January 13, 2014

By Allan  

Hi Everyone,

It’s our first five day week in quite some time and it’s actually our only five day week with students until the week of Feb. 10th, if you can believe that.

Eleven items of note for this week:

• Design Team Update – We’re slowly but surely narrowing down the schematic design of the new building. The architects brought us five variations of the plan we all preferred at the last meeting. Our preference among these variations were Plan B-2 and Plan B-5. The main difference between the two plans is the location and orientation of the gym and cafeteria. However, there were some elements to these plans we wanted revised and included in both plans:

• That the service area would be moved out of the south end of the building to make space for a school garden.
• That the gym entry area would have one wall in the front of the building that would have an attractive glass design for when people enter the building (similar to Trillium Elementary School). We think this would look great during the day but would look amazing at night events with the gym lit up.
• That the cafeteria would connect to one of the courtyards for students to be able to eat outside as an option.

Here are Plans 1, 3 & 4 if you’re curious what the Design Team did not like. We’ll be meeting again with the architects this Thursday to review the updates to these plans. The next big meeting for everyone to attend will be the New School Design Open House on Tuesday, Feb. 4th 5:30–7:00 here at Howard. If you have questions or thoughts about any of this, feel free to weigh in with any of the Design Team Members (Allan, Angela, Jenny, Lori or Lupe).

• Google SketchUp 3D Models of Design Plans – On a related note, I asked the architects to send me the SketchUp files (in ZIP format since WordPress doesn’t allow .skp files) of the different school designs. SketchUp is a free Google App for educators (pay for everyone else) where you can do 3D modeling. The app allows you to zoom, spin, rotate and actually modify the different maps in a 3D environment. Kids might dig looking the designs in 3D or even adding to and changing it if you want to teach them (or let them explore) how to use the app.

• 5th Grade Temp Teacher Hire – Jessy was officially hired last week to be the temporary 5th grade teacher for the rest of the school year. We’re all excited to have her here to finish out the year!

• Schools Showcase Volunteers, Sat. Jan. 25th, 10:00-12:00 – The School Showcase will be held again this year Saturday Jan. 25th at the Ed Center, 10:00-12:00 (with an informational presentation about the school choice process 9-10). This event is for interested families to learn about all 4J schools in one place at the same time. This year’s event is shorter, just 2 hours, compared with last year’s 2.5 hours and 4 hours the first year. Let me know if any of you are willing to help me promote Howard and tell interested families why they should come to our school! Last year they provided breakfast, including a vegetarian option, for staff helping at the event!

• Free Tickets to World Junior Championships – Here’s a great opportunity you might pass along to your students and families. If students run a mile and complete the form, they will receive 1 free youth ticket and 1 free adult ticket to the World Junior Championships at Hayward Filed later this summer. It’s that easy!

• Martin Luther King Jr. Day Dos and Don’ts – Here’s a good article from the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance on the dos and don’ts of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Don’t limit Dr. King’s legacy to one day. Share his story with your students all year long. This article will help you get started.

• What’s the difference between project-, problem-based learning? – There are many different approaches of learning – everything from case-based learning to zombie-based learning, according to John Larmer, editor-in-chief at the Buck Institute for Education. In this blog post, Larmer explores different teaching strategies and differentiates between two PBLs — project-based learning and problem-based learning, which he describes as two sides of the same coin to engage and teach students.

• Teacher says computer coding is a natural fit for writing lessons – While participating in the recent Hour of Code event, sixth-grade teacher Kevin Hodgson integrated computer coding into writing lessons – a decision that at least one student questioned. In this blog post, he writes that technology is, in many cases, powered by writers and writing and that “coding is composition, and reading and writing programming languages on even a very basic level belong in the writing classroom as much as in the computer science class.”

• 5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students – In this short Edutopia article, Rebecca Alber remembers that during her first year of teaching, she was criticized by an instructional coach for asking her class a question, waiting a few seconds, and then answering it herself. “So that day,” she says, “I learned about wait/think time. And also, over the years, I learned to ask better and better questions.” Here are some of her favorites:

• What do you think?
• Why do you think that?
• How do you know this?
• Can you tell me more?
• What questions do you still have?

• A video to take time and watch! – Sara Cramer recently shared this video with the School Board and had appreciative responses from them. If you have time, this video, the latest spoken word video from Suli Breaks titled “I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate,” is well worth watching.



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

January 13 (M)
Easy CBM Reading and Math Benchmarking Begins
2:15, Allan to IEP Meeting

January 14 (T)
1:30-3:00, Erin & Allan to Elementary Report Card Training (Ed Center)
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 4)
3:30-5:00, Carla & Allan to Caring for Kids Meeting (Adams)

January 15 (W)
Corvallis Elementary Teacher Visiting iT3 Classrooms

January 16 (H)
Writing Pilot Teachers at Training (Ed Center)
11:30-4:00, iT3 Teachers & Allan to iT3 Elementary School PD Summit (Ed Center)
2:30-4:30, Design Team Meeting (Library)

January 17 (F)
Writing Pilot Teachers at Training (Ed Center)

Have a fabulous week, everyone!



-Paulo Freire
Education transforms people.
People transform the world.