Monthly Archives: October 2015

30 Reasons to Celebrate Reading (in pictures)

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Every fall our Media Center is transformed into a whimsical pumpkin patch displaying “Literacy-O-Lanterns” from books our students love.  This year I thought I’d introduce the new characters along with some past pumpkins as well.

Pumpkins Mosiac 2014

Pumpkins 2012

Pumpkin pic 2013

Pumpkins

2015 Pumpkins

Painting the pumpkins is fun, but the thing that I’m most excited about is how our students are absolutely crushing creativity with their pumpkin designs.  Our entire 3rd grade team is in on the fun…that means more than 150 pumpkins are now on display.  As you can probably imagine, all of the pumpkins are pretty awesome.  I’m sharing a few student projects that used different media to capture the personality of their respective characters below.

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The Lorax by Hannah

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Geronimo Stilton by Ashton

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Harry Potter by Kruthia

A few educators have inquired about how we do this…so here’s a final picture that pretty much sums it up!  The crop of characters always starts by drawing a Sharpie outline on a pumpkin.  The outline is then painted with acrylic paint.  It’s fun to see all of the pumpkins scattered throughout the Media Center and kids LOVE them too.  The overarching goal is to celebrate reading and grow a culture of literacy.

Be sure to check out Twitter and search for the hashtag #LiteracyOLanterns to see some additional pumpkins from students in other schools.

Ivy and Bean Pic

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Dear Tony

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Dear Tony,

(An open response to a parent who shared some great questions/concerns in the comment section of this blog.)

I want to thank you for sharing your concerns about social media and its potential impact on foundational learning.  When I first read your comment on my blog I was struck by your authenticity and the importance of what you were asking.  My visceral response was to craft a comprehensive (and maybe even eloquent) reply.

In attempting to do so, I quickly realized that I was prioritizing my own answer over your very valid concerns.  If I’m being honest, I think that I was trying to insert my “expertness” (perceived or otherwise) into a reply because I wanted you to be as confident about the learning experiences we are trying to facilitate as I am.  This prompted me to pause.

When our answers become more important than the questions others ask we will have done a disservice to the very nature of learning.  Please know that I will carry your questions and perspective with me to conversations we have as a school about Vision, pedagogy, and student achievement.  Most importantly, I will never lose sight of the hopes, dreams, and expectations that parents have for their children and their children’s schools.

One day many of our children will have social media accounts of their own.  I can only hope that the modeling that you, Tony, have done by showing integrity, inquisitiveness, and concern in your original blog comment to me helps our kids understand the potential value of social media and other important communication tools.

I believe that the questions you’ve asked should also be part of a larger conversation about the nature of foundational learning.  For this reason I’m inviting others to join us in the conversation.  If at any point you’d like to connect directly please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail.

Sincerely,

Brad

Join the Conversation

CE15

You’re invited to join an interactive Twitter chat about innovation in our schools.  Mark your calendar for October 21st at 7:00pm CST.  Ben Gilpin, Dr. Kaylen Tucker, and I will be co-moderating a National Conversation about Innovation.  We want to hear your innovation “Dos & Don’ts”!

As a precursor to the chat, check out the NAESP Principal Magazine article titled, “Leadership for Tomorrow” by clicking HERE.  The article features innovative insights from respected educators across the country including Rafranz Davis, Dr. Joe Mazza, Jennie Magiera, and Sarah Thomas.

If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat feel free to reach out for support.  We will tweet out a question every five minutes to the hashtags #CE15 and #NAESP.  Chat participants can respond to the questions and interact with one another.  Be sure to include the hashtags in your tweets as well!

For a sneak preview of the chat questions check out the flyer above.  We’re looking forward to connecting!

Pedagogy First (video)

Our kids are counting on us to lead learning with a relevant and connected pedagogy.  The approach we use is critical to students’ long-term success.  In order to put kids first we’ve got to change the narrative.  We’ve got to prioritize pedagogy…NOT apps or devices.

In order to do this we must begin by asking better questions:

“How might we provide students an authentic audience for their work?”

“In what ways can we tap into Social Media as Learning Media?”

“How can we infuse student voice and innovation into the Common Core State Standards?”

“What is the best thing that could happen if we embrace a more connected approach to teaching and learning?”

“What traditions and educational staples (pun intended) do we need to STOP doing?”

It’s time to get serious about pedagogy.  Teaching the YouTube Generation without providing safe and scaffolded opportunities for students to contribute to YouTube is absurd.  We’ve got to connect kids to authentic learning experiences that are congruent with the collaborative world they live in.  Click HERE to view a three minute video highlighting some of the ways our team is connecting students to their world.

Students connect with a Greenwood graduate and current 3D printing professional.

Students connect with a Greenwood graduate and current 3D printing professional.

PersonalizedPD Cohorts

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Personalized PD Cohorts Fall 2015

Each year our school plans monthly breakout sessions based on student needs, staff requests, site priorities, assessment data, and district vision.  Last year our team expressed an interest in taking the learning and relationships from individual breakout sessions deeper.  With the help of some Greenwood teacher-leaders and an amazing administrative intern we developed a cohort model that keeps teachers connected around a single unit of study for three months.  We believe that the conversations, reflection, and collaboration that will occur between the sessions is just as valuable as the formal learning time.

The K-2 and 3-5 cohorts were designed to address the different developmental levels of students (primary or intermediate).  Sometimes these levels mean staff have unique needs due to differences in curriculum, technology capabilities of primary/intermediate students, and the types of conversations we can have about race/culture with a kindergartner versus a 5th grader.

We are using a ‘Flipped’ approach to professional development so that we can maximize our time when we meet face-to-face.  (This basically means that staff will have the opportunity to choose from various articles and videos to review prior to attending a session in person.)  The article for September’s session was from ASCD (2015) called, “Approaching Race from the Inside Out,” by Alexandria Neason.

The resources below are for the October and November sessions on Racial Equity and Cultural Proficiency.

Culturally Responsive Teacher Matters Article by Elizabeth Kozleski

6 Reasons to Teach African-American History All Year Round Article by Andrea Thorpe

Color Blind or Color Brave TED Talk by Mellody Hobson

How to Overcome Your Biases TED Talk by Verna Myers

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