Engaging Lessons, Effective Planning (Permission for photos given)

What does my classroom look like? 

Well, it depends on the day. I use a variety of authentic instructional methods based solely on DATA and Strategic Planning.

The benefit=My classroom is a place where students are set up for success daily. There is no one-size fits all model, it is truly personalized learning.

The downfall=Time. I am often overwhelmed with my workload. I find myself sacrificing my own life, in order to perform at the level of expectations that I have set for myself.

Things I keep at the core when planning:

Standard-based mastery over grades. (How does a A,B,C,D,F provide effective feedback for my students?)

Ask the question, how can I make sure ALL my students will master this concept?

You can not answer this question without using DATA. All 4 types of data. Develop a strategic mindset by questioning prior to planning.

What kind of students do you have? How do they learn best? (Based on their data) Are there any obstacles to learning that you as the teacher have control over? Can you remove those barriers? Would groups, partners, individual learning, or whole-class be best? Why? If groups, did you strategically plan the groups? Can you involve choice in this unit? Would involving that choice idea increase the learning? What is their prior knowledge on the concept? What is the level of difficulty when learning this concept? Based on reflections, observations, and peer feedback… is data showing that one process (instructional approach) is more efficient on this topic? Why? Is that the same for all students? How can you manage the time of teaching this concept most efficiently? Are there going to be transitions in class? Will they affect the learning? How can my resources make teaching this topic more efficient? How can technology advance the learning?  How do you know that? Have you consulted specialists or colleagues? What do the students say, are you gathering their perception data? How can you create an experience to enhance their learning? What do you want your students to remember 40 years from now?

Reflection: Is my thinking correctly based on ACCURATE data? If yes, I am ready to plan. If not, back to analyzing the data and making SMART choices. (Yes, that is a play on SMART goals)

After implementing lesson: Reflect again. Ask for feedback from others. Ask students. Review data. (All 4 types of data)

Did my planning match the outcome? Always plan with your end goal in mind. Was student learning achieved? If so, at what rate? Did all my students master the concept? If not, why? Gather and analyze data again. Now what? Do I offer remediation? How do I do so to make most effective use of my time? What will I do differently next lesson based on data to ensure they will master the concept this time? What am I doing with those who mastered the concept?

Personalized Learning is by far what is needed for students, but how can we as teachers do so with 140 students? I have been finding it unreal to perform to my high standards recently, so I have been reflecting a lot.

My answer right now is Gamification. It can be designed to not just differentiate for students, but to personalize their learning. The Chronicles of History, is designed so that students direct their own learning and assist in the process by analyzing their own data.

Here are a few shots of my classroom. And a sneak pic of my digital format of Chronicles of History, that will launch in room 703 when iPads are deployed. Enjoy and happy planning!


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Dynamic Learning Environments

Well, it is a new school year! I have been so behind on blogging and that is a shame. I don’t even edit my blog and I really need to do that! I need an accountability partner, any takers? I wanted to share my classroom design for this year and thoughts behind the set-up.

Why does the learning environment matter? Why is it important for new teachers (teachers in general) to consider the design of the classroom, where resources are located, how they arrange their desks, etc?

The physical design of the classroom can impact the most important thing about your classroom, how it operates. Having a well-planned, student-friendly room can make the difference in the learning environment of your classroom. If you want to have a dynamic learning environment then you must be strategic in all decisions. It is important to consider the morale of the classroom and students’ learning. So I could continue with the “why” to get you to buy into why classroom design is important, provided with research and great facts. (And don’t get me wrong it is super important and it is very cool information)

However, I would rather just tell you my story. It makes this blog personal and it allows me to reflect. My way is not the right way or wrong way, but sharing my story through this blog is what makes me feel connected to my readers.

I changed schools this year and so I had to move classrooms. While this can be overwhelming, it was also exciting. The chance to start over and redesign my room offered me an opportunity to be a new teacher this year. I loved my classroom last year, my students were AMAZING, and I had an amazing year. Nothing was wrong with my design and I loved the teacher I was last year, but what I love in this profession is that you are never at your best. You can always improve and your students need you to have a growth mindset. When you think you master something, it is about that time that: 1-something changes 2-new resources become available 3-you get a new audience 4-infrasture improves 5-a new challenge arises 6-we all know this list could keep going. Most importantly, you always have the opportunity to reflect, tweak, improve, or completely change something to be more effective and transformative.

So, I decided to take big risks this year and make this THE BEST YEAR YET! (until next year of course) A very inspiring leader, Latoya Dixon, told me that I need to live 2 seconds from the wall and so I am doing what I think a good teacher should….. listen to the advice of an obvious super star. Why play it safe, what will my students gain from that? Average. Oh no, my students deserve more than that. Nothing is right or wrong when your reason is for the betterment of children!

What does 2 seconds from the wall mean in my classroom design?

I wanted a variety of

1- Literacy Area (Because every child should read, write, and speak daily! Make a fun area in your classroom)

2-Makerspace Area (I want to empower my students to create, build, tinker, and innovate)

3-PBL Area (An area established for inquiry and problem-solving)

4-Classroom Resources (Provide what your students need in order to be successful!)

5-Collaborative & Inquiry-Based Environment (Develop the environment established for collaboration and self-directed learning)

6-Resource and Tech friendly (I purchased powers strips and I established a digital literacy bulletin board. I even have QR codes that showcase history professions)

7-Student Input & Personalized Learning (Suggestion board, Multiple areas in the classrooms so you can truly differentiate)

8-Positive Team Atmosphere (This is established in the design as well as the climate you create)

9- Community Connections (For the first time I included parents on my classroom expectation bulletin board. My students created the expectations themselves to “own” our classroom and I included PARENTS at open house) I hope to establish an environment that brings not just parents, but the community into the classroom)

10- Gamification (Whoop Whoop.. I am gamified! Chronicles of History!)

Here is my classroom! Check us out at https://twitter.com/MrsCarter_SS