PAHLI and the work ahead

It’s August 20th. I guess that’s all I have to say about that.

Summer Days
photoFor me, it’s been an incredibly balanced summer. I’ve had lots of time for relaxation, both solitary and social. I’ve been to a lake in New Hampshire and to Boston on the 4th of July. I hosted my cousins (and their dogs and their spouses) for a long weekend. I listened to NPR in my hammock. I tried upright paddle boarding, twice. I reconnected with old friends. I made the local loop of county fairs and took the ice bucket challenge. I’m ready to get back to school. In between these adventures, I was also able to do the work that a teacher can only do in the summer. I organized my files, my desk drawers and my classroom. I dug into the data from the state test scores. I got back to connecting with my colleagues around the country on Twitter. I went to technology workshops. I planned. I was fully present for two days of professional development on blended learning. And for the first time in six months, I’m taking a minute to write down some thoughts and goals for the coming year. I’m ready to get back to school.

A Transition
Last year I spent a lot of energy preparing for, implementing and evaluating a flipped algebra 1 class. There were clearly benefits and challenges. Ultimately the year did not go exactly as I’d envisioned, but I was able to accumulate some resources and to identify specific areas for improvement. Midway through the year, when I heard that our district administration was looking for teachers to explore a different type of blended learning, I was immediately intrigued. I spent much of the spring semester learning about the station/rotation approach. I wasn’t immediately sold on it, but it did seem to address many of the challenges I had faced with the flipped classroom. In the end, I signed on to pilot the station/rotation model with six other high school teachers and four middle school teachers from my district. Most of us are math teachers, but there is one applied level history teacher and one multilevel business teacher as well. We are working with a consulting firm called Dellicker Strategies. Dellicker has several other clients using this approach across the Commonwealth, but still it is fairly new and there are not a lot of data to support or refute its success. Our pilot is part of the Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Initiative (PAHLI) and will last one year.

I will teach three sections of algebra 1. One section I will teach on my own; the other two sections will be co-taught with special educators. Each section of the class currently has 21 students. This number may change. The classes will be subdivided into three groups. The groups maybe heterogeneous or homogeneous and the groupings will change as needed. The room will be set up in three stations: a teacher led station, a collaborative station, and an independent station. Students will spend 20 minutes at each station before groups rotate. They will visit two stations each day, and pick up the third station at the beginning of the following day.

Next Up
My goal in the next few days is to put together a second post with more information about the work I envision at each station. I’m also just about planned through the first unit of the course (three weeks) so I will include some detail specific to those plans, mostly as a record for myself but also for other teachers to critique, edit and share if they’re so inclined.

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