Lesson Transformation in CISD Continues
As the conversations centered around high stakes testing continue, so does Coppell ISD’s efforts to transform traditional instruction. “If we are to take advantage of the opportunity that follows this ongoing debate about standardized testing, we must be ready to demonstrate that we have moved away from the recitation and memorization of content and embrace a new pedagogy that engages students in relevant learning activities,” said Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Turner. The belief is that students can do so much more and want to be allowed to synthesize content and create examples of mastery using the tools that are part of their everyday lives. Here are a few outstanding examples from the district’s latest group of SuperTeachers.
Pam Koch – Austin Elementary
Mrs. Koch engaged her classroom of special needs children to learn math skills by teaching her students how to create vokis and having them use the vokis to teach a math lesson to other students. She also taught a cluster of 1st grade children how to create vokis as part of their enrichment time. Mrs. Koch is not only using technology to engage children with special needs, but she is teaching them skills that allow them to keep up with their peers' skills in using technology.
Kelsey Donohue – Denton Creek Elementary
During Daily 5, Mrs. Donohue constantly uses technology to engage her students. Students are using different types of technology including devices brought from home. Her classroom is organized around technology, and the students know the routines and procedures for use. Each student is actively and independently involved in learning. iPod touches are used to record oral reading (fluency checks), for writing (Story Kit App), and to create Thinking Maps before, during and after reading (Idea Sketch App). She also integrates a variety of websites including Tween Tribute (allows students to comment on published articles) and Word Cloud to highlight important information as they read. Students have choice and work at their own pace.
Gloria Yates - Town Center Elementary
Mrs. Yates taught a lesson on how to use similes. She incorporated music as a way to motivate her students and had students working collaboratively in stations that reflected using similes in their writing. The stations included using QR codes and iTouches to help identify literal and non-literal phrases, using the SMARTBoard to do a matching activity where students took turns identifying similes and making their own, and a brainpop jr. station where students watched a brainpop on similes and then reflected on the video in their journals. Mrs. Yates worked with a small group of students to create a tree map of their thoughts on how they would use similes to describe themselves. The students took those ideas and created an electronic book to post on their Google site.
Julie McCullough - Town Center Elementary
Ms. McCullough worked with her students in small reading groups and incorporated the Daily 5 Model in her classroom. She had self-directed students working collaboratively in groups around the classroom. Some of the students were using iPads and iTouches in order to work on word work skills, while others were using Tumblebooks on the PC stations in order to work on fluency and comprehension as they listened to stories and followed along. There were other students who worked on their writing prompt and used higher level thinking to talk about how they would create a type of toy through the engineering process. As her students worked in small groups, Ms. McCullough facilitated her reading group and asked critical thinking questions about the story and vocabulary as the students read.
Steven Fex - CHS
Mr. Fex’s classes recently studied the industrialization and urbanization of the United States during the late 19th century. To enhance understanding of key concepts and bring the vocabulary alive (tough to understand terms such as horizontal or vertical integration), they first discussed the rise of industry and big business and the great leaders in business during this time.
Next, the students created their own corporations to tie concepts and terms into practical application. They researched all the elements that go into developing a company, looking at population, unemployment rates, location, etc. Students created Google Docs with their findings and created corporate charters and business plans for their companies. Students stated this was the first time they understood the connection between learning about the past and how it affects life and the economy of the present-day United States. They were excited to understand how to read stock market information and are looking forward to delving more deeply into macroeconomics when they take economics next year as seniors.
Jodie Deinhammer - CHS
Ms. Deinhammer’s Anatomy and Physiology students participated in an online competition sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to design and develop inexpensive lab activities that can be conducted in economically challenged elementary schools across the country. The best projects will be published in an online NIH publication shared nationally. In addition, these students' projects will be compiled in an online CISD lab manual that will be accessible by all elementary teachers in the district.
Kim Wootton - NTH@C
In support of the First Lady's "Let's Move” initiative to promote youth health, the learners in Mrs. Wootton's Anatomy and Physiology class were challenged to create teen health books that tie together organic chemistry, cell structure and function, as well as digestion and nutrition. The learners were required to publish the books using any "real" resource. Some decided to put their books up for sale on Amazon and are now awaiting royalty checks. All books were judged by a panel. Winners were recognized at a book signing party.
Norrie Brassfield – NTH@C
Spanish 2 and Spanish 5 students were involved in a project entitled, "Ir de Compras" or "Going Shopping." The Spanish 2 students were presented with a real world challenge of visiting La Gran Plaza in Fort Worth (an authentic, Hispanic-themed mall) where they were asked to complete a "scavenger hunt" to find certain information (speaking only in Spanish) from store owners at the mall. Spanish 5 students were assigned to each small group of learners to assist them, if needed, with more difficult Spanish conversations and to evaluate their attempts at speaking Spanish. The upcoming trip kept all students actively engaged in the scaffolding activities that were used to prepare them. They created dialogues and practiced conversations for speaking to store owners, ordering food and asking directions. They utilized LingtLanguage.com as a tool for recording conversations. They explored the La Gran Plaza mall website map to learn Spanish vocabulary for the names of different types of stores and to familiarize themselves with what they would see and do there. To incorporate a service component, learners donated a small amount of money to purchase Mexican candies to fill stockings that were donated to the CCA food bank for distribution to needy families at Christmas. Learner self-reflections after the trip became another source of student engagement as they discussed their perceptions and new realizations. Mrs. Brassfield worked closely with the mall management to organize the scavenger hunt, and is hopeful that this community connection will lead to further opportunities for her students to have authentic experiences in developing their Spanish language ability.