Monday, June 20, 2016

Part 1: Back In the Trenches

I have been a K-12 Innovative Teaching and Learning Specialist for two years. Prior to that I was a social studies teacher for ten years. Back in May I was told there was a very good chance that I would be asked to teach a couple sections of 9th grade Social Studies (World Geography). I have a sneaky suspicion that my administrators were a little worried that I would not be open to the idea, but I was ECSTATIC! The truth is I absolutely love my job, but I miss working with kids. I didn't realize how much I missed working with them until I was presented with this opportunity. This arrangement will work for everyone involved. The school gets a teacher and I get to actually do all of the fun and crazy things I talk (preach?) about!

I hope teachers and administrators stop in every single day to see what my students are up to. They are going to do some pretty terrific things! I'm going to push them and challenge them to do things they never thought possible. They are going to connect to the world via their blogs and they are going to manage all of their projects through a classroom website. Everything they do they will be tied to the Nebraska Geography Standards. I have a vision for how this is going to work and it is going to ROCK!

This is the first in a series of posts where I will share what I am doing. There isn't anything that cannot be replicated for different subjects and grade levels. Most of the things we will be doing are things I've had students do for years, so I already know it is possible.

The first thing I did when I found out I was teaching 9th grade Geography was get a copy of the book and the pacing guide. While my class will be very different from the traditional way this class has been taught, I still needed to come up with a schedule to make sure we explore the same topics that are stated in the official course description. I set aside roughly five weeks for each unit.  This will allow us some flexibility with our schedule just in case we need to move some things around.

I spent some time today setting up this doc to make sure we get to all of the standards.  I still need to spend some time figuring out which ones we should focus on for each unit. I'm also working on building a rubric to help students (and me!) know how they are doing when it comes to mastery of our standards. This document is not even close to complete, but it is a good start.

My next step is to divide up the standards to provide students with areas on which they can focus while they are working on their projects. I'm so excited to see where this goes!

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