"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."
Meaningful, manageable, authentic audience, student voice, Mindfulness, and empowerment. Those are words that stand out from my experience at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium (another info link from East Bay CUE). What an incredible day of professional learning, making professional connections, learning together, and finding ways to impact, inspire, and empower students.
The day started with an inspiring keynote by Nicholas Zefeldt. How can we make our students' experience meaningful and manageable for us? Nick inspired the crowd of over 400 educators with many concepts, including two key points - providing our students with authentic audiences and the value of student voice. Whether through blogs, podcasts, Twitter, students' work from Writer's Workshop, when we give our students an authentic audience it changes how they see themselves as writers. Students will then be more empowered and willing to share their voice. Focus on listening to our students. Focus on student voice. Nick took the crowd through a segment about podcasting and shared a wonderful web based resource that's simple to use - http://vocaroo.com. It was super cool the way Nick creating an interactive part of his keynote by creating a podcast with the 400 educators in the room, giving tips on how to create podcasts with students, teaching students to say, "Whoops, what I meant to say was ...," and singing a childhood favorite song. Check out Nick's tweet below, especially the link to the podcast!
Nick also shared several pro tips, including offering extra recess as a purposeful teacher move and using QR codes to connect physical elements to the internet. His keynote was indeed an amazing way to kick off the day! Nick pointed out the necessary step of asking yourself two questions - Is what you're about to do with your students meaningful? Is it manageable?
Is it meaningful? Does it change the learning opportunity in some way? Saying it's engaging isn't enough.
Is it manageable? You do something amazing. Three days (weeks, months) later can you do it again with ease? Do you want to do it again?
STEM & EdTech Symposium Sessions
The sessions I went to focused on ways to incorporate EdTech tools in the classroom for student discovery and empowerment. Breakout EDU is always a topic that draws curiosity and interest and the sessions during the symposium today were full, engaging, and fun. A session I had the pleasure of going to was one offered by Roni Habib focused on Mindfulness, positivity, and relationships. Participants in his session learned about the impact of games in the classroom. When teachers incorporate collaborative games in the classroom it promotes positivity which in turn fosters an environment where learning thrives. Roni referenced the work of a psychologist whose study showed that positivity leads to a greater ability to learn. It was great to hear Roni share some of the practical things we can do in the classroom. The following is just a part of the list.
A huge highlight for me at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium was partnering with THE Karly Moura for a session on Virtual field trips with Google Expeditions. I have had the pleasure of partnering with Karly on many projects and initiatives, include #TOSAchat, #GAFEhelp - now known as #gsuiteEDU, and various edcamp planning. Today Karly and I facilitated a session on the use of Google Expeditions for a room full of educators. It was great to begin with a discussion of what VR is and what participants thought of virtual reality in the classroom. There were thoughts of positive use and aspects of VR in the classroom, such as access for students, being cost-effective (after the initial cost of the equipment), and creating global connections. It was also good to hear the devil's advocate and cautious point of view of VR too. Is it just a gimmick? A participant said since 3D in television hasn't taken off even though it was projected to, is VR also something that's getting premature attention? The discussion was definitely a great way to set the tone for the session - emphasizing and referencing one point from Nick's keynote in the morning - it's not about the tools, it's about the teacher. It's the verbs we want our students to engage in. Empowerment. Creativity. Access.
It was definitely a fun, hands-on session with devices from the Tesoro's MDUSD STEM Lending Library. Karly and I took participants through three virtual Google Expeditions field trips connected to three curricular areas - Social Studies with Pearl Harbor, Literacy with Roald Dahl's estate and stories, and Science with the human body. All three field trips were definitely very engaging with the images, notes from the guides, and interactivity with the iPads and headsets. Special thanks to the Golden State Warriors and Accenture for supporting our session with the donation of the virtual reality headsets!
The session ended with a review of the value of the verbs and concepts such as access, empowerment, and connections, rather than focusing on the tools. I'm always reminded of the image below.
Let's all remember to make our learning and teaching meaningful, manageable, impactful, and inspirational for our students. I will end this blog post with the video Nick shared at the end of his keynote. The video will definitely speak for itself.
Update as of Tuesday, February 28th: Since the STEM & EdTech Symposium, Karly and I have gotten great feedback about our Google Expeditions session and experiences with students.
Elementary school teachers in PAUSD experienced the second of two professional learning sessions on the Next Generation Science Standards during this 2016-2017 school year on Thursday, February 16th. This second NGSS PD day, titled "NGSS 102," followed "NGSS 101" in August where teachers were introduced to the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards, an overview of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) of NGSS, and a look at SEP 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems.
For this second PD session on NGSS 102, there were three session goals to bring elementary school teachers into the awareness phase and the beginning of the transition phase.
It was great to continue examining the architecture of NGSS from the Fall into this Winter session analyzing the changes in the Next Generation Science Standards vs. the old 1998 California Science Standards. Teachers were given time to not only explore their grade level's Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) but dive deeper into NGSS with the other boxes in the standards. As noted by teachers in the sessions, the words of the 1998 science standards are, "Students know ...," "Students know ..." while the words of NGSS identifies other verbs and goes into higher levels of thinking - analyze, evaluate, predict, model, and interpret. The analysis of the words and phrasing in NGSS' performance expectations, three dimensions, and connections to CCSS ELA and Math definitely showed a more complete approach to the next generation of science instruction.
The second session goal of diving into Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) during NGSS 102 completed our study of NGSS' three dimension (SEPs in the Fall and throughout the year and DCI during session goal 1). This was certainly a completion of only an introduction to the three dimensions of NGSS. There will certainly be a lot more professional development in the future. This second session goal was definitely a very engaging time as teachers engaged in two activities that the PAUSD Elementary TOSA Team received from the California Academy of Science. The Crosscutting Concepts Speed Dating and Station Rotation activities definitely gave teachers the chance to become familiar with what the CCCs are and how they are defined.
The third session goal provided teachers the chance to engage in inquiry based instruction through a video (below) as well as a hands-on exploration called the Skittles Experiment. It was great to connect the CCCs in this activity. Teachers were asked to choose one of the seven crosscutting concepts to view the phenomena through and record their noticings and wonderings. Teachers were very engaged, asking questions based on their observations that could lead to more experiments, and working collaboratively to write their scientific explanations with claim, evidence, and reasoning. Below are pictures of the Skittles Experiment along with other pictures from NGSS 102 from the professional learning session with PAUSD fifth grade teachers.
NGSS 102 was a very successful day of engagement, awareness, conversations, planning, and professional learning.
EdCamp Silicon Valley 2017 took place on Saturday, February 11th and was a great day for professional development. I have definitely enjoyed the format of edcamp for organic professional development, engaging educational conversations, and the freedom of helping to create the session board and switch sessions as needed. The two videos at the bottom of this post are very helpful if you're unfamiliar with the format of an edcamp.
I've had the pleasure of being on the organizing team for EdCamp Silicon Valley for the past three years and have really enjoyed making connections with other educators, helping to provide a day of educator-driven professional development, and engaging in educational conversations myself. EdCampSV has been around since 2014. This year's EdCampSV was definitely unlike previous years for several reasons.
Dave Burgess and his book Teach Like a Pirate has impacted countless educators and their students. Ever since I started using Twitter for educational purposes, I've enjoyed the spirit and passion of Teach Like a Pirate and #tlap. The chat on Mondays at 6:00 pm (PST) has been one that I always try to make. The educators who participate on #tlap definitely share the passion of student engagement, creativity, and ways to transform education that Dave Burgess shares in his book.
I had the fortunate pleasure of meeting Dave Burgess and watching him speak live at the recent EdCamp Contra Costa (edcampcoco) event on Saturday, January 21, 2017. I had been connected to Dave on Twitter for a few years and was super excited to finally get to meet him face to face. In this Distinguished Speaker Series, Dave Burgess shared his message of Transformative Passion. It was incredibly inspirational. If you've never had the pleasure of watching Dave Burgess speak, it's definitely something you don't want to miss. His passion, enthusiasm, and excitement for the professional, his teaching, his students, and connecting with other educators radiates from his magic tricks, stories, demonstrations, and messages.
The sketchnote below was definitely a wild attempt at capturing his message (and if you've seen him live, you'll know it takes an intense effort to capture his message). Here is a sampling of the key parts of his keynote message.
Below are a few other pictures from my experience at EdCamp Contra Costa - one of which is a picture with Karly Moura, a co-creator of #TOSAchat.
What a timely topic for last night's #TOSAchat for this school year. It seems like there's always so much to do no matter what time of the year it is, however the topic of Organization for last night's #TOSAchat was quite amazing. Kelly Martin, one of the creators of #TOSAchat, came up with fantastic questions for the chat that really sparked great conversation, tips, reminders, and resources for how to stay organized. Some of the takeaways from the chat are creating lists in order to manage the number of tasks on our plates, Kyle Anderson's method of organizing his Google Drive, Kelly Nunes' use of Boomerang for scheduling emails through Gmail, the send & archive button in Gmail, Tom Covington's method of only dedicating email time to two times a day, and Shea Smith's 5D method to evaluate time-sucks. I definitely want to create a graphic for his 5D method.
Here is the link to the Participate Learning transcript of last night's #TOSAchat. There are so many wonderful gems in there, including the following two tweets.
Sandy Otto's tweet: "A3: I want to be better at not thinking I can multi-task. More often, I need to focus just on the task at hand & see it through."
Bethany Thompson's tweet: "A4: Also, try to do just one thing. If you need to concentrate to finish something lock everyone out and get it done."
Fortuitously, today I had a conversation with colleagues at Fairmeadow Elementary School about to do lists and how to attack our lists. Liz Pounders, the school's PE teacher shared the following quote with us. She mentioned she had shared the quote with a group of other teachers in a professional development class and that it applies to the conversation we had over lunch. The quote was definitely something that inspired me to make the following graphic for her.
Recently two teachers who I've had the pleasure of working with for many years told me they've been asked to submit proposals for sessions at a professional development conference in the summer. They asked me what topics I thought they could write for their session proposals. Having had the pleasure and opportunities of working with them as colleagues, supporting them in my role as an instructional coach, and knowing them as friends, I felt honored they asked me for my opinion/suggestion/idea. It was definitely easy for me to point out the amazing things they've been doing in their classrooms that I am confident others would love to hear and learn from their experience and expertise. We were able to identify lessons, units, projects, and philosophies like coding and robotics, fostering a culture of student voice and student choice - giving students digital options to showcase their learning, MysterySkype and MysteryHangout, BreakoutEDU, and integrated units. An example of the amazing integrated units they've designed for their students was creating a life size teepee during their study of Native Americans in their Social Studies block, measurement and data in their Math Workshop, and nonfiction study in their Readers and Writers Workshops.
During our conversation and brainstorm session of what topics they could write for their session proposals, I got the sense they both felt a lack of confidence in the ideas. "Is this something (the topic) others will like?" "Will other teachers actually get anything out of this?" Those were exactly some of the things I thought myself when I submitted my session proposals. After offering affirmations and sharing my confidence that their session ideas are definitely topics that others WILL benefit from, I offered a different perspective.
1 Comfort and 1 Push
In my experience of brainstorming topics for PD conferences, I often second guess my ideas because I feel comfortable with those topics as a result of having done those lessons/units/projects/had those philosophies for a long time that I feel they are "old news." "Why would anyone go to that session? Hasn't everyone done that already?" And I always find the reality is the topics are worthwhile, are beneficial, are new to others, even though I've been practicing them for some time. Knowing their ideas would be beneficial to others AND knowing how they may be feeling, I suggested to submit 1 Comfort and 1 Push. Submit a session topic that you're comfortable with, confident in, and KNOW it will be helpful to others no matter how you may feel about it. And submit 1 topic that's a Push for you. A topic that you've been wanting to explore, to learn, and to implement - the Push. We all have those Push ideas and sometimes we don't push ourselves to try them because of the tasks on our plates, a lack of time, and many other reasons. Suggesting they identify a Push idea for them to submit creates that importance of time and investment into learning the topic so they can present it at the conference. A goal with a due date is set. Learning that Push idea becomes a priority.
Of course I am not suggesting this to be the way to push yourself to learn something new, to take on your Push ideas. It's just a suggestion I shared with those two teachers in our conversation that, given the circumstances, may help them to identify those Push topics they've been wanting to try.
However, the notion is still there (which is why I'm writing this blog post). What are your Push topics? What are the things you've been wanting to learn that you may not have had the time for? Identify those Push ideas and set a goal to learn them - maybe to share that idea at a conference like in the conversation I had with my colleagues. Identify those Push ideas.
I have long been talking about the amazing benefits of BreakoutEDU games. It is wonderful for students, teachers, professional development, and more.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've had the pleasure of playing and facilitating games with so many wonderful teachers and coaches.
The most recent game I completed started with a tweet by Kristi Van over winter break asking if there was an existing BreakoutEDU game focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for third graders. Over winter break, Kristi, Valerie, and I collaboratively wrote the MLK BreakoutEDU game. With the experience of writing my previous games, I was able to write clues that were appropriate for third graders to solve. It was definitely a collaborative approach with Valerie's idea, as I always find it most difficult to write clues for the directional lock.
This week I had the pleasure of facilitating the game to four third grade classes in PAUSD - Kristi Van's, John Brubaker's, Helena Holmes', and Penelope Sanders-Jones' classes. It was wonderful to see the third graders work together, use their research skills, collaborate, and exercise a lot of persistence to open the box! After each game I asked for feedback from the kids and got some creative and thoughtful suggestions to improve the game and also for future games. In all four classes, the students shared how much they enjoyed the game and thanked me for sharing it with them. To me, I was the lucky one - to have four colleagues that are open to me trying a BreakoutEDU game with their students.
This most recent BreakoutEDU game I wrote focused on MLK is linked here. Please share your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions so I can continue to make it and my future games better. Please do keep in mind that this game is geared for third graders (with one labeled clue that is adapted for advanced players).
Today, the last workday of 2016, was a day full of closing up projects, celebrations, and preparing for 2017. Even though it was a half day of work, it sure felt like a full day's work. Of the projects I brought to a close or at least a stopping point before winter break, they included preparing print shop orders of student booklets for round two of PAUSD's Elementary Math Adoption Pilot process and preparing participant packets for February's PD Day focused on the Next Generation Science Standards. I also spent some time continuing my work designing the 2017 Elementary Summer School program and working on a special STEAM project with PAUSD's AAR program.
In the midst of all the work closing out the year of 2016, I had the pleasure of experiencing a coding party and a BreakoutEDU game. Kristi Van's third graders had a special time building obstacle courses and coding Sphero robots to go through the courses (or more like destroying the courses).
In the afternoon I had the pleasure of watching Valerie Sabbag's fifth grade class beta test my BreakoutEDU game. It was the one I wrote about a month ago and just posted on the previous blog post. What a wonderful experience because the students really worked hard at solving the puzzles and also showed me ways I can improve my game. There was one "color it on the hundreds chart" puzzle for the direction lock that I left the answers on the sheet. As the game started and a student pointed that out I quickly took the paper and cut the answers off so the group of students could still work on solving the puzzles. I felt embarrassed that I missed that mistake but the class was super understanding and encouraging as they said it was fun to be the beta testers of my game. Needless to say, it was such an amazing way to end the last workday of 2016.
The result of this year's presidential election has definitely affected everyone on both sides of the aisle. I do not want to go on any political rant of my experience as I've set the purpose of this blog to share my journey of a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA. The thing that's still weighing on me is the effects of the election and days leading up to the election. The presidential election process, particularly the debates, have reached a level that I never imagined. Steve Kerr's words during the Warriors' pregame press conference on Wednesday, November 8th perfectly articulated this feeling.
I am indeed saddened by the nature of this year's presidential campaign and election. I am concerned about the prospects of the new administration's effects on education.
My email inbox has been filling up with messages about the election results. One that stood out to me is a message from Hadi Partovi of Code.org.
After a divisive and draining election, I want to write a heartfelt note to you, the 400,000 educators whose dedication and support has made our work at Code.org possible.
The United States is increasingly divided. Whether you’re celebrating victory or despairing in defeat, it has been exhausting. Amidst the escalating rhetoric, I’ve looked for areas of shared hope.
Americans all want equality of opportunity. It unites us, even when we don’t agree about how to get there. And if there’s one group that’s dedicated to equality of opportunity, it’s educators.
I want to thank you for the work you do every day. No matter who you voted for, your students are our future. Whether you teach your students to add and subtract, to read, or to code, yours is the most important job in the world.
As I wrote in my previous post about the words of Joe Marquez, education is our most powerful tool.
No matter what happens, the following remains clear to me.
We are in the business of hope.
Next steps. Looking ahead. Lessons learned.
The words in the above image appeared in my Twitter Home feed and it really spoke to me and motivated me to create the image. Thank youJoe Marquez for your words.
"Curriculums come and go. Standards are here to stay."
This was the phrase that prompted my work with grade level teams on examining the CCSS-Math standards. Elementary school teachers in the Palo Alto Unified School District are in the middle of a pilot year to select new math curriculum that scheduled to be implemented during the 2017-2018 school year. PAUSD has been using Everyday Math for eight years with a lot of conflicting opinions of the curriculum between the staff and parents. There are many schools that have used it with fidelity while some schools have moved onto using other math curricula to meet the needs of their students and align with the Common Core State Standards, including EngageNY. No matter what curriculum teachers use, quality pedagogy that focuses on the success of all students, aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the 8 Mathematical Practices is the key.
I share the belief (and fact) of many that there is no perfect curriculum. My view is that any curriculum acts more like a GPS navigator. Throughout the school year, teachers make professional and purposeful decisions to use supplemental materials to meet the needs of their students. As a result, the progression of lessons in any curriculum is paused or altered. These professional and purposeful decisions is the science of teaching and no curriculum can replace the science of teaching. Instead, the curriculum as a GPS navigator to guide the teacher back on a predetermined path when necessary decisions to change the path are made. Like any road trip, the driver (the teacher) can make purposeful decisions to alter the suggested path (of the curriculum guide).
The biggest part of this analogy is the focus on the destination - meeting the grade level standards. An effective curriculum is designed to bring all students to meet CCSS at the end of the school year. Focusing on the destination of CCSS is the key aspect of the standards mapping activity.
Working with grade level teams, I've lead teachers to read and better understand the CCSS Math standards for their grade levels. It's been a powerful exercise, evidenced by teachers commenting that they "didn't know that was the actual language in the standards," that they didn't have to "teach concepts they've taught before" which saves them time to focus more on the concepts that have been problematic for their students, and that they see how to address "standards at each trimester of the school year." The exercise provided teachers the chance to identify which concepts/standards was important to address at each trimester in order to build understanding that leads to practice and mastery by the end of the school year. Of course, each of the above standards cards is meant to be mastered by the end of the school year, AND having an understanding of the progression of concepts throughout the school year helps gain a bigger picture of the professional and purposeful instructional decisions.
Having a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards is definitely an important piece of instruction.
- to know the destination of the school year,
- to know what's important to address at each point of the year and how concepts build,
- to be able to teach to those standards no matter which math curriculum is used (or selected in PAUSD),
- to see curriculum maps as guides to meeting CCSS and professional instructional decisions are far more important,
- to be able to see how "concepts build from grade to grade."
It's definitely important to remember that We don't teach curriculum; we teach students. Be mindful of the standards - the end destination, however, remember we teach students.
Learning takes hard work, understanding, perseverance, making mistakes, and learning from mistakes.
I had the pleasure of supporting two second grade teachers at Fairmeadow Elementary School this week with the use of SVMI's Problem of the Month packets to practice the 8 Mathematical Practices. During week 1 of this Problem of the Month packet, I led the students through Level A in a Number Talk format. Students were able to construct viable arguments and share the strategies they used. It was great to see the students in both second grade classes exercise Math Practice #1 - Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them throughout their time working on the levels of their packets.
Last week, I continued supporting the teachers with their SVMI Problem of the Month packet with the project of creating posters to share our thinking. Of course, students are used to sharing their solutions. Most math sheets, activities, packets ask students for the answer and to explain their solution. A great benefit to SVMI's Problem of the Month packets is how the problems are written. Many packets and their levels have been carefully written to allow for multiple solutions, causing students to truly justify their thinking - fostering Math Practice numbers 1, 2, and 3. Students showed great perseverance with making sense of problems, deciding how to attack the problems, constructing viable arguments with clear explanations, and checking their work for labels and clarity.
In our activity, I shared the concept of an explanation poster where students share their thinking, explanation, and strategies. This is an area that I've grown as an instructional coach. In previous years, I called them Solution Posters, but realized having a slight name change to explanation poster shifts the focus from the solution to the explanation. This was definitely evident this year as I observed students putting more of their focus on providing clear explanations.
In that session I also introduced the concept of a status poster. The second grade students were quick to understand the purpose of a status poster. "It's to show my progress." "The poster helps people know what I've done so far." In our discussion, we added that showing a status poster allows classmates and other learners to either get ideas from your work or offer ideas for your next steps. It was really great to see students understand the value of the this process - the value of growth mindset and the iterative process.
Below are pictures of the second grade students from Susan Hoff's and Melissa Hinkle's classes creating their explanation and status posters of SVMI's Problem of the Month packet. Scroll down beyond this first set of pictures to see the work from this week.
This week, we concluded our month's work with SVMI's Problem of the Month packet by sharing our explanation and status posters through a gallery walk. After introducing/reminding students of the process of a gallery walk (the process of admiring the work of the artists/mathematician and being a detective to understand the work behind the piece), I shared the process of providing feedback to classmates on sticky notes. For the second graders, we discussed the process of sharing compliments and questions. When discussing compliments, we talked about the importance of being specific with our positive feedback so our classmates know exactly what they did well, instead of just "Great job." We then moved onto the value of asking questions about the work instead of sharing negative criticism. With examples and sentence stems, we talked about the impact and difference between, "You're wrong," or "You didn't do your math correctly," and "Did you double check your calculations," or "I could understand this better if you included labels." It was definitely an important discussion and setup for our gallery walks. Below are pictures of the compliments and questions from the students to each other.
It was such a pleasure, privilege, and honor to be on Jennifer Williams' blog post on Shared Stories of Pedagogical Practice. Jennifer made the above amazing image of my quote, my belief, my calling. Thank you Jennifer!
Of course we all know how kids say the best things (funniest, silliest, ...). I saw the following image from a 4th grade class at Fairmeadow Elementary today. What a simple and profound piece of advice for other students and adults. No matter what you do, who you are, be a good one.
PAUSD's Elementary TOSA Team had the pleasure of spending Thursday and Friday, August 25th and 26th at its Fall TOSA Retreat. It was an incredibly important time to connect, engage, calibrate, articulate, collaborate, laugh, cry, and build our team. It was a powerfully rewarding time to be together during the retreat.
Our team has been in the work for about a month already - delivering orientation to new hire teachers on literacy, math, science, and other details of the district; planning, preparing, and facilitating PD on NGSS for every elementary teacher; organizing agendas and materials for meetings with reading specialists, the math pilot and adoption committee, a district webinar on the exploration year and pilot year for math, and the STEAM Inquiry Group; and working on logistics and planning for the school year. The retreat was amazing for us to spend that time engage in deep discussions and conversations, be creative with various projects, get to know our team and ourselves, and establishing key elements for our work together. It was a great time to be away from the district office. To be away from the never-ending list of tasks, the hallway conversations, our email inbox (at least during the hours of our retreat), and the intense work preparing for our year at school sites with teachers, students, parents, and principals.
Highlights from our two-day retreat:
The verbs I used when describing my TOSA Journey are:
Play, ponder, inquiry, be curious, be creative, reflect and refine, listen to understand, and constantly engage (in professional development).
I am super excited to work my fellow elementary TOSAs: Heather Cleland, Amy Doss, Leslie Faust, Amanda Gantley, Nikole Manou, Hilary Mark, and Mangla Oza.
Below is just one of the many wonderful videos we watched during our retreat.
Influence and Impact.
Instead of counting down how many school days are left, count the number of days of opportunity to influence and impact teachers and students. (Thanks @edtechari)
Do you use Google Apps for Education (GAFE)? Are you a connected educator on Twitter? (And if you are not, then why not? But that is another conversation to have later.) Have you ever had a question about GAFE and so you Tweet it out only for it to get lost in the abyss of Twitter and never get a response? Or if you do get a response, it is completely random and really doesn’t help?
Well, we hope this will be a solution to that dilemma. We would like to introduce to you a new Twitter account, @GAFEhelp.
Eight GAFE using educators connected on Twitter and have teamed up to manage this new handle. Our goal is to be a resource to other GAFE using teachers and help provide a quick answer to any type of GAFE related question you may need help with.
In addition to this new Twitter account, we will be using the hashtag #GAFEhelp to also facilitate communication of any questions that may be out there.
We don’t see ourselves as experts, but just a group knowledgeable teachers wanting to help provide answers to your questions. If we don’t know an answer, we will try to help you research a solution and provide resources to help you get going in the right direction.
So if you need help with Google Apps, just tweet us @GAFEhelp and/or use the hashtag #GAFEhelp. So, How may we GAFEhelp you?
Meet the GAFEhelp Team:
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.