Yesterday was election day across the United States. In Worthington because many of our schools are used as polling locations our students were not in school. While students were home, our teachers and many of our support staff were at work. We had a very productive day!
Long before our current academic standards were adopted, Margaret Mead wrote, “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” In that spirit, 700+ Worthington teachers gathered on the Granby-McCord-WKHS campus and engaged in our November 4th Fall Institute: a district-wide “Day of Learning.”
The morning consisted of two learning blocks: one with building colleagues and one choice session with colleagues from across the district. Over 35 choice sessions offered opportunities for teachers to increase their skill in the use of resources such as Fundations, Stepping Stones, Pasco Sparks, and Google Apps for Education; to build their understanding of instructional approaches such as Universal Design for Learning; or to collaborate with colleagues around topics such as Literature for the K-3 Kodály (that’s music) Classroom and the development of integrated performance assessments in our world language courses.
With the ambiguity of the upcoming PARCC and AIR assessments looming large for our students and for our teachers, members of the Academic Achievement and Professional Development department partnered with building principals to deliver an interactive building session presentation. The focus? Regardless of grade level or subject taught, how are we ALL applying our knowledge of the rigor expected in the new standards to our daily instructional and assessment practices? Conversation swirled around Bloom’s Cognitive Dimensions and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels, but the essence of the morning was stated clearly by a Worthington teacher: “My main take away this morning is that we, as teachers, need to support our students by getting them to think about their thinking more critically and by giving them opportunities to share their thinking.”
If you happened to be driving on Hard Road around noon yesterday, you probably noticed teachers lined up to select from among the delicious options available from four different food trucks and then enjoying lunch and conversation with colleagues. The afternoon was reserved for the ongoing work of Professional Learning Communities, many of which are focused on aligning curriculum and implementing best practices such as formative assessment, data analysis and application, literacy across content areas, and the building of background knowledge and vocabulary acquisition.
As educators, we are thankful for opportunities to learn together so that we can be better for our students. Please look for evidence of us promoting deeper levels of thinking and working to make that student thinking visible. And, if you happen to be on Twitter, check out #FI14 for some visible examples of yesterday’s work in Worthington Schools.
– Kelly Wegley, Coordinator of Academic Achievement and Professional Development