Affinity Groups

Surfacing innovative ideas with like-minded peers


Now in their fourth year,  iZone Affinity Groups (AGs) are small groups of NYC educators and DOE staff members who meet monthly around an innovative practice or idea. AGs offer participants a chance to collaborate around common professional interests, share success and challenges, surface promising practices, and connect with like-minded educators.

Often what do exists in the vacuum of our school, but being in an Affinity Group was a great way to get outside input as well as hear outside critique.

— Computer Teacher/Tech Coordinator

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Affinity Groups 2014-15

Group NameDescriptionCo-Leaders
Blended Learning CaféWe are a book group dedicated to blended learning. We are interested in increasing our knowledge about blended learning and hearing other educators’ views and experiences. We will socialize and discuss topical books of interest to the group. Rachel Tsivitis, Lower East Side Prep
Addie Watson, Lower East Side Prep
Peer Observation as Professional DevelopmentIsolation Sucks. Community Rules! In our experience, teachers practice in isolation. Sometimes the best PD is available in the classroom next door. We will explore the building of professional communities through observation and classroom visits. Jeff Palladino, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS
Al Sylvia, Bronx Compass HS
Blended Real World LearningReal world curricula and internships are often seen as separate from "school" but we believe that many of our real world projects could be enriched by blended learning. This group is an opportunity to design and build the bridge connections to academic work and student advancement. We will use all learning experiences to blend school, virtual learning and the real world.Noel Parish, Bronx Compass HS
Jeremy Mellema, Bronx Compass HS
Coding Across ContentBy embracing coding in the social sciences, we aim to provide students with an opportunity to see the use of technology in a way that goes beyond the traditional fields of math and science. We will explore how coding can be used toward enriching instruction in the social sciences. Adam Kinory, School of the Future
Catherine Thompson, School of the Future
Hook, Align, and Sinker: Fishing for Increased Literacy Levels for All StudentsThis group will explore how to increase student literacy levels by designing and implementing lessons that are engaging, rigorous, and aligned to the Common Core. We will provide a supportive environment for teachers to collaboratively develop lessons based on literacy skills. At the end of the year, members will have a collection of literacy-based activities and lessons across different subjects.Allison Lavey, iZone
Heather Portnoy, NYC iSchool
Amy DeMarco, Energy Tech HS
iLeaders: An iZone Leadership Affinity GroupiLeaders empowers teacher-leaders by modeling facilitation skills discovered in current literature and research, and monitoring successful practices. We hope to create a safe space to learn and practice peer facilitation skills.Walter Brown, Hudson HS of Learning Technologies
Anne Tailaferro, Hudson HS of Learning Technologies
Middle School Blended LearnersWe seek to promote academic enrichment and acceleration in middle school blended learning environments. While there are many examples of blended learning at the high school level, there are few groups focus on middle school learners. Patrick Lawler, MS 381
John Norton, MS 381
Oh the Places We'll Go: International Models of Effective Teaching and LearningWe want to learn about, practice, and evaluate methods developed elsewhere (think Finnish school culture or Japanese lesson study) that meet students' needs in ways that traditional American classrooms (even the innovative ones) might not. We will bias towards research and reflective practice, and are most interested in how teacher teams effectively collaborate.Daniel Babauta, Sunset Park HS
Stacey Ward, Sunset Park HS
Pedagogue MakersThe maker movement offers teachers and students the opportunity to explore innovations, creativity and entrepreneurship in the classroom setting. We will focus on integrating and developing maker practices into our pedagogue. Jeffrey Stephens-Prince, George Westinghouse
Dara Ross, Brooklyn International HS
Brad Ashley, NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies
Advisory as a Social Emotional Learning GymWith training and support, advisory can become a social microcosm and holding environment that supports the development of advisors in addition to students. We will engage in a process of mutual development to explore all aspect of what makes effective advisory group leadership. David Rothauser, New Visions
Angelina Lopez, iZone
School of OneThe School of One (So1) community has a lot to share and learn from each other about implementing So1 and more broadly around math instruction and innovative practices in schools. We aim improve our teaching practices by learning from fellow So1 teachers, sharing resources and promising practices. Yaron Bohbot, MS 88
Emily Reisman, MS 88
Social Emotional Learning: the Heart of the MatterA fierce commitment to SEL is the lynchpin to support our students' growth. This will be our 4th year meeting as an Affinity Group. We blend theory, practice, and the restorative practices of reflecting and breaking bread together.Brooke Jackson, NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies
William Frackelton, Soundview Academy
Social Media Guidelines for Elementary School StudentsElementary school teachers and their students want support and guidance with social media use. We will provide guidance for using social media in a student-friendly format. Group members will take part in pioneering work of involving educators and students in the development of the guidelines that affect them.Lisa Nielsen, Director of Digital Engagement + Professional Learning at NYCDOE
Allison Lavey, iZone
Student VoiceThis group will focus on the development of student voice elements that lead to school improvement. This is the fifth year of the Student Voice Collaborative and we are eager to share our work and support others who are interested in strengthening student voice in their schools.Betty Feibusch, Youth Development at CFN107
Ari Sussman, Achievement Coach at Network 102
Systematizing Mastery: Now You Are the MasterCompetencies, outcomes, mastery, oh my! This group is targeted to educators who have work with both project-based learning and mastery-based systems. We would like to help create a space to share units, rubrics, and resources. Ethan Knecht, Bronx Compass HS
Christy Kingham, TYWLS Astoria
The New Book ClubThe New Book Group will read non-fiction books with topics that make us better citizens and teachers. This is an off-shoot from last year's affinity book group. We are always looking for good non-fiction topics and reading excerpts for our differentiated classrooms.Katy Bolger, City-As-School
Jamie WIlber, City-As-School
The Restorative Justice Affinity GroupRestorative Justice, we believe, is the milieu for providing youth with dignified, humane and teachable pathways through behavior and fairness issues. The Restorative Justice Affinity Group will focus on finding ways to incorporate Restorative Justice Practices into your school—with or without buy-in from other faculty and administrators.
Al Sylvia, Bronx Compass HS
Nkomo Morris, Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School
With Goal in Hand and Purpose in HeartIn order to successfully support student literacy and implement a curriculum that encourages fascination, all students—voracious and skeptical readers alike—need to find personal relevance in reading. We will explore how to incorporate opportunities for students to build personal relevance out of a Common Core-aligned curriculum. Adam Kinory, School of the Future
Diana Sierra, School of the Future