Miner Mondays

Placerita Jr. High School - September 3, 2018

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Diving into Fall with Kindness

Last week was a great week to reflect on our interactions with each other on campus. ASB did a great job creating Kindness Week with a variety of activities on campus including No One Eats Alone last Tuesday. ASB students went out at lunch to find those eating alone and invite them to come eat with them in room 45. It was very encouraging to see our students caring for each other in such a positive way. They also added some games to the mix and involved multiple people in Charades and even shared some corny jokes for a good laugh. We also shared the idea of having a PAC Man Rule during brunch and lunch which relates to situations where students are standing in groups. The rule simply means that instead of standing in a closed circle you leave room for at least one or more other people to join your group. I caught one group at brunch (see pic below) purposefully enacting the PAC Man Rule. Let's keep our eyes open this week for students who may be doing Random Acts of Kindness.

Self-Assessment in Middle School

Inspired by John Hattie, a middle school math teacher encourages students to articulate and measure their own learning.

FROM - Edutopia

By Michael Giardi

August 6, 2018

Four years ago, I was introduced to the work of John Hattie, which changed my vision of my role as an educator. Hattie convinced me to think of myself as a change agent who could apply the tools of Visible Learning to guide my students to succeed in math beyond their own expectations.

To do this, I had to create a classroom where my students knew exactly what they were learning, how well they were doing, and where that learning would take them.


Some teachers don’t appreciate objectives or learning targets, but I would urge them to consider the following question: How can we expect our struggling students to succeed if we don’t tell them what it is that we want them to learn?

I now begin my lessons with an “I can” statement that pinpoints the skill and/or knowledge that I aim for my students to gain—e.g., “I can describe the movement of three basic rigid motions on a coordinate plane” or “I can calculate the missing side lengths of similar shapes.” The precision of my learning targets sharpens and streamlines my lesson plans, and allows me to create formative assessments that shape my planning going forward.

However, the primary benefit of using learning targets is that they allow students to articulate and measure their own learning. For me as a math teacher, there’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing my students engaged in a mathematical discussion, and learning targets offer the language to begin these discussions.

After sharing a learning target, I display for two or three minutes all of the learning targets in the unit we’re studying. I use this broad overview to conduct a brief class discussion on what we’ve learned thus far and where this learning is taking us.

This is an opportunity for me to ask a few review questions and build vocabulary, allow students to articulate their own understanding of the concepts covered, and give meaning to these ideas by describing where our work is taking us.


When it comes time to monitor my students’ understanding, I ask checkpoint questions aligned with our learning targets. Such checkpoints are ungraded quizzes, formative assessments that allow me to gauge where my students need help. They also give students the opportunity to track their own understanding of the learning targets as we progress through the unit.

I correct the assessment using a highlighter, and the lack of a grade along with the strategic use of the highlighter allows students to focus on what is most important about the assessment—the learning targets where they need to improve.

The ultimate goal of learning targets is to build self-regulating, articulate students who can boost their own progress through self-assessment. So after a checkpoint, I provide students the opportunity to assess their own progress using a rubric where they can rate their proficiency on our learning targets.

Within a unit, I give students three or four checkpoints (including one that covers the full unit), providing them with several pieces of data to assess their own learning, learn from their mistakes, and improve in preparation for the final, graded unit assessment.


Of course, some students still struggle to succeed. Therefore, I offer them what they need most—more time. When a student scores below proficient on the unit assessment, I ask them to come after school, and I use that time to review the concepts they’re still struggling to grasp.

The most important part of this retake process is getting students to articulate their mistake and their new understanding of how to solve the problem correctly. If there’s time, I’ll give them a new assessment to further show their progress. However, most often the retake is an in-depth discussion that I have with a student or a small group of students that allows them to fortify their understanding of the learning targets they missed, assures me that they have the skills they need to move forward in the curriculum, and earns them a passing grade for the assessment.


In my final piece of assessment, I ask students to do my job and assign themselves a grade, using evidence to support their claim.

This evidence comes in the form of a portfolio with three elements. The first element asks students to submit one or more checkpoints to demonstrate growth in understanding of a math concept we’ve covered. These submissions are accompanied by a written paragraph articulating the student’s journey to deeper understanding. The second element of the portfolio is a piece of either homework or classwork that helped the student contribute to a class or small group discussion, with a paragraph detailing the ideas discussed. In the final element, students write about a concept we’ve covered, explaining how they could use it in the real world, how it connects to their understanding of other mathematical concepts, or what they find cool about the mathematical ideas behind the concept.

My learning targets are posted online for students to review, and they have their checkpoints and unit assessments to display their progress. I give them a few minutes each week to think about their portfolios, make notes, and put work aside for possible use. I then use students’ statistical grades alongside their own self-assessments to generate their grade.

Providing my students with clarity through the use of learning targets has been a priority for me over the past four years. This practice has helped my students better articulate their ideas in math and strengthened their ability to self-assess, which in turn has increased their success in math.

Article URL https://www.edutopia.org/article/self-assessment-middle-school

Congratulations on a Great Fire Drill

Thanks to all for your participation in a well executed drill last Friday. It was 18 minutes from the time the initial alarm went off until everyone was back in class. Great job by everyone.

Wellness Corner - The 10,000-step myth and the real health goals you should aim for

10,000 daily steps are fine, but there are more important figures to aim for


Boudicca Fox-Leonard

4 JUNE 2018 • 10:07AM

If you’re pounding the pavement to clock up your 10,000 steps, you may want to pause for a moment. Public Health England chiefs have announced you're better off going for a bracing walk than counting steps obsessively.

Mike Brannan, of Public Health England (PHE), said that the 10,000 target "is believed to come from a pedometer manufacturer in Japan ... There's no health guidance that exists [to back it]."

While the myth of "10,000 steps" might not be quite as misguided as the notion that a “Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”, the pedometer approach to fitness has long been questioned by the scientific community.

Dr Ben Kelly, head of preventative Medicine at Nuffield Health, says: “In the academic space we’ve known for a long time that the response you have to exercise is very specific.” While one person might lose weight and get fit counting steps, for another it might have little effect. He cites a Nuffield study that showed that five to 10 per cent of the population showed no measurable improvement after following such fitness guidelines.

FitBit, which has sold more than 38 million fitness trackers worldwide, and encourages users to take 10,000 steps daily, released a statement last year following similar criticism in the US, saying its mission was “to help people lead healthier lives by empowering them with data, inspiration and guidance”, and that users could adjust their targets.

And for the goal-oriented, there are arguably other magic numbers that we should be aiming for instead.

Guidelines say people should do two and a half hours a week, or half that amount of vigorous exercise, such as running. Walking, gardening or even housework counts as moderate intensity activity if it makes you breathe faster and raises your heart rate.

However, understanding that a universal approach to fitness doesn’t exist is crucial for ­Curtis Valentine, a personal trainer from north London, who offers his clients a bespoke service to achieve their individial goals. “An exercise class is never ‘one size fits all’,” he says. “It’s the same with 10,000 steps; it could push one person too much.”

Exercise for 150 minutes a week

It is a bone of contention with many health professionals, but the national guidance for activity of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week has stood the test of time, says Dr Kelly. “Ultimately the data suggest if you achieve 150 minutes a week you are at lower risk of chronic disease and cardiovascular events.”

But you don’t have to blitz it all in one frantic go. Dr Kelly suggests breaking it up into five chunks of 30 minutes, or even 10 of 15. “The body doesn’t discriminate – you get the same benefits.”

Most importantly, don’t see yourself as a failure if you don’t manage anything one week. “Remember, it’s an average over your lifetime.”

Aim for a resting heart rate of under 60bpm

Fitness is the strongest predictor we have of mortality. It might seem perverse but, says Dr Kelly: “You can be overweight and fit and have a longer life expectancy than someone who is lean but unfit. It’s important to do a suitable amount of exercise that will boost your aerobic capacity. Ultimately that is the thing that will predict how quickly you’ll die.”

Fitbit has sold over 38 million trackers worldwide

A good measure, says Mayfair-based personal trainer Matt Roberts, is: “Is your resting heart rate below 60 beats per minute? If it isn’t, you may need to increase your physical activity.”

So those 10,000 steps might not count for anything much if they’re leisurely. Curtis Valentine adds: “The British Heart Foundation says you should walk like you’re on your way to an important appointment, just slightly out of breath.”

Don’t be inactive for more than 90 minutes

A lack of movement is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say inactivity is the new smoking, but it’s absolutely up there,” says Dr Kelly.

He recommends getting up every 90 minutes and stretching your legs. “That means, every hour and a half, make a cuppa or pop outside to get some fresh air – your body will thank you.” Apps such as Alarmed allow you to set reminders for yourself, making this easier than ever.

Article URL: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/10000-step-myth-real-health-goals-should-aim/

Just for Kicks - Gerry Brooks has a great invention...