Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Construction Zone: Drafting Blueprints for Learning: EGHS Teacher Led Institute Day

October 16th was a great day of collaboration and learning for our 6th Annual Teacher-Led Institute Day.  24 different workshops were offered in the morning. The workshops were planned and facilitated by 38 staff, 10 students, and 3 community professionals! The topics for the workshops were determined in response to a survey shared with staff weeks before, and from feedback from shared from previous professional learning experiences. In the afternoon, staff had time to work in their PLCs to share and apply their learning from the morning sessions, and to prepare for a great start the the 2nd Quarter!

The following photos and links will give you an idea of what the day looked like.


The Schedule:


Here is the link to the complete Doc with the schedule for the day.

The Blueprints (Shared notes)

Each session had a "Blueprint" Google Doc for shared notes.  These notes will serve as an important an important resource for staff future reference and learning, and to connect to the content of sessions they might not have been able to attend.



Sharing our Story

In addition to curating resources in the shared "Blueprints" for each session, we shared our learning via Twitter using our professional learning hashtag #214Learns. 



Check out this Storify of tweets from the day to see more! 

The feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive, and there were great suggestions, too. In addition to conversations with staff, we will be guided by the responses on the Institute Day Survey. Nearly 100 staff completed the survey and the feedback will guide us in planning future professional learning experiences. We have already begun using the feedback to plan our 2nd Quarter Teaming on Tuesday sessions to keep the conversations going. We see the Institute Day as a great springboard for ongoing conversations and learning.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scare Me, But Just A Little Bit. S1E3 We Are EG Podcast


Though John Bottiglieri retired last year after teaching English at Elk Grove High School for 33 years, he will be long-remembered!

Many will remember him for his love of  Halloween––his favorite holiday––so we were excited that he came back to record this special Halloween episode of We Are EG. Give it a listen and learn whether or not Elk Grove High School is haunted, how he discovers the most popular Halloween candy, and how he came to own a gorilla costume!






Friday, October 13, 2017

Using Google Slides Q&A Interactive Feature

By Kim Miklusak

I had a presentation in my grad school class last night, and while preparing for it, I actually Googled "How to make Google Slides more interesting"...and that's how I got here.  Did you know that you can turn on an interactive Q&A option when you're presenting in Google Slides?

Here's are quick steps:
Step 1: The option to turn it on is found in 2 places: either under "present" or when you're already presenting, in the toolbar screen on the bottom.
Step 1, Option 1
Step 1, Option 2


Step 2
Step 2: a small box will pop up on your screen.  From there you will see "audience tool" and "speaker notes" in addition to the running timer, a pause option, and a of your slides.  From this screen you will press "start new" OR, and this is really cool, if you've presented before, it will show you the option to click on the notes from other recent times you've given this presentation.  This is a nice feature because it will allow you to address any questions ahead of time if you feel you need to.





Step 3
Step 3: You will now have the option to select the audience.  Mine defaulted to our district; however, you can turn on so that anyone with the URL can respond.  This is a nice feature because you can choose to toggle this off or own depending on your presentation and what you need.  Once you press this button, the screen will remain like this unless you have audience members writing questions or making comments.  If this happens, a notification will pop up on "audience tools."  Otherwise, you can remain on "speaker notes," if you have them, to continue your presentation.


Step 4
Step 4: One of the nice features about this is that the audience is able to see each other's comments (anonymously or by name).  Therefore, people have the ability to "like" a comment, allowing the presenter to see a popular question.  Additionally, the presenter can click on the "present" button under a comment.  This results in the comment overriding the presentation slide and showing up as its own slide.  This way the presenter can show the comment/question to the whole audience and address it.

HOW this went in my class: My screen in class wasn't letting me show only the "presenter view," so my whole class was able to see my notes.  This wasn't a problem in the setting I was in, but it would have been a problem if I were given a formal presentation.  I would expand the usage with this from just Q&A and also allow for comments.  I can see many uses for this--especially in classes that are lecture-heavy.

Leave us a comment below if you have other suggestions, uses, or experiences in your class!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

One Year in AP: Assessments (Week Eight)

By Mark Heintz

Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is down right hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along in the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Eight: Answer the Question

My content instructional goal this week was centered around how empires grew and rose to power.


My skill instructional goal was centered around the document based question.



Cite Specific Evidence

The students took the unit assessment this week.  At the beginning of the year I mentioned that I created my assessment plan for the year. Each unit I was going to test each skill in each unit.



However, the students were already going to test over two days to finish the writing and the multiple choice portions of the test.  Therefore, I elected to not get feedback on the short answer.  The students will have a lot of opportunities to get/give feedback on those skills in the next unit.  

The three assessments the students took yielded the following data:


The DBQ was out of four possible points. Eventually it will grow to be out of seven.  


The long essay was out of two possible points. Eventually it will grow to be out of six.   

 

The content was out of seventy.  

Reasoning

So what does it all mean?   The DBQ went extremely well.  At this point, the students average about the same as my students from last year in May.  


The global average for ALL of the students who took DBQ across the world was 1.8/7.  So, the fact that my students have mastered a few of the smaller skills that will hopefully yield greater success in the months to come is a great result. 

The same went for the long essay.  There were some struggles and some of the students are still have trouble.  But their overall progress is great! I focused on just the thesis and context this unit and the students have made impressive progress towards mastery.

The content test was just basic factual recall.  For the most part students mastered a number of the content objectives.  The students struggled with Buddhism and its diffusion.  That is an area that I need to go back over and the students need to spend more time with.  But overall, they have a firm grasp on the content.  

To see whether or not they need how they were doing, I created a document in Notability to have the students grade bunch to see if they knew what samples met expectations. It enabled them to see if they knew what mastery looked like.  


Reflection and Impact

I am excited for how the year is progressing.  There are areas of need, but I know those areas and so do the students.  It was a great benchmark and I am glad I dropped the short answer. I would have over tested the students and they would not have been able to process the information in their reflection.  I am looking forward to the next unit and seeing how far the students can grow!


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

6-Step Process to Designing Curriculum (Part 1)

By Kim Miklusak

I am currently taking a Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction course at UIC.  Our textbook, while a medical curriculum textbook, reminds us that curriculum design crosses education fields and that what we are doing in our classes every year has its grounding in research.  Kern, Thomas, and Hughes in their book provide a 6-step approach to curriculum development.  I will cover the first step in the first installment.  My goal is to share the theory behind our current practices to serve as a guide as design and redesign our courses.

From Kern, Thomas, and Hughes. See link above.
Step 1: General Needs Assessment
In the general needs assessment you will identify the problem: something simple like "how do we do a better job of teaching X, Y, Z" or a more complex question like "why are students not able to get through the entire curriculum?"  For instance, how do we improve writing of a research paper?  Or how do we engage students in metacognitive reading practice?  The problem may not deal with content at all and instead focus on areas like teacher qualities or student attitudes.  You will analyze whom the problem affects, what it affects, and the quantitative/qualitative importance of these effects.

In the end, you need to consider the current approach as compared to the ideal approach.  That gap between current vs. ideal is your needs assessment and should be investigated from the angle of all stakeholders--teachers, students, administrators, etc.

In Practice:
What does this mean for our day-to-day lives in curriculum design?  First, I wonder when we sit down to redesign our curriculum, if we start with identifying problems.  If there isn't an identifiable problem, why are we redesigning?  Do we have metrics to show something is missing or not working effectively?  Or do we focus on "I'd like to..." or "wouldn't it be fun if..." thoughts, which have their place, but may not be a priority.

I also wonder in our curriculum designs if we take into account teacher qualities or student attitudes.  Do we consider what other factors may be limiting success in our curriculum such as stakeholders' prior knowledge and attitudes, personal skills and environmental forces, and current rewards/punishments?  Some of this is out of our control, but these are areas we should at least investigate as we reflect upon potential problems to address.

In the next blog post I will discuss Step 2--the targeted needs assessments--where we engage other stakeholders in redesigning the curriculum process.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Student Leaders Mentor in the Junior High: A Fun Day of Learning for All!


By Natalia Habas

Guest writer Natalia Habas is a freshman student at EGHS. She is an aspiring writer and especially enjoys journalistic writing. She shadowed the senior mentoring sessions at Grove Junior High School in order to share the experience with the school and community in this Collab Blog post.


Mr. Bush’s Leadership Through Service (LTS) class went to Grove Junior High to mentor the 6th grade classes. The senior mentors each got an assigned topic that they would talk about to the students. The purpose of mentoring the 6th graders was to give advice and a personal insight on topics that are important to becoming successful.


The day at the junior high started out with a 6th grade assembly. 




 Overview of the Day


After the assembly, the 6th grade students split into their homeroom classes. Each class went through a set of rotations that discussed the following topics: study skills, unhealthy relationships, agriculture, a student speaker, exercise, and nutrition. The students also had recess and lunch. 


 


Study Skills


One of the skills that the senior mentors discussed was studying. The purpose of the lesson was to teach students how to become organized with their work and to teach them that studying will lead them to becoming successful. The student mentor, Nathan Beltran, started the lesson off by asking the class a question and having students raise their hand to answer. The question was posed to get the students to participate in the discussion and to get them thinking. Throughout the lesson, Nathan compared himself to the students. For instance, he gave an example of how he studies and then asked a student to share their way of studying. He also shared personal experiences to connect with the students. The 6th grade students filled out a calendar to organize their day. The homeroom teacher filled out the planner with the students as the senior mentors walked around and helped students individually.  


Building Healthy Relationships


Another topic that was discussed was unhealthy relationships. To begin the lesson, the homeroom teacher brainstormed examples of how unhealthy relationships can affect someone negatively. The mentors used a PowerPoint presentation to teach the lesson. To explain the topic further, the students watched a video on how to make unhealthy relationships healthy. After the video was shown, the teacher discussed the information as a class and reviewed the important parts. The teacher also used Oscar Patino, the senior mentor, to create examples of scenarios that lead to unhealthy relationships. The students split into groups and discussed a scenario of an unhealthy relationship. At the end of the lesson, the class came together as a whole and the senior mentors shared their personal experiences of unhealthy relationships and how they overcame their struggles.



Agriculture: Dairy Farming


Agriculture was also another topic that the 6th grade students discussed throughout their day. Multiple classes joined together for a presentation of how agriculture and farming works. The dairy farmer guest began the lesson by showing a slideshow. The slideshow included lots of pictures and visuals so that the students got a good idea of how it all looks. The students also got to pass around objects that came from the farm itself. For example, the students passed around a bottle used to feed calves and a mix of food. The purpose of the discussion was to teach students about topics that are not usually talked about in school.


Student Speaker: Persevering through Challenges

One of the senior mentors, Jasmine Bautista, volunteered to be a student speaker. She discussed heavy topics that students might be struggling with aside from school. To start, she told her own personal story of struggles and how she has grown from her past. She included examples and specific details to make the students more interested. Jasmine also connected the “heavy” topics to school. Then the students brainstormed a list of things that they personally struggle with. The list consisted the following: low self esteem, child abuse, family issues, anxiety and bullying. Jasmine reviewed each topic and how to overcome it. At the end of the discussion, an inspirational video was shown. “You wouldn't be here if you didn't have a purpose,” Jasmine said.

Cardio Workouts

To give the students a variety of activities, one of the rotations they completed was a cardio workout. The students met outside to run through an obstacle course. Before starting their course, the teacher explained the importance of exercising and how it can lead to becoming successful. The student mentors, Brandon Paeng, Shivam Amin, Tom Carpenter, Nella Rivas, Mackenzie Salgado and Brije Patel introduced themselves and gave an example of how they exercise daily. The obstacle course consisted of completing jumping jacks, hurdles, zig-zag runs, agility ladders, crab walks, partner races, jumping cones, high knee runs, burpies and jump roping. Students worked through the obstacles in partners. The senior mentors got involved by doing the exercises with the students, and they were very encouraging and motivating. At the end of the day, Tom told the students “Start building healthy habits now, it'll help you a bunch in the future and you'll be glad you did.” 


video


Nutrition
One of the last topics that was discussed was nutrition. The students gathered in groups of 5 and worked through a rotation of 5 different activities. For example, the students created a healthy meal following a food pyramid. Other activities included comparing how much salt or fat is in a specific food. The mentors were each assigned to talk about a certain topic. The seniors that were involved, Shuayb Qadri, Aneta Kopacz, Bailey Smola, Alyssa Bonilla, gave real life scenarios to help connect the topic of nutrition to becoming successful. At the end, the students discussed what they learned.


Celebration Assembly 
The day ended with a celebration assembly. The 6th graders gathered in the gym to play games and have fun. The seniors gave some last advice on how to become successful. For example, Michael advised the students to “Get involved with activities…”


Reflecting on the Day

Overall, the 6th grade students and seniors had a day filled with lots of fun and learning. “I think it was really cool getting the opportunity to connect with younger kids and teach them the habits necessary to be successful later on. They're the future of Elk Grove High School and they're already moving in a positive direction,” said Katelyn, one of the senior mentors. Everyone was filled with positivity and energy and all of the students, mentors and teachers were very encouraging and motivational.

The day was very successful. In fact, Mr. Bush and the seniors have decided that they will be returning to Grove Junior High in November to mentor the 8th graders and to give advice about high school. The idea of mentoring 8th graders was already getting started and Nathan Beltran took the lead and discussed the idea with Amanda Pavela, the teacher in charge of the event. “We were talking to the kids and we were teaching them, but since they were 6th graders it would be more beneficial to teach 8th graders because they are closer to high school and they would be more interested in what we had to say,” Nathan said. 

To learn more about the experiences of the student mentors in the Leadership Through Service course, check out their class hastag #EGLTS




Thursday, October 5, 2017

One Year in AP: Final Preparations (Week Seven)

By Mark Heintz

Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is down right hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along in the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Seven: Answer the Question

My content instructional goal this week was centered around how empires grew and rose to power.



My skill instructional goal was centered around the document based question.



Cite Specific Evidence

This week was the last week of learning new content before the unit assessment.  Also, it was short instructionally because the students took a practice SAT test two of the days. That being stated, the week wrapped up a few minor tweaks to students' basic skills and understandings of the content.

Content: I had the students compete in a few content challenges.  In the first challenge students categorized classical era words by region.  


In the second challenge students competed in a word grab.


In the third challenge the students sorted more classical era information into one chart in notability. They used the scissor feature in notability to sort the information. 


Skills: The students practice two document based questions in their entirety.  The DBQ mimicked the assessment they would take the next week.  I had them practice thesis statements, contextualization, and using the documents to support their thesis.  



Explanation of the Evidence

The week was jammed packed.  The review challenges revealed there was a misunderstanding of the timeline of empires and how they each ruled their empires.  From that feedback, I created another short video on those two subjects.




The writing still has the students nervous about their abilities.  Even though they are capable of doing it, they haven't done it enough on their own in a timed setting feel confident in doing so. The biggest skill they struggle with is the contextualization.  They understand the concept of it, but they don't quite get how it leads into their argument.  I created another short video they could rewatch if they struggle with it before coming in for more help.  

video


Reflection and Impact

Although they have not mastered all of the skills yet, I feel so much better about how I have scaffolded it this year.  I have started it earlier than I normally do and I have given the writings under test like conditions.  I need to continue practicing and the videos I posted have given the students a better support network for when they feel they struggle.  These skills are going to be the cornerstone of my instruction in the next unit and I look forward to seeing what they can do next week!