Friday Focus

A Week of Awesomeness at EHS 2.5.16


We made it another week!! I don't know about you, but I sure am happy that huge snowstorm missed us! Sorry for my snow storm loving counterparts, but that was a mess I just didn't want to deal with this week! Don't get me wrong - I love a good snow day just as much as the next person, but I was happy to go about business as usual this week.

I spent two days out of the building this week, but I still tried to get to a handful of classrooms. Just a reminder - please let me know if you're doing something fun, innovative, cool, awesome, etc. in your class - I may not be able to make it, but I do love hearing about it. I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to that kind of stuff!

On Tuesday, there was a group of teachers who made a trip to El Dorado to visit the high school and check out their 1:1 program - if you have a chance to talk to one of them, I encourage you to do so! It was pretty impressive, and I look forward to taking what we learned and using it to make whatever decisions are made in our district run as smoothly as possible!

On Wednesday, I was able to go to a conference at Greenbush on differentiated instruction - and let me tell you - I learned SO much that I am so anxious to be able to provide to you guys.

So although I had to spend two days away from school this week, I feel as though it was time well spent that hopefully can bring about some positive impacts here in the future!

I hope you had a fantastic week! As always, I enjoyed seeing you in action this week, and I hope you have a fantastic, well-deserved weekend! I hope you enjoy reading about what some of your colleagues did this week in their classes.

Students As Learners

Mrs. Wendt

Earlier this week, Sara took the FFA students to a competition in Paola, and they came back with some hardware! Here are how our students placed:

Vet Science

A-Team Placed 4th Place

A- Team Individuals

Victoria Male -- 10th place

B - Team 1st Place (Plaque in Office)

B-Team Individuals

Danielle Mitchell -- 1st place

Tracy Neis -- 3rd place

Meredith Regehr-- 7th place

Milk Quality Contest

A-Team Placed 6th

Tucker Gabriel -- 16th place

B-Team Placed 7th

Great work Sara and FFA students!!

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Mr. Lauxman

Austin has been hard at work, not only in his regular classes, but also preparing set materials for the play next week. He collaborated with Mr. Paxton, who did some of the paint work, and Austin and some students have put together one amazing throne for "Game of Tiaras." Thanks for everyone's hard work that has gone into the spring play! I can't wait to go see it! If you haven't already, check out the GIF file in the email with the Friday Focus link that Nate put together of the progression of the chair from beginning to end - it's very impressive!
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Mrs. Splichal

Julie has an incredible hands-on experience going on in her class right now. Her students recently learned about force, motion, velocity and speed, and have been working calculations on those concepts. In order to bring it all together, students are working in groups to create "roller coasters" out of whatever materials they would like, and using a marble as the car of the roller coaster. They are calculating the above topics when they are finished. They all want to have the fastest roller coaster! There are several engineering standards being met through this project as well. Students are totally focused and on task, and engagement is very high. Great stuff!

Mr. Gish

Jeremy's students are currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird. When I briefly walked in this week, students were hard at work on the Chromebooks. Jeremy had a couple different things going on for his students to work on, and he was using Google Classroom to do it all. It appeared as though he had assigned a question through Google Classroom for students to evaluate a certain scene in the novel, and explain what they thought the purpose of the scene was. Students were also working on their dialectical journal, which was assigned in a Google Doc, also through Google Classroom. It seemed like a very organized and streamlined manner for giving and receiving assignments - for both the students and Jeremy! Well done!!
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Mrs. Pruitt

This week I stopped in Morning's room really quickly to see a neat lab on conductivity of various materials. I saw student engagement, application of concepts learned, analysis of data, and many other great things! The students that I saw were testing the conductivity of sugar to see if it would connect the circuit to light up a light bulb. It was really neat to see discovery learning taking place! The students were enjoying themselves and learning at the same time, which is always something to shoot for! Great work!
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Mrs. Pickett - Update

This morning I stopped by Mrs. Pickett's class to see some of the presentations for the Heritage project that I explained in last week's Friday Focus, and let me tell you - it was super impressive! Several students expressed that they started off the project, not very interested in their heritage, but by the end, it was as if they couldn't get enough. They loved interviewing their family members, looking through old pictures, and finding out not just about where their families came from, but how much all of that information and all of the memories mean to their family. It was almost as if they were enlightened to a whole new side of their family's dynamics, and grew immensely as people through this project. It was very exciting to see! I stayed for almost the entire hour - I just couldn't leave!!

Mrs. Cooper

This week, Kendra had some extra time to do an interesting activity with her Algebra 2 students. She had them read a story about a different type of society, where each "caste" level of society was in a particular shape, and had certain requirements of them. Her culminating activity was a socratic seminar, and I stopped in to briefly see it in action. Students took a concept from the story, and applied it to life today and some issues that are facing our society. The kids had some great things to say and discuss!
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Articles Worth Reading

Why Some Colleges Are Ditching the Science Lecture For Hands-On Learning

The following article has two main sections - the section I'm going to focus on is the first one, where it discusses a couple of important teaching topics that I'll give my commentary on momentarily. The second half of the article, "Broader Applications" is not so much the what I'd like to focus on, although you're obviously welcome to read that part as well, but there are a few things in there, that, as an educator, rub you the wrong way, but the good intentions are there.

Anyway - on to my main commentary. I think the article brings up a couple of great points that apply to all teaching fields, not just science. First, it's nice to see that some college professors are starting to take the art of pedagogy and applying it to their classrooms! I know in the past we've always seen our best teachers in K-12, and then a lack for the art of teaching kicks in when you get to college. I digress, back to my point: I know there is a time and place for lecture in the classroom. There sometimes has to be a point where you are giving students knowledge they need to get to the hands-on part of class. But, I think if we can chunk those times into sections broken up with interactive, fun, hands-on activities, we are doing our kids a favor.

My second point here - and I know it's a bit of a stretch, because the "students" in the article are 20 years old, maybe even older - but we can learn so much about how our students want to learn... from our students. What an interesting idea to have students as co-teachers in the classroom to make learning fun and relevant. What if we spent some of our time simply gaining ideas from students on activities they enjoy and that really help them? And then they helped us create some of our lesson plans? Obviously, you, as the teacher, have the knowledge to discern a good idea from a bad one, but just think of the creativity you could tap into! When I was at the conference on Wednesday, the presenter showed a group of MIDDLE SCHOOL students brainstorming ways a teacher could help support a student with special learning needs. The ideas they came up with were truly amazing, and I think it's a resource that several of us, including myself, have never really considered looking into before.

Videos Worth Watching

Cassette Tape Comeback?

If you're a fan of analog technology, the following video is for you. I found it quite interesting, and you might as well. The video highlights the "Last Audio Cassette Factory" as apparently, there is a comeback in the business for cassette tapes. Who knew? I just might have to bust out my old Whitney Houston cassette tape that I've been holding onto for 20 years. I KNEW there was a reason I've been saving it. Anyway, I have a couple of takeaways from this video.

1. The first thing that really struck me in this video, is when their technician mentioned that his job is particularly difficult because he deals with "orphan" parts all day long, and he is currently training someone to do what he does. To me, this emphasizes an important aspect of the maker movement, and a purpose that our own makerspace can serve. What an awesome skill to have to be able to put a bunch of random pieces of technology (old or new) together to make a functioning, efficient machine. That doesn't just happen overnight. That takes a lot of skill and knowledge of how machines work, how technology works, building, and engineering. That guy has one of the most impressive jobs I've seen in a while.

2. I think we see a similar trend in education when it comes to things that become "outdated." It's a cycle, really. I know there are new trends in education, new research that emerges about how students learn, how we should run our classrooms, etc., and I think it's extremely important to have a growth mindset and realize when those ideas are good ones for us to implement. The world, it's a changin', and we need to stay ahead of the curve. In the same breath, we need to be prepared for things to cycle back around from time to time. For example, with NCLB, writing took a back seat to test preparation, and I think now we are going to be seeing writing come to the forefront once again. So, moral of the story, some things, like cassette tapes, apparently, are oldies but goodies.

The Last Audio Cassette Factory

Final Thoughts

If you take the time to read through my Friday Focus each week, thank you so much! If you ever have any ideas of what to include, by all means, let me know. Maybe you know of a colleague who is going above and beyond, or who is doing something great in their class and you know they'd never say anything about it - I'd love to be able to brag about them and you!!

Enjoy some time this weekend with family and friends, and let's go get 'em again next week. Thank you for all your hard work!