Another amazing evening of gathering with our TOSAs (Teacher on Special Assignment) to discuss relationships on #TOSAchat. Kelly Martin (@kmartintahoe) moderated this important chat discussing the importance of building relationships in our work as TOSAs, ways to support educators who are already on board and those who are hesitant or reluctant, and ways to keep teachers on track of their goals and objectives. It was another very powerful time of engaging in academic discourse with the #TOSAchat community. Here are some examples of the valuable insights that came from that evening's chat.
For the complete Storify, follow this link.
Escondido Elementary School in PAUSD had its Back to School Night last night and I had the pleasure of attending to support the staff, meet some of the members of its PTA, and see the community. It was incredible to see the number of families there for the first hour to get a sense of the after school activities from the booths of programs. There was such an excitement in the air at that time.
In my opinion, it was ambitious to have Back to School Night on day 3 of the school year. Mr. Merrit, Escondido's principal, shared with me that the school's tradition has been to hold its Back to School Night early in the year so parents may have the opportunity to immediately get to know their child's teacher, build relationships with others in the school community, and continue to feel a sense of belonging at the school. That is truly a powerful and purposeful vision for Back to School Night.
As we all enter this new school year, let's remember those things:
What an incredible success! Last night was the first #TOSAchat on Twitter and there was such an amazing turn out with over 1,000 tweets during that hour for TOSAs (teacher on special assignment).
#TOSAchat all began as an idea from Ben sometime in late June/early July this past summer. Ben reached out to Karly, Kelly, and me about starting this chat. We definitely jumped on board and things quickly materialized. We messaged each other within Twitter, starting out as tweets and then into a thread of a group direct messaging. Within the first few days we had discussed what we needed to get started and we had a lot set up already. We started a gmail account and registered the Twitter profile @tosachat. With the Google account, we create sheets of possible questions, a form for participants to fill out with suggestions for topics (Karly's foresight in making the chat interactive beyond the tweets), and had a place for the amazing graphics for @tosachat's profile and advertisement banners (from Kelly's creative mind). It was an incredible example of "teamwork that makes the dream work," as Ben often says.
One thing I really appreciated was that we picked what seemed like a late start date for the chat at that time but it turned out to be perfect for several reasons.
Teamwork definitely makes the dream work.
Please join us for #TOSAchat on Monday at 8:00 PST for incredible discourse with a fantastic community of educators. Here's the Storify for our inaugural chat in case you missed it.
How many dots do you see?
Today, Laura Reeves and I were invited to join the Pre-K, transitional Kindergarten, and special education teachers at Greendell for their staff development day. It was a great experience for me since I've seen many of those teachers in previous workshops and trainings.
The first thing about today was learning where Greendell is. Up until today I had no reason to go onto the Greendell campus since workshops with those teachers were often at the district office and the former portable C. I had driven by the sign indicating Greendell's campus for years but I never knew where it was. What a lovely campus it was! Such a gem in the Palo Alto Unified School District.
Dawn, Greendell's principal invited Laura and I to lead a discussion and training on Number Talks/Dot Talks. It was great to examine the structure of Number Talks, discuss how they connect to the Common Core State Standards, and explore the benefits of Number Talks for students and teachers.
One of the best parts of the workshop was the experience for Greendell's teachers to put the practices into place. It was good to see the teachers practice giving their Dot Talks and also play the role of students explaining their mathematical thinking.
I hope to have the opportunity to partner with the Greendell teachers again really soon.
Today was PAUSD's first elementary TOSA Team Meeting of the 2015-2016 school year. It was a wonderful opportunity for all seven of us to sit with Barbara, the Chief Academic Officer for Elementary Education, and the coordinator of the BTSA coaches to discuss our roles as TOSAs / coaches, work out some logistics of leadership teams at school sites, and gather in shared learning and shared objectives.
I had the pleasure and privilege of leading a Number Talk / Math Talk with the TOSA team. I've had many experiences leading Number Talks with my students in first, second, and fifth grades. I've also led training workshops for teachers on how to plan, lead, and reflect on Number Talks. This time I led the Number Talk as if I was speaking to my students, cutting in and out of that when addressing the metacognitive reasons for parts of my Number Talk. Through the Number Talk, my colleagues effectively shared their mathematical thinking and the strategies for how they solved an addition problem with three 3-digit addends. A few members of the TOSA team noticed that I explicitly write down and label the strategies for each method (decomposing, near doubles, partial-sums, ...) and we engaged in a discussion about how that practice helps our students. By identifying the strategy and labeling it on the board next to the method(s), students receive continued exposure to academic language, deepen their understanding of the strategies, and increase the chance they will internalize the mathematical concepts and apply them in new situations and problems.
My closure for the Number Talk was asking my colleagues to share something they learned or re-learned. Barbara's comment highlights the value of Number Talks. Barbara, like any adult who experiences Number Talks for the first time(s) may have a few ways to solve a given problem, but through the process, they learn many more strategies and also the academic language for those strategies. "My new learning was decomposing."
PAUSD educators throughout the summer had the pleasure and privilege of hearing from Patricia Swanson, Associate Professor of Education at San Jose State University, speak about mathematical practices that addresses the Common Core State Standards. This week, Patty Swanson offered a three day workshop for educators who support fourth and fifth grade students. It was great attend this workshop with academic specialists, teachers across the district, a teacher from the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital, and members of the group DreamCathers.
In this workshop we explored mathematical practices and activities that support children's process of making sense of math. Math is not about memorizing facts and algorithms but making sense of them - constructing meaning.
I was really impressed with the discussions throughout the institute and workshop that focused on equity for all learners. Patty offered ideas and structures that help manage group roles, ensure every member contributes, and holds each group member accountable for the wellness of the entire group.
Some highlights from the institute include:
-The Broken Squares activity that really calls for cooperative group work.
-Explorations of multiplication models and the distributive property with an activity called "Cover Up."
-Discussions that go beyond classroom management into how those systems and structures benefit ALL students and ensure for equity of roles and responsibilities. Clear, purposeful structures like that are essential for all learners.
-Powerful discourse between professionals examining the deeper levels of thinking involved with the eight mathematical practices of the Common Core State Standards
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.