Friday, June 26, 2015

Albemarle County Public Schools Lead the Way to Lifelong Learning.

Pam Moran, Ira Socol, and the entire Albemarle County Public Schools System have served as mentors to me with regard to lifting the quality of teaching I employ with and for children.

Recently Ira generously shared the image and language to the right from the Albemarle County Public Schools website. I am wondering how I will embed the powerful words from this chart into my own craft in the year to come.

Below I reflect on the words and how they relate to the context of my practice as an educator.

1. Plan and Conduct Research
For starters, science and social studies mini projects and the biography "Changemakers" project will meet this competency.

2. Gather, Organize, Analyze, Evaluate Data
To start, we'll do this with our "Numbers that Define You" introductory math unit. We'll also do this with our local ecosystem study. Hopefully we can employ this effort often into STEAM and math class.

3. Think Analytically, Critically, and Creatively to Pursue New Ideas, Acquire New Knowledge, and Make Decisions
This will be a focus of our STEAM Lab, Service Learning, Class Leadership Activities, and Problem Solving.

4. Understand and Apply Principles of Logic and Reasoning; Develop, Evaluate, and Defend Arguments.
We'll employ and practice these skills daily during math with use of math problems, concept/skill/knowledge application, and journals writing/presentation.

5. Seek, Recognize, and Understand Systems, Patterns, Themes, and Interactions. 
We'll develop an initial understanding of systems as we create and implement systems that make our classroom community strong and successful. We'll also study this competency beginning with our ecosystem exploration and throughout our math study.

6. Acquire and Use Precise Language to Clearly Communicate Ideas, Knowledge, and Processes.
We'll give students lots of opportunities to develop precise language and presentation in every subject area using journals, presentations, technology, drama, and more. We'll spend time developing students ability to understand and use vocabulary related to specific disciplines and study areas.

7. Explore and Express Ideas and Opinions Using Multiple Media, the Arts, and Technology
Weekly attention to current events, class open circle meetings, and service learning are mediums we can use to initiate this competency. Also making time regularly for student-centered discussion, effort, and response will launch efforts related to this competency.

8. Participate Fully in Civic Life, and Act on Democratic Ideals Within the Context of Community and Global Interdependence. 
We can look for opportunities to develop this competency locally and globally through service learning, our ecosystem study, student council, and our work with our kindergarten and first grade buddies. A Middle School teacher has asked us to engage in a meaningful global service project which will help us to build in greater effort with regard to global interdependence.

9. Understand and Follow a Physically Active Lifestyle that Promotes Good Health and Wellness.
We provide students with multiple opportunities for active learning, playful physical activity, and opportunities to discuss and develop overall wellness. As a teacher it's important that I get in there and model these behaviors as well in the classroom and at recess. Also, it's important that we continue to embed a lot of healthy physical activity into our field studies and special events. Following our healthy food guidelines also supports this goal.

10. Apply Habits of Mind and Metacognitive Strategies to Plan, Monitor and Evaluate One's Own Work
In this regard, I want to slow down the work we do to allow for thoughtful time to reflect throughout a unit and especially at the end of the unit. I want to model metacognitive strategies and habits of mind as well as give students the chance to try out multiple strategies to develop habits of mind and life-long learning. We will also employ the use of a showcase portfolio to host these efforts and serve family-student-teacher share and meetings well.

11. Demonstrate ethical behavior and respect for diversity through daily actions and decision making. 
One way to meet this competency is to make a commitment to stop the class and address the situation whenever there is a comment or action that serves to promote prejudice, inequity, injustice, or discrimination. When words are used that promote disrespect, it's important to teach the students why those words are dehumanizing and not acceptable by telling the related history, current related issues, and inviting comments and questions. It's also important to discuss what ethical behavior is and to create ethical behavior protocols for the classroom. Whenever possibly decisions should be inclusive of all members of the learning/teaching community including students.

12. Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve new and increasingly complex problems.
It's important to give students the opportunity to work together to solve open ended problems in all curriculum areas. It is equally important to give students a chance to share their solutions with their classmates. We will offer this kind of work in open circle social competency sessions, STEAM lab, math work, and classroom issues as they arise.

I believe this language helps us to teach the whole child well. I know that Albemarle focuses on student-centered study that responds to individual's interests and passions. I'll continue to move toward that goal in days to come.

Ira also sent me Albemarle's Pathways to Lifelong Learning which I'll consider with depth soon.