I had the opportunity to attend the Teachers College Social Studies Institute at Columbia University in New York City.
The conference was very well organized and presented, providing many ideas and methods to bring back to our classes. I am implementing these into my classes and sharing these lesson plans and methods with the other Humanities teachers.
I gathered some great ideas that match very well with my curriculum and personal teaching style. These ideas include how I present content to students, how to use videos and still images in new and effective ways, as well as ways to aid students with critical thinking and how to form and defend opinions. The information I learned has challenged me in a new way to improve myself as a teacher and reinforced that my teaching methods are current and effective.
I thank our principal, our office manager, and the board for sending me to this wonderful opportunity and I feel inspired on my return.
A few summers ago, I stumbled upon an online course offered through Stanford University, “How to Learn Math: For Teachers”. This course had such an impact on my thinking about teaching mathematics that I invited the elementary team to take the course with me the following summer. This course challenged us to examine the way traditional mathematics has been taught, which often tragically leads to students who don’t like math by about the sixth grade. We explored current brain science and learning research as it applies to math, and learned practical ways to increase students’ confidence and joy in learning math.
One of the most transformational aspects for me was learning how to create a classroom culture that fosters a growth mindset for students. We want our classrooms to be places where every student believes they can be successful in math, where mistakes are valued as opportunities to grow our brains, and students are encouraged to take risks and try hard things. We want our students to be flexible and creative thinkers, approaching problems with multiple strategies, and valuing the thinking of others.
Since taking this course, I now explicitly teach growth mindset, setting students up to believe in themselves as mathematicians, and understand how our brains grow. I regularly have students invent strategies for solving new types of problems, using mathematical intuition, and share their strategies with one another. Our classroom is a place for exploring how math works, and celebrating new discoveries and understandings.
The Oregon Schools Art Association (OSAA) holds an annual art conference in which art educators from around Oregon come together to learn, collaborate, be inspired, and network. I have found that attending this conference at the beginning of each school year has offered me an opportunity to be creative myself and I always gain fresh ideas to implement into my classroom. The workshops are taught by other teachers. We create art and learn techniques that I later use with my elementary students! The keynote speakers and the encouragement between teachers at various levels are particularly impactful. We are able to see how the practice of creating, regardless of the medium, has changed the way students think, act and embrace the world.
Going to the OSAA conference inspires me as I work with my students, reminds me why I do what I do, allows me to connect with other educators to collaborate, and offers fresh lessons and perspectives that I can bring to our school. I am very grateful for the opportunity to go each year.
Seven Peaks School’s Prekindergarten – 6th Grade Teachers, Instructional/Literacy Coach, and Principal have found great value in attending the Teachers College, Columbia University,
Reading and Writing Project training. This is a description of what is covered:
“This conference is designed to help school leaders support best practices in the teaching of writing and reading. Your presenter will draw on work that the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project has done in thousands of schools to help you rally parents, teachers, and kids to invest heart and soul in raising the level of student work. You will learn important ways to use the teaching of writing and reading to support whole schools becoming communities of practice, with teachers planning together, visiting each other’s classrooms, observing each other’s teaching, studying student work together. You’ll learn how other schools have freed teachers up so they can plan and study together. You’ll hear about grade-level planning groups, cross-grade articulation teams, parent education, and ways to develop and use master teachers. Above all, you’ll be given help with the supervision and coaching that is such a huge part of your job. What sorts of feedback can you give when observing workshop teaching that will make a huge difference? How can your observations of writing and reading workshops be part of larger teacher-evaluation work? You’ll get help thinking about building a year-long sequence of units that works, about ways the work at one grade level can build on the work at another and ways to help teachers transfer skills learned in the writing and reading workshop to the rest of the curriculum. You’ll hear about the predictable challenges that you are no doubt facing as you try to lift the level of writing and reading across your school and your district, and will receive tested, practical help responding to those challenges. Parts of the day will be brass tacks; your presenter will share the TCRWP’s latest and best thinking on how to support kids who are working well below benchmark, how to make writing assessment support student agency and energy, how to provision classrooms with the tools they need. Parts of the day will be more personal; we’ll help you think about ways to create a community of trust, to give feedback that taps into learners’ energy, to hold onto visions of possibility.” –
I recently completed a 24-credit TSPC (Teachers Standards and Practices Commission)-approved Reading Endorsement program through ReadOregon. ReadOregon is a collaborative program between two universities that share a common curriculum of online literacy courses. ReadOregon provides dynamic coursework for teachers who are wanting to add a reading endorsement to their existing license or who want to update their professional toolbox. I found this program to be a wonderful way to go deeper with my foundational knowledge and understanding of theories around literacy instruction, and also provided a forum for sharing and discussing best practices in literacy education.
ReadOregon courses encompass 7 thematic areas that align with the International Reading Association Standards:
- literacy foundations
- literacy strategies and methods
- literacy for diverse learners
- literacy assessment
- leadership in school reading programs
My hope is to apply my newly acquired knowledge and skills to support literacy instruction, leadership, and assessment here at Seven Peaks school!
- Tracy Jenson, 3rd Grade Teacher
Each October, for the last three years, members of the teaching and administrative staff have attended the Google Summit for Education. This is the second year I have attended, and I’ve found it to be infused with learning opportunities and alive with educators that want more for themselves and their students. This educator-led day of learning and sharing focuses on Google Apps for Education, a suite of tools that encourages collaboration, sharing, and mobility.
I learned about a variety of technologies and tools that are made to specifically increase collaboration, efficiency, overall classroom flow, and student learning. I attended sessions about a variety of subjects from embracing the paradigm shift of technology in the classroom to collecting baseline data and monitoring student growth through formative assessment .
It was great to have so many common goals with the other attendees and such an engaged environment of learning! Many of the tools and best practices that I learned have already been incorporated into my classroom and used with my current students. I look forward to continuing to attend this event from year to year and further building out the strategies and technologies that are used to work toward the common goal of teaching and learning in creative ways for both myself and my students!
- Jenny Leogrande, 1st Grade Teacher