Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24, 2013

We have completed eight days of the school year. In those eight days I have seen a lot of great things. Students are being asked to critically think and write in all subject areas. Way to go. I have included a few snapshots of just some of the great group work, writing, and rigorous assignments that happened at school this past week.

The first two pictures are taken from Mr. Baptista's 6th grade math class where students are working together to find patterns and then explain how they arrived at their answers.

Next, you see some original charcoal artwork created in Ms. Rockwell's art class.

Ms. Schneider's 6th grade math class comes next. You see similar group work as in Baptista's, that is not by chance. Mr. Baptista, Ms. Schneider, and Ms. Collin are all meeting DAILY to collaborate and plan for their classes. This has enabled them to develop some very rigorous lessons for the students. All of their lessons have a heavy focus on the 8 Standards For Mathematical Practice (CCSS).

Mr. Harris' 8th Grade US History class. Students are being asked to critically think, apply what they know and incorporate new academic vocabulary in their writing and in their conversations.

Ms. Apostolos' 7th grade World History lesson is pictured next. Here she was asking students to apply their knowledge of new vocabulary by sorting different locations and having students explain why it would or wouldn't be a good place to settle. She was requiring students to justify their answers.

Here you see a screenshot from a student's email response to Mrs. Balthazor. This year Shannon has "flipped" her classroom. Students have to watch the videos at home and answer questions. Shannon is using Knomia to make this happen. The picture is just one response of many where both students and parents are singing their praises of her "flipped" classroom.


You all know that I am a big fan of Daniel Pink and his book "Drive."  I am almost done with his newest book, "To Sell is Human." Both are great reads and if you get a chance you should take some time to read them and see the many ways that you can apply what he says to your classroom. One of his main talking points is motivation. He asks the question and helps answer what it is that motivates us. Josh Harris found a great article on motivation and intention. I have included the link here for you to read. At the root of this is to not only make a goal, but actually write down intentionally when you will do the things that you plan. For example if you have a goal to lose weight and part of that goal entails working out, those people that intentionally plan their days for working out actually lost more weight and were more successful in their goal achievement than those that merely had a goal to lose weight. This can easily be applied to our students in the classroom.

Here is my update this week for "Student Voices." I have five students that have signed up. I will begin to shadow the students this week and next. If I am in your class "shadowing," do your best to think of me as another student. I am really looking forward to this experience and sharing with all of you what it is like to go through a day as one of our middle school students.

Lastly, all of you are doing many amazing things in the classroom. I want each of you to have the opportunity if you so desire to share with your colleagues strategies and lessons that are working well for the students. I am setting time aside at each of our staff meetings for this purpose. If you want to sign up, please fill out the form you can find when clicking the link. Josh has signed up for our September staff meeting to go over Google docs and forms and how they can be best utilized in the classroom. SignUpToPresentAtStaffMeeting

Make sure you check the calendar below for upcoming events and important dates to remember.

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