Today, Mandy Casto, an educator in North Carolina responds to our question: “What did you do in school today?”
This series of blog posts includes contributions from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.
Today, I watched students collaborate. They embarked on a problem-based task, came up with a list of steps that needed to be accomplished, divided the steps amongst themselves, and then helped each other solve them to come up with an final solution. They were thinking…learning…engaged.
Today, I watched students communicate. I observed them talking, using hand-gestures and facial expressions, white boards and markers, paper and pencil. They worked on problems individually and then communicated their answers with their group. Next, they worked on problems together and then communicated their answers with the whole class.
Today, I watched students create. They built towers out of Legos. They built Marshmallow suspension devices. They built their experiences as designers, architects, engineers, and artists.
Today, I watched students critically think. They encountered various cross-curricular problems and were challenged to think logically, backwards, and “outside of the box.” They had to consider multiple variables and even come up with some of their own to get the job done. They were tired at the end of the day, but it was worth it.
Lastly, I watched my students choose kind. They walk in with big smiles when I greet them at the door and they go home with bigger smiles! During the day, they write affirmations for one another. They hold doors open for each other. They help each other clean up in the classroom and the science lab. There could potentially be a great deal of competition in my classroom but when given the choice between being right and being kind, they choose kind. (Thanks, RJ Palacio!)
My greatest joy is watching my students SUCCEED, just as they did today. How do I know? Because in everything they did, I could see them grow before my very eyes. They took in information, processed it, and then formed their own conclusions. And, above all else, they worked hard to absorb as much information as they could and improve themselves . . . in other words, they maintained a growth mindset in all they did today, just as they did yesterday and will do again tomorrow.
Mandy Casto is a 6th grade teacher at a STEM middle school in North Carolina. She graduated from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan in 2007, and immediately moved to North Carolina to answer her calling in education. She received her Masters in Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment from Walden University in 2010. Mandy, @thatmathlady on Twitter, is passionate about life-long learning, and likes to expand her horizons at edcamps and other educational conferences. When she isn’t in the classroom or engaged in PD, she enjoys running, reading, and traveling with her husband, Brian.