December Literacy Newsletter 2015

A jolly good time in the Bayless School District

Shrek Dazzles Bayless

On November 19-21, the Bayless theater performed Shrek, the Musical. The cast consisted of Jr. High and High School students singing and dancing into the hearts of audience members throughout the two hour show. Ty Woodard, Brandon Gaffney, Alexis Clemmons, and Riley Luckett shined as leads with their remarkable singing abilities and stage presence. Drama teacher Katy Glass directed and choreographed the show, while vocal teacher Mary Roach served as vocal director and accompanist, and musical pair Cheryl and Jeff Martini directed the band. Over the three day production, over 1,000 community members attended this first show in Bayless history with a tap number. The students began rehearsals in September, and for the last month have rehearsed three hours a day to make this show something they could be proud of. They have reason to be proud indeed.

Bayless Elementary Earns Money for African School

Reader's Notebooks

A reader's notebook is a place to deepen thinking about reading and learning. It can serve as a place to assess standards, serve as a jumping off point for conferring, or a way to catch new thinking and learning during mini lessons. Whether you use a binder or spiral bound notebook, if you have started using one, you probably can't imagine teaching reading without it. Here are some links for more ideas about how to set up a reader's notebook, or what kind of goals your students can track within it.

Here is our very own Pinterest page:

Transforming the Meaning of Difficult

Carol Dweck is a psychologist from Stanford University who has rocked the way educators look at praise. Dweck's theory is based on the idea that if we can transform the way students think about difficult tasks, as an opportunity to be smarter, then they will become better learners with better grades. By praising students' use of strategies and process instead of talent, we can prevent a generation of workers who quit at the first sign of adversity. Watch her Ted Talk below, or read one of the many articles written about her work here:

Carol Dweck, "Developing a Growth Mindset"

Grrrrr! for Grammar

Grrrrr! for grammar

'Cause grammar is great!

Without it we'd face

An unthinkable fate

Imagine, just try,

To conceive of a place

Where no one used grammar

Oh, what a disgrace!

Why how could we read?

And how would we write?

I'd say correspondence

Would be quite a fright!

With run- ons and fragments

In all of our print,

And no punctuation to help

Not a hint!

- Steven L. Layne

Lucy Calkin's Writer's Workshop

On December 10, 2015, Bayless Elementary sent five of it's own to learn from one of the most known and respected writing teachers in the country, Lucy Calkins. The elementary has purchased her units of study for writing, but many of her writing beliefs can be applied to writers at any age. One of those beliefs is that all writers need certain things to be successful. Those things are: TIME TO WRITE (Just like with reading, writer's get better at writing by writing), genre study- (examining the same types of writing from other authors), to care about the topic, to be readers, and have explicit writing instruction.

The picture below shows a quick outline for informational writing unit in upper elementary grades. Lucy recommends a "boot camp" to practice essay writing using a simple topic like ice cream. She demonstrated this during her workshop, and if you'd like help teaching a writing boot camp like this, and you teach 4th grade or above, please let me know. It will take one full class period and leave students with a base knowledge of how to write an informative essay. The best part about this activity is the grading. Essays go into two piles; they have it/ they don't have it.

Happy writing!

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Galileo Benchmark Window Opens- Secondary

Monday, Dec. 14th, 7am

This is an online event.

The Galileo Window will open for most classes on December 12th. The window will stay open until we leave for winter break. Happy testing! Email me with any questions or concerns.

Galileo Benchmark Testing- Elementary

Thursday, Jan. 22nd, 8am to Friday, Jan. 22nd 2016 at 3:15pm

This is an online event.

Bayless Elementary will once again benchmark all 2-5 grade students in reading and math to determine the mastery of our power standards thus far. Carts will be shared from the secondary library, and student logins will be updated and given soon after winter break. A reminder will be sent out the first week of January. See link for detailed schedule.

Data Teams

Thank you for all the hard work in data teams to make sure our students are succeeding. Looking at the team notes from our District Data Teams site has been quite inspirational. Some high school groups are focusing on student grades, and some elementary groups are discussing student misconceptions. Please continue to use your district data team time wisely and upload notes to our data teams site. Holding your work there is important for future Bronchos to have a reference for all the good work we've been doing. Documenting how we have come so far will help us share our success with the greater community, and be able to focus on high leverage strategies that we have proven though our own action research. Here is the link for the site:

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

Merry Christmas!

Did I ever tell you about the time I sang this song in high school? Have you ever talked to me? Of course I have. If you're one of the few that's never heard the story, come find me and we'll talk. It was glorious.