Published : Thursday, March 6, 2014 | 1:17 AM
Both on campus and off, MJS teachers spent Monday, March 3 collaborating, creating, reflecting and strategizing – all to improve student learning. One group attended the Southern Regional Meeting for CAIS schools held at Campbell Hall, which offered many workshops and opportunities for teachers from all over Southern California to share ideas, knowledge and expertise. Another group stayed on campus for a mini-conference titled “ Hello My Name is Change” that addressed strategies to best meet the needs of 21st century students.
“Hello My Name is Change” took teachers through three hands-on sessions focused on new ideas in education such as Deeper Learning and Maker Education and how to purposefully implement them into lesson plans and classroom dynamics. The opening session, which included a viewing of the video “Austin’s Butterfly,” covered deeper learning concepts such as active engagement and the role of inspiration, confidence and intrinsic motivation in the student learning experience. In another session titled “Dive into Deeper Learning” teachers engaged in a timed menu planning exercise that challenged participants to use many of the skills associated with deeper learning including problem-solving, evaluation and creativity. The activity not only provided an example of how to incorporate deeper learning into lesson plans with small adjustments, but also how to create an atmosphere of “academic mindset” a core component of deeper learning that promotes growth, success, belonging and relevance in the student learning experience.
A second session was an opportunity for collaboration and idea sharing as it directly focused on examples of how to boost the lesson plans with learning resources such as Kagan Structures, differentiation strategies and technology. Teachers were challenged to think about what they desired to improve or enhance in their existing lesson plans and even wore motivational nametags such as “Outta the box” and “Kagan Princess.” Following lunch teachers got creative in a Maker Movement session. The Maker Movement with its focus on applying practical skills in creative ways to encourage invention challenges teachers to create an environment that inspires this sort of learning. A “Cardboard Challenge” activity took “out of the box” thinking to a new level as grade level groups worked together to turn ordinary cardboard boxes with a little tape and a lot of ingenuity into a game that provided a fun way to learn a concept in math, science or any subject. From a French lesson ring toss to a trip to the zoo wildlife board game, teachers not only had fun with the concept but also witnessed its potential.
The day ended with a great deal of positive energy and enthusiasm for concepts explored and finding ways on how to bring purposeful innovation and change to the student learning experience. A quote shared with the group from a letter Albert Einstein wrote to his son summed up why this this is important. “ That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that time passes.” Ask any MJS teacher and they will say we wish to lead the students to this place.
Mayfield Junior School, 405 South Euclid Ave., Pasadena, (626) 796-2774 or visit www.mayfieldjs.org.