Sunday, June 10, 2012

Opening Minds ~ Book Chat

Last year Cathy Mere, Laura Komos and I hosted an online book chat about the book Conferring by Patrick Allen. We all learned so much by reading together and sharing out thoughts that we decided to do it again this year. After sharing all of our summer professional reading book stacks, we noticed that many of us had the book Opening Minds by Peter Johnston in our stacks. So that will be the book that we will be reading and sharing this summer.

We would love to have you read and chat with us. The schedule for the event is:
July 11: Chapters 1-3 Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community

July 18: Chapters 4-6 Hosted by me here at My Primary Passion

July 25: Chapters 7-9 Hosted by Laura Komos at Our Camp Read-A-Lot

July 26: Twitter Chat using #cyberPD - time still to be determined

There are several ways to participate. You can:
  • post your thoughts about each section of the book on your own blog. Then add the link to your post in the comment section of the host blog.
  • simply add your thoughts as a comment on the host blog (or any of the blogs).
  • share your thinking on Twitter using #cyberPD at any time during the month.
  • come up with your own way to participate and add to the discussion. 

We can't wait for the conversation to begin and hope that you will decide to join us. It is a great way to do a little summer professional development and it is a great way to "meet" new friends and colleagues. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Math Workshop and Explore Time - Follow Up

Math Workshop ~ Follow Up
I thought that I should do just a bit more follow up on how a couple of things that I tried this year went. I wrote about wanting to change my math time into a math workshop time that would be similar to a reader's workshop or writer's workshop here. Then I followed that up with another post on how things were going here. Things have not changed too much since that last post. I did add one more day a week where I veered from the regular Everyday Math curriculum and went more in-depth on a topic or taught it in a different way.

The year ended up with my math block having three days of regular Everyday Math curriculum and content, one day of Math Exchanges and one day of Math Extensions. I am pretty happy with how this worked out. We still "covered" all of the Everyday Math curriculum for first grade but we added so much more - deeper thinking, collaboration on solving problems and looking at problems in various ways to solve them. At this point, I plan to follow the same format next year. We will start the year with Everyday Math curriculum every day and then about mid-year, we will begin to add in Math Exchanges and Math Extensions. I love how my students responded to the challenges of Math Exchanges and Math Extensions. We were all better mathematicians because of it.

Explore Time ~ Follow Up
Another big idea that I wanted to try this year was Explore Time. I wrote about that here. I did manage to have one Explore Time this year  and it went very well but after that, it was just too difficult to find the time. At my school we have so many wonderful "extras" that we do that our days are just packed. Some of these "extras" include Expeditionary Learning, drumming circles, portfolios, Adventure Education, overnight Voyages, All School Meetings, Morning Meetings, Closing Circles and much more. All of these are very valuable but they require a lot of time out of our day.

I know that we make time for the things that we value and I do value giving students choice so I am reworking my plan for Explore Time. I think that next year instead of having a block of time that is dedicated to exploring, I will add an explore center to our center times during the day. During my Readers's Workshop, we have a chunk of time during which we have centers. These are not traditional centers with pre-made activities for students to complete. My centers are a little like Daily 5 work stations where students have different ways to read, write and work with words. I also have a couple of math centers and centers related to our Expedition. I think I will add a new center or two next year. I might add a Wonder Center, an Explore Center and/or a Building Center. In this way, I can give students more time to explore and make choices but within the time frame that we already have set up.