2017-08-16 ReNew Learning and RTR

I love when I come to a new understanding about something that I had previously known, which happened this week. We had the blessing of having a consultant come to our campuses from the county office of education to help us with some work we are doing. Part of the work is to implement Rich Task Routines (RTR) in mathematics to help our students become stronger math students.

What is a RTR you may be wondering?

An RTR is an activity designed to help us (teachers) be purposeful in our delivery of content to give students access to deeper and more challenging learning targets. The idea flows from the 5 Practices made famous by NCTM book by the same name. The work and intentionality of what we put into, seeing the whole cycle with students, and reflecting on the process made for a great day of learning. I can’t wait to continue this journey.

2017-08-10 Breakout EDU Middle School Math

With the sounds of a sharp, repeating, and blaring noise the herds of young bodies began their almost zombie like motions to their assigned classrooms. Those who were new to the school, looked anxious, schedules out and a mixture of puzzled and nervous expressions. The contrast of the mindless shuffle to class to the anxious, confused, and fresh faced ones as they avoided being trampled by the zombie herds was almost laughable. Oh to be 12-years-old again….never mind, I’m good.

Although I was there to set up the Breakout EDU game, I couldn’t help to enjoy the nervous energy of the first day of school. The timeless roles of adolescents playing its course in all of their lives and the social aspects of this age are always fun to watch and enjoy. The end of the summer felt too soon, and the beginning of this school year didn’t feel like it was upon us….but ready or not, it was shown time.

The wonderful joy of having such a fantastic middle school staff is their openness to experience, and a few days before the start of school I was asked by two eighth grade math teachers to help facilitate a Breakout EDU game for the students’ first day. It was on!

Together we came up with a plan with the two boxes we had, one in each room, one class would do odd periods, the other class would hit even periods. I would jump back and forth, facilitate one, then let them facilitate the next. We worked out how the game was set up and what needed to be done so students wouldn’t inadvertently see how to break the game.

So here we are, first period of the first day of school, and it’s show time!

The magic that is Breakout EDU took hold, slow at first, as students had to break down that first day awkwardness. As different students found and placed together the various clues, the class wasn’t going to make it, so I asked the teacher and he wanted to make sure it was successful, so I aided in small ways, and they were able to do so.

(Update 2017-09-11: The students haven’t experienced the game since the first day, and six weeks into school they are begging their teacher for another game…so I guess they did love it)

2017-07-31 – A Whole New World

Technically I started back to work last week, and this week we begin the welcoming party for the new teachers. I am very happy and excited about the start of another school year and it’s going to be amazing fun and learning. The introductions were fast, furious, and empowering. The highlight, for me, was the Breakout EDU session as the team of 42 new teachers and a collection of our district admin worked together to breakout with almost ten minutes remaining.

In particular, I enjoyed adding some of the new locks and creating new clues for the review of some of the learnings, some front loading of learning, and some connections to the district. It was an amazing bit of fun and I think we have some converts looking forward to our district training on this concept.

2017-07-25 – Ipadpaloozaca & a Pirate

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The first day back to work and I’m so stoked to start the new school year with IpadpaloozaCA and the opportunity to learn and get better together struck twice with both keynote speakers Dave Burgess and Carl Hooker. Both gentlemen are incredible speakers, fun, entertaining, and knowledgeable.

Meeting one of my eduheroes is the most exciting events in life.

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Dave inspired us to create learning experiences for our students and to add a little edupropane to our teaching because we need to preheat the edugrill. What a wonderful experience and so fantastic being able to accomplish my dream.

2017-06-02 – Day 23 – Last Day

The combination of working on so many things, being pulled in so many directions meant the beginning of summer was especially important to pull back and refill. The last day of school with students, while I would miss our good times together, I have to admit, I was all like….

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Especially considering we have an epic road trip planned to return us to the great northern reaches of this continent that I haven’t been to in over 16 years. So this summer….

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….epic road trip is going to be amazing! I wish everyone a happy summer, I will be off the grid for most of that time, and be all like…

med

 

2017-06-01 – Day 22 – Report Cards

Following a great recipe from The Classroom Chefs, I wanted to give my students the opportunity to grade me and to make a note to warn my future students what to expect from a class taught by me.

My premise is simple, the students were asked to fill out an anonymous template that graded me from A to F, but I also required that whatever grade they gave me, they had to have a reason(s) for it. Although I had tried similar ideas in prior years, with the Chefs’ this explicit process, the differences in results are stunning. The chefs had warned us that the results may not be what you expect, and some of the results my

The chefs had warned us that the results may not be what you expect, and some may be quite surprising….there is a lot of truth, both in the positive and the negative of this comment. I am so happy for the experience and learning a lot about perceptions from this experience. Growing is sometimes painful, and that is how we get better.

2017-05-30 – Day 20 – First Rep

One of the things I was excited about trying out is two new learnings: The splat series from Steve Wyborney and the numberless word problems from Brian Stockus. Here is my chance to do the first rep with another class….mind you this is the last week of school, a minimum day, and I’m playing the part of a substitute.

Here’s the first view….

2017-05-29 – Day 19 – Mentorship

There are moments in life where you feel like that this must not be real, but in reality, it is. Moments, for example, when you are working side-by-side with your mentors, planning and working through some amazing things and you’re just so happy to be a part of the conversation. I am never more surprised that I am working alongside my master teachers to plan courses for other teachers. Being able to have an intelligent conversation is the first level, but then being able to contribute in a meaningful way is the whole next level.

After racing home yesterday, I had to meet up with my mentor, and we had an amazing discussion for two hours. We were reflecting on our course, looking at what went well and what we could grow in. If we get the chance to do it again, we’ll definitely make some small changes, but it is truly an epic adventure, we learned a lot going through.