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Social Media and The School Image

The other night, I suspect like many of you, I watched the debates. I was also logged into Twitter and was watching the reactions of people around the world. Since then, I’ve watched a lot of drama unfold and take shape on social media over the next few days. I am super busy this time of year and I’ll be honest, I get most of my news and catch up on the events going on around the world through social media. I very rarely watch the news or read a paper.

Meanwhile I have been reading the book below:
image

My district provided this book and the title definitely stood out to me! What a very important role we as educators play in helping shape the image of our school, district, and education itself. I have always loved the following quote:

“If you work for a man, in Heaven’s name work for him. If he pays wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, and stand by him, and stand by the institution he represents. I think if I worked for a man, I would work for him. I would not work for him a part of his time, but all of his time. I would give an undivided service or none. If put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness. If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally disparage, why, resign your position, and when you are outside, damn to your heart’s content. But, I pray you, so long as you are a part of an institution, do not condemn it. Not that you will injure the institution – not that – but when you disparage the concern of which you are a part, you disparage yourself.” – Elbert Hubbard, American writer (19th Century)

If public school has an image problem, then we need to help with the makeover. We have great stories to tell!  We have fantastic things going on at school and social media is a pretty efficient way to share them with the community. Our families, our community members, are on social media. That’s where today’s stories take shape.

Like anything else, our teachers are all at different places as far as interest and skill level with utilizing Twitter as a tool for sharing and collaborating. At my campus, we created Twitter challenges which you can find here to help get that started.  We also try to model that by making sure we are tweeting out the great things we see, joining in Twitter chats with other educators, and sharing resources we come across with our teachers (always giving credit to our Twitter PLN!). Finally, we have our own school hashtag (#osestars) up and scrolling all day on our office flatscreen monitor.

tv

Parents, students and other visitors to our campus really enjoy seeing the tweets pop up in real time and we have found this to be a big motivation as well. We use TweetBeam for this service. We encourage all our visitors to visit our hashtag and leave us some feedback, and we make sure #osestars is printed on our campus flyer.

Yes, public school has an image problem. But what an opportunity we have to influence public perception! Imagine what type of influence we can have on the image of our district and our school if we consistently share our learning experiences with the larger community.

And it is SO much more informative than those debates…. 🙂

 

 

 

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Teachers and Students Leading Professional Learning

One of the unique ways we have found to support teacher collaboration and growth on our campus this year is through a weekly Staff S’more.  This started out as a one-way communication from admin to teachers, but we quickly discovered that this is the perfect vehicle for teachers to share their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks. It’s also a lot more interesting and has led to many more “conversation starters” than if it’s just admin to teacher. More information on how that came to be can be found in this blog post I wrote a while back.

Teacher Led Professional Learning

So we started off by approaching teachers and inviting them to write the weekly S’More. We were hoping teachers would be willing to share a little bit about what types of things they are doing in the classroom, or want to try, or just what’s on their mind. Soon, teachers began to ask if they could write an upcoming S’More, on a topic that they feel pretty passionate about. For example, next week a teacher will be writing on the topic of teacher burnout.  We are thrilled with the teacher ownership we are seeing in this! Our weekly Staff S’More has enjoyed tremendous success, with lots of views each week and conversations in the hallways that sound something like, “Hey I read your Smore article, can you tell me more about how you...”  It’s one of those rare things that just takes off right from the moment you introduce it and just seems to power itself.

Student Led Professional Learning

This week, one of our fifth grade teachers was working on her S’More feature, which is about Book Clubs.  She had some artifacts, handouts, and descriptions that she wanted to share with teachers along with her article. After a few minutes of discussing the content, she suggested the idea of having her students produce a video, in which they “taught the teachers” about how she implements book clubs. What a fantastically unique idea! Soon, I received the email below, a student-made video explaining to the staff how Book Clubs look in their classroom:

Here is a link to the final S’More for this week, our Book Clubs S’More, which includes the article written by our teacher, the student made video, corresponding instructional ideas from our principal, and additional articles, videos, and other resources that I curated which support the topic.

Throughout this year we have learned alongside each other through this S’More, on topics ranging from formative assessment, differentiation, performance assessments, technology, learning spaces, growth mindset, Genius Hour, math stations, guided reading, and so much more! And now, our plans are to continue to invite students to add to our learning through our weekly Staff S’More.  We are going to ask students to begin sharing their ideas, learnings, failures, and risks…right alongside their teachers. We truly believe that as a learning organization, we can exponentialy grow in our practice by listening to the voices of one another, and that includes our students.  We are very excited for this next phase!

Up Next

In a future S’More edition, our P.E. teacher Mr. Rob will share with the staff about the 21 Days Of Healthy Snacks Challenge, which he launched in his classes this week. He will ask some students to create a corresponding video share to with our staff about how they are engaging with the program. Is the message of healthy eating important to them? Why or why not? How are they implementing this at home, if they are? What challenges have they faced? What solutions can they offer?

I will keep you updated on our teacher and student-led professional learning journey as it continues to unfold this year! What unique ways have you found to infuse teacher and student voice within your learning community? We would love to learn from you!

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Linking Evernote, Twitter, IFTTT and YouTube

So today, my learning at #NT2t (a Twitter Chat for educators who are new to Twitter that I co-mod) continued for several hours as I began to learn and play around with Evernote and a little with IFTTT. Here are a few things I learned about. Things like linking my Twitter activity with Evernote, as well as how to send videos to Evernote.
I’m also going to describe how the Evernote Web Clipper add-on allows you to send a webpage to your Evernote, and how you can use IFTTT to automatically send Tweets to Evernote instead of emailing them.

Before doing anything else, make sure you have an Evernote account. Next, I suggest you add your Evernote email address to your Gmail contacts. I have an Evernote email? Yes,you do! I do this so that I do not have to remember that address (it is long and weird). You can find it by going to your Evernote settings and scrolling down until you see your Evenote Email. Copy it to your clipboard, and then paste it into your Gmail contacts.

Sending a Tweet to Evernote:
Let’s say you see a Tweet that you want to send directly to Evernote. Just click the 3 dots (if in Tweetdeck) that appear below the Tweet. Next, click on “email this Tweet”. Then when your email default program (mine is Gmail) opens up, you go to the “To” field. When you begin to type your Evernote email, it will auto fill after the first couple of letters (because you added it as a contact). You can now send the Tweet to Evernote and it will save in “All Notes”.

You can also send the Tweet directly to a specific notebook within Evernote! The way to do that is to add @NOTEBOOKNAME to the end of the subject line. Example: If the notebook I want to send this tweet to is named “Reading”, then in the subject line of the email, I type @Reading at the end of the subject. Viola! The Tweet is sent directly to my Reading notebook in Evernote. Here is a link to my Note in Evernote, which I emailed to my “How To Use Evernote” notebook!

Evernote Note Link

This wonderful bit of brilliance came to me from Rik Rowe, see the tweet below:

 

Evernote Web Clipper
I downloaded the web clipper (you can find this easily here: Evernote website). Now, let’s say I am on a webpage, reading a blog, and I want to send this to Evernote. All I have to do is click on the Evernote web clipper from my Internet tools menu. It will pop up with options for me to name the notebook I want to send this page to. If I don’t have one set up for this particular item (for example, I don’t have a notebook for blogs yet), I can just leave it as it appears . I can also include tags (which will help me locate it later based on a few chosen words). Here is a picture of what comes up when I select the web clipper on a page I was reading about Concept Based Curriculum:

web Clipper

Notice how I can choose to Save Article to Evernote. I can also use the drop down menu to change the notebook, if I don’t want to save it to the “Essential Questions” one that automatically appeared. I can also type in tags, and comments if I wish. It will then send to my Evernote.

Evernote With YouTube
So I really wanted to know how to send a YouTube video to Evernote. After playing around for a while, this is what I settled on:

yotubeUnder the YouTube video, select “Share” and then choose “Email”. From there, do as we discussed above. Begin typing your Evernote email, and it will auto-fill the rest of your address. In the subject field, type @NOTEBOOKNAME if you have a particular notebook to send this to, and click on send. The YouTube video now goes to your Evernote. It appears as an embed, but when you click the video itself, it takes you to the YouTube page where the video begins to play. I have not figured out a way to bypass YouTube and play within Evernote. Here is a link to my “Music” note that I created in Evernote, where I recently sent a “Rainforest Sounds” video:

Music Notebook

That link will open the note, but it will not play from the note. You will need to select “View in Evernote” which is a big green button on the top left of that note, you can’t miss it. Once you do that, you can select “Join Notebook” and you will have access to that notebook and videos.

IFTTT with Evernote
The final thing I did today, was search for and activate a recipe on IFTTT (If This Then That). Now, if you don’t know anything about this, you can still do it! Just visit the website here. You will click on “Join” and set up a free, quick and easy account for yourself.

Next, browse the available “recipes” (which means things you can do with it). I typed “Evernote” in the search bar. I found a recipe someone already made which will take Tweets you favorite and send them directly to Evernote. Wow! So if I don’t want to email the Tweet, I just want to automatically send it to Evernote, I can do this with this recipe. I clicked on “Use this recipe”. I had no idea what was going to happen, but amazingly this was simple! It told me I needed to activate both Evernote and Twitter on the IFTTT site. This is as simple as clicking “Activate” right there on the screen. It then said the recipe was stored. I was thinking, “that’s it”? Can’t be that easy! So I went to Twitter, I clicked favorite on a random tweet, then went to my Evernote. Sure enough, a notebook was there labeled IFTTT Twitter. I clicked the notebook and there was the tweet. I do not know how to create my own recipe’s yet. But that is okay, because for now I can use recipes that are already there (thank you wonderful people) until I have a need for one not yet created.

By the way, there are other recipes in IFTTT that you might like. Such as “Automatically add all my favorited tweets to Google Drive” or “Automatically send a thank you welcome message to new followers”. I know, amazing! But that is another post.

iftttTo view the Storify of the entire #NT2t chat this morning on all this learning, visit this link.  So there you have a few ideas about these programs, and some basic things you can try. I am so excited to have learned all of this today! I hope you enjoy!

PLN

The View On Atlanta – From The Hashtags

experience1

 

My Twitter feed this weekend has been blowing up with all the great learning going on at ISTE2014. Sadly, I was not at ISTE. But that has not stopped me from learning a great deal from all the educators who are attending and presenting, thanks to the power of the hashtag!

One of the reasons I enjoy Twitter as a professional development tool is because it allows me to connect with and learn from educators across the globe. This past Saturday, while I co-moderated our weekly chat for teachers new to Twitter (#NT2t), we discussed the power of the hashtag. Using it to follow conferences was one of the suggestions made for maximizing the potential of Twitter.  I have been doing that the past couple of days and, thanks to the connected educators who are so graciously tweeting their learning and resources, I have been able to learn  quite a bit! But, as Dewey says, we learn from reflection. So here are some of my takeaways ISTE2014…errr, while #NotAtISTE:

Genius Bar:

Someone retweeted this tweet about a student – run Genius Bar (original tweet by @TechGirlJenny):

iste5

I was pretty intrigued by this, so I went to researching the idea. I found this PDF from GenYes, which gave a lot of information about it. I played around with the idea, considered how we might fit this into our school within our current student leadership opportunities, and now plan to pitch it to my principal after I have it a little more planned out. What a find!

Google Hangouts On Air:

This tweet from @2footgiraffe includes a Google Doc with lots of great GHO tips. I have a planned GHO coming up in a couple of weeks, and this will surely come in handy for me.

iste4

 

Ultimate Word Wall:

So someone tweeted “We are building the ultimate word wall on Padlet”! Clicked on the link, and saw this amazing set up! What a treat for teachers to be able to use what is here, and then become inspired to build their own! I will definitely share this with teachers on my campus next year.

IFTTT

Saw this tweet below from @chadkafka and WOW! What an awesome way to curate tweets!! I used if for this blog! (IFTTT stands for If This Then That).

iste2Technology by Blooms:

This handy Google Doc tweeted by @Jepson contains loads of technology platforms and they are aligned with different Blooms levels. Very handy sheet if someone asks, “What technology would be best to use with ______”.  Saved to my drive.

iste3

 

Pinterest Board for ISTE:

I discovered this board which is being populated by many ISTE attendees. I have only skimmed this, but I am planning to spend a day next week going through all the curated material loaded onto it!

I have so many more resources saved, and I will share them out as I go through them.  All in all, I have had a very productive time the past couple of days as I learn a lot of new things while #NotAtISTE14.

Now, if you are wondering about that hashtag….it is for all of us who could not attend –but wanted to feel like we were a part of it. We were even invited to participate in various giveaways by event sponsors, and @CraigYen even set up a Google Hangout for anyone who wanted to, well, hang out!

As far as a learning community goes, it just doesn’t get any better than your Twitter PLN. The tweet below from @JanRobertson sums it up pretty well.

 

ISTE1

I hope you will join us Monday for more learning at #ISTE2014 and #NotAtISTE14 via the hashtags ! Please share your conference hashtag experienes in the comments below!

 

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A Reading Safari

magazine

Are you looking for something new and fun for your students to do during reading, while also hitting multiple standards? I am!

In looking at the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), there are several reading standards that I want to specifically target in the coming weeks. I also want to make sure I have some solid time scheduled with my small groups. Today I thought I would share an activity I recently created. I think it allows for student choice, reinforcement of skills, and active engagement for my students while I work with small groups and individual kiddos. I used the TEKS to design each activity, focusing on the ones that I really want to hit in the next few weeks. You could easily adapt this to fit whatever your state standards are!

I have often wanted to start using this particular set of magazines I have, which until now have been residing on the back table in my room-not touched by the kids. These are a little like booklets, with laminated and sturdy front and back covers, and are by a company called Mondo. I actually received these last year but, quite honestly, I just have not taken the time to dig into them and figure out how to best use them. But they are way cool!

These magazines are in sets of seven, with each set centered around a different topic. Multiple types of text are found inside each one, so even though there is a variety of genre, it is all related to the same central topic. Each magazine contains a fiction story, non fiction article, poem, play, persuasive letter, and vocabulary builder. And yes, these have just been on my counter not being used! FAIL!

I dusted these off and laid them out in my room. Here are the ones I chose for my students to select from for our first Reading Safari:

  • Hot Air Ballooning
  • Mountain Sports
  • International Explorers
  • Smart Animal Adapters
  • Life in Bali
  • Extreme Weather

They will be using this safari board I created with their chosen magazine. If you click on that link, you will find not only the activities I designed, but I’ve also included the safari music  I will be playing. This is also a great excuse to wear a safari hat to school 🙂

Here is a peek inside the “Bali” magazine (my personal favorite):

bali collage
These are really well designed with interesting stories, unusual facts, and compelling images. Another great  feature….they each come with a set of chapter books that I could use for my guided reading groups. Here is a picture of the books that come with the Bali magazine:

bailrd

I can use these for book clubs as well as in guided reading groups. How cool!

Everyone will complete the same safari menu using their chosen magazine. Since all magazines are structured the same, I tried to design a safari board that would function with any chosen text.  I am not going to grade these safari’s; instead my assessment will be in the form of feedback and probing questions to get them to thinking more deeply. I am hoping that this safari will lead to my students’ becoming fully immersed in our latest addition to the classroom library!

This weekend, my students will be thinking about how they want to showcase their work. I have a group who thinks they might want to make a wiki and upload onto that. I have another group talking about creating little books using construction paper and notebook paper, and a few who might want to compile all the work into a live binder. A few are still thinking about the possibilities for how to organize this information and share it. So, it seems like an added bonus to this Reading Safari is that my 4th graders are going to be curating!

Today my students were able to look through each magazine and make their selection. They were very excited about these, as I anticipated!  I think they will be really engaged in reading, writing, and creating quality work while I am working with small groups and one-on-one during reading workshop. Looking forward to using this new resource!

What about you? Do you have any hidden treasures sitting on the back counter in your room? You might want to go on a safari yourself, to see what you can find!safari

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Measuring 21st Century Skills In The Elementary Classroom

alamo

I’m often asked to share my strategies for developing integrated units that incorporate 21st century skills. An upcoming PBL I’m developing is on The Alamo. It will blend content areas while building 21st century skills and promoting family involvement.

Giving students opportunities to develop and refine their 21st century skills is something most of us see as paramount to learning in today’s classroom. Where many struggle is not with the “why” but with the “how”. One of the most successful ways I’ve found for doing this has come through integration of curriculum and grabbing ahold of Problem Based Learning. When I talk about integration, I mean that in terms of not only content, but 21st century skills as well. I intentionally plan and integrate these for one simple reason:

What Gets Measured Gets Done.

It’s important that students have the ongoing opportunity to develop and refine these skills. They also need  the opportunity to examine their progress in specific 21st century skills and reflect on how they are progressing over time. Here are four of my rubrics used to measure these skills: 21st Century Skills Rubrics

For this unit, I’m going to bring in:

Collaboration, problem solving,  technology literacy, and public speaking.

Each will be measured throughout  the unit in the form of self, peer, and coach (me) evaluations.

Now let’s take a look at  how I develop integrated units. I will also share my plans for my upcoming PBL as well.

Backward Design Intended Outcomes

 I start with identifying what specific content knowledge and skills are coming up each six weeks, and what students need to know at the end of each respective course unit. This is perhaps the “heaviest” part of the process. I’ll use my own upcoming units as an example here.

Social Studies: Understand the significance of the events leading up to the Alamo, and it’s impact.
Language Arts: Develop and refine skills in reading and analyzing nonfiction text. Develop and refine writing skills and produce an expository essay that includes descriptive details to support a main idea..
Math: Understand and manipulate fractions and decimals, and their relatedness. Understand 3D shapes and identify attributes.
Science: Identify forms of energy and understand interactions, pathways, conversions.

I have specific learning outcomes identified for each content area (though here I am just giving you a brief synopsis of the content covered). I also have formatives and summatives identified so I know where we are going. I can now plan out how to get there.

How And Where To Integrate

 Now that I have my concepts identified, I move on to how and where. Quickly we can see a connection here with Social Studies and Language Arts. So I will start there. I know that, throughout the Alamo unit, I want to include opportunities for literacy skills in nonfiction genres. Here is how I will embed this throughout:

  • Primary and Secondary Sources. I will use autobiographies, letters, journals, and our Social Studies textbook as the mentor texts during Reading Workshop. Mini lessons will center on nonfiction reading strategies.
  • We will examine quotes found in letters and journals to interpret meaning, context, and also find synonyms. Rewrite pleas from today’s perspective.
  • Media. We will critically examine a movie poster promoting the film “The Alamo”, and discuss the impact of the chosen colors, taglines, and images.
  • Writing Workshop will be used to provide instruction on effective expository writing strategies, with opportunities to respond to Alamo related prompts, journaling, letter writing, persuasive debate, and cause and effect essays.

Math.  We are working with fractions and decimals, while continuing to spiral in measurement concepts and move into 3D shapes and attributes. How can I use the Alamo unit to support this learning?

  • We will learn about the number of soldiers and ratios between armies.
  • Money as it relates to this historical period.
  • Proportions.
  • Fractions of time.
  • Comparison of rifle and musket range of fire (200 yards/70 yards) and conversion.
  • Examine 3D shapes and attributes found in pictorial representations of Spanish missions.
  • Suggest and design upgrades to the Alamo layout.

Science. We are going to identify forms of energy and how they interact with matter. I will include:

  • Potential and kinetic energy as it relates to gunpowder, cannons, and firewood.
  • Thermal energy.
  • Sound energy as we listen to replays of music used during this battle.

Social Studies. We will examine key players, dates, and locations. We will consider events leading up to the battle, and impact on future events. Students will uncover the significance of this historical event and take a virtual tour of the site using Google Earth  tour.

Ongoing Formatives
Planned throughout in each content area to measure progress on specific content skills as well as 21st century skills. Ongoing feedback allows students to refine and improve in each strand. The Alamo PBL includes benchmarks along the way which are related to both content and 21st century skills. As an example: Students can improve on a grade in Social Studies by improving on a 21st century skill, such as their current level of performance in the area of collaboration.

DEVELOPING THE PROBLEM BASED LEARNING UNIT

The Driving Question
In creating a Problem Based Learning unit, I start with looking at the standard. I then develop a driving question. This is the most difficult part of the task. It’s also the most critical. We want students to not only know what they are learning, but internalize and be able to articulate why they are learning it. The DQ is written ultimately for the students. The question will fuel understanding if it’s written well, articulates the standards, and includes a motivation to learn. It can promote ownership and guide students as they move through to unit. It also needs to include a community connection. I use a “tubric” to help me do this. Here is a video on that:

Here’s my DQ:

Why did the American public popularize the Alamo and how might this legacy apply to my own life?

Now, this is the over-arching DQ. Throughout the unit there are Learning Targets which are written to help them ultimately answer that driving question. Here are questions that will be embedded in this PBL:

What were the issues leading up to this battle, and why were they important?
How did those issues impact decisions that were made?
What might I have done had I been involved in this event? What are the issues that drive that decision?

What are some suggestions I might make if I were in a position to affect change?
How can we share our impressions of the Alamo battle with a larger audience?
How do members of my family approach decion-making situations?

Though they will be incorporated throughout, the above DQ’s are where I will specifically embed those 21st century skills I will assess within this unit. I will leave much to student choice as far as designing their final products is concerned. However, I will provide structured choices for them to consider and work with them to identify appropriate avenues for demonstrating their learning. I also have identified required products along the way to help build capacity and to assess 21st century skills. Each week, the four identified 21st century skills will be assessed through these required activities:

Week One

Collaborate in book clubs using texts centered on the event and players involved, such as biographies
Compare/Contrast presentation essay on two key players
Measurement and Conversion/Time/ Fractions

Week Two:

Digital descriptive timelines
Decision Making Brace Map  presentation
Journal entries from different perspectives/problems/solutions (will continue throughout)

Week Three:

Character trait analysis
Student-chosen problem and it’s impact: Cause and Effect presentation Graphic Organizers
Critical writing on energy conversion in science
Collaborate to design a movie poster for an Alamo film. They will decide on a tagline, colors, and actors who they imagine would portray main and supporting characters. These will include critical writing on the reasons behind their selections.

Week Four:

Student-chosen problem and it’s impact: Cause and Effect Graphic Organizers
Impact of different energy sources on the events of the Alamo/presentation
Fraction and decimal conversion practice with Alamo facts and figures we uncover

Week Five:

Students collaborate to produce a news broadcast of a self-selected problem and it’s impact on events
4 Corner Stance with critical writing to defend a position
Shared Classroom Debate with Public Speaking Skills

Week Six:

Collaborate and submit suggested upgrades to Alamo design and layout
Expository Essay: An Important Decision I Have Faced

The final product needs to answer the driving question. These will make excellent artifacts for our Standards Based Bulletin Board as well. For more on SBBB’s embraced by my district, visit this link.

Guiding Options for Final Products:

Web page design
Student-produced documentaries on a chosen Alamo figure
Artwork depicting important events and/or people
Digital Biographical sketches
Reenactments, student-written plays
Poetry anthologies related to the significance of the Alamo/events
Personal analysis through persuasive essay
Resource curation on Pinterest or Live Binder
Creation of games (can be 2d or 3D)
Blueprint design of the Alamo, accompanied by student built model to scale. Includes Legacy Snapshots, which are written supporting documents placed on the model
Produce and direct a Public Service Announcement
Lyric writing/music to accompany a scene

Each will allow for problem solving, collaborating, and public speaking/sharing work.  By choosing an option above, or by following their own inventive ideas,  we can leverage student passions, which always become top-notch products! Each product must be submitted in digital form for uploading to student’s ePortfolio. This will allow for sharing of work with a global audience. Students will include a written reflection on the product, it’s significance to the student, and what was learned through the creation of that product. Each student will also be encouraged to provide ongoing feedback to their peers both during the learning and on the final product. Weekly projects can also be uploaded to ePortfolios, with students selecting the artifacts to share globally.

Community/Family Impact
Students will talk with their families about how they approach big decisions and collect this information. They will explore with their family different strategies for making decisions and short/long term goals. These will be compiled into a class “family advice” book that students can refer to when facing their own “big decisions”. I think this will be a great way to open home communication and provide students with a variety of diverse viewpoints.

Throughout this six week unit, there will be specific mini-lessons and common assessments as written in our curriculum. The backdrop for our day to day learning and connections will be Alamo PBL.

All in all, I’m looking at a great opportunity to develop my students 21st Century Skills, integrate curriculum for deeper understanding through a PBL, and promote family involvement with building decision making skills. So I am very excited heading into the 4th six weeks!

For more on PBL and integrated curriculum, visit here. Visit the Buck Institute for Education for further research based information on PBL.

SBBB informative PDF link that I referenced originated via NISD website.