Friday, June 4, 2010

Week of June 7- The Final Stretch

Kudos and To Do's

Thanks for another great week! Thanks to all of the 8th grade staff for hosting an outstanding 8th Grade dance. The students looked awesome (I wish we could get them to dress like that next week). Kudos to all of you for keeping our students engaged as we experienced our unexpected heat wave and brown-out. You guys are the best! As we continue testing next week with History and Science, please remind students to be quiet as they travel the halls. Monitoring student movement is crucial this time of year. Make sure you are at your duty stations—especially during class changes. Remember to begin eating lunch in the cafeteria with your students beginning Friday, June 11.

Instructional Focus
As we approach the end of the school year, keep in mind that we are delivering instruction until the last day. I gave some links last week to some pretty creative end of school year activities.

This week one of our new teachers (Mr. Davis), asked if he could teach some of the rising 8th grade students some skills they would need for the first week of school. What a great suggestion— “teaching-up.” You could go online and look at the curriculum for the next grade and do some things with the vocabulary that they will need for the first few weeks of school next year. How about using the textbook for a couple of days to just introduce them to some of the skills and concepts?  Give it a try!

This Week
Monday- Walkthroughs with Dr. Steve Edwards
Tuesday- History SOLs
Wednesday- Science SOLs
Thursday- Rising 6th Grade Students and Parents visit in the AM/ AR Luau
Friday- Field Day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Week of June 2- Math SOL Testing

Kudos and To Do's

Thanks for another great week!  Our students are feeling confident as they take their test.  Thanks for helping to create that sense of confidence!  Big ups to all of our English teachers--thanks for preparing them.  Next week we begin our round of Math testing.  I know they are ready.  Mark your calendars, we will have a final walk-through with Steve Edwards and members of central office staff on June 7th.  All grade levels will be visited.  Also, rising 6th Grade students and their parents will visit us (tentatively) on June 10th. Our visitors will start in the auditorium and be given a tour of classrooms and the first floor. 

The end of the year is both exciting and stressful. Be sure to plan engaging activities for the close of the year. School is not over until June 17. It is imperative that we send a clear message that learning will take place until the last day of school.

Mini Relaxation Exercises

Stress Buster Tips

Instructional Focus

Work with your teams to plan fun and engaging activities for the last days of school. Celebrate what they have learned all year with high interest fun activities that you may not have had an opportunity to do before SOL testing. Your students will love the opportunity to show what they have learned.  Now is an awesome time to "Hobby Teach!" Or better yet, why not give kids a jump start on something they will need to know early next year.

Here are some links to some sites that have end of the year activities to keep students engaged.

End of Year Lessons 1

End of Year Lessons 2

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week of May 24- SOL Testing and End of Year Items

Kudos and To Do's
It's hard to believe SOL testing is in full swing! Thanks to all of you for working so hard with our students. Students are feeling good going into their tests!  Big ups to our P.E. Staff for organizing our Field Day.  They are planning some great activities for the entire school. 

Thanks for making sure that you are in the halls during class changes. Our students are doing well however, we need to make sure that students are safe during this time of year. Also a reminder, please be sure your students are traveling quietly through the halls during testing.

This year you will not receive hard copies of the end of year packets.  You will recieve an electronic file and a hard copy of the signature sheet. The file will be emailed to you early this week with specific directions.  I am using Google Docs for the six forms you need to complete. Three of the six forms are below.  The other three forms will be emailed to you this week.

Please complete these three forms by June 4. Mrs. Granby will monitor their completion:
Committee Club Request

Class Repair Form

Continue Stop and Start Form 
( You must send Mrs. Granby and email when you have completed the continue, stop,start form)

Instructional Focus
There are 50 million different things that our students can do during the last few weeks of school--even during testing week (besides watching videos, crossword puzzles and coloring).  Here is a link to a great site for end of the year activities:

End of the Year Activities

Have an idea? Post it to this wall wisher:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Week of May 17- SOL Testing in Full Swing

Kudos and To Do's

Thanks to Mr. Jastrebsky, Mrs. French and Mrs. Downs for putting on a wonderful Spring Concert!  I understand they were outstanding!  Mrs. Lambusta represented Passage well at the Teacher of the Year Banquet! Kudos to our Algebra and Geometry teachers (Mrs. Watkins, Ms. Berg, Ms. Cioletti, Mrs. Rath, and Mr. McDonald) for doing such a great job with our students, I am sure they did well on their SOL tests.  Thanks to Mr. Holden and Mr. White for coaching our Basketball teams this season! Our students did a fine job under your leadership!

The end of the year is rapidly approaching! In order to reach the big payoff—summer vacation, we have to deal with the stresses that the last few weeks bring: end of the year testing, summer school lists, parents who do not understand why their children have I’s, rooms to be cleaned and items to be stored, accounts to be reconciled, and many more items that I'm sure I’ve missed. And of course… your personal life continues to move forward through all of this. Heaven forbid you get sick at this time of year!
So, how can we handle all of this stress? Unfortunately there is not one magic answer. The good news is, we can find a lot of relief by practicing a positive attitude each other, our students and towards all of the problems facing us. This makes all of the difference.

Try this strategy next week: Giving kids “hope.”
Frequently, make statements like, “I know you can do it.”
“I know you are ready for the test because you have been working hard.”

Remember, the only thing you really have the ability to improve is yourself. Amazingly when you do, everything else around you does as well. Bring on those SOL tests!

Instructional Focus

Here are some great sites to use with students to review for the SOL tests:

Interactive Quizzes by Tami Maloney- Great site

SOL Pass has released tests etc…

Different on-line tests some from Texas (they have a similar SOL type test)

Jefferson Lab- great site

A Glance Ahead- 
Monday- Faculty Meeting/ Vertical Team Meetings
Thursday - 6th Grade English SOL Test

Friday, May 7, 2010

Week of May 10 SOL Testing to Begin Soon

Kudos and TuDo’s

Thanks to the 6th grade staff for coming out this week for a 6th grade SOL night. I appreciate your willingness to work with families to give them strategies to assist their children at home! Thanks to everyone for doing an awesome job with creating small group lessons and activities this week! Big ups to the Instructional Assistants for their effort this week with small groups--Keep it up!

Instructional Focus

Its crunch time! Be sure to use data to form groups for review. Remember the “one size fits all” method of review is not as effective as targeted specific reviews. This week, encourage your students to complete at least two JLabs a week. Have them email the results to you. The familiarity of testing format will assist them with feeling comfortable with the SOL test.

Jefferson Lab SOL Quizzes

A Glance Ahead
Tuesday May 11-Algebra and Geometry SOL testing

Friday, April 30, 2010

Week of May 3- Special Education Audit Feed Back

Kudos and To Do's 
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  Last week Dr. Kilgore had a great visit with about 17 of our students. She asked them thought provoking questions. Our students were very complimentary of our teachers! I will share some of the things they said at our faculty meeting Monday. Our performing arts department rocks!  Great job with the competitions! High five to Mrs. Wright for diecting this years drama production, "Willy Wonka Jr.!" What a great performance! Big ups to Mrs. Hackman and Mr. Wright for leading the efforts with our Special Education Audit-we came out smelling like roses! The SpEd Department is really working hard! Congratulations to Mrs. Merritt for being invited by the VADOE to work on the English Curriculum Framework this summer! Thanks to Mrs. Francis, Ms. Jeffery and Mr. Giffon for attending the PTA planning meeting Thursday evening!  We are off to a great start for next school year! 

Instructional Focus
As a reminder next week is walkthrough week. All of the content supervisors will assist with the walkthroughs at some point next week. The "look for strategy" is small group instruction. I am looking forward to us talking about all of the great things happening in each other’s classrooms.
Monday and Wednesday- Math and Science
Tuesday and Thursday- English and Social Studies
Friday- All contents

Here is a tackle box of technology tools.  There are some great resources in the toolbox (acutally its a wiki)

A Look Ahead (check the calendar)
Monday- Faculty meeting
Tuesday- SOL examiner training

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Week of April 26- Small Group Instruction

Kudos and To Do's

Thanks for your hard work with teaching our students. Almost 340 students earned honor roll this nine weeks! Thanks to Mrs. Hawkins and Mr. Holden for honoring Earth Day by sponsoring a campus/Atkinson way clean-up with their students (see slide show below). Big ups to Mr. Newton and his K.I.C.K students working with CNU students to create the great mural under the stairway (see slide show below)! High five to the Seventh Grade Staff led by Mrs.Goff for holding your OWN grade level meeting and making what I think are some pretty bold decisions to ensure success for the rest of the school year (it's good to revisit how we manage the present in order to create the future).  I am so proud of your leadership!  Bob Ski--be proud of your peeps!
Homework- in preparation for our next round of Shift Shops, complete the Twt Poll below.

As a reminder, we are not inviting students to do their best academically.  They do not have an option.  Be sure to work with each other and administrators to ensure that they participate in planned intervention activities.

Dr. Kilgore will visit us Thursday to talk to some of our students and Friday we will have our Special Education audit.

Instructional Focus and Tips

Small Group Teaching. Those that have embraced the concept of small group teaching are reaping great benefits.  As you look at your most recent formative data, use it to form your groups. You may want to give your groups a cool name or let your students name the group. Keep the groups flexible and fluent. It does take a little planning, but the benefits outweigh the means.  Here is a great site that gives some structure and purpose:

Click here:

Keep looking for exciting SMART Board activities for students:

Twitter Trail PLN Tip
 Here is a great person for you to follow on Twitter for some neat websites and activities:

Lots of Youth Development this week in pictures. By the way, I always use my cell phone to take these photos and MMS them to Photobucket.  The slide shows are easy to create... 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Celebrating Our Secretaries this Week- April 19-23

Post A Message for our Secretaries. Click the pink post a sticky button at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Week of April 19

Kudos and To Do's
Happy Secretary's Week to our Fab Five! We appreciate all you do to keep us up and running! Congratulations to our Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Lambusta--our Media Specialist! You are very deserving of this great honor by your peers! Thanks to everyone for a great first week back! Look at the examples of "Good Teaching" in the slide show below.
Be sure to check your email about the upcoming Special Education Audit and for assisting with PTA recruitment for next year. Report Cards go home next week. Make sure you call and speak with parents of students that have earned I's. Although we have Parent Assist, all of our families do not have access--minimize surprise.

Instructional Focus and Tips

Summarizing. Having students summarize skills and concepts is a great strategy to use daily. Continue to look for opportunities to engage students using technology and research based strategies. Look where?

Twitter. Continue to check my Twitter feed on the right for links to great instructional stuff. Here is a nice eBook of Web 2.o Projects that I got from a Twitter friend that you can download--it should give you some great ideas to use for the end of the school year.

Google Docs. Another great and underutilized tool is Google Docs. Here is a You Tube Video that explains what Google Docs can do and a link to how to create a SELF GRADING QUIZ using Google "Forms!" Students can use this when taking common assessments. The great news is that you can tell it to grade fill in the blanks! The first teacher to create a useable self grading quiz will get a prize. You have to send me a link.

Examples of "Good Teaching"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

- Welcome Back! Week of April 12

Welcome Back Rock Stars,

Welcome to our new Weekly Activity Blog! I will no longer use the Glog to communicate our weekly activities. The Blog allows more flexibility and will allow everyone to participate in our professional development (by commenting). I have decided to call it the Passage PLN Blog.

I'm sure you remember how we began the school year by Tweeting at the movies. I challenged each of you to begin a blog and to have your students post a few times throughout the course of the school year. Thanks for your efforts with trying something different for our students.

I knew then that I wanted to do a blog for the staff (we had a lot of fun that day). The trouble was, I could not see how I could make it purposeful. It took a week of rest and reflection to find the purpose. I want to use the blog to do my weekly Activity Calendar and provide PD via introducing you to a PLN. What is a PLN? A PLN is a Professional Learning Network (or Personal Learning Network).

In a nutshell, it's professional development on demand and from people from all over the world! I spent the latter part of my Spring Break reflecting on my practice and how I would be better professionally tomorrow than I was yesterday (the two questions from Daniel Pink). Here is a quick video that summarizes what a PLN is:

My next challenge to you as professional educators is to join me on a quest to be better tomorrow than we are today by learning from each other and from other professionals around the globe with similar interests. Here are the first steps:

  1. Social networking is the quickest way to learn from other people. Let's start by building your PLN. Follow me on Twitter . Click here or click on the icon to the right. I know many of you did this in the beginning of the school year. I blocked most of you after the movie because I was unsure how I would use it. I've never made a mistake before..
  2. Check out my Twitter feed to the right of this post. I will retweet useful information from my PLN for you. Click on a link to something of interest to you. I am sure you will find something interesting.
One of the things that came out of our climate survey was my keeping you on the cutting edge of instructional practice. I am looking forward to us learning together, having an awesome last quarter and celebrating how smart our kids are because we gave them smart stuff.

Birthday Shout Outs- Ms. Richardson- 4/7, Ms. Glover & Ms. Harwood- 4/10, Ms. Dixon- 4-11