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This is not how I teach.
Welcome to VSH Academy’s curriculum night! n n Who we are: identity and culture Why: strengths of a small multi-age environment, some about Reggio Emilia What we are aiming for: Kindness, Connectedness, and Wisdom How we get there together n n Social Academic
Who am I? (the ringleader) Bachelor’s from UW (History), Master’s from Seattle U. n Attended both private (elementary) and public schools n Began assistant in a Montessori infant care room, toddlers, and regular classroom during college (nurturing side) n Worked as a full-time nanny for a family of two boys while attending night school, until I graduated, started a family AND a school of my own (hit the ground running) n Full-time head teacher of VSH for about 8 years, through two location changes, while Meg was having the girls (human development) n 5 years at St. Joseph’s Parish school 5 th, 6 th grade (in the box) n Back to start Academy now in its 5 th year (out of the box) n Four daughters, Veronica freshman Tulane, Rio jr. at the Overlake School, Georgia freshman at Bear Creek, married 22 years this October, musician, artist, tinkerer n
Who we are: entrepreneurs or small business n experience, training, skills, or family members with a teaching background n locals n somebody you know, sent you to the school n an extension of The Village Schoolhouse pre/k n technology field reference n
Why a small multi-age group? n The Caring Capacity: A Case for Multi. Age Experiential Learning. (ED 443620) n Multi-Age Classes and High Ability Students. (EJ 600456) n ”The multi-age setting heightens everyone's awareness of individual differences and the necessity for cooperation and mutualism. It maximizes the opportunity to develop leadership and interpersonal skills alongside peers of different ages to become assistant teachers who model appropriate behaviors and desired learning outcomes for younger students. In passing on important lessons in trust, responsibility, compassion, and conflict resolution, students develop self-confidence and empathy. Perceptions of failure are diminished because of a learning climate that embraces student diversity and individual as well as group accomplishment. ” n Studies of cognitive and affective factors have consistently shown positive effect sizes. Discusses conditions under which positive effects are most likely and explores multiage classes as an alternative for highability children. (Contains 85 references. ) (SLD) n Are Multi-Age Grouping Practices a Missing Link in the Educational Reform Debate? (EJ 499127) n Cognitive and Noncognitive Effects of Multigrade and Multi-Age Classes: A Best-Evidence Synthesis. (EJ 522378) n “when older students teach information and skills to their younger classmates, their academic performance, and even IQ scores, dramatically improve. The research of Arthur Whimbey (in his program T. A. P. S: Talking About Problem Solving) showed that when students were routinely given the opportunity to teach someone else, their scores on IQ assessments improved as much as eighteen points. ” n “Picture kids of different ages in one classroom with one teacher for several years, and you are visualizing a trend in education reform. ” Sandra J Stone ASCD
In presentation mode: “So you see, that is how photosynthesis takes place! (I hope they’re watching…) “Wow the big kids are smart! I bet I can do something that’ll impress them! (Wonder if they’ll help me out? ) “Wow, that was great, next time…”
In project or collaboration mode: The wide eyed admirer who makes everything seem fresh, fun, and new. Can give ideas and wants to contribute in a manageable way. Observes the whole process unfolding and is SO PROUD! “We are awesome! Look what we did!” Young student Mature student A A- Provides leadership and a larger sense of timeline or expectations, keeps things rolling and group engaged, scaffolding for higher thinking. “How does Mr. W do it!? ” Task Middle student B B- Looks to older student for cues on how to approach task, what level to reach for, provides energy, ideas, and a bridge between older and younger. Jumps right in… “Yes ma’am”
Multi-age means: n Research supported: More positive about school and learning n More opportunities to develop empathy and understand differences n More forgiving of others and self n Leadership opportunities available to every age n Greater individualization is possible when learning is happening at many levels simultaneously RESULTS= Max’d personal and academic growth n
The small multi-age learning community is rich soil for these personal traits to grow out of: Kindness: small expressions of affection and social grace which remind us all that we are valuable n
Connectedness: feeling useful, a companionable relationship with others based on shared experiences, to depend on others, to be dependable n
Wisdom: an attitude towards life, utilizing knowledge and skills accumulated by search and curiosity, tempered by experience, filtered through a system of values or morality, involving patience and a sense of timing, often illustrated by careful observation of nature n
How we get there together: n Social (discipline) n n n Think about what you want to pass on to your child and society Be a good example Teach and rehearse Insist on it and enjoy the smiles Accountability and conversation: n n n connect to student physically and emotionally, develop empathy, provide the tools to student to take charge of self or situations report cards and self-evaluation Built into days, weeks, months: n daily rituals, Manners Monday, literature connections, holidays, social studies, service connections, expectations made clear
Academic n n n Language Arts; literature & writing Mathematics Social Studies Science Music Art
Fuel for the Fire KEY: A variety of high quality, engaging literature, modern or classical Great Books anthologies; short stories, excerpts from classic novels, poetry n Magazines and periodicals n Award winning, classic, or high interest new novels n Engaging non-fiction science or social studies books n
Gathering Round KEY- target critical thinking and writing n n n challenging questions (no easy answer) text/evidence based focus on fluency in younger grades connect personally, imaginatively and comparatively identify the tools of excellent writers; personification, alliteration, repetition, simile, metaphor, allegory, allusion, themes, change, dilemma, tone, word choice, sentence construction, plot dynamics, etc…
Hands to the Heat n n n Elements of Fiction: Setting, Plot, Character, ? Graphic organizers: characters changing, cause/effect, problem/solution, etc… Active Reading Journals: n n n Predict and qualify Summarize Connect (self/story/world) Imagine (five senses) Evaluate (like/dislike, well done/poorly done? ) Challenging Question
Gathering Round Looks Like: A novel read aloud, to the whole class, with pauses to discuss, draw out critical thinking, questions, and highlight elements of fiction Young learners are exposed to “scaffolding” or high level ideas which provide a model on “how to think like a big kid” Sometimes very young students have amazing insights
Or… Reader/ Leader Small groups of parent, staff, multi-age led groups, who listen and discuss, then respond Reader/ Leader
Or… Reading groups, or partnerships where they share the responsibility of reading aloud, discuss together, then respond, sharing ideas and helping each other write a quality response.
A sampling of books/authors n 1 st-3 rd grade n n n n n Dr. Suess Frog and Toad Magic Treehouse Shel Silverstein (all age) Harold and the Purple Crayon Beatrix Potter Rudyard Kipling A. A. Milne Fairy tales and folktales from all over the world n 4 th n n n n The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald, Clifford B Hicks A Horse’s Tale; integrates with WA state History/Geography The Sea Lion by Ken Kesey (tale told in NW coast traditional style) Many other NW Coastal folktale picture books Boxcar Kids series Happy Hollisters Wind in the Willows Illustrated novel
From n grade on… 6 th-7 th n n n n th 5 White Fang by Jack London The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park Something Wicked this way Comes, by Ray Bradbury Onion John by Joseph Krumgold King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz 7 th n n n 7 th-8 th n n n (7 th) Good Masters, Sweet Ladies; Voices From a Medieval Village The Devil’s Workshop by Katherine Marcuse n n Wuthering Heights by C. Bronte and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Romanticism Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury Uncle Tom’s Cabin Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck Animal Farm and 1984 by G. Orwell Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne The Hobbit The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
25 books during the year n n n MS students must read 25 books during the school year across 11 different genre groups They should bring the book to school, or at least the title and author, then give a book talk “But that’s like… a book a week…” YES, get reading! Goal is to encourage independent reading by exposing them to lots of different types of books! Younger students are also on the list!
Building Your Own Fire Important paradigms which inform writing instruction 6 traits of effective writing Ideas Organization Sentence Fluency Word Choice Voice Conventions Publish/Present Correct: fix mistakes Revision: reorganize, add/subtract Drafting: getting started Brainstorming: best ideas organized
Specific Tools & Projects Yearlong Projects Tools n n n n Graphic organizers Student/Expert Examples Collaborative Writing (we all write short pieces together on the board) Outlines Checklists Student/Student peer coaching Student/Teacher conferencing “A sentence composing approach” material n n n Book Reports (yearlong) Newspaper (student driven) Building paragraphs; topic sentence and details, question stem (Sept) Letters (Sept) Creepy Story Festival (Oct) Persuasive Letters/Ads (Nov) Poetry Journal (Dec) Special Project Night (Jan) Illustrated Storybook (Feb) Research Paper/Informational Paragraph (Mar) Science Experiment (Apr) 5 prgrph essays (5 th +)
Let’s Talk About Levels; ie. Book Reports 1 1 st paragraph: Basic elements of book Maybe one evaluative statement 2 1 st and 2 nd paragraph with descriptive summary of a moment in the book 3 Full 3 paragraphs with increasing levels of detail, evaluation, clarity, fluidity, and quotations from the book.
Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation? n n Grammar & Punctuation: materials chosen with students in mind, weekly concept focus, trying hard to draw attention to corrections in daily work, NOT in brainstorming or drafting stage of writing process generally, MS sentence fluency “chunking” Focus on revision in writing APPLICATION List of 1200 most commonly used words in print; student works with words NEEDED, not predetermined list of words… n Pre-test Practice Post-test
Public Speaking n n Constantly reporting/performing group results of projects where everybody must have a role, and where inclusion is a measure of success. It’s in our culture! Skills and practices of good public speaking are taught and rehearsed; Creepy Story, Science Experiment, Special Projects MS: Mock Trials, Debates, Reader’s Theatre We believe that speaking to be heard and understood is something you learn to do through specific guidance and practice! …eye contact, volume, pacing, voice, gesture, stance…
Mathematics n Singapore curriculum’s advantages Repetitive focus on fewer concepts, introduced more gradually, designed to help students gain mastery at higher levels before moving on like many more modern “spiraling” curriculums like Everyday Math n Accessible, portable, colorful, and you can write all over them n Has excellent methodologies and structures which are built into the curriculum from the first book continue consistently n Proven track record of success with Singapore’s international test scores head and shoulders above the rest n
How it works n n n Students assessed & placed at “pretty easy” to build confidence, momentum, and get accustomed Quiet work in math time everyday, getting help from peers or staff when they need it, interacting with manipulatives on their own, or with guidance, staying in from recess if not productive enough! Students begin to self-correct work with calculators or answer keys, staff and parent oversight when they are mature enough to do so Singapore 2 nd grade math = books 1 B/2 A (1 st and 2 nd half of year) You end on book A of your actual grade. n n n Homework each night possible, parents check work and initial page or mark mistakes; students try the problem again! Or get help in the process of trying! When books are finished and all corrections made 85% min. score on test needed to advance, at less than 85% review and practice must be undertaken, then re-assessed. n n Math facts drill and practice? YES and… no IT IS BETTER TO MASTER IT, THAN MOVE ON TOO SOON!
Standard Math Textbook alternative Progress in Mathematics from Sadlier/Oxford n Like our old texts; 12 concepts in a year, organized by chapter with assessments at the end of each chapter. n Short lesson, then practice the algorithm or concept. n Matches standard curriculums in most public and private schools n
Compare and Contrast n Singapore -MATERIALS: Two books with lesson and some work in one, prescribed practice in another. “Stop and go” -Review along with way, but summative challenging assessment at end of book’s course; mastery level -Fewer concepts covered a depth and intensity -New models and ways of thinking analytically about math and patterns n Standard Text -MATERIALS: One book and a lined paper journal; “look here, write here” -More opportunities for assessment along the way; chapter tests -More concepts, but covered at lower intensity (less practice and repetition; easier) -Recognizable algorithms and strategies
My thoughts n n Singapore seems to work well for the naturally math inclined, who are focused and independently driven. Challenge and modeling are appealing, as well as the “ladder structure. ” Builds high level of analytical thinking. Concepts not covered will be easily picked up as they mature, or as they are exposed to them in new settings. Highly fluent math learners are ready for whatever comes their way. “A, B, C, D, E and zed” Standard texts seem to work well for students who struggle with mathematics generally, or who have focus challenges. No switching back and forth from book to book. Smaller doses with built in opportunities to reteach and review along with way, but level of competency and concepts can be superficial. “A, B, C” now move on… Each has strengths and weaknesses, we evaluate and discuss with students and families as they mature. Individualization and middle ground for both approaches? n One book Singapore? Individualized pacing for standard text? Boutique it?
How we work to insure success: We check along the way for mastery of smaller skill sets n n n n We develop review and practice materials when students need it We track weekly progress every Thursday We check each morning if they have done HW, record it, informing you if they are off track, every 2 weeks We use flashcards/games to develop instant recall of important math facts n We teach them how to write the problem neatly n We are always looking for a way to teach to your student individually Daily and weekly goals involving student in self motivation! n We date stamp their work each day to show where they stopped Every Monday we review some math vocabulary words We recognize and reward consistent progress and homework habits
My gripes about typical math curriculums and classrooms n n n Score high enough on the test and you move right along even though you may have gotten all of one skill wrong. We analyze each test for error patterns. Most math curriculums have all kinds of “stuff” added which can be a distraction from the essential skills which each student needs mastery over, and are needed to be ready for new, more complex concepts. Everybody is usually working on the same thing at the same time, and there is little room for students to slow down if necessary, or move faster if they understand the material. Often not enough of a focus on math vocabulary, which, if not understood, can stop you dead in your tracks! “What’s a quotient? ” These can create a situation where students move through year to year with only a tenuous grip on the basics, finally confronting the gaps when it’s pretty late to correct them and their confidence is low, they have to be remediated, it’s embarrassing and usually too late to affect much change in attitudes, which can be more important than any one skill in the long run.
Transition to Middle School n n Completion of book 5 A or 5 B, we begin to consider transitioning the student to alternative curriculum if they express interest We will always be open to individualizing to keep engagement high as they mature Choice is a always a powerful motivator Algebra by 8 th grade if their work habits and mastery demonstrate their ready
Social Studies Civics/Gov’t History Daily Life Economics= survival Key Events/ & People Geography: connects to all Culture: ways of life, & innovation The level of complexity, nuance, and detail rises with each year, but many of the larger themes run through year after year in every area! Examples: Community, Conflict, Change through Time, Geography affects Culture, etc…
In Balance n Text-based learning n n n n Textbooks Workbooks Smaller trade books Tests Vocabulary “Questions at the end of the chapter” Research n Alternatives n n n Documentary films Brainpop animations Playing a character Storyline Mock Trials or Debate Building Models or Simulations
Keeping both approaches effective: n Text based Active reading n Elements on the page n How to re-read for answers and where to look n Taking notes n Studying for a test n Researching skills and organizing thoughts n Completing long answers n n Alternatives Pausing films/ documentaries to discuss n Providing focus questions or assessment afterwards n Keeping simulations historically accurate n Providing good preparation and background info to make simulations successful n Giving enough time for fruits of imaginative projects to mature n
Some examples of Social Studies Enrichment: n n n Primary documents and artifacts Hands on Burke Boxes Field trips n n n n n The Museum of History and Industry Issaquah History Museum Seattle Art Museum Library for Special Project Research UW’s Burke Musuem Underground Seattle… State Capitol in Olympia Henry Art Museum Frye Art Museum
Some important concepts to emphasize Historical empathy & multiple perspectives n Questioning the source of information n Economic forces behind major events n The role of innovation and technology n How the stories we accepted have evolved as our culture has evolved n
Some favorite materials: n n n Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen Reader’s Theater for American History Colonial House, Frontier House: PBS documentaries about modern families trying to live successfully in historically accurate settings The War that Won America: documentary on the French and Indian War Old magazines and stuff from the attic The internet & integrated historical fiction novels
A thumbnail sketch of focus by grade n n n 1 st-2 nd My community, my family, my neighborhood, from yesterday to today, solving problems 3 rd My community, my region, my neighborhood, first peoples, jobs, and gov’t 4 th Wa state history and geography, NW coast native peoples n n 5 th US History to 1791 6 th World History: Ancient Civilizations and geography 7 th World History Medieval to 1490 and WA state history geography 8 th US History from 1776 through Reconstruction
My top priority is to make sure that our students know the history of the world in general terms, the history of our country and its unique beginnings, the history of our great state, and that they will be savvy participants in the democracy.
Science: knowledge has a shelf life, curiosity and critical thinking are a treasure of civilization Earth Physical The three primary areas of scientific knowledge run through all of the science textbased materials, although the divisions between them quickly fade away. Life As students mature, the same concepts are revisited with great layers of complexity. What is alive and what is not? Plants need the sun, soil and water to live! How does a plant know to grow up and roots grow down? Photo and Gravitropism. Plants and their parts… What are the layers and functions of roots? Root tip, Phloem, Xylem, Epidermis… Plant cells vs. Animal cells
In Balance n Text Materials n n n n Biology/Anatomy coloring book Textbooks/Workbooks Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books Science non-fiction trade books Supplementary non-fiction materials Periodicals Science internet sites n Alternatives n n n n Hands on investigations Model building Inquiry based projects/Problem solving Experiential learning “Formal Experiments” (writing connection) Field trips Burke Boxes full of specimens Science documentaries/shorts
This year we began with and essential question which will guide inquiry all year in both science and social studies! Who am I? -I am an organic system, made of systems, within other systems. (Human body focus) What is a system? -A system is set of parts working together for a common purpose, which require energy to continue operating. (Inorganic and organic/social…)
“Questions are more important than knowledge” Einstein Students complete a formal science experiment in April n Starting next week, a graph of the morning temperature from our weather station, generalizations about the data n It is very important that we learn to “think scientifically and logically”! Like Spock… n
We have excellent specialists! n Retired Master Music Educator (Music Man) n n n rhythm, pitch, volume, dynamics, patterns the voice is your primary instrument New art teacher Mrs. Barber from VSH n n integration of great artist study with technique and concepts Van Gogh; movement, color, medium Every year we make movies where students are directly involved with writing directing, acting, filming… n
Things to consider about middle school: n n Usually a rough time in social/emotional relationships with parent and peers. Self image can suffer due to the stormy and uncertain nature of the group. “Let’s put them all in a big building together!” A time when academic performance for girls plummets; “Pretty girls are quiet girls. ” The opportunity to LEAD, to be an example, to manage people, to serve a community, is a LIFELONG benefit experience and a skill set that never goes away.
Question: As a student comes to the time in their life where their peers become the most powerful influence… a time when the culture of the crowd rules… What kind of culture will they enter?
New area of interest: Reggio Emilia n n Reggio Emilia philosophy and practices are built on the same constructivist foundation as Montessori (the tradition I spring from) Meg and I are both researching the ideas and methods associated with this movement since it provides so much more social, natural, emotional, and intellectual context to the learning environment.
Reggio is right up our alley!… n n n Emphasizes respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum In addition to the influence of many early childhood psychologists and philosophers, such as Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Gardner and Bruner, the educators of Reggio Emilia were inspired by their community-centered culture. Children must have some control over the direction of their learning; Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing, and hearing; Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves. The child is also viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge. Rather than being seen as the target of instruction, children are seen as having the active role of an apprentice.  This role also extends to that of a researcher. Much of the instruction at Reggio Emilia schools takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding.  Children are also viewed as social beings and a focus is made on the child in relation to other children, the family, the teachers, and the community rather than on each child in isolation.  Parents are viewed as partners, collaborators and advocates for their children. Teachers respect parents as each child's first teacher Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child's learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child's interests, asking questions to further understanding, and actively engaging in the activities alongside the child, instead of sitting back and observing the child learning. "As partner to the child, the teacher is inside the learning situation" (Hewett, 2001). Teacher autonomy is evident in the absence of teacher manuals, curriculum guides, or achievement tests. The lack of externally imposed mandates is joined by the imperative that teachers become skilled observers of children in order to inform their curriculum planning and implementation.  Teachers trust themselves to respond appropriately to children's ideas and interests, they trust children to be interested in things worth knowing about, and they trust parents to be informed and productive members of a cooperative educational team. The result is an atmosphere of community and collaboration that is developmentally appropriate for adults and children alike.