Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

We have been moving along strong this year on our school-wide initiatives.  We haven't waited until next year for Common Core, we have begun implementation this year.  As a result students are writing in every class every day.  Students are citing text evidence to support their positions.  Students are reading much more rigorous text, and students are reading to learn.  I have a great easy read that will help provide each of you with classroom proven strategies that support the demands of the Common Core. The book is The Core Six Essential Strategies for Achieving Excellence with the Common Core.  Copies will be provided to each of you very soon.

The implementation of technology this year has been a steady progression. Last year you received your Ipads and began to become familiar with them. The Ipads have now become an integral part of our everyday communication with each other and for many of you your students as well.  The Chromebook lab is now being used on a steady basis. More and more of you are integrating BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) seamlessly into your lessons. The great thing to see is that technology is not being used just for technology's sake. Your lessons that are integrating technology have a purposeful reason and are taking the students to a deeper level of understanding. I would like to thank our new librarian, Jenn Roush, for collaborating with many of you. She has begun to work in tandem with teachers to deliver both Digital Citizenship lessons and also the basics of the GAFE suite. (Google Apps For Education) If you haven't collaborated with her yet on a lesson, you should really reach out and plan some time with her.

Students working on collaborative note taking in Balthazor's Geometry class.

Collaborative note taking in Balthazor's Geometry class. 

We are in year two of our implementation of No Excuses University. College symbolism is all over campus. The addition this year of monthly Character Counts/NEU lessons continue to reinforce and remind students of the importance of choices in their lives. Several teachers have incorporated elements of college and career readiness into many of their lessons. The message is getting to our students loud and clear that we have high expectations for ALL of them. It is making a difference in their lives. We have designed a NEU bookmark that has steps at each grade level, 6th, 7th, and 8th of what to do on the path towards college. There is also a QR code on the bookmark that links directly to financial aid and scholarship information for the students. These will be in your boxes this week to pass out to your 4th period class!!! Our No Excuses video application is nearing completion. We have a few small tweaks to make before we will submit. The video application was a collaborative process with both staff and students. In fact, the videographer is our very own 8th grade Erina McSweeney. I am looking forward to our No Excuses Professional Development opportunity that we are offering this Saturday, January 25th at the Nelson Center. This PD is being offered in collaboration with David Weir, Fairfield High, and Suisun Valley Elementary. It is not too late to RSVP.

EXPLORE:  Explore is to discuss or think about something carefully.

Continue to stay strong in all that you are doing. We are on the right path and need to stay the course. Talk with each other and bounce ideas off your colleagues. The more you can collaborate and share ideas the better off you will be.


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