HSE 21 In Action

at GES

Feature Teacher - Mrs. Abby Taylor

We continue the journey of knowing one another more and growing together with this week's feature teacher article coming from second grade teacher, Abby Taylor. Abby is new to HSE but a veteran teacher. Here, she shares a defining moment in her story:

My journey to education started in the sixth grade with an amazing 6th grade teacher, Mr. Mars, that encouraged my leadership abilities within the classroom. He was the type of teacher that made learning fun and exciting and left you always guessing, "What will he teach us next?" I remember he took a kid and flipped him upside down when he was teaching us how to multiply fractions. These were the types of teaching techniques he would use to explain difficult concepts. He was and is the biggest influence in my teaching. There was a student in the classroom that was the biggest class clown, Brad. He was always playing around, never knew the answer when Mr. Mars would ask him a question, and he was always looking for someone else to do his work for group projects. He was the type of student I avoided working with because he drove me crazy. Then, one day Mr. Mars called me up to his desk because he wanted to talk to me about something.

I thought, "Oh no, what did I do? Did I forget to do something? Did I get a bad grade? Did I..."

I thought I was in trouble for something and my parents were going to be upset with me. When I went to talk to him, to my surprise, I wasn't in trouble! It was so much worse than I could have ever imagined! He want me to help Brad.

He said, "Brad is really struggling in school and could really use your help. He seems to really like you and I think he will want to impress you. I would really like you to consider helping him out. I want to move you next to him and have you keep him focused and help him whenever he may need help."

In my mind, I was like heck no, no way! However, it was Mr. Mars who I respected and didn't want to disappoint. I eventually agreed. I went home and was talking to my parents about what Mr. Mars had said to me and told them that I really didn't want to do this, but I didn't know how to tell Mr. Mars.

My mom sat me down and said, "Abby, when you were in 2nd and 3rd grade you were exactly like Brad. You were always in trouble. You stood on chairs, did cartwheels in the bathroom and would never stop talking in class. We had to come into school and talk with your teacher about you quite frequently."

That hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized then that I didn't want to help Brad because I knew that I could be too much like him. The next day, I went into Mr. Mars and told him I would help Brad. Mr. Mars used my leadership skills and my willingness to help others. Within one grading period Brad went from a D and F student to an A and B student.

When Brad earned those grades, Mr. Mars brought me back up to his desk to talk to me and said, "Abby, have you ever considered being a teacher because you would be amazing."

Of course, I was in 6th grade and hadn't thought seriously about my career yet. However, from that day on and with the encouragement of my 6th grade teacher, I knew teaching was my passion and teaching was what I would do. I know we all work very hard to reach all of our students. We all have students like Brad. I would encourage everyone to think of outside-the-box ways of reaching your "Brad."

Mentor Text Library for Notice and Note Fiction Close Reading Strategies

I've officially lost track of all the classrooms in which we've launched the fun and depth offered to us by Beers and Probst In Reading Fiction Close Reading Strategies! If I've been in your room - thank you for sharing students with me. What fun we've had! If I have not and you are interested in getting started, give me a shout. I'm excited to share that I'm building a "MENTOR TEXT" mini library. It's just a baby right now, but I'm hoping it will grow quickly!
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Check out just one way an HSE teacher works to make math accessible, visible, and fun!

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I've not yet spent a day with Dr. Ryan Flessner in which I didn't feel challenged in my thinking. I go back to Beers and Probst (because call me crazy, but I love to weave content areas together in my head) and I ask myself, What about this day caused me to question, confirm, or challenge my thinking regarding math?" This time, the answer was loud and clear: CHALLENGED.

Here is my challenge from recent days with Dr. Flessner:


Challenged. If I'm honest with myself, I'm constantly looking for the newest picture book or novel to support readers. I'm concerned that post-it notes, highlighters, and markers are available for annotating at all times. Excitedly, I share new stories, update book baskets, look to balance fiction and nonfiction texts. I'm concerned that my readers have every tool and strategy available to them for reading success. I model how to read an entire book, including the pictures and endpapers, but what might I be missing with my mathematicians?

Here are some questions that might be worth the reflecting:

1. Do we each have the materials required to meet student needs in math?

2. What manipulatives are at student disposal and how are they organized?

3. Are manipulatives easily accessible or may students only use them when handed out?

4. What anchor charts support student thinking and how do students use them?

5. What recent research have we read about math fluency and problem solving?

As spring draws near and our teacher brains begin to celebrate all that we have accomplished this year (and that's a great deal), let yourself dream about next year. What is my next step in supporting my young mathematicians? How can your administrative and coaching team support those dreams?

Special thanks to recent efforts by our math leads, Kelly Wolf and Jeanine Scott. They worked hard to prepare for Ryan and are always ready to share ideas and strategies. Special thanks to Kelly for her service with the district Math Adoption Committee. As we continue to evaluate what resources will be a fit for the upcoming school year, here are some links you might find valuable:

Story Problems Resource (many have this link from previous years)

What Does Research Say about Fact Fluency?

Math Product Online Game from NCTM Illuminations


Thank you for the continued conversation around Depth of Knowledge. It is evident that you are continually thinking about DOK within your standards, your questioning, and when formulating learning objectives. It was impressive that within 20 minutes we created an entire wall of learning objectives spanning K-4, Music, SPED and ranging from DOK 1 to 3!

If you are looking for more on DOK and questioning, click here for a file that will lead you to the HESS Matrix documents and many other resources around this topic.

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Learning Objectives - FLIPPED!

ABOVE: After Wednesday's PD, Kristen Beinecke decided to "give it a whirl" - not bad she shares! "I gave them the fancy word "compose." she shared!

BELOW: Jennifer Knox routinely co-creates learning objectives with her first graders, underlining key terms. She is the one who inspired me to flip objectives with our littlest learners.

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It's an honor to serve Geist Elementary. - Megan

Mrs. Megan Thompson

Teacher Development Specialist

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

Brooks School Elementary

Geist Elementary