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EL National Conference – October 23 to October 26

Jason Meserve
October 22-26
E.L. National Conference
Atlanta, Georgia

What concepts and ideas did I find most interesting?

Day 1: Full day Science slice. It was reinvigorating to go through the process of learning an expedition from the perspective of the student. It has been quite a while since I wasn’t doing one as a teacher. Seeing how the material was introduced, how it was scaffolded, how it was enriched by experts, and how it was wrapped up was a great experience. It really gave me a chance to see the importance of each step of an expedition, and how essential it is to the overall quality of the expedition. I learned a lot from this process, and was by far the highlight of the entire conference. Granted, we did a 12 week expedition in 8 hours, but seeing this process from beginning to end was of great value to me.

Day 2: Science slice debrief. This was a follow-up to the previous days science lesson, but getting a chance to see how it was planned and scaffolded was a great 2 hours. They unfolded everything that we had done the day before, and got to discuss and ask questions about proper planning. Scaffolding the learning correctly, and differentiating correctly, is a huge part of doing an expedition well.

CCSS and BBK’s. I was interested to learn a new twist on an old reading strategy. “Close” reading is just a more fundamental way to approach reading any text within a class, and getting the most learning you can from the material. The entire process revolves around learning major vocabulary, and reading for high level understanding. Both of these things have been personal goals of mine the last few years. I have already tried this process once with my students, and while it is still a work in progress, I liked how the students work reflected improvement as a result of this strategy.

Day 3: In my leadership class, I was both interested and frustrated. We spent a large amount of time discussing how to do high quality science labs based on true inquiry, but none of the other teachers really had an answer to this problem. I’m glad to hear that I am not the only one who struggles with this, but was a bit frustrated that I did not get any ideas or tricks to improve this in my classroom.

In the session Staying Fit the E.L. Way, I got to attend this session with the other BMS teacher. I was extremely impressed by the way the teachers presenting had incorporated physical fitness and general movement into their school. It got me thinking about how our school has a wellness team, and the 5210 program, but are missing a whole school physical fitness idea to take these things to the next level. They had a variety of creative ways they incorporated this into the entire school culture.

Overall, my goal was to attend as many science based master classes as possible, and learn as many new techniques as possible. I feel I got all that accomplished, and more. I got to see how to plan a really hands-on and in-depth expedition all the way through from beginning to end, and got to go to a large number of master classes focused on the NGSS, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and higher quality learning. It was a great 4 day experience.

How will you incorporate what you learned into your professional practice?

First will be expedition planning. Every year, one of the expeditions our house does is based in Science. I have been in charge of roughly 8-10 expeditions during my 9 years at BMS, but I feel what I learned about scaffolding expeditions in Atlanta will easily improve the quality of my next Science led expedition. After spending 10 hours in 2 days looking at how an expedition is set-up, and how the teacher has to plan this, I feel that my next expedition will be improved over my previous efforts. I got a lot from this session, and my students will get a better expedition experience from it.

Two of the sessions I attended revolved about how to implement the new NGSS more effectively. Since these will be implemented soon, it was a benefit to me to actually get more exposure to them, and strategies other teachers have already used to make the transition easier. I look forward to learning more about this as time goes on, and utilize some of these strategies to improve my class instruction.

Other sessions I attended were focused on vocabulary, reading comprehension, and enriched learning experiences. I learned quite a few things in these sessions I can use right away in the classroom. These will benefit my students right away, and can improve the quality of my classes from now on. I will continue to research these strategies, and use the materials given to me through the EL Commons website to improve what I already do in the classroom.

Overall, I attended a lot of master classes and learned a variety of strategies and online resources to help me get better as a teacher. I am looking forward to trying out as many of these ideas as I can, and seeing the difference it can make in my students learning. I am glad I got to attend this conference, and be able to share some of the things I learned not only on this site, but to the BMS staff as well. The EL National Conference is always a great learning experience for the teachers!

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