What's Good in the Hood
B.J. Mercer- Jamie Biel writes "BJ Mercer has created a place for kids to come and be creative and feel at home. His room is always full of kids who are smiling and happily pursuing their passions in really cool and cutting-edge ways. He has a creativity corner with a gigantic chair and special posters meant to bring out creativity (you'll have to ask him about the geometry posters... went over my head). He is constantly finding ways to help these kids reach higher and have fun. The students love him and he goes above and beyond every single day. I know one kid, in particular, who struggles in all his academics, but he is absolutely thriving in BJ's class. The kid was explaining to me that Mr. Mercer patiently teaches him how to use all of this equipment so that he can create what is in his mind... which is pretty amazing stuff."
Joe Burns writes " I was recently in his room and it was off the hook. Students have now created their own three dimensional alien world to be used with the Google Goggles or Cardboard. They are also using a device called Sprout that is ridiculous and hard to describe. Briefly, it will scan 3D objects into a computer allowing them to completely manipulate and edit the digital image. The whole staff should take a tour of the world BJ Mercer has created in his classroom. I also commend him as I have stacked 9 different preps with him throughout the day."
Marguerite Erickson- Alissa Nevin writes "has taken the existing physics curriculum and made it more hands on and learner centered. She has brought a fresh approach to a subject that can be weighed down with numbers and formulas. I've seen the physics students make roller coasters, rockets, catapults, race tracks and other "real-world" applications of physics. She is definitely a fantastic addition to the science department!!"
Calen McNett- Michael Norton is impressed by the work going on, including building two trailers, picnic tables, bbq pits, and beautiful piece of artwork built out of metal. There is always so much going on, it is an exciting place to be!
Trevor Marshall and Wade Womack- Jeff Bixby wanted to spotlight their AP World History amusement project where students has to take an ancient civilization and, based on the chapter, create an amusement park that illustrated key elements of the civilization. Most students utilized thinglink where they uploaded a picture of their amusement park and added links to the description of each. Students could also produce a 3D model of one of their attractions for extra credit. It was really fun to see, and you could tell their students enjoyed the process and showing off what they learned through creativity. See pictures below.
Jason Wahlers- Jeff Bixby wanted to spotlight Jason's Personal Finance Project that he is using as his final for this semester. Students will have to do some career research and then fill in values for some financial models. They are asked to reflect on their goals and how their finances will be affected by those goals. This includes auto loans, school loans, housing payments, budgeting, planning for retirement, and net worth. They also have to reflect on the value of the process, as well as, discuss content related material and vocabulary as applied through the project. This is real-world application AND gets students really considering their future as it relates to the content.
Too Cool for School
Melinda Chavira-Cox- Firstly, she exudes kindness and patience with her students. She holds her students to a high expectation, and there is real learning going on in her classroom. Students learn vocabulary through vocabulary quilts with pictures, meaning, and part of speech. Her students were also reading a book covering the Jewish experience during WWII. She was incredible to watch and made me reflect on empathy with those I work with and how I could take a lesson from her.
Katy Eyeberg- Conducts Socratic Circles with her AP English III class, it was truly amazing to see because she gave up control to her students for the full period. What was incredible, was that her students completely owned the discussion and were able to make text-based connections to their own life and really delve in to a depth of thinking that would not be possible if they were limited to their topics. I was so impressed, and mostly impressed by the restraint Katy showed in the process, as she allowed for wait time and self-directed conversation with very little interjection.
Jad Jadeja- In one day alone, I saw students testing and re-testing the cars that they built and programmed in teams. They all had different functions, problems, and successes, but all were completely invested in figuring out the kinks to produce the best product they could. Jad takes the position of facilitator and guides students to think differently and to stretch themselves in the process. The next period I went into his programming classroom and two of his students were pitching a program to Tom Payne and Rachel Amrine to assist their campus in streamlining their student pick-up/drop-off process. The adults were truly the clients, who assessed the product and then students took the suggestions to tailor it to their needs. There was a problem, and these students are on their way to fixing it. Jad has created a truly exciting environment to work in! On top of it, he has them constantly write about the process in their journals. See interview with a few of his students below.
Adrienne Jones- She beautifully executes individualized learning in her classroom. Even from her classroom set up where students sit in a u-shape and she sits in the middle in a swivel chair and goes from student to student in order to give one-on-one attention. She also pushes her students by never simply answering their questions but making them think on their own. Moreover, she also successfully keeps her students accountable by giving them very specific expectations and then holding her students to them.
Ginny Lindzey- Seeks to immerse her students in Latin, so she took a video and, in imovie, added Latin subtitles. Thus, students would have access to visual cues alongside reading in Latin. Her vibrant energy encourages students to take risks and allows for students to feel safe in making mistakes while trying to stay in the target language.
Kelsey Lee- Students created a centroid mobile, where they had to find the center of gravity for each of the 7 triangles on the mobile so that it would hang level when attached. Therefore, students had to create a product using Geometry, thus applying concepts to the real world!
Lauren Myrick- Opened up her classroom for her GT students by engaging them in a PBL over the semester, where they could take any concept from her class and come up with something that was meaningful to them. One student created art that represented district band uniforms, where every line was drawn from a mathematical function. My mind was blown by this. It is from Lauren's trust in her students and belief in them that this student was given the opportunity to achieve something like this. See a picture below.
Jenn Riddlebarger-For the final in her Career Prep. class, her students were asked to present what they had learned over the course of the semester in their jobs. They had to give an overview of the company (in which they had to really understand the vision and values), describe their position, and reflect on what they had learned. The students I saw were articulate in speaking to the value they had gleaned from their job, but you could also tell they were proud of the work they are doing and happy to share their experiences with each other. To many of these students, their job is an necessity and an important part of their identity, and Jenn taps into that in order to motivate them.
Angela Tennison-Had her on-level US History students answer the guiding question: Should we be ashamed or proud of our country's past? Students answered this question in an online newsletter (s'more) where they had to argue their viewpoint. The outcome was stellar because this was relevant and meaningful to students, in that, they had to think about history in a way that leads them to consider their own feelings about their country. It was a nicely crafted project, where a guiding question was used in order to allow students to really reflect on the content. A student example: https://www.smore.com/h4m4a
Sphere of Influence
Eng I Pre-AP Team- Rachel Foreman, Joe Kirksey, Carrie Remington, Molly Whiting- They will be hosting their student expo this coming Monday from 5-7pm in the cafeteria. Every student will have the chance to display their semester's work that answered the question: Is Shakespeare Still Relevant? This PBL is a culmination of student-driven learning of content-related material. The end products are going to be amazing, and this team has worked tirelessly on facilitating the process for their students.
Eng II Debates-Katy Eyberg, Joe Holloway, Carrie Remington, Sara-Jane Shepperd- This team had on-level students conduct a formal debate over whether or not Shylock was a victim in "The Merchant of Venice". They invited in staff members to serve as a judge and let the kids take the reigns in defending or opposing the premise. The students were prepared and invested, they wanted to win their case. They used textual evidence, in addition to, appealing to ethos, logos, and pathos throughout the debate. The arguments were compelling on both sides and it was really fun to see the students so passionate about their stance.
Science Genius Hour Presentations-Jordan Batson, Marguerite Erickson, Alissa Nevin, Matt Simpson - Students were allowed to explore their passions whether it was related to science or not, and what they came up with was truly amazing, and even more than that they were proud and excited to share their work with an audience. Alissa Nevin said that she had parents tell her that they were so happy their child was allowed time to do this because they don't get the opportunity that much and that the will be encouraging their child to continue to explore their passions at home. Some of the ideas included: self-taught learning of an instrument, research in fracking and water movement from East Texas to West Texas, learning braille, and creating logos for companies. See pictures below of examples.
"The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives." - Robert John Meehan
Learning how to tie knots.
One student learned how to read braille.
Examples of logos a student made to pitch to companies.