Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In the Beginning

The to-do list of things to decide before September 1st is long to say the least.  I am excited to think about all of the different possibilities for the coming school year.  I am probably going to be bothering everyone a lot over the next few months for opinions and feedback, as I am going to be in a lot of new territory.
Some things I will be focusing on

  • Space.  We will be changing our learning spaces.  I will be thinking about everything from use of space to paint colors.
  • Standards.  We are reworking our standards to work better in our multi-grade learning environment.  The kids also use the standards when designing projects and learning experiences.  How specific is appropriate?
  • Pacing.  This is a big concern of mine.  How do I set reasonable standards and timelines so that the students and parents (and me!) know the peanuts are making adequate progress?
  • Assessment.  Currently we are thinking about creating portfolios and an "assessment triangle" consisting of student/teacher self-reflection, project and experience assessment, and a more traditional assessment for people that are used to paper and pencil assessments.  How we organize and share this information needs to be decided as well.  Will we use the traditional report card?  Switch to a standards based report card? 
  • Community Building.  Because middle school is the easiest time when it comes to everyone being comfortable in their own skin. With the kids being expected to work in cooperative groups, I really want the kids to understand how they think and work and use this information to work more productively in groups.  I want everyone to feel safe and accepted in the school and it seems that there is a need for some bridge building in this area.
  • General Curriculum.  ELA, Math, Social Studies, Science, and more :)
  • Using Generative Curriculum.  If you have a class like this - I would love to talk!  It has been hard to find many resources in this area!
  • Project Based Learning.  This is the area I am most comfortable with.  It just makes sense.  I'll be looking for information on how to start the year and set the kids up for success.
  • Entrepreneurialism.  The goal of the school is for the students to start and operate a business.  This past year the business has focused on an organic garden.  We are looking to take this project to the next level.  We also want to work with the kids to develop the skills required for business leaders.
  • Sustainability.  I am pretty solid here as well.  I used to work with our local environmental office and was in charge of environmental education.  If I come up against a problem I don't have any clue about, I at least know the local resources that I can utilize for help.
Well, I think that just about covers it.  Its a good thing I have all summer and a fabulous group of people to help me get through all of this!

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