Out of Bulletin Board Ideas? Build a Domain Wall!

bulletin-boardWe all create bulletin boards for our classrooms and hallways, and we are all aware that they serve a variety of purposes, from highlighting student work, as an end of unit/module showcase, to that one board you create every year that never changes. You intend to mix it up, and yet, somehow it never happens. It gets to the point neither you, nor your students, even see that board anymore, and it ends up taking up valuable classroom wall space that could be used in a much more meaningful way.

It’s time to change up this practice by replacing the bulletin board with a Domain Wall.

You may be thinking, “But I love my Autumnal Poetry board, so why should I scrap my tried and true bulletin boards of years past?” Read more

STEM Matters: 5 Facts to Share with Parents and Students

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In the United States there are significantly more job openings in STEM-related than non-STEM occupations. At the same time, there is a shortage of qualified people to fill these careers opportunities. For the U.S. to continue to compete in a global economy and succeed in addressing our environmental challenges, we must do a better job of educating and engaging our students in STEM. It is more important than ever that all students have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to be an informed citizen and to pursue a career in STEM if they so choose.

Here are 5 things to know about the STEM field:

1. STEM is the fastest growing job market: Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was 3X greater than that of non-STEM jobs (source).3x-block

Looking to the future, the Economics and Statistics Administration and the Center on Education and the Workforce expect the field to increase by another 17 percent.
Read more

We’re TchAUSL! How Can We Help You?

TchAUSL-mockupsThis year is our sixth school year with TchAUSL and I’m as pumped as ever to share exciting new practices from across our network to help you become the teacher that you want to be. TchAUSL was created to help our coaches capture and comment on practice, but I think we’ve grown into a place where every teacher can learn and grow.

What does our site have to offer you?

Our App Makes It Easy to Record, Share and Annotate Your Practice

We designed the site and our Tch Recorder app with an eye on making it simple to capture and share your practice. With just a few steps, you can record instruction, upload it to our invitation-only site, share it with others in a group or keep it private in your workspace. TchAUSL also allows annotation of video with timestamping to draw attention to specific points of your instruction. Want to learn more? This short clip will get you started and you can pick it up here if you have an Apple device or here if you’re an Android user. Read more

Special EDition: DL Professional Learning Continues

The AUSL DL Professional Development Series is Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.49.40 PMstill going strong. Session topics this year have included Behavior Management, IEP Development, and Universal Design for Learning. In February, educators from 18 AUSL schools explored the 5 W’s of Progress Monitoring. Progress monitoring is a standardized method of formative assessment that tells us how well students are responding to instruction. The data collected allows practitioners to estimate rates of improvement over time, compare the efficacy of different forms of instruction, and determine when an instructional change is needed. At this session, participants learned how to establish a baseline, set goals, and create a plan to monitor individual student progress. Additionally, several useful sites to guide this process were shared, including the following:

Read more

Using Summary Charts to Press for Evidence and Promote Coherent Science Instruction: 8 Tips!

To the average student, science class feels like a series of disjointed learning activities. They don’t really know why they are learning what they are learning, nor how what they’re learning connects to the real world.

There are two things teachers can do to address this lack of coherence:

  1. Plan each instructional unit around a specific science phenomenon (read more about how to plan science units around intriguing phenomena here).
  2. Use a summary chart to help students keep track of what they learn from their lesson activities and then use their learning to help them explain how and why that phenomenon occurs.

In this blog, I focus on summary charts as a high-leverage tool in science classrooms.

What is a summary chart?

Alexa Summary Chart Nabisco Factory

Read more

Special EDition: Behavior Junction, What’s your Function?

The AUSL Diverse Learning Professional Development Series is up and running! The October session, Understanding + Developing High Quality IEPs, was held on October 15 at Phillips High School. Participants attended one of three sessions focused on different aspects of the IEP. Click on the sessions below to access the presentation deck and related materials shared at each session.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.43.28 PMThe next DL PD, Changing Challenging Behaviors: Conducting FBAs, will be offered on both November 19 and December 3 from 4:30-6:30pm at Phillips Academy High School. Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is based on the understanding that all behavior is a form of communication and serves a function. Conducting an FBA is the process of collecting and analyzing data on unwanted behaviors to determine the purpose or function of the behavior. This is the first step toward developing interventions to teach and reinforce more positive behaviors.

Read more

Announcing STEAM Fair 2016: Five Things You Need to Know

STEAM Fair Logo_2015

We are pleased to announce our 5th annual STEAM Fair!

Today’s job market is tough. Applicants significantly outnumber the available jobs. However, companies in the fields of science, technology, and engineering are actually struggling to find skilled workers and are looking abroad to recruit the expertise they need.

It is crucial that students develop the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to pursue whatever career path they desire. The school schedule must reflect the importance of science, engineering, and technology or we will limit ourScreen Shot 2015-11-04 at 11.10.40 AM students’ options for their future. Moreover, we need to do a better job of developing an informed citizenry that can make responsible decisions about the products they purchase, the food they consume, and the politicians for whom they vote. It follows that building our students’ scientific literacy can help to ensure their personal well being, as well as the welfare of their families, communities, and the interconnected world in which we live.

The projects students complete for the STEAM fair should not feel like “an extra thing to do.” The STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art as design, and mathematics) fair is a natural setting to promote learning of important academic content (i.e., CCSS and NGSS) and to support student development of 21st century skills, such as critical thinking a
nd problem solving—skills that are in high demand in today’s workforce!

To assist you with preparing your students for this year’s STEAM fair competition, I present you with…

Read more

Tch Tech Follow Up: Google Expeditions Are Going, Going…

Teachers control the VR headsets with a tablet which also allows them to highlight content for students.

Teachers control the VR headsets with a tablet which also allows them to highlight content for students.

Last week, I shared a short clip showing you the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. This international program brings immersive and engaging experiences to schools via virtual reality technology that you can try at home. Google is sending ambassadors with class sets of VR headsets throughout the Chicagoland area from now through November 11th. Hey! That’s just FOUR WEEKS away!

For that reason I am reaching out to YOU, 2nd through 12th grade science or social studies teacher, to tell you more about Google Expeditions so you’ll bring them to your school. To push you along, here are five reasons why you should take the time to recruit five other teachers for this amazing field trip in your classroom. Read more

Special EDition: Diverse Learning PD Series

All teachers need ongoing opportunities to learn, collaborate, and access resources to most effectively support students. That’s why AUSL is offering a Diverse Learning Professional Development Series during the 2015-2016 school year! These sessions are open to ALL teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches, residents, administrators, and directors in the AUSL network. Registration is required in advance and attendees will receive CPDUs for participating.

Over 50 AUSL educators attended our first session, Catching Em’ Being Good: BMC for Diverse Learners, on September 17 at Phillips High School. Read more

Your Best Year of Science is Here! 4 Guides to Start MBI Today

If we keep doing the same thing we will continue to get the same results.

The time is NOW to transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our students can’t wait! The Chicago Public Schools transition plan below has us at FULL implementation of NGSS next year:

CPS Transition Plan

Two of the key shifts with NGSS are the following:

  • Phenomena: K-12 students should be using science ideas to explain HOW and WHY science phenomena occur.
  • Science and Engineering Practices: K-12 students should be engaging in the 8 science and engineering practices (e.g., developing and using models, engaging in argument from evidence) in order to learn the content and explore the crosscutting concepts. The days of teaching an isolated unit about the scientific method are over (note: the scientific method does NOT provide an accurate vision of the work of scientists–read more here).

Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) is one way to address these two NGSS shifts:

MBI Overview

The following MBI “How To” Guides were developed by AUSL teachers for AUSL teachers. Over the last two years, the teachers that make up the AUSL Science Teacher Network Team have been studying NGSS and best practices for science teaching. They’ve tried out and refined these strategies in their own classrooms and through Lesson Study, and synthesized their learning in these guides and Tch AUSL videos.

MBI Guides:

  1. MBI Guide #1: How to Come Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor a Unit (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  2. MBI Guide #2: How to Engage Students in Developing and Using Explanatory Models (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  3. MBI Guide #3: How to Use Summary Charts in the Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)
  4. MBI Guide #4: How to Enhance Discourse in the Science Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)

Special thanks to the following staff for creating these resources:

  • Darrin Collins (Phillips Academy High School)
  • Deanna Digitale-Grider (Solorio Academy High School)
  • Kristel Hsiao (formerly at Solorio Academy High School)
  • Kat Lucido (Phillips Academy High School)
  • Nicole Lum (Orr Academy High School)
  • Sarah Rogers (formerly at Howe School of Excellence)
  • Alexa Young (Marquette School of Excellence)
  • Chris Bruggeman (AUSL Technology Coordinator)

Post your questions and the examples of MBI from your classroom below.