Staff Weekly Update

December 4, 2015

“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” – Anton Chekhov

We appreciate all that you do to make our students and each other happy while at school, regardless of the season. From Secret Snowman to the Holiday Sing and from the Ugly Sweater Contest to our Family Reading Night, our Apollo Community continues to make learning fun.

Thank you for all that you do!

Aaron & Lewis

From Our PBIS Coaches...

Our first PBIS Assembly will be on Monday, December 7th and will focus on compassion. Below is the schedule. We will plan on calling grade levels down to the Galaxy Theater around 10 minutes before the assembly begins.

  • 1st session - 1:20 - 1:50: 1, 2, 3
  • 2nd session - 2:20 - 2:50: 4, 5, 6 & Carriqui's 3/4 Class

Questions? Contact Cherish or Brandy.

Don't forget to check out the Galaxy Seating Assignments to see where your class will be sitting during the assembly.

Guidance on Holidays and Religion in Public Schools

The holidays will be here soon, so we wanted to share some information on religion, schools, and the holidays. A useful source of information is The First Amendment Center’s A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools. The general rule of thumb (taken from the First Amendment Center document) is “when a school does choose to acknowledge the religious holidays, it is essential that the school must never appear to endorse religion over non-religion or one particular religious faith over another.” Around the holidays, questions sometimes arise about the use of religious symbols, and what constitutes a religious symbol. In the First Amendment Center document, the authors state that “the use of religious symbols, provided they are used only as examples of cultural or religious heritage, is permissible as a teaching aid or resource. Religious symbols may be displayed only on a temporary basis as part of the academic lesson being studied. Students may choose to create artwork with religious symbols, but teachers should not assign or suggest such creations” (p. 9). Some other general guidelines are as follows:

  • Public schools must remain free from activities that could involve religious coercion.

  • Religious symbols are not appropriate seasonal decorations in public schools.

  • Schools must be careful not to cross the line between teaching about religious holidays (which is permitted) and celebrating religious holidays (which is not).

If you have any questions about decorations, activities, or other holiday items, feel free to contact us and we can discuss your question(s) and/or concerns.

Upcoming Dates

Monday, December 7th

  • PBIS Team Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • D63 Administrators Visit Apollo - AM
  • Gr. 1-3 PBIS Assembly @ 1:20 p.m.
  • Gr. 4-6 (& Carriqui) PBIS Assembly @ 2:20 p.m.

Tuesday, December 8th

  • School Leadership Team Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • 6th Grade Tier Meeting @ 10:25 a.m.
  • Aaron/Lewis at Admin. Meeting - PM
  • Kindergarten Tier Meeting @ 1:20 p.m.
  • 2nd Grade Tier Meeting @ 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 9th

  • Secret Snowman Drawing @ 7:50 a.m.
  • Junior Achievement @ 8:30 a.m.
  • 5th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • 3rd Grade Tier Meeting @ 12:30 p.m.
  • Book Fair/Family Reading Night @ 5:30 p.m.
  • Orchestra Concert - Gemini @ 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 10th

  • PFA Tier Meeting @ 7:50 a.m.
  • 4th Grade Tier Meeting @ 8:55 a.m.
  • Parent Education Workshop @ 9:00 a.m.
  • Early Dismissal for Students

Friday, December 11th

  • Family Friday @ Lunch
  • Core Team Meeting @ 2:15 p.m.

Ten Myths About Brain-Based Learning (Marshall Memo)

In this article in Principal’s Research Review, Arkansas State University professor Amany Saleh debunks these myths:

Myth #1: The brain doesn’t grow new cells after infancy. On the contrary, the brain grows new cells and dendritic connections throughout the lifespan. In addition, the brain continually reorganizes itself in response to life experiences.

Myth #2: Some people are left-brained while others are right-brained. This idea has been undermined by recent research. The two hemispheres do specialize in certain functions, but there is considerable overlap and coordination and incoming information is processed by both hemispheres.

Myth #3: Playing Mozart to babies increases their intelligence. Alas, this turns out not to be true. However, listening to beautiful music can release endorphins; slow down respiration, heart rate, and brain waves; reduce stress; and increase alertness, all of which can facilitate learning.

Myth #4: Good brains are inherited. Nonsense, says Saleh. Enriching life experiences (including good nutrition, travel, effective teaching, cultural stimulation, and exercise) change and improve the brain’s structure, while debilitating life experiences (including poor nutrition, domestic abuse, drug abuse, ineffective teaching, and lack of exercise) have a negative impact on the brain.

Myth #5: Brain research is too new to be reliable. There is more and more evidence for certain insights about the brain and learning, especially from MRI and neuroimaging techniques. But educators should be cautious, says Saleh, about adopting practices based on flimsy evidence.

Myth #6: Medication is the only evidence-based intervention for a number of brain-related problems. It’s true that meds can be effective in treating depression, attention deficit, and hyperactivity – but so are meditation, mental exercises, and cognitive games, combined with good nutrition and exercise.

Myth #7: Children’s games are a waste of time. On the contrary, “pretend” games help young children extend consciousness, promote language and social development, and encourage creativity, and for older children, computer games (in moderation) stimulate certain kinds of brain growth. For all children, exercise and fun social interaction have positive effects on overall physical health and the brain.

Myth #8: Students with special needs should focus only on basic skills. Not true, says Saleh. “Exposing students with disabilities to enriched curricula can help them adapt and grow new connections in the brain that may help to compensate for their disabilities.”

Myth #9: Narrowing the curriculum to what is on high-stakes tests will prepare students for the future. Saleh says that enriching the curriculum with varied and challenging tasks helps students become better learners and problem-solvers.

Myth #10: Implementing brain-based teaching requires too much time and expertise. True, it requires time and teacher training, says Saleh, but it yields significant dividends in student achievement. “Students who are exposed to enriched school programs consistently outperform students from traditional school programs on academic standardized tests,” he concludes.

“Myths About the Brain” by Amany Saleh in Principal’s Research Review, March 2008 (Vol. 3, #2, p. 3-5), no e-link available