The best part about a new semester is the opportunity to reflect on the things that went well from the prior semester and the things that need a bit of tweaking It’s the chance to recharge our teaching batteries, and best of all, the opportunity to press the imaginary “reset” button. With all this in mind, Megan and I plopped ourselves down at a table and set to work.
Reflecting on the semester, we realized there are things we want to change, things we moved away from that we wanted to reign back in, and things we wanted to start. So.. we set to work revamping, re-familiarizing and reconfiguring – a whole new set of “r’s.”
By lunch, we had revamped our Readers’/Writers’ WorkshopModel. Following Donalyn Miller’s structure, we modified her model to fit our own needs. We are both pretty flexible, and realize that we may not always be able to stick to the schedule (insert hopes for a weather related two-hour delay versus school cancellation here), but are happy with the template we have in place. (We’d better be anyway, since Megan made me print it twice AND laminate it!)
We also re-familiarized ourselves with Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey’s article “Engaging the Adolescent Learner.” (Side note: if you haven’t read this article yet, it is a must read for any teacher looking to include collaborative activities with their students. Just search the article title and you’ll find it.) We designed lessons that emphasize the gradual release of responsibility and include collaborative activities. Megan and I were fortunate to attend the Fisher Institute this past summer and spent three amazing days learning from Fisher and the teachers at the Health Sciences High & Middle College in San Diego. What we learned had such a profound impact that Megan made us “What Would Doug Do?” posters to keep us inspired.
We dug into Curriculum Companion, a model for Common Core implementation, and combined numerous modules in order to address the necessary standards before the end of the year. Next up – a book club unit that mixes both fiction and nonfiction revolving around various periods in history, leading into mini-research projects about a historical event… and all of this done before our 11:30 lunch break — can we say #feelingaccomplished!?!
Monday (weather permitting) we hit the Reset button – we add to the teaching we’ve done, the learning our students have achieved, and continue to grow with our students. And that… that is enough to recharge this teacher’s batteries!