This three-video series provides a glimpse inside kindergarten and 1st/2nd-grade classrooms that are developing scientific models to make sense of and more deeply explain a real-world phenomenon over time.
The kindergartners in Kaia Tomokiyo’s class at Southern Heights Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, are seeking to understand how a puddle on the grass appears and disappears over the course of a day. Fallon King’s first and second graders at Cedarhurst Elementary School in Burien, Washington, are exploring how one apple tree works with its ecosystem to create another apple tree a distance away from itself.
In science classrooms, we want to provide strategic opportunities for students to learn from text and support them as they obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. Scientific interactive read aloud lessons create a space in the day for educators to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards and English Language Arts Common Core standards, using picture books in support of the practice of scientific modeling.
Science picture books can tap into your own and your students’ storytelling and personal narrative styles, while introducing ideas and evidence from beyond the classroom to consider.
A day in my classroom is filled with inquiry, deep questioning, hands-on learning, and student-driven discussions. Yet, for all aspects of my teaching that I’m proud of, I’m also continuously reflecting on my instructional practices that need improvement.
This past year, I’ve lived the mission of Getting Better Together by sharing my experiences with others and allowing their advice/feedback to guide my instruction. From engagement in book studies, to Twitter chats, to receiving video feedback, I’ve been amazed at the growth of my online professional learning community and consequently, my growth as an educator.
My growth continues, alongside you, the Teaching Channel community, in three new videos. You’ll see me try out instructional strategies that are aimed at reaching all learners and differentiating the learning experience in the classroom. And you’ll also see me work to elevate every student’s voice through designed tasks and groupings. (Read my accompanying blog post, Three Ways I’ve Become A Better Listener.)
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; but when you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
What does it really take to be a good listener? My entire life I’ve struggled to answer this question.
In elementary, middle, and high school I won either “most talkative” or “most social.” I loved public presentations so much that I got a degree in broadcasting and intended to spend my life narrating stories from the field. After a career transition to teaching, I quite enjoyed the feeling of being on stage. I created and sang songs, gave incredibly entertaining lectures, and presented ideas in a logical fashion to my students.
About four years ago, I began reading about focusing on student voice within the classroom and elevating this as the predominant voice. As I began to think about how my classroom could transition to meet this focus, I had to let go of part of my practice. Not only did I enjoy the presentations, but they defined my teaching style. (My Nicki Manaj integer song was a classroom stopper!) Yet, as I gained more experience and redefined my role as an educator, I realized I needed to elevate student voice and minimize my own.
Teams Fest traveled back in time to the 1950s in Palm Springs last week to see just how far we have (or haven’t) come in education. The goal was for all Teams to have:
- A big vision and a draft plan for 2016-2017
- New/improved ways to structure learning on Teams
- A network to support and push your work (at home and with Tch)
- Ideas, beliefs, and skills for leading learning this summer #anewkindofpd
The two days were full of camaraderie, collegial conversations, deep engagement with Teams, and of course, fun!
I’m a huge fan of writing in math class! While I was teaching, I had my 5th graders write in their math journals every single day. Whether they used the journals before the lesson to write down estimations, during class to show their reasoning through a problem, or at the end of class for an exit prompt, the journals were always a safe and not-graded place for students to jot down their thoughts. No matter the prompt, I always learned so much about what they understood by reading their entries each day.
This year, as a math specialist, I get to see student writing in math classes across many grade levels, and it’s so incredibly interesting. I’m able to see where it all begins, in kindergarten, before students are even writing explanations in words, to 5th grade, where the writing becomes very articulate. In each lesson I plan with teachers, we incorporate a writing aspect that we use for reflection after the lesson. The students’ written pieces, in addition to our classroom observations, help to ground our reflective conversation after the lesson.
Imagine going to school each day and entering a classroom filled with students who are eager to explore mathematical ideas, willing to embrace failure and struggle, and persistent with any math problem you give them. As teachers, we have often been led to believe that the greatest math lessons come about when we have good curriculum materials and interesting tasks — those are important, without doubt, but the new science of the brain is telling us that engaged and successful students come about when students believe they have unlimited potential and that they can learn anything.
Studies even show that our brains grow the most when we’re struggling and challenged, and if you believe in yourself, as a teacher or a student, your brain will grow more when you encounter challenge than if you doubt your potential (see a 1-minute video explaining that below).
When I started teaching, I remember being overwhelmed by the many things I was “supposed” to do during a lesson. Grab students’ attention, check for understanding, make sure everyone had an opportunity to share their thinking… the list went on!
Sometimes it felt like I spent more energy making sure I checked off each part of my lesson than actually teaching. But over time, I learned to internalize all these different strategies and plan lessons using a variety of effective techniques.
In our new video series, funded by Cisco Systems and created in partnership with the Rodel Foundation of Arizona, we get to explore the approach of the Rodel Math 20/20 Initiative. Included in this approach is a three-phase lesson structure (adapted from Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics) that helps teachers make sure they are covering — and then internalizing — the parts of an effective and engaging real-world math lesson.
One of the major themes throughout the Environmental Science course that I teach to our 7th graders is energy. We flow through the year like an electron, looking at how energy flows in ecosystems, the costs and benefits of obtaining energy from different protein sources, how energy is created from fossil fuels, the impact that energy generation has had on our atmosphere and climate, and finally, how alternative energies can be utilized to lessen the human footprint.
We do this by utilizing Illinois State University’s Smart Grids for Schools program.
My first example of love was from my parents, which is probably true for most people. Their care and attention to my moral, spiritual, and physical development provided the template for what I hope to achieve with Laila and Joshua, my two children. In the space between the example that I saw and the habits I hope to repeat, learning took place. This relationship is essential to creating an infrastructure that allows great teaching to flow.
You must set a vision of excellence that is visible, practical, and impactful. For many, this vision requires an intentional shift. Throughout my work at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School, it has become clear that there are three high-leverage actions that begin to facilitate this change: establishing common language and expectations, building a standards-based foundation, and maintaining a tight feedback loop. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when engaging with each action: