Hope and Dreams

2014-09-21 14.55.14

Friday night, Scott and I walked the hallways at East Side.  It is a tradition he likes to do because he wants to see the work kids are doing in our schools.  You have to realize, my husband is a business owner in our community.  He treats patients, talks with parents about education, as well as hires GCSD graduates.  He is curious with what we do in our schools and wants to know how we educate our kids.

As we walked the halls, he was fascinated with the Hope and Dreams posted throughout the school.  Not only did he read the Hopes and Dreams of our kids, but also of their parents.  It was evident that the majority of our parents Hopes and Dreams where for their child to have a great and successful education.  What he noticed at the 1st and 2nd grade level is that there was a common thread from parents that they wanted their child to be able to read.  We always have heady discussions, why are our kids falling and failing, why kids are dropping out, why can’t our kids take advantage of what our country offers, you know, talk about the world and try to fix it.  It’s a moral purpose we both have in common and he likes to debate.  I get frustrated.  Ah, Sunday’s.  But, he makes me think …….  why???

So this brings me to where we sit as a district in our reading scores and why we need to look at what we have been doing.  There is a problem.  Last year, our district ranked 14th out of 18th in the county in 3rd grade ELA scores.  Not impressive in any of our eyes and below the hopes and dreams of the expectation of our parents.  So we are addressing this problem.  Sometimes, when a house settles, you have to build down to strengthen the foundation to prevent further settling.

In our school, we assessed our incoming 3rd graders using the Scholastic Phonics Inventory and we still have weaknesses in foundational skills.  It’s time to think about building down.  This is why we have implemented programs such as SuperKids, provided LLI kit training, working on a prescriptive RTI model, changed schedules, among other strategies.  It’s part of building down to provide a stronger foundation.

We’ve all heard, “I’m a good teacher, I get results.”  Yet the results we got in years past may not be relevant in these times.  And to remind all of you, this is in no way criticizing how hard everyone is working and what you are trying to do.  It is not pointing fingers at our PreK-2 teachers! Not at all!!  It is questioning the philosophy of teaching reading and writing in the era that we are in.

Maybe Tim Shanahan is on to something when he questions Common Core vs Guided Reading here,  here, here and here.  Maybe Dick Allington is on to something here with reading moves in the misuse of oral reading and questioning techniques.  I don’t know, but what I do know is that we have to have those hard conversations, be critical in what we do and do what is right for our kids.  Change is hard.  As a staff, let’s work together to have those hard dialogues and discussions. Let’s work together to move forward, as well as monitor and adjust and build the foundation.  Let’s work as grade level teams both horizontally and vertically to have those conversations with knowing where kids are, to where they need to go.  We need to be smarter and work in Professional Learning Communities and Networks to share strategies and build our professional capital and capacity.  We are educators, we can do this.  It WILL get messy, but that is what it’s about – hard conversations, using the tools that we have to assess and monitor and adjust as well as sharing good, reflective practices.  It takes all of us to do this!

So the question is – “Is what we did in the past working for us now in the present?”   Can we meet the hopes and dreams of our parents?  I think we can!  Have a great week!



Other News

  • Just a reminder that there is an East Side Staff Meeting on Monday, October 6th at 7:30a.m.  We will meet for some announcements, and then split out.
  • Bus Duty for Oct 6- Oct 17 Team 3:  Erin Gates, Beth Siebels, Gina Taylor Pat Williams.  Upcoming bus duty: Oct 20 – Oct 31:  Team 4:  Steph Plaisted, Brooke Crump, Kim Johnson.
  • Thank you Brenda for setting up and bringing in Kalli Dakos.  Great engagement in our kids.
  • Wow where did September go?
  • I will not be creating a Monday Focus for next week.  Please make sure you are checking the announcements as well as your emails!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!


Other Items of Interest

These are the qualities of effective mentor teachers, from the perspective of a mentee.This article is a short and sweet, no-nonsense explanation of the Common Core math standards. It is something that you could share with parents.If you know anyone who requires reading logs from students, this description of one teacher’s experience might prompt a rethinking of making reading an assignment that earns credit.Watch Howard Gardner [briefly] explain the work he’s been doing about the brain and learning. The multiple intelligences are here, but he incorporates the idea of “grit,” too. These things are mutually dependent.In this talk by Tony Wagner, he explains how our system of education needs re-invention rather than reforming. What you know is no longer a competitive advantage – it is what you can do. Schools have to organize around this reality.Research about students in schools/networks that are part of the “Deeper Learning Community,” which includes the New Tech Network, points to the effectiveness of a comprehensive, future-focused approach to schooling.Our educational system is designed for the average student – yet there is no such thing as the average student. This video makes the point that averages are inappropriate for use in schools.This graphic demonstrates the overlap between the Common Core (ELA and math) and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Which kind of meetings do you prefer? How about the “let’s get things accomplished” kind of meeting?

Quick tip: Type “timer” into a Google search and you get a timer instantly? Very handy!

You can learn about the mindsets of your students in just ten minutes with this survey tool. Not only will it tell you about your students, it will also tell you about the culture of your class.

This collection of research about the Common Core is organized thematically.

This website has all sorts of free resources about Central America — a typically neglected part of the study of the western hemisphere in our 5th grade classrooms.

One way to engage students in the study of the US Constitution is the writing of a school constitution. This article describes one such undertaking and its benefits.

As you’d expect, @larryferlazzo has a resource page for learning about Ebola.

A Touch of Humor




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