Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Now that I'm done whining...

let me talk about the work we're doing here.

Confratute is a 5-day professional development workshop about the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, which was developed by Joe Renzulli on the theory that a lot of what has traditionally been offered to identified gifted kids could really benefit most or all kids. There are a lot of pieces to it, but you basically collect a lot of information about what gets each child fired up, how they like to learn, how they like to show what they've learned, etc. Then you find ways to provide enrichment experiences for all kids (guest speakers, field trips, etc.), and then build on those with the kids who are particularly interested. Kids who already know all or most of the material in a given unit can be "compacted out" of that material - provided with accelerated materials to learn the parts they don't know, and then helped to develop in-depth independent interest-based projects that they can complete during the time that the rest of the class is spending on that unit. Teachers can do in-class differentiation to keep each child moving ahead from what they already know about a topic, and to create challenging assignments that take into account each child's interests and strengths. And so on.

Throughout the week, we attend several "strands," which are basically mini-courses. The strands meet every day for a few hours. There are also shorter, sometimes single-day, special topics. In the mornings, I'm taking a three-day special topics class on robotics. Then, I spend a couple of hours with my two colleagues in a strand about differentiation. We have a lunch break, and then I go to an afternoon strand on motivating underachievers. After another short break (long enough to walk to Starbucks and back, thank goodness), I'm taking a mini-strand on iMovie. And then there's dinner, followed by arts presentations, keynote speakers, and social events. Each day is a full day.

I have a lot to share about what I am learning, but I'm working at a public computer with a "carnival" event going on behind me and my materials upstairs in my dorm room. Another day.

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