Friday Focus

A Week of Awesomeness at EHS

Introduction

Happy Friday!


I hope you all enjoyed the short week after the long weekend. What a great week we had! We started off with Tech Tuesday, which I will talk about a little later on, but I just want to give a shoutout and a THANK YOU to all the teachers who came to check it out. We quickly followed with early release Wednesday - I hope you all enjoyed and took advantage of collaboration time with your colleagues. Collaboration is a great way to develop yourselves professionally. If anyone has any feedback not already given about topics discussed in our meeting on Wednesday, please don't hesitate to let an administrator know.


This week was like any other in regards to the cool things I saw going on in classes around school! I thank you for making that a regular practice! I hope you enjoy reading about your fellow teachers and the amazing things they are doing with their students. I hope that Friday Focus can be a springboard for discussion and collaboration to continuously improve student learning throughout our building. My final hope for today - I hope you had a fantastic week (but they're all fantastic in Cardinal Land, right?)

STAFF NEWS

Room E116

Stop in to Becky Goodwin's room to observe a little bit of nature indoors. Becky has a hyacinth in full bloom in her aquarium, bullfrog tadpoles, and mosquito fish! What a wonderful way to have her students explore science.
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STUDENTS AS LEARNERS

Mr. Keltner

Last week, Scott played a really neat BINGO game with his classes as a review. He made FOUR bingo cards for EACH student. I forgot how many different versions of Bingo he had, but I know it was a lot of work to get those materials made. He used two different "spinners" on the interactive whiteboard to randomly create math problems, which added a really neat element to the game. The students had to complete the problems based off of where the spinners landed, and see if they had that answer on their Bingo board. Students were definitely engaged, even if they were eating their Bingo markers. (I'd have a hard time not eating the Skittles too - good thing he had a second option for them to mark their Bingo boards, for those like me with little self-control in regards to candy.)
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Mrs. Kelso

Tuesday was a "piece of cake" for Robyn (see what I did there). She had students make one of two types of cake that represented one of two types of Federalism. Students had to explain to the class how their cake represented the type of Federalism they chose. What a great way to get students to interact with and see the concept. Not to mention, I bet Federalism tasted great, too! Awesome assignment, Robyn!

Mrs. Daigh

Bonnie did a fun assignment last week with her students. Rather than have them complete math problems in the typical classroom setting, she scattered them around the building for a fun scavenger hunt! This was an excellent way to get students excited about solving the problems. Sometimes simply being able to get out of your chair makes things a lot more enjoyable! It was a great opportunity for students to move around while accomplishing the objective for the day. Fun lesson, Bonnie!
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STAFF AS LEARNERS

Tech Tuesday

There were a handful of teachers who gave up their planning time to come learn more about Google Apps for Education! I hope you found it worth your time, and that you attend again in the future!! Please know that I appreciate your dedication to learning and your growth mindset. You are true leaders!


I understand that it may have simply been tough for you to make it that day, and I definitely understand that. I hope you were still able to benefit from the resources from Tech Tuesday via my Google Classroom. If you haven't joined my Google Classroom, I encourage you to do so if you would like. I sent out an invitation to all teachers, so you can use that, or you can use the code 5ildnp.


If anyone puts the information from Tech Tuesday into use in their classroom, please invite me to see it in action! It would truly make my day.


Below is a picture of Chef Low, who was my first victim - er -I mean, participant. Just look at how much fun he is having!! Don't you want to have that much fun every other Tuesday as well?? :)

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Mrs. McQueen

At Tuesday night's volleyball game, Melanie asked me about a technology piece that I presented about last year. After racking my brain and giving her three options that weren't actually what she was talking about (oops), we discovered that she wanted to use Answer Garden. She wanted a way to have students use their own devices to answer a question, and have their answers appear on the screen she was projecting. Answer Garden was perfect for this. She posted the link for students to access on Twitter, so students didn't have to type in a long URL, but she also had the URL on the board just in case. She started out by asking them what they knew about Central America, then they watched a short video on Central America, and then they answered the same question again using Answer Garden. It was a perfect way to do a "KWL" but make it in real time, and illicit more student responses. You could also tell that students really enjoyed this method, and she had all of her students engaged. I may have been a little ornery and participated as well, submitting answers in all Spanish. :) Thanks for putting up with me, Melanie!

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK

Mr. Pickett

This week, Joe jumped in with both feet into one of the neatest, yet "scariest" features of Google Docs. That feature is collaboration. You know how Google Docs work - it's great for teacher collaboration to allow us to see each other's edits in real time. Joe allowed students to utilize this feature on his latest lab. Students worked in groups, and each group had ONE Google Doc they were to turn in for their documentation. In the library, students worked on different computers, yet on the same document, and could see each other's work as it was happening. (Joe also had each student type in a different color, to hold them accountable for their parts.) Students also took pictures of the lab to document different stages of it, and they were easily able to include those in the doc. Since only one person took the pictures (on their own devices!!) it was easy to collaborate and include those pictures into the Doc. Using this feature can be scary, because it can open up doors for dishonesty, but Joe went ahead and trusted his students with this task. He also used the "two feet and two eyes" app to make sure everyone was doing their fair share. (You can also to to "File" then "See Revision History" to see who did what in a Doc.) It was great to see students collaborating, participating, and engaging with one another on this lab. This is exactly the kind of 21st century skills we should be aiming to instill in our students - how do you appropriately work together on a project and use technology to help facilitate the collaboration? Joe also has some really cool projects in the works that I'm excited to watch develop! Keep it up, Joe! Your students are really benefitting from your willingness to take risks!
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ARTICLES WORTH READING

Ditch That Textbook and Teach Like a Pirate

Today's article comes to you from the author of "Ditch that Textbook" and he writes about how he was inspired by Dave Burgess's "Teach Like a Pirate." (Both of which are available to sign up for in our Professional Library." This article in particular talks about the usage of "hooks" to get our students engaged at the beginning of class - get them so excited about what they are about to learn that they can't even take it! What a fun concept! I encourage you to read the article, and especially click on the PDF link in the article that outlines various "hooks" you could use in your room! Argh Matey!

VIDEOS WORTH WATCHING

"What I Learned From Going Blind In Space"

The following video is a Ted Talk by retired colonel Chris Hadfield who experienced one of the scariest situations one can imagine - going blind in outer space. I encourage you to watch the video, and you can make your own evaluations of what it means to you. If you're up for reading it, I'll give you my commentary after the video on what it meant to me.
Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space

Chris mentions an astronaut saying in his speech. The saying is, "In space, there's no problem so bad that you can't make it worse." I feel like this applies to any situation we are given in life, in particular in the world of education. There are so many things that can go wrong on a daily basis in schools. However, there are ways, just like how NASA prepares astronauts, that we can prepare to handle even the worst of situations. It's important to have procedures and routines that you can fall back on to get you through a hard time, and if you back that with positive relationships with students and all stakeholders, we can proactively work through many problems. Additionally, I think this goes well with what we are trying to accomplish with MTSS and Positive Behavior Supports. We look ahead to what could go wrong, and we do what we can to keep it from happening. And if something does go wrong, we know exactly what to do. Like the motto of the Scouts - "Be Prepared."


Chris talks a lot about fears. I encourage you to think about what fears you have in regards to your day to day teaching. (Let's take the fear of our government not supporting us out of the equation for now.) Is it technology? Is it change? Is it the changing dispositions of students? Whatever your fear is, Chris encourages you to take them head on. He talked about spiderwebs. I personally react just like he described when I walk into a spider web. It's one of the worst feelings for me, and I actually get the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Anyway - the idea of walking into spiderwebs intentionally? Are you nuts? Then it made sense. I would be re-conditioning myself and my physiological reaction to encountering a spider web. I think we can do the same thing in education. If there is something out there that you think sounds neat, or that you'd like to try, but the fear of the unknown or the simple fact that it's a "pain" to get it all figured out - I encourage you to try it once. Then twice. Re-condition yourself, like the spiderweb example. If you truly want to try something new but just haven't taken the steps to do it yet, there is no better time than the present.


Finally, it really spoke to me when Chris talked about how he wanted to live out his dreams as a 9 year old to be an astronaut. Going through all of the "scary" parts were part of his dream, so he took them head on. I encourage you to look back at your dreams of why you became a teacher. There may indeed be some roadblocks that have sucked some life out of that original dream, but I encourage you nonetheless to look back on that dream. That dream of becoming a teacher. That dream of making a difference to students. That dream of spreading a love of learning, love of your content. Our students are changing. Our schools are changing. Are my methods still aligning with my goals and dreams? Am I still putting my dreams into practice? Do I need to change my approach to anything in order to stay relevant to students and stakeholders? These are all thoughts and questions that I've started asking myself, and will reflect on to try to make sure the answer is always "yes!" It's not easy, and sometimes it's scary. But I will always fall back on the love of my job, love of students, love of teachers.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thank you to all of you for a great week of learning with our students. They are very fortunate to have teachers who care about their success and work hard to ensure that success is realized. If there is anything further that I can do or continue to do to support you in your efforts, please let me know, and I am happy to help in any way that I can. I hope you have a fantastic weekend! If you are going to the tailgate and game tonight - it may get a bit chilly! (But I'm a wuss, so I may not be the best judge of coldness.) At any rate - hope to see you there!


Megan