The Ps: Painting, unPacking, Prepping, Planning

It is easy to forget all the many Detailsthat one must think of when getting ready for a new school year. I started working in my head in June and then began the work in my classroom in August. In June, I… Thus, I decided to take July off, but I was fearful of losing my ideas so I placed all my many thoughts into a Google Doc (click on the link to check it out) and shared it with my new team and some other colleagues. Now coined my “thesis” thanks to a teammate, it is a working document that we keep adding to.

August came and I entered my classroom…

I started by ridding my classroom of the desks.

photo 1-26 I want a classroom full of discussion, collaboration, and sharing. The first place that starts is with the design of the space. I am lucky that I have a principal who is supportive about redesigning classroom spaces to encourage innovation and collaboration. He let me take the old tables from the art room and gave me permission to paint them with whiteboard paint! 3 coats of primer, 5 coats of Rust Oleum White Board Paint, 2 helpers (thank you to Madi and my mom) and 2 days later I had beautiful white tables.

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Picture from the front of the room. The white paper in the back is my brainstorm of all the topics my students need to learn. My team and I worked from that to look for connections in order to start organizing our year. I’ll write more about that in another post.

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Picture taken from the back of the room.

Already, after 3 days with my students they have changed the way I am teaching and students are interacting. Do it! It is worth it! (Read all the reviews on Amazon and follow the directions exactly though.)

Here are some pictures of the rest of the room.

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We are starting the year by talking about the power of viewing the world from different perspectives and a not just a “Single Story”.

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Classroom library organized by genres. Our goal is to read 1080 books this year, 40 books each!

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Scholarly Traits: We can’t learn without strong academic mindsets. We add students’ names to different categories to recognize each other.

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Writing Process Board to keep track of which stage of the writing process all the students are in.

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This is where the math and science practice posters will be. We are learning about them inductively, and then we will make posters of each practice with the students as the models.

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My “Maker Space”. I’m so excited for students to start using this space and for our I-Cubed Hour (Inspiration, Imagination, Innovation).

My next post will include more of the planning for the beginning of the year and what we are doing the first couple of weeks: Depth and Complexity, Universal Theme of Power, A Week of Inspirational Math, Learning about Children’s Rights and Education around the World, Learning About the Brain, and Building a Community with Strong Relationships.


…and so it begins

I’ve been told that I should journal more times than I care to admit.

Yes, I’m always thinking.

Yes, I have a need to sort through all the thoughts.

Yes, I tend to share my thoughts with the people I work with.

Might they not want to receive my plethora of emails with my ideas or my “thesis” as one colleague put it? Hmmm… I can understand how the answer to that might be a yes.

But…journaling? It just seems so wasteful to write all my ideas down for only me, myself and I.  So, in enters blogging. At least there is a chance someone out there might read it, comment about it, engage in a conversation about my thoughts.

Why a nomadic teacher?

1. I can’t seem to last more than a few years in any one position, school, or city.

2. I am not just interested in one subject or one component of teaching…I drift.

3. When I grow up I want to be a nomad and just travel from one place to the next.

What will this blog entail? Not quite sure. But, I will guarantee that it will be nomadic, drifting from one idea to the next and connecting it all together: learning and the brain, math, global competency, writing, science, ridding the world of bad homework and summative grades that are not conducive to student learning, cultural proficiency, technology, engineering, and maybe even a little reading.

I have been completely inspired recently by Zaretta Hammond and her Book: Cultural Proficiency and the Brain, every single component of Cognitively Guided Instruction (How can you teach without understanding how a student thinks and knowing what they know? Read all 3 books if you have not! ), CCSS in Math- the battles, the challenges, the increased understanding that teachers have to have in order to teach it, Lesson Study (One day I am going to go to Japan and see this in action) David Perkin’s FutureWise: Educating our Children for a Changing World,  a More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger, Sandra Kaplan’s work about Depth and Complexity and Universal Themes (thanks Joanna!), and Global Competency (bring in the Asia Society), NGSS and this notion of starting with Phenomena and creating models, and finally the entire Maker Movement. Let’s create!

My goal as I enter my 16th year of teaching (man, I sound old) and back into the classroom after a 2 year hiatus as a TOSA is to create a program in which students are engaged in “life-worthy” learning,  questioning, using (not just obtaining) knowledge, making and creating, understanding multiple perspectives, collaborating and problem solving, developing a sense of self and developing an understanding of our greater world. I want to engage my students and myself in learning that is deep, relevant, and long lasting.

So here goes…back to the classroom, back to 6th grade. Let’s do this!