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New Teacher Orientation: What I Learned
It’s been a busy week for me! I finally have some time to go through everything I’ve learned this past week. There are a lot of programs that this district uses that I’m not so familiar with, so now it’s reflection time! I need some grasp of these things before the students come next week. I’ve taken notes throughout the week to help me with this process. If you’ve used any of these programs before, please let me know what you think! Okay, here we go…
What I Learned
Haiku (or Powerschool Learning)
Haiku (now called Powerschool Learning) is a classroom website management system. I’ve only used Google Classroom, Google Sites, and Weebly before for my classes. Haiku combines the best of all three other sites. You can create a website with various pages, link to various assignments that students can turn in (it syncs well with Google apps), and more! One feature I like is the built in calendar and activities page, so I can add in homework, tests, or other important dates. I still have to work on setting up my pages, so that will be a project for this week.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)
AVID is a program to help struggling students succeed. It is mostly for “in-the-middle” students who just need some extra help. It’s a program that works on organization, note-taking, group-work, and other necessary skills in order to be college ready.
In order for students to participate in this program (at least within this district), students must be recommended by a teacher. They then need to fill out an application that includes an essay and interview. The AVID team looks at the student’s GPA, essay, interview, and other factors to decide if this student is a good fit for the program.
There are also some school-wide type activities that can benefit all students, even students that are not part of the program. These include Cornell Notes, Costa’s Level of Thinking, Learning Logs, One-Pagers, AVID Weekly readings, and Seminars for discussions.
One-Pagers about your dream vacation.
Quantum Learning is another program that strives to help students succeed. This one is geared towards all students, and it is based on scientific data on how the brain works. There are four system components: Foundation, Atmosphere, Environment, and Design and Delivery. Foundation is an aligned community of learners and how we interact together. Atmosphere is a positive, respectful emotional climate that allows students to feel safe to take cognitive risks. Environment is the physical space that supports classroom culture and enhances learning. And Design and Delivery is the structure and facilitation for meaningful learning.
There are also The 8 Keys of Excellence: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose, This is It, Commitment, Ownership, Flexibility, and Balance. Each one of these has a motion to go with it to help students remember.
Differentiation is not a new topic for me, but there is always more to learn about this topic. There are many different ways to differentiate a lesson: through content, process, or assessment. Some strategies to help with differentiation include interest surveys, videos, anchor charts, graphic organizers, journals/learning logs, questioning, and varied homework or assignments.
Connected Math Program (CMP)
CMP is a math curriculum that utilizes inquiry, problem-solving, and group-work in order for students to understand difficult math concepts. I have used parts of this curriculum before, but I never had full training on it. We discussed how important group-work and collaboration is for this program, and we looked at how to encourage collaboration in the classroom through group norms, group roles, and beginning-of-the-year activities.
The three main components of each CMP lesson are Launch-Explore-Summary. Launch is the “hook” to get students interested in the lesson. This could be a video or a connection. Explore is the inquiry, group-work portion. Summary is when the class discusses what happened and connects it to the essential question or standard for the lesson.
Finally, we looked at growth mindset. Many students form a hatred for math because they have a fixed mindset, and it is important to teach students that mistakes are beneficial and help you learn and grow. Mistakes do not equal bad!
More books, because teachers love reading! Bringing Words to Life FOCUS Top 20 Teens: Discovering the Best-Kept Thinking, Learning & Communicating Secrets of Successful Teenagers
Well, that’s it for now. A lot of information in a short amount of time. As the year goes on, I hope to learn more in-depth information about each of these topics. Now it’s time for me to find the right material/method for hanging up posters in my classroom! Welcome back to school to all the teachers out there!
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