#IMMOOC I’m a risk taker.

I’m a risk taker. I love to learn new things from twitter, podcasts, books, friends, and even billboards! I enjoy trying new things with my students and helping them find enjoyment in learning. I truly believe that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life! I see it as my mission to help children find a love of learning that will last them their lifetime. My purpose is to help them find their passion and explore it. I teach first grade and I constantly think about my students as adults. What I design for them in first grade will help them in their future.

I #innovate4littles in my classroom because they CAN ! The first time I tried Genius Hour, I did it because I just knew it couldn’t be done with littles and boy was I wrong! At the time I taught kindergarten and they ran with it. Littles are natural risk takers because no one has told them they can’t yet and so they believe they can! That year, my littles inspired me to be a risk taker through their hard work, learning, and application of standards and content though self guided experiences in Genius Hour.

I am a risk taker for my littles because they take risks everyday. I empathize with them because it must be so scary! So, I join in and model taking risks, failing, trying again, and hopefully succeeding. I hope that my risk taking inspires them to love learning for the rest of their lives and become innovators of whatever they choose to have a passion for. I hope that my littles never work a day in their lives!

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#wakeTLC #PBLitsnothard

#WakeTLC was an amazing opportunity provided to me and other teacher leaders by our district. They were looking for teacher leaders to embark on a self/team guided professional development journey. We were given the agency to choose from Instructional Design, 4Cs, and Project Based Learning (PBL). My group of amazing educators (Kara Damico, Betsy Archer, Rachel Gates, Gloria Butler, Ashlee Wackerly, and Kim Collins) decided to focus on PBL. We entered this journey from all different experiences and background knowledge about PBL. We ranged from not even really understanding what PBL is to others who had dabbled a bit in PBL. Together we dove in to the world of PBL and made a pact to each try one in our classroom before putting together the “deliverable” the district asked us to create.

Because sometimes the universe aligns perfectly, Hacking Project Based Learning was published near the beginning of our work together and it gave us just the jump start we needed to reach a common understanding of PBL and begin planning. After reading the book I was inspired to design a flow chart based on chapter 3. At one of our #wakeTLC sessions we used my flowchart to design a self-guided, differentiated, interactive digital resource for teachers to begin the PBL planning process. Please check it out and leave feedback!

Where have I been??

For those of you who know me personally, you know my husband and I recently started house hunting and it has been quite frustrating for us and there have been a few things in life that have taken a back seat. (read: the lull in my blogging is because house hunting is a full-time job). I’m writing today because of an inspiring day at #EdCampWake yesterday. This was my first time and if you haven’t been to one, you should. #EdCampBeach is coming in April! Here’s what an EdCamp is:

I went to sessions on Genius Hour, Equity, PBL, Blogging, and #BookSnaps. Something inspiring happened at every session EVEN the lunch break (mentioned below)! So here I am back in the saddle! I can’t promise that I will get back to posting regularly like before because house hunting is NO FUN! But I have some ideas ready to write about and I will get those ideas and reflections out there! Today I’m looking at standard 6 to finish off the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards.

Standard 6: Teachers contribute to the academic success of students: the work reflects in  acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth.

Woah! This is a big one. I think Bethany Gullion had it right yesterday at #EdCampWake. Teachers don’t like or agree with standardized testing and we don’t have to. The tests are not going away and we need to find a way  to use them to our advantage and help kids feel successful on them. My #oneword for assessments and the achievement gap #believe and #honesty. Ok that’s 2 but I think they are both important.

My class this year is competitive. First year I’ve had a group of kindergarteners so competitive. They love sports, speed tests, and scores. At recess they have races and “time” each other. (Note to self: get them a stopwatch. Counting is not standard measure of time). They are obsessed with winning and improving. I work daily to turn this passion of theirs into a growth mindset. I want them to look at progress over perfection, getting better over winning, and personal bests. We celebrate in my room when I collect data. Kinders love to celebrate even if they don’t know why they’re celebrating. If you’re excited, They’re excited. I try to be upfront with some of my struggling kinders too. Here’s a story:

One of my students struggles but does fine if I give him support. He is in the red (*gasp*) in all areas of mClass. I progress monitor him on PSF (Phonemic Segmentation Fluency – can he say all the sounds in a word). His middle of the year benchmark was 5 the benchmark goal is 20. Our first progress monitor was a 7.  Frist we celebrated his 2 point growth. Then, I told this sweet friend that we practice this every day during Letterland (phonics and phonemic awareness program) and asked him what he does during Letterland. His response, “I play with my friend beside me. I think about recess.” I love his honesty! I told him that if he wants to grow his score he needs to focus during Letterland, pay attention, and do and say all the things I ask during Letterland. He said, “Ok I will!” 10 days later I progress monitored again and his score was a 44. 44! All I did with him was be honest and use his data WITH him.