a book that shows us that ordinary people working together can accomplish the extraordinary. Daniels, Bizar, and Zemelman show us how.
- William Ayers, Professor of Education, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Coeditor of A Simple Justice: The Challenge of Small Schools

Secondary educators will cherish this book, as it will promote important conversations in their staff rooms and improved practice in their classrooms. The authors help us reimagine public education with page after page of practical and simultaneously profound ideas. Readers will wish Best Practice High School were just around their corner.
- Shelley Harwayne, Acting Superintendent, Community School District Two, Manhattan

Anyone who seriously wants to make high schools better should start right here. Organized around the principles of "best practice," Rethinking High School is packed with rich examples of wonderful learning, great teaching, substantive curriculum, democratic organization, and all the other ingredients of a really good school.
- James Beane, Author of Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic Education

Today, as our nation's attention turns to the reform of secondary education, Rethinking High School offers a lively guide for that crucial journey of renewal.

In their previous book - Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America's Schools - Daniels and his colleagues drew on the national curriculum standards to define good teaching and learning. Then, the authors personally put those standards to work on the West side of Chicago, starting the city's first new public high school in thirty years. Now, in Rethinking High School, they take us along on that adventure, from the earliest planning meetings to the school's first graduation six years later. They tell exactly how Best Practice High School got started, what worked and what didn't, where they stumbled and soared, and what is still left to do.

But this is more than the story of one innovative school. Rethinking High School is designed to be a template for change. Organized around eleven fundamental choices that all secondary schools must make, the book serves as a checklist, an agenda, and a study guide for high school reform. Instead of dictating right answers, the authors pose key questions and recount a range of creative alternatives developed by schools around the country. By offering this rich array of stories and models, the book speaks directly to readers who wish to improve existing high schools, to break larger schools into smaller ones, or start new high schools from the ground up.

Rethinking High School - complete with a companion website - articulates a clear vision of successful secondary school reform. Acknowledging the monumental challenges of renewing high schools, it shows how ordinary but determined people, working together, can accomplish the extraordinary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“We must use the ideas and experiences in this marvelous book as pilots, beacons, and exemplars for our own best practices in our schools and communities. . . . We all owe a lot to the authors, the teachers, the kids, and the founding fathers and mothers of this school for having the courage to put a credo into practice and for putting it down on paper for others to take heart.”–Deborah Meier
From the Publisher
“We must use the ideas and experiences in this marvelous book as pilots, beacons, and exemplars for our own best practices in our schools and communities. . . . We all owe a lot to the authors, the teachers, the kids, and the founding fathers and mothers of this school for having the courage to put a credo into practice and for putting it down on paper for others to take heart.”–Deborah Meier
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325003245
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 11/29/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Marilyn Bizar is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Secondary Education at National-Louis University in Chicago. A former public school teacher, Marilyn collaborates with a network of 12 Chicago public schools, the Best Practice Network, seeking to implement authentic and challenging teaching methods in classrooms. Along with a team of full-time teacher-leaders, the network offers classroom consulting, staff development workshops, and leadership development for teachers, principals and parents. In 1995, Marilyn helped found the Best Practice High School, a 450-student Chicago Public School that demonstrates on a daily basis, that classroom methodology can make a difference for kids and teachers. Marilyn has co-authored four books, including Methods That Matter with Harvey Daniels, School Leadership in Times of Urban Reform with Rebecca Barr, and Rethinking High School, co-authored with Harvey Daniels and Steve Zemelman, which chronicles the challenges of creating and implementing a new, small high school in Chicago. Marilyn consults and presents in schools and at conferences around the country. She assists schools in examining their high schools for reform and restructuring. Her workshops focus on developing literacy strategies across the curriculum with teaching methods that are learner-centered.

Harvey "Smokey" Daniels has been a city and suburban classroom teacher and a college professor, and now works as a national consultant and author on literacy education. In language arts, Smokey is known for his pioneering work on student book clubs, as recounted in Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups, and Minilessons for Literature Circles. His latest bestselling books on content-area literacy are Upstanders, Subjects Matter, Second Edition; Texts and Lessons for Teaching Literature; Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Reading; Comprehension & Collaboration; and Content-Area Writing. He is also coauthor of Best Practice, Fourth Edition and The Best Practice Video Companion as well as editor of Comprehension Going Forward. Smokey works with elementary and secondary teachers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, offering demonstration lessons, workshops, and consulting, with a special focus on creating, sustaining, and renewing student-centered inquiries and discussions of all kinds. Smokey shows colleagues how to simultaneously build students' reading strategies, balance their reading diets, and strengthen the social skills they need to become genuine lifelong readers. Connect with Smokey @smokeylit. READING Comprehension Going Forward Mini-lessons for Literature Circles Subjects Matter, Second Edition Texts and Lessons for Content-Area Reading Texts and Lessons for Teaching Literature WRITING Community of Writers Content-Area Writing LITERACY Comprehension & Collaboration Inquiry Circles for Elementary Classrooms Inquiry Circles for Secondary Classrooms SCHOOL CULTURE Best Practice, Fourth Edition Best Practice Video Companion Rethinking High School Rethinking High School Video Upstanders

Steven Zemelman has worked in many capacities to promote the sustainability of innovative schools in Chicago. For eight years he directed the Center for City Schools at National-Louis University, and he is a founding director of the Illinois Writing Project. He has spearheaded the start of a number of innovative small high schools in the city. His experiences and research in these areas led to his Heinemann book 13 Steps to Teacher Empowerment, coauthored with Harry Ross. Steve has been a frequent collaborator with Harvey "Smokey" Daniels. They have coauthored seven books and videos with Heinemann, including Subjects Matter, Second Edition; Best Practice, Fourth Edition, and The Best Practice Video Companion; Content-Area Writing; Rethinking High School and its companion video; and A Community of Writers. These books are filled with practical strategies for making writing, reading, the content areas, and indeed the life of a school itself into a deeper and richer learning experience for kids. Zemelmen and Daniels are known for immediately useful teaching strategies that range from brief, easy-to-use reflections that help students learn right in class to bigger public-writing projects that can make school truly memorable for kids and teachers alike. Steve consults with schools and districts around the country and may be contacted directly at

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Table of Contents

Best Practice by Design



Voice and Leadership



Community Experiences


Technology and Materials


Professional Development


Graduation Day

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