1) I'm Braver Than I Thought...
2) Structure - It's Yours!
Day One was a very structured day. We knew the names of the presenters. We knew their topics and we knew the rooms they were in. We had time to research them and know where we wanted to go, due to the very detailed and attractive Smore flyer created by Suzanne Gibbs (@Suz_Gibbs). The two sessions I got to attend rocked. I only wished we had more time to attend the other sessions.
Day Two was an (un)conference. I loved it when husband and wife team, Alaina and Colby Sharp (@sharpsgalore & @colbysharp), were on stage introducing the day. Colby quipped that his wife was looking forward to tomorrow when summer would officially start for them and she quipped back that today was the day her husband organized, displaying a very large, empty Google Docs table on the auditorium screen. Only the room names and links for the notes that would eventually grow out of the sessions we, the audience, would create and lead were visible.
Two entirely different formats. Two fabulous, informative days. Isn't that the way it works with our classrooms too? What works for the class next door might not work for us, but it doesn't mean it's wrong.
The completed Google Doc from Day Two is full of links and information from the amazing individuals who presented and shared, as well as those who volunteered to take notes in each session. Check out this resource filled with information, links, resources and more from our day.
3) What's Good For The Goose Is Good For...
So here are some visual sites you can use to develop your students' thinking skills, writing skills and wonder skills. Whether you use it as a Quick Write, Ice Breaker, Monday Morning Warm-Up or Screen Work. These sites have great images to keep up the creativity, thought processes and engage those visual learners in your class. Click on the image to visit the site. I might use Wonderopolis or The Kids Should See This to engage my Grade 4/5 science class this year & What Is Going On In This Picture would definitely engage my sevens in what is going on in the world around them.
4) Keep The Ball In The Air
We need to empower the students who have great minds, but just don't have self-confidence or don't like to speak in front of groups. We see what they know in their writing. We also need empower those who need more to time to process or understand the question & and the pairings to hear other ideas and build upon them, to have their ideas reinforced. We can scaffold their confidence through shoulder partners, small group discussions, moving around the room to join people with similar ideas.
This won't always be easy & it means teaching the students the nuts and bolts of discussions, and giving up some control. It's going to be hard for me. Ariel Sack's Whole Novels has given me some tactics and practice in allowing students to lead discussions in whole and small groups. It was extremely rewarding, so let's bring on the balls!
5) The Smartest Person in the Room is the Room
We should be doing more of this within our schools. I know it gets busy, but we need to learn more with each other, from each other and our students. Our school walls are very smart!