Martin's Musings

September 4, 2015

Time to Breathe

Hopefully you are either reading this just before Labor Day weekend or just after the weekend, not during the weekend. Although checking school email during the weekends is temping for some of us, that might not always be the best thing in the long run. Instant access to friends' vaca pics and cute grandkid videos can be a source of laughter and enjoyment, but constant connectedness to work can be counter productive.

This week's grade level meetings were especially important to me because of the honest, open conversations that took place. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the amount of collective stress we are feeling with IGNiTE, PBL, blended learning, etc. that is new to us this year. Even a "normal" year is hard enough as a teacher, but with so much newness this year, those feelings may be magnified. As we move further into this year, keep in mind our mantra, "Not Yet". Time, focus, and intentionality are all keys to implementation of so many new initiatives. IGNiTE is a marathon, not a sprint.

The linked article has some ideas for dealing with teacher stress.

Stress Tips

Importance of Differentiation

For years we have talked about differentiation with students and their learning. All students can learn, just at a different rate. We make that allowance for students, but do we make that same allowance for ourselves? It is important we not compare/compete with what is happening in other classrooms or other schools, but that we are each growing and working toward a goal.

You may be a Canvas Queen while your grade-level partner has an "App"titude for iPads. Learn from each other, but don't feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Much of our professional development will be delivered by those of you reading this newsletter. I can help introduce you to the "how-tos" of much of 6.4, but effective implementation with students will come from those of you in the classrooms.

Failures will happen. Tweaks will be necessary. Reflection a must.

The attached video is a good illustration of what the IGNiTE program will look like at Sunshine this year. Both people are on the same treadmill, although one is slightly more skilled. While the young gun in the hat certainly is impressive, it is perhaps the older gentleman who impresses the most. He has most likely had to unlearn and retrain more years of treadmill use than his younger protege. Both men are risk-takers and innovators. Both men are in a growth mindset.

Whether you are wearing a t-shirt and ball hat, or a Target Hawaiian print shirt, you are to be commended for your effort and growth.

Blended Learning

As you are setting up stations for ELA and math, be thinking of how you can utilize technology to create a blended learning classroom. The image below is a simple illustration of how a Station Rotation classroom would operate. Many of you have already incorporated some sort of stations, corners, or centers into your ELA and math instruction. To move that to a Blended Learning classroom, insert iPads or Chromebooks as a station. Students could logon to programs such as Lexia, Dreambox, Aleks, or Canvas, where they could connect other learning sites.

Blended learning is not designed to replace what you are already doing in stations. It just introduces more personalized learning through the use of devices.

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