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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What Does the Research Say: Single-Focus or Multi-Focus?

A debate about single-focus instruction versus multi-focus instruction arises now and then at the elementary school.

For example, I was never a fan of the Every Day Math Program, because students had to switch their focus too often. One chapter typically had a multi-focus and not enough depth, in my opinion, for mastery.

Now with program attention, teachers are discussing whether same students can learn three different math concepts, skills, or knowledge points in a singular day or is it better to focus on one skill, concept, or knowledge point with depth. I know as a learner, I like to reach greater depth with a singular concept before I try to learn the next concept. As a teacher I prefer to teach concept, skill, and/or knowledge point with depth and then at the end of the unit integrate past concepts, knowledge points, and skills for a rich synergy of content taught.

Last night a colleague confirmed my approach when she told me the story of how their RTI approach focused on the same concept and learning as the core teaching time. She said that the progress for individual students was terrific.

This is a topic I'd like to research more with regard to cognitive science and research. What do cognitive scientists and the research have to say about this. I want to know.

I think this Saul Khan video may shed some light on the topic so I plan to watch it in the morning when I have a fresh brain.

ECET2-MA2016: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I keep thinking back to ECET2-MA2016, and despite the somewhat discouraging political/organizational realities of school life, what I learned that day is positively impacting my teaching.

I had so much fun using GoNoodle with the students. I started with the same pattern dance/song that Audrey and Victor shared on Saturday.

I also did a lot of coaching in math and really thought about Jose's inspirational talk and message as I coached each child. It's so rewarding to be able to help children grow with confidence and care. And as Jose reminded us, when we treat them well, they respond in like.

Further, I reached out to family members for a bit of support with regard to current learning goals, and since we work as a team, they were quick to write back a few responses and a correction to help the whole team of family members, students, and teachers.

Though feeling somewhat "shackled" by mandates, when I'm in the classroom working with my grade-level colleagues, children, and family members, that ECET2-MA2016 spirit reigns and that's valuable.
These respectful and inspiring ECET2 values definitely empower what we can do to serve and teach children well. 

Direction: Freedom and Happiness

In light of recent events, I'll move towards freedom.

ECET2-MA2016 was a move towards freedom as the event brought earnest, dedicated educators together and elevated and celebrated what we can do for children.

Reading, research, creating, writing, and collaborating are all freeing activities--activities that serve to better what we can do individually and collectively.

Too tight, managed protocols may limit freedom, but might be necessary. I will complete those as necessary, but not choose those when I have choice. Instead I'll choose avenues towards greater freedom, understanding, working together, and learning.

How does this impact my path?

Scope and Sequence
I will follow this as I have been told to do this. I want to keep my job and I will not be insubordinate, so I will follow the plan as directed.

Professional Learning
I will respectfully take part in mandated professional learning. I will also continue to choose wonderful professional learning events that inspire my teaching craft and potential.

I will seek to work with collaborative groups that help all of us do a better job and serve children well. Currently those groups include my specific and broad grade-level teams, local union work, DESE's Teacher Advisory Cabinet, MTA's Professional Learning Committee, ECET2 activity, SEL Research Project, and affiliations with curriculum groups and associations.

Healthy, Joyful Activity
I always say it, but I don't always do it but "All work and no play makes dull teachers," so I'll look to build up the joy and healthy activity in my life.

I'll seek ways to contribute and build community at home and at school. Every day I teach with a wonderful group of students and colleagues, so I'll work with them to empower what we can do together to teach and learn well.

I want to be a positive member of the learning/teaching community. The "shackles" I feel are there, but I will work to remove those through greater direction towards freedom and happiness. Onward.