For my 2017/2018 Flex Day I spent time on the APEX Educator Academy. This year I had multiple students begin using APEX as a source of online learning as either credit recovery or as an alternative learning system. At first I was skeptical of using this system or any online learning system for students. After going through many videos and tutorials on the Educator Academy I found that APEX has a ton of really good resources for teachers.
In addition to the Educator Academy they also have archived webinars that cover the curriculum, how to motivate students, and how to prepare students for EOCE’s using APEX courses. The different courses and webinars vary in length and can really benefit someone who is just getting started with online classes or as a refresher. I understand that not all teachers will need training on APEX classes or online courses, but truth be told, I assumed I wouldn't need them at the end of last year. It wasn’t that I was closed off to the idea of having my students take online classes, I just was unaware of the possibilities that they offer to our diverse group of students.
One of the biggest parts of being an educator is being flexible and always being willing to learn new ways that can better benefit a student population that is diverse and has totally different needs. Having the possibility of allowing students to take some classes online gives us as educators some new and exciting possibilities.
When I started my journey as an elementary art teacher, at twenty-two years old, I followed my passions. Whatever I was “feeling” I went for. If I was curious about a particular art movement, artist or style I simply built a lesson around it and taught it to my students. In this way, I was always highly engaged in what I was doing. All of my work was relevant to me because it flowed from my own insatiable curiosity, ongoing research and experimentation. Since I was fascinated with what I was doing and learning it was only natural that my personal engagement in the learning would transfer to my students. Because we were having so much fun getting lost in the process of learning and exploring together my relationships with students thrived with little effort....Read More...
For my flex day, I read the book Differentiated Instructional Strategies One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gayle H. Gregory and Carolyn Chapman. This book had many discussions including creating a climate for learning, knowing the learner, assessing the learner, instructional strategies for student success, and curriculum approaches for differentiated classrooms. This book had a lot of strategies that I used in my classroom.
I had each student in my classroom take a learning style survey to determine what style of learning was best for them. I also gave my students the four corner pre-assessment that can be used to access prior knowledge of the subject. One of the instructional strategies I used was the comparing two things flow chart. I also taught the students social skill of listening to others ( what it looks like, what it sounds like, and what it feels like). I have used many curriculum approaches for differentiating in my classroom.
Stacie Syler-Alternative Education Coordinator-has worked to deepen her knowledge of Conscious Discipline, which will help better equip students with self-regulation skills.
Below, you will find pictures of a few of the many daily ways Conscious Discipline is embedded in our day to day routine. You will see:
Brain State Scenarios
Adult Says: It is time to put our phones away and get started our work.
Student: Student looks up and glares at teacher, and continues playing on phone.
A: Emotional State- while the student is not being verbal, they are still communicating their unhappiness with the teacher’s direction. They are not in rage (survival) They are not in executive (because they are not able to access appropriate skills to follow directions)
Adult Says: Let’s walk down the stairs and get on the bus.
Student: Walks down the stairs and then runs down the sidewalk and does not respond to teachers.
A: Survival. Something has happened to make this child feel threatened or enraged. They are not communicating, responding or accessing any skills. They are lacking safety.
Student 1: Get away from me.
Student 2: Shut the hell up
A: Emotional. They are verbalizing. They are both frustrated and not communicating effectively.
Students are playing a game.
Student 1: Dude you are cheating!
Student 2: No I am not! Those are the rules!
A: Emotional. Verbalizing, both frustrated and not communicating effectively. Survival would be _____ (punching someone, throwing cards and walking away, etc) Executive would have been ___ seeking clarification of the rules.
Adult: It is time to get started on our binders!
Student 2: Curls up in bean bag and does not make any verbal responses.
Student 3: Says, this seems challenging, I will need your help with this.
Student 4: No, those are stupid I am not doing it. I hate them!
A. Survival- shut down, waving the white flag, surrendering to the task at hand.
B. Executive- thinking clearly and processing the challenge ahead
C. Emotional- frustrated and lashing out verbally
Student 1: Hey, do you want to play basketball at recess today?
Student 2: Sorry, my stomach hurts. Maybe we can play tomorrow.
Student 3: Ok, hope you feel better!
A. Executive state. Student responded thoughtfully and appropriately declined. The student (even though they might have felt disappointed, responded respectfully)
Taking on a new position as a reading coach meant completing a Pathways to Reading training. I had heard of the program from fellow K-2 teachers and often heard the language they used during reading instruction, however I did not realize how beneficial the program was to reading success until experiencing and learning first hand how to implement the Pathways reading curriculum. A goal of Pathways to Reading is prevention of early reading problems for students in Kindergarten to 2nd grade and serve as an intervention for students who are struggling with reading in 3rd to 5th grade. My training sessions strengthened my understanding that successful readers use a combination of strong decoding skills that help support their ability to comprehend a variety of text. As part of my training, I recorded my learning. Use the following link to access my notes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10rgJPmz6hNNBaWmcF3gJ_15C-ltvf1BjBzq9tmUUD3o/edit?usp=sharing
A Change in Practice
An incredible amount of learning took place over 5 days. The idea that continued to be at the forefront of my planning and teaching was that when students are familiar and confident in the routines, procedures, and language used, they are more readily able to devote their effort to content and learning. I realized the power of using common routines and languages to support early readers. When students came to small group, I intentionally used language I knew was embedded within the Pathways to Reading curriculum to help guide them to decoding text. In addition, I learned how to help guide students through the sounds of Vowel Town. In small group, we consistently practice the sounds letters can make. As part of my planning, I select some vocabulary that contains vowel patterns from Vowel Town, so that students can apply their understanding of these vowel patterns in context. Students have also learned to use their Vowel Town mats while reading to decode unfamiliar words. I have noticed an increase in my students’ independent use of their Vowel Town mats when reading. Another resource I have used with small groups are the Segment and Write whiteboards. To strengthen our phonemic awareness, students begin by stretching words and counting sounds. Once, students have a strong command of segmenting words into sounds, we move to using the whiteboards to match letters to sounds. We start by determining the number of sounds. Students then point to each sound dot and make the sound that goes there. Finally, students select letters to build the word. To check, students “poke” each sound, and finally blend the sounds together to say the word. The whiteboards help give students a visual with the sound dots as they orally count the sounds in words. Since students use these same materials in class, they are more familiar with how to use them and can focus on the content rather than procedures for use.
Reflect and Refine
Thinking about my practice this year, I have realized that there is more I can and want to do with the Pathways Reading training I received. One of my goals is to work more closely with classroom teachers, to ensure my pacing matches theirs. I can use common language to help support learning students are receiving with their classroom teacher. Another goal is to have collaborative conversations with teachers about the data gained from the Pathways to Reading assessments. This will help guide my teaching with small group and possibly open opportunities to engage in a collaborative coaching cycle. Moving forward, I would also like to create personal learning journals where students can list words they come across while reading that contain Vowel Town patterns. I envision this being a part of our word work time together. I feel I have a solid foundation with using Pathways to Reading strategies with students, however I am eager to dig deeper and take my practice to the next level, so that I can be a support for Elkhorn teachers and readers.
Book Study- Passion for Learning: How Project-Based Learning Meets the Needs of 21st Century Students- Terri Irons, ESHS
After 25 years in education I can honestly say when our high school started the plan to become a flexible learning school that primarily utilizes Project-Based Learning, I was feeling way out of my element. I have endured numerous educational trends, witnessed countless administrators introduce me to new techniques or ideas that were the same as others I had tried in the past but with a new name. However, I really think this one is different. The student focused approach is something I believe every teacher tries to do but this method puts the students in the driver’s seat, they are accountable for pursuing their own unique ideas with teachers along to help as a resource and guide. It requires students to be self motivated, which is going to be the most difficult change. Students are conditioned to wait for teachers to tell them what they are learning whether that’s what they enjoy or not. They struggle with the new freedom to explore their own interests and ideas.
As a teacher in this new model, I struggle with the same thing as the students, the change in my role. I was taught to be the instructional leader, and to an extent that is still my role, however, now I am more of a leader who plants the seed and then provides support to watch the student grow and explore on their own. I struggle to leave the old behind, where I provide the information and expect them to absorb it. I haven’t felt so unsure about anything since I was dropped in front of 25 fresh faces waiting to learn from me 25 years ago. Change is good, I am hopeful that this new trend in education opens up the imagination and ingenuity locked inside our students. I also hope I can foster this growth and grow myself.
This book provided me with a lot of information about why we should do this and what the role of student and teacher should be. The only thing left is the long road of implementation and changing the mindset of students, teachers, and parents.
This is a resource build by the ESSD40 staff for to aid in transforming teaching and learning.
Inspire. Empower. Challenge.
Learning Out loud