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  • Writer's pictureDeb Stetson

We THE PEOPLE...absolutely need SMPs

Welcome into my think space where Tigger, the Constitution, the Education Code, Diana Ceja, Gholdy Muhammed and Theresa Wills connect. [I wonder if I scared you or enticed you there.]

Before I get to a couple ideas, first let me recognize and honor your energy and time in working with kids, this year of all years. It's been hard-to-the-hard-power for teachers, kids and their grownups to cope while teaching and learning. I know so many of you have devoted many many hours learning and designing and building lessons to connect with kids--probably 6 times the amount of prep time than before. We're still learning and searching for how to invite and see participation and engagement virtually. We have holes in our hearts missing the feelings and connections with our kids, and they with each other. As professionals, we are taking a hard look at ourselves and our systems. It isn't working, and hasn't been working for every kid. About now, you may be thinking... this is Deb writing this?

Yes this is me. I have been listening to you. I have been to a couple classes, and I see you. I hear you. I see how soul crushing it is when kids aren't talking and aren't turning on cameras--for you and for them. And I know why they aren't--not complaining or blaming--just saying that it's different. And I have heard parents talking about how it feels for their kids. Hmm, think, think, think. [Invoke Winnie the Pooh here.]

As Kanga, Roo's Mom, might say, we are at a point of inflexion, a crossing [so yes I spelled it that way on purpose.] Actually each of us is at our own point of inflexion, and together we have a chance to make our separate points of inflexion be a larger point of inflexion.

I am seeing how critical it is that our kids need to feel that THEY ARE THE PEOPLE. They need the tools to ferret out truths in their own lives and in the world, tools to become sheroes and heroes of their own stories.

But, we have all this curriculum...and we can't engage them [Cue Eeyore.]

Yes this is me [Tigger is back]. How would it be if the following statement was in OUR state education code?

What would be the implications of this statement if educators were free to choose how to go about offering opportunities for each child to develop her/his full potential?

Good news! THIS IS OUR California Education Code Section, 33080. And thank you to Diana Ceja @imathination (mathematician, administrator, fellow mathematics project leader, Past President of TODOS) for teaching me that in her presentation, "Creating Community Out of Chaos" for CMC South. So as you are choosing content and persevering in creating opportunities for students to engage in tasks, think about how that task connects to each kid's potential, about what you can do to give choice and voice to kids, about the ways they can engage.

Deb's 1st Connection of Ideas: What if we taught kids to use the SMP's to advocate for themselves and for others?

The most important SMP's that students need are the abilities to be strategic sense-makers (SMP 1) and to see and construct viable arguments and critique and understand the reasoning of others (SMP 3). PEOPLE have to understand other's viewpoints, and critique arguments, and make arguments. And if we persist at making sense of situations, and do so with some collaborative skills, we'll be better at understanding other's ideas as we go.

Deb's 2nd Connection of Ideas: Adopt other ways to have students engage with each other--I know you are doing this! And so, we are looking for ways to learn what students are thinking without hearing or seeing them, or ways to build the likelihood that they'll turn on their mics and share ideas. Check out Theresa Wills website and the links below for some of her work. She is a college math-ed teacher and has been teaching teachers and kids virtually for 10 years--so she's ahead of us on the learning curve. She gets into K-12 classrooms weekly AND she is sharing for free. She uses Google Slides and audio from Collaborate when she teaches--no cameras on. She uses what we have been working to integrate into our classrooms for the last few years, but she does it virtually-- 5 Practices of Orchestrating Productive Discussions, routines like Which One Doesn't Belong (WODB), teaching kids how to interact online, creating safe spaces and tools for them. She has google slides templates for you to download and fill in. Hope this gives you another option for how you can get your students to be strategic sense makers, and advocate for themselves and others!

Ta-ta for now! Or TTFN! [As Tigger would say!]

Wills' Remote Version of Routines: WODB routine on video (download slides from her templates)

Wills' Remote Versions of Routines: Before and After routine (this is the short video, there is a 12 minute version available too, and slides)

Wills' Presentation on YouTube: Break Out Rooms

Wills' Remote versions of Routines: Notice and Wonder (see longer video of it in action and download slides)

Wills' Remote Version of Routines: Number Talk routine (video and slides)

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