Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Personalized Learning & Guided Science

I am so proud of the learners in Room 144. They are achieving great things. Owning your own learning journey is VERY hard, but day by day the students are doing their best. If you haven't read my previous blog post, here it is . I do have a very small group of learners who need more direct instruction, but they still participate in the Input / Output activities, just a bit differently. Even that has a growth mindset behind it.

Classrooms need to be learner focused, not teacher driven. That doesn't mean that the teacher, or as I like to call us, the lead learner has no voice, it is just diminished. Less of us allows for the student's voice to elevate. When student's voices are elevated, I firmly believe that learning is elevated.

That does mean that things need to look different. You can't have personalized learning and keep the traditional classroom set up. You also can't have personalized learning without any movement and without any play time.

I have found that the 5E Model helps guide how I plan. This a Backwards Design Model for planning out lessons. The 5E's accomplish the following:

Hook/grab student interest
ExploreActivity to explore concept
ExplainDirect instruction of concept
ElaborateExtend and apply learning to new situation
EvaluateUse of formative & summative assessments

I have also found that it is easy to take what I already had done before and assess it based on which elements were Input and which elements were Output.

The beginning of the year looked so different as of course it should, but slowly I  let go and guided the students through all the little parts. The guiding force in it all had to be discussions upon discussions about how to learn regardless of content, then how to prove what students have learned. With flexible seating, we had to learn how to sit, where to sit and how to learn where we sit (or stand as I have standing tables). We had to learn to advocate for our individual learning by minimizing distractions of classmates.

As the school year progressed, various elements started to be released slowly to the hands of the students. When it got challenging (and when it will get challenging again,) I pulled them back in with reteaching skills of how to learn becomes vital.

I was able to meet George Couros awhile ago. His book the Innovator's Mindset helped me to set my heart and mind on course for what I had to change as a lead learner so that students can learn in today's classroom.
It was not easy to shift, there was a lot I needed to let go so that I could do the right thing. Picking up my dear friend Joy Kirr's book Shift This reminded that it is all in gradual changes. Success is built in slow, guided steps.

So take heart. If you are still wondering how to shift your classroom, please contact any of us. We'd love to help you or point you to someone in your neck of the woods who you could reach out to. If you are new to Twitter, follow us and we will surely connect you with people that will uplift you, coach you.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Middle School Personalized Learning

If you have heard the buzz words Personalized Learning once, you have heard it a million-trillion times and you could probably be a rich person.

It is easy to gloss over the overused phrase and let it settle like a dandelion seed in the wind and continue on with the old model of doing school. Let's admit, it was easier doing it that way especially when you still remember the ditto machine on the counter in the staff work room.

However,  glossing over it or blowing on the seeds will not make it go away. Embracing it and making it work for yourself as much as for the students is vital.

This came a bit easier for me because I had been used to doing Daily 5 Guided Reading and BUILD (Daily 5 Guided Math) for a long time now. However, I don't want to diminish all the work I have to do to behind the scenes. When I moved into Science, I needed something like what I was used to using before,  but I didn't want to just dismiss this all to the wide world of isolated learning, because I am not designing robots. I wanted students to work collaboratively together as well as have both tech and non tech elements.

A trimester has almost gone by since I have started with Guided Science. You have to start off in little chunks. It is so vital to have learning bites for students and not give them the whole thing all at once. We are ready to move on to the next level which allows for more freedom for the students to navigate their learning journey.

There are some elements that are must-dos as well as elements that have choice.

It is easy to not know where to start if you are not used to doing a Daily 5 Guided Program. It can all seem so overwhelming.  So, let's break that down in chunks for ourselves.

1) Design activities within the learning outcomes that are differentiated and create a list of ways that learning can be inputted and learning can be outputted. I want to thank Chris Kesler for all his help in designing elements of our day, because he is a wizard and I would not have thought of turning to him for Science, but because we collaborated through Geniushour, it seemed like a great call and it was. I called this INPUT and OUTPUT.

2) Design a way for students to track their learning.

3) Design a way for you as the lead learner of the classroom to track their learning.

The last element of it all is assessment and within that, do your best to have modifications.

Here is what we are using. It wasn't what they first received in September because routines needed to be established, but they are now ready for the wonderful world of learning and I hope they find joy in doing so.

I am not doing this because it is a district initiative, (note my district's video below)  but because it is the right thing to do for the students and it is a joy to watch them learn!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Geniushour & Mattering Matters

There are people still ask me why I am so passionate about #geniushour. There are people who don't understand why the roll out of it and its implementation is vital to the heart of the child. Why is the investment of class time in something that develops the curiosity of a child more important than testing, not just when the child is with you in the elementary years but onward into middle school and high school? 

A child needs to know that they matter and if they don't feel like they matter at home and they don't feel like they matter at school, then they are lost in this world. 

Geniushour speaks over that void, that dark abyss that some students carry with them. Geniushour speaks into the heart of mattering. Making mattering the agenda, year after year grows strong children both at home and at school. It is putting their needs first. 

School cannot fix the entire void, it can't speak into the depths of despair that some children's hearts are at, but geniushour can in many ways, tap into to the fight that is in their minds of negative self talk and say, someone thought I mattered, it might be the one thing that saves them. 

It might not. A child may have been told that they are a genius and that the whole blessed Earth is worthy of them, but the all the chaos and noise from other places takes over their minds. 

That is when sadness falls like a heavy dark blanket. 

Tonight I and my former staff from School for All Seasons mourn the death of our past student, when he turned off his own light to his life. Life and thoughts caught up to him in a deep overwhelming wave. 

We don't know. We just don't. So, speak life through #geniushour again and again. 

We must make mattering the agenda. Love, Kimberly