Teachers in the Pulaski Academy and Central School District are putting in hard work to meet the demands of the current Education Reform Agenda.
Recently teachers at Lura M. Sharp Elementary School participated in a four-day ELA training. Teachers were split up into two sessions, one for grades Pre-K to second, the other grades three to five.
On the first day of professional development, teachers learned about the growth mindset, a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck. In the growth concept, teachers focus on their strengths and build on what they already know in order to figure out what they can get smarter at.
This point of view sees complex challenges as opportunities and setbacks as chances to improve. People in the growth mindset welcome the opportunity to try out new things.
In this session teachers created posters as a visual reminder to keep themselves in the growth mindset year long. They were instructed by Principal Andrea Lomber and Assistant Principal Julie Kimmel-Gorman. A third instructor, Machell Jones a Reading AIS Teacher, also assisted in the training.
On day two, teachers explored module components of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, NYSED re-designed its assessment program to measure what students know and can do relative to the grade-level CCSS. Specific changes to the Grades 3-8 ELA and math tests include increases in rigor, focus on text and depth of math.
This training focused on modeling lessons, learning to teach the common core standards, and understanding consistent vocabulary. “Getting all grades together gives teachers a chance to see how the new standards evolve through the grade levels,” said Kimmel-Gorman.
On the third day of training teachers discussed strategies to get students to become better readers. Teachers in the Pre-K to second grade group presented on how to introduce letters using sounds, and how consonants are said with a closed mouth. In the grade three to five group, there was small group discussion on independent reading and setting reading goals.
Elementary teachers see students transition from learning to read, to more about reading to learn. Ideally by third grade, teachers would like to see students read 30 minutes daily.
Teachers expressed that the workshop made them realize what they were missing in their classroom, and that the trainings equipped them with new information. “It’s invigorating to see how to make improvements, make changes and make things better for our students,” said Martha Heise, fourth grade Special Education Teacher.
On the last day of training, all Pre-K to fifth grade teachers reconvened in the cafeteria. Teachers in the workshop learned from each other, and felt that this was an exciting time in education. The modules learned in the workshops will be taught in the classroom come September.
“We want teachers to feel knowledgeable, confident and successfully prepared to implement the common core when the school year starts,” said Kimmel-Gorman.
Previously in June, all teachers and teacher assistants from the building attended the Singapore Math training. Educators worked with the new Math Modules put out by NYS that the district is adopting.
The Singapore Math method focuses on building problem-solving skills and an in-depth understanding of essential math skills. The method uses a three-step learning model; it moves from the concrete to visual representation and then on to the more abstract, such as solving written equations.
Students are taught not only how to do something, but also why it works.