Monday, August 12, 2013

Professional Development Week

Hi All! This week I am back to summer mode, but definitely thinking more about school. Last week I took a hiatus from summer fun to spend a week on professional development.

For the first three days I delved into the world of the Next Generation Science Standards. As a part of a STEM Specialist group with Kids@Science I was charged with going through our present science curriculum and seeing where engineering practices already reside and where our curriculum was lacking.

When I started my task I was overcome with the feeling that what I was doing was somewhat pointless. I thought to myself, "Why am I going through a text and materials that cover topics that will no longer be third grade when NGSS is implemented?" I thought this to be a waste of time. After resisting my task and being patiently led by the planning committee of our organization, I realized that what I was doing was a help to not only myself and other third grade teachers, but for whatever grade level that standard fell to in the future.

I became better at seeing the engineering practices in science and determining how to tweak lessons to give them more engineering tasks. I became more familiar with my text (we don't use it much... we use FOSS kits from Delta Education for most of our science curriculum). I found that I had been missing out on some rich informational reading material that will help students with not only their science knowledge but to reach their reading needs as well. So while I am not going to be teaching these topics for much longer, I gained valuable experience in what to do to move forward with my new topics and NGSS.

The last two days of my week were spent at the Orange County Department of Education with Julie Hull, the GATE Coordinator for OCDE. What an amazing teacher and professional development leader. The PD was focused on Differentiation for Gifted Learners. I don't teach identified gifted students, but I live with one and have many students in my class who need to be challenged and offered ways to meet their learning styles. This training was excellent.

We learned about the Depth and Complexity Icons (here's a fun video explaining them all) as well as the Content Imperatives from Sandra Kaplan's work. I have used these in my classroom before, but without a real understanding of how they enhance and enrich the students understanding of what they learn. These simple icons open up an amazing array of possibilities for student understanding and analysis. I can't wait to use them further in my class. I am going to start introducing them day 1 with the details icon.

After just one week of professional development and thinking about school, I am energized. I am excited to meet my new students in just a few short weeks. I am going to start that shift back into school mode, but not today... today I am going to enjoy my summer. I am going to play with my son, laugh with my friends and count my blessings that I have this amazing career that allows me this time, but also excites and challenges me every year!

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