Thursday, June 25, 2015

Learning like a Pirate Book Study FOCUS!

Here we are again, ready to Learn like a Pirate! This week we are looking at Section 2: Chapter 4 Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus. I really think that my principal has read this book, because one of our last PDs discussed stepping away from traditional grading. You could hear the gasps in the hot (and I do mean HOT) library full of teachers from pre-k all the way to 4th grade. Our district will be switching to the Graded for Learning Policy, meaning basically that students are encouraged to do their best and to redo their work so that they can learn from their mistakes.

This chapter has a lot of meat to it, and I LOVE it. Some of the things we are already doing in my classroom, just not consistently. Why not? Great question. I think it was more because it’s easier to teach, do an activity, check for understanding, reteach or move on. The problem was, however, when April came… students had NO idea what the review was about. I’ve already begun making some changes in my thought process of how to teach the new standards. My first unit has the frame made. Now what?

After reading this chapter, I want to look at my units a bit more carefully. I know some of my kids for next year, so I can think about how I am going to accommodate them. What feedback do they need to grow? I think that if I get started at the very beginning of the year, then it will be easy for them and myself to grow into better people.

At the bottom of their literacy menus, there is a spot for Friday reflections. I found that most kids just told me that they did math well (umm… I didn’t really teach math….). I realized that I didn’t model it enough. Students have no clue what I mean by reflect, let alone how to write a reflection. A goal I now have is to model what I expect more, so that the activities I have are more meaningful. Paul has thrown tips in on how he improves his class’ reflections:

·         Tell Me More-1 sentence to answer the question and 1 sentence to tell me more about the answer

·         Thinking Deeper- Thinking more holistically through the question and to write it into a paragraph form to show fluid thoughts.

The one thing I want to try from this chapter (other than the CONSTANT feedback) is the ePortfolios and their use for reflections and growth assessments. Once again, with us using Microsoft 365 this next year, I feel confident in being able to do that. I want to use this to have my students learn to

·         type better,

·         write better,

·         edit,

·         persevere,

·         think deeply about their learning

·         explain why

·         get emotionally attached and intrinsically motivated

·         be proud of their work

·         see that their work and learning opportunities are NEVER over

So, now I just have to learn how to use Microsoft 365 and see what my kiddos can get out of it. That’s going to be my learning experience this next semester! #alreadyexcited

The quote that really made me smile was this one: “Rigor is different for each student.” As teachers, we look at our class sometimes as a collective body. We are asked to look at numbers. We are asked to raise the bar and add rigor to raise the scores. Students are more than just what they made on one test. What is good for one, will damage another. Students have to be looked at individually, which is hard. Class sizes are not getting smaller. The ranges of levels the students enter the room on are wider and wider. To be a good, effective teacher, however, I have to STOP and LOOK at each child’s needs. Look and see what I need to do to move them that inch. After all….

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