KCS Curriculum and Instruction
Teaching and Learning News for January 2017
Let's Be Resolute in the New Year
A Note From Dr. Burgess
New Year, New You. Right? That is much easier said than done. Rather than making New Year's Resolutions, that are difficult to keep, lets BE RESOLUTE. Let's be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering to improving in our profession. Our students deserve our best everyday! Here are a few ways we can be purposeful in our interactions and planning to be the best educators we can be.
Ask for meaningful feedback. As much as we try to improve, we will always have blind spots. Asking for feedback gives us an additional perspective. Some people to approach are colleagues, supervisors, or even students.
Learn from your peers. Every educator has amazing qualities in them with a unique skill set. With all the colleagues who surround you, they are going to have things you can learn from. Try thinking of a colleague right now. Think about just one quality they have that you want to adopt. How can you learn from them and adopt this skill for yourself? Speak to the colleague, an instructional coach or take this survey if you would like support in scheduling and learning from the colleague.
Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (BHAGS) for you and your students. Author and leadership expert, Jim Collins, points out that successful entrepreneurs relentlessly pursue bold ideas. BHAGS should be inspiring! They can stretch you and your students beyond your normal capacity since they are big and audacious – you wouldn’t think of attempting them normally. What are a couple big audacious goals you can embark on, which you’ll feel absolutely on top of the world once you complete them? Set them and start working on them.
Make A Note of It
Evaluations from Fall PD are still waiting in TimeKeeper for some of you. Plan to take a few minutes this week to see what's waiting for you and fill it out. The presenters deserve your feedback, and you deserve your CEU credit!
Our elementary math coach Laura Baker recently created and shared a Problem Solving Tips and Strategies for K-5 Smore.
Insidemathematics.org's Problems of the Month are organized by grade level and domain. According to the site, "The structure of a Problem of the Month is a shallow floor and a high ceiling, so that all students can productively engage, struggle, and persevere.” Jackson Park's third grade is already using this as a problem solving resource.
For the rest of this school year, through a partnership with the Gates Foundation, we have an opportunity to support peer observations within and beyond the district. Please complete this Peer Observation Interest Survey to help us gather information and coordinate peer observations within and beyond the district.
Please help us meet your needs by completing this survey for the AIG Department ... who knows, maybe there will be a prize involved!
Sometimes things we do in the classroom actually have the opposite effect of what we intend. Thanks to Katie Winchell for sharing this article that gives tips to combat learned helplessness.
Our final two early release days for PD will be Friday, February 3 and Thursday, March 23. These two days will be planned and hosted at the school level. All staff will be asked to join their school assigned for the 2017-18 school year for both dates.
High-Impact Instructional Strategy: Total Participation Techniques
The link above should take you to Chapter 1, a chapter that makes a pretty good case for planning lessons that include these techniques regularly. It's chock-full of great quotes that make a lot of sense and keep the ideas simple to understand. I'll share a few quotes below in hopes that they pique your interest. Here is a link to a shortcut, a set of slides that describe many of the Total Participation Techniques (TPTs) from the book. You may not see too many strategies that are brand new to you, but with the framework of TPT, you may see how you can use the strategies more deliberately to engage students and check their understanding.
"What percentage of [class] time are students actively engaged and cognitively invested in what is being taught or learned in your classroom? What evidence do we as teachers have that students are actually cognitively in tune with us? And what wonderful and deep critical thinking are we missing out on by not requiring evidence of processing and content-based interaction by our students?"
"If we were given the opportunity to choose just one tool that could dramatically improve teaching and learning, we would choose Total Participation Techniques as the quickest, simplest, most effective vehicle for doing so" (p. 7).
"The more we observe excellent teachers teach, the more convinced we become that the common thread in their teaching is that these teachers ensure that students become actively, cognitively, and emotionally engaged in the content" (p.7).
"In a TPT-conducive classroom, students are not allowed to passively hide behind the others who are always raising their hands" (p.7).
"We write TPTs into our slides and we type them into our lesson plan agendas in red to help [us] remember to repeatedly pause for student processing, interaction, and the reciprocity that needs to take place between students and students, as well as between teacher and students" (p.10).
"This is our hope - that through the use of TPTs, students will become so actively engaged and so lost in the learning, they won't have time to be distracted by other things" (p.11).
KCS Spotlight on Teaching and Learning
Making Every Minute Count
Letting Go A Little Bit
Good Questions Leading to Good Discussion
Guided Reading 2.0
Wonders Welding - Teaching for Transfer
With a subject like welding, designing a curriculum for transfer seems like a no-brainer. Mr. Huffman, Wonders Welding teacher, knows that keeping the end in mind is essential. In case you missed the article on the KCS website when he won the Hilbish Ford Teacher of the Month for December, here it is below:
Mike Huffman is the Wonders Welding Teacher at A.L. Brown High School. He has done a great job helping to implement the welding program at A.L. Brown. Mike is a hands-on teacher that takes pride in his students and encourages them to do their best. He was recently nominated by three of his welding students who said that Mike has helped them in so many ways. One student said, “[Mr. Huffman] has not only improved me as a student, but as a person. There are not many teachers you can ask very personal questions to, but he is always there willing to help.”
Mike’s students appreciate the way he takes time to work with them one-on-one to help them master welding skills. His students feel that Mike deserves more than one award and describe him as a humble person. One student asked Mike if he would like to win an award one day and he replied, “I don’t need an award. The best thing for me is getting a call in five years saying that you have a welding job making more money than me.”
Stand-Up Desks are a student favorite in Ms. Hartman's classroom
More Flexible Seating at Fred L. Wilson
Ask Ms. Hartman about the grant she earned for all her seating!
Meeting the Needs of AIG Students
Sara Newell, KCS AIG Coordinator
Only through appropriate learning accommodations can students realize their true potential. It is for this reason that we must differentiate, both for students with deficiencies in their learning AND those needing to be challenged. That being said, differentiation is often seen as time-consuming and difficult. Educators know that the best differentiation occurs when data sources are analyzed and needs in relation to readiness, interests, learning profiles, and learning environment are determined from this data. However, “on the fly,” or intuitive differentiation is just as necessary. And, it is very likely that you intuitively differentiate on a daily basis. For example, do you:
give students choices for work options?
provide mini-lessons or small-group instruction to a few students who struggle with a skill,
offer more in-depth coaching to advanced students?
use a pre-assessment to determine what students already know?
explain or model content for understanding in two or more ways or through multiple sources?
group students by common academic needs or similar skill level?
If you said yes to any of these, you have implemented simple, but effective, differentiation in your classroom! If not, we encourage you, in the remaining months of the school year, to try at least one small thing. We hope all of you, as you continue to grow as a professional, will consider adding higher levels of differentiation for the needs of your AIG students. Additional suggestions for curriculum adjustments can be found in the following resources: PowerPoint, PDF.
Please remember that the AIG department is here to support you in this process. Don’t hesitate to ask for our help!