Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ensuring All Students are Successful on Projects

Excellence in Education: Ensuring All Students Are Successful on Projects
As we near the end of the term, students usually have the opportunity to do more projects. With 8 classes at the same time, this can be daunting for many of our students. Below are some ways to ensure all students successfully complete their projects.

Student Checklist of Project Requirements: Students use a checklist as they work to ensure they are preparing all parts of the project. The checklist, complete with due-by-dates, can be teacher or student-created. Additionally, you can pair students to check to make sure their partner’s work is being completed.

Rubrics: While rubrics shouldn’t be overly prescriptive, simple rubrics that can be applied to the various student-created products are helpful in assessing proficiency levels, setting individual goals and establishing clear expectations. Students should always self-assess their own work. Another possibility is to have students share their work with their partners before the project due date.

Planning Guides: A step-by-step planning guide used in conjunction with the above is helpful for students who procrastinate or skip steps. It will help students pay attention to the key components (see checklist) to the criteria as they plan.  

Reflection: Allow students to reflect on the process. For projects, and especially project-based learning, the process is often more important than the final product, if students are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning and the process. This can be done in a structured format, such as specific questions students answer, in a teacher-to-student conversation or with other students. Some possible prompts: What are the strengths of the project? Describe what you learned about your topic? What was especially helpful/important as you worked on this project? If you could continue working on this, what would you do? For next year’s students, what advice would you give them about this project?  

By making use of the above, students will be more successful. Many students will benefit from the increased structure through scaffolding, chunking, interventions and supports, but many students don’t need all of these supports. These strategies will help students build their executive functioning and soft skills.
Side note: Please don’t forget that the expectation is that all students complete at least one “assignment” in each class for each term to upload to their online/open portfolios.

Shout Outs:
Great job by Ms. Meade and Ms. Stott and organizing PowderPuff. Thanks to all the faculty members who volunteered their time to officiating, selling concessions or collecting tickets!

The student improv was a blast! We appreciate all the teachers who put themselves out there to show their lighter-sides.

Need to Knows:
Pineapple Learning Walks: Don’t forget to sign-up by Tuesday so we can get this going!

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Calendar and Memo Items
A-B Week

Tonight’s #vachat is on Creating Trauma Sensitive Classrooms. How to follow  and participate in a twitter chat. Hope to see you at 8!

December 2: A-Day
December 9: B-Day

December 6: Orchestra Concert, 7pm
December 7: Curriculum Expo, 6pm
December 8: Band Concert, 7pm
December 13: Chorus Concert, 7pm

November 23: Lauren Williamson

Worth Your Time

Daily Bell Schedule
“0” Period (7:40 – 8:40)
1st Period
Mustang Morning
2nd Period

1st: 10:55-11:25
2nd: 11:40-12:05
11:00-11:40 and 12:10-12:55
3rd: 12:25-12:55

3rd Period
Speak-Up Survey to be Completed
Students Remain in 3rd Period Classes
4th Period

AM CATEC Students: Depart from Monticello High School at 9am and return from CATEC and return to Monticello High School at 11:55am

PM CATEC Students: Leave class at 12:55pm for 1:00pm bus departure

Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project Tomorrow®, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key educational issues, particularly concerning 21st century education and technology. Each year, findings are summarized and shared with national and state policy makers. This data is invaluable in providing feedback regarding the Division’s work with respect to technology as an enabler for learning.  For more information on the survey, visit .  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

KWHLAQ and Student Control

Excellence in Education: New KWL Chart
Media preview

The K-W-L Chart has seemingly been around forever. It needed updating. As educators, we must realize that we are more than just disseminators of information. We’re way past the times when we teach content just in case the student might need it someday (that’s what the Internet is for). As Dave Burgess says in Teach Like a Pirate, “Teaching is no longer about relaying the content’s about transforming lives.”

We must strive to individualize learning; to give students a reason to learn. Inquiry-based learning, including PBL,  great lessons require students to see urgency to what they are learning. In such an environment, students will be excited to come to school so they can discover and create. In such an environment, students--not the teacher--are at the center of their learning.

The new adaptation to the K-W-L Chart reflects this philosophy by adding
H-How will we find the answer? Student think about resources that are available to them, perhaps with some provided by the teacher.

A-Action What Action will I (the student) take? In other words, how will students apply what they’ve learned.

Q-Questions What new questions do you have? Providing students with the opportunity to reflect on what they’ve learned, have they met the objective, and what new questions have arisen is critical to the learning process.

The new K-W-H-L-A-Q focuses on the inquiry-process. We must continue to give students reasons to learn and ensure their involvement in the the learning process.

Shout Outs:
I spent Saturday morning at EdCamp Northern Virginia and attended three sessions: Student Portfolios, Makerspaces and Individualized Learning. While it wasn’t my intention, I spent significant portions of time discussing and sharing all the great work that is being done here at Monticello. We must never lose sight of all the great work we do and how we are at the forefront of innovative student learning.
Belatedly, ENCORE! ENCORE! "Necessary Trouble," a one act play by Courtney Grooms was in the top six at the Virginia Theatre Association Conference. Courtney was also honored with an award for Best Original Production. The Monticello Theatre Tech team also won second place in the Tech Olympics.

Need to Knows:
Pineapple Learning Walks:

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Calendar and Memo Items
A-B-A-B-A Week

November 17: Student Improv Show with some fellow educators also making fools of themselves participating

Zarkpa Quaye (custodial): November 17

Worth Your Time
Honoring the “Otherness” of Our Students by Starr Sackstein (Embracing)

Pineapple Learning Walks and Positive Referrals

Excellence in Education: Pineapple Learning Walks  
Are you constantly searching for new ideas?
Do you wonder why a student who is struggling in your class is doing well in another?
Are you constantly searching for new ideas and strategies to improve your teaching and student learning?

One of the most valuable resources to answer all these questions is available to you--your peers in this building!

Learning from another teacher is one of the easiest and fastest ways to refresh our practice, learn new strategies, and build rapport with one another. While most teachers have an open door policy, we often get too busy and never visit other classrooms. So to help you see all the great things that are going on in other classrooms, we’ve created a multiple tier approach to Pineapple Walks.

Why are they called Pineapple Walks? Pineapples are the traditional sign of welcome. We’ll be putting little pineapples in your mailboxes, so when you’re doing something exciting, you can post a pineapple on your door to alert others that you want people to visit. Additionally, if you know your students are doing something exciting in your class, shoot me an email and I’ll include it in the Mustang Memo.

If you’re like me, you might prefer an option that requires more commitment ahead of time from the observer. I would often plan to see another teacher in action, but I would get caught up in everything else and bypass the peer visit. What a shame! Option 2 is for teachers like you.

Using this form, teachers will sign-up to visit a classroom during their planning periods. We’ll match you up with a partner, designate certain Wednesdays as Walk Through Wednesdays and together you’ll choose which classrooms you want to visit. After each visit, you’ll share with each other only what you liked about your visit. This dialogue is often as valuable as the visit itself.

One of the things I love about Monticello is that the staff is always looking for ways to learn and improve. Pineapple Learning Walks enable us to do just that and work together collaboratively, just as we hope our students do.

After walking through, take the time to write a thank you note or email to the “observed” teacher or add a note of appreciation in our Teacher Workroom, the Shout Out Section in our Mustang Memos, or nominate the teacher Teacher of the Month.

Our pineapple learning walks are optional.
Positive Referrals:

We’ve got a challenge for you! Don’t worry it’s easy and rewarding!

We’re asking you to refer students for positive actions. This could be for a student taking a leadership role in your class, or for a student who showed improvement, or someone who performed an act of kindness. Essentially it can be for any positive act!

Take a second or two to recognize a student who impressed you during the first quarter. The appropriate administrator will call the student into his/her office and contact the family to recognize the student.

This is a great way of enhancing student-teacher relationships. A simple investment with a great payoff.

Shout Outs:
Did you hear how our Marching Band did at their Assessment last weekend? If not, be sure to ask a band member about their tremendous accomplishment--and then order some fruit from them. Great job Mr. Coston as you continue to build our band program.
Need to Knows:

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list. DART approved list

Calendar and Memo Items
A-B-B Week

November 4
OATS Survey by All Employees Must Be Completed (see Dr. Haas’ email dated 10/28) I’m keeping this in here in case you missed the deadline.

November 11: Lockdown Drill (details coming)

November 11 Mentorship
Computer Check
During this mentorship or the following week, we are requiring that you complete our first computer check of the year. Directions are here. You must follow these directions prior to mentorship to set up your “gradebook” to complete this computer check. This is a county requirement.  

November 11 Peer Support Survey and Mentorship Activity
Peer Support Survey: Use the link to access the information and the forms.
Peer Support Nomination Instructions:
This is an annual nomination process that we provide for our students to alert the Counselors of students who are victims or bullying or students who are identified as a bully.
Before administering the nomination, please watch the I CARE video with your students.  Here is the link:
Ask your students to use the provided definitions of bullying as they consider and write the names of students who may have been bullied at school during the past month. If they do not know of anyone, it is okay to leave the nomination form blank.
Encourage students to answer as honestly as possible and to take this seriously. Explain to your students that they should not list someone’s name as a joke, because the time it will take time for the counselors to follow up could be used to work with a student who truly needs help.
Remind students that their responses are anonymous, which means no one will know they provided the information.
Explain why this is not snitching. Snitching is telling on someone to intentionally get that person in trouble. Naming a student who has been bullied is being a voice for that person in an effort to get him/her help.
Encourage students to write first and last names, if they know them. If students are unsure of a student’s full name, tell them to identify the student another way, such as his/her bus number, grade, or teacher’s name (ex: Bill in Ms. Johnson’s class).
Remind the students to list only students who have been bullied using the definitions provided in the video and/or your explanation.
Return only the Peer Nomination Support Forms to the Main Office that identify or name any student who has been a victim of bullying in the past month.

Students will also complete the Student Needs Assessment

November 8: Dawn Anderson, Trey Roberts

Worth Your Time

Engaging Students with EdPuzzle (requires parent permission)