Join Us for the Educator Development Series on Wednesday!

The Educator Development Series. It’s not just for new teachers!  The series is designed to facilitate learning for teachers who desire to shore up their foundational knowledge and skills. Personally, I am an educator who is always in need of shoring up in at least a couple of areas!

The series is hosted monthly at Cascade Middle School. This Wednesday, choose from a variety of breakout sessions including Elementary Reader’s Workshop, NCTM’s Effective Math Teaching Practices for Secondary, and much more.  Feel free to join us for any part of the series that fits your specific need, or sign up for all of it! This is a voluntary professional development opportunity. Clock hours are available if at least three hours or more of the series are attended throughout the year.

Teaching Students How to Call Bull

The University of Washington introduced a popular course this year called something very close to (but slightly more vulgar) Calling Bull. This course was designed to give students the intellectual tools to recognize and address fake news, inauthentic use of data, and pseudo-science.

They developed a companion website (with the same vulgar name) and shared it with the world. They received enough inquiries from secondary school teachers that they created a mirror website that scrubs out (most of) the vulgarity (see they last paragraph below for an explanation of that qualifier). While I don’t personally give a… let’s say darn… about the vulgarity of the original website, having one without the reference to excrement in its title is helpful in the public school arena.

Secondary teachers, especially teachers of contemporary world issues courses, may find the resources on the Calling Bull website helpful.

My favorite resources are the case studies which illustrate real examples of instances where a good bull detector would be helpful for consumers of information to have.

I also like the Tips and Tricks for Spotting and Calling Bull that explain how to approach information

There are also videos of lectures that address such topics as causation versus correlation, the manipulation of visual data, and reproducibility. These videos have not been scrubbed of the vulgarity described above so use with students is not advised. That said, they can still useful to the harder-to-offend teacher who wants to better understand these (and other) concepts as they relate to spotting and addressing bull.

Meeting a Rock Star

A few years ago Eddie Vedder threw me his tambourine during a concert. I like to fantasize that he picked me out of the crowd because my praying mantis-like dance movements caught his eye; in reality I just out-jumped the people around me to snag it spinning in the air above our heads. Still, I felt connected to my musical idol in a way I never had before. (Humor me here.)  Continue reading “Meeting a Rock Star”

What’s the Work During Modeling?

Having looked at conceptual modeling in science last spring, this might be a good time to consider some questions about instructional modeling in any content.

Instructional modeling of strong and weak work is a key practice for helping our students meet their learning targets. Sam Bennett emphasizes modeling during mini-lessons and catches in That Workshop Book as a way for students to develop as readers and writers.

So what are students expected to do during the time that teachers are modeling? Do students know what they are expected to do? How can we help them get the most out of these minutes? Perhaps we need to engage students in some meta-modeling: demonstrating the thinking and reflective practices that we want students using as they observe us modeling. Metacognition is critical to all phases of learning, including instructional modeling.

Modeling strong and weak work is included as the second strategy of Jan Chappuis’ Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning. While it is a common practice to show students positive examples of work that is proficient or exemplary, sometimes we forget the value of modeling weak work. Not wanting to point fingers at struggling students, we might avoid sharing examples of student work that needs improvement. But in order to help students notice and be able to articulate the differences between strong and weak work, we need them to observe, discuss, and make comparisons for themselves. The act of comparing and identifying areas to improve becomes the student work during modeling. Two ideas for making modeling weak work a safer activity for students:

  1. Using the teacher’s “work” as a weak example. This provides a safer opportunity for students to examine work critically as they provide feedback to the teacher instead of one another.
  2. Looking at weak work or incorrect responses and asking “Why might an intelligent person have thought ____?” This creates an opportunity for students to be critical and identify misconceptions, while still honoring the thinking of students who might hold those same ideas.

What strategies do you use to help students get the most out of instructional modeling? Please share in the comments below!

 

ABCs of PBL (Project Based Learning)

If you have been hearing the term PBL (Project based Learning) bouncing around and felt intrigued but too busy to dig in, here are a few resources that can get you started:

  1. Gold-Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements
    If you want to get a solid overview in under four pages, start here.
  2. Minding your Ps and Qs for Better DQs
    If you have a pretty good idea about the basics of PBL but feel the need to know more about developing engaging and effective DQs (driving questions) around which to build a project, start here.
  3. BIE Project Search
    If you are the type that would rather see something to understand it than read about it, go here and poke to find a project plan built around  a topic of interest to you (and your students).
  4. 20 Days to PBL
    If you are the type that just needs to dive right in and try something out, try this plan (developed by Texas PBL teacher and instructional coach, Erin Starkey) for getting students ready to engage in the team work, problem solving and critical thinking needed for PBL to be successful.

Brand New One by One Sessions Involve Kids!

Watch Kids in Action as they Interact and Learn with Sphero, Seesaw, BeeBot Coding and Scratch!

K-2 Seesaw Classroom Observation & 3-5 Seesaw Classroom Observation
Come and see what Seesaw looks like in action!  See how students are able to use Seesaw when given choice in demonstrating their understanding.  

K-2 BeeBot Coding Classroom Observation
Bee-Bot is an exciting new robot designed for use by young children. This colorful, easy-to-operate, and friendly little robot is a perfect tool for teaching sequencing, estimation, problem-solving, and just having fun!  During this session, participants will be able to observe students learning to code and problem solve.  

3 – 5 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

K-2 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation 
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

3-5 Ozobot Coding Classroom Observation
Ozobots are miniature smart robots that can follow lines or roam around freely, detect colors, and can also be programmed. During this session, we will be able to see students engage in programming to solve a problem using the Ozobots.  

K-2 Scratch Jr. Coding Classroom Observation & 3-5 Scratch Coding Classroom Observation
Watch kids create their own interactive stories, games and animations using Scratch.

Listen to Students’ Honest Stories of Their School Experiences
Uncovering Hidden Bias
During this session, a panel of high school students will share their stories and experiences living and learning as an EL in Evergreen Public Schools.

Modeling is More Than Replicating

Students often examine and interact with models as they learn content. But is it really modeling when students create a 3-dimensional representation of a cell?

cell model

We’ll use the word “modeling” here to refer to the practice of developing and using models in science. Teacher modeling of behaviors, skills, and cognitive routines is incredibly important in classrooms, but this post will focus on students’ interactions with conceptual models.

From the page 50 of the Framework for K-12 Science Education:

Science often involves the construction and use of a wide variety of models and simulations to help develop explanations about natural phenomena. Models make it possible to go beyond observables and imagine a world not yet seen. Models enable predictions of the form “if … then … therefore” to be made in order to test hypothetical explanations.

Creating the cell representation pictured above might demonstrate a student’s ability to design to criteria or to recall the shape of organelles, but it isn’t really an explanation or prediction. Continue reading “Modeling is More Than Replicating”