Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement #ccsa2012


This is the only word I can use to describe the feeling I still have. I'm back home now but I spent Monday evening, Tuesday, and this morning (Wednesday) in Greensboro, NC with some outstanding educators.  In between meals we attended sessions on a huge range of topics.

I enjoyed sessions about data, using technology to enhance remediation opportunities, flipping the classroom, and - of course - READING.  There were a surprising number of sessions about 6th grade reading specifically.

My favorite reading session was called "Ending the Blame Game by Building a System for Success."  This was the first session on the first day - 8am. And the presenters absolutely knocked it out of the park.  They were thorough and thoughtful, practical too - but with a big dose of high expectations.  My colleague and I left awe-struck.We unfortunately spent much of the rest of Tuesday trying to figure out how WE could to THAT. (I can't let myself go into details here - I'll return to this topic later this week.)

Then, today, we had the opportunity to see a session on flipping the classroom.  This is when the teacher makes a series of videos that take the place of lecture in the classroom.  The students then watch these videos as homework.  And traditional assignments - problem sets, projects, etc - that would have ordinarily been done outside of class can now be done IN the classroom - with help and supervision from the TEACHER.

I've heard of this before but was always hesitant to use it because of our school's very high poverty rate.  After hearing from Dr. Lodge McCammon and Katie Gambar this morning, I realized that we can definitely overcome that barrier.  Now, as a reading teacher, there is a LOT less lecture than in other classes - and with the Common Core State Standards, there will be even less.  We already spend a lot of time in small groups and large groups discussing literature.  But what if I can take some of the lessons I present all the time - like the weekly focus wall lessons, grammar, vocabulary, and basic skills and strategies - and video them? Then I can post them to Edmodo, my district wiki, or simply the classroom computers. Kids could access the videos to supplement class time - for review, for enrichment, when they are absent.

My colleague and I brainstormed all the way through lunch and the entire trip home.  We have a list of about 30 videos to make in each area - Grammar, Vocabulary, and Reading Misc. These can and would be re-used each year.  The focus wall videos (which would reference the core videos in the areas listed above) would probably need to be remade each year since situations change. And for the most part, if I changed grade levels, the core collection videos should still be relevant!  A great example of working smarter, not harder.

As I process more of my thoughts about the conference - the sessions, the keynote speakers, the mealtime discussions - I'll post more here.  I'm re-inspired and ready to work on some great new ideas.

If I met you at the conference and you've found my blog through my contact info - welcome! I appreciate your time, inspiration, and kindness in sharing with me. Thank you.