The Cardinal Way

Sharing and Learning at Southport Middle School

Student Success is a Team Effort!

Have an amazing spring break - you deserve it!!

IN THE MIDDLE OF IT - Cardinals Connect: Pedagogy, not Technology

Perry Township has made an amazing commitment to our schools and students by providing computers for every student in grades 3-8. This was the first year all Southport Middle students had devices in their hands every day. What an amazing opportunity for our students and school. With devices in hand, we felt our theme for the school year needed to encompass these learning tools. Therefore, this year our theme has been: Cardinals Connect: Engage, Collaborate, Create, Empower.

We live in a very connected society. Technology has placed the world at our fingertips, and technology has greatly changed the way we need to educate our students. As educators in the 21st century, we realize we are preparing students for an unknown future. Most of our students will probably spend their lives in careers that do not yet exist, using technology that has not been invented, in order to solve problems that we do not even know are problems yet. One thing we do know is knowledge is no longer power. Simply memorizing facts will not cut it any more. Students need to be able to take the world of information that is on demand anytime, anywhere, make sense of it, and turn it into a usable product.

Therefore, the goal of having devices in our students hands everyday is to use that technology aid learning. Teaching needs to be about pedagogy, not technology. Technologies purpose is to support student learning, not drive our planning and instruction. We should start with great lessons and use technology to enhance teaching and learning. Our school goal this year is to use technology to help students engage, collaborate, create, and empower learning.

Engage: We must focus on creating lessons that not only teach content specific information, but provide authentic, engaging learning opportunities for our students. Teaching is a performing art. We must find ways to make learning exciting, relevant, and interesting for our students. But, we must also remember that engagement is not our sole purpose. Eric Sheninger reminded us recently on his blog that engagement does not always equate to learning. Learning must always be the focus of the utmost importance, not just a circumstantial or haphazard by-product of fun.

Collaborate: Students need opportunities to collaborate in this connected world. With internet connections and social media, we spend almost no time in complete isolation. So, why would we make students sit and work in isolation, listening passively for a majority of their day. Personally, I can tell you that I work much better in a collaborative environment. My team freely bounces ideas off one another and through much conversation and brainstorming, our ideas become better. It is usually true that the smartest person in the room is the room - all of us are smarter than any individual one of us. We must help students learn to team up in learning. Successful businesses do not have employees that work in isolation. Therefore, to truly prepare our students for future success, we must not only teach content but teach skills that allow students to be good members of a team.

Create: Students need to be creators of information, not just consumers of it. Twitter is currently seeing about 500 million tweets per day which is about 6,000 tweets per second. Mass amounts of original information is being shared online daily. We can no longer settle for students sitting in seats listening to the teacher “expert” sharing everything they know about a topic expecting students to simply regurgitate that information on a worksheet or test. Students need to apply what they learn, use it, make sense of it, and find ways to put knowledge to use. We need to move away from standardized tests and multiple choice questions to students reading and making sense of information. Do not get me wrong, students still need to learn new information, but that learning needs to come through applicable process, not the rote memorization of facts. We must produce students who can create, think, and problem solve so they are ready for the challenges of a future world. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Empower: Our goal needs to be to use technology resources to empower our students to be able to make sense of the world around them. As I mentioned earlier, knowledge is no longer power. Ask me any question, give me five minutes and an internet connection, and I will find you an answer. There are currently about 3.5 billion google searches per day equalling about 40,000 per second and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide -- WOW. (check out today’s live google statistics by clicking here.) That is a lot of questions and a lot of answers. Think in your recent past, how many times in the past couple of days have you used an search engine when you needed an answer? Who were the last five Heisman Trophy winners? When is your favorite team playing in the NCAA tournament? How do I translate this phrase into spanish? And, the list goes on. Where were these questions answered before being connected? Were they answered? The knowledge at our fingertips is limitless if we are willing to look and we know how to make sense of the information with which we are presented. We have to be empowered to come up with more questions than answers. We must then also teach our students to have the grit and perseverance to find the answers to these questions. The information is there if we are willing to make sense of it.

Students need to learn how to make sense of the world around them. Students need good digital role models. Students need our guidance to live in tomorrow’s world. Technology is an amazing tool for learning. Our goal as educators needs to be trying to figure out how we can utilize all the tools at our fingers to support a 21st century student so they have the skills to be successful in a 21st century environment.

This is cross posted on my Principal's Blog


  • Congratulations to Jason Boyd. His wife gave birth to Fiona June Boyd Thursday night at 9:36 PM. She weighed in at 7 lbs, 15 oz, and was 21 inches long.
  • Congratulations to Amy Vaught, the play this past weekend was outstanding. It was awesome to see SMS and SHS students manage almost every aspect of the production each evening. Amy has done an amazing job of turning these plays into truly student run performances. Thank you Amy for all you efforts to support our kids through drama!
  • It was a great week of music. Our Choirs participated in an ISSMA competition this past weekend hosted at Southport Middle and received gold ratings. Our orchestra and band also had great concerts this week. It is fun to watch 6th, 7th, and 8th grade groups perform. There is amazing growth over the three years the students spend in our programs. Excellent programs, supported by excellent teachers,
  • Thank you to all that participated, volunteered, or came out to support during the student-staff basketball game last night!

District Award of Distinction at the 2015 TAP National Conference

Perry Township Schools won the District Award of Distinction this past weekend at the National TAP conference. We are so blessed to have such dedicated teachers committed to doing whatever it takes to grow our students. It is always challenging to work through this large of a change. You are the reason for this award. You have taken risks, tried new ideas, and been willing to be vulnerable in the interest of growing your students. You ARE making a difference everyday!


Week 10 Grateful Friday Challenge

Time to take a look inward: Tell a colleague something you appreciate about yourself.


Moonshot Thinking


Each day we share a story of learning taking place at Southport Middle on our 180 Days of Learning Blog. Below are this week's stories of learning.

Chris Stevenson

Spring break is a great time to catch up on some reading. Mr. Stevenson's students make regular visits to the IMC to check out books. Today, students made a trip to the IMC today to ensure they have some good reading material for the two week break.

Kelly Harmon

Mrs. Harmon's 7th grade REAL students are planning a spring break trip. Using Google Apps, students were given 2,000 pretend dollars to organize their spring break vacation. Students started by selecting their destination. They then began to compare the cost difference between flying and driving, pick a hotel based on prices, and look for popular restaurants and attractions in the area. Students had to budget their money for at least a 5 night stay at their chosen location.

Danielle Bentley

Eighth grade students in Mrs. Bentley's Language Arts class are continuing their work on proper language conventions. Instead of just being given hyphen rules, students were given a large list of words, statements, sentences that contained hyphens. Students had to sort the list into categories and then use these newly created categories to identify and define hyphen rules on their own.

Meghan Sefton and Jeff VanMeter

Seventh grade PE students in Mrs. Sefton and Mr. VanMeter's PE class got to choose activities today. Students selected and participated in activities that will them understand a variety of lifetime physical activities. Supporting students in finding activities that can keep them physically active outside of school is always a goal for our PE department.

Brooke Nelson

It is Science March Madness in Ms. Nelson's 8th grade Science classroom. Students were assigned a scientist yesterday and spent class time researching this scientist. Today, students and their scientist were placed into a bracket. Students had seven minutes each round to hold a head-to-head debate. They then would declare a winner and the winning scientist would move on to the next round. By the end of class, students had determined a scientist winner!


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