Saturday, October 17, 2015

The week of Oct. 12-16, 2015

So, first off, let me say how sorry I am that I have been out the past two days and will be out again on Monday (LATSS and 7 Habits training). It's hard to be out of the building so much, but quite honestly, they have been valuable experiences.

I mentioned at our leadership meeting this week about my recognition that there is a feeling of being overwhelmed and maybe even a little stressed out. Some of the things I heard were that people are on information overload and that they are unsure of the direction and expectations I have. Let me say that I do understand. And, I have a few responses to this.

  1. This is a tough time in education, There is a lot of change happening. We are still figuring out the CCSS and what it means as it relates to our instructional practices. We also are at many different levels when it comes to integrating technology. Change is difficult. It is also not linear. It is messy. Check out this diagram as I think it may help us figure out where we are and we are all at different levels. We will also vacillate among the levels at different points in the year. I do think most of us are in the yellow, but if you are in the red, don't worry, have an open mind and you will get out. 
  2. Information overload: The instructional shift that the Common Core calls for is not clear. But we do know that what the Common Core calls for is authentic learning to build 21st century skills that will help our students to become career and/or college ready. There is no formula or template to copy, nor is there a proven curriculum. Therefore, Judie and I have attempted to provide you with lots of different instructional tools, strategies, ideas, and knowledge. Please do not feel like there is an expectation for you to try them all, or even any of them. Take what calls to you, if anything, try it out, and throw it away, tweak it, or own it. Think of the information we are providing like the news. You filter what you want to read about and ignore the noise. Mostly, the reason why we tweet is to share all the fun and interesting ways Fillmore is engaging and motivating students.
  3. Direction: The direction we are going is a successful implementation of the Common Core. This will look differently for each teacher. Again, there is no proven curriculum that will do this for us. The direction you may take will depend on you, but we do know that your instruction has to look less didactic and much more student-centered.
  4. Expectations: I think this has come up in regards to technology usage. Specifically, how much should the students be on the computer. There is no clear answer to this question. First, let me say again that it is NOT about the device, but how the device is used. Remember, the higher on Bloom's that you go is where you want your students to be. It's almost the same as the SAMR Model. Students should be working towards creating, although they will need to be on lower levels at times as well. So, there is no expectation of time to be on the computer. The computer is a tool, no more, to help your students access the world and create.

I hope this helps clarify things a little bit, and if it doesn't, I am more than welcome to have individual conversations with any of you. So, to keep with my theme of sharing, see below for an incomplete list of all the great things I have seen at Fillmore this week, as well as all the great things going on.

Terrific job on Great American Shakeout. I am still having a hard time believing that you were able to complete the drill in 7 minutes- that is so impressive. 

The Innovator's Club continues to be a success. They are building water propelled generators, paper roller coasters, elevator's, and much more. Mr. Figueroa, Ms. Lara and parent volunteers continue to do a great job leading that club.

Ms. Silver and the 3rd grade had a successful pumpkin patch and raised over $400 for their grade level. Thank you to Ms. Silver's boyfriend and the farm he works on for that generous donation. And of course, to Ms. Silver for lugging all those pumpkins to Fillmore. Have you seen her biceps?

Ms. Towle has started using a program called ALEKS to intervene with math skills. It's a tool that can differentiate. I'm looking forward to seeing what she thinks.

2nd grade used Skype to hear a lesson about our character traits and rules from Wondergrove. What a cool way of using the world to teach our kids and a great model for effective use of technology.

I loved how Ms. Farrell used the Great American Shakeout to relate what they were learning in class to our own lives.

Many many classes are modeling good behavior by picking up trash- other people's trash. Thank you!

Although I wasn't at school on Friday, I was still wearing my Fillmore blue, and am happy that all of you are as well. I love seeing that school spirit. 

3rd graders are learning how Sheets can be a useful tool for math and their lives. What a lifelong skill!

It was so interesting to be in Ms. Silver's room Wednesday morning and watch her students do their "I Wonder" activity. She puts an interesting image up and the students fill out a graphic organizer in their notebooks answering what they see, they think, and they wonder. And then I went into Ms. Lara's room a few hours later and they were doing the same thing. It is a great way to do a bunch of things: spark interest in the world around them, make thoughtful observations, start the critical thinking process, activate the inquiry cycle, and begin to build thoughtful questioning strategies. Nice job!

Our TK students are so active and Ms. LoCicero does a great job on harnessing their energy into productive learning experiences. So many manipulatives! I saw students using chop sticks to put blocks on paper to outline letters. What a great way to build letter recognition and fine motor skills.

In Ms. Bialass' class I witnessed students working as a group to help each other learn their word lists. It was an impressive collaboration for first graders.

Mrs. Castaneda's student teacher Ms. Shammah did a really cool lesson to teach the phases of the moon. She had students hold these white Styrofoam balls and move them around a lamp light to demonstrate the different phases. the students had fun. So did I.

Ms. Krebs used Google Docs to have students share their brainstorm. It was a quick easy way to allow every student to have a voice.

I know there's more, but I've already said a lot. It was a great week, as usual.

Oh, and at our PLC Mrs. Denton gave us a heads up on the SBAC performance task. We were able to see where our students need to be with writing skills. For me, it was informative.

Here's what's coming up:

I will be out Monday for 7 Habits training. Judie will be out Tuesday for SELD training.

Wednesday is the Peace assembly.

Wednesday's PLC will be grade level collaboration.It's a good idea to see how the interventions you are putting into place are working. What data do you have to support their effectiveness or ineffectiveness.

Thursday the Model Tech teachers, Mrs. Knapp and Ms. Asmussen, are available in the morning to help you with any technological assistance you might need.. 

I think that's it for now. Have a great weekend!


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