Authentic Learning

Teachers Throwing Out Grades

Have you heard about Teachers Throwing Out Grades?  It is a grass roots movement by wonderful folks, Mark Barnes and Starr Sackstein.  These are definitely two folks you want to follow.  They are forward thinkers and ask the question, “Why do we give grades to our students and what does it mean to get an 89?”  It is really changing a mindset of assessment, not standardize testing, but how we give grades on a report card. Really, for me to do it justice, you have to visit Mark’s page.   There is a VERY active facebook page that you can access here.  When we start to discuss and redesign report cards, which we will in the near future (don’t ask when, I don’t have the answer) check out some of the thoughts within this group.  A twitter chat also happens on Mondays at 7:00p.m. using the hashtag #TTOG.  You can always lurk!!  Here is Mark at TEDx explaining his formula for Assessment 3.0.  Food for thought!  Enjoy the week!


Other News

  • Bus Duty for March 9-March 20 Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor, Pat Williams  Upcoming Bus Duty: March 23- April 10:  Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson
  • Please check out the email I sent regarding dismissal.  Thanks!
  • All activities for the March 13th half day are on MLP.  Please sign up prior to midnight March 13th!
  • Our next staff meeting is March 26th.  Right before spring break!
  • Fire Inspection on March 27th:  Some of the violations the fire inspector will be looking for would be blocked emerg. windows, extension cords being used instead of power strips or extension cords plugged into power strips, coffee pots, hot plates or toasters in classrooms, items piled on top of cupboards too close to ceiling, missing electrical cover & switch plates, covered classroom door windows, missing fire retardant tags on furniture, door wedges,  paper on the walls close to entry & exit doors.  Please survey your room and fix any violations you can or contact Marty if you have any problems.
  • We will do another Boogie Friday on March 27th for your planning purposes.
  • Below are the dates for state exams.  I will get a revised schedule out for at least ELA and Math soon.  Thanks all!
  • My friend Lisa Meade and I posted a blog we wrote together called “A Seat at the Table”    Please check it out!
  • My good friend Tony Sinanis wrote “41 Things I Know About Education”  A GREAT read!
  • I will be starting up walk through evaluations again to get folks in the 3-5 grade levels completed prior to April NYS testing, and then hit lower levels and then DONE, and get ready for domain 4 and end of year meetings.
  • Speaking of NYS Testing.  April is the BIG month.  Here are dates for NYS tests:
    • ELA April 14, 15, 16
    • Math April 22, 3, 24
    • 4th Grade Science Performance May 21 Written: June 1
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

(From March 4, 2015 ASCD SmartBrief)

Study reveals benefits of active learning

Students working together in computing class

Active learning may be the key to positive student outcomes, according to a recent study. Researchers examined active learning in flipped and nonflipped biology classes and found that the students in both classes posted equivalent achievement at the end of the semester. T.H.E. Journal (3/3)

Can learning through play benefit all students?
Educators in early grades — and more recently middle grades — are incorporating play in learning, writes Hilary Conklin, an associate professor at DePaul University and fellow with the OpEd Project. She notes that recent research supports learning through play for all students, even high-schoolers. (3/3)

Insect study offers lessons in math, other core subjects
Some students in a Florida school district learned math, science and other core subjects by studying various insects. The project required students to work in groups during research and design presentations to share with peers and family. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (3/2)

Enrollment in teacher-training programs declines in some states
Several states are reporting drops in enrollment in teacher-training programs, including California, where enrollment has fallen by more than half over five years. Officials say the cause is unclear, but some point to issues such as the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and limited budgets. National Public Radio/nprEd blog (3/3)

What are the components of a successful one-to-one program?
The implementation of a one-to-one program doesn’t mean all students need to have the same device, writes Bob Nelson, superintendent of schools for Chawanakee Unified School District in California. In this blog post, he highlights factors for a successful one-on-one program. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (3/3)

States’ opt-out policies for tests are in state of evolution, report finds
Policies and consequences for opting out of standardized tests are inconsistent across states, according to a recent study by the Education Commission of the States. “This is such a new issue, you could easily see how all of these policies are constantly evolving,” ECS researcher and study co-author Julie Rowland said. Education Week (tiered subscription model)/State EdWatch blog (3/3)

NCLB rewrite could allow local tests to replace state assessments
National Journal (3/2)

Research IDs barriers to physical activity in youths
Feeling self-conscious is the leading factor preventing children and teens from exercising, followed by a lack of enjoyment, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association meeting. However, researchers found that having friends who were physically active was associated with increased levels of physical activity.HealthDay News (3/3)

Authentic Learning

I was sharing with a teacher the other day as we reflected on a lesson of the advantage that as a lead learner and leader how I have the opportunity to visit all classrooms at East Side and see the progression of learning.  The discussion ensued about how it is fantastic to see students grow as learners, simply starting to turn to their shoulder buddy in a PreK classroom and talk about a question posed, to watch a 5th grade classroom simply go into a cooperative group, easily, to discuss characteristics of a novel such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardwrobe.  This isn’t just something that comes with osmosis, but is careful, systematic teaching and modeling that you all do throughout the years to get our students to this level of cooperative learninng, dialogue and discussion as you use protocols for inquiry.

It hasn’t always been this way.  Remember times of the end of the unit test, the memorization.  There are times when we do need to do this, but do we need to do it all of the time?  Gone are the days of the teacher led lecture, when the teacher is the ONLY voice and memorization of facts was the only method.  How boring is that?  Larissa Pahomov, the author of Authentic Learning in the Digital Age states that “When we ask students to memorize content that they are never going to apply to a task, they quickly forget it.  Why base education on a rudimentary skill?”  Think about it.  What would it be like to have students be able to  have authentic learning with inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection?  Where the teacher takes the role of the facilator and guide on the side rather than “sage on the stage.”  This is a total shift in mindset of how school run.  (Larissa Pahomov and the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA created this type of High School.  It’s a movement that is taking off in various areas.)

In the elementary grades, we need to set the foundational skills for our students, but this doesn’t mean we ignore fostering inquiry, project based learning, wonder, and imagination.  We cannot ignore what is happening in their world, like the blending of technology into the curriculum or project based learning activities.  But you say, “Vicki, we can’t do it because we are so tied to the common core curriculum, the modules, the SuperKids curriculum.  We are worried about our test scores.  We don’t have the time.  We are stressed.”  Yes, yes, and yes.  But, if we know what is right for kids, then we will figure out how to teach this in a way that will be not a “cookie cutter” approach.  Know the essential questions for learning, identify what students need to learn, build a flexible framework for assessment, and model inquiry on a daily basis.  Also, check out Larissa’s first chapter here.  It is geared to secondary, but we can glimpse into what our students SHOULD experience as high school students and where we need to get them to so they can be productive students and citizens!  Have a great week.


Other News

  • Bus Duty for Dec 8- Dec 19:  Team 8:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Gina Caldwell Upcoming bus duty: Jan 5 – Jan 16 Team 9:  Jessica Serviss, Teresa Kiechle, Brandi LaRue, Denise Croasedaile
  • We will be sending out the 2015-2016 Budget Memo this week.  Please be congizant of spending next year.  Thank you!
  • Thank you Paula again for opening your house for our staff party!
  • There is a staff meeting this Thursday at 7:30a.m.
  • For teachers who received my email about the second walk through evaluation, please make sure you schedule a time with Mrs. Sheen on my calendar before the break.  Thank you for your help!
  • The Sheriffs Department will be here December 15th and 16th to get our students their picture id’s for the Operation Safe Child id’s for your planning purposes.
  • I have been published in my professional organization’s SAANYS Vanguard journal here about being a Lead Learner.  It is a reflection of our building and the East Side staff!  You ALL make me that much better!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!   Just do right!

Other Items of Interest (Read at your leisure!)

  • Although more accurately called active participation techniquesrather than student engagement strategies, this list includes good suggestions, nonetheless.
  • Although it is unclear whether New York will adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, these sample assessment tasks can suggest a direction for science, nonetheless. There’s a lot to them.
  • The Upstate Cancer Center has a head and neck cancer awareness campaign going on now, through education and art. This explanation includes resources for learning about it.
  • The title of this post, “Investigating Authentic Questions,” doesn’t do it justice. There are many suggestions and resources here related to the goal of inquiry.
  • Here are some perspectives about Project-Based Learning, from students and from parents.
  • Not only is Project-Based Learning effective at the elementary level, it can also close achievement gaps. This paper describes a second-grade social studies PBL approach.
  • This list provides ten great reasons for Project-Based Learning (in plain, compelling language).
  • Grant Wiggins has some concerns about NY’s 8th grade math test… big concerns about the questions and their alignment with the Common Core, as well as with their construction. You can read about it here.
  • Don’t forget that students can’t learn from books that they can’t read, says Richard Allington. This points out the need for scaffolding and other supports.
  • Mike Mattos told us that most schools don’t have a Tier 2 or Tier 3 problem; they have a what-we-do-all-day-long problem. Asking (and investigating) these questions can help us develop a better system of RTI and for “all-day-long.”
  • The essential characteristics of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), explained in this infographic, will help you to build common understanding about just what it means to be a PLC.
  • The four questions of a PLC have been translated into student-centered language.
  • This Ignite! Session points out some common decisions in math classes that we never think about… but should. Annie Fetter points out the hazards of being “All what, no why.” By the way, many of these things apply to all classrooms, not just math! Cliques are stronger at some schools that at others. Size matters, according to this research. Tracking matters, too.
  • Watch the story of one schools’ implementation of technology in the classroom as part of a bigger shift toward a collaborative future (and away from traditional silos).

 A Touch of Humor

Check out this Zazzle product!