November 5, 2012

By Allan  

Hello Howard Roadrunners,

It’s hard to believe we’re more than halfway to Winter Break! And it’s hard to believe that this is only one of two five day weeks this month.

Twelve items of note for this week:

• Thanksgiving Classroom Reminder – I get the feeling that Howard staff are pretty aware when it come to equity issues, but with Thanksgiving coming up I wanted to remind folks to keep in mind that student conceptions of Native Americans often come from classroom activities around the First Thanksgiving. The conception of Native Americans gained from such early exposure is often both inaccurate and potentially damaging. When planning activities, be aware that what most of us learned in school about the “Pilgrims” and “Squanto” and the “First Thanksgiving” is a mixture of both history and myth. Thanksgiving activities should avoid reinforcing historical myths and should also avoid stereotypes (ie. NO warbonnets!). It’s often best to shift the focus away from reenacting the “First Thanksgiving” and instead focus on items children can be thankful for in their own lives and on their families’ celebrations of Thanksgiving at home. One good resource on what to avoid and what to teach can be found at Education World. Here is a good article with a Native American perspective on Thanksgiving. Also, the 4J Natives Program is a resource that is available for classroom presentations and can offer an accurate picture of Native American culture.

• PE and Music Begins, Nov. 8 – I’ve previously shared the PE/Music Schedule along with the A/B Day Calendar that’s also on the Google Calendar, But here are a related reminders and information:

• Specialist Drop-Off/Pick-Up – PE and Music specialists will be picking up your students from your classroom at the start of your specialist time. Be aware they they will not be able to come down to your classroom until the teacher from the previous class has arrived to pick-up their class, so teachers should be sure to arrive for pick-up on time and also be aware that specialists will likely not be down to you classroom right on the dot.

• Collaborative PracticeReminder – If your team has not done so already, remember to email me your team’s collaborative practice topic and the dates you will be meeting. In addition to the collaborative practice overview sheet, principals were given a second set of collaborative ideas teams may want to utilize during your collaborative times.

• Your Old PE Teacher – I’d told a few people last Thursday, but my sister, Lisa, just got hired as one of the roving PE teachers. She’s very excited to be teaching PE again and will be starting to teach PE just down the road at Spring Creek!Yea, Lisa!

• Fall Back, Nov. 4 – Daylight Savings Ends – Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour this weekend!

• Air Quality Testing Update – I’ve already shared this information with a number of staff individually, but just so everyone knows, Dan Fuehring from Facilities conducted a series of air quality tests in the building this past week. He has not gotten all of the results of the testing back yet, but he did find a lack of air circulation in a number of rooms, which matches up with staff reports that things seemed better when windows were open during warmer weather. To address this one issue, a work order has been put in for Facilities staff to adjust the HVAC system this week so it will pump more fresh air into classrooms, which may make things cooler but will at least alleviate the stagnant air issue. I will let everyone know results of the other air quality tests as soon as I get them from Dan and will be sure to press Facilities staff how they will address any additional issues that may arise out of the test results.

• United Way Campaign – We’ve gotten a couple more campaign forms turned in for the annual United Way Campaign. If you’d like to set up a monthly donation (taken out before taxes) or make a one-time donation, remember that the forms are due by the end of the month. Please consider donating to this very worthy organization that supports many services our students and families rely upon. Forms may be turned in at the office to the United Way envelop on Lori’s door.

• OAKS Clarification on the Read-Aloud Accommodation – The following information came from Kerri Sage, the district OAKS Coordinator:

The Accommodations Manual emphasizes the process of determining appropriate accommodation use for students to be based on an assessment of individual student needs. With that being said, if a team hasn’t identified a specific student to need the read aloud accommodation, it should not be provided to the student while in the moment of testing. The read aloud accommodation applies to one word or many words and by pronouncing even one, it is considered an accommodation. So when a student asks, please pronounce this word, the TA may not do so unless the student has been previously identified as needing the read-aloud accommodation.

• New Student Information System – Don’t worry, I haven’t volunteered us to pilot the new system this year, but I did want staff to be aware of the new student information system coming next year, Synergy, the replacement for eSIS. CIS has transferred their first set of data from eSIS to the new system. A general staff training will begin next calendar year and a training schedule is under development.

• 4J Minecraft – I’m not sure if folks are familiar with Minecraft or not, but it’s a first person sandbox indie video game that is focused on creativity and building, allowing players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D world. 4J has their own educational Minecraft server that is now operational. It can only be reached from computers within 4J net. The address of the server is If you are interested in starting a project with Minecraft or a club, contact Peter Tromba (


• Real-World Lessons From Hurricane Sandy – If you are interested in teaching resources connected to the recent hurricane, Ed Week provided several links on their blog. BrainPop also has a good section on hurricanes.

• Teaching in the Age of Siri – Although written from a middle school perspective, this article has some food for thought when it comes to using mobile technology with students. Much of this article easily translates into elementary student use of iPads or iPad minis. When a student can ask his or her smartphone or tablet basic math problems and get answers and explanations of how the answers were derived, it’s time for teachers to adjust their approach. In her “Powerful Learning Practice” blog post, middle-school teacher Marsha Ratzel writes that analysis and application of math-problem solutions must become the focus, moving beyond just the ability to solve equations.

• Five Reasons Why Teaching Is Still Great! – Despite negative headlines about education, high-school English and digital-storytelling teacher Paul Barnwell offers five reasons that teachers should celebrate their profession. Teaching, he writes, provides the opportunity to take pride in small victories daily, focus efforts on what matters and use technology. Teachers also are not tied to their desks and have abundant opportunities for professional growth.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – Here are the events of note for the week:

Nov. 5 (M)
*Reading and Math Progress Monitoring Week 4 Begins
*PBIS Focus: Appreciations Begins
2:00-3:30, Allan and Melissa to Title 1 Meeting
3:45-6:00, Allan to Elementary Principal’s Meeting

Nov. 6 (T)
9:45-10:00, Allan reads to classroom
11:15-11:55, Teacher Formal Observation
1:00-1:30, Roadrunner Assembly in Gym
2:30-3:30, PBIS Meeting in Staff Room

Nov. 7 (W)
9:00-9:30 Nutcracker Assembly Performance

Nov. 8 (H)
*PE and Music Begin
9:00-2:00, Mrs. Kreider’s class to the Museum of Natural History
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting in Staff Room

Nov. 9 (F)
8:00-2:00, Dental Screening in Room 2

Have a great week, everyone!