ENSC Weekly Notes
November 11, 2013
1. We are not the first to select this type of calendar. As I have indicated in the weekly notes, other area schools are considering calendars that have longer fall and spring breaks. This includes the three school districts in DeKalb County. DeKalb Eastern is following a balanced calendar this school year.
2. Spring break will most likely fall with the school districts in Allen County. As for the DeKalb County Schools, that is unknown at this time. It is possible; however.
3. No, this is not a balanced calendar. I did address this last week. Based on when the staff are requesting breaks coupled with the trimester/semester issue, the calendar is more of an extended calendar.
4. The extended calendar is NOT a year round school calendar and it is actually just one week longer that the current calendar. This is NOT a stepping stone to a year round school calendar.
5. Nearly all Indianapolis area schools, including Indianapolis Public Schools are using a balanced calendar. Someone mention the Warren Township calendar which allows school to end during May. This is possible; however, their first day of school was July 29. Several people have expressed concerns that are related to starting on August 7. They feel this is too early. I think it would be a challenge to start as early as July 29.
6. Two weeks for fall break is too long. Right now, fall break would be one week and one day. The one day would be the certified professional development day.
7. A few people have asked about a long weekend in February. the challenge with this is the unknown of weather make up days. If we have several weather cancellations in January and February, it would not be good to have a break in February as suggested.
8. Why are we considering long breaks? Reasons include: The pressure on students and staff are much greater today than it was 5, 10, 15 years ago. The expectations are much higher for everyone and when longer breaks are given for students and staff to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate, everyone is better able to focus on school and reduce stress. As October arrived this year, school buildings had an increase in discipline issues and an increase in parent concerns. With the current calendar, we have at least one day off a month. Parents become frustrated with all of the breaks and the number of times they have to find child care for a day. I have often listened to them comment on the number of days the teachers are not working. Staff have commented that students are more active and less focused the day before break. The more breaks, the more disruptions in the classroom.
Monday, the Discussions Committee will be meeting again to discuss the calendar. My hope is to have a calendar ready for Board approval on November 20. Parents are asking for the calendar so they can request vacation dates during our breaks.
East Noble Middle School
There are three community input meetings scheduled:
Thursday, November 14, East Noble Middle School, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, November 18, Rome City Elementary, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, November 19, Avilla Elementary, 6:30 p.m.
Please pass this information along to anyone you know. Everyone's input on this decision is critical. Unlike a school calendar, once the decision is made and implemented, it cannot be changed.
Last Week's Cookie Recipient!
East Noble Middle School - 98.9%
Avilla Elementary - 98.6%
East Noble HIgh School - 98.5%
Rome City Elementary - 98%
North Side Elementary - 97%
South Side Elementary - 96.9%
Wayne Center Elementary - 93.9%
This Week's Super Hero is East Noble Middle School's Laura Sibert
This weeks super hero of the week is Laura Sibert. Laura is the technology coach at the middle school. Laura is perhaps the school's biggest advocate for the use of technology in the classroom and is constantly pushing our teachers to hone their technology skills. In the picture above Laura is testing how long it takes to install a new program on the student's computers. She came down to the classroom to get the computers an sat on the floor as to not disturb the classroom and pull kids out of learning. Laura has put in countless hours after school for technology nights or trainings and always had a smile on her face. She is an obvious super hero to the middle school and the corporation.
So, how do you participate? Open your Twitter account and "discover" the hashtag associated with the chat. You will then see Tweets using that hashtag. People participating will pose a question with a "Q" and then answer with an "A." You can join in the chat, just remember to use the hashtag associated with the chat.
- How to Create Effective Homework - http://fluency21.com/blog/2013/11/08/how-to-create-effective-homework/
- TED Talks for Kids - http://tinyurl.com/lhr6w4p
- Developing your Questioning Techiques - https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/questioning-in-the-classroom
BUILDING AND CURRICULUM NOTES
Help Students Explore and Learn More About Topics They Love
This week I am going to highlight two resources that you may not be aware of - CurriConnects and a new feature of Wolgram Alpha called Problem Generator.
If you are looking for Lexile leveled novels related to a curriculum topic or subject area, this site is your one stop location for lists of books. Within each list, the entries also provide the interest level, the Lexile level, and the ESL level of the book, along with a short plot summary for each book. The entries are also grouped by age level labels: Preschool/Picture Books, Early Elementary, Upper Elementary-Middle School, Middle School – Young Adult, and Mature Teens-Adult. Students, parents, and teachers have instant access to locate books by topic which support all readers.
Wolfram Alpha Problem Generator
Most of you are familiar with the fact that students can plug in any math problem into Wolgram Alpha and see the solution and answer. This tool and others like it are a driving reason behind a shift in math instruction. The answers to any math problem are always a click away. However, a new feature of the site will support student learning vs. student answer acquisition. Problem Generator, is now a place that creates random practice questions for students, and Wolfram Alpha then helps them find the answers step-by-step. Using the tool is pretty straightforward. Students, teachers or parents choose which topic they want to study and the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and the system will generate a problem. If a student can’t find the answer after three tries, Wolfram Alpha can show a step-by-step solution. This is a great resource to provide students additional practice or to begin exploring a new math topic.
Both sites are excellent resources to help students drive their own learning by connecting them to topics they want to explore more in-depth.
Alternative Learning Center
The last week of the Tri is always bitter sweet at the ALC. Monday we will be saying good bye to some of our students as they return to ENHS and we will welcome many new students to the ALC family on Tuesday. Our high school students have done a great job this Trimester. They have accumulated 85 credits as of this writing!!! The ALC staff wants to thank those students for doing a great job first trimester!!! In elementary news, we welcomed two new elementary students to the ALC this week. They are off to a great start and we look forward to many more weeks of great performance from them. Finally, the ALC received some new work stations on Friday that will enable us to serve more students at one time thereby expanding our reach and affording more students the opportunity to attend the ALC.
This past Friday was a very busy day at Avilla. We had Hat Day for $1 and all the proceeds are being donated to the Honor Flight program. OUR students and staff raised over $150 for this cause. OUR National Elementary Honor Society officers took time during the day to honor former East Noble student Nick Hartge. Nick was a veteran that was killed in battle while serving OUR country. Each year at Veteran’s Day we take a wreath to his gravesite to thank him for sacrificing so much for all of us. OUR NEHS also took a wreath to the American Legion in Avilla to thank all of the veterans for our freedoms that we have.
Technology class is a great way for OUR students to be challenged. Over the past few weeks students in grades 3-6 have been learning about digital citizenship. Students in grades 3-6 have been assigned a Digital Passport account. Through this and another common sense media program they will learn many different aspects of being a digital citizen. Grades 5 and 6 will then create power point projects that will show what they have learned. Many of the classes use tech time to finish projects that are currently taking place in the classroom. In third grade, Mrs. Stine’s class used their tech time to type their persuasive letters. OUR 2nd grade students used this week to type and send emails. It’s pretty cool to see the collaboration that is taking place in OUR building in action.
East Noble High School
It’s the end of the first trimester and final exams are wrapping up. New schedules begin Tuesday. All of our fall sports are complete and we have started round two with our winter athletes. While preparing for the end of the trimester, we’ve had a wide array of activities taking place in the English department.
Some of the English 9 Lab classes completed projects on the reading of Odyssey. Each student had to choose three of nine options to complete. Each option encouraged the students to be artistic and creative through the use of Fakebook, illustrations, writing, and poetry. The students excelled with their projects! This incorporated many skills necessary for success in any classroom: technology, in-depth reading, imagination, and collaboration.
English 10 Honors (World Literature) classes finished the trimester by writing a culture essay. This assignment was developed to help students comprehend the customs and cultures of other areas while strengthening their writing and research skills. The finished piece is a personal narrative, written as if the student is a fifteen year old living in that particular culture. This not only makes the essay more interesting, it also focuses on the necessary writing and point-of-view skills included for the ECA testing.
As one of the options for a project in a 10th grade class, some students recreated the setting of the multi-roomed mansion in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death. The story describes seven rooms, each with a different specific color-scheme and design. Some students built their creations in Minecraft, and one used the computer game The Sims. One of the Sims creation included a Grim Reaper as the Red Death and some horrified party guests. Her screen shots are attached.
East Noble Middle School
This past Wednesday at ENMS was “Dress Down for Veterans Day.” Staff members could pay $5.00 for the opportunity to dress down to show their support for military veterans while students paid $1.00 to wear hats. All in all, nearly $200.00 was raised in support of America’s veterans!
ENMS played host to the Four County Junior Achievement board meeting on Wednesday. JA Board members received feedback from several ENMS 7th and 8th grade students and staff regarding the current JA programs being taught at the middle school. Seventh grade students work through a program titled Economics for Success that is designed to get students to start thinking about life after high school while 8th grade students work through a program centered on personal finance.
Two hundred seventy six total students met at least 5 of their 7 academic goals during the first 9-weeks. Students who met those goals received ENMS wristbands, enjoyed some down time this week in the gym during academic lab, and tickets to place in the drawing for a grand prize item.
North Side Elementary
The fourth graders at North Side have been working hard and showing great progress! Our most recent successes have been seen in our reading and writing time, where the students have been researching Greek Gods and Goddesses and creating trading cards to be displayed around the classroom. Students have enjoyed researching on their iPads and learning about a variety of gods, goddesses, and even Greek monsters! They have been practicing their research and note-taking skills and have been eager to create multiple trading cards to share all that they have learned.
This has been an exciting way that we have integrated technology into our curriculum, as this project allowed students to learn about and practice a variety of researching skills. Some of these skills included learning how to perform a safe-search to locate information, how to use multiple sources to learn more about one particular topic, and how to cite sources. The students learned a great deal about Greek mythological characters through this project…and had a great time doing so!
On Tuesday, 6th grade band students presented their first concert. Students were eager to share with their parents and other family members the great strides they have made from the beginning of the year until now. The program began by playing My Country Tis of Thee and was followed up with various songs they have been perfecting for the last few months. At the end of the concert, students were able to let loose and end their concert by playing two crowd favorites, “Rock and Roll” and “We Will Rock You.” A big thanks goes out for the dedication that Mr. Swartzlander shows to each and every band member and instilling the love of music that each one of those students possesses.
Rome City Elementary
What a busy week at Rome City! This week Rome City was a host site for The American Red Cross Blood Drive. Honor Society students helped with the Blood Drive. We had several parents and Rome City community members donate blood to support the American Red Cross.
Rome City had their first Chuck E Cheese Fundraiser this week! Chuck E Cheese came to Rome City to motivate students to visit Chuck E Cheese to raise money for the school. Students requested going to Chuck E Cheese, so we made it happen! Several families and staff members had fun while raising funds for the school.
Staff and students wore jeans and red, white and blue for Jeans for Troops Day. Staff members donated $5 to wear jeans and red, white and blue with the proceeds benefitting The GI GO Fund.
Rome City 6th grade band was rocking its way into family’s hearts on Thursday evening. Band students had their first performance of the year. After their performance the 6th graders made a Pledge to Graduate in front of all of their families and friends. This group of 6th graders will graduate in 2020.
South Side Elementary
This was a big week for South Side sixth graders as our band and chorus performed for the first time in front of their parents and families! Mrs. Mettert walked the audience through building layers of sound in the West African tradition as students demonstrated the technique on percussion instruments in addition to using their voices, hands, and feet to also create rhythm and beat. Mr. Swartzlander led our students in several musical numbers which they executed well, but he did not stop there. He elicited participation from the audience, giving our families a three-step music lesson as well!
In addition, Mrs. Munson—high school counselor for the East Noble graduating class of 2020, made a special visit to conduct the graduation pledge. As our students begin to look beyond the hallways of South Side Elementary School, we hope that each of our Trailblazers finds his or her own way to be involved in school; and that all the while, they maintain a focus on their future—beginning with an East Noble High School Diploma.
Mrs. Owens, Mrs. Juillerat, and Mrs. Armstrong ended the evening with cookies and punch for all of our attendees. Families lingered and shared conversation with staff, students, and each other. Families, food, and the arts. What a great way to spend an evening!
Wayne Center Elementary
What would you do if you were stranded in a remote location for five days? As a culminating activity to the required reading, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, the 6th grade students were given the task of journaling their experiences as they were stranded in various isolated locations around the globe. Some students were stranded in the Arctic, others were stranded in a desert, while others were attempting to survive in a rainforest. Each student began their project by researching the location in which they had become stranded. They researched the biome, the climate, the vegetation, the animals, as well as any possible dangers they may encounter while stranded in their remote location. The students created a PowerPoint presentation of their information. The information they researched helped them complete a five-day journal writing that detailed their experiences while they were stranded. We have some very creative writers in the 6th grade!
All 6th grade girls were given the opportunity to try volleyball this fall. Nearly every 6th grade girl came out to give volleyball a try. For the majority of these girls, this was the first time they had ever played organized volleyball. After nearly four weeks of practice, the girls were able to compete against the other elementary schools in our corporation. The girls did a great job and had a lot of fun playing. They were quite nervous the first Saturday. However, as the girls gained confidence in their volleying and serving abilities, those nerves quickly subsided, and they improved tremendously. We are quite proud of how well they played, and we hope to see them continue to develop their skills and one day be a Knight volleyball player.
The week ended on a great note with the sixth grade music class and band performing a concert for their families. Using bells, sticks, congas, and bongos, the sixth grade music class played traditional African music. Each song was led by a student with the remaining students playing various instruments. The band students demonstrated how much progress they have made so far this year by playing some songs that they have used to learn specific music skills to songs were they combined all the skills together. The students did an excellent job performing Thursday night!