The Red Bird Express

Building Our Future... One Child at a Time

February 1 - 5, 2016

Quote of the Week...

"Some teachers taught the curriculum today. Other teachers taught students today. And there's a big difference." ~ Blunt Educator

Redford the Red Bird Recipient - Brandon Rhodes

"For working with students in a way that makes them look forward to seeing you and being flexible when I need a few extra minutes!" ~ Kyle McGraw

Teaching Students, Not the Curriculum

In her blog, Catching Readers Before They Fall, Katie Keier recently shared her thoughts about teaching children vs. teaching the curriculum:

I often say, “I teach children – not the curriculum, program or standard”. I can’t remember where I first heard this statement, but I love it and I truly believe this. My children – the ones I’m teaching RIGHT NOW – are first and foremost in my mind as I plan, set up invitations and provocations and determine the next steps in my instruction. I use a wide variety of resources provided by the state, my county, my school, my colleagues and my own professional library – but I believe they are resources, not a prescribed script to follow. My plans are constantly changing and evolving, in response to the five and six year olds in my classroom. This doesn’t mean that I wing it. Not at all! I spend a lot of time planning the framework of our day, looking at individual students and where they are in their ZPD and making instructional decisions based on my research, beliefs and philosophy of how children learn. But I don’t consider myself a “Responsive Classroom” teacher or a “Units of Study” teacher. You will see much of the philosophy of Responsive Classroom because I believe in a constructivist approach and that the social curriculum is at the heart of what we do; you will see a balanced literacy approach and you will see Writer’s Workshop and Reader’s Workshop because I believe (and have believed and taught this way for 24 years) in a framework of time, choice and response. But within that framework, every year looks a little different – based on the kids in our room that year. It’s kind of like building a house. The framework stays the same on most houses, but what’s inside is different depending on who lives there. The framework of my teaching is the same – a workshop approach, balanced literacy approach, constructivist, inquiry-based learning – but the details of how it looks each year is different, based on who lives in our classroom that year.

I worry that in today’s climate of one-size-fits-all instruction, with increasing kits, units and books that pre-plan lessons down to the minute being hailed as the “answer” to educational problems, that teachers aren’t being challenged to think. Are we reading the script or lesson that another teacher used with her kids, blindly following what “the experts” say to do?

Or are we reading the lessons carefully, reflecting on how it will work in our classroom, with our students, discussing and collaborating with colleagues about the lessons, and then planning a lesson that we own, along with our current students? I hope we are. I hope we are trusting ourselves and supporting each other. And I hope our schools are providing the time and support for all teachers, and especially our new teachers, to think deeply about instruction.

We can’t stop thinking, reflecting, questioning and challenging our own best teaching – and the resources we use. And we can’t forget that we teach children – not a curriculum.

The Birth of Test Talk

Being mindful of the learning experiences of students- from our instruction through assessment, best practices would have us consider how best to prepare our students for optimal learning and how best to prepare our students for sharing their knowledge. We know as educators that practice is not preparation; skills must be taught in a concrete, meaningful way before they can be practiced.

Standardized tests are written in a language that is challenging for most students. Test Talk offers an avenue in helping our students to translate the test writers’ formal English (Test Talk) into kid talk, to see connections with concepts taught in class and formal test questions, to understand and successfully manipulate the format of the test, and to use test-taking strategies to be proactive test takers.’ Greene, Amy H., and Glennon Doyle Melton. Test Talk Integrating Test Preparation into Reading Workshop.

Together, we can embrace the testing challenge by being intentional with using Test Talk in Math, as well as Reading Workshop. TEI (Technology Enhanced Items) questions specific to content taught can be found within the Teacher Notes sections of the new pacing guide.
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Office Referrals

When filling out a Think Sheet for an Office Referral, please follow these steps:

  1. Fill out Think Sheet and check the “Office Referral” box.
  2. Bring student to office OR call the office for student to be picked up when teacher cannot bring student to office themselves. If an administrator is not available, leave the Think Sheet in the office. An administrator will come to your classroom to pick up the student.
  3. Administrator meets with student to determine consequences and calls parent.
  4. Administrator informs teacher of consequences and follows through on them.

Following these steps will ensure that your referral is addressed in a timely manner.

A Special Thank You to...

  • Our amazing Custodial Team for their heroic efforts to clear the sidewalks, blacktop and entrances in order to get our students and staff safely to school once we were back together again.
  • Chris Fisher for coming to school on a snowy day to help dig out snow from the trailer ramp and entrances of the school.
  • Laura Annett, Jessica Swope and Satonya Dews for delivering weekend food bags to the homes of students during the Winter Break II.

Happy February Birthdays!!

February 16 - Nick Wall

February 22 - Jessica Phelps

February 24 - Autumn Sterner

Looking Ahead...

February 4

  • 2 Hour Early Release @ 1:55
  • PTA Supported Happy Hour and Staff Meeting 2:00 PM

February 5

  • Teacher Workday

February 11

  • SCA Meeting - Officers Only (1:05 - 1:35)

February 12

  • FAC Meeting (8:15 - 8:45)
  • Dentist Visit 1st & 2nd Grade (9:30 - 12:30)
  • Strings Rehearsal (9:45 - 10:30)
  • Heritage Night (6:30 - 8:30)

February 15

  • President's Day - NO SCHOOL

February 16

  • Team Leaders Meeting (8:00 - 8:45)

February 17

  • WIDA ACCESS Testing Begins (Grades 1 - 6)
  • Strings Rehearsal (9:45 - 10:25)

February 18

  • 1st Grade White House association Visit (9:00 - 3:30)
  • Strings Assembly - Gym (10:00 - 10:30 & 7:00 - 7:30)

February 19

  • Safety Patrol Meeting (3:00 - 3:40)