Design 2015: Transforming Teaching and Learning in 3rd Grade

Featured

Every year brings fresh learning experiences to the children we serve in Albemarle County Public Schools. This year, we are implementing Design 2015 projects in every school to support experiences that engage, challenge, and encourage questions and curiosity. Our educators want children to acquire, use and synthesize knowledge. We want to inspire our young people to work well together and find value in working with people who bring different skills and ideas to teams. We want learners to think critically and be able to analyze and solve problems.

Design 2015 Projects include renovations that allows use of cafeterias and other areas as multi-purpose project areas. Teachers are implementing project-based learning and helping students use interactive technologies to research, create multimedia projects, and accomplish independent learning. As educators develop and extend teaching skills that help contemporary learners, they are sharing their work with parents and colleagues.

Recently, a parent chatted with me about how much her child was enjoying learning this year in Ms. Karen Heathcock’s class at Broadus Wood Elementary. Ms. Heathcock, third grade teacher, blogs routinely about the work her students are accomplishing. I asked her if I could post one of her recent blogs about how the Design 2015 project work is impacting her classroom. Here’s her post:

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Transforming Practice

 Posted by Karen Heathcock on September 13, 2013

Fresh off our school’s Design 2015 work, I spent much of the summer reflecting on how the Lifelong Learner Standards and the Seven Pathways would truly inform my teaching philosophy and my daily practice. In the midst of lots of professional reading and exploration, it hit me. These were principles that weren’t going to INform my teaching, they were going to TRANSform my teaching.

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Since then, I have committed to ensuring that every time my third grade students walk into the classroom, they are going to feel like they are walking into their future, not into my past. It doesn’t matter how I’ve taught something before, or how I learned it myself, or what I happen to have in my filing cabinet, I am going to provide my students with the experiences, the knowledge, the tools, and the confidence to master VA standards, of course; but more importantly, to pursue what interests them.

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On the seventeenth day of school, my third graders are already on fire!

  • We’re finishing up films for the Young Filmmakers Academy that will be screened in November as part of the Virginia Film Festival.
  • We’re Quadblogging with a school in Australia and two schools in the UK – a program that has us sharing our work and learning about all that we have in common and all that makes us unique.
  • As part of our geography unit, we’re Mystery Skyping with other 3rd grade classrooms around the U.S. We use different kinds of maps and some very artful questioning skills to isolate the region, the state, and hopefully, the city of our mystery guest classroom.
  • We’re STEM-maniacs! Every Friday, we do an engineering design challenge that has us collaborating, creating, thinking, testing, tweaking, and troubleshooting. So far, we’ve designed hovercrafts, NASA-inspired Mars Rover landers, and 12 inch newspaper tables that can hold the weight of a textbook. Follow our hashtag on Twitter #STEMFri where we will share challenges and results with interested classes and experts.

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  • We are diving headfirst into Twitter. We want to share our work, connect to experts, find peers in different cultures, and spread our excitement and enthusiasm around the world!

We work closely with our School Librarian (shout-out to Melissa Techman, @mtechman on Twitter) who is always full of fresh ideas and always willing to share her time to support us. She was recently featured in this Digital Shift article!

We would love to connect with any other classrooms who are interested in learning and growing together.

You can follow Karen Heathcock on twitter @karenheathcock . She blogs at:

http://teachers.k12albemarle.org/kheathcock/2013/09/13/transforming-practice/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Transforming Practice
Posted by Karen Heathcock on September 13, 2013
Fresh off our school’s Design 2015 work, I spent much of the summer reflecting on how the Lifelong Learner Standards and the Seven Pathways would truly inform my teaching philosophy and my daily practice. In the midst of lots of professional reading and exploration, it hit me. These were principles that weren’t going to INform my teaching, they were going to TRANSform my teaching.

Since then, I have committed to ensuring that every time my third grade students walk into the classroom, they are going to feel like they are walking into their future, not into my past. It doesn’t matter how I’ve taught something before, or how I learned it myself, or what I happen to have in my filing cabinet, I am going to provide my students with the experiences, the knowledge, the tools, and the confidence to master VA standards, of course; but more importantly, to pursue what interests them.

On the seventeenth day of school, my third graders are already on fire!

We’re finishing up films for the Young Filmmakers Academy that will be screened in November as part of the Virginia Film Festival.
We’re Quadblogging with a school in Australia and two schools in the UK – a program that has us sharing our work and learning about all that we have in common and all that makes us unique.
As part of our geography unit, we’re Mystery Skyping with other 3rd grade classrooms around the U.S. We use different kinds of maps and some very artful questioning skills to isolate the region, the state, and hopefully, the city of our mystery guest classroom.
We’re STEM-maniacs! Every Friday, we do an engineering design challenge that has us collaborating, creating, thinking, testing, tweaking, and troubleshooting. So far, we’ve designed hovercrafts, NASA-inspired Mars Rover landers, and 12 inch newspaper tables that can hold the weight of a textbook. Follow our hashtag on Twitter #STEMFri where we will share challenges and results with interested classes and experts.
We are diving headfirst into Twitter. We want to share our work, connect to experts, find peers in different cultures, and spread our excitement and enthusiasm around the world!
We work closely with our School Librarian (shout-out to Melissa Techman, @mtechman on Twitter) who is always full of fresh ideas and always willing to share her time to support us. She was recently featured in this Digital Shift article!
We would love to connect with any other classrooms who are interested in learning and growing together.

A New Year Begins

Featured

The opening of a new school year always brings joy, passion, and excitement to our educators’ work with young people. As I visit each school across Albemarle County, I see brightness captured in our children’s eyes, a quickness to their step as they enter new classrooms, and enthusiasm in their voices as they embrace interesting ideas and questions that challenge them to think. Albemarle educators value our children acquiring the competencies of lifelong learning readiness. When our current pre-schoolers graduate in 2027, we want them to be ready for a world that will be different than the one we know today.

spanishlesson

Kindergarten Spanish Lesson

If any one variable has changed the world over the last decade, most people would say it is technological advances. Whether considering the workforce, the home and community, politics, the economy, or communication media, technology advances have changed the way we cook, drive, work, communicate, entertain, vote, travel, purchase, pay, and learn. From agri-business to engineering, no sector is unchanged.

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Parents and educators alike want our children to be well educated for their century.  We know that despite the advances of technology as learning tools, the quality of teaching remains a vital factor to achieving our dream to unleash the learning potential of every child enrolled in our schools. This means investing in the training educators need to continue to advance and develop skills and expertise.  This summer and on work days before school started, teachers participated in professional training to deepen content knowledge, focus on new curricular standards, and refine performance assessments for use with students during the year.

agnorhurt

Agnor-Hurt Educators Welcome Back Young Learners

This year, four schools – Monticello High and Walton, Burley and Jouett Middle Schools – are using 1:1 learning technologies with certain grade levels. Elementary school educators in every school are working to incorporate “hands-on” learning experiences across the curricula so that young learners have opportunities to create, build, design, and make using traditional and contemporary learning tools.  Cale Elementary continues to pilot bilingual language learning as a pilot in anticipation of expanding second language learning in more elementary schools in the future. Four middle schools – Henley, Sutherland, Walton, and Jouett –  have new learning labs where students will explore topics including advanced manufacturing and project based learning in math. Western Albemarle staff are working this year to design and develop a third academy to be made available to our county high school learners next year – an environmental studies center. Every school has renovated spaces – libraries, cafeterias, art rooms, inquiry labs, technical education, project areas – designed for contemporary learners and learning. At Albemarle High a new writing studio was created as part of the library suite, a space where students can work with peers to improve writing skills and pursue interests in personal writing.

CATEC builders

CATEC Design/Builders

This renewed focus on active learning by our students emerges from the Board’s revised strategic plan, Horizon 2020, which sets in place the Division’s next steps in determining the optimal use of resources, implementation of balanced assessments, expansion of partnerships, and improvement of opportunity and achievement among all learners.

 

In identifying new strategic objectives, the Board, educators, parents and community partners who participated in development of Horizon 2020 believe that our young people must graduate from our schools capable and competent to embrace learning across a lifetime, unleashing their potential to pursue career options, post-secondary education, and adult citizenship with all the enthusiasm and excitement they brought with them when they first entered our schools.

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