A Week of Awesomeness at EHS 9.23.15
Well, fall has officially begun (nothing screams fall like weather in the mid to upper 80s, right?), and I think it's safe to say that the "honeymoon" phase that lingers around for a while at the beginning of the year is dwindling away. The more "business" we had in the office, the less I was able to come see the great things happening in your class, and this week, I did not get out into nearly as many classrooms as I would have liked. But the classrooms that I did get to were some of the best times of my week! I hope you enjoy seeing what your fellow teachers did in this week's Friday Focus.
This year, Melanie is teaching a class of middle school Spanish, and she is really taking off with it. These students completely understand what Melanie says in Spanish, and respond to her - in complete sentences...in Spanish. For them only being in Spanish a month, this is impressive!!
Have you checked out Morning's Twitter lately? She is doing some really neat things! She's been posting activities from class, and having students tweet out what they're doing as well, using the hashtag #CardinalChemistry. So cool!
Students As Learners
Nate's Video 2 classes have been making promo videos for sports and activities at EHS. I happened to stop by on a day they were watching some final products. It was impressive, to say the least. Students are challenged on a daily basis in Nate's class to problem solve, create, evaluate, and think critically. If you haven't seen the promo videos, I'll link a few of them up below. Make sure to check out their YouTube page for all sorts of awesome student-made videos.
2015 Cardinal Volleyball
2015 Cardinal Soccer Promo
2015 Cardinal Football Promo
Last week, I walked into Ashley's choir class, and they were doing a really fun teambuilding activity. They took a "break" from singing, so to speak, and spent some time developing relationships. This was a phenomenal job of building some soft skills for our students. Incorporating teambuilding activities for students allows for you to build trust and understanding, so that future content-related activities go much more smoothly and participation is higher. In a class like choir, students have to be able to rely on one another to do their part so they sound great as a class. I loved seeing this!
This week, Shannon tried out a socratic seminar with her English 2 students. A socratic seminar is a fantastic way to work on those ever-important communication skills and how to appropriately participate in a class discussion. The idea of a socratic seminar is that the leader (teacher) asks open ended questions to get students talking about ideas in the text. Not necessarily stating their opinion about what they read, but they discuss the ideas that are presented in the text. Shannon did an excellent job of asking questions that elicited fantastic answers and discussion from her students. I truly enjoyed listening in on their socratic seminar!
Last week, Joe's classes were able to experience a really fun lab outside of the school. Joe took the kids to Akin Prairie for two days in a row. The first day, they caught grasshoppers and marked them with fingernail polish. The next day, they returned to see how many grasshoppers they could catch that were marked. There was then a formula for them to determine how many grasshoppers of each species existed in the prairie. They are now doing a lab in class that revolves around the experience as well. It was so fun to see kids running and chasing down grasshoppers - they absolutely loved it! It was a pleasure to see! Thanks, Joe!
Staff As Learners
Science is currently in their curriculum re-haul. Out with the old standards, in with the new NGSS. This means classes get totally flipped around, and it can completely change what and how you teach. This year, Eric is placing a large focus on Ecology. He is having his students do a really awesome hands-on lesson in regards to animals in Gorongosa Park in Africa. Students learned about food webs and population of animals, and then they were able to go to a website where they could see the animals in real life, documented throughout the past few years. Then, as if the teaching powers knew what he was doing, PBS just came out with a series revolving around the animal population in Gorongosa Park. Because of these enrichment activities to enhance his lesson, Eric's students will have various experiences to help them recall the standard at hand. Great job, Eric!
Thank you to everyone who came to Tech Wednesday this week! Hopefully you enjoyed learning more about Google Docs, and some creative ways to integrate them into your lesson plans. If you were unable to come, I'll post the starting page (it's a Google Doc) below.
Instructional Strategy of the Week
Jeremy had an outstanding lesson that I walked into this week. It was super impressive. Jeremy had recently spent some time teaching about imagery with his freshmen English classes. Then, in order to get students creating work, he had two options of projects for them to complete. One option was for students to read a passage, and pick a phrase that really brought imagery to their minds. When they had this image, they were to create it in a piece of art. If students did not feel artistic, they had a creative writing alternative assignment. This is a great lesson for so many reasons. Students were asked to create something based off of what they learned, and not only did they have the opportunity to use non-linguistic representation of what they learned, but they also had the element of choice within the lesson. Well done!
Articles Worth Reading
This week's "article" is not really an article. It's the chart below that contains two columns that each represent a different type of mindset. The left column represents a "fixed" mindset, and the right column represents a "growth" mindset. Growth mindset is a huge buzzword in education right now. There are several articles on how to foster a growth mindset for your students, and how to go about having a growth mindset for yourself. I encourage you to help your students correct their statements of a "fixed" mindset (i.e. I'm smart so I don't have to work that hard. I'm not very smart, so there's no use in trying. I wish I was creative.) to one of a growth mindset. It is truly a shift in how they think. In essence, we are teaching "mental toughness" and "grit" if you want to go there! This is a skill that students need when they leave us, and we should be looking for opportunities to get them to want to "grow" rather than being satisfied with where they are, because there's no hope for them to change their circumstances. I also encourage you to look through that list to see if you ever catch yourself saying anything in the left column - I know sometimes I do! (Especially the "I just can't do maths." Because there's lots of "maths" that I can't do.) Anyway, I hope you're able to take something from this and apply it in your classroom!
Videos Worth Watching
How Do We Learn? From Mistakes.
The TED talk below really spoke to me when I watched it. I didn't necessarily agree 100% with everything that Diana, the speaker, said, but I think she hit the nail on the head when she discusses how we can better reach our students by adjusting the approach we take with our teaching. She talks about how education has changed very little from 100 years ago, and discusses what we can do to make school more relevant to our students. She talks a lot about the internet and the massive amount of information available to our students. But rather than focus on how technology should be incorporated into our lessons, Diana talks about how to change our approach to account for the fact that students can Google some information. How can we take our expertise as teachers and in our content to bring meaningful learning experiences for our students? I think her three main points go very well with the graphic above. She discusses the importance of experiential learning, student voice, and embracing failure. How can we teach students the learning process, not just what to learn? It was very interesting for me to watch. Although, I must say, sometimes I feel like there is one right answer to certain problems, I think she brings up some excellent points that could help us bring more relevance to to our lessons.
Diana Laufenberg: How to learn? From mistakes
Thank you for providing our students with another outstanding week of learning!! I hope you are able to enjoy your weekend, and that you're ready to learn on Monday! I'm very excited for our speaker to be here with us, and I think you will really enjoy her. Please bring your computers to be ready to practice some technology tools! That's all this week from the desk of Black. Have a fantastic rest of your day!!