Sunday, November 30, 2014

Learning Models All Around

We have the tremendous fortune of working with fantastic teachers at our school. We have so many teachers that are working on establishing best practices to support personalized learning. Two of the many teachers that are making an impact are Michele Baumann and Amy Digman. Michele and Amy have been doing some amazing work with team teaching math workshop. They flexibly group their students, and provide personalized learning for their combined math classes. They were also integral in the development of our school's re-purposing of our library into a Learning Lab. 

A while back, Kate posted about the Learning Models that we use in math to provide voice, choice, and differentiation for our kiddos. We have found the work that our students do on these learning models to be more insightful than our end of unit assessments dictated by the textbook. We feel the work they complete is more authentic and a better representation of what they can do with regards to the standards. Michele and Amy recently let us know that they brought our idea for learning models down to the kindergarten levels. The result...MAGIC! 

Michele & Amy's Learning Model Rubric (click to see the entire thing!)
Our wonderful kindergarten friends wanted to share their great learning models with our 5th graders. Our students LOVED seeing the hard work the little ones did. Our students then got to share their learning models with them. For us, watching our youngest and oldest share and discuss mathematics was heartwarming. 

Seeing the progression of their mathematics understanding from where they start to where they can end up really helped solidify the value in the hard work we do.

Here are some examples of the "young" and the "old":

Kindergarten Measurement Learning Models

5th Grade 

~Angela :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

5th Annual CESA 1 Convening Conference

We were so fortunate to spend November 3rd and 4th at the CESA 1 Convening Conference. The Institute at CESA 1 is a fantastic organization that focuses on supporting personalized learning initiatives in school districts. We are so lucky to be partnered with them and to have them so close to us here in southeastern Wisconsin! The Institute's influence is growing, and they now impact school districts across the country. For the last 5 years, they have hosted a conference surrounding personalized learning.

Last year was our first year attending, and we were in awe of the amazing talent and ideas that we are surrounded with. We left with ideas that we could implement the next day and connections with others that continue to influence our own work. This year, we had the tremendous honor of presenting about our work with TEAM Togetherness.

Our presentation (click image to view)
Minus a few "technical difficulties" with internet connection, we had a great audience. They were engaged and asked fantastic questions. It is so humbling to us to know that our work is helping so many others on their own journeys. 

For me, however, the greatest part of the Convening is the learning from others. We learned from some amazing middle school teachers from the Muskego-Norway School district. Their work with project based learning is inspiring. My head was spinning with ways we could incorporate that work in TEAM Togetherness. We learned new ideas for math workshop from teachers in Pewaukee. We also heard from two amazing keynote speakers: Alfie Kohn and Diana Laufenberg.

Something that really resonated with me was listening to Diana Laufenberg. She spoke a lot about "failure." One of the best sticking points for was the difference between "blame-worthy failure" and "praise-worthy failure." In our punitive society, we often see failure as a negative. When, truly, we should celebrate the small failures that lead us to success. In the classroom, should we not praise the bumps in the road as moments of learning? Our students should not view failure as something they should fear, but rather, as something that helps them on the path to their personal success. One of my favorite things that she shared (and she shared MANY) was this video of a young boy demonstrating praise-worthy failure. What if all of our students had this kind of excitement and understanding of "failure?"

Thank you, Institute, for including us in the Convening this year. It was two days of fun, two days of connecting and networking, and most importantly, two days of learning that we can use to push ourselves even further.