Monday, January 15, 2018

The Week Ahead: January 15, 2018

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend looking over the curriculum map, asking questions about curriculum efforts, and advocating for changes in a few areas where I think we can do a better job at school. I know that not everyone appreciates emails on the weekend, but classroom teachers have almost no time during the school week to attend to the bigger and deeper issues since we're on task with students and using our planning time to support our time-on-task efforts with students. That's why we have to use weekend, evening, and early morning time for advocacy and bigger questions that relate to the work we do.

So with the questions and advocacy posed, I'm ready to tackle the week ahead. What will we do?

During math students will take a short computation quiz to demonstrate their skill and knowledge at this time. I'll use the results to complete students' standards-based progress reports that are sent home soon. I'll also work with students who need some support in this learning area, and others compete in the Factor Game tournament which is a engaging way to build fact skill and knowledge. At math tech times, students will work on Symphony Math and TenMark exercises.

In one class, students will review what it means to make chemical change and physical changes with matter with a short reading exercise, a hands-on experiment, and a chance to make colorful ice orbs. In the other class, students will study solutions--solutions in both closed and open systems. They will create a salt water solution to see what happens to that solution over time, and they'll do the same with a sugar and water solution. That class will also revisit a reading selection about energy and matter as well as have some time to work on the end-of-the-unit project.

This involves a lot of specific tasks including organizing the experiment materials: bottles, balloons, baking soda, vinegar, lab sheets, canning jars, string, pencils, paper towels, water buckets (we don't have a sink in my room), plastic bags, kosher salt, and duct tape. It also involves making copies of the reading selections and activities.

My RTI reading group will continue to focus on informational text and the strategies that help one to read that text with fluency and understanding.

This week I have a virtual meeting with the DESE TAC West team. There's a number of wonderful topics that we'll be learning about and discussing. I truly enjoy my time and effort with regard to this team since this work elevates the work I do with my students and colleagues, and it also gives me a chance to use my experience teaching children every day to impact decisions made at the state level.

We are reading the new accommodations guidelines for MCAS to make sure that all of our students with IEPs have the accommodations they need for successful test taking. As I read these accommodations, I want to also think about how I am using those accommodations on a regular basis to support students' daily learning.

Professional Learning
I am starting DESE's online special education course this week--a course that will give me the 15 pdp's I need for recertification. As I take the course, I plan to use a math focus and think about the many strategies and knowledge points shared with the lens of how I can teach math to my students with special needs better. I will also continue to read about the science I am teaching and update the student website and lessons accordingly.

Our team will miss our weekly PLC this week since we'll be on a science/social studies field study with the students, however we'll still have our grade-level meeting and one student-service meeting where we'll discuss the upcoming field study, curriculum map, special friendship week efforts, MCAS accommodations, and other matters.

The Week After That
If time permits, I'll also prep materials for the week after that. The math is ready, however, I have science to prep which includes experiments related to conservation of matter, the use of scales, and a discussion about the results of our salt and sugar solutions. Progress reports need to be completed that week too. On a personal note, it's the week where I need to get all those college financial aid forms completed too.

Creating a weekly focus list like this helps me to navigate the teaching/learning road and to keep my attention on the efforts that matter. Onward.