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EARCOS Reflections

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    EARCOS Reflections EARCOS Reflections Document Transcript

    •             EDU 596: Strategies for Creating Success for American/International Schools. Buffalo State, State University of New York (SUNY) 3 Credits (as per attending EARCOS 2012, Bangkok, Thailand) Tim Gascoigne Grade 3 Teacher Beijing BISS International School Beijing, CHINA
    • Euling  Ewing  Monroe  (Pre-­‐Conference  Speaker):  Mathematics  Title:  Helping  Learners  Develop  Mathematical  Practices  That  Yield.     This  workshop,  presented  by  Euling  Monroe,  was  a  pre-­‐conference  workshop  designed  to  challenge  attendees  in  the  area  of  mathematical  practices.    It  took  place  the  day  prior  to  the  start  of  the  EARCOS  ‘12  regular  conference  sessions.   I  was  excited  to  be  able  to  attend  and  learn  strategies  to,  refresh,  and  challenge  my  practice  in  the  area  of  mathematics.    My  initial  training  for  teaching  mathematics  in  the  elementary  grades  was  about  six  years  ago.    Since  that  time  I  have  had  a  few  opportunities  to  attend  some  math  professional  development.    I  felt  going  in  that  I  was  fairly  current  with  my  thinking  about  mathematics  but  knowledge  doesn’t  always  translate  to  good  practice.    It  can  be  easy  to  lose  sight  of  good  mathematical  practice  in  the  goal  of  trying  to  cover  many  outcomes.    I  currently  find  this  more  of  a  challenge  this  year,  as  I  am  in  a  new  grade  level  and  teaching  within  the  PYP  framework,  which  is  also  a  new  program  for  me  to  teach  within.    My  goal  was  to  walk  away  from  this  workshop  day  with  some  new  understandings  and  a  challenge  for  implementing  them  into  my  daily  practice  with  the  children.   The  day  began  with  some  good  activities  aimed  at  math  discussions.    I  think  we  often  forget  about  the  importance  of  having  those  oral  language  discussions  surrounding  mathematics.      I  feel  competent  in  having  my  students  “do”  the  math  and  yet  too  often  forget  how  important  it  is  to  have  them  “talk”  about  the  math.    In  my  third  grade  classroom  I  have  a  number  of  ESL  students  meaning  that  this  is  an  area  of  increased  importance  in  the  building  of  their  understanding  and  ability  to  communicate  their  learning.    So  often  they  have  the  knowledge  but  lack  the  ability  to  use  language  to  communicate  it.    Vocabulary  building  was  one  practical  area  that  I  will  be  able  to  implement  in  the  immediate  future  to  my  teaching.    I  always  talk  about  the  vocabulary  words  at  the  beginning  of  the  unit,  put  them  up  on  the  wall  and  then  often  leave  them  there.    I  was  challenged  to  think  of  more  interactive  ways  to  use  a  math  word  wall.    I  now  see,  just  like  a  language  word  wall,  how  important  it  is  for  the  students  to  use  those  words  in  practical  ways  to  build  understanding  and  develop  their  cognitive  thinking.    Having  them  posted  on  the  wall  is  not  enough  for  building  proficiency  in  using  them.       Another  area  of  challenge  and  reflection  is  in  the  area  of  ensuring  that  students  are  not  just  given  activities  but  rather  meaning  tasks  that  have  them  working  towards  achieving  the  goal  of  
    • the  lesson.      What  makes  something  a  good  task  or  a  meaningful  task?    In  groups  we  brainstormed  the  answer  to  this  question.      Some  of  the  thoughts  that  were  shared  include  ensuring  that  the  task  is  engaging,  meaningful,  involves  everyone,  is  varied  and  differentiated  and  is  scaffolded  just  enough  to  ensure  success.    I  wanted  to  further  explore  this  issue  and  visited  a  blog  by  Jennifer  Piggott  on  the  nrich.maths.org  website  in  which  she  questions  the  very  thing  we  were  discussing  in  this  workshop.    Her  conclusions  about  good  tasks  or  “rich  tasks”  as  she  calls  them  is  that  they  are  largely  dependent  on  the  support  and  the  questioning  that  is  used  by  the  teacher  to  support  learning.      The  most  important  thing  I  took  from  her  understandings  is  that  it  is  important  our  tasks  that  we  give  students  are  accessible  to  all  in  the  beginning  and  that  they  are  open  ended  enough  to  allow  for  differentiation.    This  is  not  to  say  that  all  students  will  be  at  the  same  level  upon  entry  to  the  task  but  rather  they  have  the  support  and  scaffolding  to  have  access  to  it.    I  have  been  challenged  in  my  teaching  to  ensure  that  I  am  providing  my  students  tasks  that  are  rich  in  nature  and  provide  good  assessment  of  my  students’  thinking  and  understanding  about  the  concepts.       My  final  reflections  on  her  workshop  are  in  the  area  of  the  structure  of  an  engaged  math  lesson.      I  challenged  my  own  thinking  when  this  was  presented.    She  often  referred  to  how  the  structure  of  a  math  lesson  should  follow  the  pattern  of  “Launch,  Explore,  Summary”.    The  launch  being  the  time  when  the  teacher  introduces  the  concept  or  lesson  and  then  circulates  asking  questions  and  then  summarizes  with  the  students  to  consolidate  their  learning.    My  initial  question  to  this  structure  was:  Does  this  format  discredit  the  creativity  of  the  teacher  and  the  freedom  of  students  to  inquire  and  explore  the  areas  that  challenge  where  they  are  in  their  mathematical  thinking?    The  answer  I  believe  is  no.    I  think,  after  doing  some  further  research,  that  this  model  allows  for  more  inquiry  from  the  students  during  the  explore  phase.    During  this  face,  after  a  short  introduction  to  the  problem  based  on  what  the  teacher  has  for  a  goal  in  the  lesson,  the  students  are  left  to  explore  and  get  “messy”.    What  about  the  students  that  struggle?  I  think  that  this  would  be  a  good  time  to  work  individually  with  those  students  who  need  more  direct  instruction  and  explicit  teaching.    I  am  challenged  to  implement  this  model  into  my  teaching  and  ensure  that  I  am  delivering  problems  for  them  to  solve  rather  than  practice  questions  and  teacher-­‐centered  lessons.    The  learning  from  others  comes  at  the  end  when  we  consolidate  what  we  have  learned  together  during  the  summary  portion  of  the  lesson.    It  is  so  important  and  valuable  to  make  sure  
    • that  the  lesson  is  not  left  with  students  finishing  the  problem  but  rather  the  teacher  allowing  for  the  students  to  talk  and  discuss  about  how  they  went  about  solving  their  problems.       In  summary  and  reflection,  I  take  many  valuable  points  of  discussion  away  from  this  pre-­‐conference  workshop.    I  am  reminded  of  good  mathematical  discussions  and  how  pivotal  they  can  be  in  a  students  learning.    The  concept  of  a  “good  task”  is  another  area  that  I  will  be  focusing  on  during  my  math  lessons.    Does  the  task  meet  the  needs  of  all  my  learners?    This  will  be  a  question  I  will  ask  myself  at  the  beginning  of  the  lesson  to  ensure  that  the  task  I  give  my  students  is  indeed  worthwhile  one  related  to  the  goals  I  have  for  their  learning.    Finally,  the  structure  of  the  lesson  is  an  area  that  I  will  be  working  on  improving  in  my  classroom.             The  link  below  is  an  additional  resource  I  used  in  writing  this  paper  in  conjunction  with  the  workshop  reflections:      http://www.smartconsortium.org/user-­‐files/launch%20explore%20summarize%20math%20lesson%20model.pdf                                              
    • Linc  Jackson/Ben  Sheridan  (Teacher-­‐Led  Workshop)  Title:  Integrating  Technology  to  Enhance  Literacy  Instruction  in  the  Early  Years       I  begin  my  reflections  on  this  workshop  with  the  view  of  my  students  as  21  Century  learners.    What  does  a  student  look  like  in  today’s  classroom  compared  to  a  student  in  a  classroom  as  few  as  ten  years  ago  or  when  I  was  an  elementary  student  twenty  years  ago?    We  are  living  in  a  BYOD  (Bring  Your  Own  Device)  age  of  education  and  communication  where  our  students  are  no  longer  dependent  on  the  information  that  we,  as  their  teachers,  are  prepared  to  deliver  to  them.    Instead,  today’s  learner  has  access  to  an  incredible  amount  of  tools  that  will  enable  them  to  access  the  information  we  are  going  to  deliver  to  them  before  we  even  meet  them  in  the  classroom.    So,  do  we  adapt  to  this  change  or  continue  as  if  it  isn’t  happening?    I  take  the  thought  from  one  of  the  keynote  speakers  at  the  conference  who  stated  that  the  generation  of  students  who  are  currently  graduating  from  high  schools  around  the  world  are  the  first  group  of  students  who  do  not  remember  what  life  was  like  BT  (before  technology).    The  question  is  not  do  we  adapt  to  the  change,  rather,  it  should  be  when  do  we  adapt  to  the  change?  I  propose  the  answer  is  now.     I  was  fortunate  to  attend  a  teacher-­‐led  workshop  by  Linc  Jackson  and  Ben  Sheridan  at  EARCOS  ‘12.    The  target  age  group  was  K-­‐2.    I  have  taught  those  grades  but  am  currently  teaching  Grade  3.    However,  with  the  1-­‐1  technology  in  my  classroom  I  was  excited  to  learn  about  new  ways  to  have  my  young  students  engaged  and  collaborating  online.    Ben  did  an  excellent  job  of  sharing  his  thoughts  and  ideas  with  the  group.    He  gave  us  examples  of  how  he  has  used  web  2.0  tools  in  his  classroom  to  engage  his  students  and  give  them  other  ways  of  expressing  themselves.    He  has  had  great  success  with  Twitter,  voice  threads,  Google  doc’s,  Skype,  iPads  and  other  tools  with  his  Kindergarten  students.    The  opportunity  to  have  students  develop  literacy  skills  as  well  as  engage  in  21C  skills  is  an  exciting  combination  that  I  am  eager  to  put  into  practice.     In  this  paper,  I  want  to  reflect  on  three  ideas.    The  first  being  digital  citizenship:  How  can  we  teach  important  skills  and  responsibility  to  our  students  without  impeding  their  creativity  on  the  Internet?  The  second  being  on  our  digital  footprint:  What  do  we  as  professionals  want  our  digital  footprint  to  look  like  and  how  do  we  ensure  that  our  students  are  also  developing  this  at  such  a  young  age?  My  third  reflection  is  answering  the  question:  How  do  we  make  
    • these  tools  seamless  in  the  classroom  rather  than  an  additional,  imposed  IT  project  initiated  from  the  teacher?     When  I  sent  a  permission  form  home  approximately  two  months  ago  asking  if  a  picture  of  my  students  could  be  used  in  a  dental  magazine  I  had  an  astonishing  response.    The  request  came  from  a  hygienist  who  visited  our  class  during  an  inquiry  into  healthy  living.      I  had  several  parents  decline  the  request  to  have  their  child’s  picture  in  the  magazine.    I  wondered  where  the  concern  lay.    Was  their  concern  about  protecting  identity  or  did  they  simply  not  value  dental  health?    If  their  concern  was  over  identity  protection  I  wonder  if  they  realize  that  their  child  has  a  wikispace  page  that  is  accessible  by  anyone  on  the  internet  who  wants  to  search  for  it.    The  parents  of  our  students  did  not  grow  up  in  this  digital  generation.    They  are  not  “digital  natives”.      Discussing  digital  citizenship  needs  to  begin  with  our  parents  in  the  same  way  that  we  advocate  for  strong  parental  support  for  the  learning  that  takes  place  in  the  classroom.    I  strongly  believe  that  educating  our  parents  is  absolutely  essential  in  furthering  the  dialogue  about  integrating  technology  into  the  classroom  and  providing  a  platform  for  talking  about  these  issues.   Even  though  it  was  not  explicitly  talked  about  in  the  workshop  it  did  strike  a  chord  with  me  as  I  think  about  involving  my  students  in  web  2.0  tools  like  blogs,  Twitter,  and  others.    After  involving  our  parents  in  the  discussion  it  is  important  to  model  appropriate  language  and  responsibility  to  our  students  when  it  comes  to  blogging,  twittering,  searching  Google  and  creating  comments  on  blogs,  wiki’s  and  other  websites.    Our  students  find  it  difficult  to  understand  the  audience  that  they  are  writing  for.    The  understanding  of  “voice”  sometimes  doesn’t  begin  until  upper  elementary.    I  look  forward  to  bringing  these  and  other  ideas  into  my  class  and  beginning  the  dialogue  at  a  school  level  with  other  staff  members  on  how  we  effectively  teach  digital  citizenship.       My  second  reflection  is  on  our  digital  footprint.    I  have  often  goggled  my  name  only  to  find  a  few  returns  from  my  University,  previous  workplaces  and  Facebook.    I  have  a  very  small  “digital  footprint”.    I  realized  through  this  and  other  workshops  the  importance  of  keeping  up  with  technology  and  ensuring  that  I  spend  some  time  building  my  footprint  on  the  Internet.    When  someone  wants  to  search  me,  I  want  to  be  proud  of  who  I  have  become  both  professionally  and  personally.    I  want  my  virtual  presence  to  reflect  my  real  presence.    This  is,  of  course,  a  journey  that  can  begin  now.    After  the  workshop  I  was  inspired  to  set  up  my  own  professional  blog.    This  will  be  useful  for  collecting  my  ideas  about  technology  
    • integration  as  well  as  a  space  for  my  lessons  and  projects,  which  in  turn  can  aid  future  employment  or  can  simply  become  a  great  place  for  a  sharing  of  ideas.      What  is  our  role  in  helping  our  students  develop  their  digital  footprint?  I  think  we  have  a  huge  responsibility  to  at  least  model  this.    In  twenty  years  it  is  doubtful  that  the  blog  comment  they  made  on  their  peers  writing  in  Kindergarten  will  be  a  top  hit  on  Google.      However,  modeling  appropriate  writing  and  ensuring  our  students  have  good  citizenship  on  the  internet  will  reap  them  wonderful  gains  in  their  years  to  come  when  it  comes  to  their  lasting  footprint  in  cyberspace.       My  final  reflection  is  in  the  area  of  the  Internet  becoming  a  seamless  tool  in  the  classroom  rather  than  an  imposed  project  initiated  by  the  teacher.    Can  technology  become  a  seamless  part  of  a  student’s  school  day?    Can  technology  be  as  seamless  as  a  student  choosing  a  library  book?    I  think  that  the  answer  to  those  questions  can  be  yes.    I  have  seen  other  teachers  create  this  in  their  classroom  and  I  only  hope  that  my  students  can,  at  some  point,  feel  the  same  way.    Having  a  positive  attitude  toward  using  the  Internet  is  an  appropriate  place  to  start.    If  our  attitude  toward  change  is  positive  then  our  students  will  adopt  this  and  be  excited  about  the  new  possible  ways  of  learning.    Ben,  during  his  workshop,  highlighted  how  possible  this  was.    He  will  present  ideas  and  allow  the  class  to  think  about  effective  ways  of  learning  the  material.    Often  his  students  have  suggested  tools  such  as  Twitter,  blogs  and  voice  threads  to  communicate,  create  and  collaborate.    This  is  the  place  I  want  my  students  to  be  in.    I  want  them  to  value  all  ways  of  learning  and  use  them  when  it  is  appropriate  for  them.         In  conclusion,  I  think  that  we  are  at  a  very  exciting  crossroads  in  education.    Allowing  technology  to  bridge  the  gap  that  we  need  for  our  students  to  develop  skills  that  they  need  and  want  to  have  access  to  is  essential.    I  want  to  be  an  agent  of  change  in  my  classroom  and  embrace  web  2.0  tools  and  online  collaboration.    We  are  part  of  a  larger  community  and  I  am  excited  to  share  and  learn  from  others.    We  do  have  important  things  to  consider  in  this  journey  especially  when  it  comes  to  introducing  this  to  our  students.      I  hope  that  my  reflections  will  be  a  starting  point  for  me  in  my  practice.                  
    • Steven  Layne  (Keynote  Speaker):  Literacy  Title:  Balcony  People:  Teachers  Make  the  Difference  Title:  Successful  strategies  for  building  lifetime  readers       I  was  fortunate  to  attend  Steven  Layne’s  keynote  address  to  the  conference  on  Friday  morning.    I  was  so  inspired  that  I  chose  to  attend  his  following  breakout  workshop  on  successful  strategies  for  building  lifetime  readers.    In  his  keynote  address,  Steven  eloquently  spoke  about  teachers  making  the  difference  and  being  the  “balcony  people”  for  our  students.    When  I  look  back  on  my  life  there  are  certainly  key  people  that  stand  out  as  being  the  balcony  people  that  have  cheered  me  on  through  good  and  bad  times.    Am  I  doing  this  for  my  students?  Will  they  look  back  and  remember  me  as  being  someone  who  supported  them  in  what  they  needed  and  cheered  them  on  to  better  things?    I  hope  so.    The  focus  of  this  reflection,  however,  is  in  the  area  of  literacy  and  how  I,  as  a  teacher,  am  encouraging  a  passion  for  lifetime  reading.         Steven,  in  his  second  workshop,  outlined  necessary  skills  that  good  readers  need  including  phonetics,  fluency,  comprehension,  semantics,  and  syntax.    He  then  went  on  to  discuss  the  affective  attitudes  (interest,  attitude,  motivation,  and  engagement),  which  are  key  to  developing  in  readers.    With  the  age  of  technology  and  access  to  material  we,  and  our  students,  are  living  in  I  believe  it  is  important  that  we  are  focusing  on  the  affective  attitudes  towards  developing  a  love  for  reading  and  literacy.    I  have  encountered  many  students  who,  if  having  the  language  and  thought  process,  might  say  something  like,  “I  can  read  but  I  don’t  and  you  can’t  make  me!”.    This  aliteracy,  as  Steve  terms  it,  is  prevalent  in  our  schools.    How  do  we  make  the  change  to  developing  lifelong  readers?  Steven  gave  some  great  ideas.    These  will  be  ones  that  I  challenge  myself  to  implement  in  my  classroom.    He  gave  us  some  very  practical  ideas  that  we  could  implement  in  our  schools  and  classrooms.     First,  he  introduced  “The  Golden  Recommendation  Shelf”.    This  shelf  mysteriously  appears  in  his  classroom  unpainted  and  without  reason.    It  creates  a  real  suspicion  and  excitement  amongst  the  students  as  they  wonder  where  it  came  from.    The  next  day  the  students  come  in  and  notice  that  it  has  been  painted  gold.    The  excitement  ensues  and  conversation  erupts  as  to  the  purpose  and  intent  of  the  shelf.      He  then  begins  to  put  his  “favorite”  books  on  the  shelf  and  allows  them  to  be  checked  out.    The  students  are  eager  to  read  the  books  and  they  become  the  talk  of  the  classroom.    What  a  
    • great  idea  to  generate  an  interest  in  readers!    I  will  certainly  look  at  doing  something  similar  in  my  classroom.     Another  idea  he  presented  was  the  “Elementary  CAFÉ”.    This  is  setup  with  PTA  support  and  a  chosen  teacher  host.    He  begins  this  at  the  start  of  the  year  and  often  chose  the  P.E.  teacher  to  host  the  first  café.    Students  don’t  often  see  the  PE  teacher  as  a  literacy  teacher  but  this  teacher  is  often  naturally  the  most  popular  teacher  in  the  school.    Using  him/her  creates  great  excitement  amongst  their  students  and  provides  for  a  greater  audience  during  the  kick-­‐off  café  at  the  start  of  the  year.      The  host  chooses  his/her  favorite  book  and  offers  a  question  and  answer  time.    The  librarian  purchases  about  15-­‐20  copies  of  the  book  as  they  will  no-­‐doubt  all  be  taken  out  after  the  café  is  concluded.    The  PTA  provides  food  and  snacks  which  draws  in  reluctant  students.    The  older  students  create  advertisements  and  publicity  about  the  event  and  school-­‐wide  interest  is  generated.    The  café  becomes  a  monthly  (or  otherwise  decided  upon)  event  and  a  love  of  reading  high-­‐interest  books  is  created!  I  love  this  idea.       Steven  is  a  renowned  children’s  author  and  has  published  a  number  of  wonderful  books  that  are  enjoyed  by  children  and  teachers.    His  book,  Igniting  a  Passion  for  Reading,  outlines  these  and  other  helpful  strategies  for  working  with  reluctant  and  oppositional  readers.    I  look  forward  to  reading  further  about  this  and  generating  more  ideas  for  implementation  in  my  classroom.    He  talks  about  how  important  it  is  for  kids  to  know  who  authors  are  and  the  important  role  they  play  in  literacy.    Our  students  can  name  several  popular  titles  that  they,  or  others,  have  read  but  may  be  hard  pressed  to  think  of  the  author  of  these  books.      He  suggests  getting  signed  autographs  from  authors  in  books  and  promoting  author  studies.    If  a  child  enjoys  one  particular  author,  he/she  will  probably  enjoy  the  other  wonderful  books  that  they  have  written.       This  workshop  enlightened  me  to  think  about  literacy  from  a  different  angle.    We,  as  teachers,  can  get  caught  up  in  the  “doing”  of  literacy  that  we  prevent  students  from  “enjoying”  literacy.    I  hope  to  take  some  of  his  practical  ideas,  his  love  of  reading,  and  his  enjoyment  of  watching  children  fall  in  love  with  reading  back  to  my  classroom  in  the  near  future.