E-Staff Weekly for 12/8/14

Panther P.R.O.U.D.

The PDE Asks for Feedback on Testing

The Pennsylvania Department of Education asks for feedback regarding testing content used in the PSSA and Keystone exams. Parents, educators, and community members can go to: http://www.paacademicreview.org/, review content, and submit feedback which will aid in the PDE review and revision process.

Hallway Holiday Tree Decorating

Each hallway (Wing) has an evergreen tree waiting to be decorated by its classrooms. Feel free to come up with some creative designs and themes that best represent your "personality". The tree decorating should be completed by Friday, December 19th. This is not meant to be complicated or stressful, but bring out good fun and cheer for all!

Embedded Technology Coaching

Brandon Lutz, BCIU Technology Application Specialist, will be at Seylar on December 16th to provide embedded technology coaching for our staff. This would be a great opportunity for you to "try-out" that new technology tool or app that you haven't had an opportunity to yet. He can provide insight, encouragement, and feedback on your classroom tech integration. More importantly, it is an extra set of hands when questions or issues arise with students. You can also schedule him during your prep time too. I will set up homebase in the faculty room for the day.

To sign up for a time, please CLICK HERE. I look forward to staff taking advantage of this service to further their professional growth.

Holiday Cards

In the main office, there's bulletin board dedicated for staff members to post greeting cards, etc. for the upcoming holidays.

iPad App Store Username and Password Reminder

This is a quick reminder to use the following username and password if you come across and a free app that you would like to use with your students. If you would like to purchase an app, please speak with Miles.

Username - itunespsdseylar@pennridge.org

Password - PSD@seylar123

March of Dimes Blue Jeans for Babies Day

Next Friday, December 12, we will participate in a March of Dimes Blue Jeans for Babies Day. If interested, you will make a donation and wear jeans to work. You may want to wear pink and/or blue as well. Our efforts will help more babies begin healthy lives. Please provide Tina with your monetary donation (no specific amount).

Student Cumm Records and Evaluation Reports

These should not leave the office area. In addition, if you are reviewing any records, please make sure your signing the yellow review sheet located on the side of the cabinets in the conference room.

Parent Communication Reminder

As we move through the school year, you may be thinking that some of your students may need a multidisciplinary evaluation from the school psychologist this school year or next year. Please remember that this process must go through IST and is a team-based decision.

Teachers should not recommend testing to the parent. However, if you are approached by a parent about this, then the conversation should be about the process.

Letters to Soldiers

Amy Hejnar as asked to reach out to the staff about writing letters to soldiers serving our country. If you are interested in doing this with your students, please provide the letters to Tina no later than 12/23/14.

This may make a great a center activity too.

Classroom Assessment Review - Grade 3

Grade 3 is scheduled for Assessment Review by the Principal. Please see the Seylar Staff Handbook for further details.

Happy Birthday to You!

PAMELA THOMAS - December 3



LEEANN HABERLE - December 25


What's Your Why?

Cathy Cush - Attendance Clerk

For years I was a stay-at-home Mom, which was a great job that I loved! So, when my children grew older and started school, I volunteered very often, helping out in various duties. When an office position became available, I immediately expressed interest and was hired. Ever since then I have love the whole atmosphere of the Elementary School, especially the students and faculty!

Lisa Herrmann - Recess Monitor

I started as a volunteer 24 years ago when my children were attending Seylar. I have grown to love and respect the staff, enjoy working with the children and can’t wait to get outside every day! I keep them safe and allow them to enjoy themselves and “be kids”.

Maria Sweet - Librarian

Growing up, libraries were a big part of my life. My Mom would load the six of us into the station wagon, and off we would go. When I went to college, I wanted to be a journalist, and studied communications as my Major. But I switched directions and went into advertising. I retired at age 25!

My husband and I had our children, and I stayed home with them. Reading and libraries were a very regular part of our days. When our youngest started school, I knew that I would be happier working and working with kids seemed to be a natural fit. So, I worked as an Educational Assistant and thought about teaching as a new career path. Kids are the best people to be around!

After 3 years of being in the school system, I decided that sharing my love of books and bringing books to life for children was the perfect fit. So, I went back for my Master’s and was fortunate enough to find a job upon graduation.

Every single day, I think how lucky I am to do the job I do. To see happy, smiling faces, to share my passion and watch it “take root” and to watch children grow from pre-readers to readers is a true gift.

Teaching Resources, Inspiration, and Sometimes a Good Laugh!

Getting Students Acting as Peer Editors of Each Others’ Writing

In this article in The Journal of Adventist Education, Susan Taylor (Andrews University, MI) says that teachers spend many, many hours reading and commenting on students’ writing assignments, trying to correct errors and help students become better readers of their own writing so they will become better writers. But all that work doesn’t seem to be paying off – many teachers have observed that students rarely make use of the comments they receive. “With so much time and energy devoted to a single activity,” asks Taylor, “why doesn’t Johnny write better?”

The solution, she believes, is getting students to read and comment on classmates’ writing. “Such opportunities for peer review can help students improve their reading and writing, as well as learn how to collaborate effectively,” she says.

Of course peer review can be an ineffective process. “I liked your story about the horse, but I think you should add a little more detail and maybe change the last two sentences,” is a typically unhelpful comment from a classmate. Here are some common problems:

  • Many students feel uncomfortable passing judgment on peers’ writing, and bland comments like “I loved your story” get them off the hook.
  • Friendships make some students biased, even dishonest, in the comments they give. A critical comment could sour a relationship or be taken as a hostile gesture.
  • Some students give more thoughtful feedback than others, and highly proficient writers may discount comments from classmates who are less adept.
  • Many students don’t know how to use the feedback to revise their writing and may react defensively to classmates’ criticisms.
  • Some teachers assume their students already have the skills to give helpful feedback (which few do) and fail to give student editors the necessary guidance.

For these reasons, few teachers use peer review effectively, if they use it at all.

But Taylor says two peer-review protocols can make the process a powerful tool for improving student writing. Before each one, the teacher emphasizes the importance of peer review, provides students with detailed rubrics of effective writing, and offers guidance on giving feedback.

  1. PQP: Praise, Question, Polish – Groups of 2-5 students take turns reading each others’ drafts aloud as other students follow along in copies the teacher has made for them. “This oral reading helps writers hear how well the paper flows and independently identify possible changes,” says Taylor. Students then react to the piece by writing comments on their PQP form: Praise: What is good about the writing, and why is it good? Question: As a reader, what do you not understand? What would you like clarified? Polish: What specific suggestions for improvement can you make?
  2. Drafting – The class is divided into groups of three and students read all the essays produced by the group, commenting both in the margins and at the end of each paper. During the next class period, they share comments and reactions.

During both PQP and Drafting sessions, Taylor recommends that the teacher maintain a “hands-off” approach, monitoring the groups and keeping them focused and commenting appropriately at the end on how things went. “When students are given the proper tools,” she says, “they can function with little input from the teacher.”

Why does peer review work? First, language, thought, writing, and learning are social in nature, and working in collaborative groups helps students take advantage of a powerful instructional process. Second, peer review makes students more perceptive readers, more attuned to details in any piece of writing. Third, peer review reinforces values about the way writing should be taught – through respect, negotiation, and cooperation. Students become more aware of each other’s needs, which cultivates a spirit of mutual responsibility. Peer interaction helps young writers choose which criticisms to take seriously, and that makes them more confident writers. “Editing makes one a better writer, writing makes one a better editor, and both make one a better thinker,” says Taylor. Fourth, students get lots of practice at formulating and communicating constructive feedback to their peers, as well as responding to comments on their own writing. Fifth, students make the transition from writing primarily for their teachers to thinking about a wider audience. Finally, peer review teaches students valuable lessons about teamwork. “Collaborative experiences are fundamental to empowering students as communicators, both in school and in their future careers,” says Taylor.

“Can Peer Review Help Johnny Write Better?” by Susan Taylor in The Journal of Adventist Education, April/May 2014 (Vol. 76, p. 42-46), no e-link available (spotted in Education Digest, October 2014 (Vol. 80, #4)

Technology Tuesday: Creating a Flipped Classroom

Tuesday, Dec. 9th, 11:15am-1:30pm

820 Callowhill Rd

Perkasie, PA

Chris Brockman will be offering this brief overview about what a flipped classroom is, the benefits of this model, and how can it be implemented. Watch the video below to provide some background knowledge.
What is a flipped classroom? (in 60 seconds)