Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Instructional Planner + Curriculum Mapper = Useful Data

Well, my mind is definitely overflowing with ideas. One of my thoughts that I hope to put some work behind SOON is getting back into my discipline of mathematics: look at a course and put pencil to paper on looking at concepts, taking those concepts and putting together Enduring Understandings, using Dr. Erickson's work we all had a chance to experience on October 4. I have said to a couple of people that if I was back in the classroom, trying to make sense of this, I would find this particular work more than a little intimidating for me! So what better way to face it than head on :) riiggghhhhhhtttttt!!  I am excited to begin this, maybe this weekend I will be able to "carve" out the time to start.

My next step for Curriculum Mapper/Instructional Planner is to hop over to the Mapper side and see what mischief I can get into. I have not done a lot of exploring yet and I know this is where the power to have deeper conversations around data will happen. It will be hard work for all of us to get to this point, but I am looking expectantly to being able to see the beginnings of our fruits from all the thought, conversations, training and work all of us have been doing with this piece of curriculum design over the past year and a half.

Our trainer, Ann Nelson from Newton, will be back with us on December 9. I think we will leave our team meeting times as is - Content Teams in the AM and District Leadership Team in the afternoon. I know some of us will get a double dose, but honestly, I see that as a positive. Please remember our task between now and then is to have at least one unit in IP, work with it, and when the unit is done (been taught) send it to Curriculum Mapper. If we all strive to do this before Dec. 9 we will have a much better experience with Ann. The time with her will be dependent on our follow-through!

I will come and help however I can! It was also suggested by another member of the teams that if anyone is interested on the teacher workday coming up, maybe within the same building, take an hour to put heads together. I had another idea for study group type stuff and that would be to visit buildings at a good time for that building (AM, PM, lunchtime), being available for anyone to work, ask questions etc.......Any comments, suggestions????

Lastly, I have had minimal contact with additional teachers that are showing interest in learning more now opposed to next year. That is perfectly OK! At the same time I don't want anyone feeling like they CAN'T start to explore. Just know that I am willing to come to you :):)

Enjoy the Fall weather, falling leaves and slowing falling temperatures! Be safe and look both ways before walking underneath that ladder looking for your black cat! Happy Haunting this Halloween!!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stop the World and Let Me Catch Up!

Hey everyone! I don't know about you, but after this past two months I am ready to to try to catch up with my shadow! We have been increasing our knowledge and skill immensely, beginning with Curr Mapper/Instr Planner on Aug 9-10, UbD on Sep 22-23 and then yesterday with Concept Based Learning. We now need to  process all this and see how all these connect. That is no easy feat, especially when the daily world of our work tugs at our sleeves and pant legs, constantly demanding our attention to the here and now, the minute by minute decisions we must make. I hope that as we meet this month, Oct 14 and next, Nov 4, we take time to do that processing, looking at how to orchestrate things for our district.

My initial thoughts on how they connect: Concept-Based Learning is the very bottom foundational piece to taking us and our students to a deeper level of understanding. Understanding by Design is that next layer, putting the big ideas, enduring understandings and essential questions into an instructional unit and curriculum design process/format. Then the tool used for "getting this on paper" is Instructional Planner. The other part of that technology tool, Curriculum Mapper will assist all of us in seeing how well our Concept-Based, Enduring Understandings hook our ICC standards, as well as other district level standards (such as perhaps music specific standards), showing gaps horizontally and vertically. Once there, we will all be able to have much richer conversations about how to "fix" those gaps, instead of searching for them. My thoughts are no where complete, but as I try to think about how it all fits, I think I am getting a clearer picture all the time - but I believe it is because I am pretty much forcing myself to ponder on it. Since no one is stepping up to stop the world so I can catch up, I figure I better look for even more ways to work smarter.

Well, thanks for reading - leave a comment, give your thoughts a chance to be heard.  Let the group know if you see different connects, think I am way off, etc. Remember we are learning together.

Enjoy the rest of this week - such beautiful weather!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

UbD Next Week - Prepare to Learn

Wow - can you believe September is more than half over already?! Next week we have Elizabeth Rossini coming to town to facilitate our learning with Understanding by Design. This will be a great time to get back into Instructional Planner as well.  Bring your laptops so we can use IP to write out the units we create with Elizabeth.

Remember to bring an upcoming unit to work on. This can be a time to create real units, using the Understanding by Design process, try them out in the classroom over the next few weeks and have some data to have meaningful conversation around afterward. The more authentic we make this the more meaning it will have for us in the future.

We will be at the ERC. Come early to get plugged in. We will start at 8:30 AM. Lunch on your own. Questions? Let me know before Wednesday next week!

See you there!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wednesday, Sept 8, Work Group

Hey all! Just a reminder that this coming Wednesday will be our first 'come as you are' work session. Bring your questions, your next unit - or past unit even - to practice with! If you will need a laptop let me know and I will make sure we have one available. This will not be a time where anyone is 'showing how to do it'. This is time set aside for working, inputting, DOING. As we begin to build units in Instructional Planner, questions will come up and we will help each other along the way.

One of my goals is to learn from our working together while preparing for the training of others next year. Please come, spend as much time as you would like. I will be at the ERC boardroom from about 3:00 - 6:00. Come for the whole time, come for part of the time. This time is informal and work oriented.

I hope to see a lot of you come by!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trials, tribulations, celebrations?

So, just checking in with everyone to see how things are going. I will try to touch base via this blog once a week at least to stimulate conversations around your progress.

It is entirely possible that you have looked at all that is on your plate at the beginning of the year and said - WAIT, let me start my engine.....realize two things: I am sure you are not alone in that thought and secondly, your thoughts now will probably be many of the thoughts all our teachers will have a year or so from now!

On the flip side if you have been able to carve some time to get after Instructional Planner some, feel free to share how it is going so far.  We will be setting up another day for Ann to come back with us for more training, but it will be a good idea to have some data for us to use when she comes. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!! We are all about learning it - we make mistakes, do better next time, etc. It is OK at this point not to do everything perfect - we will learn from that too!!

Start some discussion by leaving a comment......let's get this blog blogging :):)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scheduled Study Group time for September!

Hey all - I am going to arrange some after school times that, if you are free and would like to work with a cohort on inputting plans into IP, there will be a place and time to do so :) It was suggested by one of our team members, and also something I had been thinking about too! I am going to start by offering up Wednesdays this next month of September, beginning with the 8th of Sept each week. I know we have secondary and elementary so out times are different, but if I look at the ERC boardroom as a meeting place after school on Wednesdays we could meet there whenever you can be there - and for however long you want to stay. I will plan to be there from 3:30 - 6:00 (at the latest b/c I have a small group at church at 6:15 on Wednesdays).
No pressure just an offer to set up a time to come and work together, no requirement. A scheduled time that is available if you want some face to face time with others as you try to make headway on the IP.
After September we can re-assess day/time etc. or if people are utilizing this set aside work session.
Again - not required, but I know if I have something on a schedule with other people, I do better at getting to a task.
Let me know if you plan to come during a week just so I know how many to expect, etc. If you don't and decide you want to come at the last minute - COME :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

In the beginning there were binders....

Hi everyone. The idea behind this blog is to share our growing pains together. Perhaps have some collaboration without having to convene a face to face meeting to talk about how it is going, ask questions of each other, share something cool you discovered.

Just a couple of notes on my end. You will all find that Kreft is now Kreft Primary. Also, that when you want to share a unit with someone at the high school you really aren't seeing double or for some names, triple! And even though a teacher that commutes between schools like Jennifer Williams can't actually choose from all the classes of all the schools, the company has shared a fix, or a way around it. I have shared that with Jennifer already, but when all teachers begin to train, etc. it will be something to remember about. 

This blog could be a powerful tool for us if utilized. Take a risk, give it a try and when you feel like you are butting your head against the proverbial wall, BLOG! Post your frustration, your issue because you probably aren't alone in it :):)

Thanks and if nothing else just let me know you are on the other end :)