Week of March 7, 2016

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The week ahead…

Happy Sunday!  We hope you all have had a wonderful weekend!  Warmer weather is on the way this week, and I for one couldn’t be happier for a little sunshine!  The Choice Literacy article this week really struck home with me, and I am betting some of you may be feeling the same way too.  The past few weeks Marianne, Juli and I have spent a lot of time “staring at outlets” over some kiddos that we just can’t seem to figure out.  What works one day does not work the next, in fact, what works one minute before does not work the next!  It can be quite frustrating, and when you are dealing with kids, as with electrical wiring, you don’t want to “mess up”!  Quite frankly, we have had a few friends visit us lately that have frozen us in our tracks, because we don’t always know what to do.  At one point, Marianne looked at me laughing and said how many degrees do we have between the three of us, and why is it that this five year old is outsmarting all of us???  The good news is that we are thankfully not frozen, and have tried and will continue to try things that work and don’t work with our students.  We will figure them out, but not without lots of trial and error for sure!  I share this with you, because I think it is important that you all know we share the same struggles that many of you face on a daily basis.  We don’t have all the answers, I sure wish we did!  However, I believe that the answer lies in the age old adage of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”  Just as the new electrician in the story works to figure out how to change his first electrical outlets, we continue to try to figure out our students.  Some days you will see a trail behind us in the hall, just like the packaging he left behind in the story.  We make trips back and forth to our “tool belts of tricks” to find what works and what doesn’t.    We talk to our colleagues and one another to get new ideas and check to see if we are doing it “right.”  We have learned that laughter is sometimes the best medicine, and of course snacks! 🙂  We keep on keeping on, because these children are worth it, all of them, even on their hardest days!  Thank you all for hanging in there with us, and for never giving up on our students.  Yes, March has rolled in like a LION!!  However, I feel confident that it will go out like a lamb!:)  Enjoy your week and know that we are all in this together!

 

Lessons from the Electrician
The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.

Mark Twain
Recently we replaced the electrical outlets in our home. The electrician came and looked through the house. His son, an apprentice, followed along. The job was expected to take less than a day. The next morning the young apprentice arrived at our home with his tool belt slung around his hips. He crouched in front of the first outlet and looked. The kids and I were getting ready to leave for a library trip. The electrician went to the truck for more tools. When all of the books were gathered, the electrician was still staring down the outlet.

“You okay?” my ten-year-old son asked.

“Yeah, I’m just thinking,” the electrician said.

“Must take a long time to swap all these outlets if you’ve gotta think that long for the first one,” Jay said, walking out the door. The electrician went to the truck for more tools.

When we returned from the library, the electrician was staring at an outlet. “Man, I could never be an electrician, because I can’t look at outlets for that long,” Jay said.

The electrician chuckled. “I don’t want to do it wrong.”

“Then I really couldn’t be an electrician,” Jay said. “You gotta do things wrong to figure out how to do ‘em right. At least that’s how it is with Legos.” The electrician smiled.

Jay walked away and the electrician pulled the outlet from the wall and snipped a few wires. He stopped staring and started working. Some of the outlets he had to rewire more than once in order to get them right. There was a trail of packaging from new outlets and remnants from old outlets that followed him like Hansel and Gretel’s bread trail. He made more trips to his truck, looked up information on his phone, called his dad, ate some snacks, and kept swapping outlets. Finally he had only one room left. In the end, he replaced all of the outlets in this room in less time than it took him to replace the first outlet.

This is the nature of learning. We make mistakes to figure out how to make things work. We have a choice when faced with changes in education. We can freeze and stare. Or we can keep working, trying again, talking with others, and working through the mess to find what works.

Ruth Ayres
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Ruth Ayres is a full-time writing coach for Wawasee School District in northern Indiana. She blogs at Ruth Ayres Writes and is the coauthor of Day by Day, available through Stenhouse Publishers.

 

The Week at a Glance

Monday, March 7th:
4th Grade to JA Biztown
Parent Advisory: Future Athletics Facility Opportunity – 7:30 HS BB
Tuesday, March 8th:
Wednesday, March 9th: 
Juli at HS doing post-ob conferences and teacher observations
Proof of Concept – 5th Grade
MS Info Session for Rising 6th Grade Parents 7:00 p.m. in MS Gym
Keys – Teacher Leader
Thursday, March 10th: 
MS Info Session for Rising 6th Grade Parents 8:30 a.m. in MS Gym
3rd Grade Wax Museum
2nd Grade Art Gallery
Friday, March 11th: 
3rd Grade Wax Museum
5th Grade Opera Load In

Looking Ahead….

March 13 – Daylight Savings Time Begins
March 15 – Garren Opera
March 17 – Whitley Opera
March 17-19 – MS Musical – The Lion King
March 17 – 3rd Grade Walking Tour of Charlotte
March 18 – 7th Grade Asia Day
March 22 – Carr Opera
March 24 – Randolph Opera
March 25-April 3 – SPRING BREAK
April 4 – Classes resume; *EOG Test Prep Window Begins
April 5 – Parent Advisory 8:30 a.m. at HS
April 8 – 4th Grade to Children’s Theater
April 8 – MS Pep Rally at 1:30 in MS Gym & CSD SPIRIT DAY!
April 12 – 2nd Rescue Ranch Field Trip (2 classes)
April 14 – 3rd Grade Davidson Walking Tour
April 14 – Drama EOY at lower school K/1
April 15 – 8th Practicum Dance Party for K5
April 18-April 22 – Earth Days K-5
April 19 – 2nd Rescue Ranch Field Trip (2 classes)
April 20 – 6th/7th Dance Class Sharing
April 22 – 6th UNCC Botanical Gardens
April 22 – CSD Golf Tournament
April 25 – K7 Teacher Appreciation Cinco De Mayo Luncheon
April 28 – SNOW MAKE UP DAY
April 29 – Teacher Workday
May 6 – 6th UNCC Botanical Gardens
May 7 – Spartan 5K & Half Marathon
May 10 – 1st Rainforest/Endangered Species Science Fair
May 12 – Kindergarten Oceans Play
May 13 – May 14 – CSD Staff Retreat
May 17 – 4th Stone Mountain
May 17 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 18 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 19 – 3-8 Math EOG
May 24 – 25 – 7th Grade Ropes Course
May 25 – 6th Holocaust Museum–Parents & Family
May 26 – 1st Hiddenite Mine Field Trip
May 26 – 4th Economic Fair
May 26 – 6th Holocaust Museum–Open to Public
May 27 – Kindergarten Screening
May 27 – Teacher Workday; Optional Parent Conferences
May 30 – Memorial Day HOLIDAY – No school
May 31 – 3rd Kool Kats Cafe
May 31 – 7th Change Project
May 31 – Kindergarten Water Day
May 31 – State of the School Address
June 1 – Last Day of School
June 2 – Graduation
June 2 & 3 – Teacher Workdays

NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey

The NC Teacher Working Conditions survey that is done in NC every two years will go out March 1.  Please make this a high priority for all lead teachers.  CSD always has 100% participation and this is an important part of the feedback we get as a school and as a state.  Admin will deliver your codes sometime this week, so be on the lookout…. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful feedback!

EOG Test Prep

Believe it or not, EOG Test Prep time will be here before you know it.  Please keep the following timeframe in mind as you prepare lessons in the weeks to come.
-Week of May 16th is 3-8 EOG Testing.
-Spring Break  is March 25-April 3; Classes resume April 4.  *The week of April 4th is the beginning of the 6 week test prep window.
-EOG pre-test/diagnostic testing should be done prior to Spring Break.  Admin will be sitting down with all teams to discuss results and formulate plans for differentiated instruction once pre-testing and data analysis are complete.  Please let us know if you need any assistance prior to that time.  We are always happy to help!

Teaching Tips with Marianne

TpT Cut and Paste Activity taken from Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Listener by Persida Himmele and William Himmele

Who said Cut-and-Pastes were just for kindergarten? In our opinion, they can effectively be used from preschool to adulthood. This hands-on activity of manipulating concepts, analyzing them, and moving them around would work whenever students are being asked to understand characteristics of a specific number of concepts with distinct principles that apply to each. For example, with younger children they might be used to match synonyms or antonyms, or to paste on prefixes or suffixes. With adults, for example, we use Cut-and-Pastes to better understand things like Bloom’s taxonomy, assessment concepts, and linguistic concepts.

Keely Potter and Meghan Babcock combined the Ranking TPT with the Cut-and-Paste. They selected excerpts from the text and asked students to rank them from the one that best described the developing relationship between the two main characters, to the one that least described the developing relationship (see Figure 4.5 in Chapter 4).

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How you structure a Cut-and-Paste depends largely on what you’re teaching. But in the case of, for example, prefixes and suffixes, a specific number of prefixes and suffixes could be prepared for attaching to root words. Suffixes like able or ful and prefixes like un and anti could be pasted onto root words to change the meanings. You can add a challenge for students to use as many prefixes and suffixes as they can, using the fewest root words. This will challenge them to add both suffixes and prefixes to single root words: dis-agree-able, un-friend-ly. These activities are even more fun to do in small groups, where students can put their brains together to meet the challenge set for them. When we assign Cut-and-Paste activities in class, we usually hear a hum of activity, as students cut their pieces and manipulate them back and forth, justifying why their placement in a specific spot might be the best alternative. Circulating and catching a comment here and there as we listen to students learning from each other is a wonderful experience. When you have Cut-and-Pastes that include specific options that describe distinct concepts, toss in options that might fit into more than one category. This approach will ensure that your students are using higher-order thinking as they interact. It will encourage students to talk and to develop a rationale for why their choice makes sense to them. Ask students to justify. This requirement also establishes the notion that things are not always black and white. The example in Figure 6.4 is a Cut-and-Paste sorting activity that requires students to analyze who would most likely have made specific statements (Patriots, Those Who Were Neutral, or Loyalists). It contains options that could fit in several columns. Note the student’s justifications for selecting the placements she chose.”

Figure 6.4. Gabriela’s Cut-and-Paste Will you be teaching anything soon that might lend itself to a Cut-and-Paste? Sometimes the simple novelty of adding glue and scissors to concept development offers a much needed break from the mundane and allows you an opportunity to quickly gauge student understandings. Consider adding this TPT as a way to enhance student understandings of any set of concepts with distinct features.

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