EPS Academy Offers Real Learning that Translates Directly to the Classroom

Do you need time and support to plan units that your kids will engage in and care about?

Sign up for: Learning Design for the Workshop Classroom, or Supported Unit Planning in PBL / Inquiry

My students have Chromebooks, now what?

Beginners, click here! Past beginner, but need more? Click here

Struggling to reach your at-risk kids?

Develop your skills in supporting students with social-emotional and cognitive learning needs in this session: Structures, Systems, and Routines to Create a Calm Classroom out of Life’s Chaos

Join us on November 20 & 21st at the EPS Academy at Cascade Middle School to get exactly what you need; and earn up to fourteen clock hours doing it!

Controversial Ideas in Education

Here’s a question that I love asking fellow educators:

What is something that you believe to be true about teaching and learning that you don’t think anyone else at the table will agree with?

The responses that I’ve heard have been captivating. Sometimes what is shared ends up saying us more about the person’s perceptions of their peers’ opinions, and we all end up learning that we are less alone than we suspected. Hearing a colleague share a controversial belief in a safe and trusting environment tells so much more than hearing beliefs or experiences that you have in common – it breaks the echo chamber of our own thinking. Try asking this question at lunch, in a PLC, or wherever you head to on a Friday afternoon. You might learn something fascinating.

Since this is my blog post, I’ll share one of my own potentially controversial beliefs about teaching and learning:

Our students are under-assessed.

This might seem self-interested coming from someone who works in a district assessment department, but the idea has more to do with time in classrooms than numbers on spreadsheets. Between SBA, the new WCAS, i-Ready, and Panorama, we’ve never had more digital tools for measuring student learning to layer onto our existing techniques. With so many stakeholders in education with very specific purposes, we need a broad range of assessments to meet the needs of students, teachers, families, school leaders, and state officials.

To the extent that we treat assessments as a have-to rather than a get-to, it’s easy to focus on evaluation and labeling of kids, rather than opportunities to better match our teaching to their learning. We need assessments “to inform decisions that both support and verify learning” (Chappuis, Commodore, and Stiggins, 2010). We leave students under-assessed but over-evaluated when we don’t act on the information we collect. Every assessment is an opportunity to allow students to guide our own professional learning. We just need to take them up on it.

 

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.

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”

The End of Average, part 3

This is the final post on the The End of Average by Todd Rose. Check out part 1 and part 2 to see the whole series.

This post will focus on two ideas that come out of the second half of the book that have great relevance to our work as K-12 educators: if-then signatures and competency-based learning.

If-then signatures for personal learning profiles

Rose shares his experience receiving guidance from his academic adviser at Weber State that sounded personalized, but turned out to be identical to the advice given to a student with a very different academic background. How often do we give advice or feedback to students that is meaningfully different from the advice that we provide to others? If everything is pretty much the same, is it really personalizedContinue reading “The End of Average, part 3”

Find Your Tribe

The best learning is organic; it happens because we seek it out, we discuss it, we explore it, we do it, and then we do it again! Learning is risk-taking. In the book AMPLIFY, Kristin Ziemke talks about finding your tribe; those professionals that share your passion, that sharpen your thinking, that force reflection.

Connecting with others can sometimes feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but seeking out professional relationships will “nurture your teacher soul and inspire you to be great”. (Ziemke)

AfterMath is a group of Evergreen elementary teachers who are working together to improve their instructional practices in math. These teachers meet face to face and they connect online. For more information, or to join their Facebook group contact kristin.peters@evergreenps.org.

You can connect with many of your Evergreen colleagues online to share resources or view each other’s blogs. Here’s a peek at some of Brian Cleary’s work: Personalized Learning is isn’t just for Big Kids,  Old Brain Teacher

There are endless opportunities to connect with teachers around the world online. Here is a resource to help you get started: http://www.edweek.org/tm/section/blogs/

Put yourself out there! Connect with others who share your passions. Lean on them for ideas and inspiration.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

The End of Average, part 2

This post continues the conversation about The End of Average by Todd Rose.

There are plenty of times where considering the average of a group makes sense. It’s a way to improve predictions or estimations about large sets. Weather forecasts, experimental data, political polling, insurance pricing, and medical predictions are all improved through measures of central tendency. Averaging data makes a great deal of sense intuitively and adds value to many processes.

The problems with averaging, especially in education, arrive when we make what Peter Molenaar calls “the ergodic switch” – replacing information about an individual with information taken from an average. Knowing an average about a group might improve a prediction or estimation, but it doesn’t tell you much with certainty about an individual. Continue reading “The End of Average, part 2”