The Road Less Traveled 6 Weeks into #Gradeless

The Road Less Traveled 6 Weeks into #Gradeless

This post is the first in an ongoing series reflecting on the journey my students, their families and I are taking this year as we go gradeless in our science classroom in an effort to shift our focus to learning and understanding.  After a successful trial run last spring eliminating grades in lieu of feedback …

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#OneWord = Connections 5 Ways I Will Embed Connections Into My Practice This Year

#OneWord = Connections 5 Ways I Will Embed Connections Into My Practice This Year

I am a big picture thinker.  I am often a first follower.  I get excited about new thinking easily.  I embrace change.  I am a risk-taker.  I am creative.  I like to think that I have an innovator’s mindset.  Sometimes though, I get a little overwhelming and lose focus because I’m trying to do to …

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Summer Learning Journeys

Summer Learning Journeys

As par for the course, I’ve spent a significant portion of my time learning this summer, both informally and formally.  Informally, I’ve read multiple books including Shift This by Joy Kirr, The Power of a Plant by Stephen Ritz and Suzie Boss, Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani and Make it Stick by Peter …

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Learning Space vs. Learning Environment

Learning Space vs. Learning Environment

My science classroom space has changed dramatically over the last five years as I embraced an innovator’s mindset and shifted our classroom learning environment from a teacher centered space where I dictated the course of our learning path including destination points to a student-centered space where students chart their own learning journeys under the umbrella …

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“Geeking Out” Thinking Differently about Research in Design Thinking

“Geeking Out” Thinking Differently about Research in Design Thinking

“When research is real, it doesn’t feel like research.  It feels like geeking out.  It feels like learning.”  When I read this in LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I paused for a moment and thought  “boy, they totally hit …

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The Road to Gradeless

The Road to Gradeless

Inspired by the experiences of Starr Sackstein and Joy Kirr, last January, I decided to significantly modify how “grades” were determined in my 8th grade science classroom. Like many, I teach within a school and a district that abide by a traditional grading philosophy, requiring a final “grade” for each student.  So while my student …

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It’s time to change our definition of literacy

It’s time to change our definition of literacy

I teach middle school science. This year, I taught several 8th grade learners who were reading at a K-2 grade level and many who were reading well below grade level; some of these learners are identified with specific learning and/or emotional needs and receive additional services, many of them are not. All of my eighth …

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Keep Throwing Darts at the Dartboard

Keep Throwing Darts at the Dartboard

I recently viewed the A Plus condensed version of Will Ferrell’s commencement address to the graduating class of 2017 at USC: Ferrell’s charge to “keep throwing darts at the dartboard” resonates deeply with me.  This has been a challenging year, maybe the most challenging of my 16 years as a middle school science teacher.  I …

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Challenge, Choice, Creativity, Constraints……Innovation

Challenge, Choice, Creativity, Constraints……Innovation

A snippet of dialogue that occurred multiple times over the last three weeks:  I had challenged my 6th grade TIDE (Technology, Innovation, Design and Engineering) students to design, engineer and showcase something that would inspire and/or impact another person.  Individually or in small groups, they had come up with some great ideas including light-up slime, a …

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What is Innovation?

What is Innovation?

Innovation is a commitment.  It means being open and willing to think differently about common and not so common issues, problems, questions and learning targets.  Embedded within innovation is a willingness to take action even when the outcome being sought is not guaranteed.  Innovation can feel like a risk but it can also feel incredibly …

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