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Okay, so I have a bit more that I think is important to talk about regarding the conference.  I am still in “happy conference professional development” mode.  Also, am happy that I scored a free flight voucher! WOO HOO!  The plane was overbooked so I did the voluntary give up your seat thing.  I am happy and it was worth it, even if it meant getting home way, way, way later.  Again, it was so worth it.  Plus, I got to meet new people at new airports since that is what they do.  I call it “chasing planes”  Again, worth it!

Today, I am going to talk about a workshop I went to where Bill Daggett and Bernadette Lambert spoke.  It was called “How to Achieve Rigorous Learning For ALL”. It was wonderful!  As a matter of fact I went to a workshop later in the day that Bernadette did on “Rubrics, the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly” yesterday morning, which was also phenomenal.  I will try to include some of that into this post.

As I have said in previous posts we want to push kids into being College AND Career ready.  We want to push them into quadrant D.  Bill kept saying that culture trumps strategy.  I do believe he is right.  I went to a workshop on how to change that culture that I will write about tomorrow.  Then, you won’t have to listen to me on this (I promise – told you I am a bit of a nerd haha)  We need to define what you want to do? Remember, the standards say college AND career ready.  College is not excellence, it is stair steps to career.  We need rigor and relevance.  Students need read world application!! A quote that I heard many,many times in the various workshops that I attended was “Relevance makes rigor possible for most students”.  We need to individualize and personalize education.  This is why technology is critical.  Let the students learn about what they want to learn about.  Base it on their interests when possible.

What made me happy was when Bill Daggett said that he is convinced state testing will go away in 3-5 years.  I certainly hope he is right.  He said that we will have to go to international benchmarks.  That being said, we have to think beyond the test!  Our SAT tests and state tests measure quadrants A and C.  What we need to focus on to help our students become successful in the world is quadrants B and D.

At this point, Bernadette joined in and talked about how we can improve our students and make learning rigorous for ALL.

1.  Think KISS – Keep It Simple and Strategic.  Celebrate their successes.  It is going to take small steps for us to change public education.  It is going to take the kids small steps to change their learning.  Celebrate all of their successes along the way. Remember, when we feel successful we are happy and our confidence improves.

2.  Think Beyond the Test!! As she said, and I quote – “The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing!” (When you really read that it does make sense!) We need to think about relevancy. Another concept we need to wrap our brains around is cognitive level vs. difficulty level NOT memorizing.  Memorizing is low level reasoning).  We need to require our students to think.  Hard does not mean rigorous and easy does not mean less rigorous.  We wan to focus on thinking, analyzing, and synthesizing.

3.  Think beyond the task.  You need to ask yourself if what you are having your students do is the right task.  To do that you have to ask yourself 4 questions about the task: What is the intention of the task? In other words, what is the purpose?  How is the task structured? This is the structure of the teaching, how you are planning to do it.  How will you measure success of the task?  Last, how meaningful/relevant is it for our kids?

We need to ask higher level questions.  Not just us, but the students as well.  We want THEM to do the thinking.  We need to move beyond instruction to structure.  To make it relevant we need to do the what, how, and why with our students.  What are we learning? How are you learning it? and Why are you learning it?  When the students understand all of this and how it relates to their life it will make more sense.  We need to use a gradual release of responsibility as well. This is where I do (you model), we do ( teacher and student do it), you do it together (students work in groups or pairs) and you do (they do it on their own successfully).

We need to move beyond numbers and grades.  Grades are really not that meaningful.  Face it, what is a B? What does that mean? What does a C mean?  They are based on numbers.  Rubrics are great and are measurable.  If you use a proper rubric, then it is measurable and the students will see where they are.  Using a 1,2,3,4 rubric think of this 4 being YES, you got it!  3  is Yes, but….(you got it almost but you still need to work on this..)  2 is No, but….(you didn’t get all of it , but this part was great). 1 would be No (you did not get any of it).  A rubric is measure and our students can see where they need to go and what they have accomplished.  It helps them analyze their learning.

Next, Bill Daggett did more talking.  The question is how o we turn the 20th century to have a growth mindset, and effective teaching.  Well, maybe we let the students give their opinion of the lesson or task.  It will take time, but if you build up a relationship with your students they will be honest with  you.  Collaborate and observe each other. Here, he is talking about professionals coming around and observing each other to work together and give feedback.  They call this instructional rounds.  Also, have professional learning communities (PLC)  However,r these communities should be interdisciplinary.  I LOVED when he said this.  Do not put all of you math staff on a math professional learning community, put other teachers there as well – science, social studies, librarians, reading, etc.  Same when in elementary schools – don’t put all of you third grade teachers in one PLC, put all grade levels mixed up together.  That why everyone can see how all subjects and grades are related, and how it all works together.  I LOVED this and have said this many times. Last, Bill said we need instructional practices assessments. We need to look at our classrooms carefully.  We need quality rubrics that drive across the disciplines and measure what matters.

WOW! I can tell it is going to take me a few days to decompress after this conference. Just settling back into routine and getting used to this crazy weather.  I am back home and wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt!  I was liking the heat down in Georgia!  Oh well, it was great.  Right now I have to finish up laundry, mow the lawn, and give the cat lots more attention.  He has been following along and won’t leave me alone.  Right now he is trying to get my attention by head butting my arm so I stop typing!

I will try to sum up the workshop on changing school culture so that all students succeed in tomorrow’s blog.

Have a great day!

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