Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Working on the Work

Today was one of my favorite days.  It was a WOW day (a Working On the Work day), now referred to as PLC (Professional Learning Community)Days by the county.  Our children spend the day with our Resource teachers and we spend the day studying together.  We started off our WOW with a demo lesson by our Literacy lead, Maria Mallon.  All 14 of us loaded into Maria's room to watch her masterfully teach one of the new lessons from Lucy Calkins' new Units of Study for Teaching Writing.  We opened with narrative writing after the holiday and Maria demonstrated the 5th lesson, the last lesson in the first bend of the narrative genre.  I love watching a colleague work!  Maria masterfully taught the children how to use their pencil for reading and for writing.  She taught them to use the eraser end for "rereading your work and the point for writing new words" as the children co-wrote the beginning, middle and end of a story together about our trip to watch the Polar Express at the church next door.  Besides using a magic pencil  I also loved how she demonstrated using "writing in the air" as an active involvement.  Maria gave each student his or her own writing pencil and then had them use it to "pretend" write or "write in the air" a she wrote on the paper on the board.   Both of those tips - using a magic pencil and writing in the air - are things that we can teach in our classroom tomorrow.

Melanie Holtsman, our Literacy Coach, is the producer of our literacy professional development and she and Maria designed this learning opportunity together.  Melanie studied at Teachers' College last summer so she has been able to artfully incorporate pieces of that "Lucy" training into our professional development this year.  She shares some of her learning from the summer and from a recent day with Lucy with us, and the greater community at our school PD blog, Live from the Creek.  Check it out.  It's almost like being at Teachers' College!

Melanie always tries to have us experience something as a learner so that we feel comfortable incorporating it into our lessons.  Today she had us "write a story in the air" -  tell a true story from our childhood to a partner - thinking about the beginning, middle and end..  She suggested this as  way to have our students get ready to write.  In other words, instead of simply telling our students to "turn and talk" about what they are going to write, to actually have them tell their partner the story with a beginning, middle, and end to jumpstart their story writing.  Can't you just see how that would work?

After lunch together - we always order in to save time! - our Science lead Tracy Ruark took over for the last hour.  Tracy shared the content of boxes that were loaned to Chets by the Safari Club for us to use in Science.  We looked at pelts and skulls and I even learned about "scat" - felt like I'd visited Duck Dynasty!  The boxes also included books and lesson plans.  I know how much fun the teachers had with these items, so I can just imagine how the children will engage with them!  We ended by talking about Tracy's latest Science lab with Sound.

I LOVE the teachers I work with.  They are engaged.  They are never at a loss for questions and share an endless supply of creative ideas.  There is no questions that I will be a better teacher tomorrow because I shared time with them today!


Melanie Holtsman said...

What a great summary of the day. LOVED the Magic Pencil and can't wait to see all the kids using it. It's so nice to be among a community of learners, but it looks like I missed out not seeing the pelts. That looks like super fun! lol

Maria Mallon & Cheryl Dillard said...

It was a great day where we all had the chance to learn from each other. I love that we always want to learn more and do what is best for our students. CCE is still the place to be!! MM