This evening as I was cruising around Twitter, I came across this quote from John Bernia:
There are 4 remaining days this calendar year to impact student achievement. Make something happen.
As I pondered this quote I was reminded of the awesome responsibility that we have as educators. I was also reminded about how frustrating the last few days of school before a break can be. Don't get me wrong, I love a break as much as anyone, but I have always cringed at the decreased rigor that is sometimes seen in classrooms as a break approaches.
As educators, we need to keep these words from John Bernia in mind. How will we impact student achievement today?
Pernille Ripp writes of how we should not take a break from learning just because it's the holidays and I couldn't agree more. So before you show that video or have kids cut out 5,000 paper snowflakes remember you have the power to impact student achievement, inspire risk taking, and empower problem solvers. Embrace the holidays by engaging students in meaningful learning.
publish a writing piece.
write book recommendations
create lists of books and reading plans for break---join the READABRATION.
delve into persuasive writing or opinion pieces.
spend some extra time reading.
participate in book clubs.
self-assess, reflect on learning and write goals for their learning in the new year.
learn through inquiry.
create a final project and present their learning to others.
ask questions and search for answers.
The possibilities are endless...
What will your impact be?
I have the pleasure of working with amazing teachers who are MUCH smarter than me and who stretch my thinking every day. One of those amazing colleagues has created a fun opportunity to strengthen the reading community in our school building. It's such a great idea that I had to share. Here is a link to Tonya Buelow's blog about the #readabration that she is starting at our school!
Here's how the #readabration works:
1. Make a stack of the books you plan on reading over your holiday break! Take a picture of that stack and tweet it to #lrnjwr and #readabration.
2. Tweet your progress and/or your favorite quotes to #lrnjwr and #readabration.
3. At our school, after our holiday break, we are going to share about our #readabration experience over coffee and doughnuts! Who doesn't love that?
Let us know if your school is joining the #readabration!
I learned about genius hour this summer and, if I'm being honest, my initial reaction was...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! But, then I kept hearing more buzz about it on Twitter and I couldn't help but explore it just a little more. Since I don't have my own classroom with kids anymore, I decided to try it out on my teachers. If I'm being honest, their initial reaction was also...ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! But, they obliged and what came to be at the end of the hour (which actually turned out to be only 45 minutes) was more than any of us could have ever expected!
As I planned our genius hour, I tried to incorporate what I knew about the format. I knew that when students participate in genius hour they must create a question that guides their work. For our purposes, we used a question that had driven our professional development all school year-
How will you be inspired today to continue to create innovative global experiences for yourself and your students?
Here is what happened:
1. First grade contacted the Ohio Historical Society to set up virtual tours to connect with their "Then and Now" social studies unit.
2. Second grade reorganized their classroom libraries and began exploring authors who Skype for free. They planned to contact authors, schedule Skypes and increase student engagement.
3. Third grade had a conversation about how they never have time to teach Science and Social Studies concepts as deeply and meaningfully as they really want to...drum roll please...
They reorganized their schedules; carved out an hour a week for their own genius hour; and will have kids explore science and social studies topics using a genius hour format!
4. Fourth grade was somewhat overwhelmed, so after being talked off the ledge they realized that they were doing many great things! They then planned to incorporate their students' love of blogging into and authentic unit about opinion writing.
5. Fifth grade met to work on the creation of a 5th grade capstone project and came up with so many ideas that I can't even begin to list them all.
MOST. PRODUCTIVE. 45. MINUTES. EVER.
And the best part is that the conversations continue. I'm a believer!
I still have more to learn about genius hour and how to use it purposefully for my staff, but who wouldn't want to spend staff meeting time focusing on a passion. It is clear that my staff is passionate about creating authentic learning experiences for students and raising engagement! Who could ask for more?
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.