Dr. Sabrina R. Goldberg, Gr. 7 Math Teacher at The School at Columbia University, has received a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program sends U.S. teachers abroad and brings international teachers to the U.S. for a semester of independent study and professional development focused on sharing international best practices and developing students’ global competence.
Dr. Goldberg is one of approximately 35 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad through the program in 2018-19. She will take leave to conduct research in Finland from January 2019 through the end of the school year.
Based at university-level schools of education or other educational institutions in the host country, program participants complete an inquiry project, take courses, share their expertise with local teachers and students, and engage in action planning to implement what they learn on the program when they return home.
“I want to develop a deeper understanding of phenomenon-based learning, and innovative practices that promote equity, autonomy, and global awareness among middle-school math students. And I want to humanize mathematics by promoting authentic student-driven inquiry related to the STEM fields,” Dr. Goldberg said.
Phenomenon-based learning (PhBL or PhenoBL) is a multidisciplinary, constructivist form of learning where students study a topic or concept in a holistic approach instead of in a subject-based approach. It is inquiry-based and anchored in the real world, designed to develop skills and learning that can be applied across disciplines and beyond the school environment.
Finland is on the forefront of PhBL, mandating the instructional model in 2016-17 after decades of successful use in schools. Dr. Goldberg is interested in observing PhBL in Finnish schools, and then implementing it at TSC. Some of the questions she’s looking to explore include: How can I promote equitable access to deeper learning in mathematics via phenomenon-based learning? How do Finnish educators plan, implement, and assess phenomenon education? How do Finnish students feel about phenomenon-based learning? What do they identify as the future challenges they will address using these skills?
Dr. Goldberg devised and coordinates the Great Mathematician Project (GMP)
for seventh-graders at TSC every year. The GMP models project-based learning, in which students select, research, and then assume the identity of a historical figure in mathematics or related field. Dr. Goldberg’s goal is for her PhBL research in Finland to enhance and add to GMP implementation at TSC, giving the project greater authenticity and more wide-ranging applicability for students.
“I’m curious to learn how technology is integrated into phenomenon-based learning. It’s clear that oral, written, and digital competencies are needed to function in an increasingly globalized world, and while globalization has led to greater access to information, what students do with that information is critical,” Dr. Goldberg said. “They need to develop a sense of agency, and solid communication skills. They also need to be multiculturally literate and globally aware.”
“The ownership, and investment in learning in phenomenon-based learning - that's the attraction for me,” she said.
Dr. Goldberg is the second TSC faculty member to be awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant. In 2016-17, Gr. 7 Social Studies Teacher Vanessa D’Egidio participated in the program and conducted research on educational equity in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Before joining TSC, librarian Nadine Renazile won a Fulbright Memorial Teacher Fellowship in 2004, for which she traveled in Japan to study the country's cultural influence and intracontinental relationships.
"We are thrilled for Dr. Goldberg and this extraordinary professional opportunity," said Amani Reed, Head of School. "Observing phenomenon-based learning in Finland, where they are on the vanguard of its development, is a tremendous fit for Sabrina. We are excited for all she will learn and bring back to our students, and the global connections she will build between our school and her colleagues in Finland."