It's been amazing to deepen my professional learning around the Next Generation Science Standards. There are so many amazing resources out there! Below is a Padlet of NGSS Resources I started a few months ago and definitely want to share it here for others to use and also add to the collection of resources.
"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.
I absolutely have relied on Google Docs for most of my collaborative efforts. Pages on my Mac is definitely a great application for documents, newsletters, and page layout projects, but Google Docs has made collaborating with others super easy. The great feature that Google Docs and the may Google Apps have over other products is the Share button. The ability to share a document, give access to view or edit, and have expiring sharing privileges are great features!
There are many ways to use Google Docs and its sharing settings for collaborative work. Below are just a few of the ways I've used it.
Shared notes at a conference.
Drafting a document with others.
Asking for comments, suggestions, ...
Publishing content to the web and embedding it on webpages like tosachat.org.
I recently came across this website of tips and lessons on using Google Apps. A lot of the information is basic to me now (thankfully), but definitely still useful.
Here's a question I still have though - about tables in Google Docs. Is there a setting or way to make table cells that reach the bottom of the page not spill the text onto the next page? I want the cell to automagically start on the next page instead.
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:
Happy First Anniversary #TOSAChat!
It is truly incredible to think about how impactful the #TOSAChat community has been this past year! #TOSAChat was the brainchild of Ben Cogswell, TOSA Technology-trainer at Alisal Union School District back in the summer of 2015. Ben then approached Karly Moura, Kelly Martin, and me with this idea and after a couple of months, countless Twitter DM messages (back when they were restricted to 140 characters), creating a dedicated @TosaChat Twitter and Google account, and establishing tosachat.org, #TOSAChat launched its first chat on Monday, August 17, 2015.
#TOSAChat had its anniversary chat this past Monday, August 15, 2016, and it was truly amazing to see how much the #TOSAChat community has grown. It's amazing to reflect on how this community has influenced and improved everyone's coaching, professional development, pedagogy, resources, professional learning network (PLN), and our impact on the teachers we work with, and of course, ultimately the students.
It is incredibly hard to have a comprehensive list of the impact of #TOSAChat on the coaches, TOSAs, and teachers this past year. Below is a feeble attempt of listing some highlights.
Again, that is definitely not a comprehensive list of the impact of #TOSAChat, but what an impact its had on all of us!
#TOSAChat is definitely our collective reason to #CelebrateMonday! As Joanne Ireland wrote, I Found My Tribe!
And it's incredible that all of this happened through Twitter. None of us (Ben, Karly, Kelly, and me) had met each other in real life before. This definitely shows the incredible power of using social media for education! Here's what I remember of our journey meeting each other.
I informally and unofficially met Karly Moura before knowing the journey we'll experience together in June 2015.
Karly and Kelly met face to face at Fall CUE.
I officially met Karly at MDUSD's STEM and EdTech Symposium.
Ben, Karly, and I met face to face at EdCampSV. Of course we HAD to get Kelly on a video conference! (Thanks Lindsey Blass for taking that picture.)
Ben, Karly, and Kelly presented together at National CUE on creating Twitter chats with me supporting remotely from Palo Alto.
By the way, I have yet to meet Kelly. :( However, even though that hasn't happened yet, the work we put into the #TOSAChat community definitely filled a need for TOSAs and coaches. I think this really goes without saying, but I'm going to write it anyway - #TOSAChat is nothing without everyone in the community. Ben, Karly, Kelly, and I just started the community, but it's everyone that participates on Twitter, Voxer, EdCamps, conferences, and of course in real life that makes #TOSAChat what it is - our tribe.
Once again, #TOSAChat is definitely our collective reason to #CelebrateMonday! Happy First Anniversary, #TOSAChat.
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?
Recently I was asked my colleague about how to disable YouTube from showing the related videos at the end of the video. She was using some videos embedded in her Schoology course for her students and wanted to keep the students focused on their work. I was able to find a video tutorial I made in November of 2015 that I was able to share with her. After sending the video, I thought of sharing it on my blog as well. However, instead of putting it on my main blog page, I decided to create the new "Tech Tips" blog page.
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.
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.
What an incredible experience going to Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design on Friday, June 24th! This "field trip" was a special event during EdTechTeacher's (@edtechteacher21) #ETTSummer Designing Thinking and Makerspaces workshop, which I had the pleasure and privilege supporting Sabba Quidwai (@askmsq).
Throughout this two-day workshop, Sabba and I spoke about the importance in mindset, pedagogy, and the focus on the process of design thinking and Makerspaces. A common notion is that 3D printers, laser cutters, and the latest, fanciest technology are what makes up a Makerspace and the design thinking process. Some participants that attended the workshop certainly shared in that perspective. In just these two days, Sabba and I helped shift the perspective from materials and products to beliefs, mindset, and pedagogy. It's not about the 3D model the students create but the process in which they sketch, design, and construct the model. It's not about having the fanciest gadgets (although if you have the funding, gadgets are cool); it's about what you do and how you think during the entire design thinking process. It's not about creating something you can admire and love but the importance of developing empathy for the people and the problem you're creating that thing for.
In any workshop, as a presenter, you're never sure if participants will accept, let alone adopt your perspective. In this workshop on design thinking and Makerspaces, Sabba and I shared our concerns of whether participants actually heard the message of process over product. Our field trip to Stanford's d.school was tremendous in that message. Throughout the tour, important philosophical messages about design thinking were shared that aligned and supported what's been said at our workshop.
Again, it was such an incredible experience touring Stanford's d.school with the educators who attended EdTechTeacher's Design Thinking and Makerspace workshop. What a tremendous way to continue the conversation and elements of the workshop, focusing on process vs. product, mindsets, empathy, problem solving, trial and error, the iterative process, and how to instill these qualities in ourselves and our students.
During this week of EdTechTeacher's summer workshop where I had the pleasure of co-facilitating with Sabba Quidwai, I led the participants in a Breakout EDU game this morning. It was the second session of workshops this week, iPad workshop on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Design Thinking and Makerspaces today and tomorrow.
During the Breakout EDU game, teachers definitely worked hard on solving the puzzles. It was great to see them exercise the essential lifeskills we all try to foster in our students - persistence, collaboration, teamwork, curiosity, and critical thinking. It was great to see the participants, many who didn't know each other before today, immediately work together to solve the puzzles. During our debrief, they identified feelings and thoughts they had, many of which propelled our work throughout the day.
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.
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.
As a child, I never wanted to attend summer school. I wanted my summers to be filled with fun, camps, and playing at the playground. As an adult, I still enjoy my summer breaks. It's definitely a time for me to unwind from the school year, take and attend professional development workshops and conferences, and prepare for the coming year. I've only taught two years of summer school out of my 10+ years as a teacher - one year at math-focused summer program and the other year for a middle school digital arts program I designed.
This summer I have the honor and privilege of being a principal for the summer school program. It's not any ordinary program either. This summer's program, designed by a fellow Elementary TOSA, Arcia Dorsti, is an enrichment program that focuses on student choice and STEAM! Students have the opportunity to engage in Genius Hour, Passion Projects, MysterySkype and MysteryHangout, designing thinking projects, coding, and more. Each day will include aspects of Responsive Classroom, Number Talk and an Interactive Read Aloud.
The summer program is not only a chance for students to take on projects they're interested in, there are opportunities for teachers too. One message in our first professional development meeting for summer school is that the program allows teachers to do projects and units they've wanted to explore and teach but may not have the time and flexibility during the school year. This year's summer school is also for the educators to learn and grow.
I can't wait to support the learning from the students and the teachers this summer! Below is the Padlet we used during our first professional development meeting of ideas and topics summer school teachers are interested in.
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.
What an incredible gathering of educators and professionals at #EdCampSV yesterday at the Palo Alto High School's Media Arts Center. This was the 3rd annual EdcampSV (Silicon Valley) and the event has really improved and grown.
This was my second year being an organizer of EdcampSV and it was an incredibly enriching and powerful process for me. I had the pleasure of working with so many wonderful educators from all over the bay area from Campbell, San Jose, San Mateo, and Pittsburg. We had incredible success organizing the event, getting sponsorships, and putting the event on. Some of the amazing sponsorship items included tickets to the STEM Museum at Levi Stadium, a Makey Makey, Chromebooks, Swivl, breakoutEDU box, an autographed copy of Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller, a Parrot drone, and a SmartBoard.
It was truly amazing to work with such an awesome group of educators / organizers. It was fantastic to make connections, talk about relevant topics in education, and meet people in my PLN in real life. Be sure to click on the EdcampSV link below to see the list of sessions and the notes from some of sessions.
Storify of tweets
Update: The above slideshow doesn't seem to work on some browsers. Perhaps it's an issue embedding it into Weebly. Who knows. It seems to work on EdcampSV.net though.
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.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.