Friday, November 8, 2013

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Positive behavior turns into 'bingo' for pupils!

Each month, McDowell Elementary School celebrates good behavior by holding a school-wide event for all students who have met their behavior goals.

The school-wide “Positive Behavior Support (PBIS)” is a pro-active approach based on a three-tiered model of prevention and intervention aimed at creating safe and effective schools.

Emphasis is placed on teaching and reinforcing important social skills and data based problem solving to address existing behavior concerns. PBIS is being implemented in thousands of schools across the country and has been demonstrated to reduce discipline problems and increase time for instruction.

This month's activity had the students playing bingo and loving it. The anticipation of who would be the next one to win and yell "BINGO" kept the room so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop.

The goal is to have every student make good decisions every day and participate in each month's fun activities.

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Scraps are turned into 'aliens'

It was about scraps turning into art recently during a special presentation at Taylor Parks Elementary School.

Pupils and parents attended an Allen Adventure workshop for writing. Materials and instruction were provided by Arts & Scraps, Recycling for Learning & Fun. 

Arts & Scraps is located at 16135 Harper, Detroit. It is a non-profit organization that uses recycled industrial materials to help people of all ages and abilities think, create and learn.

After pizza and refreshments, parents and students created aliens from all the recycled materials on hand, then used their alien to provide the character and compose writings.

It was a challenging, enjoyable event for all.

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Children will stay warm, thanks to the Masons!

Students at Taylor Parks Elementary School are going to stay a little warmer this winter.

The Golden Ark Masonic Lodge No. 595 recently donated 100 winter apparel items to the school. The Masons have been providing this service for many years.

Thanks go out to Lodge President John Miller, Joe Molner, Aaron Wilmoth, Richard Pratt, Ronald Campbell, Walter Howard, Tim Dragone, James Collier and the rest of the organization for their hard work and kindness.

SIXTH GRADE ACADEMY: Science class shows problem-solving and leadership when faced with task

Pupils in Mrs. Harris' science class at the Sixth Grade Academy worked on a team-building activity recently.

The goal was to move a tennis ball from one bottle to another 12 feet away, using only a string and a metal ring.

All the groups successfully completed the task and displayed great problem-solving and leadership skills during the exercise.

Mrs. Harris send a big, "Way to go, students!" to everyone that was involved in the project.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL: Halloween brings out the costumes, dance numbers

Last week, West Middle School celebrated Halloween with a dance, featuring teachers and students dressed up in a variety of fun costumes.

Refreshments were served by the Student Council, and a DJ played plenty of group dance songs, like the Cha-Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle.

It was a great time!

At the bottom of the page, that's counselors Kim Cason (left) and Amy Hicks (right), who got into the act with cheerleaders uniforms from the late '90s to the present day.

Great look, ladies!

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Blessings in a Backpack rolls thanks to tremendous support

Randall Elementary School is excited to have its "Blessings in a Backpack" program rolling right along, thanks to support for DTE Energy (see earlier post).

Principal Cynthia Meszaros, Librarian Caroline Patts, some wonderful parents and spectacular students from the TVLA program at the Career Center all made the campaign a great effort.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: DTE Energy donates Blessings in a Backpack!

Starting this week at Randall Elementary School, pupils will once again be able to receive a backpack full of goodies each week.

The backpacks were donated by DTE Energy and teacher, staff and children at the school want to send a big "thank you" back to the company for its efforts.

The backpacks will be filled with a variety of ready-to-eat food and easy-to-fix meals as part of the program, Blessings with a Backpack.

For every week the pupils being the backpack back into the school, they will be replenished for the following weekend. All children who qualify for free and reduced lunch were given permission slips to receive these donations.

Parents are reminded to return the permission slips in a timely manner.

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Fundraising achievers receive a treat, thanks to PRIDE!

Thanks to the parent organization PRIDE, some Randall Elementary School pupils on Monday were able enjoy a Kona Ice treat with Principal Meszaros.

Pupils who sold five or more items in the school's opening fundraiser were able to enjoy the treat. Each child worked hard to raise funds for the school and the treat was a way to thank each of them and their families for the support.

HOLLAND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Pupils learn their lessons in hands-on fashion!

At Holland Elementary School, Ms. Danaj's second-grade class knows what to do when it comes to hands-on learning!

While working on a unit with measuring, the pupils were divided into small groups. Each group had a great time measuring, following multiple step directions, mixing the ingredients and creating clay pumpkins to paint and take home.

The class learned the importance of following the recipe and the correct steps in order to produce the product they hopes for at the end of the project.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL: Students read poems

Students in West Middle School's eighth-grade reading class read poems, finding elements within the poems that they read. Then the students applied many elements of poetry into their own creative poems. In this video, supplied by David Martin, the students read their poetry.

Monday, November 4, 2013

HOOVER MIDDLE SCHOOL: Parent conferences highly successful!

According to Principal Michelle Tocco of Hoover Middle School, the recent Parent-Teacher Conferences were a huge success.

Parents had a chance to fill out a school survey, vote on the "scarecrow contest" made by the enrichment classes (see related post by clicking here), and naturally had a chance to meet with teachers and staff members.

MELISSA SKOPCZYNSKI: Frustations can be alleviated; DECA standouts; football playoffs; and much, much more

By Melissa Skopczynski
Truman High School Principal

Happy Monday everyone! I realize this is the time of the year when we are all getting a little worn down and frustrated.  Trust me, I get it.

To help alleviate the frustrations, make sure you are taking full advantage of the resources and interventions we have here in place at Truman to help you and your students along the way. Ms. Voorheis was kind enough to send an email out to the staff to remind you of all the wonderful support services we have in place. Like she said, "You are not alone!"  

Stay strong and vigilant. You are appreciated and recognized for all your hard work. It is making a difference!

Remember tomorrow (Tuesday, Nov. 5) is our Professional Development Day.  We have an exciting morning planned with the Neutral Zone, focused on student-driven learning.  This will take place 7:45-10:45 a.m. in the Media Center.  

The afternoon will be spent at Kennedy High School in district-wide PLC's.  This will take place from noon-2:45 p.m. in the various locations provided to you.

Highlights of the week included:

The DECA field trip to the Toledo Walleye Game, where students not only had the opportunity to learn about sports marketing but also were awarded a $1,000 grant from the organization to use for our DECA program. Way to go Ms. Lundgren and all of the DECA students!

Ms. Williams (left) joined us as our new band director. We would like to welcome her to our Truman Family.

A big shout out to Ms. Carr, Mrs. Hutter and the drama students for showing their Cougar Pride and decorating the football and cheerleaders lockers for the big game (above). Way to come together as a school community and show school spirit.

Truman had an awesome Pep Assembly on Friday for the football playoffs (below). Students were well behaved and definitely showed their Cougar Pride.

Friday night we defeated Allen Park in the first round of the playoffs (see related blog post and link to The News-Herald’s online presentation).  The Cougars will travel to Wyandotte on Friday to play the Bears for the second time this season.

Remember this is YOUR team, this is MY team and this is OUR team! Together we ARE making a difference!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

TOMMIE SAYLOR: Do we really want to evaluate our students based on how fast they learn?

“The fundamental purpose of school is learning, not teaching.”
Richard Dufour

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

I hate being away from Kennedy High School attending meetings.  For the most part, going to meetings away from the building results in little being accomplished while work piles up on my desk.  

But once in a while, inspiration can strike.  

At this last week’s School Improvement Meeting held at the Board Annex, a conversation was struck up between the members of the committee. This conversation revolved around grading procedures and the averaging of grades versus mastery of the content.  This is not a new debate and has been discussed many times over the years, but lately many key figures in the educational world have joined the fight.  Names such as Richard and Rebecca Dufour, Robert Eaker and others are now saying that the old “factory model” of averaging grades is no longer a valid measure of what students have learned.

The concept is easy. As educators we have been taught to take student’s efforts on assignments, homework, quizes, tests and the such and record their efforts in a grade book that averages all the efforts into a final score.  With this, we have something to “evaluate” the student by, a method of recording their progress (the traditional method).  

The problem is that the method does not just measure how much the student has learned, or if the student has mastered the concept, it also measures in a dramatic sense how quickly the student has learned. With the old, traditional, factory model of education this was an important tool to measure student abilities.  In the factory, employers did not want to wait any longer than they needed for an employee to learn a new job, task or concept.  So, evaluating how quickly a student learns in conjunction with the student gaining mastery of the concept was not only appropriate for the times, it was preferred.  

Thus, those who came out of school with “A’s” received jobs
quicker, and better paying than those who graduated with “C’s” and “D’s.”

What most educators have yet to recognize, is that times have changed. In today’s technological society, the speed in which students learn a concept is no longer important; it is the depth of understanding, the mastery of the material and the ability to use what has been learned in “real world” situations that has become the “holy grail” for modern education.  

Let’s look at an example: You introduce a new concept and have planned 10 different assignments to reinforce it.  Those who grasp the concept early do well on nine or maybe even all 10 of the assignments earning an excellent grade for this unit.  Those who may struggle a little with the new concept at first do poorly on the first few assignments, but have mastered the concept by the third or fourth assignment, doing well from then on.  

Still others struggle even more at first, taking longer to learn the concept and struggle with the first five or six assignments before “getting it” and doing well on, and proving themselves through, the final four assignments.  

In the end, all the students have mastered the concept, but the first group of students earns an A, the second group of students earns a B, and the third group of students earns a C for this unit.

Now, what did the three grades really measure? In the end all the students have mastered the concept (which is the ultimate goal), so the only variable left is how fast each group of students learned the concept. Simply, the difference is grades has nothing to do with what has been learned and/or mastered, it measures the speed in which the students learned the concepts.

The question then becomes, do we really want to “evaluate” students based on how fast they learn?

I don’t know about you, but the first time I have ever done anything, I was always bad at it.  I have no natural talents: I’m not athletic, I’m not even as intelligent as most would think, but what I do have is the drive to outwork the average person. I find success through persistence, vigilance, through pure force of will.  

As a result, I must practice, practice, and then practice some more before I am able to master a concept or task.  With this being said, why should I or anyone else be evaluated on our practice?  On how long it takes us to master a concept?  

Let’s put this in a real world setting. We should be mimicking real world situations in our classrooms to better prepare students for life after High School. In football, do our teams earn points for how well they perform in practice, how quickly they learn/master a new play weeks before the first game?  

In the Olympics do we judge the 5-year-old the first time they step on the balance beam as part of the overall score years later when they are performing before the international community and going for the gold?

Professionally, do we take a first-year teacher’s first attempt at teaching a lesson and average this with their latest attempt as a measure of their teaching ability?  I know these are extreme cases, but I think you get the idea. 

Imagine the message we are sending to students when we tell them, “Yes, I know you have mastered the concept, scored a 100 percent on the last few assignments proving that you understand the concept, but because you did poorly on the first few attempts/assignments you only get a C for this unit.”  

What are we measuring? Certainly not if they have mastered the concept.

Each of us should ponder upon this practice and think about giving students the opportunity to practice (without harm) before they perform (before it counts). Give students the opportunity to “make up” for past errors (redo assignments they did poorly on) or simply evaluate students solely on their mastery of the concept (objective-based grading).  

If a student has achieved all the objectives, have truly shown that they have mastered the concept, regardless of how long it took the student to reach this level or how much practice it took they should receive the same grade as those who mastered the concept early.

Personally, it took me 11 years from high school graduation to college gradation to earn a Bachelor’s degree, but when I finally had my degree it was worth exactly the same as those who did it in four years. Time and attempts should not be a factor and achievement/mastery should be our only measuring tool.

Was the concept learned? Was the goal achieved?

Remember, their future is in our hands. Making Kennedy the school of Choice. Excellence by design.

EUREKA HEIGHTS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Halloween learning center are popular!

Halloween learning centers were plenty popular for kindergarten, first- and second-graders at Eureka Heights Elementary School last week.