Which one speaks to you? Are we creating a space in our classrooms for students to exercise these verbs?
Kindergarten and First Grade teachers in PAUSD engaged in a powerful exercise analyzing the 8 Science and Engineering Practices (SEP). The verbs on each of the posters are definitely powerful verbs for all students. Our students definitely can engage in each of the 8 SEPs. The potential of children is boundless!
Which one speaks to you? Are we creating a space in our classrooms for students to exercise these verbs?
Today marks the first day of year 2 of this Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA position. I am super excited about this second year, taking what I've learned last year and pushing myself farther, deeper, ...
My goals this year:
-Make systematic changes and support in math content knowledge and instructional practices in teachers through PLCs, Learning Walks, and Lab Days.
-Complete the Maker Mobile proposal and get ready for its launch after securing funding from the district's fundraising organization.
-Facilitate workshops on NGSS and begin the 3-year rollout of the Next Gen FOSS modules.
Just like my first day post from last year: I have the privilege of engaging with many more educators. And with the support of the elementary TOSA team, my colleagues, and of course #TOSAChat ...
I am glad this is Day 1 - of Year 2.
Let it begin.
Let the journey continue.
Today is Day 5 of the second session of PAUSD's elementary summer school program. It has been truly an amazing experience serving as the principal for this second session. As the days progressed after writing my post about the first day, I started gathering my thoughts about the successes and challenges of each day. Today, being the fifth day of summer school, I wanted to list five successes, five challenges, and five tips for new principals - not that I am at all a school principal myself since I am just serving as summer school principal. The list of tips/reminders is just a way to help those who are stepping into the role of principal.
1. The Students' Engagement and Excitement. The absolute best part of this week and my experience as summer school principal is being able to see the excitement and engagement from the students with the STEM, engineering, design thinking, ..., projects. It's truly amazing to see how the students connect with the lessons, activities, and projects. The students smile, laugh, work together, try again with failures, and want to continue the learning as they head home each day.
2. The Teachers' Dedication and Commitment. None of the excitement and engagement can be possible without the dedication and commitment from the summer school teachers. Today, I personally thanked each one of them (the teachers, aides, custodial staff, librarian, secretary, and coach) for sharing their summer with the students. Instead of enjoying their summer with trips, sports, ... they chose to share their time with the students. That has to be recognized. Their dedication, commitment, and hard work has to be recognized.
3. Communication. A great success for me was being prompt and proactive with my communication. Prior to starting this week's service as principal, there were so many email messages being sent about a change in the schedule of students taking a different bus at the end of the day to attend an after school camp at another campus. After I sent a reply asking for clarification, I received feedback from the program director that it was great that I engaged in the process of ensuring the safety of the students after each day at summer school. Another example of the success in communication was sending email messages on the second day of my service to the location of our field trips during week 2, the transportation department at the district office, and also food services to confirm all the details of our trip. Being proactive in checking the details of our field trip schedule, times that the bus picks up and drops off, and the delivery schedule of snacks/lunch for the students on our field trip days was very important to ensure the success of our field trips.
4. Personal Greetings. Beginning each morning and ending each day greeting and talking with staff members, students, and parents was a very successful part of these first five days. It sets the tone for the day. It fosters connection and community. It communicates trust, kindness, and a message that I'm happy to see them.
5. Partnering with and Supporting the Teachers. I started this role with a few guideposts in mind. I knew my position as the administrator of summer school was one of support. Supporting teachers deliver their enriching lessons was an honor that I had. My position was one of partnership. I knew I was a partner with the teachers in their brainstorming, their celebration of the students (I shared in their celebration through many tweets), and their management of behaviors. My view of my leadership position was one that led by walking alongside the teachers.
1. Starting Day 1. Nothing can ever prepare you for day 1 as an administrator. When someone works at becoming a teacher, there's internships, the teacher prep program, student teaching, and more. When someone works at becoming an administrator, there's the administrative credential program, the masters program, but there's no "student administrator" position. Even if you have the opportunity to start as an assistant principal, there was no true prior experience. Day 1 was intense. All the nerves, anxiety, fear, ... that you'd been feeling days and weeks leading up to day 1 bubbles up and manifests itself as you start working on the countless tasks before you: checking class lists, placing high school volunteers, issuing classroom keys to new staff members, checking bus tags and bus schedules, ensuring snacks from food services are ready, preparing to introduce yourself as principal, ...
2. Volunteers. As mentioned above, placing the high school volunteers was quite a challenge (this could be volunteer adults and parent volunteers). On day 1, I had four high school volunteers who were starting their volunteer hours with this second session of summer school. I had to ask them which grade level(s) they're interested in helping, ask staff members who could use the help of volunteers, and try to find a match that would hopefully ensure each person found the partnership helpful and productive.
3. Working Relationships. Prior to starting this role of principal, I was a colleague to the summer school teachers. This week I took on a different role. With it there seemed to be an apprehension from the teachers to speak to me, a seriousness in our conversations, ... As much as I worked on partnering and supporting teachers (which is definitely a success as listed above), I kept hearing phrases in my head: "You're not fit to be principal. They're watching you. Why are you doing that? Are they judging me?" The working relationships was definitely a challenge I faced that may have been self-inflicted but nevertheless a challenge of beginning this position of principal.
4. Dealing with Behavior Issues. As a classroom teacher, you have the opportunity to build connections with your students that can help you with combatting and preventing behavior issues. Knowing your students helps a great deal. As an administrator, especially a summer school principal, you don't always have the luxury of knowing the student that gets sent to the office. You don't necessarily know which path to take with the child, which method would be most effective. As a new principal with students who are new to you, it feels like your attempts are like shooting in the dark.
5. Changes in Schedules. A specific challenge I faced this week was with changes in the students' busing schedule. Some students needed to take a different bus for after school programs they needed to go to and got on the wrong bus. After several phone calls with transportation, the bus drivers, and the parents, we reach solutions to ensure the safety of the child, but it sure wasn't an easy process.
Five Tips/Reminders/Things to Think About
Again, in no way do I consider myself an administrator. I don't believe serving as a principal for the summer school program qualifies me to speak on this topic much. I question whether this section is of any value to others. However, all of that may just be that self-deprecating voice in my head, and this current feeling of newness and reflection of the position I started five days ago will never be back. This is a unique feeling, unique time in my career. With that notion and with my reflection, the following list of five tips/reminders/things to think about is just to offer my perspective of this administrative position.
1. Always be in your Teachers' Corner. As mentioned on point five of the five successes, partnering and supporting your teachers is paramount to the success of you as an administrator. Guide your staff. Empower them to grow themselves. Always believe in them. This is true of the "star teachers" and those who need support.
2. Get to know Everyone. Greet everyone, get to know your staff and students, learn about each person's strengths, areas of growth, passions, joys, concerns, ... This will help with building positive school culture, staff morale, connections with students, and a sense of community. As commonly mentioned in teaching credential programs, the two most important people on a school campus are the secretary and custodian. Get to know them.
3. Schedule your time. Create time limits for being in the office, checking your email inbox, ... and get into classrooms. The classrooms are where the magic is happening. The classrooms are where the joy is found. Scheduling timeframes to do administrative things and sticking to those time limits will help free your time / prioritize your time to get in the classrooms.
4. Look Ahead. In any position, having a sense of the big picture is important. Knowing what's coming down the line is important to plan, prepare, and to be proactive. Sometimes, you can get caught up on the details of the task or the day. Keep an eye on the big picture. Think about what's scheduled next week, next month. Think about potential issues that may arise. Think about ramifications of each action you take.
5. Reflect and Celebrate. With all things, at [the end of] all times, remember to stop, breathe, reflect, and celebrate. You are doing great work. You are working collaboratively with professionals to help children learn, grow, think, question, comprehend, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, discover, design, construct, fail, recover, revise, ... and live.
Today, Monday, July 11th was my first day of summer school in PAUSD's elementary summer school program. What a fantastic start to my service as summer school principal. The summer school program had been in session for three weeks already with students engaged in design challenges, engineering activities, math talks, interactive read alouds, and more, and I had the pleasure of joining the program today.
It was great to be able to have this job-share opportunity for the principal position. Jenna Segall (@MrsSegall) served as the principal for the first three weeks (and the ESY week during the week of July 4th for students whose IEP required four consecutive weeks of summer school). As noted in previous blog posts, Jenna and I, along with the summer school administrative team, worked together to prepare for the program that included meetings, professional development sessions on design challenges, and plenty of emails. Having this job-share opportunity allowed me to have time during the first part of summer to travel, run, be creative, write breakoutedu games, facilitate workshops with Sabba Quidwai (@askmsq) reflect, read, and relax.
This first day of summer school was a solid day overall. After a somewhat chaotic morning with placing high school volunteers with teachers, working on students' bus tags, and ensuring there was enough supplies for teachers' needs, it was a smooth day. It was great to visit each class, introduce myself, play soccer and basketball during recess, and get to see the great projects the students were engaged in. Classes had wonderful morning messages for the students, design challenges, interactive read alouds, and engineering activities. Some of the highlights included designing parachutes for their gummy penguins and plastic ninja toys, building towers with their choice of materials, and discussions about tools engineers use.
Below are some pictures from today's first day of the second session. One picture in particular is an amazing one. While some may see a pile of mess, the teacher, Laura Wright, and I see a pile of possibilities. I can't wait to continue to see the fantastic projects the students design, plan, prototype, revise, and create.
My year as a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in the Palo Alto Unified School District has been amazing! What an incredible experience transitioning into the role after over ten years in the classroom as a first, second, and fifth grade teacher, serving as a math lead, tech lead, and science lead teacher, and facilitating workshops within and across districts.
Inspired by Ryan O'Donnell (@creativetech), I spent some time looking back at my year in terms of numbers. This in no way reflects every aspect of my 2015-2016 year but it gives a glimpse into my work as a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA and offers a nice overview of my work. I was indeed surprised by the numbers as I started doing the calculations.
There are many highlights to my first year as a Math & STEAM coach. Here are just a few:
It has truly been an incredible year collaborating with teachers in PAUSD, connecting with coaches and TOSAs from all over the globe, partnering with administrators, and ultimately impacting students. [Link to my first blog post of the school year]
If you're on the main page (jyoung1219.weebly.com), clicking "Read More" below will take you to my end of the year reflection that I wrote for my supervisor, the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education. As a quick warning, it's quite lengthy. I wrote a summary of my year for my official paperwork and tried to be as thorough as I could.
As we draw closer to the start of PAUSD's summer school program, the elementary TOSA team, summer school administrative team, and I continued to facilitate professional development for the summer school teachers. The professional development days involved whole-group explorations of morning meetings, number talks, and interactive read alouds, and small group choice sessions. Structuring our professional development with choice was a great way for teachers to opt into which topic they want to explore and learn more about. The session choices included Engineering Is Elementary kits, "10 Ways to Get Your Students Reading," TheatreWorks, Spectra Art, and Design Challenges.
I had the pleasure of facilitating the Design Challenges sessions. In those sessions, teachers and I explored ways to incorporate design challenges into the summer school program, the lifeskills these activities fosters, the real-world application and connection these challenges provides, and engaged in a design challenge of building paper towers.
Below is a Padlet of Design Challenges I've collected. Please feel free to add to the padlet.
The least important word: I
The most important word: WE
The two most important words: Thank You
The three most important words: All is forgiven.
The four most important words: What is your opinion?
The five most important words: You did a good job.
The six most important words: I want to understand you better.
PAUSD's elementary TOSA team met this Thursday for our Spring Retreat. It was a gathering of the new TOSAs who will be joining the team and a send off to the TOSAs who will be moving onto other positions as they complete their TOSA assignment. Along with some time spent "passing the baton" by the veteran TOSA members, the bulk of the day was spent with next year's TOSA team talking about the importance of relationships in our TOSA role. It was a wonderful time to identify the priorities of the TOSA role.
After a full school year used to explore eight different CCSS-aligned math curricula, PAUSD's elementary education department and its teachers leaders have identified the three curricula to pilot next school year - Investigations - TERC, Everyday Math 4, and engageNY / Eureka Math.
It was quite a process for the district to arrive at this point. This exploration year's primary focus was for sites to explore a variety of Common Core State Standards aligned math curricula. This collaborative exploration strengthened teacher understanding and instructional strategies in relation to the CCSS and built a cohesive teacher leadership group that recommended the three curricula that are worthy of a formal pilot during the 2016-2017 school year.
Yesterday's final math lead meeting that resulted in the three pilot curricula was the culmination of two years of work - identifying the math curricula neighboring district's adopted, reading research, connecting with other math professionals at NCTM, and collectively developing our understanding of CCSS and the Math Practice Standards to help inform our process of exploration and decision. Having had this year of exploration that helped us deepen our understanding also had additional benefits, one of which was that some publishers were still in the process of completing their CCSS-aligned curricula. We found that several neighboring districts that had adopted various curricula were unhappy with their "rushed" decision.
It was an incredibly collaborative process to explore the eight curricula (listed in the image below). The timeline of our exploration year is also included below. Now as we move forward with our three selected curricula for pilot, we will definitely assess the following areas of each curricula:
I've always enjoyed the STEAM, Designing Thinking activity of building paper bridges. I've had the pleasure of sharing this activity with many classes throughout PAUSD from Kindergarten students to teacher workshops. The experiences were always the same - excitement with the hands-on activity, frustration with the paper bridge falling, determination to keep trying, celebration with more and more pennies/nickels being set on the bridge, and requests to keep going.
This activity is quite simple. The challenge is to create a bridge with a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 piece of paper across a 10 inch gap. Paperclips are available but may not be used to attach to the boxes or containers that form the gap.
Recently, I had the chance to share it with Jenna Segall's fifth graders at Palo Verde Elementary School. It was great to see the fifth graders brainstorm ways to construct a strong paper bridge, keep working on their bridges, celebrate their success, and recognize the strength of triangles. This activity definitely helps learners of all ages understand the iterative process of design thinking. One attempt that I haven't seen to that point was tearing the piece of paper in half and trying to make it a longer piece of paper with the paperclips. Such a simple step and yet no one had tried it before when I did the activity with so many people.
Jenna will soon lead this activity with the summer school staff members as our second design thinking professional development activity.
It's been truly an incredible experience and true pleasure partnering with so many teachers throughout the Palo Alto Unified School District in math and STEAM throughout the school year. I've had the privilege and pleasure of working with Valerie Sabbag, a fifth grade teacher at Fairmeadow, throughout the year on Number Talks, the use of Spheros, and co-planning STEAM integration.
BreakoutEDU is one of those STEAM integration projects we got to work on. Throughout the year, her fifth grade students worked together to solve BreakoutEDU games and puzzles that involved math, social studies, critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. BreakoutEDU is definitely an activity that surpasses any curricula and content area. It addresses multiple areas, and, more important, the lifeskills that are essential to educating young children. Character education is a critical part of life.
This week, Valerie's fifth grade students had the pleasure of working on their own BreakoutEDU games AND boxes. Valerie really had a wonderful vision of having students build their own boxes. This process addressed many mathematical concepts that she was going to teach and in doing it with this project, it was definitely an engaging and hands-on project. Measurement, surface area, volume. Students got the chance to use a hacksaw, hand sanders, and wood glue to construct their boxes. Students worked in small groups to plan this boxes, check and double check their measurements, and put their box together.
While one group worked on building the boxes with Valerie and a wonderful volunteer, the other groups worked collaboratively on writing their own BreakoutEDU games. This was also part of Valerie's integrated approach to teaching. In her Writer's and Reader's Workshop, her class was studying fantasy stories. This became the basis for the BreakoutEDU games. Groups of students created games centered around the themes of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and more.
The fifth grade students got to beta test their games with their third grade buddy class, Krisiti Van's class. This was an important step because it helped them observe how effective their clues were for their puzzles. The fifth grade students had opportunities to revise their games before sharing it with their parents at Fairmeadow's Learning Celebration / Open House.
Check out the pictures below of this incredible project that spanned a few weeks.
Also, check out #breakoutedu for tips and stories. A #breakoutedu Twitter chat also takes place. Be on the lookout for days and times of the chat. Here's an archive of the first chat by EdTechAri.
Yesterday, PAUSD's STEAM Inquiry Group had the pleasure of spending a day at The Computer History Museum (CHM). It was a fantastic day for the elementary school teachers to experience the museum's Revolution exhibit, speak with Lauren Silver, CHM's vice president of education, and continue our work on district professional development on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As a STEAM coach / TOSA, this was a wonderful experience - to engage in so much history of design, computing, and revisions.
The Computer History Museum is definitely an amazing treasure in the Bay Area, and specifically in Silicon Valley. CHM's Revolution exhibit takes guests through the first 2000 years of computing, from abacuses and early calculators, punched cards, analog computers, to early computer companies, real-time computing, personal computers, and the internet. If you've never visited the museum, I definitely recommend adding it to your list of things to do in the SF Bay Area.
As a Math coach, I loved getting to see the (r)evolution of computing. It was incredible to see the progress of computing and calculators through time. One part of the Revolution exhibit that caught my eye was the display of Napier's Bones (pictured below). This really resembled the lattice method of multiplication that many math curricula, one of which is Everyday Math.
McGraw Hill's Everyday Math curriculum has been PAUSD's adopted math curriculum for the past seven years and have experienced both support and criticism from the community and teachers. One of the complaints was the variety of math strategies students are taught and how this might confuse students. Some family members and teachers question why teaching so many strategies is helpful when the traditional algorithm works. While I understand that perspective, I have always been a proponent of learning multiple ways to do something so that there can always be many options and tools to complete the task at hand. An analogy or story I've used with students in classrooms, and parents while supporting principals at their info coffees and parent ed nights to explain the "why" of learning multiple strategies goes like this. "One day as I was driving home, there was a construction crew digging up the road I always drive down. Oh well. I guess I can't go home today." Students always respond, "No! Just take another street."
Napier's Bones reminded me of the lattice method of multiplication, a method that's quite popular with the fifth graders I've taught. It's truly amazing to see how methods of calculating and computing we teach today have origins in history. I wonder if John Napier's method was the foundation to the lattice method.
Everyone should know how to program a computer, because it teaches you to think! - Steve Jobs
I had the pleasure of partnering with the first grade classes at Escondido Elementary School in PAUSD on learning coding and computer science. It was fun to begin the time together talking about how the first graders have interacted with technology and computer science before. They shared many wonderful ideas including playing video games, watching Netflix, playing Minecraft, using the microwave, using the SmartBoard in the classroom, using the telephone, and also as simply as turning on the lights. As we continued, our time together, I shared a process of determining the "codes" the students need to use to navigate the "fuzzball" to get the prize. It was definitely an engageing intro activity as the first graders used the directions of up, down, left, and right to program the path of the fuzzball. Starting with a whole-class activity on the easel pad helped established a shared learning experience before the students worked in partners to solve the coding puzzles on the iPad app - Kodable.
It was definitely a great time working with the first graders on the introduction to coding and computer science, the essential lifeskill of trying again when mistakes are made, the process of analyzing mistakes in code, and working with another to solve puzzles.
Families in the Fairmeadow Elementary School community enjoyed a wonderful, hands-on evening at Family Game Night on Wednesday, February 24, 2016. It was such an amazing evening with a full house of students, parents, grandparents, ... in Fairmeadow's Multipurpose Room. As a Math & STEAM Coach, I had the pleasure of sharing in that event, capturing the activities with pictures and videos, and celebrating with the entire school community in its exploration of math games.
-There were over 10 stations of various math games they students enjoyed.
- Parents had the opportunity to play with their children.
- Various math games were available, from a variety of cultures and countries.
- And, of course, this was a wonderful experience that continued to foster positive home-school connections around mathematics.
It's always such an amazing process of hearing the mathematical thinking of students during Math Talks - Number Talks and Dot Talks. As a Math & STEAM TOSA, I've had the pleasure of joining many classes throughout PAUSD and listening to the academic discourse from students from Kindergarten to Fifth grade.
On Tuesday, February 16th, I had the pleasure of hearing a second grader from Susan Hoff's class at Fairmeadow Elementary School share his mathematical thinking. I had just introduced a new Problem of the Month packet and got to listen this his strategy of solving 19 x 3. Enjoy the video I captured. You'll notice he effectively shares his mathematical thinking and math strategies. Through the Number Talks, MARS Tasks, and Problem of the Month packets Mrs. Hoff and I have used with her class it's clear they have really been exercising Math Practices 1 & 3.
Elementary school teachers throughout PAUSD had our staff development day today and I had the pleasure of facilitating the sessions focused on the use of Problem of the Month packets in math. My colleague, Mangla Oza, a math TOSA, and I co-presented to the fifth grade teachers throughout the district during the first session and then to the fourth grade teachers during the second session. It was a wonderful time looking at the use of the Problem of the Month packets and how it touches on the 8 mathematical practices. It was wonderful to see and hear all the mathematical thinking, reasoning, and sharing of ideas during the period of problem solving, the gallery walk, and the debrief time.
After each session, teachers gave Mangla and I very positive feedback. Many said they appreciated the time to just work on problems that really tested their problem solving skills. Many others said they could see their students enjoying the challenge and the chance to share their thinking with their classmates. Everyone who spoke to us told us they mostly appreciated that today's staff development day looked at a familiar topic and not something new. Teachers are definitely overwhelmed with all the new initiatives of this school year. Some of them said it was great to look at the Problem of the Month packets again in light of CCSS and the math practices, and that for whatever reason they had forgotten how powerful the packets are.
It was an incredibly fulfilling morning as a presenter and professional developer.
One specific appreciation I received today that really filled my bucket was from a dear friend and colleague, Valerie Sabbag. In our conversation, Valerie said the message she heard at church on Ash Wednesday focused on thinking of the people in our lives that have made an impact on our lives and have made a positive impact on our lives. She said, "I thought of you and how every time you're at Fairmeadow, you are always so supportive and complimentary of what I do. You always take pictures of what I do and tweet them out and highlight the things I do."
What an incredible bucket-filler! Now, as I write this post, I know I need to just hear the appreciation and take it in. I need to accept it. In reflection, I know I should do that. What I did at that time reflects my humble nature. I responded, "Thank you for filling my bucket. I want you to know that my tweets and compliments are all because you have so many amazing things in your classroom. I just get to spotlight the things you already do. Without your awesome stuff, I wouldn't have anything to tweet about."
Appreciations are given with sincerity. I know I can work on myself and my response to them. I know I can accept the appreciations.
I know I will always live with humility, AND I can take that moment to accept the appreciation.
In the midst of the second trimester assessments period and the option for grades 3-5 to take the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments, I've had the opportunity to support teachers at Fairmeadow Elementary School and Juana Briones Elementary School. It's been a good learning period for everyone in the district as we learn about the various assessment blocks, the test administrator's interface, and the online reporting system.
On Friday, January 29th, I had the chance to support Beth Estrada, fifth grade teacher at Juana Briones Elementary School, prepare to administer the SBAC Interim Assessment on fractions. Beth, like many teachers throughout the district, was planning on using the interim assessment for her students to get used to the student interface of the Smarter Balance Assessment, gather formative data on her students for further instruction, and as a means for her students to prepare for the testing period later in the Spring. Students who've been enrolled in PAUSD for the past two years are familiar with the student interface, but it's always good to have repeated exposure to ensure students are familiar and comfortable with the testing system. It will definitely interesting to see the results of these interim assessments. One big question is how the results will be reported - in what format and whether there's a breakdown of the results based on each question, math domain, and/or function.
It's been such a pleasure and privilege working with so many teachers throughout Palo Alto Unified School District. The teachers have inspired me, shared challenges that we work on together, and given me the honor of partnering with them on math and STEAM projects.
This week, I had the pleasure of working with Mindy Dodsworth, 4th grade teacher at Fairmeadow Elementary School, on introducing Google Docs to her students. We began our time with a discussion about digital citizenship and norms we expect for our online interactions and behaviors. It was great to hear the students generate their ideas for what they consider to be ways to stay safe and productive online. The following are a few ideas from our discussion.
-Stay focused on the work.
-Take a break
-Stay calm (reload the page).
-Be respectful to others (don't hack others' accounts).
-Keep private information private (don't share passwords).
It was great to hear the students share the point of taking a break. We had a discussion about the importance of that, screen time, the effects on our eyes from staring at a screen for an extended period of time, and ideas for taking a break.
As we continued, we talked about the importance of keeping our Google Drive organized. We discussed how similar to any place used for storage, like cubbies in the early elementary years, lockers in middle and high schools, and the bedrooms, keeping their files and folders organized in Google Drive is important for peace of mind and workflow. [Of course there's the search field within Drive, but personalizing a structure of organization is important.]
As our lesson continued, I showed the students how to share their "4th grade" folder with their teacher so Mrs. Dodsworth can comment on their Google Doc. We talked about how this helps in the editing and revision process of their work. It was great to immediately demonstrate this as Mrs. Dodsworth and I commented as they wrote about their current study of the California Missions. It was great to support these fourth graders use EdTech while keeping digital citizenship in mind. It was great to support a colleague implement the use of Google Doc into her classroom.
Connected to this was a conversation I had with a teacher at another school I support that really filled my bucket. Teri Wilde, 4th grade teacher at Escondido Elementary School, told me the impact of our partnership in her work with her students and EdTech integration. "The best thing was getting you in (my classroom) early because the things you introduced then is helping throughout the year. If you hadn't shared those things I probably wouldn't be doing them." It is such a pleasure of me to partner with so many amazing professionals who inspire me, help me grow, and push me to be a better educator and colleague.
In this digital age, it's important to be mindful of our online posts, pictures, blog posts, and social media interactions and what kind of digital footprint we're leaving.
A fifth grade class at El Carmelo Elementary School in PAUSD had the following footprints taped in the classroom after a series of lessons and discussions of the impact of our digital footprint with their teacher, Jeanne-Marie Atieh. This is definitely an important concept for everyone, and it's great to start learning about our digital footprint at an early age.
I have had such a pleasure partnering with so many professionals through the Palo Alto Unified School District and districts all around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In this first year as a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA (teacher on special assignment, it's been extra special because I have the opportunity to go into many more teachers' classrooms, partner with them, collaborate on lessons and projects, and learn and grow together. Two educators I've had the incredible pleasure of partnering with are Kristi Van and Valerie Sabbag, both from Fairmeadow Elementary School in the Palo Alto Unified School District.
This week, the first week back from winter break, has been an incredible experience with STEAM and robotics. On Tuesday, January 5th, I had the pleasure of partnering with Kristi Van, a third grade teacher at Fairmeadow Elementary School as her students had a free exploration of Spheros. The students had a wonderful time with the Spheros and they quickly caught onto the user interface of the iPad app to control their Spheros. Blog post about this experience.
The fun with the Spheros continued it the afternoon with Valerie Sabbag's fifth grade class. I had the chance to touch base with Valerie during lunch about her plans for her students with the Spheros. She told me they've explored maneuvering the Spheros the day before and she developed a few courses for her students to take their Spheros on. These 4 to 5 courses became the students' "Driver's Ed" class as well. An example of one of the courses was to drive the Sphero down a straight line of blue tape, stop on an "x," and then drive it back to where it started. Another course involved maneuvering the Sphero around the classroom and under stools without hitting the legs of the stools (if you did, you had to start over). One other course was to circle around the three round picnic tables outside the classroom without bumping into the legs.
It was super fun to see the students' excitement after they passed their "driving test" and I asked them for their names to print on their Sphero Driver's License. As I printed the students' licenses on card stock and cut each one out, Valerie Sabbag gave her students the opportunity to design obstacle courses with any material in the classroom. The students definitely showed a lot of creativity as they used math manipulatives, pencil boxes, white boards, stools and benches, and supplies from their science explorations to construct their obstacle courses. Not only was this activity fun, hands-on, and creative, the students exercised a lot of academic skills and lifeskills. Valerie and I were able to hear the students talk about the angle their Sphero had to rotate to make a particular turn. Students calculated the distances of their obstacle courses. Students worked collaboratively, communicated their ideas, and showed flexibility as they revised their obstacle courses after some test runs.
Here are two more videos of some of the creative obstacle courses Valerie Sabbag's fifth grader made. The one on the right is definitely an example of how the students persevered to achieve their goal of dropping their Sphero into the tub of water.
As you can see in that last video, the students landed their Sphero in the tub of water. It was super fun. A fun connection was Valerie's comment, "This is how we use textbooks" which was a reference to Matt Miller's book, Ditch That Textbook. Of course I had to tweet it to Matt right away.
As you can see, it was such an incredible time for those fifth graders. I feel so honored to have the chance to partner with such amazing professionals. I can't believe that I get to have these experiences of being able to support Valerie Sabbag with the Spheros, STEM, and robotics! This week, the first week back from winter break, has indeed been an incredible experience.
Word Cloud of student responses to using the Spheros.
Click "Read More" to view one last video of fifth grade students in Valerie Sabbag's class explore making their Sphero jump, dance, ... in the tub of water.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.