137 Days Later.

#aprilblogaday PLN, apologies. “Blog A Day” has turned into, “Blog A Week.”

But this one has been 137 days coming, which makes the lack of “postings” completely legitimate (right?)

I reflect on this week as one of the highlights of my career; a success (despite hiccups of failure no doubt!) For what you don’t know is that those hours off of blogging have been the result of long hours put towards making the most remarkable PBL Unit thanks to Southeast’s Media Coordinator, Jenelle Someone (a true “edu-hero!”)

I’ve stressed this year, as you can read in previous reflections, the development of student ownership through offership (a concept that is gets at the heart of cultivating a shared vision within a classroom.) The result of such as been cross-curriculular PBL’s, GHO’s, and true application of content all paced for individualized learning needs.

Now, what does that look like after over 130+ days of scaffolded instruction? 1 incredible classroom that I am honored to facilitate (…and remarkable growth!)

Jenelle has a strong literacy background, and insane level of patience for my out-of-the-box ideas (kudos to you Jenelle!) She keeps me in check when my ideas begin to stray from the desired goal, or when I struggle with explaining complex text. As a result, we create one remarkable team (at least in my eyes) and one that has pushed the limits in terms of student ownership, and science literacy. We currently have developed a unit that includes the following:

1. iBooks for three different levels of reading, including a fourth level for struggling students to promote confidence. These have been distributed via iBooks, as well as a paper (as some of our students prefer such.)

2. Case studies for over 8 unidentified infectious diseases that students could choose from. The case studies include patient descriptions, historical and societal implications depending on the level of reading. Several upper levels include mutations of virus/parasitic strands.

3. Literacy strategies including: annotation, questioning of the text, summarization, and application.

4. Student ownership through selected and self-moderated peer groupings (including SMART goal setting.)

You can observe “snapshots” of materials we developed below.

Google+ Materials

The end goal? Students must identify the infectious disease through the case study clues/literacy strategies, using a strong level of Tier II/III vocabulary from not only our current unit, put previous units. Ultimately from such, they will develop a MMWR Report similar to the ones the CDC uses, developing data analysis reports via Excel/Numbers, as well as creating a platform by which to share information to the larger, global community. And by share, I mean through a mode that we may use today, not a poster.1470034_1584740335114837_4022262698750723945_n

The highlights? 

Throughout this entire year I’ve stressed student ownership, and pacing. I’ve stressed students guiding themselves, and seeking assistance when needed. It has been a remarkable venture to witness as students are doing such without me having to “hover” over them. They are working as if I’m not present, and running home to find answers!

Teacher facilitation = +1. Teacher directed instruction = 0.

Our roles? 

To provide students with the outlets for skills they may be lacking in. Thanks to Jenelle, we’ve been able to target strong literacy foundational skills, even for those 8th graders reading beyond the 11th Grade level. We’ve introduced how to read complex-scientific text to our above-grade level students, challenging them to understand collegiate level information. While, at the same time, we’ve introduced to other readers a level of confidence through strategies and readings appropriate to them. We’ve even reached out to the CDC so our students may learn from them regarding information we can’t 10995279_1584740341781503_4688567465769944235_nanswer.

Breaking down traditional “classroom walls?” You bet! Why not learn from the experts?

The result?

A completely realistic, appropriate, individualized (yet challenging) unit that strives to combine such necessities for all students. We took all year to push towards this level, and it has no doubt paid off – we could not be more proud of our students! Granted, we still have hiccups (as all learning environments will), but we are a ring closer to hitting the “bulls-eye” of the most appropriate learning environment for our students.

I mean, what else can you do but smile when you have students literally “running” to class to figure out the problem? That to me means we’re on the right path…


The reality? 

After 137 days, a learning environment I wish I could put into words has formed; a learning environment you will just have to witness. Stay tuned as our 137 day journey unfolds further; I’m looking forward to how the final two weeks of our unit pans out, and I hope you are, too!



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