Saturday, May 19, 2018

Links I Love 5/19/18

Two of my favorite presentations from ShadowCon 2018 - notes about each presentation are from Dan Meyer's blog post.

 Andrew Gael reveals the potency of our presumptions about student competence, and how students often live up and down to those presumptions. What we believe about student competence affects how we work with those students, which affects their opportunities to develop competence.
ShadowCon 2018 - Andrew Gael from Shadow Con on Vimeo.

Javier Garcia contrasts the ways we talk about students (as though they're incomplete, fallible) and mathematics (as though it's complete, infallible) and made a case that teachers should reverse those two descriptions.
ShadowCon 2018 - Javier Garcia from Shadow Con on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Links I Love 5/5/18

Planning for Growth in Teaching
"When we are able to see setbacks as a natural part of learning and living, look at them honestly, and come away with some valuable feedback about what to try differently next time, then we live as teachers who constantly grow and develop and constantly improve."

Engaging Children with Ellin Keene and Tom Newkirk - Podcast or Written Transcript of the Podcast

"Can you think back to when you were last fully engaged in something? So consumed that you lost all track of time and your surroundings? As Ellin Keene writes, “when engaged, we enter into a state of wideawakeness that is almost blissful.” She says this feeling is intoxicating. How can our students find this deep engagement on their own? In her newest book, Engaging Children, Ellin Keene explores that very idea. She examines the conditions that lead to engagement and how we can promote student-driven engagement."

The Low Kids and The High Kids

"And sometimes, being in this work means we develop some short-cut ways of describing the complexity of what we see in front of us. It's normal and natural as humans to look for patterns in our experience and categorize things. If we didn't our brains would be on overload all the time. We need these ways of explaining the world. But sometimes, these short-cut terms we come to use to describe our teaching world need to be examined. We need to take a step back and make sure that we aren't doing harm by labeling things and putting kids into categories they can't escape. We need to use that kind teacher heart as a lens to examine what short cuts our brains have made for us."

Resources for Elementary Math Teachers

A Google doc with a wide variety of resources for elementary math teachers.

Random Photos and Screenshots of Tweets

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Links I Love 4/15/18

Kristi Mraz on Being the Change

"What is Social Comprehension, and Do Little Kids Need it?
Sara defines social comprehension as developing “skills and habits to help us comprehend social issues and participate in relevant, transparent conversations.” She points out that this skill is learned, and to me, that means we need to be teaching it from the first day of school in kindergarten. It is more than just having the skills of conversation. Though that is certainly part of it, it is also normalizing difficult conversations and studying the impact of our actions on others so that we may learn better and do better. Little kids are more than capable of talking about big issues when we approach it in a way that feels appropriate and connected to their lives. It will be messy and clumsy at the start, but what isn’t?"

Embracing Student-Generated Questions in the Classroom 

"The research on student-generated questioning is compelling; questioning pushes students forward in making meaning of information. Students in inquiry-based classrooms demonstrate higher test scores. Brain scans reveal that when learners’ curiosity is piqued by questions, the parts of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and memory undergo an increase in activity. Questioning generation improves students’ reading comprehension and promotes positives attitudes about reading and literacy."

Parent-Tested, Expert-Recommended Advice for When Your Child Isn't Reading Yet 

"Don’t judge. This is the cardinal rule, and the one I break all the time. So your child isn’t reading in first grade. So what? You can start labeling or comparing, or you can accept the situation as it is, and work with it."

“What you cannot imagine, you cannot do”

Now imagine Astronauts on the Space Station reading stories to the children of Earth as the world rotates below.
Imagine no more…it’s Story Time from Space!

A Few of My Favourite Blog Posts - to Read...or Inspire Writing

"I was asked the other day by another professional to share some blog posts that have inspired me.  She was curious about starting up her own blog and wanted to read through a few different writers’ works to get some inspiration.  To be honest, there are so many great educators posting wonderful blog posts that it is difficult to narrow it down.  Here is my attempt at creating a list of some of my favourite blog posts from the past few years.  Find one you haven’t read and take a look."

The 5 Practices Framework: Explicit Planning vs. Explicit Teaching

"Trust me, I get it. The word “explicit” has developed a cringe-worthy connotation among peers in the math community. In the past, if I were asked to paint a picture of a math teacher engaging in “explicit” teaching, I would have painted either a teacher standing up at the front of the room, telling students how to solve a problem, or a teacher crouched down next to a struggling student, “correcting” the way the student approached the problem because they were taking the “long way there.”

Promoting Productive Struggle in Math 

"Math hooks changed the feel in class right away. There was confusion, conversation, wonder mixed with frustration, some magical revelations, and lots and lots of rigorous thinking. This was all exactly what I was looking for."

What is a Number String?

"A number string is a set of related math problems, crafted to support students to construct big ideas about mathematics and build their own strategies (Fosnot & Dolk, 2002)."

Using Math Routines to Build Number Sense in First Grade

"Every time we do this routine, I find students building on one another’s ideas, challenging themselves, and getting excited about the different ways they can represent a number. I hear cheers and gasps as other students share their answers. This routine not only builds an understanding of how numbers are composed and decomposed, but it is also an engaging way for students to dive deeper into the meaning of numbers, which sets the foundation for future mathematical experiences. The conversations this routine spurs surprise me time and time again."

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Links I Love 3/31/18

I am dusting off this old blog so that I will have a place to gather, store and share some of the great posts and articles I run across online. I won't be writing a summary for each article but instead I will be pulling out a favorite quote from the article to give you a taste of what the whole article might be like. There are so many thoughtful educators out there and I learn so much from them every day.

Close Listening and a Kids-First Approach to Our Day to Day Interactions
by Kristine Mraz 

"Putting kids first does not mean that there is no expectation or difficulty in classrooms. It means that how we respond is different. In our actions, in our words, and in our conversational moves we demonstrate that we care for and value the children in our care, that we center on their needs, and support their growth. "

Non-Math Essentials for Math Learning
by Margie Pearse

"A teacher who loves teaching math will get students excited to learn math. Step into a classroom led by a passionate math teacher and you’ll notice students at the edge of their seats anticipating his or her next move, ready to take on any math challenge, and willing to take risks. When math is taught with enthusiasm, students begin to see learning in a different light, approaching each problem with interest. Passion sets the stage for engagement to happen in math. Brains are awakened by emotion, offering students a way to make stronger mathematical connections."

"Islands of Certainty" - Learning Sight Words 
by Katie Keier 

"This reminds us of the importance of making sure that everything we do is in the service of meaning. We can’t simply teach kids lists of words to memorize or put these words on flash cards. We have to focus on teaching these words in meaningful text and show our readers how these known words can be “islands of certainty.” We have to help our readers and writers see how to make these words theirs, and how they can use that knowledge in their reading and writing. "

Beyond Dojos and Card Charts
by Sarah  Caban 

"As math educators, we talk all the time about how important it is to get students to ask questions, justify their thinking, and critique the reasoning of others.  If we really want to make this happen, I think we need to pay attention to the mirrors we hold up for our students.  If we use extrinsic rewards and punishments are we building agency or promoting complacency?"

Making Space: Entering Lessons Mindfully
by Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins

"In classrooms, we all pay great attention to the physical space. We are conscientious about classroom clutter. We are intentional about room design, furniture placement, and color, particularly in these early days of a new school year. But, more important than the things we place and arrange in the classroom is the space around the people and the objects—the emptiness that is actually something. Similarly, creating space, or making room for nothingness, between lessons, by taking a few deep breaths as you cross over the threshold of a lesson, will affect your quality of life as well as the quality of student learning."

The Work of Finding Empathy
by various Heinemann authors

"One of the most enriching—and challenging—aspects of being an educator is that we must live what we teach in order to teach it well. To teach reading effectively, we must be readers ourselves. To teach writing well, we must write. To build an inclusive school community, we must look inward and examine how we work to see the humanity in others when words or actions differ from our own identity positions."

When Pushing Boundaries in Math Education, Where Can Teachers Turn for Help and Comaraderie?
by Kristen Rae Lapore 

"As an educator, how do you overcome the shortcomings of social media and network with other innovative teachers beyond the Internet?"

Friday, June 10, 2016

Trying to Find My Way

So I haven't posted on this blog for almost two years. Today my thoughts were swirling and I thought my head might explode, so I knew that I needed to find a way to hold these ideas so that I could come back to them again. I have been doing lots of reading - online and off - and so many ideas are converging and diverging. I can't seem to pull them all together and decide how they will impact my teaching or the learning of my students. Perhaps another blog post will come along once (if) that begins to happen. I know that writing helps clarify your thoughts but I am still too far gone for that.

Books I Have Been Reading:
Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler (currently reading)
Making Sense of Mathematics by Cathy Seeley
The Journey is Everything by Katherine Bomer

Blog Posts, Articles and Tweets that I Have Been Reading and/or Rereading:
A Thousand Rivers by Carol Black
On The Wildness of Children by Carol Black
Children Teach Themselves to Read by Peter Gray Ph. D. in Psychology Today
Five-Year-Olds "Falling Behind" by The Teacher Tom
This is Why "Personalized Learning" Will Fail by Will Richardson
The Five Questions That Most Define My Work by Will Richardson
Learning to Disrupt: Six Courses that Must be Required for Every Pre-Service Teacher by Ira David Socol
Hour of Code is Good Enough by Dean Shareski
Excerpt from Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston in a tweet by Tracy Johnson Zager
Education begins the moment... a tweet by A Recipe for Wonder
Tweet about "deficits and dysfunctions" by Alicia Martin
This Work. It is Lonely. by@JessLif
Why Teachers Need to Know the Wrong Answers by Anya Kamenetz

If you read through some of these links and can help me begin to process some of this, please share your thoughts. I need them!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fall Voyage

This post was cross-posted on my classroom blog, Ms. Jill's Crew.

Our Fall Voyage was wonderful! We were worried about the weather because so much rain was predicted for our area but we ended up with only one small rain shower. The Rattlesnake and Eagle patrol groups had a great time, challenged themselves and learned so much.

Why do we have a Fall Voyage?

We have a Fall Voyage for many reasons.
  • We take voyages to push students just a little bit out of their comfort zone. Real learning occurs when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are challenged to try things you have not done before. For some first graders the biggest challenge is simply being away from home for a night and learning that they can trust other adults and themselves. For others the challenge is being responsible for themselves and their gear instead of counting on mom or dad to keep track of everything. Most are challenged in some way by the activities of the voyage. They must learn to work together, show perseverance when trying to find solutions to challenging problems, push themselves physically, and start to show independence in an age-appropriate manner.
  • I love the voyages because I get to see the students in a completely different environment and see other strengths that they have that might not show up in a classroom.
  • The voyages are also a great place for the students to practice the character traits that we have been working so hard to learn in class. Students also bring back some of the confidence and new skills that they learned on the trip and are able to apply them to academic learning.
  • We also all form tight bonds as a crew and are able to work very well together for the rest of the school year.

What did we do at Camp Elim?

In addition to eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and taking care of ourselves, we also had time for some learning and some fun. Listed below are the activities we did along with a very short description.

Initiatives (Problem Solving Challenges)
Bag It – This activity had us feeling objects in bags (without looking) to try to figure out what they were or finding the rock we put in the bag. We learned to use other senses rather than simply rely on sight to gather clues and make decisions.

Camouflage Hide and Seek - A unique version of hide and seek that can be played in a wooded area. We learned about predators and prey in this fun game.

Nature Hunt at the Lake - This was a beautiful walk around a lake. We were challenged to really look at, listen to and smell what was around us. We had a list of things to look for and check off as we found them.

Web of Life - During this activity, we learned about how plants and animals depend on each other. We all wore an animal or plant nametag and then made a web (with string) to show how they are all related and what happens to the whole web when one animal is removed.

Recreational Activities

Alphabet Hike - At the beginning of this hike, we were all given a card with a letter of the alphabet on it. During the hike we had to look for things that started with that letter of the alphabet.

Obstacle Course – There were several physical challenges at this station. Check out our photo slideshow for more.

Solo Hike – This was a short walk with a stop for a little solo time to reflect on the voyage. The kids chose spots within a set boundary and they sat by themselves just thinking, reflecting, writing or drawing about the Voyage and what they had learned.

Games - There were several fun running and very active games that were played indoors. We played various tag games, follow the leader and parachute games.

I have created a slideshow of photos for you at the link below but first, here are a few photos to pique your interest. Thanks to Ms. Wendy for helping me get some great photos. Chaperones, if you have any more to add, please send them to me.

Fall Voyage Slideshow  - 152 more photos of our time on our Fall Voyage (once at this link, click on the small arrow at the top, right of the screen to choose to view the photos as a slideshow)

Thank You Chaperones!
We had a fantastic group of chaperones this year and we so appreciate their time and help on this Voyage. We couldn't have done it without them! Thanks to:
Ms. Aleia (Lilliana's mom)
Ms. Jody (Madison's mom)
Ms. Lisa (Kyson's mom)
Mr. Mark (Taylor's dad)
Mr. Michael (Lexi's dad)
Mr. Steve (Simeon's dad)
Mr. Mike (Gabby's dad)
Mr. Jesse (Landon's dad - he filled in for Ms. Mary Beth's crew)

We are Crew!