Pre-AP PD

This week, I gave a Pre-AP/GT training for my district and I have to say, I learned a lot in preparing and delivering it. As a pre-AP/GT teacher, I thought I was doing best practices by giving my students real world scenarios and extending their thinking with scaffolding probing questions, and while this was great, I had NO idea I was lacking a huge component of pre-AP by actually connecting to AP topics and/or the AP exam. In my training I hoped to have teachers learn about our district’s philosophy and framework of Pre-AP, analyze data from the AP, and then take this knowledge to find ways to “Pre-APify” their performance assessments and projects.

After the introduction of Pre-AP, we dove into some AP data and provided teachers an opportunity to see AP topics and how students performed on the topics in the test results. Then, I showed teachers this performance assessment which I actually had to tweak for this training…as I mentioned, I was missing that piece linking to an AP topic. This new version still asked students to find midpoints and distances on a map then I added the part that had students extend their thinking with an AP connection of optimization.

After presenting this task, I created a process for teachers to do the same with their own tasks and projects. I had teachers sit by content and map out their year of performance assessments/projects. By sitting together in content teams, teachers were able to discuss ideas they had done and collaborate on how one teacher’s idea might look in their own classroom. We rarely get a chance to talk to other teachers from other schools, so I think (and *hope*) this was a really valuable collaborative time. Some groups even made a Google Folder and compiled project ideas together. As they mapped out their calendars, I asked teachers to list the AP topic they thought they could incorporate into their project, then they noted the Pre-AP routines, practices, and formative assessment structures they do as outlined in our district framework. They did this with a document I created that organized their thoughts according to our Year at a Glance documents. Next time we meet, I am planning to have teachers create the lesson plan and student materials needed to make these projects/tasks happen.

This training really opened me up to exploring higher level content and how we can help our students be exposed to them early on in Pre-AP. It put me a bit out of my comfort zone, too, because I haven’t studied these topics in so long so I had to admit I wasn’t always sure how we could connect the topic, but that I would research along side them. I wanted to have all the answers and an easy way to incorporate the AP topics, but it’s harder than I thought to really understand how to provide authentic opportunities!! For example, one group is thinking about doing a project on roller coasters and polynomials and in the moment while they were brainstorming I wasn’t sure what AP topic connected. But since the training, I have been researching some ideas about rates of change (average and instantaneous) with polynomial graphs and I think this could fit perfectly. I hope we can scaffold some questions as to how to find the rate of change on a polynomial graph and why this is important/what it affects in roller coasters. Finally, one teacher mentioned that they would like to have AP teachers involved in collaborating ideas to connect Pre-AP content to AP topics, and I totally agree…they would be so helpful in this, so I hope to have some AP teachers present next time as well!

I look forward to the next time we meet and hope these projects give students more challenge as they explore AP topics.

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7 Steps to a Language Rich Classroom

I recently gave a professional development focusing on the book, 7 Steps to a Language Rich Classroom. If you have EL students in your classroom and/or struggling learners, this book is a great, easy read. I was actually trained several years ago on these strategies so it was nice to have background knowledge as a participant and be able to take things I liked from the training and make it my own as a presenter. My goals in the training were 1. To increase student participation in a teacher’s classroom and 2. Develop strategies for EL learners to help them acquire and use academic language in the classroom.

I began the training with this video as a way to simulate what it feels like to be a struggling learner without scaffolds or procedures in place to help process the information. After debriefing, we then dove into the book as I presented chapter 2: Have Students Speak in Complete Sentences. I chunked the chapter and asked participants to read sections focusing on key question/sentence stems. The groups paired up and discussed using sentence stems before sharing out (sentence stems is one of the strategies the book highlights as helpful to ELs and struggling learners.) After the training, one participant commented that she got more out of this training than most others because I forced them to use these sentence stems in their conversations, therefore structuring and focusing their table talk…in other trainings she said she and her group would veer off and side talk. That was my intention and with that validation, I will definitely continue to use sentence stems in my future trainings! 

I then Jigsaw-ed the rest of the chapters

(1 Teach students what to say when they don’t know what to say

3 Randomize & Rotate when calling on students

4 Use total response signals

5 Use visuals and vocabulary strategies that support your objective

6 Have students participate in structured conversations

7 Have students participate in structured reading/writing activities)

by having participants create a summary poster with explanations of the chapter strategies and key quotes. After each group presented, I asked participants to record what strategy they planned to use in an upcoming lesson during the first few weeks of school. I told the participants that in a few weeks after school has been back in session and teachers *hopefully* feel a bit more settled, I will send out an email following up with each participant as to how the strategy they chose is going and if I can do anything else to help them with that particular one. I am excited for this because I feel like at the end of some trainings, I receive so much information and have grand plans, but I don’t actually follow up with my ideas. This way I can help teachers stay accountable to themselves and also provide support. Stay tuned for how it’s going and new tasks I get!

Developing a Professional Development

I am starting to plan a professional development for our district and I wanted to put together some ideas before my colleague and I meet together next week to continue planning. After being inspired by MTBoS on Twitter, I suggested an idea of presenting some things I have discovered from the group/hashtag that I love. Our theme then transformed into “Tech Tools for Teachers.” Below are some ideas I am thinking of incorporating. Feel free to comment about expanding upon these ideas or including others.

  • #MTBoS- This is such an incredibly rich resource, but I don’t think a lot of teachers in my district know about it. I want to show teachers the hashtag and allow them time to post to it or search for ideas they may be looking for…maybe they will become a found one of Dan Meyer’s “lonely math teachers” http://blog.mrmeyer.com/2018/lonely-math-teachers/.
  • Open Middle (https://mrstaplinsmath.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/open-middle/)- I showed this resource to a couple teachers I support as well as other specialists I work with and they loved the idea of this enrichment for students that is already created and easy to use. I want to show this to teachers and then allow them time to explore or create their own “open middle” type problem.
  • Desmos Card Sort- I found this resource while looking for a card sort activity for some teachers. I love how easy it is to use and how a teacher can quickly create graphs or use images (http://learn.desmos.com/cardsort/).
  • Lead4ward App- This is not something I found through #MTBoS, but falls under our tech tools. I know a lot of our district uses Lead4ward, but I’m not sure they know about the App. I was introduced to it at a Lead4ward training (btw I HIGHLY recommend the training) and loved the on the spot resources it provides, especially the “Quickchecks.” Again, I want to give teachers time to explore and plan.

I know this is a lot of kind of random resources, but I think we can find a way to connect them all and allow teachers the time to discover new things to use in their classrooms. Any other ideas for our training?! Comment below!