What an honor it was to work at Green Hills School in Green Township, NJ again this week! This amazing K-8 school is filled with inquisitive students and teachers who are definitely 21st century learners!
This week, author Frank Serafini and I worked with teachers and students in different classrooms on the same day. Frank modeled mini lessons, and I worked with stations and small group instruction. Frank is helping teachers with deeper questioning and stepping out of the way to have students discuss and share their thinking. My assignment is to help develop structures for independent learning (through independent reading and stations) and differentiation in small groups. A third consulting group, Thinking at Every Desk, is sharing an innovative tool called ThinkBlocks and the DSRP Method for teaching thinking skills with this school, too.
I shared ideas for social studies stations in middle school using a project-based approach around the big ideas of the impact of religion and beliefs on a civilization, the impact of geography on a civilization, and we are who we are because of where we came from (legacy). As students prepare for writing a paper comparing two civilizations, they might use stations several days a week for about 20 minutes each time. Stations will be clustered around small bits like note-taking, visuals, primary sources, and Venn diagrams.
I also taught a small group lesson with middle-school students in a language arts classroom to help with test prep. We approached a test passage in a playful way, deconstructing the pieces and then putting them back together. Looking at the text structure of a test passage (and at the test as genre) was very helpful and gave students confidence.
Technology abounds in this building! This week I saw iPads in action at research stations in 2nd grade, teachers and kids using Smart Boards for lessons in math and literacy, and even the new 360 degree camera for the iPhone at a round table discussion. A special thanks to visionary leader, John Nittolo, Principal and Superintendent at this outstanding school! Can’t wait to see what’s happening next time I work here.