Thursday, March 5, 2015

Working on the work

One of the best things about teaching at Chets Creek is the WOW days.  WOW stands for Working on the Work and four times a year, each grade level gets to spend an entire day just working together.  We don't do lesson plans because our amazing Resource Team takes the children for the entire day.  I'm not sure it's the Resource Team's favorite day - to have first graders for an entire day - but the kids really look forward to it and come back at the end of the day, raving about the experience.

As is the tradition, each day starts off with a demo teach.  A teacher volunteers to have all of her grade level watch her teach and then debrief the lesson.  The idea is to show something that colleagues can go right back the next day and teach in their own classrooms.  This week, my co-teacher, Tracy Ruark, who is the Science Lead for our grade level, got the call.  Science is not graded at first grade and in reality, there is no real accountability, except that you are suppose to teach it!  At our school, however, there is a real emphasis on Science at every grade level.  Tracy is part of a Science Council that meets regularly to look at Science horizontally.  They meet together to find additional Resources and labs, to read and study, and to work together to make Science through-the-grades more aligned.  So today, we got to see a lab and lesson in the larger unit of "The Earth's Surface."  Tracy is such a natural when it comes to Science,  Unlike so many of her primary colleagues, she has a love for Science and has background knowledge that enhances every discussion.  I feel so fortunate to teach with someone with such a gift.

Below are some of the pictures I snapped as our first grade colleagues talked with the students as they made aquifers with their partners during the lab portion of the lesson.  The students came back and discussed the results of the lab and then recorded in their Science notebooks.


After the lesson first grade teachers met together and debriefed the lesson.  Tracy made sure that each teacher had the background information and the supplies (bought out of her own pocket) to repeat the experience in their own classes.

After lunch we were treated to a debrief from our first grade Reading and Writing lead, Maria Mallon who had just returned from a Lucy Calkins' Workshop.  Our Principal funded teachers at every grade level to attend the one day seminar in Orlando, so that those teachers could come back and teach us the newest information hot off the press!  I guess we are just educational nerds, because we hung on her every word.  Besides just telling us, Maria had taken pages of meticulous notes and obviously had come home and enhanced her notes so that they would be understandable to each of us.  I know it wasn't like being right there, but it was the next best thing!

The day ended with Math lead Cheryl Dillard presenting a rekenreck training that had been designed by our own Assistant Principal Suzanne Shall and tweaked by Cheryl to meet our needs.  Although we have this Math tool in our classrooms, we don't use it as much as we should.  I, for one, shook off the dust, and had it out today using it while I was teaching a new Math game that we worked on yesterday at our WOW, "Close to 20."  Cheryl presented several Resources and new games that match exactly where our students are and what they need.  I couldn't wait to try them out today.  Cheryl made that especially easy because she had been to Office Max and had copies of the charts in larger sizes that we would need and had bought the wooden dice for us to make to play the game.  Therefore, I came in early to laminate my poster and the game was up and running this afternoon.

That's what I LOVE about this day.  It's a time to laugh and enjoy collegial conversation.  It's a time to ask questions.  But most of all, it's a time to learn. So much went into making our WOW day successful: Tracy being willing to find a new lab that met our standards on her own time and to buy supplies that would be needed for the entire grade level; our Principal funding Maria to spend a day with Lucy Calkins and then Maria coming home and spending countless hours on preparing notes that she could present to us;  Our Assistant Principal preparing a rekenrek training for principals in another state and teaching it to Cheryl so she could present the highlights to us and then Cheryl taking the best of Suzanne's work to craft it to meet our first grade needs and then going out and finding all the resources that we would need to come right back to our classes and be able to teach it the next day.  I know I have said it before, but I work with some incredible teachers!! 

1 comment:

Jayne Gammons said...

It sounds like you are surrounded by amazing professionals at your school! Thanks for sharing, Jayne
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