Staff Memo

Sept. 4, 2015

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Creating Dispositions of Inquiry

Wondering and Asking Questions

All day long kids need to wonder, to ask questions, to know that their questions need to be followed up with action. Many questions need to propel them into some kind of action. Questions need to be acted upon. Maybe it's something as simple as, "What am I choosing for lunch today?" to something really complex like, "Why are there two genders?" Either way, questions lead to an action.

It might be a quick question to Siri that can be answered immediately. Maybe it's a question to another person. "Dad, do we have the ingredients to make spaghetti for supper tonight?" It might be the kind of question that takes some digging. "How can we make birthday cupcakes that look like high-heeled shoes?" All require action if you want answers.

Big questions may need to percolate a bit. They often lead to collaborating and asking others what they think and know. Whole religions have been founded on life's big questions. That didn't happen alone. That happened with collaboration and communication.

As we work to build dispositions of inquiry, our students must understand that their questions are valued. They need to know that we make time for their questions, that we honor their wondering, that no question is too silly to ask, and that if they ask questions, we'll find ways to help them find answers. This year it might be more difficult as our students don't all have technology at their fingertips that allows them to ask Siri questions and get answers, but think about next year and the endless possibilities that will support inquiry.

A Story

My brother-in-law, Tim, works in the tech department in Goshen Community Schools. He was a fifth grade teacher before he became the manager of the GCS Student Data System. He's the kind of guy whose mind is creative, never stops, and is always trying to find new ways to do things.

We love being with Tim. He's funny, genius, and practical. When we ask a question, any question, he can't let the opportunity pass without answering our query with, "Does anyone have a web-enabled device?" I hate to admit it, but it actually took me several years of hanging out with Tim before I caught on that I didn't need to simply ask the question and stop at wondering. I only had to pull out my web-enabled device (most often my phone) to do a quick search for the answer. (And no, you don't need to wonder about how smart I really am.)

So Many Questions and So Many Answers

Many of the questions we ask throughout the day are not life's biggest questions. Many need only quick answers. If I can find the answer, most often I can follow up with some kind of action. I can begin making supper, choose my clothes to match the weather, find a photo of that vacation spot we went to five years ago.

Tougher questions demand those four 21st Century Skills. For tough questions I'll need to communicate, collaborate, think critically/problem solve, and be creative and innovative when it comes to thinking and sharing.

As I think about HSE21 and our role as elementary educators, I believe our job is to create the dispositions that understand the value in inquiry, the value in action following questions, and the value in knowing many different ways to find answers. When I think about Jan, Phil, and Stephanie's HSE21 presentation and how we get our students thinking in ways that will allow them the learning that will take place in our College and Career Academies, we need to focus on how we support inquiry and deeper learning. Nourishing dispositions of inquiry will take our students a very long way. It's our job to support their thinking and inquiry all day long.

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Share Your Kids' Questions

If your students are asking some deep questions worth sharing, please send them my way and I'll include them next week.
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Please meet in the front entrance at 8:40 on Tuesday morning for our required first semester Bus Evacuation. You will get instructions as we gather. Your basic job is to find spots out in the parking lot so kids can come to you and line up after they've evacuated the bus.

Big rule is that we can't help the kids get out of the buses. It's basically a "don't touch" time when we need to find out if the kids can evacuate without our help.

Hope for good weather.

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Lockdown Drill Review

On Thursday we have our first Lockdown Drill. If you don't know how to do a Lockdown Drill or feel you need a review session, please join me in the Collab Room on Wednesday at 8:15. I'll go over procedures then.

If you want to do a bit of research, check out our Staff Handbook or research on-line. The video below is one we watched several years ago when we had our first ALICE training.

ALiCE Training Video-Middle School Students
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Upcoming PD Revisions/Reminders

Tuesday, Sept. 8 @ 7:30 - location?

  • Office 365 Basics - You needed to sign up via a Smore from Susan Drumm or Kelly Moore

Friday, Sept. 11 from 1:00-4:00 in the library

  • What are our beliefs about children?
  • What is coaching? How does it support our learning and student learning?
  • Intro to Workshop and Rock Solid Teaching

Please note the change in dates below:

  • Nov. 13 - No Staff Meeting
  • Nov. 20 - STAFF MEETING -Dr. Bourff plans to share his observations over the past eight plus months. His observations have translated into three distinct suggestions for a referendum.

    Dr. Bourff would like for the staff/community to tell him if he has an accurate account OR are there other needs to be considered.

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Looking Ahead

Monday, Sept. 7 - No school - Labor Day

Tuesday, Sept. 8 Day 3

  • Pledge/MOS - Murch
  • 7:30 Tech Integration Specialist PD - Office 365 Basics
  • 8:00 Office Meeting
  • 8:15 Share the Load - TJ
  • 8:40 Bus Evac - All staff meet in Entrance at 8:40
  • 1:05 Share the Load - Ian - Snyder
  • 3:10 Collab - Team 4- PD/Collab Room 128

Wednesday, Sept. 9 Day 4

  • 8:15 Lockdown Review for those interested - Collab room
  • 9:45 Stakeholder meeting - CH - Hale
  • 3:10 Collab - Team K

Thursday, Sept. 10 Day 1

  • Lockdown Drill sometime today
  • 7:35 CIT - Collab room
  • 2:25 Share the Load - Anthony P
  • 3:10 Collab Team 1 - PD/Collab room
  • 4:10 Collab - EC - Collab room 128

Friday, Sept. 11 No Specials

  • Mid-term
  • 8:15 Share the Load - Talon H
  • 12:01 Students dismissed
  • 1:00-4:00 PD in Library - bring your own chair if you'd like

Monday, Sept. 14 Day 2

  • Pledge/MOS - Jose
  • 8:00-3:00 K-6 Administrators with Ryan Flessner
  • 3:10 Collab Team 2
  • 7:00 School Board Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 15 Day 3

  • 8:00 Office meeting
  • 9:30-10:30 Admin Team meeting - FJH
  • 3:10 Collab Team 3

Wednesday, Sept. 16 Day 4

  • Fire Drill and Storm Drill sometime today - make sure you've reviewed procedures
  • 8:15 Share the Load - Zach M - Koewers
  • 3:10 Collab Team 4

Thursday, Sept. 17 Day 1

  • 7:50 StuCo First meeting
  • 3:10 Collab Team K
  • 4:00 Baby Shower for Katie and Knox

Friday, Sept. 18 Day 2

  • Spirit Day - Tie Dye - Break out your colors
  • 7:35 DIversity21 in the Collab Room
  • 1:00 PTO Exec Bd - Lisa
  • 3:10 Collab Team 1