I started reading Chapter 5 from Models of Teaching and I feel like I have already read it.
On February 13th, the IB Coordinators from my school district organized a PYP Share day. This is the second year in the row that we organized this. Last year, it was “bring a best practice” to share. This year, we wanted teachers to bring a lesson or activity that they used around “Inquiry”. This really intrigued me, since I am one of the coordinators, I also am the teacher librarian and inquiry is one of the reasons I love the IB/PYP programme. As I walked in our meeting, Irene McLean, the teacher librarian from Discovery Canon Elementary School, handed me a laminated card of what looked like an app icon. Others walked in and received cards. Irene then asked us to work as group to categorize the cards. She stated there was no right or wrong answer, but we would have to justify why we grouped the cards together. We then discussed and Irene asked us to categorize in only two groupings. She explained, it should just be a new number, higher or lower. Or sometimes she would add more cards into the mix. Again the students would need to justify their groupings. This shows the students using their inductive reasoning.
Since then, I have seen this in the book “Transforming Brockton High School.” I have also talked to others who have used this method. I have read about this in “Making Learning Personal“. Now I am reading about this in my “Models of Teaching” text book. Could it be that I have never heard this before and now within two weeks, I have heard this five times. I feel like I need to try this. I am reminded of the discussion that a great idea takes 10 years to form. Maybe I have been hearing about this, but not listening. If you haven’t used the strategy of categorizing words, you should try it.
I do like all three types of learning described in the “Exemplars of Curriculum Theory”, but I believe I participate in many society-centered learning experiences. Professionally, I participate in Twitter Chats, Google + and Edmodo Educator Groups to keep abreast of what is going on in education. In the classroom, I provide my students with many global projects that bridge the gap to the outside world. These projects also teach our students tolerance, open-mindedness and risk-taking. The students 2nd – 5th grade at my school at the beginning of the year join the website Edmodo. Edmodo is a classroom management educational site that takes the strengths of social media and allows students to use those tools in a safe environment. The students first join a Woodmen-Roberts group for their grade level. In this group, they learn to use safe and appropriate digital citizenship and how to use the Edmodo website, including subgroups. I then try to find global projects throughout the year that our students can participate. In September/October there is Global Read Aloud run by a teacher out of Wisconsin who chooses books every year for different age groups. This is a K-12 project. 4th Graders also join the Flat Connections project where we collaborate on topics that are of interest to the group of students participating. Many of my classes participate in Mystery Skype – which is where two classrooms don’t know where each other are and they try to guess where they are only using Yes/No questions. Great 21st century lesson! I also continually look for connections with schools around the world to broaden our students perspective. 2nd graders this year have ebuddies in Singapore. 4th graders communicate with a California class to compare and contrast the Gold Rush experience in both states. There are so many activities out there, we must take advantage of them.
This week my school just completed two long days of strategic planning. Our district uses the method created by the Cambrian Group (@) formerly called the Cambridge Group. They used research-based information to determine how site planning should be done every three to four years. They use the SWO idea of Strength, Weakness, and Opportunity.
We started with our district’s mission and belief statement. The mission and objective of a school should be the “WHY”. Why do we exist? Why are we a school? The tactics are the “WHAT” and “HOW” and the Action Plans are the “HOW”. The mission statement consists of the purpose (why we exist?), function (how we get there?), client (who we serve?), and market niche (who we are? what makes us special?). The objectives should reflect the organizations desired results stated in measurable (time, money, quality, quantity), demonstrable (cause and effect), and observable (sufficient indications). It answers the questions “what is it?” The objectives should be our greatest aspirations and have no time limitations. The tactics should be broad statements that describe how the organizations resources will be deployed to achieve the mission and objective, provide effort and resources, and starts with “we will” then uses an action word. Do I need “ACTION PLAN”
The strategic side are long term, discusses growth and change, about the whole system, shows values and mission-driven. It answers Who?, Why?, and What? It includes the mission and objectives. The operational side is short-term, deals with maintenance, programs and projects, and is budget driven. It answers How? and When? It includes tactics and action plan. The absolutes in an organizations are the non-negotiable and artifacts with ways to get there. Organizations who never identify the absolutes will elevate artifacts to the status of absolute. We identified our strengths and weaknesses.
After the Site Planning Process, the organization has the mission, objective and tactics. Then the committee has the following tasks: communicate the draft plan, develop action plans, conduct 2nd planning session, approve site plan, organize for implementation, review process and update annually.
Our school came up with the following mission statement:
The mission of Woodmen-Roberts Elementary School, an International Baccalaureate community, is to provide challenging individualized academic opportunities to meet the unique needs of the whole child through a safe environment, nurturing relationships, and innovative action that develop all students to be productive members of a global society.
If you ever have the opportunity to be included in site planning, give it a chance. The process of inspiring and energizing. I was very excited that we used this method from Cambrian Group.
As I started reading Making Learning Personal, I loved the ideas. I felt like Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey were sitting down talking to me. Now I need to blog about some of the great ideas.
In Chapter 2, the author starts with Plato who showed that learning was tied to interpersonal interactions and the love of learning. Vygotsky theory stresses making meaning of the knowledge, he stresses: Social Interaction, The More Knowledgable Other, and the Zone of Proximal Development (which is the learner’s ability to solve the problem independently). His famous quote is “What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow.” Dewey stated that learners must learn what interests them because that is what motivates them. He also sought to connect learning with real life. “If we teach as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” by John Dewey
Jerome Bruner states four features of theory of instruction:
- predisposition to learn – motivational, cultural, personal factors along with social factors with teachers and parent influence. Learning and problem-solving emerged out of exploreation.
- Structure of knowledge – structure knowledge that enables the learner to most readily grasp the information.
- modes of representation – access information using multiple representation
- Effective sequencing – the right order is very important
Bruner introduced the ideas of readiness for learning and spiral curriculum.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is best known for his work with the theory of flow. “Flow is when people are fully immersed in what they are doing and there is a balance between the challenge of the task and the skill of the learner. . . When you are in flow, you are energized, focused, and completely involved and absorbed. Carol Dweck is mentioned for her work with “Mindset”, which is the name of her book that I did a blogpost.
The types of learners that are now in school are different even from the Generation Y learners of the 1980-90s. These learners grow up with computers, tend to be optimistic about life and don’t want a normal job or schooling. For more information, check out my blogspot on The Impact of the Generation Y. The Generation Z or the Net Generation are the learners of the 1997-present. These learners tend to be more realistic, but also know the answer is on their phone. When these learners entered school, educators needed to start engaging them in different ways. Personalized learning will work for any generation because they can control their own learning.
Learning Styles have influenced teaching methods, but is that just pigeon-holing our students to fit a mold? Same with multiple intelligence. When I take the multiple intelligence test or the Myers-Briggs, I always score as well-rounded, nothing really stands out. Is that the goal? That we are all well rounded with our learning styles. Research has not proven that multiple intelligences can not predict future performance. General intelligence alone predicts success. Lexile scores and reading levels have been also controversial. These don’t allow learners to follow their interests, instead learners only get to select a certain range of books which may be their reading level but might not be their interest level. Standardized test have started to rule schools, where they must be administered so many times a year and testing is starting at younger ages. Some learners do not do well with timed, or multiple choice, or just testing environments in general. Can those tests really show what learners know? Or do they just show who tests well?
Learning uses the three types of memories that humans have: sensory, short-term, working, and long-term memory. Our goal is to get the information processed deeply into our long-term memory. It is also proved that we learn when your brain is active. I have always that if we don’t use it, we lose it.
Universal Design for Learning was created by CAST – Center for Applied Special Technology in 1984 and is research based. What CAST found out “was not about learners overcoming their barriers; it was about reducing or eliminating the barriers that keep learners from learning.” “UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments that work for everyone – not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”
- Multiple Means of Representation (perception, language, expressions, symbols, and comprehension)- recognition networks, the WHAT of learning, how we gather facts and categorize what we see, hear and read, identifying letters, words or an author’s style are recognition tasks. Present information and content in different ways.
- Multiple Means of Action and Expression (physical action, expression and communication, and executive function) – strategic networks, the HOW of learning, planning and performing tasks, how we organize and express our ideas, writing an essay of solving a math problem are strategic tasks. Differentiat the ways the students can express what they know.
- Multiple Means of Engagement (recruiting interest, sustaining effort and persistence, and self-regulation) affective networks, the WHY of learning, how learners get engaged and stay motivated, how they are challenged, excited or interested. Stimulate interest and motivation for learning.
“What we want are kids who are able to set good goals for themselves, to be able to regulate when things go wrong, to be able to sustain and handle frustration.” by David Rose.
Developing a “Personal Learner Profile (PLP)” can help teachers, parents and learns identify how learners learn best based on their strengths, challenges, interests, aspirations, talents and passions. The three principles of UDL are : Access, Engage, and Express. Learners must find their strengths and challenges in how they access, engage and express their knowledge. A learner’s PLP can and should change over time. a “Personal Learning Backpack (PLB) contains resources, tools, and learning strategies identified for the learner. ” Review “The Myth of Average” if you think that average works. It doesn’t. Creating a “Class Learning Snapshot (CLS)” can be helpful for the teacher to understand the class as a whole. To do this, review only four of your diverse learners in one class and create a lesson based on their preferences and needs by creating the “Class Learning Toolkit (CLT)”
In the book “Transforming Brockton High School”, the school a Restructuring Committee to make changes in the school. The district spends money to organize and commits to the process. In my book study through my district, we were asked: “What processes exist in our buildings and in our district that could be leveraged for similar kinds of transformational conversations? Could PLC’s, staff meetings, committees, etc. be used for conversations around improving instructional practice? How could existing structures be use for this kind of work? Are these groups already working in this way? If so, how are groups being used in a way that works to transform educational practice, on the whole, in our buildings?”
I am participating in my second Grant Opportunity. The first one was based on the book “Creating Innovators” and the second one is “Making Learning Personal”. We do not have enough of these opportunities, but these are great. The grant pays for subs and allows us to visit other classrooms and schools. It gives us structured days to brainstorm and learn about different models of curriculum. By giving these things, or stipends, I think districts show the importance of the work. The problem is that a small amount of teachers are including in these great opportunities.
I also think the IB PYP schools are trying to show that many things we are already doing are amazing. We are using a 1/2 day in February to gather all teachers at DCC and allow teams to work with similar teams from the other schools. Last year, we just focused on Best Practices, this year we are focusing on Inquiry. Not only is the day a success for the teachers, it builds community and relationships to those who may be the “singleton” in their building. As a school librarian, this is important because I am a team of one.