Highcroft Herald

December 14, 2015

Quote of the Week

"Individuals commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." ~ Vince Lombardi

Key 4: Classbuilding

Each of us dedicate many hours at the beginning of the school year towards cultivating a caring classroom community. We develop norms, teach what it means to be a class family, infuse character lessons through our class meetings and model expectations endlessly. Then we move forward into the curriculum and get at the business of school, and by this time of the school year, we may find ourselves noticing students being a little short in their patience with one another or not demonstrating the ROSE values as expected. This does not arise from lack of initial planning or implementation, but can be enhanced through intentional preservation -- refocusing weekly through classbuilding.

As a part of the cooperative learning process, it is recommended that we engage students in a classbuilding structure in which they are up and interacting with classmates outside of their table teams on non-academic content at least once a week. This "functional fun," fun with a purpose, lays the foundation for developing and maintaining a classroom climate in which students feel safe, comfortable, like to be and learn. This is a community that aids in lowering students' anxiety levels, assists in increasing students' self-esteem and enhances students' motivation levels.

There are five aims of classbuilding:

  1. Getting Acquainted - getting to know classmates
  2. Class Identity Building - forming a class identity
  3. Mutual Support - feeling supported by classmates
  4. Valuing Difference - clarifying and respecting differing values
  5. Developing Synergy - building on classmates' contributions

When classbuilding meets all five of these aims we find that students move beyond knowing general information about the people in their class to truly developing relationships with their classmates. They move beyond superficial barriers and are better equipped to empathize and seek to understand one another. This is a culture where students are needed by their classmates and can depend on their classmates for support. They learn that their classroom community is a better place because they are a collective group of varying perspectives.

Some of the ways that you might incorporate classbuilding structures into weekly practice are such things as Inside-Outside Circle, Classroom Signals, Ticket Agents and Circle-the-Sage.

Inside-Outside Circle - Who Are We?

  • Students stand in two concentric circles. Students in the inside circle face out, and students in the outside circle face in so each student is facing a partner in the other circle. The teacher asks students a discussion question such as, "How did you get your name?" Students take turns responding to their partner. When done, the teacher tells them how many people to rotate. They face a new partner and share information.

Classroom Signals

  • Foster belonging with your own unique language. Cultures have languages and dialects. Subcultures have lingo and jargon. Fraternities have secret handshakes. Use simple, nonverbal hand signs and gestures to communicate: quiet please, I need help, I'm done, I need more time, you're going too fast.

Ticket Agents

  • This exercise emphasizes looking for positive things in others' behavior. Every day, assign one or two students to hand out tickets to those who are being helpful, considerate or cooperative during the day.


  • Students who have expertise on a topic stand around the room. For example, we are about to do a unit on Mexico, and we ask students who have visited Mexico to stand. These "Sages" spread out. Then the seated members of each table team circle a different sage and learn from that sage. Finally, the teammates return to their table teams and compare notes. Now that each teammate has a different body of knowledge to share, as they interact they get a fuller picture of Mexico.

Coming Soon to the Herald

Begin January 11th, you will notice a wonderful addition to the Highcroft Herald. On alternating weeks, Gretchen and Kim will be contributing authors, sharing information on best practices, hot topics and the latest strategies in ELA and math. Be on the lookout for "Coaches' Corner" in upcoming issues!


Monday, December 14

  • Hanukkah
  • Soup for Staff - During Lunch
  • Multiple IEPs
  • Collaborative SSD Sub - Amanda Schmidt - AM / Meghan Tumbrink - PM
  • McPherson Out of the Building - PM
  • Morrison - No Sub - All Day

Tuesday, December 15

  • Climate Committee Meeting - CRA - 7:45 am - 8:45 am
  • Character Education Assembly - MPR - 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Cornell - Debbie Spitzer - All Day

Wednesday, December 16

  • Intervention Team Meeting - CRA - 8:00 am - 8:45 am
  • McPherson Out of the Building - Principals' Meeting - All Day
  • Harper - Nancy Buchanan - All Day
  • Moyes - Patricia Naffziger - All Day
  • Stilts - Debbie Spitzer - All Day

Thursday, December 17

  • Choir Rehearsal - Music Room - 8:00 am - 8:45 am

  • 3rd Grade Math Focus Student - ?? - 10:20 am - 11:15 am
  • 5th Grade Math Focus Student - ?? - 11:15 am - 12:10 pm
  • KDG Math Focus Student - HE - 1:55 pm - 2:50 pm
  • Choir Concert - MPR - 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Choir Concert - MPR - 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
  • Meinershagen - Debbie Spitzer - All Day

Friday, December 18

  • Country Western Day - Specials Time
  • Hotline Articles Due
  • Meinershagen - Debbie Spitzer - All Day