Teacher Testimonials

What Teachers are Saying about Touchstones

G. Heidt, the 2012 Cynthia M. Barry Touchstones Teacher of the Year, from Perkiomen Valley Middle School East

G. Heidt, the 2012 Cynthia M. Barry Touchstones Teacher of the Year, from Perkiomen Valley Middle School East

Touchstones is more than a once a week lesson for me in my room, it is a way of life.  It is method of teaching and a mindset.  It has changed everything for me.  I no longer ask kids to raise their hands in my room.  We follow the ground rules even when we are not in the circle.  It has changed the way I think, interact and respond to others.  It is my constant.  I thank you and the project!
T. Miller, Rising Sun MS, Elkton, MD

In a school environment rife with testing: benchmarks, summatives, states assessments and SGO’s, Touchstones is a breath of fresh air that addresses deep learning, deep thinking and a whole approach to education, focusing on the whole learner as being an essential part of a community. Too often school is about individual success; I love, love the aspect of Touchstones which links the individual into the community, strengthening both the community and the individual. 
D. Botvinick, Highland Park MS, Highland Park, NJ

It brings the class together as a whole and gets them thinking about their community and the world around them. I enjoy the readings and so do my students.
M. Efseaff, Granite Hills High School, Porterville, CA

I have used Touchstones for around 6 years now, with hundreds of students. Touchstones fundamentally changed my classroom dynamic. Before, I felt like I was working harder than my students were, just to drive the conversation forward. Now, I use what I learned in the training program to create engaging discussion questions that help students read carefully and make authentic connections to the text. Touchstones gives students the tools to join a discussion with confidence, and listen actively. Also, recently I have come to value more how Touchstones gives an opportunity to practice conversation in a more “real-world” environment—because honestly, who raises their hand to be called on in a business meeting, or for that matter, anywhere except in a traditional classroom?
C. Shryock, Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD

We used it as an entire 6th grade as a discussion group that met once a week for the entire year. Students really benefited from mixed groups of students and being able to access the curriculum at relatively the same level. Our students also gained from having time for reflection as well as working cooperatively both with small groups and larger groups. We saw many students who do not normally participate in whole group discussions or classroom discussions flourish. They felt comfortable sharing their ideas and asking questions of others. We really enjoyed this program!
M. Dillane, Camelot Elementary School, Annandale, VA

I have been using Touchstones for 2 years. My students really enjoy the discussion and hearing from others. It has improved my student participation because quieter students that do not normally participate are eager to share their ideas using the questions and stories.
A. Chandler, Longs Creek Elementary School, San Antonio, TX

M. Handy, Asst. Superintendent for Instruction and Student Services for  Wicomico County Public Schools, during a Touchstones classroom visit

M. Handy, Asst. Superintendent for Instruction and Student Services for
Wicomico County Public Schools, during a Touchstones classroom visit

I just started using Touchstones in April, and have been very impressed by the increased thoughtful participation of my students, as well as an improved ability to pose essential questions.
I. Moehlmann, Miles Macdonell Collegiate HS, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Touchstones helps my students develop skills related to interaction, thinking, self-awareness, self-motivation, self-expression, ethical development, and development of broader sensitivities.
T. Mennuti, Beechwood School, Menlo Park, CA

The materials offer authentic stories as a springboard for class discussion. I appreciate the diversity of materials.
B. Gaye, Canyon Ridge Elementary, San Antonio, Texas

What I find particularly valuable about Touchstones is that it helps students see their own opinions not as unalterable statements of identity, but as the products of their reflections, experiences and circumstances. This understanding helps students think critically and thoughtfully, and see disagreement as a means of promoting inquiry and a shared exploration of ideas.
L. Morgan, The Griffin School (HS), Austin TX


D. Wilkins, the 2011 Cynthia M. Barry Touchstones Teacher of the Year, from Salisbury Elementary School

The program promotes civil discussion and debate in a climate which promotes the exact opposite in the media. I first heard about / received professional development on Touchstones at a PAGE conference in Pittsburgh around 2003 or so. Thank you for thinking globally about curriculum development while the powers-that-be continue to micro-manage and data-analyze ourselves to death.
D. Simpson, New Cumberland Middle School, New Cumberland, PA

I used Touchstones more this year than any other year and feel it greatly enhanced my class discussions.
D. Polanco, Huebner Elementary, San Antonio, TX

I have been using Touchpebbles since the end of May 2012. It helps achieve my goals in the classroom by helping my students; participate in individual work, small group work, and the main discussion. Students learn to speak in front of a group, learn to develop listening skills and interpret others’ opinions and thoughts, and respond respectfully to others.
C. Jorgensen, Springfield Heights School (Elementary), Winnipeg, Manitoba