Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Monday morning memo ~ 16

In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, we may find ourselves at a loss for words. We may find ourselves questioning what we have always thought to be unquestionable. We may find ourselves searching for the resolve we may never find...

Angela Maiers' most recent blog post pushes us to do what we know and do best... TEACH.

Please take a few moments and read what she has to say about this tragedy: There is no lesson plan for tragedy - Teachers YOU know what to do.

In spite of what is going on around us, we have much to be proud of and much to celebrate here in Union. For example, last week at Beaufort Elementary, Mrs. Wiskur and Mrs. Vandiver teamed up their 6th grade students to create and act out "mystery plays."

Students from both classes were teamed up together and were all able to select a play they would ultimately act out and present to their fellow classmates. With this activity students were able to be collaborative, creative, and gained valuable social exposure as they worked together to accomplish this goal. Well done Mrs. Wiskur, Mrs. Vandiver and BE 6th grade students!

Last week at Central Elementary, Mrs. Dickman's 1st grade students had a special Friday morning treat. A 2nd grade student at CE (a former student of Mrs. Dickman), recently met his AR goal. As a reward he chose to read to Mrs. Dickman's 1st grade class! The book he chose to read was called, How Crocodiles Grow Up. The discussion the kids had about crocodiles was amazing as their inquisitive minds were thinking and sharing. The 2nd grade student thoroughly enjoyed playing the teacher role. What an opportunity for him to be a role model for the younger 1st grade students!

For the last several weeks, Mr. Wright's industrial technology students at Union High School have been working on a rather lengthy and complex project. Students have been given the opportunity to build their own bridge. As you can imagine, there is a lot that goes into designing and creating your own bridge.

Last Friday each student had the opportunity to test the "efficiency" of their bridge to determine the overall weight the bridge can handle in comparison to the overall weight of the bridge. The next step is to put the students in teams of four. They then will take the written reflections and the lessons learned and join up with Mr. Baker's Geometry students to create even higher efficiency bridges. Great idea and great collaborative learning opportunity for students!

~ Just another great week at Union R-XI!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Monday morning memo ~ 15

There is a significant difference between something 
being hard and something being rigorous...

For example, assume a student has been learning about the 50 states in the United States of America. The last two weeks of class have been focused on learning not just the 50 states, but also learning the history of America and the significant events that have occurred leading up to the current 50 state structure.

Assessment 1: Collaboratively design and create a presentation focusing on one of the major events in America's history that have affected and/or played a significant role in our current 50 state structure. Be prepared to present this to your classmates and be able to justify/explain why this particular event was so significant in America's history

Assessment 2: Using a blank map of the United States, write down and correctly spell all 50 states.

Assessment 1 is rigorous because it is complex and has depth. There are several steps to this assessment, and most importantly, the assessment is not specific to just the content, but also to skills that are transferable to other content areas and beyond. This assessment requires students to work collaboratively while providing them flexibility and creativity to present in a manner they so choose. This assessment can have multiple correct answers.

Assessment 2 is hard because it is asking each student to have memorized the location of each state, as well as have memorized how to spell each state correctly. This assessment is also hard because it disconnects much of the information presented over the last two weeks in regard to the history of the 50 states. Students will think the important focus is on just knowing the 50 states and how to spell them, rather than the history and background behind our current 50 state structure. This assessment can only have one correct answer.


Watch this 4 minute video discussing a rigor matrix comparing DOK levels and Bloom's Taxonomy.

Check out Karin Hess' Rigor Matrix mentioned in the video here: Rigor Matrix

Remember, the educational journey can be long and difficult... be sure to keep things in perspective!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Monday morning memo ~ 14

Karin Hess on Depth of Knowledge (3 minute video)
*Click on Karin's name for the Cognitive Rigor Matrix

"Whether you realize it or not, all your students are engaged all the time. The important question is, what are they engaged in?"

How can we continue making this shift in our classrooms? Shifting away from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom. It's not about doing less work, it's about making education more purposeful, more relevant, and more engaging for our students.

It's all about the approach for our students... how can you help guide and direct them to the right approach?

These might not show up on a standardized test, but nevertheless they are extremely important. How do we and how are we teaching this...?

Because of the time of the year and because it's Monday, you probably need a little encouragement to smile, laugh, or cry... or perhaps all three at the same time; watch this 4 minute video to kick start your week!