Celebration: The Gift of Learning

Happy late celebration! Thank your Ruth Ayers for your link up where we (you too) can link up and share our week’s celebratory moments.

celebrate link up

I’m late in this posting  because of the gift I gave myself:  a spot at The Whole Language/ NCTE sponsored a conference, located a mere 60 minutes from my house. I need some time to digest all I got from this conference (posts for later this week?) but for now I’ll share a few words and links that highlight some of what I experienced Friday and Saturday.

All sessions I attended were lead by teams of teachers who were passionate about their teaching and their mission with children. All had students at the center of their work. What I share here is no particular order. I hope as you read this you will think of how these little pieces might spark something in your classroom. That’s how I entered this conference and I’m still ruminating on how these ideas will find there way into my teaching world.

First… Social Studies Simulations

The 5th grade team from the Edison School in Elmshurst, Illinois presented their work titled, Building a Bridge: Connecting Language Arts and Social Studies. In their classrooms, students take on the responsibilities and challenges of a colonist. Students read, discuss, debate, write and work through the various issues that colonists had to deal with. This team of teachers have created and curated great resources you can find on their blog, writing2learn.  

Second.. Prezi for Student Work

Technology was present in the form of  Prezi.  My aha was the power of Prezi as an alternative thinking and writing tool for students.  If you aren’t familiar with this, hit the link and give yourself about an hour, no pressure time to play with it. Go though a few tutorials and consider what thinking skills you used when creating. Now imagine your students creating a character web or an research report with this tool. Prezi has low barriers to entry (free, web based),  high engagement possibilities (multimedia), and opportunity for higher level thinking.

Third… Whole School Project Based Learning

The Borton Elementary Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona is committed  to Project Based Learning in grades k-5.  Some essentials for this work included:

  • Significant Content (big and relevant issues)
  • Collaboration
  • In depth inquiry  ( lasting 8-10 weeks)
  • Driving questions
  • Student Need to Know
  • Student Voice and (managed) Choice
  • Revision and Reflection
  • Public Audiences (authentic)

Getting a school to do this as a whole community takes training (they utilize the Buck Institute for Education)  and staff dedication. This team shared student work from all grade levels and talked of their own work to revise and work toward continued growth as a staff.  This panel shows some of the work of their fourth grade’s anti-bullying project.

2014-07-18 12.18.02

 Four.. The Opal School

The Opal School of Portland provided the opening keynote. I had read about this school’s work on Vidki Vinton’s blog and was intrigued by what their approach could bring to my Reading and Writing Workshop. Their presentation was breathtaking and their hands on workshop inspirational. Today, I’m only gong to share a few thoughts…

Listening is not easy. It requires a deep awareness and a suspension of our judgement and prejudice. To do this teachers need to allow for listening by slowing down.

We need to consider questions for our students to ponder, but also for teachers, looking to foster growth in students and in teaching practices. Some questions for teachers:

  • What do I notice
  • What am I wondering about
  • How can I make children’s learning visible
  • How do I know core values and beliefs are being reflected in day-to-day practice

Saturday sessions featured hands on work with Opal School teachers. Here’s a peak at some of the materials and artifacts we got to play with.  More on this later. Too much to process now!

2014-07-19 09.01.15

Each session I attended was filled with enthusiastic teachers as presenters and attendees. The sharing and celebration of knowledge and learning about and for students was inspiring.

Five — Words about Play 

I love quotes but never remember them when I want them. Fortunately there are people like the Opal School and my very literate son who do and share them with me. Here are a few I’d like to share.

Play is not the opposite of work. – Opal

A person’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play. – Nietzche

Play is more than fun, it’s vital. — Stuart Brown

Have a playful weekend

 

 

3 thoughts on “Celebration: The Gift of Learning

  1. I can see why your brain is buzzing. How wonderful that presentations were done by teams of teachers who were passionate about their teaching and their mission with children. That must have been awesome! Interesting info on play. I look forward to your info to come.

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