October 14, 2013

Welcome to a New Week

Last week was Homecoming Week for ENHS and it appeared to be one of their best for student involvement. From what I heard, the dress up day, "Duck Dynasty," was a hit with the kids. I happened to stop in that day and saw the great fun kids were having. It is nice to see kids and staff take a break once in a while from the rigor and stress of school and their personal lives to just enjoy a fun activity at school. With the accountability of school grades, testing and more testing, meeting standards, and teacher evaluations/student grades, our staff and students become very stressed and burned out and don't always get enough time for enjoyment and relaxation.

More school districts in the area are considering adopting a "balanced calendar" and East Noble School Corporation is considering the same. A balanced calendar is NOT "year round" school. A balanced calendar is designed such that students receive a few longer breaks during the school year and eliminating the multiple single day breaks. DeKalb Eastern School Corporation switched to this calendar last year and other schools in the area are considering it. Indianapolis Public Schools is now following a similar balanced calendar along with most of the Indianapolis surrounding school districts.

The idea. of a balanced calendar has changed over the years, but one advantage of this type of calendar has not changed over time. Giving students and staff a few longer breaks provides them with opportunities to rest and rejuvenate thus being better focused on school. In addition, research has shown attendance in schools tends to increase for both staff and students when using a balanced calendar. With all of the accountability and higher expectations of students, we are finding they are in need of longer breaks.

IF we were to have a balanced calendar, we could begin about one week earlier, have a two week break in early November or backed up to Thanksgiving, two week winter break, and a two week spring break at the end of March/early April. Of course, there are other models which include a one week break in late October/early November instead of a two week break. Snow make up days could be made up during the the first week of spring break or added on to the end of the school year, etc. The last day of school (before snow make up days) could be anywhere from June 1 or later depending what the start date is and how many days are used for breaks.

Regardless of how the school days are distributed, students will attend just 180 days as they do now! Also, if daycare is an issue, the Kendallville YMCA can help you!

I am interested in your thoughts on a balanced calendar. Feel free to email me any of your thoughts. alinson@eastnoble.net

Middle School

The school board continues to discuss the future of the middle school. While no decisions have been made, the Board will begin to publicly discuss options in the near future and solicit public/community input.

This weeks Super Hero is the Alternative Learning Center's Ann Fraze.

Ann Fraze is the ALC Superhero of the week. As many of you may recall Ann joined the ALC staff last year, after spending 12 years as a Social Studies teacher at Caroll High School. Prior to her time at Carroll Ann taught for the Department of Defense schools in Germany and Guam. In addition to her teaching credentials, Ann also has a Master’s Degree in Counseling. Mrs. Fraze’s diverse background has prepared her well to work at the ALC. She has been a great addition to the staff. When asked about her time at the ALC Ann shared she loves working for East Noble, particularly because "this district still cherishes the human element of teaching and learning. There is a strong commitment to excellence, without a mass-production feel. And, of course, I love East Noble because this is where I went to school. (In fact, I just recently attended my 45th class reunion.) More specifically, working at the ALC is fun. I know that many people might be surprised by that description, but it is an accurate one. From the first day we met, the staff has been a team. This camaraderie makes for a positive working environment, which really benefits students too. At the ALC, because of the smaller numbers and the extended periods, we are able to connect with each individual student. One of the benefits (which I had not anticipated) at the ALC is the opportunity to learn lots of new information every day. Because we are helping students with many different kinds and levels of classes, the staff is always acquiring new information. Daily, our students see us problem-solving and committed to a lifetime of learning."

This week the ALC proudly recognizes Ann Fraze as our Superhero.

Building and Curriculum Notes

Wayne Center Elementary

Our third graders have been busy, busy, busy this week. On Monday, we were visited by our counselor, Mrs. Starkey, and reviewed the DEBUG procedure to solve problems. The rest of the week involved fun with apples (students made apple smiles, apple butter, and applesauce), writing poems about apples, using an apple graph to interpret data, and learning about Johnny Appleseed too. Our weekly science time with Ms. Leah from the KPL brought us to use our creativity to make a music instrument while writing the steps to make it at the same time. There is a lot of learning happening here!

South Side Elementary

South Side hosted the Red Cross in our Pint Size Heroes Blood Drive this week. Students could bring an adult to donate on their behalf. Thirty three parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives generously donated to help South Side students save lives.

Our grade level update this week comes from pre-school: We had a great time learning how apple cider is made, going for a wagon ride out into the pumpkin patch and through the woods, finding a very long pumpkin vine with blossoms on it, walking through a corn maze, petting farm animals, playing in a hay maze and picking out our own pumpkin and gourds (the gourds looked like swans!).

What great fall fun!

Rome City Elementary

Rome City Romans continue to put the T.E.A.M. theme into practice. Students are not only working together to help each other in the classrooms, but they also have opportunities after school to participate in various activities.

Two of those activities began this week. The 6th grade girls’ volleyball team, coached by Mrs. Fuller and Mrs. Sorrell are learning the fundamentals of serving and passing, as well as what it takes to be a team player. We wish them the best of luck as they bump, set, and spike their way to a great season!

All 15 members of the Rome City Spell Bowl team are hard at work learning 750 words to compete in the area competition on November 21st. Students are working on both word meaning as well as spelling words correctly. Students are excited to begin to use some of these new “purple words” in their writing. So far, some of our favorite words are: acuity, backfire, consequence, mosquito, and yucca.

At Rome City School, we are very fortunate to team up with Haley Downer from the Limberlost Public Library. Haley is extremely willing to help out in a variety of ways. Recently she worked with third graders to enhance their understanding about how parts of the ear help people hear. The students used this knowledge to make a clay model of the inner ear.

North Side Elementary

On Tuesday the Kendallville Fire Department visited the kindergarteners of North Side Elementary. The firefighters showed the safety gear they wear and fire equipment that is used during fires. They also talked to the students about fire prevention and how to exit a house if there is a fire. Then students had the opportunity to go outside and see a fire truck. At the conclusion, the firefighters gave each kindergartener a fire safety coloring book. It was a great experience for the kindergarteners.

The kindergarten students have also enjoyed visits by Ms. Leah from the Kendallville Public Library. Ms. Leah comes weekly during science time. She reads aloud a book and always has a hands on science project. Recently, students learned about the five sense and were given a bag of sand with mystery items inside to find. Another five sense activity Ms. Leah did was having the students make dirt pudding. The students enjoyed making the pudding and eating it. The students had a great time with these activities. Our kindergarten students always have great learning experiences when Ms. Leah comes to our classrooms.

East Noble Middle School

The Middle School continued Bully Prevention Month with a school-wide “wear blue” day on Monday. Staff and students showed support in their blue attire – an event that will continue for every Monday in October. Daily quotes and reminders were given about bully prevention. The FOR club has been instrumental in the bully prevention initiative – THANK YOU F.O.R. club! And…Did you know we have a TV Production class? We do! And they are working on an anti-bully video to be shown at the end of the month.

Eighth grade language arts classes are working on their tetrahedron projects to accompany their reading of “All of the Above.” US History students are researching the thirteen colonies. Science students are completing a project called “Consumer Challenge” where they have to complete experiments and a Google Doc Presentation. Pre-Algebra students wrap up fractions and integers and gear up for equations. Algebra students are in full gear completing inequalities and preparing to learn all about functions. Seventh graders are preparing to write memoirs next week.

East Noble High School

ENHS has just finished celebrating one of the best Homecoming Weeks ever. There was a tremendous amount of school spirit in the hallways and in the stands. EN Student Council members did a great job planning activities for the student body that included a volleyball tourney, color run, and Minute-To-Win-It games. Students had the opportunity to dress up and show their crazy side all week with days like ‘Merica Day, “Dress for Success”, Duck Dynasty, Thrift Shop, and Crazy Blue & Gold. Thursday evening was capped off with a parade that had the most floats in recent school history. Fans lined the streets as the teams, clubs, and band were escorted by fire and rescue as they made their way through town and back to the school for the bon-fire. The week culminated in a pep-session Friday that got the kids fired up. At the pep session all fall participants were recognized for their dedication and hard work. Friday night lights brought out the food vendors in our own mini version of fall festival. The Homecoming Court was introduced at halftime while the King and Queen were announced. The band treated the packed house to yet another outstanding performance. The football team turned in a dominating performance against the number 2 state ranked Bulldogs beating them convincingly 30-6. The kids had one last opportunity to come together and celebrate at the homecoming dance before they headed into their weekend. It was great seeing the staff and students so engaged and eager to have fun at school. The student body was challenged at the beginning of the year to own their memories, to get involved and make this school something they would be proud of, and this week has certainly done just that.

Avilla Elementary

OUR first graders had a busy week learning outside of the classroom. They walked to the Avilla Fire Station to learn about fire safety. They had the opportunity to try on fire safety gear and shake hands with a fireman. They also learned all about Avilla’s three fire trucks.

Later in the week we traveled to Autumn in the Country. OUR students were able to participate in many fun fall activities. All of the students were taken on a hay ride out to a pumpkin patch with over 100 pumpkins!! They then walked through a corn maze and learned how apple cider is made. The students enjoyed a snack and went to Pumpkin School to learn about harvesting on the farm. They finished the day with a visit to the animal barn, the straw maze, and then were able to pick a pumpkin and gourd to take home.

OUR 6th graders had BizTown job interviews and mayor election this past Friday. The students were interviewed by East Noble High School students. Brooke Householder, Sirahia Ostermeyer, Aleena Sallot, Joe Kempf and Marc Musselman are each part of Mr. Cockroft’s intern class. All of us at Avilla would like to thank these students for taking the time to spend with OUR kids. OUR students were very excited to be talking with the high school students. OUR 6th graders also heard nine BizTown Mayoral Candidates give speeches prior to an on-line election. The students that were nominated for mayor did a great job preparing for and giving the speeches. The students also did some campaigning this past week. We are all very appreciative of the time that was spent by students and parents in preparing for the interviews and mayor speeches. We are so lucky to have such great students and parents to work with each and every day.

Alternative Learning Center

As we approach Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving (Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canucks out there) let’s take a moment to reflect on the things we are thankful for.

At the ALC we are thankful for:

· A GREAT first 2 months of school
· The opportunity to serve over 50 students so far this school year
· Dedicated students who have amassed over 54 credits so far this Trimester.
· Dedicated staff members that come to school and work hard every day to support our students in a variety of ways
· A Great Community with generous people that give of their time and resources to make programs like the Knights Kloset and Boomerang Backpacks possible.

What Do All Teachers Need to Do Differently to Meet the ELA Common Core (Indiana College and Career) Standards?

Well, let me first point out that CCSS stood for Common Core State Standards. This was then changed to INCC – Indiana Common Core. And now INCC is being called the Indiana College and Career Standards. These are all the same thing.

Now that that is cleared up…What should you be doing differently this year?

1. You need to have a balance of texts.

You should have a mixture of texts in your instruction. A mixture of informational, literature, and literary nonfiction (What is this? Literary nonfiction is a form of informational text. It combines the components of both informational and literary texts. It provides information but with rich language. Includes speeches, biographies, etc…) You should have a balance short and long texts. You should have a balance of advanced Lexile levels and easier Lexile levels.

Do you have a balance? Is everything you read a textbook chapter or novel length? Are you giving students an opportunity to read a newspaper or journal length pieces or short poems, online articles, etc..?

2. You need to focus on the skills not the coverage

Students need to understand the content concept and the reading and writing skills. They don’t need to read every word of a text to do this. Student don’t need to read a book from cover to cover to understand the information. We have to make a shift from reading coverage to skill mastery. Students do need to constantly read and read more, but that does not mean that they need to read a book – novel or textbook – from cover to cover.

Do you slim and skim texts to create more time for students to practice concepts? Are you increasing the quantity of texts students read or just the length of the texts? Are you teaching the skills or just having students read on their own?