HSE 21 at GES

Curriculum and Instruction Fall Newsletter

Feature Teachers at GES

It is one of my core beliefs that we truly are "only as strong as the sum of our parts". Every member of our team at GES has value and talent that increases our collective strength as educators. In this fall HSE 21 Smore, two of our newest Gators give us a peak into their beliefs and the experiences that led them to hold the noble title of teacher.
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Mrs. Jennifer Koenig

What influenced you to become a teacher and molded you into what you do today?

After starting my 17th year of teaching this year, I’ve been influenced by many things: students, colleagues, parents, and family. But the core of my influences to become a teacher comes from two people: my own parents.

The first lessons I learned about teaching were from my mother. Although she passed away nineteen years ago, to this day I still think about her and the things she taught me even at a young age. She was a first grade teacher and she taught me how to be creative and the importance of friendships. I remember helping my mother with different projects like spray painting beans different colors and sorting pipe cleaners which I later found out were both used as manipulatives. Friendships were something she also taught me. Most of her friends taught at her school. I witnessed these strong relationships that were used for support, inspiration and laughter. My mother taught me to do whatever is needed to help a child succeed even if that means painting beans or asking a friend for ideas.

My father was another major influence on my teaching. He is a retired high school band director. He instilled in me the importance of a good work ethic and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. I remember going with him to school on Sundays to practice while he worked for the upcoming week. He used to grade playing tests from cassette tapes during my ballet classes. My father also taught me the importance of communication with the community as well as parents and students, another valuable lesson I’ve learned from his example. My father always stressed the importance of showing my face around town and knowing all staff and administrators. One never knows when he or she might need help or support.

In my classroom, an observer will typically find creativity, positive relationships, communication, and hard work—all the best components of my “influencers.” I will always use these past lessons that I have learned. I’m very blessed to have been a “student teacher” my whole life! Who are your influencers?

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Miss Gina Minieri

There are two important factors in why I chose to be a teacher. I remember my fourth grade teacher helping me come out of my shell. I was shockingly a very shy/quiet child. She would write me notes and let me respond to them. Slowly I started being able to have the conversations with her. I even played the guitar and sang in the talent show. As I got older and I had to choose my future career, I realized that teaching would be something I could do well. Student teaching is the other factor and it feels like forever ago! I will never forget how my lead teacher slowly started giving me more and more responsibilities in the class. By the end of that week I was teaching full lessons and not even realizing I was now the lead teacher. Having the opportunity to stop being just the student in college courses and actually using all of the knowledge I learned in a classroom was amazing. I can still tell you about those students and the parents I formed relationships with. I love being able to help these children grow into socially acceptable people while also providing them the knowledge they need to be life long learners. I have always been proud that at the end of every year I have made a connection with each one of my students along with forming great relationships with their parents. I have always also loved that trial and error plays a huge role in teaching. Something that worked one year may have to be entirely changed for the following year. It’s a day by day process. This shy girl has become a very out spoken individual who likes to bring that out of her students.


What was your favorite book as a child? It's likely that many of us can not only name the book, but also the teacher that read that beloved story to us in our youth. You know, mouth agape, begging for just one more page or perhaps shouting, "read that one again!"

In a recent article from NAESP, National Association for Elementary School Principals, Using Read Alouds in Today's Classrooms, I giggled out loud upon this portion:

"In many speeches, Lucy Calkins, known internationally for her three decades of work in the area of literacy for teachers, has stated that the read aloud is a powerful force in the lives of children and that it is still the single most important thing a teacher does during the school day."

I overhead a teacher in a recent PLC say to her colleague, "What would Lucy do?" Lucy would want you to read to the 5-10 year olds in front of you. Every. Single. Day. And, yes, read texts beyond those in the session for your day just like you want to.

If you are looking for a fun, simple, and authentic way for students to share and celebrate the books you are enjoying, consider the CLASSROOM BOOK A DAY CHALLENGE. I've posted images of several 2nd and 3rd grade teachers who are participating.

Want to know more? See me for teachers to team up with or contact:

Mrs. Emily Cespedes @ ecespedes@hse.k12.in.us

Check out the read alouds thus far in Mrs. Carter's room!

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Classroom Book A Day

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Just Right Words, Just Right Books

here is not a teacher I've met that is not committed to, at appropriate times, getting a just right book into a students hands. Teachers know, from experience and research, that when students need to practice newly acquired skills, a book should be in their zone of proximal development as a reader.

Since those very books are designated a particular level according to text complexity and vocabulary, should we not also be just as determined to offer students, at times, just right words for study?

See if the article below confirms or challenges your thinking, or spurs some questions!


Word Work Reflections & Authenticity

Word Work Menu:

  • Phonemic Work
  • High Frequency Words
  • Vocabulary

How are you embedding word work into your day?

Do you see reading and writing work shop as the "book ends" to word work?

Are you thinking about additional ways to make your word work authentic?

Would you consider using your anchor charts and wall as opportunities for authentic dialogue about words? Take a look below - what opportunities do you see for work with high frequency words? spelling patterns? vocabulary?

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HSE21 and Student Voice

Looking to amplify student voice?

Have students who are quiet during turn and talks or generally reluctant to share their thinking?

Want to increase the power of debate?

Consider using FlipGrid. If you want to give it a shot in your reading, writing or math workshop, just give me a shout! You can start a free account, or we can build with my paid version!


See some of the work a HSE third grade teacher did with this resource:


Megan C. Thompson

Teacher Development Specialist

Hamilton Southeastern Schools