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Challenging Learners of All Ages

Challenging Learners of All Ages

Close your eyes and picture this classroom setting: two students are sitting at adjacent desks, examining each other’s work.  One student says to the other, “You added a lot of details to your writing.” The other shares, “I tried to add many as I could to make it better.”  Now open your eyes. Were the students you pictured in high school, or maybe sixth or seventh grade? What if they were first graders? Are young students capable of this kind of thought processing? The answer is yes, through the inclusion of formative instructional practices in the classroom. 

One thing I have learned from being a pre-service early childhood educator is that people underestimate the intelligence and ability of children ages 3-8. For the last three years, I’ve heard countless variations of “Oh, so you’ll be playing and coloring for a living!” The general public does not realize that from the moment a child is born, he begins learning. The period between birth and eight years of age is when the most significant learning takes place. As part of my upcoming career, I would like to share a little bit about what young children can really do.

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FIP Quote of the Day

FIP Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day from a teacher at a recent FIP professional learning day:

"I used to think I was doing a good job just by telling my students the learning targets. But now I realize that educators need to relate all of the learning activities back to the learning targets, tying all of them together. I now realize the importance of using the objectives to be a more clear teacher. The students need to understand where we ultimately want to end up in the learning process, and why."

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New Module: FIP in Action: Science Grade 5 Ecosystem Roles and Models

Photosynthesis.

It was one of my favorite words from elementary school, and likely the first I knew with 14 letters. I remember repeating it over and over again for a fifth grade spelling bee that had me sweating bullets. I never even got that word in the spelling bee; knocking myself out of competition in an early round, likely to a word that was an exception to “I before e.” But as a nine year old, it was dynamic to learn that the same sun my mother protected me from with copious amounts of SPF 40 lotion was powering the plants that we saw every day in our backyard. I imagine it was a tough subject to teach to a student, given that this energy is unseen to the naked eye.  

Now, many years later, I know it wasn’t memorizing the spelling of the word that helped me remember photosynthesis, but the homemade ecosystems made out of two-liter pop bottles and a handful of potting soil, sitting along the window in our classroom. It was the classroom conversations with my peers, filled with questions for my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Meyer; the obvious one being “who gets to take the plant home when we’re done?” 

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A Penny for My Thoughts

A Penny for My Thoughts

Reform is a term that progressives hold dear and many of its recipients often reject. Why the tension?  I just look to any major problem in my own life and know that the solutions are never easy; trying to achieve consensus about potential solutions is often an emotional endeavor.  Does the debate about affordable health care ring a bell? 

The path and consequences of change are neither predictable nor comfortable.  Yes, we know that change is inevitable, but we also know that change is not easy—especially when it is being imposed.  My boss, Jim Mahoney is fond of saying, “That which is imposed is often opposed”.

I often hear that the formative instructional practices (FIP) work my colleagues and I have been trying to help educators implement is another imposed education reform.  I want to address that concern by offering one thought about pennies and one idea about juice.

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From Online to Blended Learning: New FIP Facilitation Guides Now Available

From Online to Blended Learning: New FIP Facilitation Guides Now Available

Throughout the FIP Your School Ohio project, we’ve strived to emphasize “blended learning” over “online learning.” Why? Because the best professional development is job-embedded and collaborative. The FIP modules are only as valuable as the thoughtful discussion, reflection, and next steps that you engage in with colleagues.

That’s why we’ve launched three new FIP facilitation guides, designed to encourage collaborative, job embedded professional development among teachers, school leaders, and coaches.

For Teachers

When the Foundations of Formative Instructional Practices modules rolled out in 2012, they came with a facilitation guide, which included resources and examples for how to use teacher team time to engage in deeper learning about FIP. This resource included a set of facilitation materials for each of the five foundational modules, which encouraged teachers to use the modules in a way that we know is more consistent with the research around effective professional development.

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