I recently attended the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted’s (WAETAG) annual conference. Attendees of the conference come from all around the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest. While it rained outside, my mind was showered with ideas and reflection inside and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from my district, Washington State ELA Fellows, and previous attendees from other professional learning experiences.
I had the wonderful opportunity of presenting two sessions during the conference. On Friday, I presented, “Championing Deep Engagement Through Moving Discussions.” The following is a description of the session: Students experiencing high expectations, deep engagement, and strong instruction are more likely to be successful in school. Increasing the number of opportunities to be deeply engaged in classroom discussion activities extends the academic growth beyond that of a typical school year. In this interactive session, participants will engage in physical movement activities paired with explicit discussion strategies they can use to move students beyond compliance into deep engagement promoting critical thinking. I specifically focused on the following strategies and protocols: Think Trix, Causal Model, Questioning Roles, World Cafe, Gallery Walk, Pair-to-Square, and Four Corner Tap In. I have included some of these strategies and protocols in previous posts, and I hope to address them in future posts.
On Saturday, I presented, “Rolling Critical Thinking Past the ‘Static-Sphere.'” The following is a description of this session: Providing a foundation of critical thinking skills moves students from surface level to higher-order thinking narrowing opportunity gaps. Learning experiences are challenged and enriched when students question assumptions, reason through logic with supporting evidence, and seek out diversity of thought and collaboration amongst those with differing points of view. In this interactive session, participants will roll the critical thinking dice challenging their own assumptions and opening doors to practices that move the critical thinking needle. In this session, I the strategies and protocols I specifically focused included: Annotated Gallery Walk, Give One/Get One, Conver-Stations, Critical Thinking Cubes-Group, Critical Thinking Cubes-Individual, Quick Write, and Cognitive Rigor Matrix Cubes. Just like I mentioned before, I plan on addressing some of these topics in future posts.
The conference is a great conference to attend regardless if attendees have talented and gifted students in the classroom as any reflection on teaching practices is essential for teacher improvement and student success.