Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15th

Our whole school participation in The Hour of Code on Friday the 13th was AMAZING!!!  The feeling on campus was reminiscent of last year's Innovation Day. Below are several snapshots of the event. Students were excited, engaged, and learned A LOT!! The video below shows two campus monitors and a student working through the "unplugged" Kodable activity. Priceless!!

Crystal Middle Rocked BYOD!!

Students worked in pairs. Teachers learned to code alongside the students. Every student that completed a tutorial received an Hour of Code completion certificate.

Student coding on her Nintendo DS.

Ipads, Tablets, PC's, they all worked!!

Students working on "unplugged" versions side by side with "plugged" in versions. 

This Wednesday at 7:00 PM is going to be an evening for our students and staff to shine and show their talents at our Crystal Middle Talent Show. I am so happy to see so many staff members that have signed up to perform. I can't wait to hear Maurice sing, Rachel and Leslie perform a comedy act, and Tammy play the piano. This will be a great way to wrap up our 2013 year.

Remember that this Friday morning Leslie and I will be cooking each of you breakfast. We will be serving waffles hot off the iron, sausage hot off the griddle, fruit, juice, and Peet's coffee. Come join us in the library at 8:30 AM on Friday the 20th. You can then finish your grades with a full stomach and a happy heart.

Word of the Week: Establish  is to find out facts that will prove that something is true.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

December 8, 2013

Each day you plan instruction for your students to engage them, to make them think, and to support their growth in becoming successful productive citizens. Our journey this year has reached its half way point. Every interaction you have had with your students has made an impact; some small and some great. Keep in mind that everything you do is seen and heard by your students. You have the power to make an amazing imprint on the lives of your students. Let's use these last nine days before break to engage, encourage, motivate, and most of all lead the students to the doors of knowledge. Knowledge is power.

We held our PIQE parent graduation ceremony this past Wednesday. We had a total of 20 parents graduate from the program. This was our first year for PIQE and it was an amazing experience for those that participated.  These parents are motivated to help their children navigate through the educational system and now feel armed with the tools necessary provide the support needed to ensure their children have the ability to attend college if they choose to do so.We had three parents give some very motivational speeches. I have created a short clip from their speeches. Check it out here.

PIQE Graduation Program

2013 PIQE Parent Graduates

The Hour of Code is set for this Friday, December 13, 2013. We will be on assembly schedule that day. Depending on if you are an "A" assembly or "B" assembly teacher, you will have your sixth period participate in The Hour of Code during your normal assembly time. Remember to poll your 6th period by the end of Monday and let me know how many "unplugged" versions we need to prep for. We have certificates for each of our students that you will distribute at the conclusion of The Hour of Code.

If you want to use the Chromebooks in your class, remember to sign up using the Google Form. I have included the link here. Several of you have begun to make requests and that is great. The Chromebooks are reserved based on the order the requests are received. This week is now reserved with the exception of Tuesday. If you want the Chromebooks for Tuesday make sure to fill out the form. The calendar in this blog is updated each time one of you signs up for the lab.

Distinguish is to recognize and understand the differences between two or more things or people. 


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Reconnecting after Unplugging for a week

During our week long Thanksgiving vacation I was determined to "unplug" so that I could spend quality time with my family and make sure to not create any work for any of you. The first two days were tough to not check email and even look at Twitter. I will admit I sent two tweets during the first few days of vacation, but then that was it. As each day passed it was much easier to not be concerned with what was "trending" and to silence my phone so that I was not notified of every new email that came through in my inbox. Not having that constant need to check my phone every few seconds was actually rather liberating. I can say that I was much more connected with my two girls and husband during the week. I enjoyed playing cards, hanging outside as my girls rode their bikes, making homemade tortillas, exercising, and getting a lot of holiday shopping completed. This week off has helped to put things in perspective. Email and social networking are great for us to stay connected and instantly communicate with one another. However, it is important to remember that work should stay for work hours. As many of you know I tend to be up late at night during the week sending emails, reading articles, and staying "connected." But, maybe I can be more productive during the day if I am unplugged more at night. We all need to decompress and unplug after our busy work days. I can't expect all of you to unplug and decompress each night if I am not modeling that behavior.  As I go back to work this week, I am going to try to unplug each evening. I want to not only be more in the moment during the day, but I want to help those of you that are often engaged in late night chats with me online to be able to unplug and spend some time decompressing.  It is important for all of us to not constantly keep working. We need to focus on work and be as productive as possible during that time, but then stop and re-energize ourselves for the next day. If we don't stop we never give ourselves or those around us a break. Here is to the days and weeks ahead in my journey to "unplug" in the evening.

As we come back to work for only three weeks before we go out on winter break, there are a few areas to keep our focus on. At all of the parent events we have held recently there are three main topics that have surfaced that our parents want more information about and want to help with. They are the Common Core standards, technology, and fundraising for our school. The parents that I have met with recently at PIQE and at our Coffee w/Principal are aware of the CCSS, what they want to know is how they can best support their students at home and how they can help prepare their students for the CCSS assessment that will be coming. In your communication with parents you can emphasize your changes this year with Common Core and how parents can best support their child/children at home.

As far as technology parents are aware that we are working on getting as many student devices as we can.Parents are willing to have their students Bring Their Own Devices for those that can. All parents expressed that they are in agreement with us that students need to learn basic keyboarding skills and also that they need to understand how to navigate through the online research to use understand what is valid and what is not valid. I would like us to find the best keyboarding program that we can have our students use during time in the library, during lab classes, and any time any of you want to check out the Chromebook lab for your class. If you know of a good program please either email me or add that to the comment section below.

Parents are eager to help with fundraising as well. Several ideas are floating around that our newly formed PTO are looking at. I let the parents that I have met with know that many of you are now using many more copies since you are providing informational text for students and asking each student to annotate his/her copy of the text. I let the parents know that they can help volunteer time to make copies. We currently do have one parent who is now coming in two days a week to help with the copy needs. I also let parents at the PIQE meeting know that they can make monetary donations to our donation account as well and specify how they want the money to be spent that they are donating. If you have fundraising ideas pass those on to ASB or to me to pass on to our PTO.

The Hour of Code is set for December 13, 2013. We will be on assembly schedule that day. Depending on if you are an "A" assembly or "B" assembly teacher, you will have your sixth period participate in The Hour of Code during your normal assembly time. I will continue to promote and advertise with students and parents that December 13th is a BYOD day. Additionally, student can access the tutorials on their smartphones and we will have the Chromebooks and our current computers to use. For any student that does not have their own device or one of our devices, he/she will be able to participate with the "unplugged" version. More details of The Hour of Code will be distributed and reviewed at our December staff meeting this Tuesday. Posters were placed in your boxes before we went on break. Make sure to place them in a highly visible location in your classroom. Feel free to visit to watch promotional videos and learn more about The Hour of Code.

If you want to use the Chromebooks in your class, remember to sign up using the Google Form. I have included the link here. The calendar in this blog is updated each time one of you signs up for the lab.

WORD OF THE WEEK: DISCUSS: Discuss is to talk about something with another person or a group in order to exchange ideas or decide something.