"Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society." Gary Locke
I had the pleasure of seeing a buddy activity between a Kindergarten class and a 5th grade class today at one of the schools I support. The buddies collaboratively worked on drawing the flags of countries around the world, especially the ones of their ancestor's origins. On the other side of the maps, the fifth graders were creating puzzle piece drawings of the US map. In just that short time of seeing the pieces on the floor of the 5th grade classroom, I saw the powerful symbolism in that project. The United States is truly a diverse country with numerous cultures and ethniticities. What an incredible powerful activity from five, six, ten, and eleven year old students!
Today marks the first day of #Sketch50 - a movement in creativity and sharing that I learned from Ann Kozma's tweet.
This #Sketch50 movement is definitely such a fantastic way for playing, learning, and sharing. It's a great way to be creative with our sketching and drawing. For this first day of #Sketch50, I shared two sketches. The first was a self portrait that I created a few weeks ago at a professional learning session for the Spectra Art teachers in PAUSD. The second was the sketch for Day 1 of #Sketch50. https://sketch50.org
I have always enjoyed anything creative - design and engineering activities, sketching, writing my own songs, photography, videography, and more. I believe everyone is creative too. Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague who said that she's not creative and isn't as artistic as others. Immediately I wanted to convince her of the opposite but I knew I needed to take a different approach. I told her that I understand how she feels. In my mind I felt that she said those comments because of fear. She feared what others thinks and would say. I told her I understand.
I remember feeling that fear. I remember the first time I was critiqued for my drawings. I remember the first time I was criticized for my songwriting. I remember how I felt. And I also remember how I felt when I did draw, sing, write, create, design, ... pretty much any verb, including dance, play, and even skip. I feel free. I feel alive. I feel creative. And that's because when I do those things, those verbs, I am living in the moment. I am doing what I enjoy, without fear of ridicule, criticism, or judgment. The reality is that I know those are things I can't avoid, but when I'm in the moment I don't think of those crippling things. I just live. And that's what I told her, draw, sketch, do anything just for you. If you enjoy it, do it. And also know that someone will be impacted by your work.
There will be times when you do something just for you with no one ever to see the results of it and there will be times when others will see it. Don't let others' eyes stop you from enjoying the moment.
Having spent the first 11 years of my career teaching first and second grade, I definitely believe K-2 can too. The youngest learners are capable of deep academic discourse, higher levels of thinking, sharing their voice through writing and podcasts, creating multimedia presentations, and collaboratively working to solve problems.
As a first grade teacher I enjoyed seeing my students discover themselves as readers. I have to mention this first because it was the reason I became a teacher, the reason I love first grade, and the reason I will always be a first grade teacher at my core. It's truly incredible to witness students enter first grade experimenting with letters, words, and sentences, followed by determination, struggle, and perseverance, and then celebrating the success of becoming a reader. What a gift! As a first grade teacher I've had the pleasure of watching my students analyze different texts, evaluate math problems, solve problems with flexibility and a variety of strategies, and become "makers." My students loved making and designing their own science experiments. They loved story boarding and writing their original pieces of writing. They loved creating iMovie projects and sharing their expressive voices on GarageBand enhanced podcasts.
K-2 can too.
Now as an instructional coach I am always advocating for our youngest learners. This includes Math Talks (or Number Talks), Open-Ended Problem Stems, deep academic discourse during interactive read alouds, and integrating Educational Technology in their work through apps like iMovie, Google Apps, SeeSaw, Swivl, and more. I love sharing design challenges and going through the design thinking process with students in grades K-2.
Recently, I learned of a few Breakout EDU games for students in kindergarten, first and second grades and was excited to try them. Ann Kozma, a TOSA for #fsdlearns, shared a Thanksgiving-themed Breakout EDU game back in November that I can't wait to try with the classes, teachers, and students I support. [It's incredible how your professional learning network, PLN, shares! The #TOSAchat community is indeed an amazing tribe!] Susan Stewart, an Ed Tech consultant, from Fresno, CA, shared a Dr. Seuss-themed Breakout EDU game that I was able to facilitate with three classes (a kindergarten and two first grade classes) at Escondido Elementary School this past week. It was definitely such a great experience for everyone involved. The teachers were all initially nervous about how it would be considering their students hadn't experienced a whole-class collaborative game like Breakout EDU games before. I could tell that a couple of teachers nervously watched their students work out the clues and puzzles. At the end of each game, the student cheered excitedly as they opened the box, the teacher felt an incredible sense of pride at how the students worked out the problems, and everyone wanted to have another Breakout EDU game. At the end of each game I closed the activity by asking the Kindergarten and first grade students what they learned about Dr. Seuss and what they learned about themselves. The answers to the second question was definitely examples of how #K2CanToo.
"I learned that I'm good at solving puzzles."
"I learners that we can break into the box when we all work together."
"I learned that we can keep trying if we don't get it open the first time."
"I learned that it's better to work as a team than by yourself."
This is a simple, short post about today, March 14th. For math folks, it's known as Pi Day. There are so many ways to celebrate Pi Day - getting and eating pies, working with Pi in math problems, and doing a Breakout EDU game about Pi (a colleague of mine, Valerie Sabbag, did that today with her fifth graders). How did I celebrate Pi Day?
I went on a 3.14 mile run at the end of the day. The first screenshot was after I rotated the map, although it doesn't show the distance. The second screenshot shows the distance (you may notice my slow down at the end of my run because I answered a phone call - oh well).
My supervisor, PAUSD's Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education, told me to take that on as my new mantra. Progress, not perfection.
This came up during a conversation I had with her about one of my recent projects. Like all educators, my role as a Math & STEAM Instructional Coach involves a lot of projects and initiatives. Some of the projects I have are co-managing the elementary math pilot along with the other Math TOSAs, designing the 2017 Elementary Summer School program, creating an upcoming professional learning workshop for the SouthBay FOSS Collaborative on STEAM & NGSS, working on a new pilot program to bring maker carts to three elementary school sites, and writing a grant application to receive funding for additional maker carts. (No wonder I'm tired.) Another recent project I worked on that prompted this conversation I had with my boss was co-designing our district's February professional learning day examining the Next Generation Science Standards. For this PD Day, we identified four goals for the session:
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.