Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Prepping for Clusters

After a successful implementation of E-Time (see E-Time posts), Austin is ripe and ready to begin digging even deeper with Enrichment Clusters!  Clusters are similar to E-Time in that they are both interest based and student driven.

Liz Malone (GT Facilitator & SEM Coordinator) has been working this week with our 4th grade, 5th grade, and support staff teachers as we prepare to kick-off the first round of Clusters with 4th and 5th grade at the end of October.  Additionally, we will work with our parent volunteers who have graciously agreed to share their passions and lead / co-lead a Cluster!

Here are a few of the things that our educators are discovering about Clusters-

Why are Clusters important?
  • They support kids' interests.
  • They help learners discover new interests.
  • They challenge learners on different levels.
  • Students learn from each other and from experts.
  • Clusters support our Guiding Purpose of unlocking students' passion and cultivating their uniqueness.
  • MANY more reasons!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Curriculum Compacting: A Tool For Differentiation In The Classroom

Since the beginning of the school year, we have featured a few guest bloggers and their reflections on their learning from Confratute.  To close this series, check out the article below from Liz Malone (GT Facilitator & SEM Coordinator) on Curriculum Compacting.  We are excited about the work she will do with ALL of our learners this year and the coaching/planning work she will do with our educators. 

Curriculum Compacting: A Tool for Differentiation in the Classroom

I was so excited this summer to once again attend Confratute, a week-long educational conference held on the beautiful University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, Connecticut, just outside of Hartford.  While there, I had the opportunity to participate in an exploration of Curriculum Compacting, led by Dr. Deb Goldbeck, a leading researcher in this area.  Dr. Goldbeck shared with us much of the research surrounding the practice of curriculum compacting as well as a wealth of information about the tools and resources that are available to facilitate the implementation of curriculum compacting in the general education setting. I have attempted to share just a taste of her wisdom in the paragraphs below, but I am looking forward to sharing more information as the year progresses. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is curriculum compacting? 

Curriculum compacting is simply another tool that can be used to differentiate classroom learning experiences so that we are able to effectively meet the unique needs of every learner.  Dr. Goldbeck defines it this way: “Curriculum compacting is a procedure used to streamline the regular curriculum for students who are capable of mastering it at a faster pace.”  In other words, we do not continue to require students to practice those skills and concepts in which they have already demonstrated mastery.  Instead, we create experiences which allow them to explore those concepts at a higher level of depth and complexity and in a way that relates to their own personal interests and talents.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Back to School Tradition

It's becoming somewhat of a back to school tradition for Austin to create a video and share it with parents on Curriculum Night.  It's the perfect opportunity for parents to put a face with the name and get to know some of the people that work with their child each day.

This year, it was also the perfect opportunity for us to share a preview of upcoming Schoolwide Enrichment activities and a few details on CISD's Operation Transformation.

We were able to find a very talented young narrator to help us out.  Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reflections on Creativity

Last week, we featured a Confratute reflection on a series of math sessions that our teachers attended.  This week, we would like to spotlight Lisa Ricciardelli (Art teacher @ Austin) and her reflections on Creativity at Confratute.

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this year's Confratute and fully enjoyed all the speakers, classes, workshops, and scoops of farm fresh ice cream. The energy there at UCONN is really playful, informative, and inspiring! Yet if I could sum up this experience with just one word, it would definitely have to be creative.

In one of my favorite classes of the week, “Motivation, Meta-Cognition, & the Importance of Creativity”, we learned that there are two types of creativity according to Dr. Bonnie Cramond: expressive and inventive. Expressive creativity illustrates conceptions or emotions and aesthetics where the inventive type addresses a worthwhile problem to find novel and appropriate solutions. Both have equal merit in education and can be woven into our curriculum in a plethora of ways. From the new Fine Arts TEKS:

The Fine Arts, as universal languages, incorporate the study of dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts to offer unparalleled experiences and empower students to explore realities, relationships, and ideas. The Fine Arts engage and motivate all students through active learning, critical thinking, and innovative problem solving. Our disciplines develop cognitive functioning and increase student academic achievement, higher order thinking skills, communication, and collaboration. Students develop relevant aesthetic and cultural awareness through exploration leading to creative expression. Creativity is essential and the study of the Fine Arts nurtures and develops the whole child.