Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Intro to Engineering Part 1-Teachers

By Patrick McGing and Mark Heintz

This is the first of hopefully, fingers crossed, a weekly series of teachers and students at Elk Grove reflecting on what meaningful learning looks like in practice.  A group of teachers all met with me in May of last year and we agreed on a common mission and vision for the 2018-2019 school year.


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.

  • Connect teachers across all disciplines in the building in a quarterly meeting
  • Weekly class visits and sharing video segments with the larger community of the learning taking place.  
  • Involve the PTC by sharing the narrative of learning at Elk Grove and inviting them to possible future meetings with staff and students 
  • Document and share a weekly blog post that involves student and teachers 
Throughout the year, we are guided by the following questions

  • How do we define learning?
  • What conditions maximize student learning? 
  • How do we build trust with one another to increase professional autonomy and increase transparency? 
  • How do we share our narrative of learning with the larger community and stakeholders?
In this first post, Patrick McGing graciously "volunteered" to be first.  Patrick is just awesome.  Ever since he stepped foot in the building, he's been asking the right questions and is focused on learning instead of teaching.  He's in the trenches with his students, figuring things out alongside them.  He's ever reflective and constantly making changes to his already amazing classes. 

The Career Technical Education department continues to be cutting edge.  Seriously, it's an amazing place to be and I'm grateful every time I'm down there. I think the school placed most of the CTE classes away from the rest of the "core" classes so we wouldn't be as jealous.  Everyone in that department is so progressive and I'm blown away when I go down there.  But as this post is focusing on Patrick, his focus continues to be on the learning. Every time I connect with him, I wish I could be as focused on learning as he is.  

What did learning look like in the lesson? 

McGing: For this lesson, students filled out a questionnaire asking about what their interests are, activities/sports they participate in, employment history, volunteering experiences, skills they have obtained from previous courses/extracurriculars, awards/achievements, words/phrases that describe them, and goals for the year. I wanted this to be an opportunity for me to get to know students better, but more importantly for students to reflect and document themselves. Little did students know, this was going to lead to the development of a cover letter and resume.

Therefore, learning looked like reflection and basic goal setting.

Learning looked liked seeing how small reflections and goal setting applies in the larger picture of District 214 goals and their own future goals.

Learning looked like how starting small and documenting where students begin will, in the end, help document personal growth.

What do you hope to do for the next time? 

McGing: At Elk Grove, the majority of teachers, including myself in Technology Education adopted Standards Based Grading as the majority of the learning in our classrooms revolves around learning and developing essential skills (“Standards”). These essential skills sometimes get lost in “day to day school.” Therefore, part of my reasoning for having students create a resume and document their skills is so they know where they are starting the year off. As we continue the school year and cover more essential skills I would like to have students add to their resume; along with anything else that applies from school, extracurriculars, or other.

Students can then begin to see growth, even if they started with a very bare resume, personal growth will be documented.

On top of this, as one of District 214’s goals is career ready and we fall in a Career and Technical Educational course, developing resume building skills will further help students as they begin looking for careers that require the same skills they have developed in their CTE courses and others.

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