Thursday, September 18, 2014

Are you floundering or flourishing?

I have had a goal for about 5 weeks and I had not pulled the triggerI was foundering!  Let me provide some background information. Liberty North, where I am the innovation and learning coach, has an amazing faculty and offers clubs to increase student engagement and attachment to our school.  I wanted to be a part of this tour de force and have been thinking about it for weeks.  However, there were roadblocks in my opinionmy calendar, the commitment, and mostly the unknown. Will students be interested? Will I prepare and no students will attend? Will it all be a waste of time?  Of course, there is no way to determine the answer to any of my questions until I put it out there and give it a whirl.  Today I decided to risk it and make it happen despite all those pesky unknowns!

There was a bit of research involved, but through the help of a few friends I whittled my idea into something I could articulate.  I was interested in supporting students in publishing themselves using a variety of media and we will start in November with NaNoWriMo.  Imagine my elation when I found out about there is an entire month, website, and Twitter community @NaNoWriMo devoted to helping students be crazy about writing and sharing their work.

Desire to do something is great, but the proof is in the pudding.  It takes true intentional decisions to actualize your goals.  I now have the dates in my calendar, I have notified the organizer, and there are advertisements flying around the school. This is flourishing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Research by chance and the luck of the draw

Using a deck of cards and MacBook Airs one health class achieved the following standards through student research.

FS1A: Investigate disorders, their treatments, and prevention techniques to maintain a healthy sensory system (e.g., hearing loss, glaucoma, near and far-sightedness, halitosis, numbness, and tingling).

Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Each student was handed a card at random and set to the task of determining the description, treatment, or prevention of a sensory disease.  The lucky student with the Ace of Spades was the recorder on a collaborative Google doc. This was a great method that combated the common practice of copy and paste and really caused students to put the medical information into their own words. The added bonus was the class discussion about personal experiences with each that really added to the relevance. After each disorder the cards were shuffled and handed out again. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another #tyiw pledge…say thank you.

It’s simple. It’s effortless. It’s effective.  I can truthfully say I love my job and it gets even more rewarding when out of the blue I am thanked for doing my job. The frequency of this phenomenon has inspired me to quickly post this and hopefully encourage others to spread the joy. I must say the effect has spawned some unusual behavior on my part. For example, this week I crawled on the floor behind a computer station to look at wires I had about a 5% chance of understanding just in case I could help.  It is motivating to hear affirmations and I am so appreciative for those kind words.  This year I plan to diversify my thankful messages to those who inspire me, work their tails off for kids, leap out of their comfort zone and work on innovation in their classroom, and continuously care. Thank you.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Relevance is the super power of any lesson

How do you take a cold, cold standard and turn it into a warm and inviting lesson? Relevance. Relate the standard to student’s hearts and minds by making it applicable to their lives.  Let’s try it with the common core state standard below.

Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

For the bookworms
Start with and have students search for a book they loved. They can read both a glowing and disappointing review and complete the standard reading about something for which they have passion.

For the sporty students
These students would probably do well with reading up on both of the arguments regarding if college athletes should be paid.  Imagine how all the information might help them when they sign up to play college ball!

For the history buffs
Explore a non-fiction and fiction piece on WWI or insert your favorite history topic. How does the fiction author treat the time period differently than the non-fiction writer?   This is really interesting stuff!  Students would engage at another level with this approach! 

For the future engineers
Read the launch information and a review of the latest and greatest technology gadget. How do the company and a non-partial write up compare?

Be a super hero and reach for Quad D today!
Check out these great resources! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Where do you stand on RIGOR?

Rigorthe 5-letter word with so much baggage.  Unpacking the baggage was an important step in the International Center for Leadership in Education training I attended yesterday. It was the best professional development session I have been to in a long time and I feel inclined to share some big ideas that will guide my thinking and implementation.
Rigor/Relevance Framework

Image Source

1. Harder, longer, and/or more confusing does not make a lesson rigorous.  Moving from the first half of Bloom’s to the second half of Bloom’s taxonomy will accomplish rigor. For example- Take information that students are applying and ask them to analyze- dig deeper!

2. Asking students to “figure it out” does not make a lesson more rigorous. Asking higher-level questions to guide student thinking does! For example- I see you have chosen said piece of evidence to defend your thinking. Can you prove your conclusion without it?

3. Rigor does not have to be saved for cumulating projects or only your advanced students.  Out of Quad A, Every Day was the key phrase of the training.  Yes, sometimes we have to build background knowledge and allow students to build momentum and capacity in our contents.  After a certain amount of that type of learning, the brain is overloaded. Think about the answers to the questions below. 

     Are my students in memorization mode?
            Are my students thinking mode?

For example- Chunk your lesson delivery.  Give students time to process, practice, and/or produce. 

So WHERE  do you stand on RIGOR?  
Is it...
  • you don’t think about
  • it creeps in occasionally
  • it is a priority when planning
Check out these resources as you play with RIGOR!