Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I Love To Make Movies: S1E3 We Are EG Podcast


For this episode of We Are EG, We would like to give a shout out to Elk Grove senior Ben Jaeger for sharing his story of  his love of making movies. From making films in middle school and high school with his collaborator Nic Baggetto to branching out on his own projects, Ben discusses his evolution as a filmmaker, his opinion on violence in movies and why the arts are important in education. And don't miss the advice he shares at the end regarding the pursuit of our passions.

Enjoy the podcast and be sure to check out the bonus behind-the-scenes video documentary that accompanies this week's podcast!  And be sure to check out WeAreEG.org for previous podcasts!  Enjoy!





Friday, October 27, 2017

Collaborating Across D214: EGHS & The Academy at Forest View


By Linda Ashida




Whenever we collaborate with our colleagues across District 214, we are reminded how much we have to learn from one another and our students!

That reminder came again this week when we visited classes at The Academy at Forest View.

The Academy at Forest View is one of District 214's specialized learning programs. The dedicated staff there works collaboratively to motivate students who have struggled in the larger comprehensive high schools.  Some students strive to integrate back to their home schools, others will choose to stay at The Academy until they graduate.


Our visit to The Academy this week represents a continuation of collaboration that began during the 2016-17 school year when a small team of teachers from both schools met to discuss strategies to align curriculum for the students we share. We also discussed research-based strategies to meet both the academic and social-emotional needs of diverse groups of learners. For example, we talked about trauma informed approaches to support students who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

That initial collaboration led to the idea to share our learning more broadly by inviting the staff from the Academy to join us at Elk Grove for our April Institute Day. Teachers from both schools facilitated workshops. To learn more about what that Institute Day looked like, check out these previous posts:  Spring Brings New Collaborations and Motivating Students with Feedback.

The feedback from staff about our joint Institute Day was so positive that we decided to continue our collaboration during the 2017-18 school year. Staff from The Academy will join us for our monthly Elk Grove Lead Learners Team meetings, and we will also participate in a series of ongoing learning exchanges at both schools.

For our first visit to the Academy this year, Kyle Pfister and Alyssa Zwiercan welcomed us to their History, English, and Social-Emotional Learning classes. In each of those classes we observed how they seamlessly blend both academic and social emotional learning strategies to connect with their students and encourage progress toward high expectations for learning.



Every time we visit The Academy, we leave inspired.  If you are not familiar with The Academy, we think you should consider visiting. Kara Kendrick, the Director of The Academy at Forest View agrees, telling us, "I am incredibly proud of how hard our staff works with some of the most vulnerable students in the district, and I know that without seeing it, it is hard to understand. You are welcome anytime. Bring your friends!" 


 


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

One Year in AP: Writing (Week Ten)

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 downright 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 to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Ten: Answer the Question

Our content instructional goal this week was centered around the spread of Islam and cultural diffusion in the post-classical era.


Our skill instructional goal was centered on document analysis.  The students displayed their understanding of the documents through short answer and the document based question.


Cite Specific Evidence

How do I know the students learned and know what they were supposed to learn?
Last week the overlap of skills and content was perfect!  To replicate last week, I attempted to do the same thing this week.  There was a shift in the skills (from long essay to dbq).  Despite that shift, the content was on the rise of Islam and all of the documents (skill) were on the rise of Islam.   Each day the students analyzed new documents about the rise of Islam.  So while they were building up their skills reading and analysis skills to interpret the documents, they were learning the content they needed!



One of the days Linda Ashida graciously came into class and documented each phase of the day's lesson with video.  This has been great an opportunity to reflect on what happened in class and to better see and assess what the students know, and where there might be gaps.  I have outlined a few of the videos to cite more specific evidence of the learning that took place.  

Here I am going over what the students need to know for the week. 



Students analyze a document on the spread of Islam in Ghana. 


Students write their short answer response.


Great examples from the short answer using transition words such as prior and before to signify a change. 


Examples of pulling evidence from documents and placing the evidence on the map.  




Reasoning

I am in love with the direct overlap of skills and content.  The skills are not in isolation and the content is not isolation. They are learning the content so they can apply the skills.  Then they are using the newly acquired skills to show they know the content!  

Again, the rubric that I used throughout the week was essential in getting the students to self-check their progress.  In truth, the progress on the dbq was good, but there is a lot of room for growth.  By the end of the week, they were going to write a thesis, context, and a paragraph from two sources. However, the students did not end up writing the paragraph by themselves.  Using student evidence and feedback from earlier in the week, I realized––and the students realized––that they were not quite ready. As a result, to give them more time and additional support to better prepare for the writing on their own, I had them work with partners.

To check for understanding on the content standards, the students had a content check.  Most of the students mastered the material.  I gave a small assessment covering the content objectives. From that check, an area of need highlighted from the assessment was cultural diffusion in the post-classical era.  The rest of the content was great with only a few minor tweaks needed.  




Reflection and Impact

I lost a bit of focus for a few days.  I had two students come in and share some of their misconceptions. That with some information released by the AP World chief reader made me question a few of the things I have been doing in class. On a more positive note, I love the attitude of my students and I am so glad they came in to share understandings of the material. I attribute this to the clarity of the learning targets and the meaningful work done daily in class.  The students are constantly trying to learn and are not fearful of making a mistake.  They want to know how to be successful and are willing to attempt it because they know they will get feedback on their progress.

But, I need to stay the course.  Onward and upward! But seriously, this class is hard. I am continually trying to relay centuries of global history and have them read and write about complex documents.  The progress towards the little goals is what I need to be content with, which at this point is stellar.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Collab Lab Team Connects, Learns and Shares at #ICIC17

By Linda Ashida


The Collab Lab Team enjoyed a great day of learning and networking at the Illinois Council of Instructional Coaching's Third Annual Conference: Student Centered Coaching, featuring Diane Sweeney. The ICIC is a group of educators dedicated to building the art of coaching to impact learning for both teachers and students of all ages. The conference brought together 800 educators from the across the state of Illinois and beyond.



The day kicked off with a morning keynote session led by Diane Sweeney. Her presentation on Student-Centered Coaching gave the Collab Lab Team new inspiration to inform the planning of our future professional learning experiences.

In the afternoon, in addition to attending workshops, we were happy to have the opportunity to present and share the professional learning journey of the Collab Lab. Our presentation focused on our mission to build a community of learning at Elk Grove High School and beyond, sharing multiple examples of how our collaborative learning is inspired by our motto: Connect-Learn-Share.



To connect to the presentation, click here: https://tinyurl.com/EGCollabPresentation

To get an idea of what the day of learning and networking at the conference looked like, check out this Storify of tweets.


.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Engage Students in Learning with Video: EdPuzzle

What is EdPuzzle, you ask?

EdPuzzle is a site that allows users to select a video and easily customize it by editing, cropping, recording audio and adding questions to make an engaging presentation or learning experience. It is also a great formative assessment tool; a unique way for students to demonstrate their understanding.

Kirsten Fletcher has found EdPuzzle to be a great tool to engage her students in learning and she facilitated a workshop to share with her colleagues for our October 2017 Institute Day.

We have heard from several teachers who attended her session about how Kirsten's examples have inspired them to use EdPuzzle in their own classes.

The notes from the session serve as a great resource for those that missed it and due to popular demand, Kirsten has offered to repeat the session for our Teaming on Tuesday Learning Lab on October 24th.

We hope you'll join us! Not at EG? You can join us remotely! Just send us a direct message to the Collab Lab Twitter, and we'll send you a calendar invite and link to join us via Zoom!







Thursday, October 19, 2017

One Year in AP: A New Unit, Same Skills (Week Nine)

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 downright 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 to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Nine: Answer the Question

My content instructional goal this week was centered around commerce in the post-classical era.



My skill instructional goal was centered on the long essay.  The essay was: Analyze similarities and differences in TWO of the following trade networks in the period 600 C.E. to 1450 C.E.
Med. Sea
Trans-Saharan
Silk Road
Indian Ocean Basin

The focus was on the thesis, contextualization, and using evidence to support an argument portions of the essay.



Cite Specific Evidence

The content and the skill this week overlapped perfectly.  Each day layered more content that the students could use in their essay.  Students contextualized the prompt first and wrote their response. Then I had them write the thesis.  The next day they selected their evidence.  Finally, on Friday the students put all of the pieces together.

To have students check their content knowledge (and get out of their seats), students grouped together around maps I had hung around all over the room. As I shouted out content questions, the students competed against one another to correctly identify where that information could be found on the maps. The great thing about the activity was that students getting up and walking around the room served as a brain break at the same time that it allowed them––and me––to check their misunderstandings. Here is a short video of that in action:


The students then analyzed a chart on trade to activate background knowledge and to begin pulling evidence to support a claim to prepare for their writing.



Here are the students working on their statements.  



Here are the students chunking information and selecting which evidence best supports their claim to continue to prepare for their writing. At the same time, I circulated and their notes allowed me to see their thinking, ascertain their understanding and respond to misconceptions and questions.



Reasoning

The week was powerful.  The layering of the skills and the content worked great.  The students self-assessed their work every day.  I put the rubric on Schoology so the students constantly referred back to it to check their progress.  At the end of the week, the students worked on the essay by themselves, and the progress was amazing. The self-check went great and they understood the flow.  

The students knew the content.  I posted the objectives on Monday and through the warm-ups and map breaks, they mastered it.  It was fairly easy to comprehend, but it was a lot of information.  I was impressed at how quickly they picked it up and could use it in their essays.  

Reflection and Impact

I loved the week.  I spent a lot of time on one topic and skill set, but I felt like it paid off.  I actually listened to myself for once and stuck to the plan.  I normally lose focus and shift to something else by the end of the week, but this blog helped me stay on course.  On Friday, I was going to change my plan and deviate from writing the essay.  But then I reminded myself that the essay was the focus! It seriously took willpower to have the students write the essay on Friday, but I was so glad I did.

Read week ten here.

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
From Kern, Thomas, and Hughes. See link above.

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.

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.” 




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.  



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!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Whatever the Dream, You Can Do It Here! S1E2 We Are EG Podcast

The We Are EG Podcast S1E2

The second episode in our We Are EG Podcast series features a student from Syria talking about her experiences. She not only discusses the obstacles she has faced, but also the ways in which the Newcomer Center and Elk Grove High School have inspired her to attain her dreams.

The episode is sure to inspire you. We hope you'll take a listen.