Tag Archive for staff memo

Habit 2 of Wild Readers

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

I’m continuing to share what I learn as I read Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. (Previous posts are here and here.)  Habit 2 of Wild Readers are that they self-select reading material, a habit that I see instilled already in most of our students with the Daily 5 framework solidly in place. Why do we have students self-select reading material?  Miller identifies the following reasons (p.46):

  • Allows students to value their decision-making ability
  • Fosters their capacity to choose appropriate literature
  • Gives them confidence and a feeling of ownership
  • Improves reading achievement
  • Encourages them in becoming lifelong readers
But what about those students that struggle with self-selecting an appropriate book? According to Miller, “Students who cannot successfully choose texts that meet their personal and academic reading goals fail to develop a vital skill that all wild readers possess.” (p. 47)
 
So what can you do to help your students that are currently unable to self-select?  Here are suggestions from Miller:
  • Read-Alouds
  • Reading Community Suggestions
  • Creating Book Buzz (1 easy example is a raffle drawing to get to be the 1st reader of the new classroom library books)
  • Abandoning Books (conversations about when/why to abandon a book) – Miller recognizes that habitual book abandoners do’t have the reading experience to know how a typical story will flow with building pages to set the stage for entertaining conflicts.
  • Selection Reflections-do they know other readers, online sources or book stores/libraries to go to for book recommendations? Miller shares (in the appendix of the book) a student selection reflection form that can help you as the teacher get to know more about how/why they selected/abandoned a book.
  • Preview stacks- create a stack of books you think a student might like, let them preview/choose from the stack (or reject all to find a different book).
*While I am giving bullet points in this post, the book obviously goes much more into detail to build a better understanding of how/why for each of these.

Identifying Fake Readers

 

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

As I shared in last week’s Monday Musings, Habit 1 of “Wild Readers” is that they dedicate time to read. I am still devouring chapter one on this habit, spending quite a bit of time thinking about Fake and Avoidance Reading. I’m sure you can think of at least one student in your class that falls in this category.  These are the students that spend more time preparing to read or going to the bathroom than they do actually reading.  You all know from building the Daily 5 structure that just telling them to sit down and read will not do any good, so what do you do?

According to Donalyn Miller, fake reading and avoidance reading commonly occur when students lack independent reading habits, confidence, or adequate reading skills.  To help our fake readers, we need to identify their coping behaviors that are helping them hide the fact that they aren’t actually reading.  Here are some warning signs that Miller identifies:

  • Finishes few books or finishes books too quickly.
  • Abandons books often.
  • Conducts personal errands during reading time.
  • Fidgets or talks a lot.
  • Rarely has a book to read.
  • Acts like a wild reader. (these are the hardest to identify)
As Miller explains this in her book, she actually took her conferring time on a few different days to secretly observe these students during the literacy block to record their reading behaviors (or lack there of) and then delicately confront them about their fake reading behaviors.  (When she met with the student she showed her notes that included “not turning pages,” “staring out the window,” “head on the desk” “turned a group of pages”) A common excuse for these fake readers is that “reading is boring.” These students have probably never had a positive reading experience, such as connecting to a book or even completing one.  She then gave the student an opportunity to reflect and make a plan together.
Do you have a fake reader in your class? Let me know if you’d like to try using Miller’s form to record their reading behaviors and have a discussion with them to move them forward. Want to read the book? We have several copies available in the professional reading library for you to check out.

Sharing Reading in the Wild

My next several Monday Musings posts for staff will be sharing my learning as I read Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild. Here’s this week’s post for our staff:

Read Across America week is probably my favorite week of the year, because I love reading and love any opportunity to promote it.  We celebrate reading in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday (on March 2) this week and encourage all of our students/families to celebrate reading together.  What is great about Dodgeland, is that this doesn’t happen just during Read Across America Week.  You all do a tremendous job of sharing your reading lives with your students, modeling a passion for reading each day, and having classroom practices that promotes building lifelong reading habits.

I am currently reading Donalyn Miller’s latest book, Reading in the Wild in which she shares habits of “Wild Readers” (as a result of surveying over 800 adult readers). I plan to share each of these habits with you throughout the next few weeks.

Habit 1: Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read

The #1 excuse to not read is not having time.  Parenting, work, housework, homework, etc. all excuses to not read.  But Wild Readers make time to read.  They read during small moments throughout the day when they can “steal” an opportunity to read.  What about reading logs to keep track of time?  Most wild readers don’t keep track of their time, they don’t have a concrete amount of time that they’ve read, because they often just sneak in those times throughout the day to read.  Miller points out how a mandate of reading 30 minutes a night can often be interpreted by students as 30 solid minutes. If they don’t have 30 consecutive minutes (because of their busy schedules) then they’ll likely just not read at all, not realizing that 5 minutes here and there can add up throughout the day.   How can you share these kinds of ideas with your students to help them learn about ways to find time to read?   I hope that our “reading storms” this week can help prompt the idea that we can “steal” minutes of reading throughout the day.

As you think about your classroom and Daily 5 block, does your structure give students enough time to read each day?  Donalyn Miller points out that we cannot blame parents when kids don’t read at home and then neglect the need for daily reading time at school.  It is easy for interruptions, special projects, unfinished work to sneak it’s way into the Daily 5 routine, taking away from students’ time to read.  Please be the protector of that time, because every reading minute for our students is precious!

 

My "Coaching Hat"

Here’s another cross-post of my Friday Focus post for staff, in which I openly reflect for them on how my practice impacts their reflection. I’d love to hear feedback from other administrators trying to balance between the coaching and evaluating hats.
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In a previous Friday Focus posts I have shared with you my goal to get in classrooms and provide feedback and questions encouraging you to reflect. I also shared with you in this post that I want to act more like an Instructional Coach than a supervisor to help improve instruction and learning. Throughout this year, I have networked with other administrators (both on twitter and in “real life”) and had conversations around evaluations and coaching. In addition, I recently joined DPI’s Teacher Design Team-the committee that is developing the teacher rubric to evaluate teacher practice. Throughout these formal and informal conversations, I have struggled with trying to figure out how I can formally evaluate teachers, yet be seen as someone to give non-evaluatory feedback in a coaching manner to help your reflective process in the classroom. I have read books on instructional coaching and read books geared towards principals, though none that combine the two roles for an administrator. I’m sure by now, you’re probably wondering why I am sharing my own personal reflection with you?

Because I recognize that when I come in your classroom and send you an email or talk to you afterwards, that it may make you feel nervous or worried…which is NOT my intent! As I reflect, I realize, I have probably never clearly explained (or maybe I never clearly understood myself) what my intent is as I come in classrooms and give feedback. When I am come into classrooms for informal walkthroughs I am coming in with a “coaching hat” on, so to speak. Quite honestly, I feel like I’m doing the same when I come in for the formal observations (for the evaluation process) and meet with you afterwards to discuss how the lesson went. I may pose a question to you that stretches your thinking that is not meant to be intrusive or evaluatory, but is a question to have you reflect on why you do what you do. When you are reflective and consciously aware of why you do what you do, you will continue to utilize effective strategies for students in your classroom. I can share with you from my own experience that when I had a guest administrator with me a while back, she asked me ma ny questions for her learning, but as I explained my answers to her, I realized how much it made me reflect on why I do those things she asked about. So, my key message to you is that unless I specifically say, “I have a concern…” then you have nothing to be concerned about, I am just in there wearing my “coaching hat.”

In the future, I would love for us as a staff to begin collaborating even more for our learning and student learning as a result. We have had several staff members be recorded and reflected while watching their own lesson. Several staff members have o bserved each other to gain new ideas and we have even had teachers from other districts visit us. I have recently begun to read about other schools taking this even one step further and putting in the practice of “Instructional Rounds” in which teachers go together in groups to observe and have follow-up discussions. Here are some of the posts I’ve read on this topic:
Teachers Observing Teachers: Instructional Rounds
Walking the Learning Walk
Engaging Teachers in Instructional Rounds
Don’t worry, this isn’t something we’re starting tomorrow 😉 However, if you are interested in taking some walks through classrooms, just let me know and I’d be happy to cover your class for you!

For your reflection this week...how do you engage in conversations with others to reflect on instructional practices and student learning? What are your thoughts on if I’ve had an impact on your reflection process as a result of walkthoughs (this question you can actually hold on to, because in a few weeks I’ll be asking for your anonymous feedback on a survey to help me reflect).

Image by Kathy Cassidy

Mindset

Here is another cross-post of my “Friday Focus” from my Staff Memo Blog this week:
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Previously, I shared with you that I planned to read the book Mindset by Carol Dweck over break, because I had heard about it on Twitter and read another educator’s blog post about it. The premise of the book is that there are two different mind states from which we operate:

    • Fixed Mindset – you believe your intelligence, skills and abilities are carved in stone, or static.

 

  • Growth Mindset – you believe that you can cultivate your basic qualities through your efforts.

 

 

Dweck draws upon studies and examples of students, business leaders, athletes, and her own teaching and personal life as she discusses how these differing mindsets can affect how we approach anything in life. I found this book to be extremely interesting to me for myself as a leaner, as a teacher, as a principal, as a parent, and even as a wife.

As an educator, the student that stood out in my mind the most as I read this is that student that has so much potential, but just doesn’t put forth the effort. Maybe he/she is even highly gifted and has excelled so easily in previous grades or units, but now that the academics are getting more difficult, he’s not used to having to study or work at it and doesn’t. I’m sure that you can all identify a student like this in your classroom. A great graphic I found that highlights each mindset is below (click on this link if you need a larger view):

Image by Nigel Holmes

 

 

So, what can you do (besides pull your hair out) to help these students? One of the biggest tools we have to help these students is our feedback/praise. In one of Dweck’s studies with hundreds of students, they started out with groups that were equal in IQ scores, but then were given different types of feedback/praise. In one group students were given feedback that praised their ability (ex: “Wow, you got eight right. That’s really good, you must be smart at this.”) while the other group was given feedback/praise on their effort (ex: “Wow, you got eight right, that’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.”). After praise on ability was given, they could begin to see students differ in each group. The students in the praise group were pushed into a fixed mindset. When given a choice, they rejected a challenging new task that they could learn from and instead picked an easy problem that they already knew how to do. They didn’t want to do anything that would expose their inability to answer a question. In contrast, the students in the other group that were praised for their effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from. When the problems became difficult, they enjoyed them and showed better performance. The effort praised kids showed better and better performance as the ability praised kids plummeted.

What does this mean for us? Kids are very intuitive to what they’re being judged on and it can affect their mindset. The very tool you have to help students be successful is in your choice of words as you provide them with feedback to empower them. If you praise students for being smart or talented, in the long-run, you will be leading them into a fixed mindset. If you give praise on their effort and hard work, you will be fostering in them the belief that they can continue to work hard to learn and achieve.

It is also important to think about yourself…do you have a fixed or growth mindset of yourself? What messages are you telling yourself when you find something that you don’t know how to do, or you try and fail at something? Do you believe that you can keep working at it to learn it or do you give up? Do you ask others for help when you’re not sure or are you afraid that they will think you’re stupid?

I could seriously talk about what I’ve learned in this book forever, but I know you only have a few minutes to read this. For your reflection this week, please think about what your mindset is and on what type of feedback you give your students.

Sharing Effective Practices with Teachers


If I were to go back to being a classroom teacher, I think I would be one of the best teachers ever…not because I think so highly of myself, but because as a principal, I get to see the best practices in classrooms every day. I could take the best from each teacher I’ve seen and put them together to be a Super Teacher with effective strategies for everything!

As the instructional leader of the building, I feel it is my duty to share with my staff the great instructional practices I see in our building. We have excellent teachers doing amazing things each day. During their grade level/PLC meetings they collaborate and share with each other, but sometimes I think they don’t realize how much they really have to share with each other. Or they don’t realize that some of the great things they do are obvious to them and assume everyone is already doing them. So, how can you get your teachers to learn from each other? How can you get everyone to implement effective strategies that are already great for learning for students in your building?

One way is to have teachers observe others. This is difficult to get started, because teachers do not want to seem like evaluators or feel like they are imposing on each other. I encourage my staff to observe others to gain ideas and many have done so as we have gone school-wide with our literacy framework of Daily 5/Cafe. In addition we require our probationary teachers to observe their mentors twice a year (and mentors to observe their mentees twice a year). I have recently read how leaders like Shira Leibowitz are having their teachers observing each other by having learning walks together as a team.

An even easier method, that doesn’t require classroom coverage or extra time on the teachers’ part is in your weekly memos. I have previously posted about how I utilize my staff blog to past a Monday Memo and Friday Focus post each week. I originally learned about a weekly memo from Todd Whitaker as a way to share great practices with staff. When you share a practice with staff in a memo, it is just the beginning of a learning process. Good teaching in the classroom follows a whole-part-whole approach, as does my practice of sharing great instructional practices with teachers. When I highlight great instructional strategies in my Monday Memo each week, it is the “whole part” introduction to all staff. The next step is getting into classrooms for walkthroughs…you wouldn’t believe how many people I see trying the strategies that I mention in my Monday Memos. When I see this, I praise the teachers for their efforts and for the student learning I see as a result of it. I then follow up with the “whole part” again in a memo after a while again highlighting a particular practice, why it’s effective and thanking staff for being willing to try new things.
I’d love to hear how other principals encourage teachers to try new effective strategies that their colleagues are already successful with? How do you encourage your staff to learn from each other?

Friday Focus – No Mediocrity

This is another cross-post from my staff memo blog to share this week’s Friday Focus with you…
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This week one of the blog posts in my google reader was on mediocrity in teaching (you can read it here). When I read this I thought of how this may be the case in some schools, but certainly not in our elementary school. Everyday I see the great things that our teachers are doing to continue their own professional learning to improve instruction and student learning:

  • teachers having reflective conversations with myself or their colleagues
  • teachers observing other classrooms to gain new ideas
  • teachers getting feedback from others that have been in their classrooms
  • teachers reflecting on their practice by watching themselves on video
  • teachers seeking out new strategies to try when they see their students are not getting or having behavior issues
  • teachers sharing ideas with each other in grade level/PLC meetings
  • teachers seeking/sharing ideas with teachers in their professional learning network outside of our school (via DART connections and Twitter)
  • teachers asking colleauges how students from their WIN group are progressing in the classroom
  • teachers trying new strategies they just read about or saw in a YouTube video clip (like this one here… when I found this clip this week I knew immediately that a few of our teachers had seen this, because I saw several of these strategies in their classrooms–which happen to be very effective!)

We do not have teachers teaching the same way they’ve always taught. We do not have teachers blaming the kids or the parents for not getting it. We have teachers that are constantly learning and sharing their passion for learning to inspire their students. We have excellent teachers that are constantly observing their students, reflecting and trying new things to meet their kids where they are. Our students and community are so fortunate to have such excellent teachers!

Image from I Feel Okay


Reflecting on my goals with staff

Just sharing the Friday Focus post from my Staff Memo blog this week:

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At our Professional Learning Meeting this week I asked you to open up to the front of your Reflection Journals and take 5 minutes to reflect on the goals (2 professional and 1 personal) that you wrote at the beginning of the school year. For this week’s Friday Focus, I’m going to put myself “out there” and share my personal reflections on the goals I wrote in my journal for this year (Wondering why I’m sharing this with you? See #1 below…feel free to skip reading this if you’re not really interested in my goals).

Professional Goal #1: To model reflection of my professional growth and encourage staff to reflect as well.

One of the most important things any educator can do is reflect on their practice. Great teachers know that you can’t just teach the same lessons every year, because your students change. Great teachers often don’t follow their lesson plans as written throughout the week, because they are constantly reflecting on how their students responded to the instruction and adapting their plans to their students’ needs. Unfortunately, our daily schedules leave us with very little time to reflect…many of us are happy if we can get in 1 personal bathroom break and get our lunch down in just 5 minutes. Despite the challenge of time (that is a challenge for almost anything we want to accomplish), reflection is the key to progress.

“Reflection is the beginning of reform.” ~Mark Twain

Reflecting on my goal of reflecting…I have been using my Friday Focus as a means to share my reflections with you each week and also shared the link to my personal/professional blog where I also share my reflections. While blogging sounds quite scary (and I must admit I was hesitant to even share that link with you all), it has become one of my best tools for reflection. If you know me, I cannot write much by hand and prefer to type. In addition, I have quite a high following of other educators on my professional blog that I have gained a great deal of feedback on to help challenge my thinking and gain new ideas.

 

I had planned on giving staff time to write in reflection journals at the end of each of our professional learning meetings, however, I know that this is something I have forgotten a few times (I will also tell you that closure was one of my weakest areas in the classroom). I loved the idea that someone added in response to this blog of adding a reflection question for you all in my Friday Focus posts and am trying to remember to do that to encourage your reflection as well.

 

Professional Goal #2: To act more like an instructional coach than a “supervisor”

Before I made the crazy “leap” into administration I worked for one year as an Instructional Coach and absolutely loved it. I loved the time I spent observing teachers, helping them to reflect, planning with them, co-teaching a lesson, etc. During my years here as principal, I have focused on improving my practice of getting into classrooms as much as possible to provide teachers with feedback. Over the past year, I have come to realize how important it is not only to just give you my feedback, but to have conversations with you as an Instructional Coach does.

An Instructional Coach’s role is to improve instruction and I don’t see my role any differently (I just also happen to have many other duties to fulfill as well). I reflected in a previous post about my classroom visits here and am continuing to find that it is very difficult to find time to talk with teachers after visits and I have to resort to emailing quite often. I am happy to see from my data that I have increased my rate of feedback from 48% to 77% (meaning that for all of my classroom visits since the start of the year I have either given verbal or email feedback 77% of the time):

Feedback rates at the start of October
Feedback rates up until now

Another challenge I have found in my goal of acting more like a coach than a supervisor is that it is hard for some to separate the “evaluator” hat that I do ultimately “wear” as a principal. In a recent chat on twitter on the roles/similarities of coaches and principals, someone asked “How can a principal act as a coach?”

My tweeted response was:

Personal Goal: To make time for myself (reading for pleasure and to exercise 3 times a week)
Well, I already shared with you my reflections on exercise in our staff meeting (I really need to start joining those after school Zumba and pickleball sessions)! I made reading for pleasure a goal, because I often just read professional books and forget that I really enjoy reading for pleasure. I definitely have been doing better with this, however, when I recently told a group of 5th graders that I read 26 books in 2011 they told me “that’s nothing, we read WAY more than that!”

Now, since I just got quite personal with you all, I’m going to resort to one of my coping mechanisms of humor (in the form of an image):

 

My reflection prompt for you:

If you didn’t get the chance to reflect on all of your goals this week, do it NOW!!!

Leading the Way with Staff Memos

Just over a year ago I heard Todd Whitaker speak to many principals at the annual AWSA (Association of Wisconsin School Administrators) convention. As always, I left with many great tips to continue leading my school, but the biggest tool I learned about was providing my staff with a weekly memo. Whitaker called it a “Friday Flash” or “Friday Focus” and is used to share best practices with staff, along with upcoming events and anything that can be shared in a memo and not waste staff meeting time (that could be better spent on learning/discussion).

I have since found a few other principal blogs used to share weekly memos with staff that I continue to follow for ideas, so I thought it was only fair that I share what I’m doing here for others.
I immediately began implementing this tool last year as a “Monday Memo” to staff. Whitaker says that this should be given to staff on brightly colored paper in their mailboxes, but I kept mine to email since I am also trying to lead staff using technology. This year I have expanded this practice to include:
*Monday Memo that includes “Great Things I Noticed Last Week,” “Upcoming Events,” “Nuts & Bolts Notes,” and “Tech Tips”
*Friday Focus that shares my professional reflections with staff on something I am reading or learning with staff
*Created a blog that includes these posts, the staff google calendar, occassional staff polls, my shelfari widget (so staff can see what I’m reading), and other resources
Since refining this practice, I have really come to see the benefit of sharing “Great Things I Noticed” because I have observed the same practices be implemented in other classrooms after posting them. Some of the Friday Focus messages I have posted have encouraged discussions that I have overheard in the hallways or had staff mention their reflections to me. Since starting this I have also had a couple of staff ask about how to get started with blogging, how to get started on twitter (since I often share things I learn from people on twitter), and ask to borrow books I’ve read.
I have previously shared a cross-post of one of my Friday Focus posts HERE.
Here’s an example of one of my Monday Memo posts from December:

Great Things I Noticed Last Week:
*While sitting in a 5K mini-lesson on setting a student excitedly said, “I just made a connection to another book we read!”
*In another 5K classroom students were practicing their Jolly Phonics with the SMARTBoard program and were able to read the following words: coast, grain, punch, and chimpanzee using their sounds. I bet the 1st grade teachers love to hear this!
*After 5th grade student presentations, the class was asked to give 3 positive comments and 3 things to improve on. I was amazed to hear the feedback given to students by students and surprised how much Daily 5/Cafe language carried over into the feedback for science presentations.
*5th grade started keeping track of “Writing Non-Negotiables” as writing skills are taught in mini-lessons. You can see the list from one class in the picture on the right. Mrs. B says that this list has really cut down on the time spent conferring with students for writing revising/editing–she does NOT help revise if they have a mistake that is on the non-negotiable list. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a list of expectations like this at each grade level?

Events This Week:
*Monday – Mentors meeting at 3:05 in Media Center
*Tuesday – I will be gone all day at the SLATE conference (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education) in Wisconsin Dells.
*Thursday – No Office Day–I’ll be spending my day in 3-5th grade classrooms
K/2/4 Music Concert (including 5th grade band) at 6:30 PM
*Friday – Just a reminder to show your school spirit and wear your school shirt (please help remind your students too)

“Nuts & Bolts” Notes:
*Just a reminder that next week is already mid-quarter (I had to triple check the calendar to be sure!) so make sure you’re ready to send home a progress report for each of your students.
* We’ve added another Tech Tuesday to the calendar for December 20th. I know that’s a busy week, but there’s quite a few teachers excited about using Pinterest or wanting to learn how before break so Jean and Bethany will be teaching us how that day.

Tech Tip:
*I’ve seen some great websites being used on the SMARTBoards and in the computer lab that I’m sure students would continue to use at home if they have internet access. You can show them how to access the site from the student resources on the district webpage (if it’s there) or include the web address in your newsletter, which can be quite lengthy and difficult to type at times. If you want to learn how to make a shortened web address to share with students/parents for home and for easy access in the computer lab you just need to go to http://bitly.com and sign up for an account. Here’s a screencast I made to show you how to use this tool. Let me know if you need any help getting started on this.

<br><br><br><br>Let <br>

Web 2.0 and Higher Level Thinking

Each week I post a “Friday Focus” for staff on my staff memo blog as a way to model professional reflection and hopefully inspire them each week. This week I attempted to summarize what I learned from Scott McLeod at SLATE. This is a cross-post from my staff blog.
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This week I attended the SLATE (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education) conference where I was put on brain-overload from the many challenging thoughts and great ideas shared to continue advancing integration of technology in education.

I was excited to hear our keynote speaker, Scott Mcleod, because I have followed his blog and twitterfeed for a couple of years now. Scott created the following powerful video clip:

Just as I expected, Scott spent 2 hours sharing far too much information for me to share in this post, but I do want to share the “learning nuggets” that I took home with me:

*Web 2.0 -the internet is no longer just reading information, but interacting with it, connecting with others and easily sharing information (i.e. podcasts, facebook, twitter, blogs, youtube, wikipedia, linkdin, four square, pinterest, webkinz, wordle, the list goes on…)

*Consumers vs. Creators – With all the web 2.0 tools today, we are no longer consumers of the internet, we are creators. One well known example of this is the amount of sales from amazon.com that are attributed to the product reviews that people submit. If you are submitting a review, you are helping to create amazon. He also said that if you are reading reviews, but never leaving a review, then you’re a “moocher” and you need to help contribute. (With this thought, I’m making it my personal goal to try to add comments to the blog posts that I read throughout the week)

*With all these web 2.0 tools…
-We all have a voice
-We can easily find each other
-We can easily work together

*We are now preparing our students for jobs that don’t currently exist.

*Our students need to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers (not “regurgitators”)

*If we are going to prepare our students for the new jobs (that we don’t even know about now) that require creative work, then we need to plan learning that is in the top 3 of Bloom’s Taxonomy (visual above of this)–Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating.

My reflection prompt for you:
What are you doing in your classroom to encourage critical thinking, problem solving and creating? How much of student time is spent consuming information versus creating it?