'Smore News @ FTE

December 3, 2015


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Positive Norms to Encourage in Math(s) Class

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1. Everyone Can Learn Math(s) to the Highest Levels
Encourage students to believe in themselves. There is no such thing as a "math(s)" person. Everyone can reach the highest levels they want to, with hard work.
2. Mistakes are Valuable
Mistakes grow your brain! It is good to struggle and make mistakes.
3. Questions are Really Important
Always ask questions, always answer questions. Ask yourself: why does that make sense?
4. Math(s) is about Creativity and Making Sense
Math(s) is a very creative subject that is, at its core, about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss and critique.
5. Math(s) is about Connections and Communicating
Maths is a connected subject, and a form of communication. Represent maths in different forms i.e. words, a picture, a graph, an equation, and link them. Color code!
6. Depth is much more Important than Speed
Top mathematicians, such as Laurent Schwartz, think slowly and deeply.
7. Math(s) Class is about Learning not Performing
Math(s) is a growth subject, it takes time to learn and it is all about effort.

Note: Jo Boaler uses the term "maths" instead of "math" as she is a British educator.


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Please visit zendesk for more information about Nearpod, This is also the place to go if you are considering attending one of the many public "webiNears" available.


The top 10 finalists for The 2015 Best in Rhyme Picture Book Award have been announced!

Click on the link below for titles and more informatiion:
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A Writing Problem is a Thinking Problem

Check out this article from Michelle Garcia Winner regarding struggling writers and ways to support their needs:
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Involving Students in Providing Feedback for Their Writing (from Two Writing Teachers)

Guess Your Feedback

by Dana Murphy

I am currently reading Embedded Formative Assessment by Dylan William (2011). I came across these sentences about providing feedback on students’ writing:

… instead of writing comments in the students’ notebooks, [the teacher] did so on strips of paper. Each group of four students received their four essays and the four strips of paper, and the group had to decide which comment belonged with which essay. (pg. 130)

That is so smart, isn’t it? Self-reflection (especially in the area of writing) is a hot topic in our school district, so I knew I had to try this technique.

First, I collected a group of five opinion essays from a fifth-grade teacher. The pieces I used were written in response to our district writing prompt. I read each essay and wrote some feedback for the student. I tried to frame my feedback using our district’s gem (+) and opportunity (-) model. In other words, I gave both positive and negative feedback. For example:

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Next, the five students met in a group, and each student was given the five pieces of feedback.
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Their job was to read the feedback statements and, through a group discussion, decide which feedback they thought went with their own essay.

Here is some of what I overheard:

Nolan: I think the last one is mine because I tend to do run-on sentences. And I stated my opinion clearly in the introduction.
Brandon: I think that was is mine. My opinion is clear, too.
Nolan: Read me your introduction.

Gavin: I think mine is the second one because I could see how it was hard to tell when one idea ended and another one started.
Nolan: You should have indented.
Gavin: Yeah, I should have used paragraphs.

Arianna: This is mine. I pretty much did only write one reason. I could have done a way better lead.
Leilanni: I think that one is mine. I only gave two examples.

Leilanni: That one isn’t mine. I didn’t use a two word sentence.

In the end, only two of the kids were actually able to identify the feedback I had written for their essay. But it didn’t matter. What did matter is these kids were talking about their writing. They were looking at their essays with a critical eye. They were naming their writing moves. This was self-reflection at its finest.


Digital Writing: Student Composed Blogs...

Secure and safe student blogs are easy to implement, and they provide instant engagement and relevance. Check out the link below for more information.



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Wanted: FTE Science Fair Judges

Do you know of anyone who would like to judge our FTE Science Fair on Tuesday, January 26th? If so, please see Laura Sites with volunteer contact information.
No experience is necessary (please no parents of FTE)!
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10 Things You Don't Know About Angela Woodbridge

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Angela Woodbridge

10. I have been teaching 30 years (21 at Forest Trail) .

9. I enjoy reading murder/mystery/intrigue books and watching murder/mystery/intrigue movies and TV series.

8. It is very rare for me to NOT take a nap on a Sunday afternoon.

7. I have been married almost 29 years (December 27)

6. I was in the All State Band as a junior in high school and the All State Orchestra as a senior playing the oboe. I went to college on a music scholarship playing the oboe.

5. My brother, parents and myself ALL have masters in music degrees from The University of North Texas (North Texas State when we were there)

4. I enjoy playing golf.

3. I was the mascot of The Strutters dance team at Texas State when I was in the third grade

2. I enjoy climbing mountains and would love to climb a “fourteener.” (Mountain that meets or exceeds 14,000 feet)

1. My children have the same birthday four years apart (April 22-also their great grandpa’s birthday)

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10 Things You Don't Know About Susie Thornhill...

10. On Sundays I take care of my 89 year old mother.

9. My husband and I share the same Godmother, which really means our moms share the same best friend. (Gabe and I did not actually meet until high school.)

8. White water rafting is one of my favorite summer activities.

7. I love ballet and got to see Mikhail Baryshnikov perform at Lincoln Center. (None of my children appreciate this fact about me.)

6. I was a cheerleader for 6 years, gymnast for 8 years, and played basketball for 7 years. I still play one-on-one with my boys in the driveway.

5. The white loveseat in my living room was actually someone’s trash from Tropical Storm Allison.

4. I got my real estate license in college. Since then, I’ve remodeled 5 homes and would do it again tomorrow given the opportunity.

3. I worked on Wall Street under the alias Susan - my real name.

2. Right after college I interned at Seventeen Magazine in NYC. (Think That Girl not Sex in the City) Despite poor TV reception, we all stopped work to watch Lady Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles.

1. My favorite thing to do on Saturday morning is to run around Town Lake listening to Motown, Boston and other oldies.
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