It all started with my PLC…
One of the greatest parts of this position is I still get to dig into my own learning with colleagues – and a whole network of educators. Although I know my primary responsibility is to oversee the structure and support all the PLC’s at Graded, I just need to give a special shout out to my PLC on Digital Tools and Metacognition, as they have inspired some provocative steps of how I can support teachers in a blended environment. I’m focusing on three case studies across divisions to determine how digital tools support teachers’ reflection and leads to deeper practice in the classroom.
Case Study 1 : Kelli and I have been thinking about how to build a culture of thinkers in the first grade classroom. Here’s the journey so far…
- Kelli and I started imagining what a classroom of thinkers would look like – Turning to Project Zero, we read an article about the practical application of thinking routines in the elementary classroom.
- We used twitter to capture the most salient points of the article so we could pull a summary through coding using hashtags
- I went into Kelli’s room for an observation of the learning environment of a common instructional routine, the readers’ workshop. Even though she’ll be instructing toward “thinking” at different times, we’ll use this as our baseline to chart the shift of the student culture.
- It just so happened that I checked my twitter account at the start of a #PYPchat that was sharing ideas about building a culture of thinking! (You can explore twitter chats and schedules here.) I jumped in and shared Kelli and my thinking – and the strategies in play. In exchange, other educators from around the world were sharing what they are doing in their classrooms.
- I curated the best ideas of the chat, using our anchor tweets to align strategies and resources through Storify – the central tool that I am investigating as part of my PLC inquiry.
What is emerging is a cohesive narrative that integrates research, classroom practice, Graded’s expectations for Teaching and Learning, and the voices of 30 other educators pursuing how to nurture a culture of thinking within similar environments across the globe. I’ve been reflecting a lot on how this changes my role – and the skill set I need to continue to build to best support teacher’s growth and student success.
It also begs a response to the question, “So what?” What impact will this work have on the success of Kelli’s first graders’ as thinkers? I know from the initial stages, we were able to build a much richer toolbox of strategies than Kelli and I would have been able to accomplish as partners. I hope by organizing our thinking and linking it to the goals we set from the beginning, we’ll be able to determine importance among the chatter of ideas and see deeper transfer to the classroom. The power, however, resides in Kelli’s commitment to creating the best environment for students. In a mere two weeks, Kelli’s claim, “they’re just not thinkers” has changed to “my kids are geniuses”. I look forward to sharing reflection as the story unfolds – and appreciate the tools that support holding the story, creating an opportunity for our learning to be in service to Graded’s classroom and beyond. I’m deeply grateful to colleagues like Kelli that inspire and energize me.