On BCPS Blue Day this year, 4th grade students at Rodgers Forge Elementary took on a challenging mission: to fly drones from a take-off point to a landing pad, while their drone was pulling a BCPS Blue banner that was able to be read by others on the ground.
The students used a modified version of the engineering design process in order to attach their banners securely in a way that would make the readable in flight. They attempted several test flights, made adjustments, and tested again. These 4th graders not only completed their mission, but they learned a great deal about flight concepts and applied that to control the drones as well.
In Ms. Maione’s Spanish 6 classroom, students are encouraged and expected to personalize their learning. For Cindi and Elena, this often means using Wixie.
As a former Warren Elementary student, Cindi had many opportunities to learn and practice Wixie. For Elena, who came to Cockeysville Middle from a private school, that wasn’t the case. Both girls, however, are big fans of the program.
“I think it’s easy to use,” says Cindi. She adds, “Some people get pretty shy saying things out loud and Wixie helps you write it the way you want to say it.”
Elena, who taught herself how to use Wixie, shares, “It’s easy to use and makes learning more fun, like making shapes and writing things your own way.”
Both girls agree that the Wixie feature they most like is the voice recorder. “It really helps when you’re a shy student,” they both expressed. They also enjoy the variety of images that are available, as well as the drawing features and the stickers. “Wixie is really good for creative things!”
While they’ve both used other web tools for some Spanish assignments, two of their favorites are Wixie projects; All About Me and Lunches Around the World.
Elena enjoyed putting her information all onto one page, while Cindi preferred to use many pages, each with a different fact. They liked having the choice to demonstrate their learning in the way that made the most sense to them and allowed them to show their creative sides.
For the Lunches Around the World assignment, students were asked to compare their lunch here in the United States with student lunches in Spanish speaking countries. Cindi compared her typical lunch to kids in Brasil.
Elena, on the other hand, was given the opportunity to personalize hers even further. With both of her parents born in Germany, and having made many trips there to visit family, Ms. Maione allowed Elena to compare her lunch to the typical lunch of students in Germany.
Having the freedom to make many choices about their learning, including which tool is best, is just one of the many things both students love about their Spanish 6 class.
After taking a quarter 1 STAT Chat survey created by myself, I found that CLETS teachers were interested and had questions about Classflow. I then talked with our admin about our dates for the next extended grade level meetings. I arranged for Jennifer Dingle, our BCPS Classflow consultant, to attend our extended grade level meetings. The meetings would begin with our admin and data review. The second half would be with teachers, Jennifer, and I producing Classflow lessons or activities based on the data that was reviewed. At a previous TBT (Team Building Tuesday), we brainstormed questions and concerns that we had about Classflow. Teachers came with various background knowledge of Classflow. We first experienced Classflow from a student’s point of view. We engaged with the various activities and tools that Classflow had to offer. Teachers were then given time to create their own Classflow resources. Each grade level was able to customize and personalize their Classflow creation. Some teachers started from scratch while others “shopped” around the marketplace to see what was available for use. Teachers in grades K-5 were ready to immediately take their new learning back to their students right after their exploration! Primary teachers were highly motivated by some of the new activities that Classflow had to offer while intermediate teachers were engaged with creating lessons for small group instruction. We were highly grateful to have Jennifer attend our extended grade level meetings to work one on one with teachers. We challenged her in a positive way and had tons of fun!
I am looking forward to hosting my next optional PD as a Blackboard online Meet Up involving Classflow. Teachers will share some of their favorite Classflow tools that they have been exploring with. Teachers will be able to collaborate with future Classflow ideas and express continued questions.
For the 2017-2018 school year, I made the commitment to create a blended, personalized, and responsive classroom by engaging in a coaching relationship with our STAT Teacher, Maggie Cummins. My purpose in seeking out an instructional coach lies in sustaining a relationship of co-reflection that will impact positive achievement for my students.
Our first step was to identify a vision and goal for my classroom. My vision was to have a blended classroom, in which students would collect evidence from digital sources, hands on investigations, and teacher direct instruction in order to answer scientific questions. This evidence collection would occur in a personalized setting making the content relevant and meaningful with feedback cycles that would promote metacognition.
The next step was to invite Maggie into my chemistry classroom to script a lesson. She scripted a lesson in which I used the item analysis feature on a BCPSOne quiz to identify gaps in student learning on a specific concept. I used that data to form targeted small groups, in real time and address misconceptions. While I was pulling small groups, I used a recorded Office Mix lecture to deliver direct instruction on a new concept.
Once Maggie scripted the lesson, she developed coaching questions that helped me to uncover patterns and barriers in my instruction. A barrier for me was in the linear formation of the lesson the addressed student who were in the “middle or low” for achievement on the standard; but still leaving my achieving students asking for more.
Through the coaching conversation, we were able to identify some structures and strategies, such as Must Do/May Do, to enhance choice for students to work in either a digital or hands-on environment.
One of the keys to sustaining the transformation of my class has been the use of a long-range unit plan that was co-designed with the chemistry professional learning community (PLC) at Chesapeake High School. This map allowed my PLC to experiment with various instructional strategies; but still have data discussions around commonly assessed standards.
Some other strategies that have arisen from the coaching conversation include the use of a personalized agenda and student friendly unit plan for students to track their progress through the standards, content (instruction, videos, simulations, text) embedded with formative quizzes (that provide feedback) using BCPSOne Tests and Quizzes function, and literacy strategies for synthesis of content and collaboration among students.
As a result of the continued coaching relationship, we (the STAT teacher and myself) are able to personalize the needs of my students at Chesapeake High School in a blended and responsive learning environment.
The coaching cycle has allowed me as an instructional leader, lead teacher and instructional coach to take risks and become even more open to feedback due to the evident positive impact it has had on my colleagues and students.
At Windsor Mill Middle School, Greenlight Learning Walks are the new Pineapple Charts. Last year, Discovery Ed Coach, Dawn Bray, suggested a Greenlight system she saw at a school in Bloomington, Indiana where teachers posted a green light outside their doors when they wanted faculty and staff to drop in and see the innovative things happening in their classrooms. WMMS Inquiry-Team Facilitators mapped out the logistics of what the Greenlight plan could look like with the school’s PLCs, i.e. Inquiry Teams, and came up with the idea of Greenlight Learning Walks. Between December and January, each of the three Inquiry Teams has a two-week window exclusive to their team where they open their doors to showcase an activity or strategy they have learned during Inquiry-Team PD. The times and dates for the Learning Walks are posted on a calendar in the hallway. All teachers will both host and visit one Greenlight Learning Walk by the end of January. Beginning in February any teacher can then host or visit a Greenlight Learning Walk at any time. Physical Education Department Chair Natalie Crenshaw is on the Project-Based Learning Inquiry Team and opened her doors in December for visitors to see the work students did this quarter designing and teaching units from the Health curriculum. Crenshaw said, “It was helpful to have other professionals come in to my classroom and give me positive feedback. It gave me more confidence as a teacher to know that other professionals will take something away to use in their lessons.”
“I am thankful for waking up this morning and having loved ones to support me.” “I am thankful for my mom and dad and family…for my friends…for having an education…for a place to live.” Students at Windsor Mill Middle School pressed pause the Monday before Thanksgiving to reflect on all they are thankful for in their lives. Art Teacher, April Magin, and her students designed and made hearts for every student in the school and then showcased them in the main hallway for students to see each day. The activity was part of a larger project this year at Windsor Mill. In August, teachers gathered to create a Common-Language Plan to ensure that all teachers and students would know and use the same language, practices, and procedures throughout the school with, among other areas, the devices and technology, classroom and hall behaviors, and learner-centered instruction. Extended homerooms on Mondays were built into the schedule to revisit the Common-Language Plan regularly and provide opportunities for relationship building. The “I am Thankful for” activity was one such activity. In the new year, student clubs will bring their ideas to the Extended Homeroom. The Green Club is already ready and eager to inspire the students of Windsor Mill to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and yes, be thankful for the environment.
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.