As a result of writing and drawing my interests and hobbies each year, I found yesterday's #Sketch50 prompt to be super fun, nostalgic, and special. I've definitely added a few more interests and hobbies since my Student of the Week body posters, one of which is #TOSAchat.
Day 9's prompt for the #Sketch50 (https://sketch50.org/) movement was "interests and hobbies." That was a fun prompt to sketch. That was also an easy one to complete as I've always done that with my own "Student of the Week" posters I made when I was a classroom teacher.
Like most lower elementary teachers, I had a student of the week when I taught first grade and second grade. Obviously, it's a way to learn more about the student, provide opportunities throughout the week for the student to share about their lives and interests, and students always looked forward to when they were the Student of the Week. During my student teaching placement in a first grade classroom with Nicole Christophe in West Sacramento, CA, I picked up a structure for activities during the student of the week. The most important part of that structure was creating a "body" poster where the student wrote, sketched, or glued pictures to different parts of the body to show their interests, hobbies, places they like to go, and more. I liked that poster so much that I made my own poster each school year (regretfully, I haven't made one since becoming a TOSA/instructional coach). It was a way for me to see my own changes and growth.
As a result of writing and drawing my interests and hobbies each year, I found yesterday's #Sketch50 prompt to be super fun, nostalgic, and special. I've definitely added a few more interests and hobbies since my Student of the Week body posters, one of which is #TOSAchat.
Below are some of the sketches from Day 9 that either inspired me or made a strong impression on me. I will probably add more as I discover more sketches from Day 9. Enjoy!
"Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society." Gary Locke
I had the pleasure of seeing a buddy activity between a Kindergarten class and a 5th grade class today at one of the schools I support. The buddies collaboratively worked on drawing the flags of countries around the world, especially the ones of their ancestor's origins. On the other side of the maps, the fifth graders were creating puzzle piece drawings of the US map. In just that short time of seeing the pieces on the floor of the 5th grade classroom, I saw the powerful symbolism in that project. The United States is truly a diverse country with numerous cultures and ethniticities. What an incredible powerful activity from five, six, ten, and eleven year old students!
Today marks the first day of #Sketch50 - a movement in creativity and sharing that I learned from Ann Kozma's tweet.
This #Sketch50 movement is definitely such a fantastic way for playing, learning, and sharing. It's a great way to be creative with our sketching and drawing. For this first day of #Sketch50, I shared two sketches. The first was a self portrait that I created a few weeks ago at a professional learning session for the Spectra Art teachers in PAUSD. The second was the sketch for Day 1 of #Sketch50. https://sketch50.org
I have always enjoyed anything creative - design and engineering activities, sketching, writing my own songs, photography, videography, and more. I believe everyone is creative too. Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague who said that she's not creative and isn't as artistic as others. Immediately I wanted to convince her of the opposite but I knew I needed to take a different approach. I told her that I understand how she feels. In my mind I felt that she said those comments because of fear. She feared what others thinks and would say. I told her I understand.
I remember feeling that fear. I remember the first time I was critiqued for my drawings. I remember the first time I was criticized for my songwriting. I remember how I felt. And I also remember how I felt when I did draw, sing, write, create, design, ... pretty much any verb, including dance, play, and even skip. I feel free. I feel alive. I feel creative. And that's because when I do those things, those verbs, I am living in the moment. I am doing what I enjoy, without fear of ridicule, criticism, or judgment. The reality is that I know those are things I can't avoid, but when I'm in the moment I don't think of those crippling things. I just live. And that's what I told her, draw, sketch, do anything just for you. If you enjoy it, do it. And also know that someone will be impacted by your work.
There will be times when you do something just for you with no one ever to see the results of it and there will be times when others will see it. Don't let others' eyes stop you from enjoying the moment.
Having spent the first 11 years of my career teaching first and second grade, I definitely believe K-2 can too. The youngest learners are capable of deep academic discourse, higher levels of thinking, sharing their voice through writing and podcasts, creating multimedia presentations, and collaboratively working to solve problems.
As a first grade teacher I enjoyed seeing my students discover themselves as readers. I have to mention this first because it was the reason I became a teacher, the reason I love first grade, and the reason I will always be a first grade teacher at my core. It's truly incredible to witness students enter first grade experimenting with letters, words, and sentences, followed by determination, struggle, and perseverance, and then celebrating the success of becoming a reader. What a gift! As a first grade teacher I've had the pleasure of watching my students analyze different texts, evaluate math problems, solve problems with flexibility and a variety of strategies, and become "makers." My students loved making and designing their own science experiments. They loved story boarding and writing their original pieces of writing. They loved creating iMovie projects and sharing their expressive voices on GarageBand enhanced podcasts.
K-2 can too.
Now as an instructional coach I am always advocating for our youngest learners. This includes Math Talks (or Number Talks), Open-Ended Problem Stems, deep academic discourse during interactive read alouds, and integrating Educational Technology in their work through apps like iMovie, Google Apps, SeeSaw, Swivl, and more. I love sharing design challenges and going through the design thinking process with students in grades K-2.
Recently, I learned of a few Breakout EDU games for students in kindergarten, first and second grades and was excited to try them. Ann Kozma, a TOSA for #fsdlearns, shared a Thanksgiving-themed Breakout EDU game back in November that I can't wait to try with the classes, teachers, and students I support. [It's incredible how your professional learning network, PLN, shares! The #TOSAchat community is indeed an amazing tribe!] Susan Stewart, an Ed Tech consultant, from Fresno, CA, shared a Dr. Seuss-themed Breakout EDU game that I was able to facilitate with three classes (a kindergarten and two first grade classes) at Escondido Elementary School this past week. It was definitely such a great experience for everyone involved. The teachers were all initially nervous about how it would be considering their students hadn't experienced a whole-class collaborative game like Breakout EDU games before. I could tell that a couple of teachers nervously watched their students work out the clues and puzzles. At the end of each game, the student cheered excitedly as they opened the box, the teacher felt an incredible sense of pride at how the students worked out the problems, and everyone wanted to have another Breakout EDU game. At the end of each game I closed the activity by asking the Kindergarten and first grade students what they learned about Dr. Seuss and what they learned about themselves. The answers to the second question was definitely examples of how #K2CanToo.
"I learned that I'm good at solving puzzles."
"I learners that we can break into the box when we all work together."
"I learned that we can keep trying if we don't get it open the first time."
"I learned that it's better to work as a team than by yourself."
This is a simple, short post about today, March 14th. For math folks, it's known as Pi Day. There are so many ways to celebrate Pi Day - getting and eating pies, working with Pi in math problems, and doing a Breakout EDU game about Pi (a colleague of mine, Valerie Sabbag, did that today with her fifth graders). How did I celebrate Pi Day?
I went on a 3.14 mile run at the end of the day. The first screenshot was after I rotated the map, although it doesn't show the distance. The second screenshot shows the distance (you may notice my slow down at the end of my run because I answered a phone call - oh well).
My supervisor, PAUSD's Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education, told me to take that on as my new mantra. Progress, not perfection.
This came up during a conversation I had with her about one of my recent projects. Like all educators, my role as a Math & STEAM Instructional Coach involves a lot of projects and initiatives. Some of the projects I have are co-managing the elementary math pilot along with the other Math TOSAs, designing the 2017 Elementary Summer School program, creating an upcoming professional learning workshop for the SouthBay FOSS Collaborative on STEAM & NGSS, working on a new pilot program to bring maker carts to three elementary school sites, and writing a grant application to receive funding for additional maker carts. (No wonder I'm tired.) Another recent project I worked on that prompted this conversation I had with my boss was co-designing our district's February professional learning day examining the Next Generation Science Standards. For this PD Day, we identified four goals for the session:
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.
"You need a robot to tell you to stand up."
This was a comment directed to me a few days ago when I stood up at a meeting after I received a notification to stand on my Apple Watch. Of course it's hard to tell tone in the text of this blog post (although I'm guessing you may know waht it was). The tone was definitely sarcastic and somewhat demeaning.
I understand that technology often plays such a large role in our lives that it may seem like technology runs our lives. How many of us have felt that phantom buzz in our pockets from what we thought was our phone buzzing, or now on our wrists with smartwatches. Technology is in our cars, in our homes, at work, and in our pockets. At times it feels like we can't escape it. I'm guessing that's where that comment came from - an effort to not let technology run our lives.
As much as I understand and align with that perspective and effort, and believe that there was no ill will from the person who said it, I also see the benefits of technology on our lives - our healthy lives. First, we rely on technology to help us wake up. There really isn't anything wrong with setting an alarm so we can get up in time for work, for important meetings, or even just to not miss out on the possibilities of the day. We rely on technology to help us get around. I'm sure there are still times when people pull out a paper map to find their way around (maybe at theme parks) but most directions and methods of getting around now involve technology - Waze, Google Maps, ... (Many theme parks now have mobile apps to help you get around too.) Another example of how technology benefits our lives is through communication. This is done through email, phone calls, Twitter, Voxer, and so many more platforms for communicating ideas and learning from other people's words and perspectives. Although I am not active on Facebook anymore, many people often speak about how Facebook helps them stay in touch with friends from years ago and in different countries and continents. Technology benefits our lives.
So, do I rely on technology, namely my Apple Watch, to tell me to stand up? Yes. Why shouldn't I? I appreciate the notifications to stand up. I appreciate being able to look down and see my progress on the activity rings. I appreciate the notifications to breathe - to pause and focus on being mindful. I appreciate being able to see how many steps I've taken on my Fitbit One (yes, I use both an Apple Watch and a Fitbit tracker - my Fitbit One is the basic model that serves its purpose). I appreciate the social aspect of technology to help promote healthy living.
I've used the Fitbit platform since February of 2014 and the social aspect of the platform has really helped motivate me to stay active, to get my steps in, to live a healthy lifestyle. The challenges with others have really helped me and I know it's helped others who are in those challenges too. Maybe it's the competition, the cheers, the comparisons, the analytics, ... that help the challenges. No matter what the reason is, it's helped me maintain my focus on activity and healthy living.
Recently, another educator, Mark Loundy, shared with me a benefit of the Fitbit challenges for him. Mark sent me a screenshot of one of data collection options in the Fitbit platform. He said that ever since I connected with him on Fitbit and initiated the challenges, he's seen his body weight go down. It's really incredible to see his excitement and sense of accomplishment. What an incredible example of using technology for healthy living.
So, do I rely on technology to tell me to stand up, to move, ...? Yes, I choose to - because I see the benefits of it.
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.
It has been such a pleasure using the structure and format of BreakoutEDU to teach and review content, practice and foster lifeskills, and continue to use it in professional development settings. I have really enjoyed using my recent MLK themed BreakoutEDU game in classes and also continuing to find ways to improve the game.
This is a quick video of the excitement from students in some of classes I've facilitated the game in last week.
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).
I have definitely always loved the power of videography to tell a story. From movies like The Matrix, Star Wars, and Inception; TV shows like 24, Designated Survivor, and The Black List; and family films, videos have a wonderful way to express feelings, grab your attention, take you on an emotional rollercoaster, and more.
The following are two short video projects that I either made or had a part in making. The first is a project with fellow teachers in the Palo Alto Unified School District where we experimented with the technique of creating a basketball trick shot. We used the guide from Klutz's Tricky Video book to shoot and edit the following video.
Two years ago, I had the pleasure of spending Christmas at Disneyland and California Adventure and created the following video all on my iPhone 6 and iMovie on my phone. It was fun to manipulate the speed of some clips.
I am constantly working on improving my videography skills. Are there books, resources you would recommend for me to check out as I continue to learn more?
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.
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!
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.