Saturday, November 23, 2013

Content Focus: MTA's Unconference

Today I'll attend our union's unconference. Using an edcamp style, the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA)  is sponsoring this event at the wonderful Microsoft building in Cambridge. Before attending an edcamp, conference, or professional event, I like to think about my focus areas.

I'll remain somewhat open minded today as I choose or offer conversations, but two areas I want to develop in the next few months include the use/creation of math models in math education and composition (online and off) related to all content areas.

As I learn and plan these content area approaches, I will utilize the five M's of successful teaching which I learned about yesterday during Jeffrey Wilhelm's presentation at NCTE. The M's lend a good structure to content teaching and learning:
  • motivation: compelling (to students) essential questions and learning that is connected.
  • teacher modeling: making learning visible in many ways.
  • mentoring w/gradual release of responsibility.
  • monitoring: a time for coaching students’ independent work.
  • multiple modalities: the more modalities children learn in, the better they will learn.
  • multiple measures: multiple ways to demonstrate progress and achievement

The math model work will include the many engaging ways that students can create, apply, discuss, and memorize math models as a way to build visual literacy and math understanding. I will explore the ways that we can make models that clearly depict math processes in child-friendly ways--models we can apply to both simple and sophisticated math work.

As for composition, I will begin this focus with a look at my own writing--where can I improve, grow, and do better? As I improve my own craft, I will keep track of the processes and efforts that will also serve my students well across all genre.

The one last area I am interested in today is learning about the ways that teachers are navigating union structure and support as well as the ways teachers are dealing with the multiple initiatives on the teaching table--a giant list this year in Massachusetts.

I'm looking forward to another day of collegial share and learning, one I'll share with two lifelong friends who are also teachers and many others in the teaching field, those I know and those I'm about to get to know.

What's interesting about setting your agenda prior to an event is that after the event you realize that you achieved some of your focus and also discovered new areas that you didn't anticipate or realize would come your way. Stay tuned.