In the past week and a half, I’ve experienced lots of cool things around the district. I was invited to Manor New Tech to see some presentations at of a project integrating both the Electronics and Art courses. Students designed installations for various locations around campus. The presentations required that the audience travel around campus to see the installations. It was really neat to hear students explaining the design elements as well as the electronics that added lighting or sound to each of the pieces.
Also at Manor New Tech, the staff came together during PLCs in order to practice a Looking at Student Work Protocol. Teachers brought student work into the meetings and had the opportunity to share the work with peers. The protocol involved examining the student work, identifying what the students had actually accomplished in the work, and asking critical questions of the assignment. Through the use of a tight protocol, teachers were able to feel more comfortable with sharing the work their students had done in their class. Through the process, teachers were able to identify areas of success as well as highlight systemic gaps to help them make adjustments to instruction within a project.
During a two-day event sponsored by Apple, I had the opportunity to join a Manor ISD team on a visit to Belton New Tech High School. We learned about the 5 practices for technology integration. We were asked to choose one or two of the 5 as the focus of our study. I chose Visionary Leadership and Ongoing Professional Learning as my areas of focus. At Belton New Tech we learned of the steps the school followed to strengthen school culture, saw some cool ways to create a world-of-work environment for students, and appreciated the strong leadership skills displayed by the students. We also gained more ideas about how to engage parents and incoming 9th grade students. Another unique take away for me was the manner in which the campus and district have integrated an element of voice and choice for teachers to identify their professional development needs. After the school visit, we ended the training at the Apple offices in Austin. We were provided with tools and resources in order to plan next steps for technology integration here in Manor.
At Pioneer Crossing Elementary, 3rd grade students have been working in their Music class on a project focused on learning the pentatonic scale through the process of designing wind-chimes for the school’s campus-wide project. This spring, the campus-wide project has challenged all teachers and students to take part in the design of an outdoor classroom. Every grade level developed standards-based projects as a response to this challenge. For instance, the 3rd graders researched and recommended a design for a wind-chime. They asked the Manor New Tech Robotics Team to cut their materials for them at the Manor New Tech Mothership (The campus’ Robotics Maker-space). Afterward, the 3rd graders constructed the wind-chimes for the outdoor classroom. Below are pictures of Holly Davis, Manor New Tech Engineering Teacher, visiting with Pioneer Crossing 3rd graders. She visited as a guest speaker and showed the students a Trebuchet and an Airplane designed by her engineering students. The 3rd graders then showed Ms. Davis their finished wind-chime and explained how they had followed the engineering-design process.
Another cool thing I saw this week, was Ms. Martin’s 1st grade class at ShadowGlen Elementary, as they practiced a special dance for the talent show. They paid close attention to dance steps being modeled by Ms. Martin. The students impressed me with their confidence.
Oh and don’t let me forget the awesome BIE hangout webinar that I attended this week. BIE is the Buck Institute for Education, and they are an organization that supports project-based learning in schools and districts around the world. Their website is a hub for all-things-PBL. I highly recommend it! The webinar I attended was titled Secondary Project Spotlight. A cool 8th grade capstone project was presented as well as a neat poetry slam high school project. The participants were eager to share their best kept secrets. If you want to join the next webinar, check out the Elementary Project Spotlight coming up on May 24th. More information is at www.bie.org
Until next time,