NWE Game Plan!

News You Can Use!

Friday, December 4, 2015 [Volume 1, Issue 6]

Welcome back! We hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving break! Great job completing week 7 of our 2nd 9 weeks! We have 2 weeks to go! Everyone is extremely busy with embracing the holiday season with students, assessments & wrapping up instruction on your 2nd 9 weeks standards. You can do it! Stay organized, be prepared & follow your plan! Let us know if you need anything!
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Upcoming Events! Please mark your calendar & also check the school-wide online calendar frequently:

November 30 - December 18: Middle of the Year State & Local Reading Assessments

December 8: Staff Holiday Dinner Party @ Mike's Farm, Complete MOY PDP Review, Hour of Code 1:15 - 2:30

December 10: 2nd Grade Christmas Performance 9:00, Chorus School Performance 1:00, Chorus Family Performance 7:00

December 11: 2nd Grade Fieldtrip, Tryon Palace, 1st Grade Christmas Performance, 9:00

December 11-12: Barnes and Nobles Book Fair

December 16: Watson the Whale, Mobile Classroom, grades 3-5

December 17: 1st Grade Gingerbread Houses, 1:00, cafeteria

December 18: MOY TRC Window Closes, End of the 2nd 9 Weeks, Staff Breakfast Holiday Potluck, Staff Holiday Ugly Sweater Contest

December 21: January 8: Winter Break
January 7 & 8: Teacher Workdays
January 8: Dreambox Workshop time to be announced
January 11: Students Return, Start of the 3rd 9 weeks
January 18: Holiday

January 25 - February 5: Midyear USA Test Prep Benchmark Assessments

December Staff Birthdays!

Happy Birthday to our December baby, Erika Watson! Happy Birthday on December 12th!

News from your Digital Learning and Teaching Facilitator

Hour of Code is Here!!!!

I am so excited to celebrate Computer Science Week again by participating in the Hour of Code on Tuesday, December 8th! Many of you wonder "WHY" introduce kids this young to coding and programming...especially when teachers are already stretched too thin?

First things first, the earlier we introduce students to coding, the more comfortable they are when challenged with more comprehensive learning opportunities. Early introduction to coding helps teach children how important it is to recognize computers as the important tools they are rather than merely fun toy to play games.

The real motivation to teach young children to code is that children want to learn how to code. They want to learn how to make apps and software to do useful things. You may not have a class full of computer engineers, but I bet most want to learn. It's actually a very cool thing to them. While "cool" is nice, the lasting benefits are what matters. Students who learn to code build these skill sets:

· Logical thinking

· Problem solving

· Persistence

· Collaboration

Many teachers want to know how to extend their student’s knowledge of coding after “The Hour of Code.” Code.org provides a K-8 Computer Science course that aims to demystify computer science and show K-8 students that it’s fun, collaborative, and creative. The content of this course is appropriate for K-8 and beyond, but teachers must fine-tune the lessons and pacing to meet needs of their students. K-2 teachers may want to focus on the unplugged lessons, which are the teacher-led activities that don't require the use of a computer. To sign up for this course for you and your students click here.

News from your Instructional Coach

What and Why of PBL

Let's take a look aT the WHAT and WHY of PBL. The following pages are taken directly from the Buck Institute's webpage. There are several resources on their webpage and they are free for you to use.

You can set up your own account if you go to BIE.org and set up an account.

The WHAT and WHY

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, Essential Project Design Elements include:

· Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.

· Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.

· Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.

· Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.

· Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.

· Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.

· Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.

· Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.


Why Project Based Learning (PBL)?

Project Based Learning’s time has come. The experience of thousands of teachers across all grade levels and subject areas, backed by research, confirms that PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn - and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career, and civic life. Why are so many educators across the United States and around the world interested in this teaching method? The answer is a combination of timeless reasons and recent developments.

· PBL makes school more engaging for students. Today’s students, more than ever, often find school to be boring and meaningless. In PBL, students are active, not passive; a project engages their hearts and minds, and provides real-world relevance for learning.

· PBL improves learning. After completing a project, students understand content more deeply, remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply what they know and can do to new situations.

· PBL builds success skills for college, career, and life. In the 21st century workplace and in college, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.

· PBL helps address standards. The Common Core and other present-day standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of success skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL is an effective way to meet these goals.

PBL provides opportunities for students to use technology. Students are familiar with and enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit with PBL. With technology, teachers and students can not only find resources and information and create products, but also collaborate more effectively, and connect with experts, partners, and audiences around the world.

  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding. Projects allow teachers to work more closely with active, engaged students doing high-quality, meaningful work, and in many cases to rediscover the joy of learning alongside their students.
  • PBL connects students and schools with communities and the real world. Projects provide students with empowering opportunities to make a difference, by solving real problems and addressing real issues. Students learn how to interact with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces and adult jobs, and can develop career interests. Parents and community members can be involved in projects.

News from your EC Program Coach

Holiday Tips from TEACCH

As we look forward to the holiday season, we wanted to thank you for your continued support and share some TEACCH Tips for helping individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Wishing you and your family the happiest of holidays and a peaceful New Year!

---Ten Tips to Prepare for the Holidays---

The key to preparing for the inevitable changes that come with the holidays is to provide the individual with information about an event or activity. WHAT will be happening? WHEN it will be happening? WHO will be involved and WHERE it will be happening?

1. Calendar: A weekly or monthly calendar can be created to highlight the events throughout the season. The calendar could include when decorations will be put up (or taken down), when family and friends will visit and or a countdown for when the gifts will be opened.

2. Visual Schedule: Make a daily schedule to help the individual anticipate the activities, places and people involved.

3. Supplies: Create a “Mary Poppins” bag to take along when traveling or attending events or holiday celebrations. Pack the individual’s favorite things that will keep him or her entertained. When possible have the individual select the items and help pack the bag.

4. Social Narratives: Prepare the individual for upcoming events or changes in routine by writing or drawing a story that describes what will happen. When possible include photos of the activities, places or the people who will be involved.

5. Quiet Area: Identify a calm area where the individual with autism can go and relax if needed.

6. Routines: Discuss with family how to minimize disruptions to established routines (e.g. bedtime).

7. Timing: Timing can be of the essence. What are your child’s needs for downtime, are there times of day when a public place will be less crowded, how meaningful and fun is an activity to the child and will it be best to start with that activity or to put it into a first, then routine to help the child through a less preferred activity.

8. Rehearsal: Practice unwrapping gifts ahead of time, to help the individual with autism understand the process and meaning of gift exchange.

9. Visual Supports: When opening gifts, try passing around a visual cue such as a reindeer hat to signal whose turn it is to open the next gift.

10. Gift Preparation: Being surprised is fun for some but causes anxiety for others. Some individuals might need to know what they are opening: a small part of the item can be left visible when wrapped or the individual might be given a list of the presents he or she will receive.

News from your Literacy Coach

Part 1: Non-Fiction [aka Informational Text] and the Common Core

Are you using Close Reading and Guided Practice during your instructional time when teaching the Informational standards? Click HERE or on the link below for some great advice!

Part 2: Non-Fiction [aka Informational Text] and the Common Core

Did you click above to read part 1? Here is part 2!

Are you using book clubs to analyze informational topics? It is a great way for students to practice independently strategies and skills you have modeled. Click HERE or on the link below for some great advice!

MOY Benchmark Window!!!

Good luck to you and your students on the middle of the year benchmark window for local and state assessments!!! Please let me know if you need anything!!!

This is just a reminder that the benchmark window closes on our last day before break, Friday, December 18th. Please mark your calendars!

Inspiration & Laughs for the upcoming week!