Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Learning from Others

Our classroom is a revolving door for students, teachers, parents, administrators, even community members. We love having people pass through our learning environment to check out our space and see the exciting things our students are doing on an hourly basis. I used to be intimidated by having people observe, now I welcome the opportunity. It gives us the chance to showcase our students' amazing effort and share the exciting happenings in T.E.A.M. Togetherness!

Earlier this fall, Angela and I were approached by the Institute @ CESA #1 with the opportunity to participate in a Round Robin. Typically we are the ones with the teachers rotating through, but yesterday Angela and I had the pleasure of touring KM Explore and the F.L.I.G.H.T Academy within Horning Middle School. It's always difficult when both of us are out of our space at the same time, but yesterday was totally worth it. I always walk away from these observations with my head spinning with new ideas- things I can't wait to try with our own students.

Every time we have had the opportunity to meet with other teachers along the personalized learning journey, we learn something new and bring pieces of their world back to our own (I only hope we do that for others as well). Yesterday was no exception! I walked into a Social Studies Seminar at F.L.I.G.H.T. Academy, and after a brief conversation with a very well-spoken middle school girl, I realized this was something I wanted to start in our space. Immediately.

During a 2am feeding of my daughter Piper, I started brainstorming how I could implement "seminars" in our math workshop. We've used a Bullpen (taken from another wonderful classroom model) to offer reteaching or enrichment opportunities, but typically the students participating in the Bullpen are dictated by the teachers in the space. We always have an optional Bullpen for those that feel they're struggling, but it's not as used as we'd like. This morning, after an 8am staff meeting, I ran back to the room, grabbed a white board easel, and started a Seminar Sign Up.

Before our mini lesson, we told the class about our site visits yesterday and explained to our them that Math Seminars would give them an opportunity to advocate for themselves and seek support in a given topic of need or interest. To start, we decided to address learning targets that have come up within our current unit, but explained that in the future we hope to address students' areas of growth, strength, and interest. This morning's focus was on Subtracting Decimals across Zeros and Writing and Solving Open Number Sentences- two areas we felt students could use additional modeling.

It was so rewarding to watch the students race over to sign up for the seminar sessions. By the time 9:45am rolled around we were ready for our first crew. Way to take charge of your learning T.E.A.M. Togetherness! Next up...Socratic Seminar. Stay tuned!

~ Kate

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