Week of September 7, 2015

The Week Ahead:

When I was a little girl I spent countless hours “playing school.”  I set up my own classroom in our basement with a chalkboard, my own “grade book”, and a giant mug filled with “coffee” (water) because these were the things I saw my teachers using and doing.  I taught countless lessons to my stuffed animals and dolls.  There were always the students who excelled, and then I had a group of naughty students who “failed”.  How did I know to do this as a child?  There were subtle messages I got from my own teachers.  Thinking back on it, they were pretty powerful messages that the grown ups in my life gave to me that I mimicked.  What subtle messages do we give our students?  Do we unintentionally send messages that some students excel and others fail?

As a society we often view creative play as just that – mindless entertainment that children do to keep themselves busy.  However, I would greatly disagree that play is some of the most important work and learning that students experience.  These are opportunities for them to try out roles and experiences in a safe environment.  It is a time when we as the teacher can observe what students know, how they interact with peers, and did the message we wanted to send students come across in the way it was intended?  We often think play is only important in preschool or kindergarten.  However, I would argue that play is important in all grade levels.  Yes, it looks different in various grade levels, but the importance is equally valuable no matter the grade.  Are you giving your students time to “play?”  Step back and watch, listen and learn from your students and see if they are practicing the important lessons you want them to learn in their play.  Are the subtle messages you are sending ones that you intend to send or are they ones you wish to change? The lessons of play can be pretty powerful for us as the adults as well!  Have a wonderful week!


Playing School

  Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.

Joan Almon
One day, Ava asked for an extra copy of a news magazine that I was going to put in the recycling bin in our classroom.

“I play school,”  she confessed.

Because I know that children make sense of the world through play, I couldn’t resist asking, “Really? What do you do when you play school?”

I am always a bit hesitant when I ask students who play school what they actually do because I know their play will tell me a lot about the subtle messages they are getting from being in our classroom.

“Well, you know,” Ava said, “I have an easel and that big paper you have on it. I also have a dry erase board that I can connect to my computer and use it like our Smartboard. I pull things up on my computer when I am teaching things. Like last week, we used Pixie to create something. I call over groups like you do. I ask them if they like what they are reading and what they are thinking.”

I breathed a sigh of relief that Ava’s students did not have to sit through testing or that the important things about her school weren’t announcements or grading papers. Instead she talked about the talk and the joy and learning that goes on in her classroom.

Ava continued, “When my friends come over I make them be principal or something – I don’t really care what they are as long as I get to be the teacher. You know I want to be a teacher when I grow up.  Do you know why I think I’ll make a good teacher?”

I was worried about this next answer.  I knew it would tell me a lot about her beliefs about my role in her learning.

She said,  “I love kids and being with them and talking to them. I love to learn and I like to read.  A lot. And, well, teachers get some extra days off.”

I breathed another sigh of relief and asked, “Do your students learn?”

Ava looked at me with amusement and said, “Mrs Sibberson, I play with my American Girl Dolls. They are pretend.”

I always learn so much listening to my students who “play school” at home. These conversations let me step back and see our classroom as our students see it. I have been carrying my conversation with Ava with me as I think about the new school year. What subtle messages will I give them about what it means to be a learner in a classroom in a school?  When my new students go home and play school, what will they do? What will they think is important? What will they think makes a good teacher?

Franki Sibberson
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Continuing with the topic of play check out these great articles on the benefits of outside play…

We all know that outdoor recess for students is important.  It helps children with overall health, social and moral development.  Although our outdoor space is limited we can all be creative!  Safety is a concern so please brainstorm as a grade level on some fresh ideas.  Please read the article below that discusses benefits of outdoor play.


We also found a list of games that can used for outdoor time:


The Week at a Glance:
Tuesday, September 8th:
Wednesday, September 9th: Yearbook Pictures
Thursday, September 10th: Yearbook Pictures
Friday, September 11th: Yearbook Pictures; 6th Grade Ropes Course (Angell, Harrison, Aichele, Birch)

Looking Ahead….
September 14 – Holiday – NO SCHOOL
September 15 – Fundraising Discount Cards & $ due
September 16 – K-7 Curriculum Night (6:00p.m.-8:00p.m.) NO STAFF MEETING
September 16-18 – 5th Grade Barrier Island Field Trip
September 18 – 6th Grade Ropes Course (McCoy, Godkin, Merithew, Pagan)
September 23 – Holiday – NO SCHOOL
October 1 – 1st Grade Field Trip to Children’s Theater
October 2 – Elem Spirit Friday
October 5 – Parent Advisory Meeting at HS – 7:30p.m.-8:30p.m.
October 7 – Staff Meeting – Baby Shower for baby D’Esterre
October 8 & 9 – 1st Grade Fairy Tale Ball
October 16 – CSD Homecoming!
October 28 – K-5 Parade of Fiction
October 29 & 30 – Teacher Workdays – Optional Parent/Teacher Conferences
November 2 – Parent Advisory at HS at 7:30 – Cybersafety Guest Speaker
November 4 – K-7 Staff Meeting
November 11 – Veteran’s Day Holiday – NO SCHOOL
November 13 – 6th Grade Greek Day
November 19 – 2nd Grade Performances
November 20 – Africa Day
November 25-29 – Thanksgiving Holidays – NO SCHOOL


Heads up…We will be conducting a Fire Drill in the near future. You may want to go ahead and prepare your class(es) with the exit Plan for your classroom.

Grades 6 and 7 – Make sure you have turned in the original copies of the Yellow Cards to the front desk.  You may make copies for your own files if you like.  This must be done immediately!  (Tracie currently only has 65 cards, so that means we are missing about 3/4 of the cards…)

Staff workouts start this week with our very own Dani Angell!  Thank you, Dani, for providing this awesome service to staff!  Tuesdays @ 3:30 in MS gym!

Don’t forget to send K-7 Admin a copy of the Team Norms you set at last week’s staff meeting.  🙂

Teaching Tips:

Hold-Ups (Himmele & Himmele, 2009) are interaction-based activities that use response cards.  In these activities , students interactively reflect on a prompt and hold up a card, a paper, or whiteboard in response.

Types of Hold-ups

  1. Selected Response Hold-Ups
  2. Number Card Hold-Ups
  3. True/Not True Hold-Ups
  4. Multiple- Choice Holds Ups
  5. Whiteboard Hold-Ups

How They Work:

  1. Ask the students to think about and discuss their responses to a set of prepared questions.
  2. Before students hold up their cards, have them pair-share or talk in small groups.  They should not hold up their cards until told to do so.
  3. Say “Hold it up.”
  4. Students hold up their cards.  Select students to share their group’s rationale for their choice.

Search in our Google Drive for “Total Participation TPT.”  You will find various cards already done for you!

Here are some others:

Total Participation HoldUps

Great Things We Noticed:

IMG_1548 IMG_1549 IMG_1547 IMG_1550

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