Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Allen Brook, Day 2

Today at Allen Brook School I was treated to a full schedule beyond Sharon's kindergarten class.  She so wanted me to see as much as possible that she thoughtfully arranged for me to see a variety of language arts instruction, a Reading Recovery lesson, and iPads in math.  I also spent time with one of the district's literacy coordinators.  I won't detail my day here--I'll just highlight a few parts of the day (like the Vermont cheese sampler we enjoyed for dinner!).

The day began with a visit with Julie Rogers' first grade students during their morning meeting.  I loved watching how her students so confidently lead, participate in, and enjoy the meeting that Julie facilitated.  Julie's morning meeting affirmed my belief that students should be at the very center of their learning.  There's so much more to say about the Julie's teaching--I will share what I observed from her in a post in the near future.

Just after morning meeting I flew down the hall to Maria McCormack's room where I watched her students using iPad apps as a way to target their specific needs.  They could choose between the Multi-touch Math app or the Number Rack app.  Not only did Maria invite me to observe her students but she opened her own vault of resources by sharing her team's website, her curricular wiki, her email address, and her twitter handle.  I will certainly be checking in on all of her digital gifts.

Later I met with Carol Huntington, Allen Brook's literacy coordinator.  My hour-long conversation with her made me feel connected to a larger community of literacy leaders.  Her words were reassuring--just the reminder I need as I prepare to head home and do important curricular planning for the 2012-13 school year.  Carol said that she tries to get the most bang for her buck in her work.  In her school she began by defining balanced literacy, looking at the schedule to find time for a 90-minute literacy block, and agreeing on standards of practice for each team.  She also reminded me that the WHAT of what we teach is non-negotiable, but the HOW is debatable; we must not get derailed by the "side conversations" that drill down into minutia or veer into complaint sessions.  I look forward to meeting with the K-6 teams to discuss the standards of practice for our reading instruction.

I ended the day with a visit to Jessie Stein's second grade Writing Workshop.  Her students were using Scribblepress to publish their realistic fiction stories.  Her students were so eager to share their stories with me and show me how to use this app to create books.

It was another whirlwind day, one that highlighted the importance of organization, forethought, and assessment in instruction.  I am sad that my visit will end tomorrow, but I will bring home ideas, plans, and connections that will enrich my long-range vision and day-to-day work.

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