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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Transitioning to a New Year

The plans for the end of the 2017-2018 school year are set. I'm also plugging away at the end-year expectations such as report cards, clean-up, move-up materials, field study details and more. In many ways I'm working on the transition to next year too--it's a parallel effort of working for the day and planning for tomorrow.

Science Transition
One transition we'll be thinking of is the transition to next year's science program, a program that will be built upon this year's successful efforts. Our team has put a lot of time and energy into science this year. We made good progress with the following efforts:
  • Summer study to plan science efforts.
  • Dividing the curriculum into three main parts with each teacher taking the lead in one main science area. 
  • Students rotated once a week to learn the science curriculum with lots of hands-on activities in each area including physical science, life science, and Earth and space science.
  • Related field studies including a trip the Boston Museum of Science, the McAuliffe Challenger Center and upcoming nature explorations at Great Meadows Concord and a Sudbury River hike.
  • STEAM projects: solar ovens, water filters, and plant packets
  • River/Environmental grant and study:  head starting wood frogs, River/wetlands films/packet one, naturalist presentation, and planting bulbs and seeds then watching them grow. 
  • Participating in the school's garden program.
  • Websites, online links, and other tests/activities to build/assess learning
  • FOSS kit tools, materials, lessons, links, and videos
  • Shared science activities with our younger age buddies.
  • Mystery Science videos and activities
  • Reading and writing in science.
  • Upcoming global cardboard challenge.
  • MCAS prep that utilized materials available online by the state. 
What will we do to build on this effort in the year to come:
  • Revisit each rotation, the standards, resources and materials to finesse our teaching/learning efforts.
  • Start the rotations earlier in the year.
  • Work with Drumlin Farm on a new standards-based environmental/life science collaboration that continues to include head starting frogs and environmental study.
  • Continue field studies 
  • Analyze test results to see where students demonstrated substantial knowledge and to determine areas where we have to strengthen the teaching and learning.
Social Studies Transition
Transition will also mean embedding new social studies standards into our curriculum. We've already started this effort by reviewing the standards, scheduling an expert visitor, making a plan as to how we might teach the standards, signing up for system-wide and grade-level summer work to study the standards more, and making a list of related resources, learning events, expert visitors, field studies and more to lead our efforts. 

Learning Environment Transition
Transition for me means transforming the classroom to a co-lab which will require recycling many materials and furniture in my room now and replacing those materials and furniture with new items to foster a room that encourages and supports greater collaborative learning. 

Math Transition
I'll do a deep dive of this year's math learning. I'll also re-look at and revise materials for the year ahead. That revision will be based on summer study I've planned related to math learning and teaching as well as the analysis of this year's work, an analysis based on test scores, overall efforts and student, teacher, parent responses. I know the transition will include more project/problem based learning, greater attention to visual models, and more math writing/presentation process. 

Transition in general means looking deeply across curriculum at what worked well this year and what we can do better, and this transition will help us to spiral up to improve the program we prepare and present together.