Teaching and Learning Times

November 2016 Edition

Learning For All

In this edition:

Core Belief: All People Can Learn, We Are All Learners

Curriculum Corner

  • Where do I find my curriculum and standards?
  • Curriculum Audit Process
  • Curriculum Board Reports

What's Happening

  • Ongoing PD and Feedback from October 12th
  • Bucks County Student Voters
  • American Reading Company Conference: Literacy Leaders 2016
  • Instructional Coaching

Promising Practice

  • Growth Mindset
  • Why Discipline Literacy
  • What is Collaboration

Books and Blogs

  • The Reading Strategies Book
  • Reading Rockets Website
  • Genre Study: Teaching with Fiction and Non-Fiction
  • What to do guides
  • Counting What Counts by Yong Zhao
  • ASCD Resources and Ed Leadership Journal

Technology Tips

  • Canvas for your OTL PD
  • Google Drive Add On's and Extensions

Core Belief: All people can learn; we are all learners.

Part of our process in re-imagining why, what, and how the Office for Teaching and Learning exists was the development of core beliefs and values.

Our first core belief is All people can learn; we are all learners.

On the surface, this seems to be an obvious belief for those who are in the field of education. At the same time, what we do does not always match what we believe. In exploring this core value more deeply, we encourage you to think about whether your actions match your beliefs. What are the limiting paradigms that keep you from fully believing these two statements? How often do you place conditions on the belief that all people can learn? Do you consider yourself a learner? How do you continue to learn and grow? What impact does your continued learning have on the students in your classroom?

Curriculum Corner

Where do I find my curriculum and standards?

Recently we had this question asked to one of the coaches.

"Where can I find my standards?"

All standards and documents can be found in the PD Hub in Canvas.

Once in the hub click on Curriculum Documents on the right-hand side of the page.

Then click on elementary, middle or high school link to find your discipline and then grade to find your grade level documents.

Curriculum Audit and Organization

A major concern has been the organization and state of curriculum documents in the P drive. As we have moved to cloud based solutions (Google Drive and Canvas) to afford any time/ anywhere access, it has also afforded us the chance to examine the state of our curriculum.

Over the next few months, the Office for Teaching and Learning will be organizing all curriculum documents in Google Drive and link them directly into canvas (see above).

Each curriculum folder will have a:

  • Planned Course Statement
  • Curriculum Map/Scope and Sequence (with suggested pacing)
  • Unit Plans (Folder)
  • Common Assessments (folder)
  • Final Exams (QCHS only)
  • Advanced Placement Syllabus and College Board Approval (AP Courses only)

As curricular areas engage in the Unit Design process in the 6 year curriculum cycle, ALL unit plans will be using or will be converted into the new QCSD Unit Plan template.

Having consistent curriculum documents and processes (like the 6 year cycle) will ensure that there is a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all teachers to access and breathe life into.

While having organized, standards-aligned, and easy to find curriculum documents is necessary, how teachers customize and personalize the curriculum through engaging learning experiences is the real key.

Curriculum Board Reports

The following curricular areas are in years 1 and 2 of the curriculum cycle and teacher perceptual data was collected for those areas. Below are the reports shared with the QCSD School Board Education Committee on Thursday October 13th. Each report highlights teacher feedback, academic data, and suggested next steps.

Elementary RELA (Year 1)

Elementary Science (Year 2)

Elementary Social Studies (Year 2)

Secondary Mathematics (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Pre-Calculus) (Year 2)

On Going PD

Thank you for your participation in the October Non-instructional Day.

There were many highlights of the day regarding curriculum work and professional development.

Participant feedback quotes:

"Thought this was very helpful as a time to get away from the classroom and curriculum and focus on my approaches to motivation in the classroom."

"I am going to be more aware of giving individual attention to my students."

"Thank you for the time to collaborate with my department K-12 as we revised curriculum together."

"Ideas shared from other colleagues have my mind churning about how I can adapt them to use in my classroom."

"I will be trying to find new ways to create meaningful activities with my students."

To see feedback specific to the day, click here.

Bucks County Student Voters

On Monday, November 7th our students will be able to participate in Bucks County Student Voters Student Election for President of the United States. Special thank you to all classroom teachers at the Elementary level and Social Studies teachers at the Secondary level for taking time to allow our students to participate. The ballot can be found here.

Promising Practice

Growth Mindset

The Growth Mindset has become a very popular concept in education circles. The work of Dr. Carol Dweck encourages us to focus on growth as opposed to fixed abilities. This is most apparent when we consider the power of the word "yet" as in "You aren't able to complete that task YET." It's a powerful word. As educators begin to learn more about growth mindset, it can help to explore your own beliefs and mindsets. No one is completely growth oriented and in fact, having fixed mindsets in certain circumstances might actually be of benefit. Consider taking this survey from Dweck herself to see where you fall on the continuum.

For more about Growth Mindset, check out Dweck's book Mindset.

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Why Discipline Literacy?

"If we want students to learn biology, why not teach them to think, read, and write like biologists? If we want them to learn history, shouldn’t they be able to think, read, and write like historians? Approaching core subjects from this perspective is at the heart of disciplinary literacy. Now more than ever, it’s become vital that educators instill literacy skills grounded in real careers, creating students with an expert’s eye for real-world materials, regardless of the medium.

Content-area reading uses generic reading strategies, regardless of the text that’s being read. But disciplinary literacy is a way of approaching text with the reading strategies employed by experts in a given field — experts have specialized ways of researching, questioning, analyzing, and reporting. Historians require the lens of multiple perspectives, reading between the lines of several writers to arrive at their conclusions.

Mathematicians seek absolute answers, first and foremost, using abstract reasoning and pattern recognition to make their findings. Scientists employ analytical skills to parse the validity of data in research reports, finding logical links between various findings before formulating their hypotheses. These experts don’t just rely on one source. Their expertise is contingent on their own observations, along with the perspectives of others, expressed across several media types.

Likewise, the days of using a single textbook as a teaching resource are over. Educators must begin using new types of resources in the classroom, including digital content and media to immerse students in real-world reading, writing and thinking. " - Dr. Karen Beerer. To read more, click here

What is Collaboration?

The word collaboration has become one of those buzz words in education that represents different things to different teachers.

A simple definition of collaboration is: two or more people working together towards shared goals. (For more, click here)

This simple definition includes three parts:

  • 1. Two or more people (team)
  • 2. Working together (processes)
  • 3. Towards shared goals (purpose)

For many educators, collaboration is a time set aside during a day or the use of a technology based tool, but neither of these elements are present in a simple definition like the one above. Ultimately, collaboration is a mindset not a place, time, or tool. Collaboration, when committed to, also helps ease the increased challenges of teaching, by supporting one another through co-laboring to design lesson plans, assessments, rubrics, accommodations, and unit plans. Collaboration is not about being together and talking about stuff.

Here are some questions you can be asking about your current collaborative practices:

  • How clear are the expectations for how you and your colleagues use collaboration time? Who creates the expectations?
  • To what extent does collaboration time focus on student learning and/or teacher reflection on practice?
  • How is a focus on student learning grounded in data?
  • How often do you examine student work in teacher collaboration?
  • How often do you observe other teachers’ instruction? How often do other teachers observe your instruction?
  • Does collaboration lead to changes in your instructional practice? How do you know?
  • Does collaboration increase your use of student-centered instructional practices?

Books and Blogs

What To Do Guides For Kids

Kelly says: As a parent of two children ages 7 and 10, I have found these guides an invaluable resource for working through some of the day to day challenges of simply being a kid today! Click here to find even more guides that focus on over coming challenges with anger, sleeping, and negativity.

Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes by Yong Zhao

Chad says "We are increasingly frustrated by the use of accountability measures such as standardized test scores and teacher evaluation tools focused on compliance and standardization. Yet our profession has not offered many alternatives that have "stuck" in order to remove those measures from policymakers and the public's attention. In this collection of essays, several educators tackle these ideas so we can begin "Counting What Counts". The authors make several arguments focused around focusing on non-traditional measurements such as personality, mindsets, motivation, creativity, global competencies, social capital, and assessing the skills that matter the most.

ASCD resources and journal

Lynne says: I find the journals have articles with practical applications for the classroom and for myself as an instructional coach. They have many resources as shown in the second picture below.

ASCD is a global community of educators dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. Our innovative solutions empower educators to promote the success of each child.

The Educational Leadership journal is essential reading for every educator, each issue of Educational Leadership® delivers new ideas and best practices relevant to practicing educators.

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Technology Corner

Canvas for Your OTL PD

Back on October 12 we participated in professional development activities designed both to enrich our professionalism and to support our new 6-year Curriculum Cycle. For those continuing to work and share in Canvas here are a few tips you can use to help you stay on top of your PD game.

  1. Class Favorites. Display the classes you want on your Canvas Dashboard and on your Courses fly-out menu by clicking the star icons to the left side of your All Courses list (click here). By default, Canvas displays some of your classes for you until you select some as favorites. Setting favorites reduces dashboard clutter and helps you jump easily between classes. If the link isn't working for you, find your class list in Canvas by clicking at left Courses/All Courses.
  2. Nicknames and Colors. It might sound a little silly at first to give your class a nickname or change the color on its box, but taking a minute to try this out might go a long way in helping you organize your Canvas Dashboard. On your Dashboard (click here) click the little pencil at the top right of any class box. Type the nickname for your class then select one of the available colors (or use the color code box to select another color). Your class nicknames and colors will show up only to you and will not be seen by anyone else in the class (because everyone has the ability to customize their classes just like you do).
  3. Notifications. Many of us have found ourselves in a new user role in our professional development day Canvas classes. For some this is either the user role of "the participant (student)" role or "the facilitator (teacher)" role. A good rule of thumb working in learning management systems like Canvas is that when you find yourself in a new user role or your user role shifts, take a fresh look at your Notifications (click here) through your new user role lens.
    -- Maybe your Focused Collaboration activities uses more Discussions than before.
    -- Perhaps in your PD Cohort Choice more information is going to shared in Announcements than you experienced before.
    Asking yourself these questions will help you adjust the frequency settings on your Notifications to meet your new user role needs, and if they still don't feel right, stop back and adjust them again until you're receiving the communication when and how you want.
  4. App'racadabra. If you own a tablet or smart phone and have been curious about exploring how people learn-on-the-go with mobile devices consider downloading the Canvas mobile app (click here) on your gizmo and stay on top of information happening in Canvas. You probably aren't going to want to type a research paper using the mobile app, but it can be help in many other ways like:
    -- using push notifications from the app instead of email notifications to reduce Gmail inbox clutter;
    -- skimming through announcement updates waiting for the faculty meeting to start;
    -- reading and replying to a colleague's discussion board comment when you're waiting for your flu shot;
    -- listening to that TedTalk video on next month's discussion board topic during an afternoon power walk;
    -- glancing at facilitator feedback on your Next Steps during commercial break watching West Side Story on TCM... or sports.
    If you were wondering how mobile devices help students learn on the go, this is an opportunity for you to explore and give it a try. Maybe the app will help you; maybe it won't. For the price of the free download it's certainly worth a try. Remember to search for our school/institution using QCSD.
  5. Tool Help. Sometimes, a refresher on using Canvas tools is VERY helpful. Two commonly-used tools in many professional development Canvas classes are the Assignment Tool (click here) and the Discussion Tool (click here). Taking some time to review these tutorials from your Canvas Training course can go a long way in helping you be successful in your OTL professional development experiences this year.

Google Drive Add On's and Extensions

One of the cool elements of using Google Chrome and the G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education) is the ability of the community to develop useful Add On's and Extensions to improve and personalize the user experience. Check out this document from Richard Byrne (Free Tech for Teachers) that highlight some popular and useful Add On's and Extensions. View the clip below to learn even more.
Advanced Google Drive : Tips Tricks and Tools

QCSD Systems Log In's

Having trouble keeping up with the changes? Check out this document to help. (it is still being updated as of 9/9/16)

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Previous Editions

October 2016: Click here

Who makes up the Office for Teaching and Learning team?

Dr, Lisa Hoffman- Director of the Office for Teaching and Learning

Dr. Kathy Winters- Director of Elementary Programming

Mr Tony Carty- Supervisor of Prof. Dev., Assessment, and Blended Learning

Mr. Greg Lesher- Supervisor of S.T.E.M.

Ms. Erin Oleksa- Supervisor of Literacy and Fine Arts

Mrs. Kelly Cramer- Instructional Coach

Mr. Chad Evans- Instructional Coach

Mrs. Lynne Morgan- Instructional Coach

Mr. Todd Silvius- Instructional Coach

Mrs. Mary Carol Swanson- Administrative Assistant