Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Intro to Health Careers - Students Part I

By Alyssa Trausch, Matt Crimmons, Giselle Cordova Yanez and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here

I'm blown away by the student reflections this week.  They write to what they want for their future.  They write about how they learn best.  They are honest. They know themselves.  I wish I was this clear in my vision when I was in high school.

A few of the highlights reflected on by the students:
  • The course itself is really helping me learn more about my interest and my capabilities as a student.
  • By learning more about the careers I also hope that I can figure out more about myself.
  • Being able to do activities and take notes all in the interactive journal has been one of my favorite additions to my learning method.
  • Mrs. Glosson had taught us how to study these new topics on ourselves.
  • I’m interested in learning more and finding out more about the medical career and what it has to offer.
Alyssa Trausch 

What did you learn in this lesson?

In the first couple of units of Introduction to Health Careers, I have learned a variety of terms along with examples of words used in the medical field of work. During the first unit (chapter) “Building Blocks of Medical Terminology” I learned that the Latin and Greek language is where many of the terms used in medicine come from. I also learned the basic skill of note taking during unit one because Mrs. Glosson had the whole class take notes all the same, specific, way which really helped me stay organized, and made studying for the quiz much easier. I can now use this note-taking strategy to be more organized in the other class in the future.



Honestly, in the beginning, it seemed like there was lots of note taking about prefixes, suffixes, and word root, which made the class feel pretty slow and I just didn’t think it would be a class I would enjoy the whole year. Then we got into unit two “The Human Body” which is when we started to learn about not only what makes up the body, such as atoms, tissues, organs, etc., but then I got to personally learn something new which was the regions of our body.

My art skills were put to the test during the notes in this particular unit because we have to draw some bodies in our notebooks and then label them based on where the regions are located. At first, when doing this it seemed like they would be no help and really confusing to study however this wasn’t the case at all. The pictures helped me visualize them on myself and others where the regions are located rather than them just being listed as bullet points in my notebook.  So far this year in Introduction to Health Careers I’m not really sure if going into health care is still what I want to do, yet the course itself is really helping me learn more about my interest and my capabilities as a student.

What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

For next time I hope to learn more about the specific jobs of different medical careers and the amount of post-high school education some of them require. By learning more about the careers I also hope that I can figure out more about myself. I want to learn more about my interests because all I really have to base my interests off of is what I’ve seen on tv and in movies. I think that if I learn more about different jobs then I can figure out a plan on which class to take later in high school.


Matt Crimmins 

What did you learn in this lesson?

Since the start of the school year, I have learned some of the basic vocabulary and skills in health care. We have started learning word structure and word construction in medical terminology. This process has been effective so far because of the organization of all of our work in our notebooks. In both this class and AP Bio, organizing our work with the notebook has been an effective form of not only the organization but also as a study tool. Being able to do activities and take notes all in the interactive journal has been one of my favorite additions to my learning methods and has assisted me greatly in learning the material in the class so far.

Throughout the year, I want to learn in this class the specific healthcare jobs to see if this field fits me.



Giselle Cordova Yanez

What did you learn in this lesson?

In these units I have learned many new things like in unit one I learned lots about the medical terms that come from greek and latin words, as well I have learned about many of the meanings behind these words and their prefixes, suffixes, combining vowels, and root words; Which are commonly and will always be used in the medical field. I also learned many new ways to organize my notes. In a way where I’ll be able to always add on if needed.

These new ways to organize notes has helped me find a way to study faster it also is easier to the eyes instead of just reading bundles of paragraphs stacked on top of each other. In unit two we learned about new prefixes, suffixes, combining vowels and root words; but other than that we learned about body regions and it’s placement along with how the body is made up. Here Mrs. Glosson had taught us how to study these new topics on ourselves which has been really helpful considering I don’t need to worry about reading books or study pages of notes. We also had to do at one point in the Unit make play-doh people which were fun and also very helpful especially with having to label them. Which is a plus for me because I learn better visual then oral or writing methods.



All in all, I’m still confused about what I truly do want to do for my future but for now, I’m interested in learning more and finding out more about the medical career and what it has to offer. This class, however, has helped me keep organized in my other classes and also has helped me figure out my strengths and weakness as a student in high school and what I am really interested in.



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Intro to Health Careers - Teacher Part I

By Krista Glosson and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here

Words matter.  As much as they matter, a shared understanding of them matters more.  In the medical profession, not having a shared understanding can lead to life-changing results. That important foundational understanding of key vocabulary in the medical profession starts somewhere.  At Elk Grove, that foundational understanding can start their freshmen year.  Students have the amazing opportunity to become a Certified Nursing Assitant before they graduate.  They can leave high school with the ability to get a job in a hospital and directly care for patients.

In Krista Glosson's Intro to Health Careers class, the students spent the first few weeks doing that crucial work of developing that shared understanding of words that can lead to life-changing care for people.  The students self-assessed, reflected, shared with each, and continued to strengthen their understanding of a common vocabulary.  Read how the students begin to learn as they start on their journey into a possible life-long career.



Krista Glosson

What did learning look like in the lesson?

The first two units in Introduction to Health Careers are important to student success for the entire year.  These units ensure that all of our students have an equal chance of being successful in the course.  Many students come with the knowledge and have a working vocabulary that allows them to be successful rapidly, while other students need to have some knowledge gaps filled before they can move forward easily.



In this lesson, students received feedback on a recent quiz that they had taken.  After receiving the feedback students evaluated their errors and then took a survey to evaluate their personal satisfaction and progress in the course.  Students were asked questions about their grade satisfaction, personal progress, and organization tools.

After the survey, students created a foldable for their interactive notebooks and reviewed five new vocabulary words.  The students were engaged with their notebooks to work on the new material.




Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Finding Purpose: Understanding Gen Z

By Rachel Vissing

This is part of an ongoing series in which I am working on developing my own mission statement of student and personal learning.  You can read the first post here.


Over the weekend, I heard it again.  I was getting my oil changed, and a man noticed my school apparel and said "Oh so you're a teacher?" to which I replied "Yes, I am!"  He then replied with a sarcastic "Oh good luck.  Kids these days don't know anything besides how to use their cell phones." 

Flash Forward to Sunday night.  I'm sitting watching the Bears/Packers game with my husband, and I heard it again.  "Rachel, get off your phone."  I hear this more times than I can count on a regular basis from him, along with "Get off your laptop or your iPad."  Now I always try to justify that I don't touch social media all day long or that I need to check my work e-mail or something of the sort.  In reality, I see that I many times I am just as bad as the "kids these days".  

In thinking about this more, I realized that so many people of the older generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y) find all of the faults with the newer Generation Z, however, we don't find out what skills are their strengths.  I decided to do some research.



Differences in Generation Z

Pulled from two different sources (getsmarter.com and visioncritical.com), I have found these notable differences between Gen Z and the prior generations:

- Generation Z is the last generation with a white majority.  As this generation is still considered "ongoing", they are growing up in a more global community and thinking about the future in a larger and more inspirational sense than ever before.

- The population of Gen Z is the most tech-savvy and can pick up new technological developments quicker than other generations.  They are also able to multitask much better, with one source referencing using up to 5 devices at a time!

- Gen Z actually watches less TV but spends more time on YouTube and social media.  They are more focused on products, brands, and celebrities rather than experiences and emotional connections.

- The members of Gen Z are more realistic than idealistic.  They also want to be entrepreneurs and create their own businesses as opposed to creating a loyalty in working for others.



What Does This Mean in Education?

There are many ways to view and use this information.  The first thing that I think of is Apple (not that teachers get apples...the company Apple - I can be punny and see if you're still reading!).  There have been 14 versions of the iPhone to date.  There has been the iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Pro, Apple TV, Apple Watch, etc.  These are all technology advances since January 2007.  In 11+ years, our world has changed dramatically in the world of connecting with others, multitasking, and access to information.

Now let's look at education, well at least from my perspective.  I have taught for 8.5 years, of which I have never used a textbook.  To many I encounter, this is crazy, yet this is all I know.  I have used an iPad for 7 of those years, 6 with 1-to-1 student devices.  I also have taught with white-board tables for 3 years now.  I have explored numerous instructional practices: discovery learning, flipped classroom, standard-based grading, various formative feedback methods, and many more.  I have rewritten curricula every single year that I have been here.  My question is...why?  Has this been of benefit to my students?

I always felt that I was adjusting curricula based on new technology and my students skill needs.  Was that practical?  Was it worthwhile?  Right now, after reading these articles, I found that maybe I was searching in the wrong place.  I was altering my practices to help build and strengthen the skills that they were struggling with instead of learning and understanding the skill strengths of their generation.  

So What...?  Connection to Developing My Personal Mission Statement

Last post, I articulated my need to focus on my students as individuals, not numbers.  This post, I dove into learning the skill strengths of my students and how they differ from those of my generation and those before.  In moving forward, I now have a better understanding of the "kids these days" and what they have to offer to the school, community, and society moving forward.  

I'll be honest, this post was a long way off from where it began.  I intended to look up some information and ended up falling down a rabbit hole and got a bit overwhelmed with the idea that I thought I knew the "kids these days" so well because I work with them daily, however, it is eye-opening that I have not looked into how their experiences and environments are drastically different from those of previous generations (ie: Powerpoint was still a new thing for teachers to use when I was in high school...).  Anyways, I'm saying this because this post may not make sense to all who read, but it has been very helpful for me to process this information of students' skill strengths thus start focusing on how to support their future needs.


Friday, September 14, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Pre-Calculus-Part I

By Dave Dompke, Kesha Patel, Alyssa Cobb, and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here

I loved math class in high school.  It always made sense. There was a logic to it and the mental gymnastics to figuring the solution was intoxicating.  Yet, the structure to it required a lot of practice.  My visit to Dave Dompke's class left me with a different view on the structure of a math class.  The students were free. They had flexibility on how to learn the material.  Dompke created the conditions to allow students to do what works best for them.  In the one class I visited, I saw students engaged with each other in how to solve the problems, debates, working by themselves, working in groups, at their own pace, asking the teacher for help, going over previous material, and challenging themselves with tougher questions.  


This is a great starting point for what learning could and should be in a math class.  Read the teacher and the student responses below.  I asked Alyssa what she wanted a school to be.  Her response will push your thinking a little on what school should be.  





Teacher Dompke 
What did learning look like in the lesson? 

Students were accessing previous knowledge to solve current problems on functions.  They were learning new concepts while at the same time.  They were trying to learn something new while using concepts they learned from the past.  They had direct instruction initially but then were able to work with their cooperative groups to practice these concepts.


What do you hope to do for the next time? 

I would like to test for understanding and see how many students are already familiar with the concept before I begin teaching it.  



Kesha Patel:  What did you learn in this lesson?

There was a lot of review work involved, and I was generally able to grasp the concepts pretty quickly. There was a problem I learned to do that I’d never seen before. The problem required me to use my prior knowledge of functions in a different way. That’s one of the reasons I like math; I’m able to take different steps to solve a problem to get one single answer. This lesson showed me how to do problems differently and how to use things I already know. 


What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

I hope to learn to solve even more complex math problems and use what I already know in different ways. I like being able to arrive at one answer but in various ways. I feel like this class will help me enjoy math even more since I’m gonna be exploring new material and new ways to solve problems.


Alyssa Cobb:  What do you hope to learn for the next time? 

I hope to learn the in-depth parts of the problems and how they can apply to us in everyday lives.


What do you want a school to be? 

All classes should be able to be chosen thoughtfully while keeping in mind what we want in our future careers with classes that adhere to such careers. Also, school should allow you to focus on your social bonds and not just how “smart” you are because intelligence is not all of life.




Thursday, September 13, 2018

Curriculum - Why do we have to get through it?

by Mark Heintz

When I first started teaching, world history at my school largely focused on western civilization through World War II.  As a team, we did a really engaging genocide project at the end of the year that brought up some events post WWII, but we mostly stopped at the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Then we attempted to get a more global perspective.  We added more Indian and Chinese history.  Then Africa.  And then we added events post WWII.  In the end, we pretty much had everything in our world history class.  I mean that literally.  Our curriculum guide was massiveAuthoritative: It felt "official" and told students what they would "learn."  It mimicked the AP World curriculum guide.  Every day had learning targets and we moved at a rapid pace to cover the topics of the ENTIRE WORLD'S HISTORY in less than a year.


Add to the mix 21st Century skills, SAT focus, and a lot of writing.  It was a very packed course.  As a teacher, I felt good about what we'd created. The course was documented.  It exposed kids to as much of the world's history as I thought possible.  And, as the class marched through the course, most kids were "successful" by traditional metrics. They took tests and displayed "mastery."

Yet, I knew something was off. After the year was over and the kids returned from summer, I started asking what they liked or learned from the previous year.  Most kids could barely remember the units we covered.  So, they went from mastery in May to not remembering what the units were.  So, did they learn it?  Was it worth covering everything if they didn't even remember it?

Thanks to Dan Saken for bringing up this image.  

I'd say no.  My desire to get through everything only led to students putting it in their short-term memories for the test.  Now I'm thinking, who says we have to get through everything?  I, with a team of others teachers, created the course.  But, we created it.  Then felt obligated to cover it.  There was this feeling on our team, and I suspect in all schools, to cover more and to get through everything and add skills and competencies. It's just too much.

Even as I write this, authoritative curriculum guides like AP are cutting their content. Specifically, AP World History is cutting half of the content. I feel they were finding the same thing that I was: covering topics isn't learning.  When we attempt to cover every topic, the students have little interest and agency in the course.

Over the last few years, I've cut a lot of topics that were in my curriculum; AP and non-AP. And every year I cut something, students do better on "tests," and interest increased.  I'm able to spend time with topics that students are interested in. Students have time to talk and write about what they feel on the subject.  Because learning is for them, not the prescribed guide I set up for them.

Now what?

I'm starting to view curriculum as a series of open-ended questions.  It can't be a prescription and a series of outcomes. It has to be an exploration.  If I do it that way, it will be relevant to them because they'll be exploring what they want to learn.  It will be inquiry-based as they are searching for their understandings.  Finally, it gives students agency over their learning.  In the end, they will read more, write more, talk more, and remember more, since it'll be about them instead of me.


Friday, September 7, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Introduction to Strength and Condition-Students

By Daisy Crus and Jaina Pfister

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here.


In this post, two freshmen students reflect on what they learned in the first few weeks in Introduction to Strength and Condition.  You can read the teacher's reflection here.  The students are in control of their learning in this class. Here is a quick video the students talking about what they want in the course and how best to hold each other to those expectations.



Daisy Cruz

What did you learn in this lesson?

Something I learned in this lesson is that if you put your mind to what you are doing and you stay focused, you will always work through it till it’s complete. I also learned that when you are working out you always want to work on three things.  Those are strength, auxiliary and core.  Working with those three things will complete your daily workout. One thing I learned in this lesson is that you have to work on both parts of your body to not have one small leg and the other a lot muscular.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

Something I would like to learn in the next lesson is how to make the exercise more challenging if we feel it’s not pushing us to work harder. The teachers make us work hard and they are great but some people have already been in sports or activities and done harder workouts. They should have a specific workout and have it in two different ways, the normal way and the experienced way.




Jaina Pfister 

What did you learn in this lesson?

Today we learned about box jumps and step-ups with the boxes. It was mostly a learning day but days like those are a crucial step when it comes to working out. Learning the correct form will ensure we won’t get hurt and teaches us to become better athletes.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

For next time I hope we can incorporate the boxes in our workout so we can use the knowledge we learned. An important part of learning to me is being able to practice our learnings and continue to grow from there.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Introduction to Strength and Condition-Teachers

By Anthony Furman and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments.  You can read all of the previous posts here

Going into a physical education class conjures up a lot of memories.  I personally always had great experiences but from movies, tv, and friends it seems that p.e. was great for everyone.  The class has been under fire across our country and most recently our state.  But going into Anthony Furman's 844 class highlights what p.e. should be.  Students owned the class.  They created the expectations and they did the work.  I'm in awe of what he was able to do in the first few weeks of school.



What did learning look like in the lesson? 

Furman: In this lesson, the “learning” focus was two-fold.  First, we completed our class culture expectations to work by.  This taught the students to genuinely think about what kind of environment they want to create and work within on a daily basis.  It is the beginning of understanding how to create a “culture” that will aim at improving the internal and external vision of what we expect from ourselves, our class and then throughout our school.  Students were given the opportunity to share expectations that were felt as important to have in class.  The list of I WILL, WE WILL and WE WILL NOT statements all came from the four sections of 844 students.



The exercises learned on this day were box jumps and variations of step-ups.  We have a template of exercises that we want our students to learn during their freshman year that will not only prepare themselves for future P.E. classes but also building a basic foundation of exercises for students to understand and build upon.  They learned the basic technique and purpose of each exercise and then were given time to practice each within small groups.  These exercises will be combined with other learned strength, core, and auxiliary exercises as we continue to learn our intro to a strength program.



What do you hope to do for the next time? 

Furman: I will be looking to see that we are practicing our “Building a Culture to be Proud Of” statements. That will come from teacher to student as well as student to student.  Exercises learned will be practiced and then given was to be made more challenging.  Ideally, we begin to build an atmosphere where class expectations are maintained by all students and we continue to build on the program focuses set each week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Policies don't instill character traits

By Mark Heintz

When I first started coaching, I wanted my team to be dedicated; disciplined.  I used a common attendance policy, athletes would have three absences.  Fair.  Logically, the policy would force athletes to be dedicated to the program.  I put a policy in place, I get the results I want.  Right?



Wrong. As I write this, I see the idiocy of it. Also, spoiler alert, I struggled in the first few years as a coach.  The policy didn't instill the character traits I wanted.  At its best, a few people who were already tuned into the program and were dedicated stood out.  Most of the time, it hurt everyone.  I praised those who were "dedicated" and removed those who had a lot going on.  I hid behind the policy and the true problem.  I didn't create an environment that was inclusive, personal, and valued the individual desires and needs.

Schools do this a lot.  We create policies that have the best intentions.  I seriously applaud the efforts.  As a teacher, I've used them to say no to kids. At their best, it does address some students who need help.  Again, most of the time, it doesn't get to the real problem.  We don't create environments that are inclusive, personal, and value the individual desires and needs.

Last year, Kim Miklusak taught seniors during a lunch period.  That particular group of seniors were "struggling" students and had been labeled as such for most of their schooling.  As you can image, attendance was an issue.  Around mid-year, she found that writing kids up only furthered the problem.  Even her addressing the tardiness or absences pushed kids away.

So, what did she start doing?  She welcomed them.  She thanked the students for showing up late.  She encouraged them.  With the shift, the attendance problem stopped for almost every kid.  And to be clear, she continued to mark the tardies and followed up with chronic absences.  She just, to quote her, "treated people like people, and they did better."  She created an inclusive, personal environment that valued each student.

Seems logical?

Changes

In both cases, the policies in place had the best intentions.  They sought to punish or reward behavior to get students to have the desired traits. And the policies work for kids who already have those traits.  In my case, it drew in athletes who were already dedicated.  In Kim's case, only a few students remained who already valued at school.  But in reality, it removed a lot of people from the team or the classroom.  In the end, policies might force people to be compliant, which ultimately pushes them away.

So what works? We have to truly value our students. We have to value their opinions, ideas, and desires.  If we do that, then they'll see the benefit of being dedicated or working hard.  Their voices and reasons for being in the class or program will be heard and valued, which in turn will get them to work harder.  So what about policies? I doubt they are going away.  People can still use them. But ultimately, they remove kids. Most of us want our to value and learn our subjects. They can't do that if they aren't there.