January 6, 2014

By Allan  

Hello Howard Roadrunners,

Welcome back from winter break! After having had a week off at Thanksgiving and all of the snow days, it almost feels like coming back from summer vacation. I certainly enjoyed my time off with my kids and getting to do some binge TV watching. Kim and I powered through Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I started a Britcom called The IT Crowd, which my wife couldn’t stand. The best gift I got was a brilliantly low tech retro alarm clock with just one button and the best gift I gave was a picture book version of What Does the Fox Say? that I got for my daughter, so let me know if any of you want to borrow that for a funny read/sing-a-loud with your class. I hope you all enjoyed your time off as well!

Twelve items of note for this week:

• Design Team Update – After the community input session and the many design team meetings, we’re closer to the overall design for the new building. The architects shared four different designs. The first plan we came up with would have put us over square footage (and over budget), but they took those ideas and came up with three variation. The Howard Design Team unanimously liked Plan B, which thankfully Facilities and District staff also liked best. Over the break, the architects are working on variations of this plan to give us different options, but generally speaking, we’re very excited about this plan, which has six classroom neighborhoods (one for each grade level, with 5 classrooms each, and three neighborhoods on each floor), two courtyards with easy access from bottom floor neighborhoods, easy community access to the gym and cafeteria areas, and multiple pathways for student traffic. There were some things we wanted to change and add, but overall we liked this plan quite a lot.

• How project-based learning fits into the common core – Project-based learning (PBL) can help teachers and students make the transition to the Common Core State Standards, writes Sara Hallermann, curriculum development manager at Buck Institute for Education. She writes in this blog post that PBL allows teachers to design and use the project as the unit, facilitate inquiry and shift from searching for the right answer to searching for meaning.

• Allan Out of Building 3 Days in January – Somewhat related to the new school and to PBL, I wanted to let staff know I will be out of the building for three days later this month, Jan. 21, 22 and 23. I’ll be visiting two elementary schools in San Diego with Sara Cramer, High Tech Elementary Chula Vista and High Tech North County. Both school focus on teaching through project based learning in a high tech setting. These schools are part of a K-12 charter program that was highlighted by Yong Zhao in his latest book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students. While I’m out, Larry Soberman, retired Twin Oaks principal, will be covering for me these three days.

• Volunteers for 5th Grade Temp Teacher Interview Committee Wed. at 2:15 – With Suzy taking a leave for the rest of the year, HR has told me that since the position will last longer than 60 day, it needs to be posted. I posted it over the break and there were quite a few applicants, so I will be conducting interviews this Wednesday, 2:15-4:00 in the office. If you’d like to be on the interview committee, please let me know.

• PBIS Focus: Be Your Best – The January PBIS monthly focus is Be Your Best and don’t forget about the PBIS/CFK cheat sheet that matches our monthly themes with Caring for Kids class meeting lessons, which is a nice way to tie the two activities together.

• TalentEd and SMART Goals Due – SMART Goals were to have been entered into TalentEd by Dec. 31st. If you haven’t entered these yet, attached are the shared building goals (in MS Word and PDF), which you can cut and pasted into TalentEd if you choose to use them. Also, if you haven’t completed the Self Assessment, be sure to complete that as well. I’ll be combining the Performance Standards Overview Meeting, which I should have done at the start of the year, with the January Mid-Year Conference. Let me know if you have a preferred time to meet, but I’ll plan to send out individual emails to schedule meeting times.

• Changes in the 2013-14 School/Work Year Calendar – Everyone should have received an email about the updated calendar as a result of snow days. For teachers, Celia said that all licensed staff will be paid for a regular work month in December, but that you will need to make up any hours that were not worked. If you did not report to work on December 9th, please email or let me know in person how you plan to make up the missed work hours. Any work outside of your regular 8 hour workday would suffice.

• Downtown Staffing Changes – Jeralynn Beghetto at HR announced earlier that she is moving out of the state, but there are a couple other changes downtown which staff might not be aware of. HR Director, Celia Feres-Johnson, has accepted a position at OSU and will be leaving mid-February. Also, Laurie Moses, the Director of Secondary Education, has retired, but is finishing out the school year.

• Bond Update – Technology – If you’re interested in how the district is planning to spend the bond funds earmarked for technology, their first step is to focus on a technology refresh of a COW (36 laptops) per school. Most schools need more than this number to achieve any sensible ratio of modern computers for students, but this is a start and it enables CIS to train up on how to centrally deploy 1500+ computers. Their next steps will be to expand and build upon the iT3 iPad Pilot and deploying more mobile devices throughout the district. See Peter Tromba’s email for more details.

• 2014 Annual Community MLK March, Standing United! January 20th, 9:30 AM – The Eugene/Springfield NAACP invites everyone in the community to take part in the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day march on Jan. 20th at 9:30 AM, starting at the Science Factory parking lot. The theme of STANDING UNITED! is meant to reinforce the idea we are indivisible when we stand together for Justice and Equality. See the flyer for details.

• January Title 1 Newsletter – If you’re curious what’s happening in Title 1 from the district perspective, here is the latest Title 1 Newsletter that went out to all Title 1 Coordinators and principals. This month’s issue includes a short useful list titled “Verbal Behaviors in a Class That Let Kids Get Smart,” listing 10 items teachers can do and 7 that students can do.

• Asking better questions: 6 ways to improve classroom discussion – “Although many of us don’t realize it until we step foot into our own classrooms, we quickly learn that facilitating a lively, but controlled, classroom discussion is truly an art form,” writes ASCD EDge community member Ryan Thomas. In a recent blog post, Thomas presents a list of questions educators can ask their students to find this balance in their own classrooms. He suggests that educators start with questions that test for comprehension and understanding.

• Schedule of Events for the Week – See the Google Calendar for future events, but here are the events of note for this week:

January 6 (M)
Furlough Day – No School

January 7 (T)
Classes Resume
PBIS Focus: Be Your Best

January 8 (W)
2:15-4:00, 5th Grade Temp Teacher Interviews (Office)

January 9 (H)
2:30-3:30, Collaboration Time
2:30-4:30, Design Team Meeting (Library)

January 10 (F)
Regular Day

And if you were wondering who won the festive outfit contest, Mrs. Henry won by a landslide with Ms. Zimmerman coming in second. Have a great week back, everyone!