The Balcony View

Curriculum News for Bellmawr Schools

The Balcony View on our February PD!

Thank you to everyone for your engagement during our February In-service Day, and to all our our self-care coaches for sharing your passion! This month's edition of the Balcony View is all about REFLECTION!

Teacher Clarity, High Impact Teaching Strategies & Feedback

If you only remember one thing that John Almarode covered, it's that when planning lessons, collecting visible EVIDENCE of learning is key! So often we spend hours planning activities, rather than making teacher clarity (are the learning intentions & success criteria aligned?), questioning & VERBS for "just-right" feedback our top priority. With that in mind, let's take a look at a past entry from the Balcony View with new eyes...and remember: It's all about the VERBS!

Surface Learning is when learners are just starting to use prior knowledge to understand new concepts. This phase of learning is essential if students are expected to master content. This is the beginning of learning and consists of what students must "know."

  • High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS): explicit instruction (0.59), vocabulary instruction (0.63), guided questioning (0.48), imagery (0.51), summarizing (09.66) and manipulatives (0.39).
  • Verbs for Feedback/Tasks: name, identify, recall, find, label, list

Deep Learning
is when learners use their understandings from surface learning to make connections among concepts. This is when students move from "knowing what" to "knowing how."

  • High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS): concept mapping (0.64), self-questioning (0.59) and classroom discussion (0.82)
  • Verbs for Feedback/Tasks: describe, list, classify, continue, complete, compare, contrast, explain

Transfer Learning is when learners are able to take their knowledge of "what" and "how", and apply this in new contexts and situations.

  • High Impact Teaching Strategies (HITS): cooperative learning (0.46), meta-cognitive strategies (0.60), strategy monitoring (0.58), transfer strategies (0.68) and problem-solving (0.67)
  • Verbs for Feedback/Tasks: create, generate, design, construct, predict, invent

Click HERE for more on balancing surface, deep and transferring learning!

Welcoming Schools: Preventing Bias-based Bullying

It's official...Bellmawr Schools has completed "Year 1" of our Welcoming District Certification! At the heart of all we've learned are two things: RELATIONSHIPS & REPRESENTATION. In the fall we explored gender expression/ sexual orientation/ sex assigned at birth, which is embedded in the Gr5 & Gr8 CHPE Standards (remember the Gender Snowperson lesson?) and this month we took a look ways to prevent bullying. Scroll down to reflect on the current practices and goals that you shared on our post-it charts...and remember: Be the ONE & keep the target of bullying #1!

Click HERE for some lesson ideas to help foster a positive classroom community and prevent bullying!

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Read Aloud Story For Kids: One! | Vooks Narrated Storybooks

THE ACECC BUZZ: Visible Learning During Play

Chapter 2 of our text takes a look at visible learning during play and begins with a word of caution: the team of authors could not find data that supports pretend play (open/free play) as critical to skill development. However, when students are engaged in "playful learning" that incorporates the content, the structure of problems or tasks to be solved, and purposeful, language-based interactions, we have a recipe for student success! Always remember: In playful learning we should assume both the roles of conversational partner and language facilitator!

On Language & Purposeful Interactions: When planning, always remember to make the learning of new language explicit! During instruction, focus intentional interactions on developing vocabulary for objects, processes and ideas, understanding the meanings of words/sentences, and in understanding events/experiences across situations (p36).

  • Vocabulary Instruction - effect size of 0.63
  • Teaching Communication Skills/Strategies - effect size of 0.35

On Language & Executive Functioning: Here's where we can support the development of attention, working memory and inhibitory control. During planning, develop questions that provide in-the-moment feedback (remember those VERBS) and that explain/model the use of vocabulary. This can then support opportunities for students to practice together in various situations.

  • Metacognition & Self-Regulation Strategies - effect size of 0.60

On Language & Home/School Connections: Take the time to learn about family routines, traditions and celebrations! Provide a parent survey (to complete with their child) when starting a new study! This will allow us to design instruction that integrates home-familiar materials and experiences, creating a "two-way bridge" where we can honor what our families bring to the table while promoting the importance of purposeful play at the same time!

  • Integrating Prior Knowledge - effect size of 0.93
  • Family Involvement - effect size of 0.42

Chapter 2 concludes with three lessons (sorting, careers & animal habitats) pulled directly from early-childhood classrooms. This would make for a wonderful jigsaw activity (effect size of 1.20!) during our next PLC!

Bellmawr's BOOM! Board

You're the BEST! Quotes from the staff...
  • BOOM! to Senorita Connor for jumping in to assist with Read Across America by helping with the collection of the student guesses in 7th & 8th grade each day and helping to identify the most spirited attired student each day.
  • BOOM! to the Bell Oaks Cafeteria Staff for having the Read Across America snack and water ready for pick up each day. Our students really appreciated the treat!
  • BOOM! to Ms. Krapf, a huge Shout Out for pulling all of the books for Read Across America, checking them out, checking them back in, and re-shelving them. Thank you for your help and your flexibility with sharing the Media Center with us. We appreciated your willingness to move your Academic Lab each day to a different room so every student in the building could visit Starbooks CafĂ© during Read Across America week. THANK YOU!!
  • BOOM! to our Fifth-Grade Team, thank you for caring for one another and supporting our student’s social and emotional needs.

  • BOOM! to

    our self-care providers, Kelly Lee, Lauren Klaus, and Casey Snock, thank you for sharing your passion and creating a relaxing morning.
  • BOOM! to Katlin Dannibale, we love our new inclusive libraries.
  • BOOM! to Alyssa Friedman - Welcome to Burke School!
  • BOOM! to Len Sanders, Mike Mazzuca, and Alyssa Friedman - Collaboration is the key, thank you for persevering and not giving up! You are the best!
  • BOOM! to the BSI teachers and ELA/Math coaches for creating an engaging Read Across America week for our students. I loved the station activities and the guest readers.
  • BOOM! to Jennifer Packer - thank you for teaching us how to incorporate bar models! Go Eureka Math!
  • BOOM! to Carol Blatchley for all the help she has given me with Read Across America Week. She has gone above and beyond helping everything run as seamlessly as it has. This week wouldn't have been possible without her!
  • BOOM! to the Burke and Bellmawr Park BSI teams for putting together a fantastic week for Read Across America. The planning collaboration, attention to detail, preparation, and execution were seamless. Great teamwork!

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