Mercy Peek & Ponder

Faculty/Staff Edition Sunday, February 7, 2016

Please enjoy your days off on Friday, 02/12 and Monday, 02/15!

Professional Development

Master teachers view professional development as a life long task. As you prepare the summer reading lists for your students, consider making a list of articles and books that you will read and workshops/webinars that you will attend.

Listed here are some recommendations for you.

 Read the latest Caldecott and Newberry Book winner. Work to read all the winning books to see which ones would be good for your class.

 Work with your principal to identify your areas of desired growth. Develop a plan with goals to help you achieve the growth. Locate books, websites, and other professionals who may help you. Dedicate a specific period of time to work on your project and stick to it.

 Choose a concept such as Religion, Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships or an educational theorist such as Robert Marzano, William Daggett, Charlotte Danielson, or Parker Palmer and spend significant time learning the theories and implement the concepts into your daily teaching.

 Challenge yourself to read at least one educational book or several educational articles this summer. Find a colleague who shares your philosophy and see if he/she would read the same books/articles so that you may later discuss.

Mercy Journal

Either as a class or individually create a Mercy journal. In the journal there can be pictures and/or sentences describing real life situations the students have observed as times or acts of mercy. In discussing the entries your students will become more aware of what mercy looks like and how they can demonstrate mercy in their lives. It will also act as a stepping stone to help them move from the concrete to the abstract forms of mercy.

Building a Robot with your Class

Building a robot is one sure way to ignite the STEM revolution in schools. Presently there is a crisis concerning STEM in our country. There is a shortage of students that choose a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

When the millennium was at hand many began saying the “industrial age” was finally dead and the birth of a new era was upon us. BUT, between the industrial age and the “new” era we can easily forget that the age of the machine quietly had its own day. That day was the moment the old IBM with a black screen and green print moved from the business world to the Personal Computer world and into the hands of everyday citizens. Little did they realize how the age of the machine would take us to the edge of the future.

We have come a long way from the first industrial robot. The first industrial robot was created by an American inventor, George Devol, in 1961. UNIMATE was the first robot in a General Motors online automobile factory in New Jersey. Remember Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000 in 2001: A SPACE ODESSEY? HAL took us to the next level with heuristic and algorithmic programming that gave HAL “intelligence.” “HAL 9000 is capable of speech recognition, natural language understanding, lip reading, and thinking well enough to beat humans at chess. Along with all these capabilities comes the capacity for malevolence. HAL kills its astronaut crew."

” Let us not forget the lightweight champion on wheels: The MARS PATHFINDER SOJOURNER ROVER. This real life robot roamed the surface of MARS and transmitted 2.3 gigabytes of data back to earth scientists, including 16,500 images. The PATHFINDER revolutionized robots in space. It was the first of its kind to meet obstacles and be able to make decisions on its own to solve them. It performed chemical analysis of rocks and soil, carried out technology experiments and explored 250 meters of Martian terrain.

The first episode of the STAR WARS series gave us a robot that immediately became a much loved favorite to generations of STAR WARS fans known as R2D2. This little droid was chuck full of all sorts of tools and capabilities. It is the Star Ship’s repair mechanic, it recues the Queen; it reassembles other robots, such as, C-P3O and has the desirable attributes of spontaneity, affability and loyalty.

Those of us who have seen STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS knows that R2D2 is also being replaced with a newer, smarter android. Spero’s STAR WARS’ “

BB-8” is a droid robot that is being hunted for the secret map it contains. The really great thing about BB-8 is that the creator, Spero, designed it with the intentions of having it in every home! How perfect is that for all our students? In this age of robotics, when teachers everywhere are introducing their students to the importance of STEM in the classroom, a classic Hollywood movie sets the stage and stimulates the appetite for robotics in education.

It will not be the first time Hollywood has inspired science. Star Trek introduced the laser beam which was developed for the medical use in laser surgery. The artificial intelligence of the android DATA is now a reality. It just might be STAR WARS’ BB-8 robot that gets robotics truly off the ground in every classroom not just in the computer lab.

Schools all over the country recognize this need and are trying to incorporate robotics into their curriculum. Teachers are teaming up with local businesses to aid them with project expenses and materials. One such school in Massachusetts is incorporating it into their literature curriculum. Students work to solve a problem from a novel they read. They select a character and problem, then, discuss a solution. They apply the solution by creating a robotic prototype to perform specific functions. Using Legos, sensors, egg cartons, gears, pipe cleaners and wiring motors the students build their robots. “They have partnered with Tuff’s University, in which engineering challenges are plucked from the plots of assigned books. The elementary school lesson plan, developed at Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, is backed by the National Science Foundation.” 4 It is quite an interesting project and challenge.

The effects of STEM pervade every aspect of our daily lives. We see it in the designing of our roads, bridges, buildings, transportation systems, appliances, environment, ecosystems and in improving our life styles and homes. Students need to be taught about how much STEM effects them. They should be encouraged to take courses in science, mathematics, technology and engineering in high school and college. This is not just for the boys. Girls as well need to be encouraged to excel in these areas. Teachers should have professional development to dispel any fears or lack of knowledge about how to build and program robots. Most of all teachers should exhibit enthusiasm in the activities of the teachers that give their time to working with the students. Educators need to remind themselves that STEM is the key to continued innovations and future scientists not just for a few, but for the welfare of us all!

There are many sites that sell robot kits for students. The websites listed below are fairly standard sites for building a robot. Building a robot can be an expensive project and many schools have teamed up with a business to sponsor the costs and materials. Some teachers have purchased their own and use the robot to instruct the students in programing its functions. Either way, it is an exciting and engaging project for the students. Self-folding Minirobots. SeaPerch – an innovative underwater robotics. SeaPerch Philadelphia. YouTube Video “How to Build a Lego Robot.” Learning to build Lego robots is an easy way to get started. Once the technique is easier then adds some sensors, wires and simple motors. The Lego Movie 60 second building challenge. - The Ten Best Robots for Kids. - mBot – STEM Educational Robot Kit. - Instructables – build your first robot Meet DASH and DOT loveable robots.

Terra Nova 2016 - February 26 to March 4

The Terra Nova Dates are Friday, February 26th (In View) to Friday, March 4th

The following procedures will be in place on these 6 days:

  • No morning assembly. No morning faculty meeting/prayers. Please say prayers as a classroom.
  • Two-hour delay schedule. If testing runs over the allotted two hour time - first period will be delayed (as needed) to accommodate.
  • Accommodations will be tested in resource room. "Specials" will assist with the accommodations. Lists and specific schedules for this will be forthcoming.
  • Post "testing" signs on doors. Silence is mandatory.

Terra Nova Testing (grades 3-7) Schedule 2016:

Monday-Thursday, February 22-25: In-View Practice Tests given

Friday, February 26: In-View Testing

Monday, February 29: Reading

Tuesday, March 1: Language

Wednesday, March 2: Math

Thursday, March 3: Science

Friday, March 4: Social Studies

Some talking points for parents:

The academic program at OLM is one that is research-based and in keeping with the most up-to-date information available to educators across the country and the world. We don’t aim low, but instead, extremely high! According to research conducted at the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, Boston College’s Center for the Study of Testing, and the Georgian Court University’s School of Education, standardized testing for children in grades K-2 is not advisable or reliable.

Standardized tests are scary for primary school children, bad for their morale and confidence. Overwhelmed by the test situation, they often don t show what they do know and can do. Instances of children breaking down, crying, unable to face school, becoming literally sick with anxiety in the face of standardized tests, are common. Most teachers in the early grades understand the importance of maintaining their students’ level of interest and high morale, both of which tend to be undone by tests.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children has, for a number of years, come out against standardized testing of young children for some of these same reasons. Most seven-year-olds are still in the process of acquiring the complex skills involved in learning to read and write. They need a chance to consolidate these skills which, at first, are fragile and inconsistent. Premature testing, no matter how well intentioned, is discouraging to the learner like having a work-in-progress exposed to summary judgment. And no matter how well intentioned the tests, no matter what the disclaimers or reassurances, the results will be understood by the children as judgment.

Differences in background show up vividly in the early years of schooling: some children arrive in school never having actually handled a book or in some cases seen one close up; others have had books read to them since infancy. These differences tend to diminish in the face of their common school experience. Premature testing, however, by highlighting differences, will reinforce them in the minds of children. Young children are not likely to have the kind of perspective that allows them to see the possibility of catching up. Since they always know who did well and who did badly children will sort themselves out accordingly. They will be likely to characterize themselves relative to their classmates as good readers (like fast runners) or bad readers (like slow runners). The early identification some poor testers will make of themselves as academic losers will be difficult at the very least to undo later.

Teachers of kindergarten, first, and second grades know very well, from their ordinary classroom activities, which children are learning to read and write with relatively little difficulty and which need extra help. Evaluation is part and parcel of daily instruction, a built-in function. When an outside agency takes over the responsibility for evaluation, however, the teacher loses both autonomy and confidence in his or her own expertise and trustworthiness. We convey to the teacher the disrespectful message that we do not trust her/him to evaluate student progress. The hazard, then, is that teachers abdicate responsibility for assessing learning and rely for instructional guidance on the relatively thin, out-of-context and delayed information contained in the test results. In sum, K - 2 testing is the result of a pervasive and mistaken belief that the solutions to school achievement are more testing, longer hours and more homework, all of which are likely to be felt by children as burdens. These presumed solutions are not only inappropriate for young children but will prove counter-productive for both teaching and learning.

Standardized testing is not a state or federal requirement for children in grades K-2.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 provides for testing students beginning in grade 3. There is currently a bill in legislation that would prohibit the testing of students in kindergarten Through second grade.

The Association for Childhood Education has called on a moratorium on standardized testing for children in grades K-2 since 1991, saying standardized testing affects children’s learning and motivation to learn.


Make sure your child gets a good night's sleep and eats a healthy breakfast

Many teachers report that students who don't do well on tests haven't gotten enough sleep, and haven't eaten breakfast on the morning of the test. Doing both of these things will ensure that your child is working at full capacity (Narang, 2008).

Make sure your child is prepared

Some schools may supply the tools your child needs for the test, such as pencils, an eraser, paper, and a calculator. Others may require the students to bring those materials themselves. Check with your child's teacher to see if you need to provide your child with any of these materials. Also, check to see whether you child will be able to make up the test if she is sick on test day (Narang, 2008).

Remain positive

Staying calm will help your child stay calm. If she gets nervous about the test or is likely to experience anxiety during the test, help her practice some relaxation techniques that she can try once she's taking the test (Narang, 2008).

Some Schedule Changes ...

Faculty Meeting: Tuesday, February 9th will be for teachers of grades K-3 and specials.

Faculty Meeting: Tuesday, March 8th will be for teachers of grades 4-8.

Faculty Meeting: Tuesday, April 5th will be for ALL teachers - Middle States Prep

Faculty Meeting: Tuesday, May 3rd is cancelled.

Faculty Meeting: Monday, June 13th is for all teachers.

**Stations of the Cross for Monday, February 29th are cancelled - Terra Nova conflict.

Recess Supervision

Teachers, please remember to be active participants in supervision during recess - outside/inside, playground, snack recess, etc. Please encourage parents to become active in their duties.

I will be taking an online course on recess supervision this Thursday and I will pass on information to you.