Saturday, May 18, 2013

PHOTOS APLENTY! Weather didn't keep Randall Fun Run from being a success

The Fun Run at Randall Elementary School had to dodge the problematic weather recently, but once it did get going, it was another huge success.

Staff was really proud of the dedicated efforts and the pride shown by the families involved. All the pupils, adults and staff had an amazing day of fun and exercise. 

Everyone was given a pedometer, which is a device that measures the steps taken by the participant. They are usually worn on the belt, and the machine gives the walker/runner a great exercise measurement and motivational device.

The goal of the Fun Run targeted 2,500 steps by running, walking, skipping or jogging.

It was great to see all the parents in attendance, watching their child's efforts. The cheering encouraged many of the pupils to do their best -- and it really keep the staff going, too!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Roadrunner rallies keep things fun and informative at Taylor Parks

Beep, beep!

You may have heard that around Taylor Parks Elementary School today (Friday, May 17), as the school had another one of its monthly "Roadrunner Rallies" that have become so popular inside the building.

The rallies are organized to recognize pupils who serve in the building, participate on sports teams and earn "Student of the Month" honors.

Along with announcements from Ms. Downie, each grade offers a presentation that is academically appropriate -- and fun!

For this month's event, the Taylor Parks' fifth-graders performed a "rap" about the American Civil War. Those who attended found the presentation informative and enjoyable.

'Pasta for Pennies' a huge success at Hoover!

During the month of March, Hoover Middle School students participated in the "Pasta for Pennies" fundraising program, which raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Over the course of the month, during their four-hour class period, students donated spare change to the cause. The eventual winning class was awarded with a pasta lunch, courtesy of the Olive Garden Restaurant in Southgate -- a deal that certainly worth the change!

Overall, Hoover raised over $1,900 for the fight against leukemia and lymphoma.

The award-winning class was Mrs. Gibson's fourth-hour, seventh-grade match class. During the four-week campaign, they alone donated an amazing $619.

On Tuesday, May 14, they got to enjoy the rewards and were treated to a lunch of pasta marinara, salad and bread sticks.

Congrats to Mrs. Gibson's, her fourth-hour room and the rest of the students at Hoover for a job well done.

And by the way, pass the salad ... 

Think about volunteering for the Taylor Reading Corps!

With the school year winding down and the summer months about to kick in, it might be a good time to think about volunteering in the fall for the award-winning Taylor Reading Corps.

The TRC, one of the Taylor School District's "Points of Pride," is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that recruits, trains and supervises adult reading mentors for pupils in preschool and lower elementary school grade levels in the system.

The group, the brainchild of 23rd District Court Judge Geno Salomone, was created in 2011. During the 2011-12 school year, it focused on approximately 100 adult volunteer reading mentors working with nearly 200 kindergarten pupils. According to independent data analysis by TRC's partner, Wayne State University, those mentored in the program showed significant progress toward gaining proficient standards in reading.

But the work wasn't done, and it never will be.

Reading proficiency is a problem across the nation. According to a Pew Foundation study in 2010, the national illiteracy rate lingers at 18 percent, while the Detroit metro area rate is as high as 47 percent. Getting any pupil to reading proficiency by the end of the third grade is the key, because those falling behind at that time suffer in the long run; 24 percent drop out or don't finish school on time.

In addition, this problem eventually becomes a quality of life issue in any community. Over 75 percent of the inmates in America's prisons cannot read above the fourth-grade level. 

This year, thanks to a great partnership with the PNC Foundation and PNC Bank branches across the region, grant money and PNC employees were focused on  working with non-proficient readers in preschool as part of PNC Foundation's "Grow Up Great" program. The participation of PNC alone allowed the TRC to expand to the Taylor preschool program.

Meanwhile, as part of its original plan, the reading corps expanded its services this year (2012-13) to the first-grade level. The mentors who worked last year in kindergarten moved on to the first grade with their respective pupils, while new volunteers were recruited to take on the children entering this year's kindergartens. PNC personnel continue to focus on preschoolers only.

With the expansion, nearly 200 adults worked with approximately 300 students this year. Again, Taylor School District personnel and TRC staff will gather reading data for children participating in the program this year, and forward to WSU for analysis. The TRC should receive the analysis of that data sometime this summer.

The independent analysis of the educational progress of the program is very important. Not only does it help the TRC organization target areas that need improvement, but it solidifies the image and reputation of the group. 

Earlier this year, the Taylor Reading Corps was honored by the Michigan Reading Association with its statewide "reading agency" award during the MRA's annual convention in Grand Rapids. The TRC has quickly grown its reputation as one of Taylor's biggest success stories in a very short period of time.

But, as stated previously, the job is never done, and in the fall, the TRC will expand to the second-grade level. With that growing focus for the 2013-14 school year (preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades), the group will need the most adult volunteers  it has ever needed.

Which means the TRC needs your help.

Volunteering is easy. Adults are required to visit their pupil once a week for a half-hour reading session. That visit takes place at the pupil's school. The TRC provides training, materials and counseling. It's just that easy to become involved.

In addition, the TRC welcomes non-mentoring volunteers, monetary donations and in-kind support.

To learn more about the TRC, click here.

To go straight to the online volunteer registration, click here.

For more information about the MRA's statewide award bestowed upon the TRC, click here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't be a couch potato -- click on the 'Introducing myNutratek' Web site for helpful tips

Many "Talking Taylor Schools" readers click in through the Taylor School District Web site -- or one of the TSD individual school sites. One thing you might be missing while you're there are the system's "Points Of Pride," featured in the lower middle of the TSD home page.

If you go there, you'll find plenty of interesting links, from the TSD in and out of district school of choice program, NCA accreditation, Virtual Learning Academy, Alumni Association, TPS Foundation for Educational Excellence, Taylor Reading Corps and Reward School rankings. 

But one that might mean the most to you is the "Introducing myNutratek" link, which helps track nutrition, fitness, moods and weight. This is a link to a Web site that every parent in the school district should visit.

MyNutratek was started through one dedicated family's personal journey. Founder and CEO Tim Codd saw the pain in his daughter's eye -- and then he saw the issues in the lunch room. The moment turned into a family quest, and two years later, the program started changing lives.

What Codd discovered was that any sustainable shift in a child's behavior usually came for two specific reasons: Incentives and/or consequences. The myNutratek program provides both issues as driving points that embrace the educational environment while providing accountability through reporting and monitoring.

So what's it all about? MyNutratek targets student wellness by assisting parents, teachers and children record both eating and physical activity. That way, they can correlate behavior with United State Department of Agriculture recommendations.

Those involved in the program receive immediate feedback on successes; knowledge through nutritional analysis; draws a correlation between physical activity and weight management; offers an understanding of the Body Mass Index; offers how daily food choices align with the MyPlate program; and rewards students for their hard work.

A quick surf of the TSD myNutratek Web site offers some very interesting tools and resources.

The mySources page includes links to a myNutratek handout, wellness statistics video and link to a Jonas Jerebko Blog about myNutratek. Jerebko is a Detroit Pistons' forward.

Other resources include health assessment tools, top school environments, top nutrition sites, top physical activities, top education and wellness links and a link to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The myDistrict tab takes you to TSD food services including personnel, links and phone numbers.

MyCookbooks can be a fun page in and of itself, offering digital cookbooks on artificial sweetener recipes, low fat recipes and -- most importantly -- low fat snack recipes like two different kinds of Oyster Cracker snacks, a snack mix (with and without pretzels) and a wheat-cheese version.

With all the serious facts about nutrition, myPlayground offers a neat diversion. There, students (or adults) can play some related activities like a digital coloring book, Invasion of the Couch Potatoes, Fruit Frenzy, etc.

Take a moment and surf through the TSD myNutratek Web site by clicking here.

Adults should take note of the Michigan Health & Wellness Assessment Quiz, registration, etc. under the "Latest Info" tab on the home page.

Childhood obesity has more and doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of children 6-11 in the U.S. nearly tripled from 1980 to 2010. By 2010, more than one-third of the children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

Why? Because of a "caloric imbalance" caused by too many calories being consumed and not enough being expended.

So don't be a couch potato and get with the program now!

West teams up with Big Lots for donations, new technology

West Middle School is entering a contest held by Big Lots in an effort to win $20,000 to purchase new technology.

Students in Ms. Dultz's Media Productions class are working to create a funny and informative 90-second video that highlights why West needs this new technology.

The movie will contain three vignettes in the style of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton's silent film roles. Instead, it will star some of the students. It will be submitted by the end of the month, and people will be able to view and vote for it from June 10 through July 7.

In the meantime, through July 7, customers can help West Middle School by donating $1 or $5 at participating Big Lots stories. One hundred percent of the donations will be equally distributed to selected schools within the market where the money was collected.

The students and staff at West thank you for your support in advance!

Nearby Downriver Big Lots locations include:

  • 7010 Monroe, Taylor, which can be reached by phone at (313) 299-0221 and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
  • 23351 Eureka, Taylor, which can be reached by phone at (734) 287-6629 and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.
  • 14151 Eureka, Southgate, which can be reached by phone at (734) 324-8960 and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

News-Herald Newspapers' feature story takes one last look at Truman Quiz Bowl team

The highly successful Truman High School Quiz Bowl team wanted to perform well at the state finals and hand retiring Coach Mike McClain a nice gift, and that's just want they did. The team finished third in Class A, as documented on the "Talking Taylor Schools" blog in April.

For yet another look at the successful team, click here to read Dave Komer's feature story in The News-Herald Newspapers.

Hoover seventh-graders study cell life

Hoover Middle School seventh-graders are studying cells and a recent "cell project" helped show the students about energy cells and how nutrients enter cells.

Students learned how all living things are made of cells and how cells are similar. Those participating chose to make a plant or animal cell out of any safe material.

According to those working around the project, the edible cells turned out to be the most popular.

If you're interested in more information about how cells work, try clicking on the following Web site links which include some fascinating video:

  • For "Animation: How a cell cycle works," click here.
  • For "How Cells Work," off the howstuffworks Web site, click here.
  • For "Cellular Visions: The Inner Life of a Cell," from the studiodaily Web site, click here.
  • And for "David Bolinsky: Visualizing the wonder of the living cell," from the TED: Ideas worth spreading Web site, click here.