Aloha! If you are a regular reader of our blog, you've heard us reference our school's Literacy Committee. This committee consists of teachers from various content areas who work together to help embed literacy (reading, writing, discussion, and critical thinking) in all of our school's classrooms. We are in charge of a lot of professional development and it can be a real challenge to keep things new and engaging. We recently developed a fun, meaningful PD session that could easily be replicated in any building for any professional development content. It's the complete antithesis of sit and get professional development, blending the sharing of strategies (by the experts: educators) and a little whimsy. People walked away with new ideas and new energy, so all and all - a success! If you have a PD session to plan in your future, check out our Literacy Luau. We'll walk you step by step through what you need to do to make this a fantastic PD event for you and your colleagues.
The other day my daughter was using a choice board for an assessment in her elementary science class, and I realized that, while I love giving kids voice and choice, I hadn't actually used a choice board before. Honestly, I think they are more commonly used in elementary classrooms but in secondary settings - not as much, which is why I want to share these idea with our BubbleUp Classroom readers. What might be a tried and true method in elementary could be something new to middle and high school classrooms. (If you are a long time reader, you've heard me say time and time again that elementary methods can be modified and applied to upper level settings with great success). Choice boards empower students by giving them a variety of ways to show what they have learned. They are also super versatile; a few quick edits and a choice board can be adapted from one unit to the next. They involve less than project based learning (which I also love but don't always have time for), but at the same time give the kids the chance to do their own thing which equals buy-in and engagement.
Our Essay Outline Generator has been an invaluable tool for us as we support student essay writing. It allows students to complete an electronic graphic organizer and then, with one click, the organizer becomes an outline for their essay. However, up until now, it has only been available for essay building in MS Word. But thanks our school's former tech coach (she is now with a different school district), our Essay Outline Generator is available for Google Docs -- and completely customizable so that you best meet the needs of your students!
Amy, an English teacher, facing the 8th grade Writing SOL (Virignia's standards of learning tests) in the upcoming weeks, came into the library with an idea to help her students review. She was armed with data from assessments showing the specific skills on which her students needed extra support and was hoping we could help her build a lesson. After some planning with Amy, Susanna (my co-librarian) and I delved into the 8th grade writing standards to figure out exactly what we needed to teach. What evolved was a review activity that surprised even us with the level of student engagement.
Definition of a #teacherfangirl: when Teacher A thinks Teacher B is so amazing that they spend time trying to teach more like Teacher A. In this situation, Cris Tovani, a talented, thoughtful English teacher (and book writer) with decades of teaching experience is teacher A and I am teacher B (but you probably figured that out by now).
Cris has been working with my school district over the past two years to improve our literacy programming. Consequently, Gretchen and I have had the chance to delve into her work and to hear her speak on multiple occasions. She's fantastic and has altered my teaching practice in so many positive ways. So for our 100th blog post (yes -- you heard me right -- one hundred!), Gretchen and I thought we would share the love by sharing with our readers some of the truths we've learned from Cris (yes, I can call her Cris because I am her #fangirl). Because as you know, when teachers share great ideas Bubbleup.
BubbleUp Take5: Problem Solving, Morale, Writing Feedback, Math + Google, and yes, a Personality Quiz
As I watch the headlines unfold day after day, and hear conversations among friends (both Democrats and Republicans alike) that our nation is more divided than ever, I can't help but feeling that educators (or maybe education policy gurus) are missing something - something vital to our democracy. The talk of late is about STEM and STEAM, about how we need to teach children to code, to experiment, to engineer and calculate. And we do, 100 percent. But by emphasizing some subjects over others, we are acting as though the humanities (subjects like history, civics, philosophy, geography and literacy) somehow don't matter as much as math and science.
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