October 21, 2013

By Allan  

Hi All,

One more five day week until our short but busy week of conferences and Halloween.

15 items of note for this week:

• School Design Committee Update – Pinterest – I’ve created a Howard Pinterest page for staff to share any design ideas they come across. I created four board for now; School Design, Classroom Design, Furniture and Technology. If you’re a Pinterest user and would like to post directly to any of the boards, send me your Pinterest username or email and I can give you access to pin. If you’re a non-Pinterest user, you can also just email me anything interesting you find, though it would be fun to get a discussion going on some of the posts. There’s a lot of  great ideas out there!

• What Schools Can Learn From Google, IDEO, and Pixar – The country’s strongest innovators embrace creativity, play, and collaboration – values that also inform their physical spaces. – This is a must read article that highlights three key themes I’d like to guide the design of our new building, CREATIVITY, PLAY and COLLABORATION. In many ways, what makes the Googles of the world exceptional begins in the classroom – an embrace of creativity, play, and collaboration. We can no longer afford to teach our kids or design our schools the way we used to if we want to prepare students to have 21st century skills (which are embodied in CCSS). In looking at various exemplary workplaces such as IDEO, Google, and Pixar, we can glean valuable lessons about effective educational approaches and the spaces that support them.

• Conferences Information – Conferences aren’t until next week, but I did want to let teachers know that the PTO will be providing meals both evenings. Also, I wanted to remind teachers that if you have 29 or more students in your class that you will be compensated for one half (1/2) day at your per diem rate. I’ve also included a link from the NEA Website with resources and tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences. Lastly, I shared these last year, but here are some good tips that I got from an ASCD article on conducting parent-teacher conferences.

• Listen well, regardless of the situation.
• Balance constructive critiques with positive comments about the student.
• Make parents feel welcomed and relaxed. Parents are not on their turf; they may feel anxious or nervous.
• Inform parents that you, the teacher, will take notes during the conference so you can carefully address each of their concerns.
• Be cool and calm in everything you say and do. Your tone of voice and mannerisms can escalate or deescalate parent-teacher interactions.
• Be deliberate and realistic in what you promise a parent. Remember that you cannot feasibly call or e-mail several parents or caregivers every day.
• Collect data on what you say. Take note of how many questions you ask, how often you offer the parent encouragement, and how often you emphasize the ideas or suggestions that the parent brings to the conference.
• At all costs, do not use your authority as a teacher as a means of forcing your point of view.
• Interact with parents or caregivers to learn more about the student and to understand how the parent has been successful or unsuccessful with that student at home.
• Understand your role as a teacher and have a working knowledge of how other school professionals can support parents and students. Generic referrals to “seeing a guidance counselor” are not always necessary or appropriate.
• Conduct the conference in a warm, enthusiastic, and professional way. Teachers who appear apathetic, aloof, or begrudging will seldom foster successful relationships with parents and caregivers.

• Free/Reduced Meals Forms at Conferences – I just got access to our Free/Reduced Meals counts and we are currently at 59% of our students enrolled in the program, which is a big drop from where we ended the end of last year at 73%. Please highlight the program to families at conferences and have some forms on hand. Besides the importance of making sure families who would benefit from the program are participating, our F/R count directly impacts our classroom and Title staffing levels, so it’s a good idea for many reasons to encourage families to enroll in the program even if they don’t plan on using it.

• Allan Available at Conferences – I’m available to sit in on any conferences that teachers would like me to attend. Just let me know the date and time and I’ll get it on my calendar.

• Halloween Parade Directions and Map – I touched base with the 4/5 team and have a plan for this year’s Halloween Parade, Thursday, October 31st at 1:30. See the attached directions and map for how it will happen. Room 17 will begin the parade “train”, following the planned route. Students will parade through classrooms, with each class adding to the train as they leave the room. Classes will follow the parade route until they end back at their own classroom. One twist on this year’s parade is that the older grades will do a short 2 minute performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the parade goes through the gym. See the attachment for how this will work. Also included in the attachment is a rainy day parade map, but we can keep our fingers crossed that we’ll have a dry afternoon.

• Phone Interpretation Services – The district is piloting a phone interpretation service for emergency/last minute requests or if a local interpreter is not available. This service only works for individual parent meetings, not group meetings. If you find yourself needing this service, let me know and I’ll get you the information.

• The Good Behavior Game – Brianna Stiller sent principals two version of The Good Behavior Game (version II and version III) and asked us to share it with staff. Read on for what Brianna has to say about the behavior management game. It sounds like a simple and effective classroom management system. Resources are also available on the 4J Curriculum website.

Message from Brianna:

Recently, there has been some press and at least one training relating to the Good Behavior Game.  I’m not entirely sure if anyone has tried to make money off of this concept yet, but I’m sure someone eventually will.  My message is:  It’s a very effective tool — so, if you are having difficulty getting students to meet your behavioral expectations, by all means, use it.  But don’t pay for it!!!!

The Good Behavior Game is exceedingly simple and is often used by elementary teachers, but I have also used it successfully with middle school students and I am confident I could also make it work with high school students, with a few changes in language to make it more developmentally appropriate.  I’m pretty sure Jill Corrigan at NEHS uses it routinely with success ——

Attached are two versions of the Good Behavior Game:  One version I got by going online and downloading it; and one version I wrote with editing from Cheryl Linder.  You are also welcome to create your own version — the big idea is to be extremely clear with your expectations; to give students points at a high rate when they are following directions; and to give yourself points if there are infractions that have been specifically identified as “teacher point” or “red point”.  You have to set it up so that kids win the game at least 80% of the time.  Don’t do this by lowering your expectations — do it by focusing on “catching them being good”.  The less often they are winning, the more you have to focus on “catching them being good”.



• CCSS in Kid Friendly Language – Lupe shared with me some nice posters of the CCSS in kid friendly language, broken down by subject area and grade level. Follow the link to find your grade level.

• TalentEd Update on “misplaced” documents – HR just received word last Friday from TalentEd that the first phase of the data recovery process for documents entered into the system prior to October 1, 2013 (and perceived “lost”) have now concluded. This work was set to be completed over the weekend and the system should be fully operational again on Monday.

• Find Your Balance Challenge – Rachel found this contest that’s open to elementary school classrooms in grades K-5 and rewards student teams for taking steps toward achieving Energy Balance in your own school communities. See their website for more information!

• Using Children’s Books to Enhance Mathematics – This article suggest ways to use children’s literature to explain mathematics and make it vivid for students. The key steps, they say, are (a) choosing a good text, (b) exploring the text in a read-aloud and discussion with students, and (c) extending the text by getting students to explore ideas after the read-aloud is finished. See the attached article for some books they suggest, along with the math links and suggested age-ranges.

• Connected educators will stand out from their peers – Being a connected educator helps Todd Nesloney be the best teacher possible for his students, he writes in this blog post. Whether through Edmodo, Facebook, Pinterest or other sites, he writes that opportunities abound for teachers to connect with experts outside of their own schools. “There will be a clear difference between those teachers who choose to connect and learn from thousands, and those who don’t,” he writes.

• Free Access to myON Books – The Oregon Department of Education is providing free access to myON Books through December 20, 2013. It’s an online library of over 4,000 enhanced digital books K-6 for students and families. TumbleBooks still looks like it has a better library of more familiar titles, but I thought myOn looked worth sharing. Similar to TumbleBooks, students can read or have books read to them on the site. See the attached letter for more information.

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

October 21 (M)
BEST Begins
2:30-3:30, Allan to IEP Meeting
9:00-9:30, Allan meeting with Project Feed Hope
7:00-8:00, Allan to River Road Community Meeting

October 22 (T)
2:30-3:30, Site Council (Staff Room)

October 23 (W)
9:00-11:30, Kindergarten to Detering Orchards
2:15-2:45, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting
2:45-3:15, Allan to Teacher Goals Meeting

October 24 (H)
7:30-8:30, Allan to CLC Plancement Meeting
8:00-2:30, Allan to New School Sustainability Summit (Ed Center)
3:00-5:00, Joint Howard & River Road Design Committee Program Meeting (Ed Center)

October 25 (F)
9:30-11:30, 4/5 Bus Safety
10:55-12:25, Birthday Lunches with Mr. Chinn
12:00-2:00, 5th Grade Science Speaker (Room 11)

Have a great week, everyone!