Stingray Staff

Stingray Staff
What a Super(hero) family!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kryptonite Kudos!!!!!

Kryptonite Kudos to the following staff members this week:

  1. Pam Miller and Lisa Willis- A super speedy and super safe bus evacuation drill!!!! 
  2. Keesha Graham- Singing a fabulous rendition of a Grease Movie Classic with me.  Start thinking of our next duet for the spring family night :) 
  3. Everyone who participated and made literacy night a huge success.  
  4. Delia Meros- For enlightening me on the 504 process.  She really dropped a knowledge bomb on both myself and Kim Chipman.  
  5. The entire staff who chipped in for the great water debacle of 2014.  
  6. Tracy Leskanic and Officer Sessions who spent two and a half hours walking students from bathroom to bathroom at Northeast High School.  
  7. Amy Ash for organizing a great first week to ELP and Beth Bates for having everything ready for us each and every day after school. 
  8. All of our ELP teachers.  This is going to be even more epic than last year.  The students are super (hero) excited.  
  9. Karen Somanath- who works and works and works to make everything she does better than it was last year.  

Curricular feature: Math Journals

One of our main curriculum initiatives is finding ways to deepen student understanding and interaction with knowledge through the use of journaling.  While I have found journals in all the classrooms I have visited to this point, what they look like and how students are using them is as different as each teacher is in their teaching style.  That is the wonderful thing about teaching, the art of teaching.  I love seeing how each journal is different and how everyone has their own spin on providing students with opportunities to really interact and grapple with word problems.

If you are looking for ways to help your math journals evolve, check this feature over the next few weeks as I continue to visit classrooms and find new ways that we can learn from each other and turn our math journals into a truly interactive, highly engaging teaching and learning tool:

One feature I noticed, was a wide variety of problem solving structures available to students to solve problems.  This structures is called CUBES and I found it in Kelly Czarnecki's 3rd grade math journals.  Students had it glued right into their journals and use it as a tool to help them to organize their thinking. 

Another feature which many of you utilize are highly interactive components.  These are often the more "fun" pieces, which students enjoy making and allows them to have that little bit of kinesthetic learning that many have cut out of their instruction because it is time consuming.  We have to remember that these components are still fun for students and the impact is long lasting.

Because we want to be sure that students have at least one opportunity weekly interact with complex problems, journals are the best way to give them that opportunity.  As we have seen on the Florida Assessment released items, students will be asked to complete multiple steps for one problem.  If we only use our journals for computation, our students will be unprepared for these types of problems.  Nicole Sackett and Kelly Czarnecki have students glue word problems into their math journals and students are asked to solve the problem using multiple strategies.  

Leanne Lapointe has students cut problems out of their GO MATH books and then expand their thinking in the math journals.  Now a problem which they may have just computed in their journals has turned into a whole lesson.  I wish I was there for that math conversation.

A final math journal component that I have not seen anywhere to this point is this Math Talk accountability form.  This was found in Jana Bailey's math journals.  A check means that they participated in that type of talk move during the math lesson.  I did not have the opportunity to talk to Jana about how she uses the talk move check list, but I am very interested to see how students grow as the year progresses and they become more aware of different ways to express their mathematical reasoning.

Intermediate Grades Teacher Feature: Amanda Babb 4th Grade

This week's teacher feature for our intermediate grades is one of our 4th grade teachers Amanda Babb.  Amanda is diligent and always trying to improve her practice so her students have the best instruction.  She has extremely high expectations for all of her students and because of this, they all leave ready for 5th grade.

One of my favorite features from Amanda's classroom is her JiJi monitoring center.  In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love JiJi the penguin.  The students love JiJi the penguin, which makes the data progress monitoring area fun and frequently visited:

Another feature that is very creative is the area where student goals are posted.  I had to take my pictures from a distance so that student face could not be easily seen, but basically she has the students holding a "balloon" and on the balloon is their goal for the year:

Based on what I see Amanda's classroom, her students will be all the qualities listed on her front door:

Primary Grades Teacher Feature: Keesha Graham 2nd Grade Teacher

This week I would like to feature Keesha Graham as the primary teacher feature.  Keesha joined Sexton Elementary School last spring, and we are so excited that she is starting her first full year with us this year.  Keesha brings her energy and creativity to our second grade team.  Her secret power is her  awesome karaoke skills.  Maybe her super hero name is "Kapow" Karaoke Keesha?!?! 

Here are some fun features from Keesha's Classroom!!!!

She has easily accessible math manip baskets for her students: 

And clear anchor charts to supplement her instruction and deepen student understanding of new knowledge: 

Friday, September 19, 2014

KRYPTONITE KUDOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you feel the weeks going back faster and faster?  I do.   But you know what is AWESOME?????  How much we have all embraced the super hero theme!!!  I think it is so much fun seeing capes and masks on Fridays!!!!  The trend is spreading.  It makes Sexton such a fun place to be, and with all the hard work we are doing each and every day, work should be fun!!!

First I have to give the entire staff two kryptonite kudos:

1.  You may not know this, but since I have the opportunity to visit every classroom, it must be said that we have made great strides in the area of mathematics over the last year.  I am impressed when I pull math journals with the work students are doing.  I see visual vocabulary cards and strategies posted to help students grapple with more complex problems.  If this is where we are in September, I can't wait to see how this evolves over the course of the school year!!!

2.  Thank you for welcoming Tammy Seals to campus this week.  Every team has given at least one PLC to better understand guided reading.  Many have given two or three planning times to a more in depth study, many others are working one on one and have invited her in for demonstration lessons.  Our students will only benefit from your professional growth.   We are setting our students up to experience fantastic growth this year!!!

Some individual props posts and krptonite kudos:

  • Tammy Seals-  I love having Tammy on campus.  She is such a thinker and she is so excited about Guided Reading and spreading that love to other people.  I will miss her after she leaves on Tuesday.  
  • Beverlee Beck-  Thank you for being awesome!  Your students were so well spoken today as they explained the difference between living and non-living organisms.  Sexton is so lucky to have you on board. 
  • Kiersten Lund-  What a great job you have done building the foundation for growing readers.  Thank you for sharing reading time with me.  
  • Lisa Cook- Kryptonite Kudos for giving props to one of your teammates this week and pointing me in their direction for my blog!!! 
  • Mark and the entire plant operations staff- Thank you for your sense of humor.  You all keep our morale high and keep me laughing....and laughing....and laughing.  
  • Franki Robinson- props to you for being so flexible today.  
  • Gina Broadbear and Becky Jenkins- Kryptonite Kudos for your patience.  You both have no idea how much I appreciate you  
  • Becki Jacobs- Even though I am stubbornly self-sufficient, even when flying solo, she is very persistent in making sure my job is easy on those days.  VERY persistent.  I appreciate you.  
  • Keesha Graham and Rachel Sabba- Thank you for being understanding and flexible this week.  I enjoy having conversations that make me think about our work we are doing and why we are doing it.  Those are the conversations that make me a better leader, so thank you for engaging me in your thoughts.  

More mathematics strategies

I love seeing all the visual helpers that are displayed around campus to give students options when choosing strategies to use to help them solve mathematics problems.  As we all know, what works for one student, does not always work the same for another student and when we give them options we are setting them up for success.  One student friendly example of visual mathematics strategies was found this week in Jillian Broy's room. 

Jillian is teaching first grade and is located in a portable.  Her students are great mathematicians and while I was visiting their room, I was able to observe her students choosing a strategy that best helped them to find the difference in a word problem.  I am glad to see them using so many different strategies!!

What a great bulletin board

Whenever I see Angel Ammons' students around the building, they seem so happy and content.  If you have ever been in a kindergarten teacher's classroom during the first two months of school, you leave having a whole new respect for the work they are doing every day.  Angela is no exception to that.  Angela has been a welcome addition to our Sexton family of stingray superheroes.

Angela has a super creative bulletin board that she uses to display student writing:

I would love to write too if my writing was displayed on this bulletin board.  I know it is hard to tell from this photo, but Angela has had the students dictate their writing to her and she has typed up their dictation and has attached it to the displayed work.  I love how our teachers always go the extra mile to make everything our students do special. 

Setting the stage for mathematicians at work

This week I found myself in Molly Overby's room, where I found some outstanding examples of how many of set the stage for a safe learning environment, where students have the tools they need to have math conversations using mathematics vocabulary.  If you don't know Molly, she teaches second grade.  She looped with her students from first to second grade, and she is doing a fantastic job in her new grade level with her new team. 

One exemplary process she has in place are the mathematics processes and procedures that she has derived with her students: 

By setting the stage like this, Molly and many of our teachers here at Sexton are helping students grapple with complex math concepts using many of the 8 mathematical practices. 

Another component that caught my eye in her math area was the math vocabulary that she had displayed:  

And finally, while it is my job to monitor the curriculum components, I also love finding hidden treasures that show student personality.  One of my favorite finds, which are oh so cute:  

I love when students depict their likeness.  I love how they see themselves and the care and detail they have put into these masterpieces!!! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Starting to see some math journals and student accountability systems

Oh yeah, oh yeah, is it crazy that I am excited as I see these rubrics and accountability systems glued into journals and notebooks.  I mean seriously, my heart is dancing because it is good practice and I am so proud of the growth in our classrooms.

One classroom where I found a student friendly student accountability form was in Jeanine Campbell's classroom.  I have been impressed by Jeanine Campbell this year.  She is starting the year off super strong and I can feel a buzz in her room and I can see good processes in place.

Here is the example of what students have been using this week as they write in their math journals:

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

When I saw this activity, I had two fun!!!!! and how crazy is it that 8 years ago this activity was non-existent.  It makes me think about how lucky we are to be part of a profession that must evolve as our world evolves.  This is brought to us by the amazing Carrie Preston, who is one of our fifth grade teachers.  If you haven't met our fifth grade team, you should, they are just a wealth of information and one of the nicest groups of people you could sit with during a meeting or training. 

Each of the "apps" represented something about themselves, something they have done, experienced, read, etc.  They then wrote in detail about the apps represented.  What a great getting to know you activity which captures their attention. 

While in her room I decided to capture this little activity. Carrie had showed it to me before school even started.  I know it is a pinterest "steal" and I have seen it around campus, but she was the first who showed it to me.  Another example of something I wish I had thought of when I was still teaching in the classroom. A student rolls a number cube and that is the way they have to focus on as they journal at the end of the lesson.  What a great way to mix up the activity: 

Thanks for sharing Carrie!!!

Number Sense Activity

One of the toughest things we are charged with as elementary school teachers is how to strengthen our students' number sense.  While in Gina Broadbear's room, one of our fifth grade teachers, I saw an activity that could be easily adapted to any grade level and any mathematical concept:

Students can continue to add to the concept posters as they continue to explore these mathematical concepts and build upon their understanding of them.  

Sometimes while I am in a room, the smallest thing catches my eye.  This was what caught my eye today: 

 Apart we do so little, together we can do so much...I was trying to determine if this was teacher directed or if it was designed by a student.  How creative either way!!!

Props Post and Kryptonite Kudos

I wanted to start a weekly tradition.  It is time for a props post.  Or how about some Kryptonite Kudos.  I want to set aside a space to publicly love on your unseen superpowers!!!

Thank you to Caroline Sine, Katie Reynard, and Sandra Hyde.  They stayed for our open house on Tuesday evening to provide child care for our kindergarten parents so that our families could concentrate on the messages being delivered by our teachers.  Parents came out of open house excited for the upcoming school year.  One teacher praised Mrs. Meeks and the entire Sting ray staff for being caring and welcoming.

Thank you to Pam Miller for being dependable and professional every morning in the bus circle.  If I am pulled away, I never even worry because she has been someone I have been able to depend on for the last year.  She helps me be better at my job.

Kryptonite Kudos Amy Ash and Tracy Leskanic for all of the hard work they put into the science lab setup every day this week.  As you rotate through the lab, please remember to thank them for all of their hard work. 

Kryptonite Kudos to Jeanine Campbell, I am so impressed by what she has been putting into place and trying so far this year.

Chris Weiss props to you for going out of the way to build a relationship with one of my "special friends".  It takes a village and you went out of your way to put in that extra bit to help us out.  The more we put in now, the better it will be in those long months mid winter.  

Amanda Babb - two words....RED LEGO....also thank you for allowing me to  join your dance party Friday!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

One last post for the week...

I wanted to recognize one more classroom that caught my eye, and it was mostly due to the superhero name....BOOKWORM BAILEY!!!!  Jana Bailey one of our marvelous third grade teachers had her superhero poster up and the name is catchy: 

I think Jana loves books.  I love learning new things about you as I walk through your rooms. 

Her goal chart also caught my eye: 

What kind of smart are you???

Chelsea Riley has a great activity she does with her students to build community and team mentality.  The activity is what kind of smart are you.  As the students answer questions about themselves, they end up with their "kind of smart".  The best way to describe this activity was through pictures: 

I am excited to see where she takes this....

I love new and exciting ideas.  It makes me wish I was in the classroom and it makes me think..."gosh why didn't I think of something like this."  That is exactly how I felt when I walked into Cate Clark's 4th grade classroom and saw a configuration on her math wall that looked like this: 

What is this exactly? Well when she brings her students to each area of her classroom she has these four squares set up.  The Learning goal is posted at the top left, how the class will be practicing the skill is in the top right, how they will be applying the knowledge in the bottom right, and how they will know they have mastered it is in the bottom left.  Surrounding the four squares are other components like math expectations, examples of the concepts and vocabulary to assist them in their learning.  I can't wait to see this in action!!!!

Learning Goals Posted

Not the most exciting of topics, but I wanted to share some of the organized front boards I saw this week, as teachers are becoming more established in their routines.  While front boards do not have to look like this by any means, have an organizational system in place does help the students anticipate what is coming and what they will be learning or able to do.  These teachers featured today use different colored painters tape to separate the curriculum areas: 

 Kelly Czarnecki in 3rd grade.

 Nicole Sackett in 3rd grade.

Teri Trudell in 5th grade. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Who is your superhero?

While walking through classrooms today, something fun caught my eye.  I know, I know, we are back to the superhero theme, but I can't help it, I think it is fun how we all incorporated the idea of harnessing our kiddos inner superpowers in so many different ways.  Maria Vierling, who is a 3rd grade teacher had a super fun writing prompt and project to go with the writing.  It was titled Who is your super hero?  The students wrote about their superheroes.  For it being so early in the school year, I am so proud of their writing on topic about the superpowers of their friends and family members. 

The writing samples are on display outside of Maria's classroom on the ledge.  They are so cute to read and so inspiring how our students see their friends and family members. 

To go along with the writing samples on the inside of the windows are superhero paper dolls.  I don't think this picture does these mini superheroes justice.  I bet this was a fun building community project for these students. 

Guidelines for Success and Some CHAMPS ideas

Sometimes we just need to appreciate the basics around campus.  The PE department is doing their part to support the Guidelines for Success out in PE.  Awesome start to their bulletin boards: 

As I walked through I noticed some colorful CHAMPS conversation level reminders.  Sometimes sharing ideas helps all of us think new ways to display the conversation levels in a way to make it fun and exciting for our kiddos: 

Monkeying around in Ms. Morra's room!!!

Colorful conversation level poster in Ms. Czarnecki's room. 

One last goodbye to a forever stingray

The PE department is more than a group of teachers, they are a family within our stingray family.  They are some of the most supportive people on our campus in every sense of the word.  If I ever need anything, they are always the first ones to jump up and volunteer help or ideas.  Friday our school said goodbye to Mr. Stevens, who was for 11 years, part of the Sting Ray family.

Thank you Mr. Stevens for everything.  You will be great in all your endeavors as Coach Stevens.