Our teachers are on fire! This week I saw so many amazing examples of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in action on my Learning Walks through Florence-Roche, Swallow Union, and the world language wing of the high school . Classroom after classroom, students were actively participating, collaborating with peers, and focusing on “deeper learning” and using their knowledge and understanding to create.
If you’re not familiar with curriculum design, you may not be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, but it’s worth diving into quickly. Bloom’s is a visual reminder of the continuum from simple to complex and concrete to abstract. In GDRSD, our goal is to design opportunities for students to experience complex, abstract learning that encourages them to analyze, evaluate, and create. At the top of the pyramid is create, and I was thrilled to see so many students creating this week in our classrooms.
In Florence-Roche, Ms. Wenz, a second grade teacher, was asking students to create narratives by writing about small moments and then exploding those moments into more detailed narratives. She took their first drafts of their stories, typed them, leaving room for additional dialogue and details and challenged the students to fill the space. As I walked around the room, every student was adding more and more details and I heard one student say to another, “Wow, you used dialogue AND a sound word.” I shared a mini-lesson on onomatopoeia and they thought the word was hysterical. Every student was truly committed to creating a story by writing about an authentic moment. Here is one example of a story that will continue to improve with revisions, peer review, and teacher feedback.
Mrs. Murphy, at Swallow Union, has been supporting her class to focus on the importance of growth mindset. On the board, there was a schedule that highlighted the importance of building growth mindset in students. When I walked in, she asked the class, “What are we NOT going to say this class?” The class all looked up, and without skipping a beat, said, “I can’t.” She asked what they could say instead and one student explained, “I will say – let me just try this another way.” Having these important conversations with students helps them to build effort and persistence to increase engagement and optimize challenge in the classroom so they can be creators and thinkers.
At the high school, Mr. Hoffman, one of our Latin teachers, had students engaged in an activity where they viewed Charlie Chaplin’s The Lion’s Cage and then analyzed the silent film in Latin. Then, Mr. Hoffman projected a number of statements about the film that hypothetical people *thought* they witnessed. Students had to translate the statements, including the tense and draw a visual to show they understood and could visualize each person’s point of view. The sketches were on white boards and were completed quickly, but students had such a kick out of explaining their visuals with Latin. When I asked if the woman was hit by the circus car in one of the drawings, the student explained that she had simply fainted from fear. I asked how he knew how to translate that in Latin and he answered, “Hard, hard studying,” and winked. Our kids are amazing.
Across the hall, Senora Liebold taught Spanish using the OWL method. OWL teaches world language by focusing on movement, 100% immersion and an emphasis on the importance of creating community in the classroom. The OWL techniques and strategies align with the National and World Readiness Standards, ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, the Common Core Standards, IB and AP programs. As you can see in the picture, this isn’t your typical course. Students were creating visuals to help them remember the English to Spanish correspondence of numbers and were immersed in bouncing balls, drawing, and chatter in Spanish. The classes are always electric when teachers use the OWL method.
Now… for the Lesson of the Week, watch the short (1 min, 30 sec) video below!
I can’t wait to continue to experience authentic, deep learning in classrooms next week!