Sunday, February 21, 2016

Positive Routines: February - April Leg of the School Year

The best way to develop new learning is to make it part of your daily routine. That repetition leads to efforts that matters. So in the coming days, how will I shift the daily and weekly routine to better represent the values and learning I'm gaining via research, study, and share.

As a shared teaching team, we already have a good weekly/monthly pattern, one that includes all of our main teaching/learning goals and efforts. To shore up this more, I plan to do the following with regard to the weekly routine.

Math Class
I will start most math classes with a review of Boaler's research in child-friendly terms and endeavor. As time moves on, I'll move my overall math teaching and learning more in the direction that Boaler suggests, a more open-ended, inquiry-driven, floor-to-ceiling, collaborative style of teaching and learning.

Social Competency
I will continue to focus on the attributes of character in the coming days to solidify those elements in students' minds. I want students to understand what character looks like when displayed in our classroom and school. I also want to deepen my own understanding and display of good character traits as I mentor and model for students. Further, I hope that students will apply this study as they read about famous people as part of their biography project. I hope that they'll discover the elements of character (or non-character) that played significant roles in the life and work of the people they choose to study.

With the continued guidance of our school counselor, we will develop other aspects and efforts related to social competency or the "soft skills" as noted in the film, Most Likely to Succeed. We will devote time at least once a week to this study.

Current Events
I really like the way that the Flocabulary Week-in-Review videos spark current events discussions and efforts. I want to work with the grade-level team to find out the best times to embed this weekly review.

RTI ELA and Math
Our continued, weekly efforts with regard to RTI give us the opportunity to explore new and deeper ways to teach and learn with small groups. I want to think about this opportunity as well as the need to organize well the work I do in this regard.

Workshop and Lunch Meetings
We have some time each week for workshop which means it's a time to catch up with individual students and the whole class. I'll use this time to help students meet a number of goals they've set for themselves and goals set for them by a myriad of teachers and leaders.

With regard to the yearly schedule, I don't want to lose sight of the following efforts as well:

Though race is not a formal part of our curriculum, it has come up in class discussions. Just last week, one child asked, "Why do we have dark skin?" Which led me to review the research I did in for this skin shade lesson. Also, TED just came out with a video about skin shade which I hope to show (see below) and I also want to replicate a colleague's success with a recent lesson about labels. Racial injustice is a reality in our society, and it's best to discuss the issue with good research and resources regularly in order to dispel the myths and prejudice that exist. We live in a diverse world, and the more that our students can grow to judge each other based on "the content of their character" rather than the shade of their skin, the better our world will be.

Our team has been working well on developing our STEAM Theme Days. We have a PLC date planned to better our efforts in this regard. I'm hoping that we can embed greater efforts with regard to the Science Practices and Fullan's six C's: Character, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Citizenship, and Communication. I think we may also want to think about the way Boaler uses roles for her STEM inquiry based projects, yet I don't want the roles to be too limiting.

Nature Stewards
Once the standardized tests and fifth grade play are past, we'll focus more deeply on the biography project and our naturalist study. This creates a great focus for the last few weeks of school, one that builds on the year-long study in all subject areas.