I believe that literacy is the culture of a classroom, not simply subject matter I teach. It's not simply reading and writing. Love for reading and writing should be intrinsic, and it is my job to convey my passion for reading to my students. I have over 800 books in my personal classroom library, and I get to know my students so I can help them choose books they can emotionally connect with. I teach intentionally using complex text so that students can use text evidence to prove their inferences. I also include non-fiction reading to increase content knowledge. I have a passion for reading and get excited when kids come to a part in a book where they can't contain their enthusiasm. Many days, I have kids come to me at recess and tell me they NEED to talk to me about their book. WOW!!!!! That is true reading! It gives me a sense of pride knowing that books can open a world to kids that they may never see for themselves.
I believe effective math instruction begins with a conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts and how they work together. Kids need to be able to apply mathematical practices in order to monitor their own learning. It is my job to help them visualize and make meaning by drawing models, using manipulatives, and teaching them to ask, "Does this make sense?" I need to help students build knowledge by focusing deeper within concepts, link multiple skills so that mathematical learning is coherent, and increase rigor so that students are practicing fluency, gaining problem solving strategies, and applying their learning to their life.
I am meeting with two students to target specific skills I identified based on formative assessments. I meet with small groups each Friday to clarify misconceptions and intentionally focus on specific strategies that may not have been mastered during core instruction. I meet with students one-on-one as needed.
ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: Communication
I believe communication is key to building and retaining knowledge and engagement in learning. Most activities can be done alone, on a worksheet, or with students answering questions I create. By teaching, modeling, and supporting students taking risks, they ask their own questions and control their learning. Modeling appropriate communication with and among students builds rapport and respect in my classroom. Learning needs to be purposeful and intentional. My kids know what they are learning and why it is important to them. By explaining our learning, listening to the kids, and allowing them to have control in the classroom, I am able to build relationships that are essential. I communicate with them so that they can communicate with each other to increase rigor and promote an environment of excitement about knowledge and learning.
ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: Strategies for Critical Thinking
USING VISUAL CHUNKING TO INCREASE ENGAGEMENT AND CONCEPT MASTERY
I believe active engagement is not only everyone being physically involved in an activity and communicating. The communication must involve thinking. Kids feel like they need to always have the "right" answer. They don't realize that one of the most important elements of learning is the active thinking. I must scaffold their thinking and help them organize it in a visual way. I use t-charts and 3 column charts daily. These pictures show how I have used 3-column charts or a modification of them to help students think deeper about concepts. Students interact with anchor charts posting their thinking on sticky notes. Students are always at the center of learning....they should do the most talking and working.
I believe that a major teaching focus should be on the strategy as much as the content. When teaching students to read, I focus on word attack skills and comprehension strategies. When teaching mathematical concepts, I focus on strategies to solve problems and persevere. When teaching science and social studies concepts, I don't just teach the content for memorization. I focus on strategies to take notes, to chunk concepts into meaningful parts, and to find ways to make connections. I want my students to be independent thinkers who can chunk information on their own without me telling them how and when to do it.
I took my learning from the design collaborative process I participated with in Seattle and worked with my school's leadership team to design literacy conversations as we began a journey into standards based unit design. This video is the first K-2 conversation we had after an initial vertical standards alignment professional learning experience which I collaborated to develop and lead. Each Friday from January-May 2015, I planned with primary teachers one-on-one and in small groups for half a day while another teacher taught my 5th grade students.
As part of my literacy leadership in 2015, I collaborated with primary teachers and taught modeled lessons in their classrooms. Our main goal was to improve our implementation of the 3 ELA shifts and stay congruent to the standards, skills, and strategies targeted. We also had conversations about the importance of reading and writing being taught together as a coherent element of daily literacy instruction using complex text and teaching students to find text evidence and apply to writing. By being a classroom teacher, teachers trusted me because I was teaching along with them implementing the same strategies they were implementing. This video is a kindergarten classroom. This teacher expressed interest in improving her purposeful and intentional writing conferring.