Principal's Summer Newsletter
July 2015 -Rees Elementary - 4th Edition
It's almost time to come back and make a difference by changing the lives of the 725 students we serve. Since our campus has made great strides in transitioning to having students and teachers use 21st century technology devices and apps, I thought I would lead by example by making my summer newsletter digital. During your time away from Rees, I hope you have had a chance to rejuvenate and become inspired about the amazing work you do as educators. This is probably one of the best summers I have had in several years. Spending time with my family in California and at home has certainly centered me on the Covey habit of "Put First Things First" and "Sharpen the Saw". I am back on my regular 5:00 AM workout schedule and eating healthy. As I was driving in my car last week, I heard this song that serves as my "ready to make it happen" inspiration!
Rachel Platten: Fight Song [Lyric Video]
Managing a classroom with different levels of learning is a challenging task for any educator. Teachers have to spend a great deal of time finding resources or other materials to strategically differentiate instruction. Current blended learning models support the existing small group rotations we already have in place for reading instruction. With the addition of ten iPads or ten Dell laptops for every third and fourth grade classroom, we will be able to implement a 2:1 device to student ratio. This supports our ability to now really push the blended learning model in the upper grades. I am excited to announce that we are going to begin using a learning management system for reading called Achieve3000 that will help us easily bring non-fiction science and social studies text that is differentiated by lexile level for each student in third and fourth grade. I hope that we can then continue the blended learning model in the lower grades with next year's budget, or with the blended learning grant of $500,000 we are applying for this fall. Below is a short clip about blended learning. Please use the padlet link below to ask questions that you have about blended learning or any general comments you have about blended learning.
The Basics of Blended Learning
ACHIEVE 3000 - 3RD/4TH GRADE
KidBiz3000 Tutorial Video
During the 2014-2015 school year, we identified a variety of apps and websites that provide students with the opportunity to utilize technology as a tool for learning. Teachers at Rees did an amazing job of taking risks with changing the way students learn and demonstrate their learning. As we continue to make considerations on when and how to use these apps and websites, it is important that we have a framework for assessing the depth of change that is actually occurring with our technology initiatives at Rees. When we come back in the fall, I have asked the content specialists to take the lead with using the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. The model will help us when planning for technology integration. Below is a short YouTube video on Dr. Puentedura's SAMR model.
SAMR Model: Explained
7 HABITS OF HAPPY KIDS - DEVELOPING LEADERS
THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE BY STEPHEN COVEY - ANIMATED BOOK REVIEW
As we go into this next school year, we will continue to help our students see themselves as leaders who practice the Covey 7 Habits. Amy Owens, our librarian, has resources for you to check out from the library and Pinteress has lots of teacher ideas for integrating the 7 Habits into your daily language and routines. I am looking forward to seeing how you use the 7 Habits to develop a leadership mentality in your classroom. This will be our second year trying to make the 7 Habits a school-wide way of thinking. This YouTube video clip does an excellent job of helping us understand the 7 Habits and how they apply to our daily lives.
RAZ KIDS - DIGITAL LEVELED READERS - BLENDED LEARNING
New Raz-Kids Overview
When our students return in August, they will each have school and home access to Raz-Kids leveled readers. From my own experience with my six year old daughter, I can tell you that it is very engaging. As we continue to move towards more technology integration, it is important that we find digital resources that our students can access from their home as well. I will email everyone their passwords for Raz Kids later this month. Having students access the leveled readers as part of their Daily 5 rotation will provide them digital books on their level. When you meet parents at Meet the Teacher, you will want to be sure to mention this resource to parents.
Every year we ask new staff members to share their college pride. We invite you to donate a college pennant so we can add it to the front hallway display. You will receive 5 jean passes that can be used this fall. Staff is also encouraged to wear their college shirt with jeans during our monthly college day. It is on this day that teachers are expected to spend 30-40 minutes having students explore a particular college or university.
CAREER DAY - FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Planning for our annual career day starts now and we need your help. The success of our career day depends on our staff's ability to recruit business partners, friends, or relatives that are willing to talk to our students about their current careers and what level of education (technical or college) was needed to have their position. If you know of someone, ask them now so they can get it on their calendar. Click on the link below and add the person's personal information so that the committee can send them a sign-up form. They can present all day to multiple age groups or commit to the morning or afternoon session only.
CAREER DAY CONTACT FORM (you can email this link)
TEACHER SUPPLY MONEY
Returning Rees teachers will be eligible to purchase $150.00 of supplies from a district approved vendor catalog or store between September 1 and November 30. Teachers may split the funds and have a maximum of $50.00 reimbursed for items purchased from a local store (you must use a tax exempt form) and the remaining $100.00 used to order items from an approved district vendor or the Alief warehouse. Any items purchased before September 1 will not be reimbursed. If you are new to Rees - you have $200.00 to spend. If you are a first year teacher, you have $300.00 to spend. See the school secretary for further clarification.
SCHOOL CALENDAR - NEXT 3 WEEKS
The calendar for the next three weeks has been updated. The screen shots below were taken 7/27/2015. Please make every effort possible to attend the Rees PD sessions so that everyone on your team is on the same page with the content and beginning of the year planning. Be sure you monitor the Rees Staff Google Calendar so that you are aware of any updates.
NEW 1ST GRADE TEACHERS
NEW 3RD GRADE TEACHERS
NEW 4TH GRADE TEACHERS
NEW 3RD GRADE TEACHERS
- Brenda Castaneda-Rivero - from Sneed
- Demetrium Smith - from Ft Bend
- Sara Ramirez - from Ft Bend
- Christian Davis - from HCDE
- Ignacio Valerio (pending Certif).
LESSON PLANNING & GOOGLE CLASSROOM
We will no longer be using On-Course for recording our lesson plans. The original features that had us using this program are no longer being maximized with the changes in lesson plan formatting established last year. Each content specialist will continue to have teachers use the content specific lesson plan templates that were used last year. Our contract with On-Course expires at the end of August. If it is important to you to have a copy of your previous lesson plans, you must save them now to your Google Drive account. In place of On-Course, teachers will be submitting their lesson plans to administrators and content specialists through Google Classroom. Tiffany McAnally, our content technology specialist, will review the procedures for submitting your lesson plans via Google Classroom. In this scenario, you will be the student and I will be the teacher. :)