Friday Focus

A Week of Awesomeness at EHS 1.29.16


Happy Friday!! I hope you had a great week! Let's enjoy some beautiful weather while we can this weekend, and hope that the huge snow storm misses us next week! (Unless you're a snow lover who wants to get a ton of snow! Best of luck to you as well!)

I apologize for not getting a Friday Focus out last week, but this week I was excited to be back in some classrooms seeing some great things as always!! We finished January strong, now bring on February!

I'd like to point out this week's "Video Worth Watching." It's a 12 minute TEDx talk that I encourage you to watch before our February early release date. It may give some good background information for an explanation that I'll be giving that day. It's a pretty enjoyable video! Thanks!

Students as Learners

Mr. Pickett

This week, Joe had a really solid lesson with his biology students. It wasn't necessarily anything super fancy, but great pedagogical strategies were at play to get his students to learn. Their objective for the day (which was nicely posted on the whiteboard) was for students to analyze the importance of meiosis in producing genetic variation. Joe had a variety of ways for students to demonstrate their learning. First, they were conducting their own research on the topic. There was also a Google Doc that he pushed out via Google Classroom for students to answer some great questions on the topic. He also utilized Padlet for students to share their ideas with one another. Students were on task, focused, and very engaged! Great lesson, Joe!
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Mrs. Pickett

Just down the hallway, Shannon has her Heritage Project going in full force. Students have been interviewing family members to find out more about their family's culture by inquiring about the past. Within the project, Shannon is hitting on some really great skills. First, this project requires a great deal of initiative on the students' part to interview family members. It can be a rarity these days for students to engage in meaningful conversations with multiple adults in their family. Students record video or audio of these interviews, so there is a neat technology aspect involved as well. She is also having students conduct research on an aspect of their family's heritage, and students combine all of their information in a 3-5 page paper on their family's heritage. I'm excited to go see some finished products!
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Mrs. Kelso

When I walked into Robyn's class this week, students were studying for an upcoming test. What is impressive to me, is that Robyn has created an environment where she gives her students a study guide, and they are actively completing it, interacting with one another about the material, and preparing for the test. There was little to no off-task behavior. On the study guide were essay questions that students needed to be prepared to answer, so they were spending their time researching information, and preparing to defend their answer. The essay questions were definitely higher order thinking questions, where students had to analyze a topic, evaluate the information to make a judgement, and create their own thoughts on the matter. Robyn had done an excellent job of creating a space where she was more of a facilitator of learning, and students were actively engaged in their own learning.

Mr. Keltner

Scott is always incorporating things he sees every day in "real life" into his math lessons. Earlier in the week, he was stuck in traffic behind a Volvo (see picture below) and took a picture of said Volvo. He then turned it into a lesson on Desmos (a neat math app) where students used their knowledge of parent functions and transformations to map the edges of the car. It was a neat practice problem, and it also allowed students to see that math truly is all around them, they just have to know how to look for it. Scott utilized the Chromebooks to have the students complete the lesson. Great job!

Mrs. Pruitt

This week, Morning's students were learning about photon emissions in an atom, and how to calculate the energy of the photon. (I know this because of her great objectives she has written on the board.) Students were using some graphing calculators and some formulas to help them see the color emissions of various photons. When they plugged the formulas into their calculators, they could see what color the photon emitted. It was a really neat way to get students to discover this, rather than simply reading about it. it was a great use of the calculators, and it was engaging for students!
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Mrs. Lancaster

So, a couple of weeks ago, I saw Kim's advanced Spanish students doing something really cool. It was on a Friday that I had already sent out the Friday Focus, and the next week, I forgot to include it! So, better late than never, right? Students had been reading a Spanish story, so in order to help their comprehension of the story, as well as practice the grammar tense they had been learning, students built a "tower" of the story. They wrote sentences and drew pictures on notecards, and then built story towers, with each card depicting an important scene from the story. It was a great way for students to solidify their understanding of the story and practice their grammar! Sometimes, all it takes is a fun, hands on activity to really get students to comprehend the material. Great lesson!

Mr. Magette

This week, anatomy students in Eric's class dissected sheep brains in class. I was unable to make it to his classroom (and with the nausea and sensitivity to smell and other things, it may not have been the worst thing), but I could see from Twitter that students loved it! He also broadcast the dissections on Periscope, so people could watch! What a fantastic way to get people outside of your classroom involved in student learning! I did visit Eric's class the next day to see students studying genetics using virtual fruit flies on Although they weren't "real" fruit flies in the students' hands, this piece of technology allowed them to get a virtual experience of studying the genetics of a fruit fly. They were able to perform test crosses of fruit flies, and see the results of their tests. It's a pretty neat piece of science they were able to experience through the use of technology. Good stuff!!
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Instructional Strategy of the Week

Mr. Bova

This week, when I walked into Matt's classroom, students were hard at work writing poems. It seemed as though students were writing a series of poems, and if I inferred correctly, Matt teaches a type of poetry, then gives students an opportunity to create their own poems of that nature, adding it to their master poetry document. What I've witnessed out of Matt, is that he makes poetry relevant to every student, which is no easy task. He does such a great job showing how poetry can be a very moving way to communicate and express thoughts, and he finds pieces that touch all sorts of interests. So, by the time students write their own poems, they feel as though they have something important to say that deserves to be in a poem. Matt was also utilizing Padlet to have students share one of their poems with the entire class. What a great tool for students to get to see other students' poems, and have a chance to reflect and respond to their classmates' work. Awesome poetry unit!

Articles Worth Reading

Writing Strategies

There's a good push in education today - the push to get students to be proficient writers. I always appreciated learning how I could better incorporate writing into my classroom, so below is an Edutopia article on strategies for struggling writers. I also wanted to let you know that on Feb. 12th, on our inservice day, there will be a session offered for helping develop writing skills in students. This article could be a good warm-up for that session!

Videos Worth Watching

Play is Necessary

The video below is a TEDx talk by Kevin Carroll. I encourage you to take 12 minutes of your time to watch it all the way through. I truly love his message. Play is an important part of knowing ourselves. After you watch the video, I'd encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

- What types of play do I do for myself?

- What role do I play in incorporating play into students' lives?

- Do I have an opportunity to incorporate "playful moments" into my classroom?

- What inspires me?

- What inspires my students?

- What can I do to encourage my students to chase something that inspires them?

I think this video ties in nicely with the idea of Genius Hour. We are going to spend some time on February 12th exploring this idea of Genius hour, student passion, and maybe even some play. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I encourage you to watch this video before our Feb. 10th early release - It might make some of the concepts I'm going to talk about easier to visualize! Thanks!

Play is Necessary: Kevin Carroll at TEDxHarlem

Final Thoughts

Well, another great week is in the books! Best of luck to our basketball team tonight as they travel to Paola.

Thank you all for your hard work! I'm looking forward to seeing more great things next week. Have a fantastic weekend!