Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3, 2013

Why should we collaborate? There are many benefits to educators collaborating with one another. It provides an opportunity to share strategies and ideas and also brain storm on ways of making projects and activities even better. Despite the fact that we do not have collaborative time built in to our weekly schedule, there are many teachers at Crystal finding time to collaborate. The Common Core standards are making collaboration not only important, but truly a necessary piece to planning. Collaboration makes it possible  to effectively implement the new Common Core standards.

In order to most effectively introduce research to her students, Cynthia Merrick and librarian Jenn Roush have collaborated with each other. The result has been a multi-tiered lesson that both Cynthia is implementing in her classroom and Jenn has implemented in the library. The two of them have decided who will deliver which part of the instruction and at what time. Additionally, they were able to modify and adjust the lessons together after seeing what the students were able to do and not able to do.

The sixth grade English team has worked for several hours with Paul Walpole to go over primary source documents. Not only have they worked together to identify which primary source documents would be best to introduce to the sixth graders, they have worked with Paul to identify how students should read, annotate, and work with the primary sources. To date they have spent over three hours collaborating on this topic.

Ken Baptista, Carole Schneider, and Tammy Collin are collaborating weekly to create common lessons. They work on developing guiding questions, and activities that encourage critical thinking and a high level of rigor and student engagement. Because they collaborate so often, they are able to tweak and modify their lessons to be as beneficial as possible for the students. They have noted to me on several occasions that the new Common Core standards require much more time for planning. By working together to plan, it helps make the process easier.

The Math 8 teachers have collaborated together to implement the problem of the week. All Math 8 students are working on the agreed upon problem of the week.  The problem of the week includes word problems that students must not only solve, but write explanations of how they worked through the process to get to the answer. Additionally, the word problems are real world based and relevant to the students' lives.

We have three of our teachers, Ken Baptista, Shannon Balthazor, and Cynthia Merrick collaborating with the district level team of teachers to create the best vertical alignment approach to the Common Core standards for English and math. I mention this so that you can make sure to get your ideas and suggestions to each of them so that they can pass that on at the district level meetings. They each have met for three days to plan for English and math.  There will be a total of nine full days of planning time this year.

I have been able to learn from educators across the country via Twitter. Following educators that are innovative and working towards implementing 21st Century skills at their sites, has given me new insight and provided ideas for implementation at Crystal. We don't have to only collaborate with the educators at our site or even within our own district, we can branch out to districts across the country using social media.

Since all of us have Ipads, the time constraint to collaborate is not really so much an issue anymore. The reason I say that is that any teacher at Crystal that wants to collaborate with another can do so using Facetime on their Ipad. You don't have to be at school or even in the same location. Try it and see what happens.

The Site Council has also realized the great importance of collaboration. Especially collaboration following the 20% time model. As a reminder, the 20% model provides educators autonomy.  The collaboration time is time spent working with any member of the staff on any projects or ideas you want to work on.  The time allows educators to be innovative and work on what they feel is most important at that time and with whom they want to work with to have the most successful outcome. To this end, the Site Council has allocated $12,700 for collaboration for the 2013-2014 school year.  

How has collaboration worked for you? Share your story about collaboration by posting a comment below. 

WORD OF THE WEEK: DESIGN:   DESIGN is to plan or develop something for a specific purpose.

Our Chromebook mobile lab is in. A Google form will be sent out for you to sign up to checkout the cart. There is a total of 35 Chromebooks in the cart. 

Have a GREAT week!!

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