For an entire week, I pondered, thought out loud, scribbled notes, scratched my head, abandoned ideas and worried about what I was going to write for this blog post. When finally I had an hour of quiet in my house, which is rare with 3 young daughters, I knew this was my opportunity. I hoped the words would just come to me and I would quickly type away. But that didn’t happen. I sat for the hour typing and deleting, feeling discouraged and drained. I knew I needed to stop overthinking it. The hour flew by and I had not one word down on the page. I had lots of ideas floating around in my head, but I couldn’t figure out how to get started. So I texted a dear friend and told her I was about to burst from writer’s block. Simply put- she said, “That’s your story!” (more…)
Have you ever attended an Edcamp? If the answer is yes, then you know how powerful and energizing this learning experience can be for educators. As teachers we wondered if this same structure could be just as powerful and uplifting for kids? The answer is yes! Two years ago we did an #EdcampKids with grades 3-5 at J.W. Reason Elementary. It was even more successful than we imagined.
The following year I switched to a new grade level, which was 5th grade, and as a grade level team we had not implemented an Edcamp for Kids. The year, just like every year, was speeding by and we were at a point in the school year where we were reflecting on our teaching and learning. My colleagues and I decided that our 5th graders needed to do an Edcamp for Kids for the following reasons: (more…)
Your Task: Discuss with parents and/or caregivers, the strengths and needs of a student’s learning over the past two and a half months, in a positive and professional manner. Be as specific as you can with your information, providing students work samples and materials for practice at home where possible. You have 15-minute intervals to complete this task 20-30 times, before, during (lunch or planning time), or after school, throughout the next week. Good Luck!
To say the least, Parent-Teacher Conferences can be a challenge. All participants bring an agenda to the table, whether known or unknown, and time is of the essence. In our district, these conferences also happen to fall during a very demanding assessment window. How do we get it all done in a way that is beneficial and purposeful for all? Perhaps the following points can be of assistance. (more…)
Last week’s Part 1 post: Purposeful Instruction: Creating Conditions for Biggest Impact On Growing Readers
This week is Part 2: The Pieces and Parts: Thoughtful, Effective, and Efficient Planning
So how can teachers purposefully plan to help students make meaning, get the biggest “bang for their buck”, while working towards an approach that encompasses all mentioned above? Here are some tips to consider.
Start with the students, not the standards.
- Analyze student work and anecdotal notes from observations and conversations and decide what students need next and what part of the framework would scaffold their thinking the best to maximize student learning with the least amount of support.
- When we focus on the students first, we make more meaningful connections to the standards for the students — We will in fact personalize learning.
This is two post topic that we are excited to be writing about and sharing with you. It has been a great experience for us to collaborate together as a husband and wife team on a topic we are both passionate about.
This week is Part 1: Purposeful Instruction: Creating Conditions for Biggest Impact On Growing Readers
Next week is Part 2: The Pieces and Parts: Thoughtful, Effective, and Efficient Planning
Part 1: The Big Picture
I (Carrie) love puzzles. I’m not sure why, but I do.
What are the steps to choosing and solving a puzzle?
Most people choose a puzzle by looking at the picture on the cover, something that appeals to them. They then have that cover, or top of the box, readily accessible to refer to as they attempt to put all the pieces together. Many people also have a method, or system, to solving a puzzle. Edges first is a common plan. Grouping alike pieces is yet another strategy. Then as you carefully study each piece, its cut, uniqueness, and color, you find another piece that it slips into it perfectly. What a sense of accomplishment each and every time the pieces come together. Slowly but surely, the picture you have been referring to takes shape, each piece an important part of the whole. As you finish those last couple of pieces, you relish in the feeling of completeness, often reflecting on your struggles and steps along the way. I often find myself wanting to glue it all together just to save it (although I have yet to do that). (more…)
Happy 2017! Most New Year’s thoughts turn to new beginnings, and resolutions, but not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of areas in my life that could stand improvement via resolution. I’m still not fluent in a second language. My basement is still a catch all for items I “might need later”, including the guitar I still don’t play well! But when I started to think about professional improvement, I began to wonder, is it really a new year? I don’t think so. I work in education, specifically public schools, as an Instructional Coach. For us, the school year begins in August. In August I get new school supplies. I choose my new word for the year , and buy AT LEAST two new pairs of shoes. August is also when our Instructional Team sits down to create our building goals for the school year. The more I consider it, the more convinced I become that January is not a time for professional resolutions or new goals. What I really need in January is to review or reflect upon the goals that were set in August and see where we stand. (And maybe buy some cool new winter boots!)
For me, reflection comes in questions. When we sit to look at building or student data, we pose questions, to help us better understand our learners, and plan for their instruction. I started to think about what questions I could ask to help myself, as well as my team, process our progress and refocus our work for the remainder of this school year. Perhaps some of the following might spark your thinking as well: (more…)
Kindergarten is a unique place. Our youngest students enter our classrooms with various experiences with literacy. Many students start kindergarten without the item knowledge that we associate with learning how to read. They don’t recognize letters, know letter sounds, and don’t have any sight word knowledge. The expectations are high and time is limited, so there’s a need to get started quickly. We wonder, how can we start small group instruction so early? (more…)