Friday, April 25, 2014

Integrating ELA With the New Math TEKS “Like a Pirate”

The new Math TEKs have proven to be a challenge for both students and teachers this year. Students have struggled to learn new strategies to help them become successful and teachers have been forced to think outside the box to keep students engaged and learning.

By integrating content areas to create a learning “experience” for students, the 2nd grade teachers at Block House Creek Elementary seem to be having just as much fun teaching as students are at learning.
In March, teachers combined the skill of comparing and contrasting works by the same author with organizing data in a bar graph using intervals. Along with the exciting NCAA basketball tournament hype, March Madness - Book Edition began. Using the diverse and often humorous books of Mo Willems, the entire 2nd grade set off on a two-week journey to find their favorite Mo Willems’ book.

Each day the 2nd grade teachers would read the same book to their classes and then each class voted on their favorite. Each math class got the opportunity to count up the votes and decide how they would like to graph the results. There was a large bracket in the hallway during this process so the students could see who won each round as the narrowing down process continued.

On the last day, all the classes read the two finalists at the same time and teachers tallied the votes. At the end of the day the big reveal was held in the gym. The students were so excited to find out if their favorite book won. It all came down to “City Dog, Country Frog” and “Pigeon Finds a Hotdog,” two very different books. The children cheered as the winner, “Pigeon Finds a Hotdog” was revealed. They were then surprised by a five-minute dance party in the gym. Teachers and students danced together for a brief moment of fun and silliness that seems to rarely occur in our daily treadmill of demanding curriculum and many tiny needs.

Although change can be uncomfortable and overwhelming at times, with the help of innovative ideas and collaboration, everyone wins in the end. Everyone gets to share in the joy of learning.

2nd Grade Team

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celebrating a Lifelong Learner!

Last week at our math teacher leader meeting, we honored and celebrated Kathy Boling, as she will be retiring at the end of this year. Of course, we are thrilled for her, but we also want to share with you today why we will continued to be inspired by her passion and dedication for learning.
Kathy has served on the math teacher leader team for almost as long as we have had math teacher leaders in LISD. However, we consider Kathy one of our "extraordinaire" math teacher leaders because she is continually learning and always trying new things, even after 36 years in the profession. For example, when we asked her to try out math interviews on her 2nd graders, not only did she commit to administering every interview, but she gave specific feedback on the advantages and disadvantages of each interview. As if that wasn't enough, she also attended every single after school meeting willing to collaborate and ask questions of others. When Kathy makes a commitment, she perseveres in accomplishing it.

This year, we encouraged math teacher leaders to spread their mathematical expertise by presenting at this year's February Conference. Kathy was one of those teachers who accepted the challenge to present, and she went above and beyond the call of duty. During the presentation, she engaged the participants in a number talk that she actually used with her students. Kathy understands that we learn best by doing and she wasn't afraid to step out of her comfort zone to try something different.

These are just a few examples to illustrate how Kathy is a lifelong learner. In fact, it is her ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge that has enhanced the culture of our math teacher leader team and will continue to inspire us all. Let me say this in another way. From the words of Dana Nathanson, "She has been an educator for over 30 years, and she is STILL learning as we all are!"

Thank you, Kathy, for your growth mindset, dedication and passion for learning, and your years of service in LISD.

We wish her a wonderful journey as she starts a new chapter in her life! Please help us congratulate her by leaving her note in the comments!