Thursday, November 12, 2015

Flipped Math Class in Action

Angela Gonzales decided it was time to rethink the structure of her math class. (Check out her reflective blog post here!) She was able to collaborate with Ginny Burdett and the results are amazing! Angela and her co-teacher, Michelle Fisher, are in week one of this flipped model and the benefits are already visible. Once students master the structure, they will complete the video, notes and an exit slip at home.

Teaching the Concept
The lesson objective for the day was to multiple decimals using a hundredths chart. Students were able to begin by going to their math course in Schoology and linking to Blendspace. They downloaded the notes and began watching the video that Miss Gonzales had created on how to complete the problems. This would fall into Augmentation on the SAMR ladder, since students are able to watch the video at their own pace and go back to look at any part of the explanation again and again.
Lesson created on Blendspace to put links, videos, notes, and exit slip all in one place.
Once they completed the notes to explain the steps of the problem and watched Miss Gonzales do examples on the video, they were able to start practicing. The students used a smart notebook file to draw and explain their thinking as they work through the activity for the day. This is also at Augmentation on the SAMR ladder, since students are able to use the variety of tools in the notebook program to clearly communicate their ideas.   

Student work with explanation of thinking.

Once they have completed the problems, the students submit their work into three folder based on their understanding in Schoology. Students that feel they completely understand and could teach a friend, place it into the first folder. The next level is for students who mostly understand, but may have a few questions. The final folder is for students who identify that they do not understand. The teachers use these folders to pull students for math groups.

Sharing the Learning
Once they finish, the students create videos to explain how to do the problem. The videos can be shared with the students who need more support through a media album on Schoology. This would bring the lesson up to Modification on the SAMR ladder, since students are able to teach and share their learning. Once all these components are mastered, the students go to IXL math to complete individualized lessons based on skills they need to practice.

Individualized Instruction
While all of this is going on, the two teachers are pulling groups to give students the extra explanation they need to solidify their learning. This is possible because the management procedures in the class are solid. Class dojo is up on the board and Miss Gonzales can reward or warn students by awarding them points from her iPad without leaving her seat. The students know to ask others at their table first, if they have questions about turning in work or what to do next.

Small group instruction and classroom management with Class Dojo.

I was able to speak with one student to ask her how she felt about the new structure of math. She said, "I like to watch the videos and I usually get it after watching it once, so I can start my problems and I don't have to wait for everyone else. It really sticks with you and I can go back and look at it if I do forget."

Angela described her class as a well oiled machine and I completely agreed. The students were engaged in individualized tasks that allowed them to express their math knowledge. Using MAP data, she plans to continue to differentiate and enhance her math instruction!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Novel Engineering

After attending "Novel Engineering" and "STEAM Teams" through the Northwestern Office of STEM Education Partnership, I left with new ideas to continue to connect science and engineering concepts through out content areas. As an instructional coach this year, I was able to connect with elementary science teacher Lisa-Beth Lovero on a novel engineering project. Mrs. Lovero teaches a science class to all the elementary classes as a special. She is also the school's Accelerated Learning teacher and was looking for a unique project for her accelerated group. Novel engineering fit the bill! As the students worked through the process, they created video reflections using the format I explain in this blog post.

What is Novel Engineering?
In novel engineering, students take a piece of literature and use the NGSS engineering and design standards to design a solution for a problem a character has in the story. The solution must fit the constraints of the text. This process creates an engaging way students blend literacy skills and engineering practices.

The Process 
1. Pick a book- We choose to introduce the principles with the picture book, "Snowy Day."
2. Identify the Problem- As the students read, they record the problems that arise in the text. In this video, you can see the students jump into action to record the problem as they hear it. In this text, the character puts a snowball in his pocket, only to come back to realize it melted.
3. Research- After the students read the text, they determine one problem for which they will design a solution. The students chose to solve how to keep the snowball cold in the coat pocket. The students then develop questions to research a solution. We used KidRex for safe searching. They need to keep the constraints of the story in mind, so the snowball must fit into the pocket. Mrs. Lovero used a baggie to represent the pocket.

4. Design it- Using their research, the students created a blue print draft of their design. This sketch shows the deep thought of this third grade student complete with materials, design, and process.
3rd grade student's design

5. Make the Prototype- Once they have completed their research and design, it is time to gather materials and create the prototype. The students recorded their trail and errors. This student is explaining what they created.

6. Test it- The students put their solution to the test. In this case, they students weighed the ice prior to the test, then drained the water and weighted it again after waiting 15 minutes.

7. Make it better- To follow the engineer and design standards, after test one, the students redesign and test again.

8. Present Solution-As a class, each group shares what they did and their final results. They each uploaded their videos to a media album in Schoology. Here all the students could view the process of each group in the class and comment on each others solutions. This collaboration brought the project up to Modification on the SAMR ladder.

Once the students discussed their solutions, they were prepped for the next project. In the next phase, the students will use a text at their reading level to design a solution for a problem of one of the characters.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

ECET2 Chicago

ECET2 Chicago "Can You Hear Me Know?"
I was given the opportunity to attend ECET2 Chicago, by my wonderful leader Jordan Garrett. I as able to join teacher leaders, other coaches, and administrators for this elite event. By 10am, I was already wowed by this conference themed “Can you Hear Me Now?”  The purpose was to celebrate educators and help them get their voices heard. 

After a wonderful breakfast, Christopher Bronke started as the first keynote. He inspired me to share my voice. He reminded us that blogging is an excellent way to get your words out there because if you have something to say, it is important to say it! He explained that sometimes we have to be bulldozers to lead and sometimes we have to be ballerinas, but teachers are the ones that know teaching best so our voice must be heard.  He left us with one final thought “Passion without action is wasted energy.”  This really made me think about the position I am in as an instructional coach and how I can turn my passion into action with teachers. He inspired me to share, share, share!

My breakout session was “Having Your Change Voice Heard” with Jeff Zoul.  I have followed Jeff on twitter for a little while now and was excited to meet him. He encouraged us again to get our voice heard. The focus was on Twitter and blogging to do this. This really encourage me to stick to my blog and stop making excuses.  So here I am blogging today. He shared great quotes from a few influential educators. All the quotes were inspiring, but Pernille Ripp’s ideas resinated the most with me. 

Share, listen, and encourage others. Thoughts from Penille Ripp at Jeff Zoul's session. 

Another theme of the day, other than sharing, was connecting. We were given ample time to connect. They set the appropriate setting for us to connect. We were encourage to mingle over "mocktails" and I had some great conversations with fellow instructional coaches, admins, and teachers. It was wonderful to meet some people I follow on twitter and make new connections! 

As I reflect on the day, I can summarize it into four major areas.  

  • SHARE- What I have to say does matter.  It will help others, so I want to make sure I am sharing ideas I value through twitter and my blogs. I am part of some amazing things that I am proud of, so I want to share that. 

  • LISTEN- Take the time to listen to what others have to say. Read blogs, follow tweets, and have conversations. Learning about all different perspectives and ideas will help me grow as an educator.

  • CONNECT- See what others are doing. It was great to share and listen to others. With the power of twitter, I can continue to stay in touch with these connections and make new ones!

  • TAKE ACTION-  When you have a  good idea, act on it. Have the grit to bulldoze the obstacles! 

ECET2 Chicago gave me an extra boost of energy and was great to keep me motivated and driven in my role as a coach!

Follow me on Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have several blog posts that I am working on about some exciting things, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a great resources I recently came across. Bloglovin'! If you're a fan of blogs, you need to sign up for an account.  Once you get started, you can attach all the blogs you follow to your account. Then they appear in one stream so you can go to one site and quickly get caught up on all of your blogs. The blog you want isn't found?  No problem, just add it!  This morning I am scanning through my feed so I can catch up as the kids play and start to get hungry for breakfast.  The Bloglovin' app is just as easy to use as the web version. You can use the link above or the widget to the left to follow me.  Big thanks to Bloglovin' for helping me hear the voice of other educators! I hope you love it as much as I do.

Here is my Bloglovin' feed this morning. I love the sleek, classic look. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

EdCamp Chicago Review

On Saturday Sept 26, I traveled to Libertyville and joined almost 200 fellow teachers, coaches, admins, and learners for a teaching conference with absolute no agenda. EdCamp Chicago! I was excited to see how a true EdCamp works.  The day was wonderful and I walked away with so many take aways from each session.  In addition to the knowledge I gained, I also realized how twitter has added a new level to my professional development.

Shawn Mckusker got the day rolling with some inspirational words and explained the rules of edcamp. Basically, we build the agenda, no PowerPoints, no sage on the stage, and vote with your feet! Then, we were invited up to the mic. Once you had an idea for a session you would grab a post-it note and share your idea to the group over the microphone. Sharing on the mic is a key collaborative piece for several reasons. 
  • This sets the stage for the type of discussion that will go on. 
  • It ensured two sessions were not the same. 
  • It allowed you to see who proposed it since, informally they would start the discussion. 
  • It was also great to start mentally setting up your schedule for the day. 

Person after person scurried up to share what they wanted to learn or something they wanted to share. There were so many great choices! I headed up to the mic to share my ideas of “Creating Growth Mindset with STEAM activities” and “Standard Based Grading.” Then, an EdCamp organizer takes your post-it and adds it to a google doc to give you a time and room number. By having someone add the sessions to a google doc, this helps to put similar sessions together and to ensure sessions in the same content area are not scheduled at the same time. Also, you had the doc to refer back to as you traveled from session to session.

FIRST SESSION: Growth Mindset and STEAM
Once everyone was finished and the agenda was filled for the day, we began to break into sessions. I hurried upstairs to a room full of people ready to talk STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). I led the discussion and everyone shared wonderful ideas. Here are some highlights. 

    • STEAM isn’t all 3D printers
    • Failure creates learning
    • Many teachers are doing this after school and at lunch, but it needs to be in the curriculum.
    • Also, there is a need for this in the community in addition to sports offered.
    • Cool tech tools are the site Sratch for coding, Khan academy coding, Makey Makey, Osmo, Lego robots.

It was great to facilitate my first EdCamp conversation. I was also able to be meet Lucy Gray (@elemenous), who I have used as a resource through twitter, diigo and goggle+. I also connected with Cathy Lannert(@cathyl4) and Ben Kuhlman (@bkuhl2you) who are doing great things with STEAM. 

SECOND SESSION: Student Leadership Opportunities
Next, I was off to share and gain ideas at “Student Leadership Opportunities.” This session was a well rounded group of educators trying to create students leaders and others shared how they have created student leaders. I was able to share about iSWAT (I’m A Student Willing to Assist with Technology), Ambassadors of Knowledge (AOK), and Pit Crew. Before I could explain about the upcoming SIT Conference in February Amy Lamberti, the co-chair of SIT began explaining it. It was so great to be in the company of these great educators who have created and expanded opportunities for students!

  • Creating student leaders creates a growth mindset
  • Students need ownership in their classroom
  • Teachers have to be able to give up control so students have the freedom to lead.
  • "Leader in Me" school based on text "Leader in Me" by Stephen Covey
  • Students run parent meetings to teach them technology
  • Sit Conference
  • Teaching Kagan Structures
  • ISWAT - Student Club that stands for “I’m a Student Willing to Assist with Technology”

LUNCH: Time to connect!
In essence I attended this EdCamp by myself, but there were plenty of familiar faces from twitter.  So at lunch I took the opportunity to meet Joy Kirr. Joy was such an inspiration for getting genius hour off the ground in my class.  Her influence is still spreading through my district. We had a wonderful lunch conversation. She even opened my eyes the list feature on twitter! I was excited to organize the people I follow. If you are new to lists like me, go check them out!

Session 3
In this block of time I decided to split between gamification and coaching collaborative. @QueenCarnduff and @MrMatera shared their success with gamification and were a great resource for questions.

  • Gamification is great for intrinsic motivation.
  • Engages students
  • Start small with one unit
  • Student are motivated by XP points!
  • All the resources can be found here!

Coaching Collaborative
Even though I was getting so many ideas from gamification, I wanted to learn from fellow coaches, so I headed to a session called “Coaching Collaborative.” It was great to meet some twitter friends face to face here, too! Many of the issues and solutions shared were very applicable to me and I walked away with great ideas to enhance my coaching practice. 

  • Resources to help teachers create personal technology plans
  • #educoach twitter chat on Wednesday at 9pm
  • IL coaches hastag - #iledcoach
  • Using Voxer, Periscope, or Glide to connect with others

A few twitter friends were in the room and I was able to connect with many more people. It helped me develop my iCoach twitter list! Check it out if you would like to connect with other coaches. 

Session 4: Standard Based Grading
I closed the day with a talk on standard based grading. I proposed this session, so I kept the conversation rolling. The conversation was nonstop! It was great to hear success stories and struggles. I gained great perspective from this talk. 

  • It looks different in each class- STEM vs Flower classes.
  • This will take time! The process will grow and change along the way.
  • There is a human element to grade “calculation.”
  • Focus on the words, not the numbers.  Use the word “Meet” instead of 3 as often as possible. 
  • Charts and student reflection help the students track their learning. Big thanks to Morgan Aiello for sending me so many great resources she uses with her students.  

So, we went from no agenda to a day busting with learning. Here is the final agenda and notes from each session. Check out my twitter lists for great new connections. As you can see, this was an awesome experience. I would recommend that everyone attend an EdCamp. I can’t wait until the next one to CONNECT, LEARN, SHARE, and GROW!

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's been awhile

Whoa! It has been awhile since you have heard from me. To say life has been busy is an understatement!  Since I have blogged last, I have had an adorable son. Little Will was welcomed into the world in February. It has been great to relax and enjoy my two children!  Gwen loves being a big sister.  

Family wasn't the only big change. After 12 year of teaching, I have taken a position as an instructional coach in my district. Hence the name change of my blog. (Oh my twitter changed as well. You can find me @JennyLehtosky.) I wanted to make sure it was clear that I would be sharing on a variety of topics, not just science, although it is still a passion!

This also seems like a perfect time for some reflection. To learn and grow, you have to think about where you have come.  

I can’t believe how fast 12 years of teaching went. 12 years!  After that long, I am comfortable to say that I can consider myself am expert at my job.  I may not know everything, but you better believe I will find out if I don’t.  I’ve worked very hard and that is paying off. I am ecstatic about my new opportunity, but of course if comes with anxiety.

Being the newbie reminds me of becoming a parent two years ago. This sweet little girl made me a mom.  

Talk about a humbling experience.  After having a successful 10 year career, I was pretty confident in pretty much anything.  But, becoming a parent you realize quickly what you don’t know. It really sends you back to the first year of your career.  Questioning yourself, making mistakes and overreacting, just like a first year teacher.  But we seem to have the parenting thing down, most days, and went ahead and welcomed number two. 

Now I find myself in a new role and the newbie feelings start flooding back. Will I cut it?  Will I keep up with the ever changing technology? Um, where is the bathroom in this building? 

I have to say, I think we were doing a pretty good job with these too cuties, so I think my next newbie roll will be successful! Look out, there’s a new iCoach to assist you! I'm excited to learn, grow, and share my experiences. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Weaving the Fabric of CCSS with NGSS

As my district’s science department is in full swing of implementing NGSS and aligning our instruction with standards based grading, the discussion of implementing the Common Core Standards continues to arise.  While tackling a new curriculum that is developed from scratch, it seems overwhelming to then include the Common Core Standards as well.  However, creating lessons to meet both set of standards can seem overwhelming, the Common Core Standards create the building blocks to reaching the intricate pieces of the Next Science Generation Standards.  The key is to use the Common Core Standards to reach Next Generation Science Standards.The connection between the CCSS and NGSS can be found at the bottom of each set of Next Generation Standards.   

I have used the ELA and Math CCSS to help my students achieve success with the science standards. With the help of colleagues, I designed a challenge based unit to address the areas of Human Impact and Weather and Climate in the NGSS.  The CCSS and google applications gave my students the resources and building blocks to reach the standards. Here are some examples of ways I used the CCSS to guide my NGSS instruction. 

After learning about weather and climate, the students had to create and implement a solution to reduce human impact on climate change (MS-ESS3-3).  Once the students have chosen a solution, they needed to create guiding questions.  Using CCSS WHST.6-8.7 and WHST 6-8.8, the students created their own questions and conducted research using the google research tool. They gathered evidence from multiple sources to discover meaningful facts to support their solution. To prove their solution would impact climate, they created a chain reaction chart that gives evidence to how their solution will affect climate change.  Here is one example of the chain reaction chart

To reach standard MS-ESS3-4, the students needed to cite textual evidence to construct a solid argument to support their solution using CCSS RST6-8.1. The students found sources, again using the google research tool, to fit their topic and organized the evidence in a chart in google classroom that is shared with the group and myself.  Throughout the process, I can see their progress and monitor their evidence. Once their evidence is organized, they can put it together to construct their argument. Check out this example.

Having a degree as a reading specialist causes me to lean toward the reading side of the Common Core, but math is such a significant part of science. Science gives the students many opportunities to reason abstractly and quantitatively (MP.2). Using the math standards, some students analyzed the school and district power bills to determine how it can be lowered. One group worked to get motion sensors installed into the school bathrooms. They will monitor if it lowers our energy use by analyzing next months power bill.  Another group wants to reduce the amount of waste at our school by using reusable silverware.  The students had to compare prices of different sets of silverware and create expressions to determine which set would be more cost effective, which aligns with Math Standard EE.B.6. Then, they had to go a step further and create a profitable fundraiser to purchase the silverware. Both of these math applications allowed the students to reach MS-ESS3-3 to apply a scientific principles to measure and monitor a way to minimize human impact on the environment. 

Since we are just starting to transition to standard based grading, my department questions assessing the common core standards as part of our system. I follow the principle that you need to explicitly teach it to fairly assess it. If students have not had a chance to learn and practice a concept, then it should not be assessed unless they are able to do so. However, this does not need to be done in the science classroom. By working with the ELA teacher, you can get a sense of the CCSS that have been taught. Often if they do not know how to meet the CCSS, they will do poorly reaching the full depth of the NGSS.  For example, they will not be able to construct a solid argument with evidence.  In my class, we do explicitly practice pulling evidence from informational text and collecting scientific data, so I feel confident assessing my students in that area. Also, many of the CCSS are naturally assessed when assessing NGSS.  

When the Next Generation Standards and Common Core State Standards are intricately webbed together, they create a logical patchwork that makes the work of the students purposeful. The students benefit from real world application and have truly experienced the process of conducting research to implement a goal. While not all solutions were implemented, the knowledge gained through this process is immeasurable.