So these past two weeks have been WAY busier than I had planned. All I know is that I am still super excited about what next year has in store curriculum wise.

I know that the rage right now is STEM, 21st century skills, PBL, Flipped classroom, Standards based grading and tech integration. This is all great but we all know it really, all of it really, hinges on having a teacher who cares about kids and knows their content. If you have that, learning will happen. I bet most of us who are on here, doing blogs, heavy into Twitter for PD were taught the old way and we turned out ok. Please know I am not saying that we don’t need to change, just that sometimes, the old ways do work.

As for next year in my classroom, I am working on adding RIGOR to my curriculum. How do you plan to do that you may wonder. The plan is three fold if you will (this is a very rough draft): 1) Use more PBL methodology throughout the curriculum, 2) be more intentional with the 21st Century Skills (soft skills) and 3) make them use the technology for more than what they have before.

Currently, my class is a blended learning environment which is working out awesomely (if that is a word??). My administration is entirely backing my efforts and is pushing to expand my model out in the school. This model will allow for more 21st century skills such as collaboration. I want to set the kids in groups that will stay for a nine weeks so they have to learn how to work together to collaborate, critically think, be creative in problem solving, communicate with each other and other groups and lastly, to compromise. I will be focusing on those skills next year in a much more intentional manner. The focus of learning will, I hope, come from the students taking ownership of the topic, asking the relevant questions, the small groups taking off in directions that interest them in regards to the topic. With the help of the technology, I should be able to better facilitate that independence.

Using the PBL methodology next year. I will be working to introduce it and see how it goes. Currently, the plan is to work one or two in a nine weeks period and go from there. I have not done a PBL before so I am just going to dip my toe in the PBL pool to see how the water feels. I am not worried about the kids, I just do not want to rush out a poorly constructed PBL unit and have it blow up in my face. The kids will be fine!

Tech integration for next year. They will be using Edmodo as the backbone of the group. I plan to use google docs, Khan Academy, Sophia if possible, Socrative, Twitter in the class, Remind101 and a host of other tech. I know that BYOD is here to stay in my district and my students will be logged in, registered and ready to roll by the end of the first week. This year, I have reduced my paper consumption by almost 90% and next year, I would like to reduce it even further.

The whole plan is to see the 8th grade science curriculum through the lens of climate change. To use an elementary school idea of a thematic unit, but to go big with it, a year long thematice unit. Every unit will have at least this question, how does this help you understand climate change? STEM will be worked in every nine weeks with at least one engineering project (which don’t have to be huge, just incorporate the basic principles). The first day of school next year, my classes will begin with a STEM activity and then revisit it at the end of the first nine weeks to redesign for a better project.

Anyways, that’s my rough plan for integrating more RIGOR into the plan. We’ll see what happens.

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