#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 many things.  As I prepare to enter my seventeenth year of teaching science, I have decided to join the #OneWord movement to help maintain focus.  Connections is my #OneWord.

Connections.  Defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act of connecting:  the state of being connected: such as a  causal or logical relation or sequence”.  I will focus on 5 different connections this year:  

  • Connections between content and life.  I first heard about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2 years ago at an education conference.  At the time, I thought the SDGs
    United Nation Sustainable Development Goals

    United Nation Sustainable Development Goals provided the connections I was looking for between what we were learning in science and our world but I struggled to incorporate them into my lesson design and planning.  This year, inspired by a blog post by Jodie Dienhammer I have decided to use the SDGs to help my students and I together decide the focus of our learning.  I am hopeful that incorporating the SDGs in conjunction with problem and project based learning (PBL) will provide the context for students to use, apply and transfer their understandings of science to address problems that they notice in their world.  

  • Connections between school, community and home.  Two years ago I began inviting parents and family members into our classroom as consultants during our PBL units to provide feedback and advice to student teams and as members of vetting panels to which students defended their PBL products.  The students loved sharing their thinking, creations and learning with members of their community, the adults enjoyed the glimpse they were getting into our learning journey and I loved hearing and seeing the honest and thoughtful feedback these important adults provided for my students.  This year I would like to create more consultant opportunities to develop additional connections between school, community and home.  I would also like to help my students reach out to and learn from local and global experts.  
  • Connections with students.  Strong relationships matter in teaching.  Connecting with kids is why I decided to become a teacher.  I wanted to share my passions with my students and help them develop and pursue their own passions.  Many of my current students are native Spanish speakers.  To better connect with my students, I started my own Spanish learning journey this summer.  I will invite my students to join me on my journey this year.  As we connect through Spanish, I hope to model passion based learning for them as well as invite them to help me develop my Spanish fluency.  
  • Connections between the science of learning and lesson design.  As I wrote about in this blog post, learning is the target in our classroom.  This year I will intentionally connect the design of our learning experiences to current understanding of the science of learning.  I am reading Make It Stick and have become quite fascinated with what research has demonstrated in regards to habits and practices that result in both complex and durable learning.  To create opportunities and experiences that develop and enhance higher order thinking, I will weave the authors findings and suggestions into our classroom learning experiences.  
  • Connections with other professionals.  Twitter changed my life a few years ago.  Suddenly, I was able to connect and learn from passionate individuals all around the world.  Unaware, these individuals pushed me to become the teacher I am today and will continue to push me to improve my craft.  At the same time, I am fairly new to my district so it is important that I continue to develop connections and relationships with my district colleagues. 

 

I am excited for my connections focus this year and am interested in how others view connections.  What types of connections do you think are critical in the classroom?  How do you develop these connections?  How does a focus on connections help students become owners of their learning journey?

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