Mr. Bluebird, when I got home today, asked me if this was finally the last in-service of the summer (alas, no.) "It seems like that's all your doing," he commented, and in a way, he's right. It does seem like it's all I've been doing, and if he thinks it's bad this year, wait until next year when STEM rolls down to 7th grade and I have to spend even more time taking in-services than I do this summer.
When I actually sit down and look at the time that Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Angora, and I have put into our curriculum for the upcoming year - together and on our own - it's quite a bit of time. And I suppose the thing that surprises most people is that we don't just recycle our lessons or procedures from year to year. Granted, we do look at our old lessons to see what we did (and how long it took, and the notes we have on them about changes we'd make in the future), but we certainly change things a bit.
And this year it looks like we're changing quite a bit.
We're implementing science notebooks in all our classes this year. (We tried them in two classes last year for the last semester to work out the kinks.)
We're going to be revamping all our tests. We used to give vocabulary tests along with a unit test, but we're eliminating the vocabulary tests. For one thing, the vocabulary tests were basic recall, a pretty low level of learning. Now we're going to redo our tests (and that includes looking at and possibly rewriting all the questions as we took a lot of assessment writing in-services this summer) and include several constructed response questions on the tests as well. The new tests should have better multiple choice questions on them as well as the constructed response where the kids can explain their learning.
We're going to do more center activities, and more inquiry activities. In short, more labs. Going to the NSTA conference this last year was a gold mine in terms of finding new things to utilize. This may pose some challenges in the classroom management and discipline areas, but we've got a plan in place for that. (Want to goof off during a lab? Grab your workbook, go next door, and do an alternate assignment. They'll hate that.)
That's our start. So, despite the fact that most everyone seems to think that teachers are sitting around drinking margaritas on their back deck or at a far-off beach all summer long, I'm sitting here at my computer working up rubrics, and assignments, and all sorts of things so we can hit the ground running on August 3rd, when school starts up again.
Come to think of it, I could use a margarita after all this work.