March 10, 2013

By Allan  

Hi Everyone,

Howard’s OBOB team, Pie (Emma, Esten, Gracie, Kathryne and Kiley) never lost a game at Saturday’s regional competition, but sadly didn’t advance to the finals. It’s the top 16 teams with the most points from the “Pool Play” rounds who advance to the finals, but they did a great job representing our school. We’ll get them next year when Pie are 4th graders!

Fifteen items of note this week:

• United Way Campaign (forms due Thursday!) – As most of you are probably aware, 4J has not started the 2014 United Way of Lane County Campaign. Because of scheduling and time constraints, they decided it would be best to change the campaign cycle going forward from March 2014 to March 2015. They say this works better with their overall schedule and will allow them more time to focus on the work and value that United Way of Lane County provides to our community. This is the first year they are trying this schedule, therefore the timeline will be very short. If you are able to donate, forms and/or donations are due to the office by this Thursday (3/13).

Remember that you can even donate directly to your own classroom, which may be a good thing to do since the “Educator Expenses Tax Deduction” ended this past year, but a donation through United Way is still tax deductible.

Forms will be in staff mailboxes Monday morning. If you are able to donate, forms and/or donations should be put into the United Way envelope located in my mailbox on Lori’s office door. If you’re curious how Howard compared to the rest of the district, attached is a comparison sheet. We were above district average last year, so let’s see if we can do it again!

• TSS Changes – James has been hired to take Scott Ehret’s place as the 4J TSS Supervisor. Scott left the district recently for a new position at PacificSource and James was hired last week into the position. For tech support at our building, the plan is to have a sub covering James’ duties through spring break, until we can get someone permanently hired. Tech maintenance specialist John Moeller will also be helping the sub. Although it’s sad to lose someone ask technically skilled and detail oriented as James, it’s nice to know that the person now in charge of TSS assignments has a good idea of how much TSS time is really required here at Howard. I’ll keep everyone posted once I know who the sub will be. Best of wishes to James in his new position!

• Kitchen Staff Updates – With Carolyn moving to Washington later this month, I wanted to let staff know that Joan Koth, who has been the head cook at Willagillespie, will be taking Carolyn’s place until a permanent hire can be made. I’ve worked with Joan before and she’s fantastic! She’ll start next week on Monday, March 17th, so please stop by and welcome her to the Howard family!

• March 21st PD Day – We’ll have two main topics for the March 21st PD day. One will be part two of Number Talks with Reid Shepard. Be sure to bring your Number Talks book to the meeting and do your best to try this practice out before the 21st. Morning Meeting can be a good place to fit this in. The second topic, and the one I’m very excited about, is a discussion if Howard would be interested in moving towards a project based learning model along the lines of the High Tech Elementary Schools I shared about in January. Although this model flies in the face of high stakes testing and the rush to Common Core, Sara Cramer is supportive of this and would help us navigate downtown. In many ways, I see this as a way to make school more how it used to be; with more teacher autonomy, more time for integrated projects, and more time for class community building.

Back to logistics, we have a Staff Meeting scheduled this same week on the 18th. I’ll try to combine these two meetings if we don’t have too many business items to go over, but I’m going to leave the Staff Meeting on the calendar for now, but will let everyone know next week when I send out the final agenda.

Lastly, for classified staff, the rescheduled EA Extravaganza is being held this same day from 8:00 to 11:35 at the Ed Center. Information has been sent out earlier, but I did want EAs to know this training is optional. I’ve heard great things about last year’s Extravaganza, but use your discretion as to how best to use your time this day. If you are working in the building, be sure to connect with your primary cooperating teacher for to how you can best help out this day.

• Yong Zhao – Related to the above topic of considering a project based learning model, Yong Zhao at the UO, who I’ve mentioned before, is a major innovator and supporter in this area and may be willing to work with us. I’d be happy to buy anyone his latest book on this topic if you’re interested in reading it. Zhao believes US education is moving in the wrong direction with Common Core and sees better alternatives for educating students. His latest book is World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, which I’d be happy to buy for anyone interested in reading it. Just let me know if you’d like me to order you the paperback or Kindle version of the book.

• Fire Drill, Tuesday at 1:30 – It’s supposed to be dry on Tuesday, so weather pending, we’ll plan to hold our March Fire Drill on Tuesday, March 11th at 1:30. If we’re rained out, I’ll hold the drill during a when it’s dry sometime on Wednesday.

• Color Copier Reminder – After one month of use, the office color copier is at 900 color copies, which is quite a lot for one month. If you are printing to the office copier, please make sure that you have changed your print settings to black & white unless you actually do need color copies. First install the print driver (see James’ email) and then:

1. In a document you want to print, go to FILE down to PRINT (or press command & P) and make sure you’ve selected the office copier.
2. Click the SHOW DETAILS button (if don’t see “Hide Details” button).
3. Click the bottom drop down menu and click on QUALITY.
4. Click the COLOR MODE drop down and click BLACK AND WHITE.
5. Click the DEFAULT SETTING drop down near the top and click SAVE THE CURRENT SETTINGS AS PRESET…
6. Name the setting something like “Office Copier B&W”.
7. You can now safely print copies to this printer in black & white. If you need to print in color just change to DEFAULT SETTINGS for that one printout.

• 2014-2015 Staffing Comes April 4th – Principals found out last week that we will get our staffing allocations on Friday, April 4th. Since negotiations will likely not be settled by this date, downtown will assume a “status quo” contract, which means they will be operating off a budget that assume no furlough days or salary/benefit reductions. How this has played out the last few years is that schools get this first round of staffing and then later, following labor negotiations, get revised allocations with better staffing ratios.

• FARM Correction – I realized I overstated our percentage of students getting Free and Reduced Meals in last week’s announcements. The report I pulled that number from included students who’ve moved, so our actual count is 265 out of 345 students (77%) currently receiving FARM, which is still a rather dramatic increase for us.

• National Geographic for Kids FREE! – Robin V. made a good find I thought was worth sharing. National Geographic Explorer, the kid version of their magazine, has issues from 2009 to present available for free download, including teacher guides, projectable versions, laptop & tablet versions, and interactive whiteboard lessons. Here is the link to the Pioneer version (grades 2-3) and the Pathfinder version (grades 4-6). To download the PDF version you have to go to “For Teachers” and then to the projectable edition on that page. There you can click to print it and then save it as a PDF.

• 63 Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project – The one is a must read! The I, Too, Am Harvard photo campaign explores the diverse experience that black students at Harvard have to face. Here are 21 of the images from an article about the project.

• How to turn STEM programs into STEAM – Integrating the arts into science, technology, engineering and math programs is increasingly popular. This article includes various tips, resources and tools from advocates and educators to help effectively teach STEAM. Among them are ArtsEdge from the Kennedy Center, TeacherVision Art Activities for Math Classes, which includes lesson plans, and STEAM not STEM, which promotes the integration of arts education as the key to creativity and innovation.

• Study: Emotional, social learning model boosts test scores – Students in classrooms that operate under the Responsive Classroom model — a socialization technique typically used to help students develop emotional and social skills that’s very similar to Caring for Kids — had the added benefit of higher math and reading test scores, according to a recent study by researchers from several universities. The crux of the program is focused on developing positive classroom relationships, teaching students how to cooperate and encouraging a sense of “community.”

• Seeing Every Student – Here’s an inspirational story from Teaching Tolerance, which I think could apply to a good number of our students. Jeanie Greenidge felt invisible as a child, but one caring teacher turned things around for her. Now that Greenidge is a teacher herself, she makes it a point to “see” and empower her students daily.

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

March 10 (M)
EasyCBM Reading and Math Progress Monitoring 10
ELPA Testing for ELD Students
Mixed Bag Fund Raising Event through 3/19
10:00-11:30, Allan Meeting with Sara Cramer and Yong Zhao (UO)
2:30-3:30, Allan to FBA Meeting (Room 10)

March 11 (T)
1:30, Fire Drill
2:30-3:30, IPBS Meeting (Room 4)
2:30, Architects Visiting South Wing (Rooms 3,4,5)

March 12 (W)
8:30-9:00, Allan Meeting with Keith Fiedler from Nutrition Services (Office)
1:30-2:15, Allan Stakeholder Phone Interview for Sup. Eval (Office)

March 13 (H)
2:30-4:30, Design Team Meeting (Library)

March 14 (F)
2:30-3:00, Parent Laptop Training (Room 6)

March 15 (S)
11:00, Allan Judging at Future Chefs Competition (Sheldon HS)

And if you want a little bit of cheer in your day, here’s Pharnell William’s “Happy”.