Steve Chisnell's website in transition


Instagram @schisnell


I taught in public and private schools and universities from 1986 – 2021. Here are some of the courses.


During my career, I sponsored several, including Royal Oak Model United Nations, Interact youth Rotary, The Roost Student Union, and student service trips.

About Me

What I’m reading, where I’m traveling, how I work to stay eco-friendly, and where to find me in various organizations and social media.

Teaching Philosophy

While my main goal with students is to improve their literacy, what that means becomes a bit complicated.  Literacy means thinking critically–both deeply and broadly–about the culture in which we live and learn. Literacy means composition in traditional written forms but also oral performance, close reading skill, and digital composition. Developing literacy is a process rather than an end (I am still learning!), so experimentation, risk-taking, and failure are common: but growth as a writer composing within a dynamic world is not optional. This means authentic assessment projects, cross-disciplinary challenges, democratic participation and service, collaborative teamwork, professional discourse, and an inherent desire to learn are expected behaviors of the literate student.

Blended Learning
Most all of my classes and clubs operate online as much as they do in live classroom meetings. Live human interaction is important, but students involved in online learning, communication and collaboration, portfolio production, and multimedia publishing is also a large portion of my courses. This frees our in-person class time for relevant discussion, teamwork, and student-driven inquiry rather than quiet work-time.
Standards-Based Grading
This is a fancy phrase which simply means that students are rewarded primarily for achieving success in several key areas of the curriculum (standards) and not by the number of points they earn from doing extra “work” or the amount of time it takes to learn that success.

Therefore, a student who earns an “A” on the seventh effort of an essay earns the same amount of credit as the student who earned it on the second try. It’s the success that matters. Equally, doing 100% of the assignments at 60% skill level does not demonstrate successful learning, and doing “extra credit” at the same level of performance may have once earned “points,” but points are not entirely relevant to grades. See the individual class pages to see how this is handled in each class and on MiStar.

Academic Growth
My expectation is that all students succeed, but I recognize that not all students succeed in any skill on the same timetable. Therefore, any scores that fall below the “successful” standard (a “B,” a 3 of 4 pts, or a 6 on the AP 9-pt scale, etc.) may be revised until success is achieved.  The conditions for revision vary for each assignment.
Learning By Controversy and Inquiry
In a social environment which seems increasingly contentious, learning to navigate arguments and approach difficult subjects with an inquisitive and critical eye is essential. Expect me to raise challenging questions, provoke inquiry into common assumptions, and raise issues of historical, academic, and contemporary cultural concern in classes, all as a part of developing a critical literacy.
MYP and College Board
All of these points fulfill the expectations of two driving influences on our curriculum:  IB/MYP and the College  Board AP Curriculum. The MYP Learner Profile, in particular, demands that students be open-minded, principled, risk-taking thinkers.  Many of the projects in my ELA9 classes will follow a cycle of Inquiry–>Action–>Reflection. The AP Curriculum from the College Board promotes not merely an examination of the Western canonical literature, but a provocative discussion of how meaning is constructed, a healthy practice for all university study.
While you can find more on this with the individual course pages, understand that the “game” elements of our coursework (The End of Theory, Nomads, The Source, badges and Karma, etc.) are designed to enhance and add complexity to the curriculum as well as motivate productivity. However, in no case in any course do they affect the academic marks students receive on report cards. And they’re also kinda fun.
Technology Access Expectation
Today, successful participation in society depends upon access.  While there is no expectation that any student own a particular tech device, students will find that greater success comes from building a reliable place for quiet reading and for having internet access with a usable email address.  Cameras, smartphones, software, tablets and laptops, all provide opportunities to create and learn, but none are required of my courses or clubs.  The RO Public Library and ROHS both provide access to the internet; RO Schools also gives every student a working Gmail address.


Education is Freedom.

- Paulo Freire

What will destroy us:

politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.
- Mohandas K. Gandhi


When dialogue ends,
everything ends.

- Mikhail Bakhtin

Contact Me