I'm back and Professional Development

Hello fellow teachers and bloggers after a very long hiatus I am BACK! I had to step away for a while because the past few months have just been beyond rough. In addition to the normal stresses of beginning a new school year, crazy changes and a thoroughly rambunctious group of third grade "darlings" {yeah, just a bit of sarcasm} have had me in the pits. Didn't have anything nice to say so I thought it best to retreat. I've decided that this year is a test of my ability to remain optimistic, strong and focused. I intend to do all three so without further ado onto the positive...

The past two days have been fall break for my students and professional development for me. My school is a Thinking Maps School. We use thinking maps at all grade levels and have implemented their use in our lesson plans in every subject. This is our second  year using Thinking maps and I really really like using them!

Using thinking maps reinforces higher order thinking skills, and helps students organize and share their thinking in meaningful ways. The professional development we had today and Friday takes Thinking maps to another level with a program called Thinking Maps: Write from the Beginning and Beyond.


I really enjoyed the training although in the back of my mind I kept thinking of things I could be doing in my classroom {don't we all think that?!!}. The focus of our sessions was how to incorporate thinking maps into our writing instruction with a routine geared towards each genre and type of writing. What I liked most about this training was the grade specific goals, the rubrics, and the routine for expository writing. I am so excited to begin this with my students because thinking maps have already greatly improved the quality of their writing.

Some highlights from the training:
-Specific criteria for expository writing including number of sentences or paragraphs required at each grade level
-the difference between analytic improvement rubrics vs. holistic rubrics
-the thinking map used should be driven by the purpose for writing {ex. writing to explain parts begins with a brace and then turns into a tree map}
-focused modeled writing should be done with students at least 3 days per week
-class proficiency reports not only inform areas of strength and need for improvement but also possible mini-lessons
-orally rehearsing in pairs provides opportunities to use their thinking map to get their piece flowing

My team has already begun discussing how we will implement this program in our writing. One aspect we all agreed upon was the necessity to integrate writing with the content areas. I will be back to share our implementation and also intend to do a full thinking maps post.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comment at Teach on a Limb! I am anxious to bring Thinking Maps to our whole school. I absolutely love it and can't wait to get teachers excited about it. I look forward to hearing more about your Write from the Beginning experience :)

    Teach on a Limb