Preschool Kids Learn to Grow Food

Amazing concept that stands out in today’s digital world.  Providing kids an opportunity to connect with their peers, adults, and nature only becomes more challenging as they become more and more connected with technology.

This ARTICLE  presents their three approaches to learning: “learning from nature, learning from technique, and learning from practice.”  Their school get students out of the classroom but also gives them a chance to use their hands, interact with animals, learn how to grow their own food, and most importantly – have fun!

Other companies have jumped in on similar ideas around breaks from technology… Chick-Fil-A recently started a promotion called the Family Challenge.  They encourage families to put ALL technology into a box and while they eat their meal at the restaurant.  If you successfully make it through the whole meal without using your devices, they proved you with free “icedream” cones!

chick fil a

 

Advertisements

What is our BEST Taxonomy?

Peter DeWitt, Ed. D published a great article “What’s Our Best Taxonomy? Bloom’s or SOLO?”.  He does a great job at explaining both Taxonomies while providing you insights as to how each can be and is used.

This article address a topic that I was first taught in college at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania: Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The 6 stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy are:

Blooms

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

The idea of Bloom’s is to make sure that you are hitting all the levels of cognitive thought and if you are then you truly testing for mastery vs. memorization.  However, once I started to teach, I learned how difficult it is to assess students at a high level and then also judge where they fell in their understanding based on the taxonomy.  I found myself looking to other methods to assess my students level of understanding of the content.

According to Mr. DeWitt, “The criticism with Bloom’s is that it seems to focus on regurgitating information, and that anything goes. A student can provide a surface-level answer to a difficult question, or a deep answer to a surface-level question.”

Let us now turn our attention to the SOLO Taxonomy that was created and developed by John Biggs and Kevin Collis in the 1980’s.  Biggs describes their taxonomy as, “SOLO, which stands for the Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome, is a means of classifying learning outcomes in terms of their complexity, enabling us to assess students’ work in terms of its quality not of how many bits of this and of that they got right.”

The 5 Stages of the SOLO Taxonomy are:

SOLO

  1. Prestructual
  2. Unistructual
  3. Multistructual
  4. Relational
  5. Extended Abstract

So the purpose of the SOLO Taxonomy is to reach even past assessing and judging the value of materials that are learned to developing theories and applying their knowledge to explore new ideas.

The most powerful piece of the article, for someone who was brought up on Bloom’s Taxonomy, was this quote from Mr. DeWitt “Through reading blogs and research, one of the positives sides to SOLO is that it makes it easier for teachers to identify the levels, and therefore help guide students through the learning process.”

I always found myself just looking at the verbs of Bloom’s and incorporating them into my assessments to reach all the levels of the Taxonomy but found it so hard to make judgments on how my students were progressing.  With the SOLO Taxonomy you could consider reducing it to a much simpler scale of I statements…

  • I do not understand what just happened – Clueless
  • I sort of understand what you are saying – Somewhat understands
  • I am on the same page but not connecting the pieces – Moderately understands
  • I am on the same page and explain it to my neighbor – Fully understands
  • I understand and feel that this concept applies to another idea I had in mind – An extension to what I have learned.

So after reading the article and my thoughts on what I have experienced during my teaching career, which side to you stand on?  Bloom’s or SOLO?

Images are from the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning.  

 

 

Engaging Parents of ELL

Check out this great blog by Amy Erin Borovay.  She summarizes here experiences in a kindergarten class in California!

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/engaging-parents-english-language-learners?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

Parent-Teacher Conference Makeover

After spending a decade in the classroom it is no secret that this night, Parent-Teacher Conference night, is a favorite amoungest all teachers…NOT!  It is a night full of anxiety because you never know how a parent will react to what you have to say about their child, whether bad or good, beleive it or not.  (I actually had a parent get upset with me because I mentioned how well her son was doing in class, that he was a leader, and that he had big things coming!)

Anyways, thanks to Sarah Sparks and her blog on Parent-Teacher Conferences Get a Makeover, I was able to read about Ruth Hill Elementary School in Newnan, Georgia and how they take full advantage of these situations.  We all know that getting parents and the community involved can be a daunting task, but what if it was as easy as just educating our parents on how to teach their children at home, as well as provide supplies to complete assignments?

One study shows that that over 75% of parents will be present at their schools open house and those numbers are almost dupilcated for a scheduled parent-teacher conference.  These are crucial times in the learning process because we are given a gift.  The gift is a face to face meeting with the parent(s) of our students where we have another opportunity to teach and make a difference in our students lives.

How you might be wondering?  The teachers at Ruth Hill Elementary have their parents set a 60 day goal for their child and then model these activities for their parents so they know how to help their kids at home!  After this 60 day period, they meet to discuss the process, make new goals, provide resources, set a date, and meet again.  This process continues throughout the school year.

This model is called APTT (Academic Parent Teacher Team) and it was pioleted in Creighton School Distrcit in Arizona and is now used all across the country.  Creighton School District has very high low income family rates, around 80%, and this model has shown to be very effective.  It is used in cities around the U.S., Chicago and Houston to name a couple, as well as state wide use in Georgia and Wisconson.

This is one area that I missed as a teacher, the opportunity to teach my parents how to be teachers at home.  Everyone wants more parent and community involvment, but this is different.  This is different because parents are not just “involved”, they are actually empowed.  These are parents who have activtely become a part of the education process.