As I was driving to a meeting at the high school on Friday, I was suddenly struck by how absolutely beautiful the trees looked. It was one of those moments where I thought...when did they change colors? Where have I been? The landscape completely changed and I was just noticing it. That's the funny thing about the leaves changing color: it is a gradual process that is happening all around us, but we don't necessarily notice the change happening.
As educators, we know a lot about change. Changing initiatives. Changing students. Changing classrooms. Changing teaching methods. Changing staff. Change is inevitable. It's going to happen whether we like it or not. I think that change can be a beautiful thing. As long as it is change that has our students' best interest in mind. After last Tuesday, I like that Mike Schmoker is focused on changing the way we think about teaching. Some of the key points he discussed, things like giving kids 90 to 120 minutes a day of authentic literacy, continuously checking for understanding, and structuring lessons into small chunks where kids know the objective, these are not necessarily new concepts. Unfortunately, with all of the changes that we deal with and encounter, we may have lost sight of some of the basics of what is truly best practice. With the focus on the Common Core standards and standards based grading and formative & summative assessments, we may have been forced to make changes to our practice over time. Tuesday's PD certainly made me stop and think and look at little more closely at how we are instructing our students. Just like the fall foliage that happens around us and sometimes goes unnoticed for a while, we need to look closer at how we are teaching, embrace the changes that happen, remember the key components of best practice, and then hopefully we will see the most important and beautiful change of all, student growth.
I finished Small as an Elephant, a good book, loved how the author actually researched the steps of the main character's journey, setting is in Maine so some familiar places. I just started to read a book that I learned about from #titletalk on Twitter, Rump, The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. I also began reading Mike Schmoker's new book, Focus: Elevating the Essentials To Radically Improve Student Learning. And since today is #NationalDayOnWriting, I pulled out a book I bought this summer to take a look at this week: Children Want to Write
Events this week:
Monday - 4th grade @ Mt. Wachuset, Charlotte Phillips from Boutwell will be shadowing Liz in the afternoon, After school Latin program
Tuesday - Grade 3 Star Lab in the PAC, After school Latin program
Wednesday - Grade 2 and Multi-age chorus practice @2:25, 4th grade students from Mrs. Roundtree's class saying pledge at School Committee Meeting, 7:00
Thursday - 9:20 Bus Open Circle Meeting, Curriculum half day, 1:00 Lockdown scenarios with Groton Police, 2:00-3:30 PLC time
Friday - Grade 1 visits the library
Saturday - Halloween parade @ 2:45 Prescott
Great things I noticed last week:
- 2nd graders in Mrs. Benkley's class for looking closely at words that they struggled with during independent reading. One student noticed that she thought the word was 'lucky', but a closer look revealed that it was actually 'luckily.'
- Mrs. Spiczka's morning kindergarteners were excitedly singing all of the lively letter songs they have learned so far.
- A kindergarten author shared his book with me, all about cars. He had some very detailed drawings of different kinds of cars and trucks!
- I stopped to read some of the goals that 4th graders made for themselves this year. Of course, I loved the reading goals!
- Mrs. Cook was on the floor with her students modeling using the manipulatives so that her students knew what to do...practicing counting objects and recording numbers.
Check it out:
Today is #NationalDayOnWriting so here are some links to articles about writing that I read recently:
Building writing stamina: http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/pump-up-the-volume/
Lots of reasons to write! http://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-we-have-to-write-todd-finley
And this was an interesting commentary about focusing on levels of books: