Showing posts from 2015

Teaching Their Hearts-Raising Your EQ

Everything happens for a reason, right? In February, my district did a Learning Together PD where it was formatted like an edcamp, but with the sessions pre-determined. I was supposed to attend a session with an outside consultant that the district has been working with for the past 3 years, but I misunderstood the directive and thought it was optional and I opted out. Serendipity led me to a session by Mo O'Brien. She's a middle school teacher in our district and her session tag line was about supporting students emotionally. This is an area I wanted to grow, so I signed up for this slot. Rewind-I had just finished co-leading my own session, and based on verbal feedback I was feeling like a real bad-ass. After an hour with Mo, I was put back in my place. This firecracker has created an LLC for the Schools of Tomorrow  and has got to be hands down, the nicest person I've ever met. She just radiates kindess, and that was her whole message. I've taken several things

Math Workshop: Stations and Small Group Instruction

With the help of one of my teammates, her knowledge from Math Workshop conferences, as well as my own scouring of blogs, I've thought through several station options. I only implement about 5 of these, but as this is my first year of Math Workshop, I expect to expand my horizons next year. The options for stations are: Small Group Instruction Fact Fluency Technology Math Games Notebooking/Vocabulary Interdisciplinary Spiral Practice/Weak Standards Great. Now what? Find the stuff for the centers. The quicker they are to acquire, the more likely you are to do them :) I started with what I had on hand. My stations look something like this: Small Group Instruction - 4-5 students and I working with manipulatives, white boards, and having think alouds and problem solving discussions Fact Fluency - flash cards, mad minute timed test (self check) Technology - online leveled practice (Think Through Math, iStation Math) or discovering how to use an app and creating

Math Workshop: Focus Your (Mini) Lesson

I was chosen to be part of a cohort this year in my district to pilot the use of instructional coaches. The goal of our district is to turn professional development into a daily occurrence, fueled by peers. I was super excited to be part of this opportunity, and it's turned out to be the biggest life/game changer. In the beginning, we took a self-evaluation to rank us on 21st Century Teaching Skills . We took it again mid-year, and we'll take it again at end of year. It's a great tool to use for goal setting. Based on my low scoring areas, I was able to set goals for myself this year on what I wanted to accomplish in the classroom. It really focused my growth, which is something I haven't had in the past. My first goal was Math Workshop. My second goal has been Project Based Learning. I'm in the middle of my first PBL unit, but I've been doing Math Workshop for months, so I have a bit more reflection to share on that particular topic right now. First rule of

Laying a Foundation with Kagan Heterogeneous Seating Groups

I'm all for small group instruction. Narrowing down that student-teacher ratio from 22 or 26:1 to 4 or 5:1 is ideal for my understanding where my kids are and for directed instruction that the students stay engaged in. A few questions arise when you dip your toe into a workshop model of instruction . Here are a few I had: 1. How do I group my kids? See Below. 2. What do the other kids do while I pull a small group? It depends. Coming soon. 3. How do I manage behavior in a station/center/rotation atmosphere? See #2. 4. What do I do once my kids are in small group? See #2. I can answer Question #1 today. Heterogeneous grouping a la Kagan. I recently attended a Kagan training that our school hosted. You can buy the book online, as I did prior to attending the training, but the training itself is very helpful in understanding the idiosyncrasies of using the cooperative learning strategies. This is NOT a curriculum. Its a great way to access curriculum in a team building, com

Beg, Borrow, and Steal

A new role model of mine, whom you can find on Twitter @TechNinjaTodd, stood up at our most recent PD and announced that everything he was showing us that he had done was an idea he learned from someone else. He did not present a single unique idea. Except that he totally did. Unique in the way that no one in our district talked about developing themselves through social media. He gave us permission to seek out greatness even if no one supported our movement. He gave us permission to teach 50% academics and 50% life. He is a game changer. I want to be a game changer. It's so refreshing to hear that someone that amazing (super high testing scores in a very low SES population) is simply copying his favorite ideas from other people. When I meet someone so great, I tend to immediately throw myself into this other category of "not good enough." I was on a personal high on Friday from co-leading a Math Workshop PD. My teammate and I had gotten some great feedback that had us

My Inaugural Revolutionary Moment

There is absolutely nothing revolutionary about me starting a blog. In fact, this is not the first blog I have ever had. I had one in college, and one when my husband and I started our family. No, the creation of the blog itself is not revolutionary. The potential it has is.  Yesterday, I sat through my school district's Inaugural Learning Together Conference. It was the first of its kind because we had over 120 presenters, most of whom are teachers in our district. For the first time, the C&I department allowed our own to teach what they had learned about best practice. Also for the first time, the C&I department allowed the staff to choose what sessions we attended. Over the two day conference, we were able to choose where we spent 6 of those 12 hours. That was revolutionary for us.  A quick back story on me, I am a bit of a narcissist. Not because I had a privileged life and have a misplaced sense of entitlement. No, quite the opposite. Through the help of key peopl