May 2, 2016

Dear Staff,

Happy Weekend!  Joy shared this article with high school staff this week, and we thought it was full of great ideas and reminders for us all, so we are sharing it with K-7 as well.  Thanks, Joy!  Enjoy!

I absolutely love this article and can never read it enough….awesome suggestions to begin the year for sure but also good reminder as we end this year strong.

3 Ways to Make Meaningful Connections With Your Students | Edutopia

The Week at a Glance

Monday, May 2nd:

Tuesday, May 3rd:
Hosse to Huntersville Oaks
Schultz to Laurels
K-12 Teacher Appreciation Pizza Lunch
Wednesday, May 4th: 
4th Grade Field Trip to Reed Gold Mine
Washam – Teacher Leader
NO STAFF MEETING
Thursday, May 5th: 
Westbrook/Sharp to Olde Knox Commons
Friday, May 6th: 
Elementary Spirit Friday

Looking Ahead…. 
May 7 – Spartan 5K & Half Marathon
May 10 – 1st Rainforest/Endangered Species Science Fair
May 11 – MANDATORY EOG Testing Training during staff meeting
May 11 – Last day of 6/7 Arts Electives
May 12 – Kindergarten Oceans Play
May 12 – Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
May 13 – May 14 – CSD Staff Retreat
May 17 – 4th Stone Mountain
May 17 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 19 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 20 – 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 – K-7 Report Cards Due to Admin for Editing
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

NUTS/BOLTS/REMINDERS:

All Chromebooks will be collected from 565 on Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th for EOG/EOC testing.  Please plan accordingly.  For more information, please click here:  https://slate.adobe.com/cp/7Pv2J/

Below is a sign up for the annual Volunteer Appreciation event.  It will be held concurrently with the “State of the School”  meetings on Tuesday, May 31, (9am and 7pm).  We will be providing a breakfast bar during the morning session and a dessert bar during the evening session.  In order for this to be successful, we need each staff member to sign up for a donation of food, time, money or help.  Thanks in advance for your contribution!  If you have any questions, please email or text Lisa Humphries lhumphries@csdspartans.org or 704-763-1642.  Location:  High School Arts Commons outside the ArtSpace Theater.
Click here to sign up:   Volunteer Appreciation Sign Up

Teaching Tips by Marianne: 

4 Vital Questions to Teach Your KidsScreen Shot 2016-04-28 at 11.40.44 AM

As I reflect on more than two decades of parenting my own children, I continue to believe that the greatest gift any parent can give is to help their child develop self-awareness.

The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung said:

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

One of the best opportunities for clarity about who we are and want to become presents itself when we have conflict with others. Whenever my children have had conflict with their mom, sister, best friend, teacher, teammate, coach, or a stranger, I have done my best to focus them on questions that help them become more self-aware. That’s because humans have a tendency to focus on the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of “the other” in the conflict. We want to avoid asking the tough questions about our own role in bringing about conflict. It’s simply easier and more convenient to blame the other person for creating and sustaining conflict.

I’ve found that teaching my children to ask the following four questions has helped them navigate conflict and come out the other side more self-aware:

1. What was my role in creating this conflict?

2. Does the way I’ve acted during this conflict represent the kind of person I want to be?

3. Are the decisions I’ve made during this conflict in line with the kind of person I want to be?

4. If I saw someone else behave in the way I’ve behaved during this conflict, what would I think?

It’s amazing how these questions have helped my children gain insight into who they are and want to become. These questions have helped them step back and take an objective view of the situation and realize that, regardless of what the other person says or does, they have the power to end the conflict or walk away from it.

Teach your children to use these questions to help them grow into self-aware youngsters and adults. You’ll be glad you did.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-a-brown/4-vital-questions-to-teach-your-kids_b_9727348.html

Week of April 25

You just never know who might stop by CSD!

cam newton

The Week at a Glance

Monday, April 25th:
K7 Teacher Appreciation Cinco De Mayo Luncheon
Tuesday, April 26th:
Earth Day – 4th Grade
Coppola to the Laurels
Wednesday, April 27th: 
Mary Mayo visit after school – Please come say hi!
Band Concert in MS Gym – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 28th: 
Snow Make Up Day
7th Grade SLC’s (by appointment)
Kindergarten Davidson Walking Tour
Thompson to Huntersville Oaks
Friday, April 29th: 
Teacher Workday

Looking Ahead…. 
May 4 – NO staff meeting

May 4 – Reed Gold Mine 4th Grade Field Trip
May 6 – 6th UNCC Botanical Gardens (other 1/2 of grade level)
May 7 – Spartan 5K & Half Marathon
May 10 – 1st Rainforest/Endangered Species Science Fair
May 11 – MANDATORY EOG Testing Training during staff meeting
May 11 – Last day of 6/7 Arts Electives
May 12 – Kindergarten Oceans Play
May 12 – Last Day of 6/7 Branch Electives
May 13 – May 14 – CSD Staff Retreat
May 17 – 4th Stone Mountain
May 17 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 19 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 20 – 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

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders:

2-3 & 4-5 BATHROOMS

Teachers in Grades 2-5, please have a class meeting about taking care of our bathrooms.  Students are leaving paper towels on the floor and being rough with the paper towel holders.  We had to speak to several students about banging on the holders.  We ask for your help to monitor the bathrooms closely since we are sharing.  We are so sorry for the inconvenience and are doing all we can to help the situation.

SPECIAL STANDING “O”

We are going to celebrate Mary Mayo with a special Standing “O” for her visit on Wednesday.  Because having everyone share a Standing “O” in person may be too much for her, Mary Thompson asked me to dedicate the Standing “O” board to Mary this week.  Please post your messages to Mary on the board in the workroom, drop them off in my mailbox or the elementary gym, or give them to me.  I know it would mean so much to Mary to have a booklet full of loving thoughts!!!
Thank you so much!
Nancy Lauro
From Debbie Beam:

Hi Everyone,  Can you please remember to turn in all teacher reimbursement forms by May 20?  We will be closing the financial records with the state at the end of June and need to make sure that all purchases made have been paid for.

We will not reimburse for purchases made after the May 20 date or in June so please don’t make any.  Please include your home address on any reimbursements submitted in May just in case the checks are printed after you are gone for the summer.

Please email me with any questions at dpbeam@bellsouth.net.

From Joy about spending:
Hi Everyone!

As you know, our fiscal year ends June 30 which means we have to spend all of May and June making sure all outstanding bills and ordered items/services are received and invoices paid.

What does this mean to staff?
1). This means that if you need anything ordered (with the exception of ongoing things like copy paper purchasing) for this year, that it be ordered by May 1 so that we can get it delivered and paid.
2). This means that we will be asking for all personal reimbursements (remember that you should always get approval before purchasing) by May 15.
3).  This means that anything not yet ordered by May 1 will have to wait until July 1.  Chrissy will be asking for wish lists now for summer ordering and the she may go ahead and order some things now so that we can get them in and paid for before summer so be quick about getting those wish lists to her so she will have them on her radar when she meets with me about budget/ordering.  Remember that big items purchased should be approved by admin and Chrissy always checks with us.
4). Please make sure you are beginning to think about collections books/novels/textbooks/calculators and taking inventory.  There is nothing that makes sadder than lost resources.  HS teachers, be sure to collect textbooks as soon as they are not needed for studying as this is a super expensive loss (some textbooks cost over $300 for one book) and we want time to stalk kids/parents to get them!  🙂

Thanks, as always, for your help with this! It means the world to us that we have a wonderful audit every year and part of the reason it goes well is because of this process!

Teaching Tips with Marianne

Many of us have anxiety at this time of year.  I have met with several students this week and the common theme is that they are stressed about EOGs!  I know we do an outstanding job explaining the testing process to students, but please remember that some students are acting out because they are feeling the pressures of the testing as well as: the end of the year, leaving a loop and favorite teacher, going to a new hallway wing, and/or moving on to middle school.

As stated in one of my favorites books, The Behavior Code (Minahan and Rappaprot, MD, 2013):

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct12/vol70/num02/Cracking-the-Behavior-Code.aspx

All behavior is a form of communication. Even though students’ behavior can look bizarre or disruptive, their actions are purposeful and are their attempts to solve a problem. Even if the behavior is not productive or is inappropriate, it is critical to step back and try to decipher what the student is trying to communicate and what the function (or intent) of the behavior is. Instead of asking, “ Where did that come from?” ask, “What is the student communicating?” (Minahan& Rappaport, 2013 pg. 15)

Essential Concepts for Understanding Behavior:

  • Misbehavior is a symptom of an underlying cause.
  • Behavior is communication.
  • Behavior has a function.
  • Behavior occurs in patterns.
  • The only behavior teachers can control is their own.
  • Behavior can be changed. (pg.13)

test_anxiety


 

P.S.  Not sure who was responsible for this, but thanks for keeping us laughing!  THIS is how we get through the tough days!  Thank you to our anonymous funny friend…. We love you!

IMG_2038

 

Week of April 18

What’s On My Mind:
Here’s a thought that’s both terrifying and delightful.
Andy Rooney quote
This is the time of year when craziness ensues, or at least for me it does.  My to-do list is far too long to be accomplished by day’s end, and the demands put on me by others (but mostly put on me by MYSELF) are far too great to be accomplished by even the greatest of task masters.  I sometimes find myself in an unproductive state of not knowing where to start…or to stop… Simply put, I’m overwhelmed!  It’s times like these where I find it best to put everything down and take a few moments to center myself.  When being pulled in a million different directions, choices have to be made and priorities are essential.  I have a few guiding questions that help me recenter when I’m feeling ineffective and rattled, and this is one of my favorites.
What do you want to be remembered for?
As educators, we have the distinctive honor of being able to touch many lives over the course of our careers.  As Andy Rooney so eloquently states, “Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us.  Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”  So it’s worth stopping from time to time and focusing on #whatmatters.  The daily grind is important, and to-do lists are real and necessary.  But there are also far more important things that may or may not be on our mile-long lists.  And while it seems counterintuitive, the time we need to stop (and breathe and reflect) the most is when we feel we have the least amount of time to do it.  So don’t cheat yourself or others by barreling through.  Make sure to carve out time to reflect on the person you are…the teacher you are…and the person/teacher you strive to be.  I promise you, it will be time well spent.
Along these same lines, I ran across this post, and it struck a chord in me as well.  Fill in the blank…. I want to be the kind of teacher….http://pernillesripp.com/2015/02/10/i-want-to-be-the-kind-of-teacher/
Love,
Juli

The Week at a Glance

Monday, April 18th:
Earth Day – 2nd Grade
Tuesday, April 19th:
Teckenbrock to Huntersville Oaks
10:00-11:30 – Interviews in Marianne’s office
Wednesday, April 20th: 
Earth Day – 3rd Grade
Mr. Hoover Teacher Leader
6/7 Dance Sharing
K-7 Staff Meeting CANCELLED
Thursday, April 21st: 
Earth Day – 1st Grade
Washam to Olde Knox Commons
Kindergarten Field Trip to Raptor Center
Poem in Your Pocket Day
Friday, April 22nd: 
1/2 of 6th Grade Field Trip to UNCC Botanical Gardens
K-7 Workday
CSD Golf Tournament and Ladies Luncheon
Earth Day – 5th Grade

Looking Ahead…. 
April 25 – K7 Teacher Appreciation Cinco De Mayo Luncheon
April 25 – Earth Day – 4th Grade
April 26 – Band Concernt in MS Gym – 7:00 p.m.
April 28 – SNOW MAKE UP DAY; 7th Grade SLC’s
April 29 – Teacher Workday
May 4 – *No Staff Meeting
May 6 – 6th UNCC Botanical Gardens (other 1/2 of grade level)
May 7 – Spartan 5K & Half Marathon
May 10 – 1st Rainforest/Endangered Species Science Fair
May 11 – MANDATORY EOG Testing Training during staff meeting
May 12 – Kindergarten Oceans Play
May 13 – May 14 – CSD Staff Retreat
May 17 – 4th Stone Mountain
May 17 – 5th Grade Science EOG
May 19 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 20 – 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

Teaching Tips:

As we enter this season of EOG Review and Prep, please keep in mind the role formative assessment plays in this process.  Great teachers constantly assess where their students are in relation to the learning target, and then they adjust their instruction based on their assessment of student learning.  Here are a few reminders on effective formative assessment strategies.

https://squareheadteachers.com/2012/09/13/quick-easy-formative-assessments/

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.12.21 AM

Additionally, it is essential to keep test prep FUN!  While we must ensure that all of our lessons and activities are rigorous, it is equally as important to keep students engaged and inspired with an element of fun.  I stumbled across this blog this week, and I thought she had some good ideas for “gamifying” EOG prep.  Perhaps this will give you a few ideas to try or maybe even evoke a few new ideas of your own!  Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 9.53.05 AM

http://4thgraderacers.blogspot.com/2016/02/gamifying-test-prep.html?_sm_au_=ijV0jrD0JsBjj02N

Week of April 11

 

Dear Staff,

We hope you all had a wonderful week back from spring break! Spring is definitely in the air! If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new baby birds and nests that we have around the school you are missing out. I hope you all took the time to read Kim Aichele’s emails about the the bird boxes and nests in our CSD gardens.  Kim is a wonderful resource to our school and I hope you all take advantage of the knowledge she has and so graciously shares with our staff and students.  I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the the baby birds and I have to say they are absolutely precious.  Make sure you share this information with your students.  We want them to be extra careful around our bird boxes, as these are precious gifts from nature that we are lucky to have around our school.  A fantastic learning opportunity!

April also means that it is National Poetry month!  On April 21st we will celebrate Poem in Your Pocket day.  I was fortunate to get to visit several classrooms last week and talk with them about this special day.  I also got to read the Poem In Your Pocket book as well.  I will be visiting the classrooms I missed in the upcoming week.  Please make sure that you talk with your students about brining poems in their pockets on April 21st.  They can be poems that they write or favorite poems from favorite poets that they would like to share.  Some of our students will also help me set up a display about this day at the Davidson Library.  Make sure you stop by to check it out over the next few weeks.  If students write their own poems and would like for me to post them on the CSD Crier I would be happy to do this.  This will be a fun reminder for parents to help their child find poems for the big day, as well as showcase what wonderful writers we have in our school.  Feel free to send me poems that your students have written and I will share.  Listed below is a link for more information about this special day.

https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/poem-your-pocket-day

On Monday we will have lots of visitors in the school.  We will be conducting interviews throughout the day.  Please make our guests feel welcome and if one of the candidates spends time in your classroom we would love your feedback on his/her  interactions with your students.  Feel free to use them as an extra set of hands so that you can notice any connections they make with your students.

Please take a moment to read this week’s Choice Literacy article.  I love the idea of taking a minute to shift the mood in the classroom.  Some great ideas to think about, especially when many of our students have “spring fever!”  Here’s to daffodils and sunshine. Happy spring!

Leslie

The Mighty Minute

Good things, when short, are twice as good.

Baltasar Gracian y Morales

“I can do almost anything if it’s only for one minute.” My friend Darla was talking about abdominal crunches, and whenever I have to push through those or something similarly painful at the gym, I remember her words.

I can put up with almost anything for one minute, and when I’m doing something timed and difficult, I’m often amazed at how much effort can be packed into 60 seconds. One minute can change the tone of any classroom or meeting.

For the past few years, teachers have been using this principle with quick brain and body breaks with students to refocus, reconnect, and lift the mood in the classroom. Here are my three favorite uses of the mighty minute. Not surprisingly, none of them involve abdominal crunches.

You can tidy a lot in 60 seconds. The best quick tidy habit at home? According to Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project, it’s making your bed. Starting each day with that little bit of order ensures a tidy end. Every classroom can have a “make the bed” minute baked into the beginning or end of the day for ordering supplies, desks, tables, and displays.

A one-minute stretch does wonders for mental clarity and well-being. “Sitting is the new smoking” according to health professionals in terms of shortening life spans. There are all kinds of apps like Stretch Clock (http://stretchclock.com/) with built-in timers to get you and your students up and moving at regular intervals.

Finally, a minute of silence feels a whole lot longer than it is, and nothing calms a community down more quickly. In professional development sessions a minute of quick writing or silent reading often isn’t really about the reading or writing – it’s there to get teachers out of whatever is distracting them, and into the here and now.

Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy

The Week at a Glance

Monday, April 11th:
Full Day Classroom Visits and Interviews at K-7
Randolph to Huntersville Oaks
Tuesday, April 12th:
2nd Grade Rescue Ranch Field Trip
Chick Fil-A Spirit Night
Wednesday, April 13th: 
Siadak – Teacher Leader
Juli gone p.m. to Charter Peer Review (with Corvian)
Thursday, April 14th: 
3rd Grade Davidson Walk
Godwin to Olde Knox Commons
HS Drama Sharing in MS Black Box – 9:30 Kindergarten; 11:00 1st grade
Friday, April 15th: 
8th Grade Practicum Dance Party
MS New Admits Registration 8:00-11:00
6th Grade Speaker – 1:00 in MS Gym
7th Grade Hiroshima Presentation – 12:15 in Black Box

Looking Ahead…. 
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 19 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 20 – 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

 

Teaching Tips with Marianne

How To Have A Fun Classroom Without Extra Planning

If you’re a regular reader of this website, then you know that effective classroom management doesn’t have to be complicated.You don’t need elaborate charts. You don’t need an incentive system. And you don’t need to beg, bribe, or threaten students to behave.But what you do need is a classroom your students look forward to coming to every day. Along with an effective classroom management plan, this is where your power to influence behavior comes from.One way to get your students excited about your classroom is to make it more fun.Interactive lessons, activities, and learning games are great tools to stimulate learning and ratchet up enjoyment. I recommend them heartily. But they can be time-consuming and impractical beyond a few times a week.For the minute-by-minute reality of a working classroom, the best way to have more fun is…well…to have more fun.Does this mean you’ll have to risk losing control of your class for the sake of a good time? Does it mean your students will be wired and bouncing off the walls? Not in the least.What follows is a definition of classroom fun most teachers have never have heard of. And here’s the surprise: it’s a definition held by your students.

Let’s get started.

Classroom Fun (From Your Students’ Perspective)

It’s an attitude.

Having a good time with your students is an attitude. It comes from a desire to enjoy your job, to build relationships with your students, and to make your classroom a special, unique experience. There is no formal planning involved and it should never become a burden to you. It’s as simple as a smile.

It’s a mood.

One of the ways you can tell if a teacher has good classroom management is if the students are happy. Good behavior and contentment go hand-in-hand. This is true for a number of reasons, but it underscores the importance of maintaining a pleasant mood in the classroom.

It’s a feeling.

Your students don’t have to be sweaty and crimson-faced to have a good time. You don’t have to make your classroom riotous and chaotic. And you don’t have to be knee-slapping funny. In the hearts of your students, the warm feelings of safety, of being comfortable around you and their classmates, and of being part of an upbeat classroom is their definition of fun.

It’s a connection.

The simple act of making personal, no-strings-attached connections with students, through shared smiles and sweet laughter, will bring contagious joy to your classroom. You don’t have to be a comedian or a prankster. Just be open to having a good time with your students, and the rest will take care of itself.

It’s everywhere.

Despite how tough their lives can be, kids wake up ready to laugh. They’re built for it. And teaching presents so many silly, goofy, and absurdly funny situations that are just waiting to be noticed and taken advantage of. Keep your eyes and ears open so these wonderful moments don’t pass you by.

It’s in a story.

If you’ve read Dream Class, then you know how I feel about storytelling. Nothing I’ve ever done as a teacher has gotten more response from students or generated more fun, more mystery, more excitement, and more behavior-influencing rapport than telling a story.

It’s a choice.

You can’t have fun with your students if you don’t like them. Seeing the best in your students, enjoying who they are as people, and appreciating their sense of humor and unique personalities is a choice you make. Sharing a laugh or smile, particularly with difficult students, is so powerful. But it can’t happen if you dislike them or hold a grudge against them.

It’s reciprocated.

Students who are happy to be in your class, who like you, and who appreciate the organized, efficient, and fun classroom you’ve created, will jump through fire to pay you back. This law of reciprocation is a natural part of the human psyche. It’s powerful, behavior-changing stuff that few teachers know about or take advantage of.

It Means So Much

When you bring more student-defined fun into your classroom, your relationship with your students will grow closer, more trusting, and more influential. Your classroom management plan will have more leverage. Your students will appreciate you, want to please you, and desire to get to know you better.

All the things you’re working so hard to achieve with your students will improve as you get better at creating an environment your students love being part of.

Having an attitude of fun amidst the hard work you ask of your students is a simple little thing. But it means so much—both to your students and to your hope of creating the class you really want.

Thanks for reading.

Note: I wrote an article this week for Learnboost.com called 5 Simple Classroom Management Strategies. I hope you’ll check it out.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.

 

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Week of April 4

Cornwall_Daffodils

Dear Staff,

Welcome back!  We hope everyone has had a wonderful break and is feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and recharged!  As you know, the next few weeks will be a dash to the finish line, so it’s important that we keep our wits about us and try to keep our stress “in check.”  Balance is essential for a healthy life, so let’s all tap into that sense of calm we felt over the break and maintain a portion of that feeling in our daily lives.  Our students are counting on us and they deserve us at our best, so let’s make a commitment to self-care and strive to be a positive force in our community in the weeks and months to come!

Please take a moment to read this quick parable that coveys a powerful message.

http://betterlifecoachingblog.com/2011/04/15/the-daffodil-principle-a-story-about-investing-in-the-future/

This is the time of year when it is easy to become overwhelmed with the many tasks and responsibilities that surround us daily.  For us overachievers, it essential that we remind ourselves often that Rome was not built in a day.  Making progress one step at a time is still making progress, and in time, all of those seemingly small steps do add up to great things.  With that in mind, we hope you never doubt your contribution to CSD.  From our view, we see each of you plant daffodils every single day, and while we don’t always get to witness them blossom to maturity during their time with us, we assure you the bulbs eventually creep through the ground and open up into beautiful flowers that inspire hope in others.  So never stop spreading your magic and never doubt the influence you have over these students.  You are absolutely making a difference, one day at a time, one step at a time.

Love,

Juli

The Week at a Glance

Monday, April 4th:
Classes resume; *EOG Test Prep Window Begins
Tuesday, April 5th:
Parent Advisory 8:30 a.m. at HS
2nd Rescue Ranch Field Trip (2 classes)
Hoover to Laurels
Webb to Huntersville Oaks
Wednesday, April 6th: 
Sara Keys – Teacher Leader
Thursday, April 7th: 
Kindergarten to Children’s Theater
Fisher to Olde Knox Commons
Friday, April 8th: 
Elementary Spirit Friday
4th Grade to Children’s Theater
MS Pep Rally at 1:30 in MS Gym & CSD SPIRIT DAY!

Looking Ahead…. 
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 19 – 3-8 Reading EOG
May 20 – 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

Nuts/Bolts/Reminders:

From Connie:  On Friday, the Davidson community lost an amazing person due to a pedestrian accident on Main Street in Davidson.  While I did not know Janet personally, it is clear to me that she was an amazing light in this world because the grief I feel from so many who love her is palpable.  I am literally begging every single staff member, parent and student driver to reflect upon our driving and the distractions that come at us from so many directions.  PLEASE drive slower EVERY where.  Please know that our school is tucked in a precious community that encourages walking and bike riding.  I cannot imagine what it must feel like to live with the tragedy of being a driver who accidentally hit someone and I hope that none of us ever have to face this tragedy as drivers.  Please have a serious talk with everyone in your family about the importance of looking  out for all while driving a powerful vehicle.  Stop fully at all stops.  Assume there are children and animals everywhere in Davidson.  Assume there are walkers and bikers.  Always give them the right of way and please, please be careful and drive as slowly as possible.

Have you completed the staff retreat survey?   http://goo.gl/forms/ZF1KF5kknv

EOG Prep is officially in full swing!  Please let admin know if you need help with this process.  We will be checking in with teachers individually to see how we can be of assistance, but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have particular questions or concerns.

Teaching Tips with Marianne

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December 2008/January 2009 | Volume 66 | Number 4
Data: Now What?

Why Teachers Must Be Data Experts

Jennifer Morrison

An award-winning teacher proposes three attitude shifts that would help teachers learn to love data.

I’m coming clean right here, right now. I’m a practicing classroom teacher, and I love data. Data connect me to my students and their learning, push me to high levels of reflection on my practice, and spur me to engage in dialogue with colleagues, students, and parents.

Unfortunately, most teachers do not share my view of data as a resource that helps them teach better; many experience it as unfamiliar or threatening. In the wake of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools are swimming (sometimes drowning) in standardized test data. Districts and administrators are trying to help teachers stay afloat by setting up lanes and lessons in the pool and by coaching (or sometimes haranguing) teachers to the finish line of yearly data-crunching exercises. But we must ask ourselves how sustainable this approach to data is—and whether it’s good for teachers or students.

Although coaching teachers in using data helps them feel less overwhelmed by it, if teachers are ever to use data powerfully, they must become the coaches, helping themselves and colleagues draw on data to guide student learning, find answers to important questions, and analyze and reflect together on teaching practice.

Teachers will take the initiative on this kind of self-coaching if administrators and teacher leaders facilitate three essential changes in how teachers approach data. Teachers must begin to

  • Realize that data include more than end-of-year standardized test scores.
  • View collecting data as a way to investigate the many questions about students, teaching practices, and learning that arise for any committed teacher.
  • Talk with one another about what data reveal and how to build on those revelations.

I had to come to these realizations myself before I achieved my happy partnership with data, which did not happen until well after I had established myself as a teacher. In the past few years, I’ve consulted with school districts and found strategies that help other teachers develop more comfortable relationships with data.

Data, More Than Test Scores

When it comes to teaching, I disagree with British physicist Lord Kelvin, who said, “When you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind.” In teaching, relationships and perceptions matter as much as curriculum and practice. Numbers are important, but they can’t provide educators everything, especially when we’re looking for root causes of students’ learning difficulties. Teachers must see that data stretch beyond what’s expressed on test company spreadsheets. The concept of data encompasses many kinds of information that help teachers know their students, and themselves as practitioners, in depth—and data can be interpreted in many nuanced ways.

James Popham (2001) is correct that teachers—and most administrators, I would add—are not assessment literate. And we should be. Remaining unaware of the range of assessments and how to use them and accepting (frequently inadequate) standardized tests as the single measure of success is irresponsible.

Getting Beyond Data as a Blind Date

For most teachers, getting acquainted with data happens as a kind of blind date. They come to a faculty meeting, and the principal introduces the data. Some schools use data coaches to facilitate the teacher-data relationship. Even if a coach helps teachers connect their student learning results with other kinds of data that reveal the how and why behind those results, data can still feel like a strange, unwelcome presence. The core problem is that none of this is initiated by teachers themselves.

When I consult with school administrators and district personnel who are excited—sometimes hyperexcited—about getting teachers interacting with classroom data, they inevitably ask, “How do I get my teachers interested in data—especially the unmotivated ones?” But teachers’ reluctance does not mean that they are unmotivated: Most teachers care about their students’ learning and want to excel at their work. The problem is that we frame data as an entity teachers need to meet and engage with, rather than as information that rises organically out of teachers’ work with learners. When teachers don’t embrace an idea or mandate, it’s often because they feel overburdened: They don’t see the time or need for a new professional love interest. There must always be a point to what administrators ask teachers to do with data.

Connecting Data to Questions

Questions and dialogue are key concepts here. I tell administrators that they should first urge teachers to think about what questions they would ideally like to ask to improve their classroom conditions, instruction, and repertoire of interventions. It helps to discuss with teachers the dangers of making assumptions about students and their learning.

Too often, questions about data in schools originate with administrators and district office personnel. Teachers feel no ownership or curiosity other than, Did we make our scores this year? and Do I get my bonus? Teachers cannot take the lead in data mining until they pose their own simple, measurable, and relevant queries.

Several years ago I helped the North Carolina Teacher Academy (2005) develop a learning module for teachers and administrators called Using Data to Build Classroom Learning Communities. This module was in demand. With NCLB pressures, principals and districts were looking for ways to help teachers focus on learning results, and teachers were looking for ways to make sense of all the standardized data being dumped on them. We field-tested the module with a group of teachers and administrators representing schools of all grade levels across North Carolina who were attending summer workshops at the North Carolina Teacher Academy. Through this process, I recognized the essential connection between teachers’ organic questions and data gathering.

We included in the module Alan Blankstein’s idea of the data notebook (2004), an ongoing collection of data a teacher gathers to help inform his or her instruction and interventions during the course of a year. Participants set up data notebooks and shared them with one another. We kept requirements for the notebooks open-ended but had teachers note three dimensions of any data they recorded: the frequency with which they collected these data; the type of teacher thinking this entry showed (descriptive, analytical, or reflective); and the kind of information it represented (such as evidence of student learning; demographics; teachers’, students’ and others’ perceptions; or instructional processes). For example, a teacher might record results of a survey he or she gave parents that gathered their impressions of the learning environment.

Prodding teachers to collect meaningful data on their own ensures that they will begin to ask questions, as I found out when I put together a sample data notebook. In the process of collecting, analyzing, and reflecting on information about my classes, I stepped outside my assumptions and understood students more clearly. I discovered a new way of thinking about my practice, but better still, the process caused me to ask such questions as, Are my students demonstrating growth in learning? or What do I need to change to accelerate growth? To satisfy these wonderings, I had to design assessments that would gather the information I needed and analyze the results, sometimes rethinking my methods as a consequence.

I now routinely identify questions and secure data that shed light on those questions as I teach. After 10 years of teaching 8th graders in an urban middle school, this past school year I began teaching high school seniors in a small rural setting. I wanted to know many things about my new students: how they perceived my style and methods, what and how much they were learning, and how their accomplishments matched the state curriculum and testing requirements. I sought a clear read on these questions through surveying my students, asking students to write reviews of their own learning and work products, mapping and analyzing trends in their grades, and even looking at their standardized test scores. If I hadn’t investigated these things, I’d have fallen into making distracting assumptions about the whys and hows of my students, their families, and the class’s learning.

Dialoguing With Data

This school year, I began to think beyond the model of each teacher examining data on an individual basis (such as in data notebooks) and to explore how teachers can share their questions and data among stakeholders at the classroom and school levels. As a teacher, I know that if students aren’t talking about it, then it’s not happening. And when it comes to data, if teachers aren’t talking about their data discoveries, no discoveries are happening.

As Judith Warren Little notes, in learning-rich conversations, there must be “a bridging back and forth between the particularities of what happened on [a given] day and more general principles and practices and ways of seeing” (Crow, 2008, p. 55). Group discussions about data can be the bridge connecting teachers’ day-to-day activities with deeper reflections. Data can play a central role in professional development that goes beyond attending an isolated workshop to creating a thriving professional learning community, as described by assessment guru Dylan Wiliam (2007/2008).

Compiling a data notebook is one thing, but talking about it with colleagues who share my students offers much broader potential for growth. Administrators who want teachers to embrace data and jump in as their own coaches must make room for this kind of dialogue.

To this end, almost all the data I collect, including some analysis and reflection, are available on my Web site (www.artofeducating.com). That gives students and families access to the data as well. Last school year, I e-mailed all of my students’ families links to the class’s average grades so that they could gauge their children’s performance in comparison with peers. I shared with students and parents the results of my end-of-year survey asking students for feedback about my class, including my reflections on what the survey revealed. This kind of data sharing and the resulting discussion was a tremendous help in developing relationships with students and parents at my new school, in part because parents could clearly see that I’m a thoughtful practitioner who cares about each student. Sharing data also elicited important information about my students’ learning needs.

Encouraging Expanded Views

I believe all teachers can learn to be both data lovers and their own personal data coaches if we encourage these expanded views about measuring teaching practice and learning. Teachers will need support both to become assessment literate and to adopt workable ways to gather, analyze, reflect on, and discuss data. Uncomfortable questions about the nature of standardized testing, school goals, and leadership may arise. Administrators should help their learning community respectfully talk through tough questions. They will build teacher capacity and leadership in the process.

Teaching is such a “particularistic endeavor” (Popham, 2008), that guiding teaching practice by one-size-fits-all test data will only take us so far. For the next phase of data’s role in education, I prefer Andy Hargreaves’s (2007) vision that “Teachers will need to be the drivers, not the driven” (p. 38).

References

Blankstein, A. M. (2004). Failure is not an option. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Crow, T. (2008). Declaration of interdependence (interview with Judith Warren Little). Journal of Staff Development, 29(3), 53–56.

Hargreaves, A. (2007). Five flaws of staff developments and the future beyond. Journal of Staff Development, 28(3), 37–38.

North Carolina Teacher Academy. (2005). Using data to build classroom learning communities. Morrisville, NC: Author.

Popham, W. J. (2001). The truth about testing: An educator’s call to action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Popham, W. J. (2008). Transformative assessment. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Wiliam, D. (2007/2008). Changing classroom practice. Educational Leadership, 65(4), 36–42.

Jennifer Morrison teaches language arts at Mid-Carolina High in Prosperity, South Carolina. She won ASCD’s Outstanding Young Educator Award in 2003; PO Box 724, White Rock, SC 29177; 704-996-0933;jmorrison@artofeducating.com.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec08/vol66/num04/Why-Teachers-Must-Be-Data-Experts.aspx

 

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