Monday Memo

Week of 12/8/2014

Reminders and Information

1. You must credit yourself for igniting the fire of learning in the mind that is hungry for knowledge. Know that you are not making an impact for a year, but for a lifetime. This influence that you hold in your hand persists beyond school, college and university, and becomes the beacon of light, guiding your students and each other through the journey of life. As you play this role in each of your students' lives, keeping being that beacon and keep igniting those fires. We have two weeks left before the break, let us make every moment count where we make a difference.

2. Keep being that awesome teacher you are.

3. Be on the Lookout for the 12 Days of Winter fun for all staff:)

4. If you need more hand sanitizer, or anti-viral/bacteria wipes, please come see Ginger. Wexcide is under the sink in the lounge.

5. Speaking of the lounge, please remember to clean up after yourself. Your mom does not work here.

Upcoming Events

Monday, December 8th

  • Lots of ARDs, please check your calendars.

Tuesday, December 9th

  • Fire Drill after announcements at 8:00. Please bundle up kids.
  • CMIT Day

Wednesday, December 10th

  • Enrichment after school (last one for the first semester)
  • Walk 'n Roll Wednesday

Thursday, December 11th

  • Vertical Team meeting after school

Friday, December 12th

  • Family Movie Night from 6-8

Monday, December 15th

  • After school events canceled

Tuesday, December 16th

  • Alternative CMIT day

Wednesday, December 17th

  • Enrichment programs canceled

Thursday, December 18th

  • Staff meeting canceled

Friday, December 19th

  • Remember to refer to the schedule Jana sent out.
  • Early Release at 12:00
  • Sing-Along Assembly and end of 9 weeks at 7:50 am
  • Winter party days
  • Report cards sent home

Our Staff Rocks!

Brags to......

Thanks to Chantell for singing camp songs with the 5th graders before they left for camp!! You are awesome!!

Thanks to Amanda, Joey and the Specials team for helping my subs while I am at the TAHPERD convention. You guys are the best!!

Thanks to the grade level teachers for their patience and help during the transition from four to five groups for specials.

Thanks to the Office team and Sunshine for a great week before Thanksgiving. Each day was fun!!

To Chantell for helping me by keeping a few kiddos who were not able to go jog outside during PE.

Great minds think alike.......Nina and Laura.....twinkies on the first day back!

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AVID Elementary


A-B-C Brainstorming is a prewriting strategy in which you ask students (individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a whole class) to list topics, ideas, or details about a subject using each letter of the alphabet to begin a word on the list. This is a great way to get kids to zero in on a topic or to get them to think about many details they could incorporate into an essay about a predetermined subject. I used A-B-C Brainstorming to make a list of possible subjects for my Wednesday WICOR e-mail:

  1. Analogies
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Career exploration
  4. Dialogue writing (as a learning strategy)
  5. Energizers!
  6. Fun: Why it belongs in school
  7. Google Tools for collaboration
  8. Hypothetical scenarios
  9. Impromptu speaking
  10. Jigsaw
  11. Kinesthetic responses
  12. Listening actively
  13. Metacognitive reflections
  14. Non-Print “Texts”
  15. Oral “Rehearsal” before writing
  16. Perfectionism, procrastination, and planning ahead
  17. Questioning
  18. Reading widely
  19. Symbols—to reinforce learning
  20. Test debriefing
  21. Uncommon Game—a collaborative activity
  22. Vocabulary development
  23. Writing to learn
  24. eXit Cards J
  25. You: The only thing you really have control of
  26. Zzzzzz: Why sleep is important

As you can see, some topics are better than others. With brainstorming, the important thing is to get the ideas down without judgment or evaluation.

After looking at the list, I decided to make this Wednesday WICOR e-mail about brainstorming: using the A-B-C Brainstorming activity. I can imagine using this with students in preparation for a narrative or descriptive writing assignment to help them come up with interesting details to share about their subject. This technique is certain to elicit a variety of answers in a “tell me about yourself” essay, to result in a wider scope of topics in a research assignment, and to produce some intriguing and unusual speech topics.

I’ve seen this type of brainstorming take the form of a list (as I did above) or a 4x6 grid with one letter per space (lumping X-Y-Z together in the final box).

Another way you could adapt this activity is to use it as a review of material: an A to Z list of words students brainstorm about a novel they read, a unit concept (cells), or a time period (the Middle Ages). After brainstorming, students can share and elaborate on their answers as a test or exam review activity. You could even make it into a team competition, with one team challenging another to come up with a word from a particular letter or to come up with the greatest number of words on the page or beginning with a selected letter. The options are many.

Technolgoy Tidbits

This week, educators across the world have been encouraged to participate in The Hour of Code where we spend one hour teaching our students a little bit about the basics of computer coding. It can be done with your whole class or in small groups at any grade level. There are even some activities that can be done without computers. There are tutorials to walk you and your students through different activities. If you can’t do it this week, you can always do it at another time. Visit for more information.

Social Media Turning Out To Help Teachers Gain PD

Social Media Turning Out To Help Teachers Gain PD

  • By Dian Schaffhauser
  • 11/05/14

When teachers who use social media were asked to cite their biggest concerns for education, what topped the list were technology in the classroom (cited by 65 percent of teachers) and professional development (specified by 58 percent). While technology is very helpful for student engagement and motivation, where it really shines is in providing professional development and opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues. And social media is turning out to be a powerful tool for those purposes.

Those results and others surfaced in a technology and professional development survey conducted by the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education Master of Arts in Teaching program. The survey was taken by 310 people, 72 percent of whom were teachers; the remainder had other education titles. Potential respondents were culled from two primary sources: educators with very low or no participation in education Twitter chats and those who were actively involved. Four out of five were in the United States.

Because most survey participants were wooed from social media sites, the researchers readily acknowledged sampling bias but still found value in their findings related to technology usage and professional development, particularly as it involved social media. Six out of 10 participants said they were "very likely" and three out of 10 said they were "somewhat likely" to increase the use of social media tools in classrooms in the next year. In other words, the researchers pointed out, social media isn't viewed as a "distraction"; teachers hope to find ways to use it in the classroom. For example, a social studies department supervisor in Illinois commented that a Twitter chat group was useful in helping teachers figure out how to address headline-caliber events with their students, such as the death of Osama bin Laden and the Boston Marathon bombing.

That type of use reflects another truism from the survey: Social media is proving valuable in helping educators stay current on trends in their profession. The use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ surpassed education conferences, news articles and academic journals as a go-to resource for respondents. Twitter is turning out to be the most useful for teaching resources; it was cited by 66 percent of participants. Pinterest came in second at 38 percent. LinkedIn, taglined as the "world's largest professional network," is referenced by a mere 11 percent.

The professional development that teachers seek more of falls into non-teaching areas: strategic planning, managing expectations and performance, business administration and budgeting, time management and conflict resolution were the top 5 selections.

Where they're increasingly turning to attain help in those and other areas is education Twitter chats. A Twitter chat is led by a moderator, takes place at a specific time online and uses a distinct hashtag. Sometimes the chat will have a specific theme; other times it's simply a standing engagement for participants to drop in to join the conversation.

The report cited these chats and variations on them as relevant to teachers: #Edchat, #Satchat, #ntchat, #edteach, #psychat, #Nt2t and #sschat. (Sites such as ChatSalad and Tweet Reports help users to identify potential chats and supply information about the time and day when they take place.)

"Twitter is a platform that ensures that each participant's voice is heard. Unlike at a conference or policy hearing or in an academic journal, Twitter can be used in real time and allows communities of people to have conversations while receiving immediate responses and feedback," the authors stated. "By utilizing the hashtag, educators can take charge of their own professional development and reach out to others for resources whenever and wherever."

Even among those respondents who have never participated in an education Twitter chat in the last year, 36 percent are "somewhat likely" to participate in the next 12 months. "This demonstrates that educators who may not be using Twitter as a tool recognize that they may be missing out on an important conversation," the report noted.

Among those who do use Twitter education chats, 86 percent cited the growth of their personal learning network as a benefit. Fifty-eight percent pointed to finding "creative and innovative lesson plans" through the chats, and 59 percent said they benefit from increased social activity.

"Each week I get ideas I can use in my classroom," a teacher trainer in New Orleans informed researchers. "We share best practices and innovative ed tech solutions."

The findings are available on the USC Rossier Online site here.

Rasor Elementary

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