Thursday, November 13, 2014

SIXTH GRADE ACADEMY: Now that's scary!

“Scary Math Teachers” were on hand recently at the Sixth Grade Academy showing off their scary costumes! They otherwise go by the names of …

Scott Collins
Tina Schmittling
Deb O'Connor
Sharla Agemak
Cathy Mrowca

TITAN/HOLLAND: Getting together to read

Students at TITAN Alternative High School recently visited Holland Elementary School to read to their "reading buddies." By the looks of it, things went well.

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Let's try speedy stacking

Just how fun is “Speed Stacking”?

That's the new game Mr. Brown, McDowell Elementary School gym teacher, introduced to our students this week.

“Speed Stacking” is an amazing new sport of fitness, agility, concentration and quickness played with a group of cups.

Here are our students practicing their hand-eye coordination.

KINYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Did Wings' visit result in a future Red Wing?

After a recent Detroit Red Wings’ visit to Kinyon Elementary School, Leasa Vorves, mother of fourth-grader Nicholas Vorves, sent the following letter:

“I just wanted you to know that my son enjoyed the assembly you put on Friday … so much so that we already participated in the ‘Try Hockey for Free’ program Saturday. It was an awesome experience that has him wanting to play hockey everyday.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

MYERS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Improving math skills

Mrs. Barnard's kindergarten class at Myers Elementary School learned a new math game in recently. It improved counting skills as well as number recognition.


Students at Blair Moody Elementary School had their choice of many rewards for their good behavior. By far the most popular choice was getting to Silly String the principal!

TOMMIE SAYLOR: How about a system that actually depicts learning over grades

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”
-- Socrates

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

At times we make things more complicated than necessary.  Why?  Perhaps it is human nature to take something simple and make it complicated. Perhaps it’s in our efforts to address every problem in our pursuit for perfection.  With goodwill and honest intent, we create systems that harm those we wish to help, those we are sworn to serve.

I speak of the manner in which grades are assigned.  A grade is an indication of the level of mastery a student has acquired over the content material taught.  But, it today’s schools, an assigned grade is often speckled with so many impurities that its value is easily brought into question. 

If a student is a discipline issue in class, we shave off a few points. If the student turns in an assignment late, we shave off a few points. If the student brings in a box of Kleenex, we add a few points. If a student stays after and helps us clean up or set up, we add a few points. There’s extra credit, bonus questions … points, points and more points.

In high school and middle school it is all about points. 

It is not about what the student has learned; it’s all about the student jumping through enough hoops to earn enough points to receive a specific grade. The focus is not on learning. It is on earning points.

Because of this, our students have learned to “play the game.”  They have learned which assignments they do not need to worry about, which assignments they can just skip and not complete, which concepts don’t hold enough points to bother learning. 

Our students have learned how to manipulate the system.  Simply, our students are learning to focus on points earned not on concepts learned. Ask a student and they will instantly and expertly tell you how many points they have to earn a specific grade, and what “hoops they have to jump through.”

Yet if you ask them what they have learned, you will be confronted with an awkward silence and blank stare.

I think the elementary may have gotten it right. Look at an elementary report card and you will see a long list of concepts and a rubric detailing the student’s mastery of the listed concepts.  Ask a pupil what they have learned, and they are anxious to share with you all their newly acquired skills. 

In the elementary, the focus is on learning, not on the acquisition of points.  Elementary teachers don’t grade students based on behavior, attendance and/or compliance. Pupils are evaluated by the mastery over content.

If we wish to advance as an educational institution, we need to return to our roots.  We need to cast off the shackles of an antiquated grading system that does not serve the needs of our students, that is not focused on learning, and conveys false messages.  We need to return the purity back to our methodology of evaluating the level of proficiency our students have acquired in their explorations of content material.

What starts here, changes the world. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.

KINYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Students beat the Wings in a shoot out ... honest!

Kinyon Elementary School welcomed the Detroit Red Wings to talk to the kids about education and dedication. The staff and students had fun in the resulting shoot out. The students won, 3-2. Children are selling Red Wings tickets to raise funds for student activities.

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Classes make ghosts out of paper

On Halloween, third and fourth grade students in Mrs. Van's and Ms. Donaldson's classes at McDowell Elementary School made ghosts out of tissue paper.  They then rubbed balloons on their heads to create static electricity to make the ghosts move around.

MCDOWELL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Loving the latest read

Ms. Donaldson's fourth-grade class at McDowell Elementary School has fallen in love with her latest read aloud by Lemony Snicket called "A Series of Unfortunate Events."

The first words they say when they come to the library are, "Is my hold for Lemony Snicket in?'

"A Series of Unfortunate Events" is the story of the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Claus and Sunny. The books are narrated by Lemony Snicket, a mysterious man who follows the story through clues passed on through a secret organization known only as the V.F.D.

The series begins with the three children losing their parents in a fire. Consequently, a banker named Mr. Poe takes charge of the children and leaves them with the nearest relative, Count Olaf. The children, however, are dubious to the fact that Olaf is actually a relative. Olaf and his troupe become the villains of the series.

McDowell recommends these books to the world!


BLAIR MOODY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Computer lab is rocking

From learning the parts of the computer in kindergarten to research in third, fourth, and fifth grade, to learning how to use different fonts, color, font size and a dash of creativity the computer lab at Moody Elementary School is rocking. 

Students talked about Internet safety, do's and don'ts of computer rules school wide. Each student was given a baggie of sticky notes and asked to label the various external components do the computer. This interactive activity was cause for a few stray sticky notes and a couple labeling of friends but in the ending the message prevailed and learning actually took place.

Thanks to Mrs. Tevepaugh a great research lesson on bats flew in just in time for Halloween. Children in our upper el classes labeled the parts of a bat, described where they live, researched and listed what they ate, and did a contrast and compare Venn diagram between birds and bats. It was a howling good time finding the good, the bad, and the ugly pictures and facts about our winged mammal friends.

The hall outside the lab is adorned with a fall tree with colorful leaves created by students using their names to add a colorful visual flair. Impressing even themselves students designed the leaves of a tree. From a two-inch design to nine-inch project each piece came together to create a masterpiece. 

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL: Video focused on Bill of Rights

Here's a Youtube video a student created for an assignment in Ms. Collins' history class at West Middle School.  The student was challenged to create an original project about five of the 10 Amendments in the United States Bill of Rights.  She chose to re-write the lyrics to the Lady GaGa song "Judas." Here is the result!

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Taylor Parks Elementary School Fourth and Fifth grade students went international, making and wearing masks that help celebrate Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday observed throughout that country and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

The History of the Day of the Dead Masks practice dates from the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations that used skulls to symbolize death and rebirth as well as to honor the dead. These Day of the Dead masks range from elaborate and expensive pieces of art to a child's craft project.

Taylor Parks’ students did a wonderful job not only making the masks but their understanding of another culture.

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Thank heaven for 7-Eleven!

Taylor Parks Elementary School was the recipient of a grant from a local 7-Eleven franchise, located on Ecorse Road in Taylor (store #13482).

Owner Rani Singh along with the store manager, Kim Salas, presented   a check in the amount of $711 to Ms. Downie, principal, and Mrs. Hernandez, student support consultant, to be used for student activities and classroom wish lists.  

Bob and Rani Singh are firm believers in community support and have been involved with local schools and sports in the city of Taylor. Oh thank Heaven for 7-Eleven.

TAYLOR PARKS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Working on fall math activities

At Taylor Parks Elementary School, Mrs. Abramas' class worked on their fall math activities with included place value, counting and measuring.  To top off all the hard work, students took part in an old fashion donut eating contest.  This is again proof that learning can be great fun.


On November 5, Taylor Parks Elementary School was once again privileged to receive a generous donation from the Taylor Masons, Golden Ark Lodge #595, of 50 winter coats and 75 winter boots.

The Masons work hard all year long with their fundraising efforts in order to make sure they are able to help out children and families in need.

Pictured in the front row from left to right are Taylor Parks students Kiesha Russell, Kamile Russell and Angel Greene. Pictured behind them from left to right are Tania Hernandez, Jerry Oest, Trisha Bergeron, Ron Campbell, Joe Molner, James Collier, Aaron Wilmoth, Nick Mrkich and Rick Thompson.