“What it does is allow students to begin making connections”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Tuesday #sisrocks!  This week we are highlighting Rosana Walsh from our Bayside campus. Rosana was nominated for all the knowledge, energy, and support she brings to creating a more inclusive environment for her students. 

What did you want your students to know or understand?

The lessons that I am thinking about are tied to our first unit in seventh grade, which is modern identity.  Students have a choice of two novels, one is called among the hidden, which is really about identity because its about a child who shouldn’t be there. And what it does is allow students to begin making connections into things like the one child policy in China. There’s a lot of inferences you can get out of the story: Why is this child treated like this…? The other book is called Flying Solo and it is about a class that runs itself on a day when it is not supposed to when the substitute doesn’t show up – What’s interesting is that as the story unfolds all the personalities come out. I wanted these kids to know that they could get the same  kind of understanding from these two very different books about how we can identify character traits and personalities and how they develop – and often it has a lot to do with studying our backgrounds. – what do we bring. One of the big words for modern identity is perspective.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain?

Really what I wanted them to know is that we are unique and often people see us from different perspectives.  Its a unit that builds empathy.

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past? / 

If I go back to the books that we are focused on right now.  In previous years, they’ve read the bookend have done reading responses but we’ve had a shift in student demographics so we now have students coming into seventh grade who are various reading levels – they may be seventh grade level in their own languages. Now we are looking at books that are dual languages, which is why Flying Solo was introduced last year. And to teach it differently, we had teachers take chapter and read so that now students have an audio piece to go along with the text.  

4. How did you problem-sol come up with this new method for this lesson? 

In terms of problem solving, we keep finding different solutions for student who need a lot more support … for example, this year we began using curiosity catalysts, which are really just visuals that matched the title of each chapter but they’re really fun and they are an excellent prompt fo getting the kids to discuss what they see in that image. Whats significant about it? How do you think its attached to this story? This allows kids to warm up to the chapter before we, as a class, read loud.  It’s a shared, interactive, talk through of the chapter. 

One way we can make our community more inclusive is to turn that idea upside down and help get rid of the labels.

Hello #SISRocks ! This week on Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have Learning Support Specialists Erin Madonna and Vivian Wu. Erin and Vivian walked me through their roles, the targeted support they provode to students and the consultative coaching they offer to teachers. Read the full interview below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you talk about what you want us (as teachers but also the wider community) to know and understand about what you do ?

(Erin) When you think about our positions our jobs…the reason that we are here is because our community is trying to become more inclusive of diversity … so we are trying to meet the needs of diverse learners. Additionally, when you think of what learning support is it gets a little muddy. We often think of students who struggle. But learning support really is more about meeting the needs of students who have identified learning needs versus students who are just six months delayed or are struggling in a certain area … because students just struggle in that area.

So I think really try provide targeted support to kiddos who have identified neurological needs, behavioral, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorders, social communication delays… things along those lines …

(Vivian) From my perspective, we tend to students with diverse needs. Knowing that teachers need to tend to these students, TAs run small groups. We also work with and provide students with individualized strategies and tools so that they can be successful.

(Erin) I’m glad you brought that up because that is another important part of our role … because we have such a small team, I think a major part of our role is that consultative coaching of teachers.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

So everyone will struggle at some point. We all have things that we’re better at and things that we struggle with but when a student has an identified need (and lots of times it’s brain based) there is an cognitive obstacle that they can’t past without extra scaffolding and support or material presented in a different way.

And that will not change for that student no matter how hard they are trying. So that’s a really clear indicator that its not just a “okay, I need a little more time…” and a little extra support but more a case of real road blocks that despite herculean efforts they will not get past.

A lot of the times it comes down to executive functioning skills, so things like self organization or self regulation within the classroom

(Vivian) Some targeted interventions we put in place for students with those needs include checklists with students, self-monitoring, making sure they understand the goal of an activity, our my eyes on the speaker, basic utilization of checklists.

(Erin) We do,, with students who have social communication delays, we’ll do social stories…so we’ll do targeted intervention where we will pull the student out of classroom and we’ll sit with them and read stories that highlight pro social skills. An example might be “If I am in a classroom and I want the teacher’s attention how do I get that …” So it’ll be a story that we create for that student to help the learn those pro social behaviors.

(Vivian) Another big area that we work on is our inclusive community so that students don’t feel ashamed or that they are different.

(Erin) Something that happens a lot (with fine motor needs, for example) is … when we have kids who utilizing things like pencil grips or they get silly putty because of hyperactivity in the classroom and they something to channel that energy…., we have kids who will stop by our office and ask if they can have that too..? Its funny and different for every kids … but it’s also a good clarifying point for our community because a lot of the times because we do pull kids out of them room and have them meet with us outside of the classroom..That said, we have this concept of inclusion being this “push-in” model where they should stay in the classroom and be in the classroom all the time but the background impact of that (for the student with the differences) is that often and emotionally that injures them – “I’m that kid that Ms. Madonna is coming to see again” And we’ve had kids very clearly tell us that they don’t like that but when they come into a safe space where their peers aren’t watching them get this remedy l support that feels better. That’s not every kid – some kids aren’t phased when we come in but that “pull out” support often times is there to protect their self confidence.

Can speak about teacher responsibility and classroom culture ?

As the adults in the building, we have to really shift our thinking away from a deficit model to a strength-based approach – yes you’re building on the strengths of that individual with differences but it also can come in the form of how the class views that person. How the teacher sets up their classroom can shift the idea away from oh you’re the kid that always acts out to you have the most creative mind of any of us , can you be the one leading us in this …. Additionally, lots of times we will pull in peers who are high performing in order to mix up those groups so that the other kids can rethink their preconceived notions that Ms. Madonna only helps the bad kids or the dumb kids, etc … basically the kids who can’t. So again, as the adults, I think one way we can make our community more inclusive is to turn that idea upside down and help get rid of the labels.

Resources:

Look out for our toolbox tips in your email inbox


 

 

 

Also our inclusive posters thorughout Mountainside & Parkside campuses.

“The counseling program is all about empowering students to choose for themselves”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello #SISRocks ! This week on Teachers of SIS, we are happy to be highlighting Elementary Counselor Dallin Bywater. Dallin walked me through elements of the counseling program and how he empowers and builds confidence in our students.

Here are his responses to the questions:

What did you want your students to know or understand?

What I would really like my student to know and understand is that as a person they’re worthwhile human being who should be respected. And that … each one of them have talents and abilities whether they know about them now or not. And that they can learn more about themselves and use what they learn to benefit their life and those around them.

So part of it, I think, is about empowerment.

The counseling program is all about empowering students to choose for themselves, to make healthy choices, and to make choices that they’re happy with. And if they’re not happy with them, at be least okay with and know that they can change if they’d like to and make improvements in themselves.

So, if there’s one thing I want them to understand it’s their worth as individuals an that that idea comes from them, from within and not from other people.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Some of the skills are about leaning how to be self aware, learning to notice how they react to certain situations, learning about how they feel and knowing what makes them feel good / bad about themselves – what they’re angry about as well as what they’re passionate about.

Also, equipping students with ways to manage those emotions that we all have. Going back to the first question, all these emotions that we have are a normal part of being human. And being angry, jealous or upset is not a bad thing – It’s part of who we are. And it’s more about how we manage those emotions in a way that allows them to do things that are in line with their values.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

For them to really learn these skills / awareness they need to see it in action – they need to see it in adults. With that, I really try to find as many contexts where the students see me managing my own feelings, having hard conversations with people but also being clear in my communication with them. Essentially reinforcing the ideas / attributes they are learning about in school.

Also, just the fact that they have a model allows them to think of what they want to be – its not us telling them that “you’re going to do this because you’re good at x…” That’s something that they’re going to come up with as they learn about themselves and gain confidence with the skills we’re teaching.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

As I was thinking about this I didn’t really see much of it as new methods…but more so as applying things that we already know…For example, we know that children learn by seeing and doing. So, whether it be role-playing in the classroom, showing them videos that model appropriate behaviors or even better real time interactions with you, they’re seeing you treat them with respect and they see that you’re actually listening to what they saying – these are the teaching moments that register and stay with the children.

I guess it not so much new methods but really being mindful of what we know and that it is okay to say “ maybe I could have done that a little differently” so that they see it in action.

“It is nice to know that you can help others and they can help you…”

Hello #SISRocks ! This week on Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have Pre-K 1D Teacher Jenny Chen from our Mountainside campus. Jenny walked me through how she empowers and builds confidence in her young (but vey able) students.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are her responses to the questions:

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I have been teaching 3-4 year olds and 2-3 year olds at SIS – so they’re very young but I still want them to believe in themselves and that they are able to do things – because a lot of times, especially at the beginning of the year there is a tendency for them to get frustrated and feel like they cannot self help themselves.

Children at this age are also very sensitive so I really have to walk through and work with them every time and and say “you can do it” and that I will be over here with you.

As time goes by, they increasingly begin to feel pride about the things they are able to accomplish. As a teacher, I want them to have this feeling of success and gratification  but keep challenging them as well.

I also want them to understand that we are a small community and that even though you believe in your own ability it is nice to know that you can help others and they can help you.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

As a class, the goal is to help students become more independent. That said, this must done in a differentiated approach and realizing that every child has different challenges. When we down and set goals for each student, they typically range from fine motor to self help skills to language acquisition, when necessary.

How did you problem solve come up with this new method for this lesson?

Let’s take self help skills, for example… This year we introduced nap time which involves quite a bit of set up and cleaning up. Continuing to integrate the idea of community and that each student is a helper has transformed that activity into a fast and efficient process. We now have have student modeling and printed photos of students on our “I can do it” window that helps reinforce good habits and behaviors. I’m really proud of them.

“We’re talking about it and really just being mindful about the food that we are eating.” 

Happy Monday #SISRocks !

This week on Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have PE teacher Brad Ill from Bayside. He’s been nominated for all the experience, enthusiasm and knowledge around health that he brings to our students. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you want your students to know or understand?

Life Skills is a course that focuses on kids understanding the importance of making good choices and making appropriate decisions throughout their entire life. Some of the topics we touch on include stress management, self awareness, and drugs and alcohol.

Right now, we’re focusing on nutrition. The unit is called healthy eating and physical activity and one of the things we want them to understand is how to eat right, what foods to avoid and make sure they understand that if they’re going to live a healthy active lifestyle, they’re going to have to eat right, find a balance, and do things to make sure they’re not just sitting on their rear ends.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Keeping with the example of healthy eating and physical activity, one of the skills we want students to take away is cooking and being able to put together a healthy balanced meal. One of my classes is putting together an entire full course meal -one group has got the appetizers going on, the next group has the main dish happening and the next is in charge of putting together the dessert. And so they need to understand what it takes/what needs to go into these meal to make them healthy. This becomes evident when they present their summative assessments to the class and when they ultimately teach us how to make their dish. Ultimately it is a fun learning situation where the presentation and the preparation of the food inform one another.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

In the past, we used to do powerpoint presentations where there was a  bit of a disconnect.

Whereas now that there is more discussion and the collective building of knowledge when students prep for their presentations, there is more of a genuine interest in finding out how many calories, fat and salt there is in food. It’s definitely more hands on. In addition to students going out and having this new awareness when purchasing food, we’ve been bringing in something small for students too demo and share in the can prep. I tell them it’s totally up to them and it can be really simple like smoothies… You can bring in a bunch of fruit, add some coconut water. It has sparked conversations about what type of sugars are in fruit, the different categories, why they are good for you, etc.. Everybody loves fruit smoothies!

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

Bringing food into class makes total sense and being able to analyze food is an easy sell. When they bring in their dish, they are presenting on it, we’re talking about it and really just thinking and being mindful about the food that we are eating.

Resources

 

 

Libraries should be seen as a meeting place within the school. A place that kids come to during their free time …

For this week’s installment of Teachers of #sisrocks, we are pleased to have Bayside librarian Lauren Elliot. Lauren sat down to talk about the library being more than a physical space and how she uses lib guides to meet students where they are. Here are her responses to the questions regarding her lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I think from a librarian’s perspective, I want student to know that a library is a place they can come to for answers and find information – so whether that’s the physical space of the library or accessing our online spaces, our databases or our subscriptions, I want them to know that that’s where they can find information. Also when I’m teaching in the library, I hope that the lessons show them not only how to find information but also to use it ethically and responsibly.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Well, I want them to understand information and understand how to evaluate it and find good and reputable sources and use it responsibly.

How have libraries changed over the years? / What do you think a library should be?

I think that a library should be seen as a meeting place within the school. A place that kids come to during their free time … during break or lunch time, I want them to feel comfortable to come here to find books, to read, to be with their friends, to work collaboratively with other students or to even find a quiet spot to work on their own. I also want teachers to see it as a place where they can come and find answers or information or help.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

In addition to the physical space, I think a library can exist virtually and have a strong presence online. Also, as teachers, we have to meet kids where they are – so some kids love coming to the library and love being here while others might just find the library online. And so, lib guides are one of the ways I meet students online. I’ll prepare subject guides or class guides which I then link with various websites and/or our online subscriptions, for example. This not only directs student research traffic to those databases that we as a school are using and paying for., it also encourages students to use high quality resources.

Resources

http://sis-cn.libguides.com/

“I wanted them to explore how effective their model would be as a teaching tool”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello #SISRocks ! For this week’s installment of Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have middle school Math/ Science teacher Riley Laird, here at our bayside campus. Riley walked me through the many ways her students are using models to demonstrate their understanding of human body systems. Here are her responses to the questions regarding her lesson.

1. What did you want your students to know or understand?

There are all sorts of scientific practices with skills every scientist engages in regardless of discipline (biology, chemistry, etc…  ) And one of those skills is the use of models to represent the real world, which also relates back to the scientific process. We decided to explore models in grade six because its a really good way for students to show what they know, especially for those who don’t always have a way of articulating or providing the details around a topic. It’s also just another way to show your scientific understanding. Most people think of classic models like a skeleton but there are so many different types – they can be artistic, three dimensional, interactive, a mathematical model, a simulation..  So in grade six, students really work on that skill all year long and they try to do with as many different types of models.

So for this one, we’re learning about the human body systems and thats definitely tied in with all of these skills. The first system we studied was the musculoskeletal system and a really good way to represent that is with a scientific illustration.

2. What skills did you want your students to gain?

So, I wanted to expose the to the different ways of representing science. I also wanted to give them something creative (and artistic) to look at… and so this particular type of scientific model is called a scientific illustration. It’s meant to be used as an effective model – in other words it’s supposed to represent the real structures. There should be a real likeness and proportions should be accurate. It’s also about the fine details and textures but then there are also scientific skills and practices that come in play like the way the illustrations are labeled, which have to follow a particular format. There are also specific artistic techniques students are supposed to use that differs, say, from a diagram, which is another type of model. This was really sparked by former teacher Brittany Morgan, who had that entire class doing scientific illustrations. I have bunch of the work hanging in my classroom and I thought …what better way to kick off models in science.

So students are assessed on the artistic portion of it but also how effective their model is in a scientific context. Could someone who knows nothing about this part of the body and look at it, understand what it is, and see the different parts. Ultimately, I wanted them to explore how effective their model would be as a teaching tool or scientific model for someone else

3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?

The next type of model illustrates some of the changes that I’ve made to teach this lesson… For example, with modeling the respiratory system, I have some kids building theirs virtually in Minecraft – way more open and allows for creativity. I also added new parameters like there needing to be interactive element. It couldn’t be just a flat or static drawing. That said, some kids are still actually drawing but it’s more like a flip book where viewers can peel the layers away. Other kids are building with lego, some are using clay or making cakes and decorating them with icing to illustrate the functions specific. With these models, for example, they started outlining the general structures, which ties into the science because we’ve been learning about the levels of organization (cells, tissues, organs, system..)

4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

I guess wanting to go beyond the classics (the skeleton, the cell, etc…) led to expanding notions of what models can look like and providing my students with as many choices and ays of working – Really just opening it up (creatively) so that I could meet them where they are. So for the kids that didn’t really shine on this model, maybe they’re able to demonstrate  teh real world but do it in the own way.

“Challenging ourselves to making these concepts more meaningful to the kids.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello! For this week’s installment of Teachers of SIS, we are pleased to have math teacher Jacob Scott, here at our bayside campus. Jacob walked me through his exponential growth and exponential decay unit, how he and the science teachers collaborated together to integrate a skill set that spanned both math and the sciences.

Here are his responses to the questions regarding his lesson.

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I wanted my kids to understand exponential growth and exponential decay function work in the real world and how they correlate over into, say… science classes where they are going to use them, where they need to have that basic foundation in mathematics to be able to apply it to scientific research that they’ll be doing in there science classes. 

What skills did you want your students to gain?

Kids at this age level can have a hard time seeing how math relates to the real world and those those connection to the outside, across subject as well. Really getting them to see that it’s not just a problem on the board or on the page but as something that scientists, engineers use it to solve everyday problems.  Specifically with that skill, they needed to know it in class if they’re going to look at ecosystems or looking at endangered animals and how that is affected by populations growth or  decline – so, again, how can they apply something that looks like math formula with a function in class but be a real-world problem.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

In the past, it wasn’t in the curriculum so one thing after collaborating with the science teachers, we felt that it needed to be added in the mathematics curriculum and not just as a stand-alone unit where students might plot some numbers on graph paper but means nothing to them – so really bringing it in and challenging ourselves to making these concepts more meaningful to the kids. So right now they’re getting the foundation in Math and applying it in science because that is where that connection will be made. With grade eight, for example, we looked at other units to find other areas of overlap – what are things he (Peter) needs to teach physics or chemistry that will require a mathematical foundation.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

As teachers, we had to be flexible to see where those areas of overlap would be…Everyone always thinks that math and science just go right together but they don’t always. Although they are very different, their skills are used across the curriculum. In other words, we had to look and shift unit so that I could help provide background knowledge that would be accessed later in Peter’s class for example.

“I really wanted kids to get a better understanding of how the process of science is a human endeavor. “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you want your students to know or understand?

I can talk to the … scientists who discovered the atom green screening project and putting them into that…

I really wanted kids to get a better understanding of how the process of science is a human endeavor. Often we teach science devoid of any personal narrative or story as part of it – when the people that made discovery in science are some of the most fascinating and weirdest people that have ever lived.

When you start looking at the discovery of the atom it is really neat because all of the stories intertwine – so all of the people knew each other – either like it was a professor at a university and the next person who made a major discovery was their student… others were mean or subversive – trying to keep everybody else discoveries out of things.

Student don’t generally get that kind of an interesting story. Why not look at major scientific context through the lens of storytelling.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

So …I wanted to give my kids some tech skills in terms of how to do green screening, how to do filming, how to develop a monologue and techniques like using the iPad along with some choice apps. to hold and slowly scroll through your script so that you can continue to maintain eye contact with the camera. I also wanted them to get the chance to play with lighting and then I wanted them to work on there research skills and to go out and find actual data facts and information in order to build this story around a particular scientist.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

I always looked at this lesson – the history of the atomic structure – in a creative way because like I said, it’s a fun story. So in the past, I’ve had kids look at the whole history of the development of the atomic theory and do it like a graphic novel where they went out and researched. I found it better when the students focused on one person and then talk about how their discovery changed the whole idea. I felt like that gave students a better understanding of the process of science and how it looked like in reality.

Traditionally science teachers looked at communication in science as a lab report because that was the more academic preferred way to communicate. Now there are so many new ways and style people can articulate (scientific) information to the general public. We need to arm them with a new array of skills like how to present themselves in front of a camera. Someone like Neil De Grass Tyson is a great example of someone who has a deep understanding but also the ability communicate that understanding in an engaging way. He marries both of those important aspects of communication.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

I borrowed a lot from other people who are really good at things that they do. I use a program called the night lab timeline that I was introduced to by the IT team from UWC Singapore when they came to visit to do a thirty minute presentation. And that was one of the tools that they showed. It wasn’t until I realized that the app could also be used to harvest videos from youtube that it became integral to this project.

In short, I problem solved by reaching out to other people who had used the tools I was trying to use, I looked online for tutorial  and then talked to the students about what would make this easier or better for them.

“really trying to get to the idea that art doesn’t just happen in the art classroom … art is available to everyone and all can participate”

For today’s installment of Teacher of SIS, we are pleased to have the Bayside art department: Amy Atkinson and Alli Denson. Here are their responses to the questions regarding their project.

What did you want your students to know or understand? / Why did you do the photo exhibition

(Amy) So, uhh basically it’s not just for our students, its for everyone – teachers, the wider community… really trying to get to the idea that art doesn’t just happen in the art classroom and that art is available to everyone and all can participate – That was one of the main reasons.

(Ally) And that art is all around us. With photography specifically, we all have that at our fingertips with our smart phones. So the idea of accessibility was something we were interested in.

(Amy) And its subjective. Because the topic is very loose, students are encouraged to submit work however they interpret it. We also display the work anonymously and people vote, which reinforces the idea that it is subjective. Its not really about the “best” photo … I mean, how would we ever decide which one is the best photo.

(Ally) It’s really about why did you look twice at it. And again opening it up to wider audience.

What skills did you want your students to gain?

(Amy) The really cool thing about the contest is that opens students’ eyes to the possibility of their surrounding and what they see and how they see things so … I’ll submit a photo, you’ll submit a photo, we’ll all submit a photo of the same subject and as the contest progresses , the students will start to see subtleties, and new ideas and get the gears turning around that awareness of your surroundings.

(Ally) allowing students to reflect…I didn’t even think of that as architecture.

How did you teach this lesson in the past?

(Amy) This is our first one – I’ve been talking to some of the students and have a sense that although many are submitting, this is the type of thing that doesn’t really pick up until the third or fourth installment . It also depends on our subject choices so we will see how it goes.

How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?

(Amy) So, we’re becoming more creative – so first of all we split it up. Ally does the middle school- I do the high school . And then Peter has suggested new ways for us to collect images. So we’re looking to find ways to better manage that process.