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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Choosing Well in a Sea of Information: Summer Study Priorities

There is a sea of education information out there, and the important factor is that we choose well with the time we have.

Choosing depends on gaining chunks of time and a study plan to focus in on important new learning, research, and experiences that will help to develop our classrooms for the better.

As I think about my main focus, math education, I think it's important to boost my own knowledge and skill in ways that matter. To do this I'll focus in on computational thinking by taking Google's online course, revisit Boaler's floor-to-ceiling explorations in her book and on YouCubed and look for ways to embed those explorations with the Standards of Mathematical Practice (SMP) into next year's curriculum, and re-organize teaching/learning materials including the SEL materials I hope to embed into lessons to build greater student confidence, communication, and collaboration.

In addition I'll read Friedman's book, Thank You for Being Late, as one way to ensure that my efforts are in line with future thought and think, and I'll continue to read Emdin's book looking for ways to update our teaching with regard to cultural proficiency.

When you think of time, it's somewhat short with about five hours a day of learning/teaching five days a week. With regard to professional learning time, at best it's about three hours a day during work time, and another five to eight hours a day during days devoted to professional learning in the summer. Yet that time adds up, and when used well significant learning and development can occur.

So what's the game plan?

Math Learning/Teaching Development (Early August)
Rationale: My main charge is to teach math well and meet the many standards set. I think we can continue to invigorate this program by elevating our use of the SMPs, floor-to-ceiling explorations, greater SEL/growth mindset and personalized learning, and more computational thinking talk and effort. 
  1. Review last year's data and practice, and use that review to develop next year's study/efforts.
  2. Read/Study YouCubed site, attach research/activities to specific units of study and routines.
  3. Study Google Computational Thinking course and add language/exercises to specific units of  math study.
  4. Update/reorganize math learning/teaching website and routines.
  5. Organize math teaching/learning materials. Acquire any needed new materials.
Cultural Proficiency Development (Mid July)
Rationale: We have a diverse population of students and we live in a diverse world. The more our students can meet that diversity with positivity, skill, and strength, the better their learning will be and the better they'll be able to successfully apply that learning in their lives for individual and collective success. 
  1. Add a STEAM learning event that relates to cultural proficient teaching (June)
  2. Review past writing/information related to this effort.
  3. Review this year's efforts and carry-over successful efforts to next year.
  4. Complete Emdin's book, For White Teachers. .  and apply that research to the teaching/learning program.
  5. Work on writing grant proposals to support signage to support greater cultural proficiency, SEL, and Growth Mindset.
  6. Look for learning events and experiences that will develop our efforts in this area. 
  7. Re-look at units and find ways to continue to make units more culturally proficient meaningfully representing and incorporating the many cultures in our class and our world. 
  8. Evaluate our curriculum map for culturally proficient teaching/learning events as we draft the map in August
Social Emotional Learning (Emotional Intelligence)/Growth Mindset (Early July)
Rationale: Similar to cultural proficiency, the more students can understand the science that underlies their successful learning and application of that learning, the better they will do and the more fulfilled their lives will be. The science of learning points to the amazing connections between successful emotional intelligence and growth mindset with academic/life success.
  1. Read Friedman's book, Thank you for being late. . . .
  2. Revisit activities/efforts used to develop both SEL and growth mindset. 
  3. Look for ways to couple these efforts with student portfolio efforts.
  4. Find ways to embed this learning into regular learning experiences.
  5. Earn special education PDPs at MTA's Summer Conference
  6. Complete SEL book I've been working on with colleagues this year. 
STEAM (Late August)
Rationale: We know that STEAM learning affects positive invention, the kind of invention that can positively impact our lives and solve problems. We know that this learning depends on effective teamwork too. To provide students with this learning early is to start them on a path that will impact their lives and the lives of others with positivity and strength. 
  1. Look for ways to develop a learning environment that supports greater STEAM learning
  2. Write a grant to support rolling tables rather than desks in the classroom
  3. Continue our efforts to develop the TEAM in STEAM.
  4. Evaluate this year's STEAM efforts and develop for next year.
Teach Children Well (Ongoing)
Rationale: It's essential that educators continually develop their knowledge and skill to teach well.

In many ways, my professional work has become my own small business. I spend a great deal of my free time reading, writing, composing and presenting information related to teaching/learning online and offline. I will formalize this work more in the days ahead.

I believe the plan above will help my students next year to have a successful learning year--one that welcomes them to the learning environment in ways that matter and one that provides them with the skills, knowledge, concept, and mindset that will help them to be successful learners in all that they do.