A few weeks ago, I was able to go to the 2017 AMLE Conference in Philadelphia (along with our entire middle school staff – how cool is that??). I learned A LOT. It was inspiring, thought-provoking, and overwhelming in terms of the amount of information I was processing. After taking some time to digest, here are my favorite takeaways and the next steps I developed from the sessions I attended:
- Think of learner growth like growing bamboo, which is watered for years before it shoots out of the ground. Not all student growth you have cultivated will be visible during the year that learner is in your classroom. (Kim Campbell)
- Maslow’s Hierarchy must be addressed before we can focus on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Learners need to have their basic human needs met before they can be engaged and productive in school. (Julie Adams)
- Boys, especially in middle school, need movement to stay engaged. (Kim Campbell)
- If you want to keep learners’ attention, don’t force them to multitask (e.g. explaining a project when you’re still in the middle of handing out the rubric). (Katie Anderson and Grace Dearborn)
- Tech can be used to create a reading culture in your classroom with apps/websites like GoodReads, Kindle, Plotagon, Kindoma, Countable, etc. (Rob Furman)
- All people learn better when they are physically fit, especially when they regularly engage in aerobic activities. (Mike Kuczala)
- If we truly believe the point of school is for learners to learn and grow, students must be allowed to redo or retake assignments (with teacher discretion for instances when there was clearly a lack of effort the first time around or other extenuating circumstances). If we allow learners to turn in subpar work, give them a subpar grade, and don’t require them to do it again to show they have learned, we’re letting them off the hook. (Rick Wormeli)
My Next Steps and Implementations:
- Creating a Google Form for my advisory to check in about how their weeks are going in and out of the classroom. (I got this idea from Alice Keeler on Twitter, and the conferences at AMLE reinforced the importance social-emotional education and monitoring.)
- Creating a “Brain Break Jar” so when I see the class disengaging, we can pull a piece of paper with a random brain break from a jar, and take some time to recharge.
- Read and integrate the principles for creating a reading culture as outlined by Pam Allyn. (Used as the skeleton on which Rob Furman added tech integration and 21st century skill development.)
- Increase the amount of productive movement built into lessons and classroom procedures.
- Update and implement a new redo, retake, and late work policy to increase learning opportunities.
If you want to talk about any of these takeaways or next steps, reach out to me on Twitter!