Here we are at week 3 in the school year. For each of these three weeks, I have been able to spend one week each in the three schools that I work with. This actually has been a priviledge for me, to see some amazing work in action and be able to work with teachers that are really focused on using ideas that have been proven to help kids become more successful learners. The three things that have been the most exciting these three weeks are: the Daily 5, creating Learning Profiles to inform teaching, and using the Gini-Newman concept of “Cascading Curriculum” to engage students by giving them a real purpose for learning.
Most of you know that the Daily 5 is a literacy structure that is fantastic for both providing DIFFERENTIATION and CONSISTENCY in the classroom. It engages students and teaches them independence in reading and writing. One of the teachers I am working with is introducing this structure into her class of grade 2/3 combined. Each week she introduces a new literacy “task” that the students practice until they can both achieve the task being learned and transition between tasks successfully. I have been observing the Daily 5 in action and later the teacher and I are able to discuss what students were doing, how to tweak things for success, who might need a little more structure to be successfull etc.. I know that she has mentioned that the extra set of eyes while she is going through this process, as well as the follow up conversations have been really helpful. I hope more teachers look at this program as it is fantastic!
I am also working with a number of teachers to build learning profiles on their students. These teachers would like to try some DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION with their students and are using the learning profiles as a starting point. Differentiation works best when you know your students. Once the profiles are built, the next steps will be to “tweak” (I use that word a lot, I know!) many of the lessons they currently use to better match the learner profiles in the room. I’ll keep you posted on how we do that in a future post!
Ever since I attented the Garfield Gini-Newman session at Division Office last year, I have been hoping to find a teacher that wanted to try the “Cascading Curriculum” idea of putting a a “transcendent” question out to the students BEFORE a unit of study. This question will connect the ‘big idea” from the curriculum to the students lives and the world they live in. I helps give meaning to the learning for the students. At the same time, the students are presented with a “challenge” that they will complete that produces evidence of their learning in the unit and reflect one of the six critical thinking prompts. Through-out the unit the students are presented with Mini-Challenges that reflect the broad understandings the students need to know to be able to complete the challenge. Currently I am working with a grade 9 science teacher who is using this method in his electricity unit. The students were given the challenge that by the end of the unit they are going to have to invent an electrical device that somehow makes human’s life a little easier. The teacher is currently working on the mini-challenges so that the grade 9s have the background knowledge they need to meet the challenge. As he finishes each mini challenge, he has the students go back and readdress their ideas for the invention, based on their new learnings. He has found the students more engaged because they are more clear about the purpose for the learning.
Parkland teachers Rock!!