Sunday, December 31, 2017

One Word 2018 Way Maker

I am not going to write the words, "I am going to be honest with you" because I am always honest about things even when it is uncomfortable.  I am sitting here staring at the screen and trying to find the words to write. It used to come so easy to blog to write for work, about work or about pedagogy. It is not that I don't write any more.  I do. I fill up a journal a month and it has nothing to do with work and all to do with life.

My life does not revolve around my work. It used to. It is easy to do that. That is where the burn out comes in for me. So, I had to slow down.  A lot. My children and my life was slipping by and I needed to just hold on to what matters more. My family. There is a lot I had to start saying no to and I did so with no regrets. It felt and still feels great.

This post is going to be short and it is about my faith walk not school. My one word is Way Maker. I know it is two, but with a hashtag it becomes one and I am going with that.  It was selected by my heart in mid December. I am stepping out on that word believing that God will be a way maker in my life in a supernatural way this year and in the lives of my family. I believe that the road traveled with the Way Maker is a road of deep joy and abiding audacious faith. The kind of faith that asks the sun to stand still like in Joshua 10 in the Old Testament. That is my year and that is why that is my word.

The real Kimberly, not the social media Kimberly needs it. We often, myself included, fight battles unknown by others, but known by God.  I believe God will make a way because he is the Way Maker.

The hopes and dreams I carry for myself and for my family are BIG and I believe God will make a way because he is the Way Maker.

As much as I wish that this word had everything to do with education, it does not.  It is life. It is my very beautiful life!

I picked up a book from Roxane Battle called Pockets of Joy which has deeply resonated with my spirit. We share a very similar life path and it is interesting to see my life put down in words, someone else's words that could have very well been mine.  We could be soul sisters. Like her, my life has been about that of becoming, the process of becoming and the different stages of becoming that we are in. Like her, I have a deep love for the life of the butterfly and the lessons learned therein. Like her, I have spent most of my life except for 2.5 years being a person of faith who is also a hard working, divorced, single mom in a public position. Like her, I have learned the secret of "Counting it all JOY" as the scriptures teach us, but it has been a process that gets reviewed by my spirit all the time. I think counting it all joy is a lot like forgiveness and you have to remember to dwell in joy not sorrows and you need to remind yourself of this often. I challenge you to pick up the book for yourself by clicking here.

Happy New Year friends! May your one word carry you through all the hills and valleys.

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!