Half of the summer is over already. I've spent the last few weeks vegetating---padding around in my pajamas all day, watching junky television, and inhaling a pile of books. Beginning this next week, I am going to have to think about the work at hand...
One book I definitely recommend is Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry. It's the story of two mirror-image twins, is set in London, and is just as thought-provoking as her earlier novel The Time Traveler's Wife.
Another story I thoroughly enjoyed was Jodi Piccoult's Handle with Care. The research that the author always does in writing her books is clearly evident. Certainly not a "happily ever after" story (what realistic tale is ?), the surprising twists (even at the very end) make it a heartwrenching story that causes the reader to wonder, 'What would I do under the same circumstances?'
This past year, my district began having teachers look seriously at data, stdent by student. Too often, educators have such a packed day; there is no time to be reflective. However, this next year we are going to be examining student data in a very methodical way. Pretests, interventive strategies, and posttests...making lists of proficient students and those who fall short of the mark...carving out time to assist struggling learners in creative ways...I am truly looking forward to DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Data).
Carefully looking at student progress in the classroom and with colleagues, as well as having students graph their data, is empowering.
Earlier this spring I attended the National Writing Project's Urban Site conference in Portland, Oregon. It was an incredible conference. We visited one elementary school which does amazing things with very little technology. (They do more with post-it notes and a chalkboard than many teachers do with a Smartboard!) Their teacher's lounge was wall-to-wall data.
Also during the spring I went to the NEA conference in St. Louis. A workshop on "data dens" was led by a St. Charles district (Francis Howell or Fort Zumwalt). Unfortunately, I was not able to attend that session, but my colleague did, and she was quite energized about it.
In the next month, I will be setting up my third grade class. I will be helping my principal set up our own "data den." And I'll be doing a lot of thinking about what I can do to best facilitate learning in my classroom...
Anyone who has suggestions (or even photos of their data walls), I would appreciate if you would send them my way. And for those who still have some summer left, enjoy!