KCS Curriculum and Instruction

Teaching and Learning News to End the 2015-2016 School Year

Thank You.

This year's first C&I newsletter began with those words, and it seems appropriate to begin the last issue in the same way. Thank you for everything you designed, taught, assessed, created, said, didn't say, thought, collaborated on, listened to, attended, endured, wished, hoped, tried, asked, reflected, and decided this year.

I hope you are not looking much like the second owl below, and I hope your classroom didn't quite get to the point of the one pictured here. And if you are in need of a snarky response to any insulting comment about teachers having the summer off, try out the one on the e-card. It's probably more like two year's worth.

You deserve an amazing, relaxing, fun-filled summer with family and friends. However, I know you won't really stop thinking about those students and your teaching, so later in the newsletter, you'll find some summer reading homework. Don't worry - it's optional. :)

Don't Miss These Dates!

Monday, June 13 from 1:00pm-3:30pm: Poverty Simulation at Fred L. Wilson. The poverty simulation is a unique tool that helps people begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress. This is a role-play event and you will learn what difficult circumstances families in our community may face. If you have not participated, it is a highly recommended event. Click here to register; it's not too late.

Tuesday, June 14 from 8:00am - 3:30pm: Summer Curriculum Week Professional Development Day (all are welcome). Even if you are not participating in the summer curriculum work, you are invited to attend the first day of professional development. Whole group time will focus on UbD transfer goals, and how to assess understanding. Breakout sessions are differentiated to meet particular subjects. For example, in one session K-12 math teachers will engage in vertical alignment activities, and other subjects will focus on performance tasks and writing. If you aren't a curriculum week participant, but want to attend this PD, just submit your name here.

August 8 &9: Gaston County Teaching and Learning Conference at Gaston College in Dallas, NC (about an hour away). This is a comprehensive, very well-organized, and free regional conference for teachers and administrators. You can view the program here. Here is the link to the registration form.

August Workdays: Mark Your Calendars

Thursday, August 18: Optional Work Day

Friday, August 19: Optional Work Day

Monday, August 22: Optional Work Day/EC Kickoff

Tuesday, August 23: Mandatory Work Day/Convocation

Wednesday, August 24: Mandatory Work Day/Districtwide Professional Development

Thursday, August 25: Mandatory Work Day

Friday, August 26: Mandatory (Protected) Work Day

Monday, August 29: First Day of School for Students

Summer Reading Assignments (For YOU!)

KCS Spotlight on Teaching and Learning

This issue's spotlights focus on teachers that aim high with lessons or strategies that:

  • are aligned with but go beyond the standards,
  • use elements of the UbD framework to build understanding,
  • are deeply engaging, and
  • illustrate wonderful examples of learning experiences with purpose and relevance.

Building Community through Writing

This is what happens when Tiffany Fulton challenges students to study a poetry genre and then give them the freedom (with structure) to create and share their own poem in that genre: Maybe the most powerful 90 minutes I've ever seen in a classroom. It is difficult to describe or explain it all, or even write a list of effective strategies. I just know that I am thankful to have witnessed those students share such a meaningful learning experience anchored in writing, history, humanity, justice, vulnerability, and classroom community. When freshman leave an English class hugging each other, crying (yes, the guys, too), telling each other and the teacher "I love you" ...AND with a greater respect for and knowledge of writing and history... something's going right.

UbD Highlight: Desired Results (Stage 1)/Transfer Goals, both academic and character. We want students to communicate effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes. This class was anchored in authentic writing, and empathetic listening.

World History Holocaust Museum

Katie Bogle, Media Coordinator at A.L. Brown, knows the only way to truly understand the horror of the Holocaust is to immerse yourself in the stories, the images, and the artifacts. Thanks to her wonderful collections of memorabilia, as well as those from English teacher, Becky Shopf, 9th grade World History students were able to do this for a couple of class periods. This Holocaust Museum included strong images, personal accounts, engaging video, and a mesmerizing storytelling station told by Ms. Bogle herself, using maps, photographs, and other artifacts. This was the kind of lesson that forced students to think about really important, difficult questions. Thanks to the wonderful World History teachers (Mike Wolford, Sean Pitchford, and Shane Dagenhart) for collaborating with Ms. Bogle on this event.

UbD Highlight: Desired Results (Stage 1)/Essential Questions. How do we learn from our past? What are the costs of injustice, hatred, and bigotry?

Design Thinking: Take Chances, Make Mistakes

KCS brought 3rd graders from all elementary schools in the district to A.L. Brown C.T.E. classes. Mr. Stegall's Introduction to Engineering Design class introduces students to a Design Process that aids students in solving open ended problems. He decided to let the elementary students experience a few steps of this process. The students were to build the tallest tower they could from the materials provided with minimal input from the high school students. He emphasized not to worry about the tower falling - just rebuild it, learn from your mistakes. This quote from Ms. Frizzle (Magic School Bus) helped the kids get in the right frame of mind: "It's time to take chances. Make mistakes. get messy!"

UbD Highlight: Desired Results (Stage 1)/Enduring Understandings. In order to succeed, you must make mistakes and learn from them.

Including Students in the Assessment Process

Our K-6 standards-based approach to assessment and reporting focuses on clear outcomes and the strengths and growth areas of students. Mrs. Colleen Barrese at Jackson Park knows that for this to be successful, students must be part of the conversation. She makes sure students know how an 'M' and 'E' are not the same as A's and what each letter means. She makes sure they hear feedback that highlights what they are mastering but also know what they need to work on. Through modeling and including them in this process, she has created a classroom environment that embraces the grading system. Mrs. Barrese knows the communication must involve teachers, parents, and students to get all the benefits of this approach.

UbD Highlight: Evidence of Learning (Stage 2). Clear Criteria and Specific Feedback

School Gardens

All KCS schools now have school gardens! At Woodrow Wilson, STEM teacher Sandy Summerlin says this year has been all about learning what works and what doesn't. Their 4th graders used the garden to learn about planting and the care of plants. They also researched the health benefits of broccoli and made video commercials to persuade other students to put broccoli in their daily diets. The potential for these school gardens to become part of student learning across classrooms is exciting. Thanks to the following school leaders for managing the school gardens and/or the learning that goes with it:

Forest Park: Allison Vincent

Fred L. Wilson: Emily Wolcott/Janet Hill

Jackson Park: Jacki Lane

Shady Brook: Karleen Bainbridge

Woodrow Wilson: Sandy Summerlin

Kannapolis Intermediate School: Meredith Katz

Kannapolis Middle School: Tim Downing/Amy Minton

A.L.Brown: Trent Wharton/Sarah Morton/Diane Crawford/Mallory Harris/Amber Ervin

UbD Highlight: The Learning Plan (Stage 3). Engaging students in thought-provoking experiences, considering different theories, and equipping students with the information and skills needed to learn big ideas.

Making Time for the Arts

Just after finishing The Watson's Go To Birmingham -1963 (Curtis, 1995), students in Mrs. Zimmermann's 5th Grade AIG ELA class had the opportunity to visit A.L. Brown and watch the dress rehearsal of Hairspray to compare the historical setting and cultural issues. To extend their experience and follow their curiosity into the world of drama and practice formal communication skills, Mrs. Zimmermann approved students' request to invite two of the stars to visit their class at KIS. They prepared interview questions and the students were enthralled by the real Wonder-celebrities in their midst! It was a wonderful experience to encourage the multiple talents of students in our district and the arts and well worth the class period invested.

UbD Highlight: The Learning Plan (Stage 3). Students are hooked and engaged through inquiry, have opportunities to explore and experience learning that integrates subjects, and learning is tailored and flexible to address the interests of students.

Mr. Blum's Class

Deana Lewis, Assistant Principal at KIS, puts words together better than most people I know, so I will just print her words here about Mr. Blum and what she observed in his class. It's worth your time to read:

The students are literally giddy with excitement in Mike Blum’s class at KIS, because today they are learning about body systems and Skeleton Steve is on the board to help us learn about bones and organs. Mr. Blum has a stethoscope around his neck and calls all the student “doctor” as they come up to the board to label, identify, and discuss the body. Intestines, skull, digestive system, lungs, esophagus…these kids are nailing it. They are working together to help each other choose the best answers and encouraging each other the entire time. Next, they get to borrow Dr. Blum’s stethoscope and listen to each other’s hearts. Carlos, the volunteer, offers to dance like a crazy man to ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ so they can measure an active heart rate. They finish the lesson off with a team based game of JEOPARDY where they sing the theme song and work to earn points for the entire class.

Mr. Blum’s class is not only full of extremely smart and excited fifth and sixth graders, but they also happen to be in the self-contained AU class at KIS. Mr. Blum and his teaching assistants Ms. Ackett and Mr. Davis have created an exciting and loving classroom that meets a variety of social and academic needs of our very special students.

They work hard and play hard in Mr. Blum’s class. Staff members have helped throw a Root Beer social for the fellas in his class, where they all wore bow ties and sipped their sodas along with a tea for the ladies, where they dressed super fancy and used their finest manners to enjoy tea and cookies. They collaborate with Ms. Macdonald’s class to train for the Special Olympics and have reading and learning partners all year long.

Mr. Blum and his team bring so much to the kids inside the classroom, but his kids add so much to the learning at KIS. Thank you, Mr. Blum for working tirelessly to meet the needs of your kids in such mature lessons that offer them a chance to be who they are while stretching themselves to grow academically.

UbD Highlight: The Learning Plan (Stage 3). Students are hooked through experimentation and inquiry, have opportunities to explore and experience big ideas, and is organized and sequenced to maximize engagement.