Monday, December 29, 2014

ENews 12.29.2014

Happy Christmas Break! I hope you're having a restful break and spending the time with family, friends, watching movies, eating great food, wearing your favorite PJs and not thinking about work.

But then again, you're educators and can't help but think about your students and what you plan to do with them for the new semester. So I've decided to share some resources you could look at ... as you think about NEW beginnings ... New Year Resolutions ... or simply reframe your ideas for great classroom instruction and professional development.


This organization started following me on Twitter recently and looks interesting to me. Brainscape (@Brainscape) is an app teachers can use to create "smart" flashcards for students. The organization has seemed to do it's homework by using recent brain research to describe how this app helps students learn best.

It made me think about our Spelling Words List ... Fry and Dolch Words ... could this app help our students master the words on these lists? 

Try it out and let me know what you think... https://www.brainscape.com/ ... Also here's some information specific for teachers


Here's another great resource to get GREAT ideas about integrating technology into the classroom. It's a podcast created by teachers for teachers called Teachercast. If you've been reading the past ENews postings, I've included a video from Teachercast about using Kidblog with your students. It also includes a section for learning more about Google Apps for Education which Royse City ISD is using this school year.

Teachercast was created by Jeffery Bradbury (@JeffBradbury). It has several other places online you can access the content: iTunesYouTubeGoogle+LiveBinder and more. Be sure to check them out and follow @Teachercast Twitter.


Edutopia was founded by George Lucas ... Don't recognize the name ?!? Perhaps you've heard of Star Wars!! Anyway... George Lucas was a kind of student that was bored in school. Actually he hated school and how it was designed. So he started this foundation so teachers could share some of the best, unique, and out-of-box ideas to improve teaching and learning. 

Edutopia frequently has articles and ideas that push on the educational borders and helps to break down barriers so students to learn effectively. Topics on this site include Project-Based Learning, Technology Integration, Game-Based Learning, Differentiated Instruction, Integrated Studies, Blended Learning and more. Often Edutopia will visit schools and creates a video that highlights the best efforts of public education ... and because it's the George Lucas Foundation, you know the videos are high quality stuff!

Because of focus on improvement this school year... I've been reading/watching the set of videos from Cochrane Collegiate Academy. It features a set of videos of their teachers and staff members and tells their story about what they did to turn their school around. The first 5 teachers that email & can tell me the "advice given to teachers" from the featured video titled "What This School Is Achieving-OutComes" - I will cover their morning duty (gym, cafeteria, outside) during the first week back to school ... given they don't conflict with each other. Regardless, be sure to look at these resources. 

Other great resources to look at ...
The Best Education Parodies of 2014

Finally, I would like to end this session of the ENews with still my #1 favorite resource for all my educational news, resources, ideas, collaboration, support & encouragement... Twitter! I love using this tool for connecting, learning, and sharing. Twitter continues to help me in my professional role and I love to advocate for all educators to be connected! It doesn't have to be Twitter (even though I could make a strong argue for this tool), but being connected has huge benefits that we can't ignore anymore. So I encourage you to use something to connect with other educators online - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Blogger, Google+ are some tools educators are using to connect ... more I could share about this topic ... perhaps another time. 
Have a wonderful Christmas Break! I can't wait to see each one of you next week... please enjoy your family, friends and the time you have left ... I just got word that we're going to Six Flags so I'll see you all later!

Monday, December 15, 2014

ENews 12.15.2014


Tuesday - Surprise Treat
  • 9:30am-12:30pm - Jacobs to Principal Meeting
  • 3:15pm - Dietz to BAU Meeting
  • 7:00pm - 4th Grade Music Program
Wednesday - Kristen Weichel/Judy Caskey on Campus & 1st Grade Polar Express
  • All Day - PLCs (Planning for January)
  • 8:30am-10:30am - Guided Reading Library Opening
  • 8:30am - 4th Grade Music Program
  • 10:30am-12:30pm - Christmas Pot Luck
  • 3:30pm - STAT Meeting
Thursday - 3rd Grade Field Trip & Kinder Polar Express
  • 7:15am - All Pro Dads
  • 7:50am - ARD (Bright, Dietz, 4th Grade Teacher)
  • 3:15pm - Ornament Exchange
Friday - Christmas Parties 
  • 9:00am - Head Start, PreK, Kindergarten & 1st Grade
  • 10:00am - 2nd, 3rd & 4th Grade 
  • 12:30pm - Early Release (Teachers can leave when kids are picked up!!)
  • See you guys back Monday, January 5th... Enjoy your Christmas Break!!
Reading Instruction
Guided Reading books have been organized in the 4th Grade pod by reading level. Teachers will develop groups based on student's instructional reading level. Reading groups will meet daily. Lower level readers will meet every day while higher level readers will meet at least 2x per week.

Accelerated Reader (AR) Update - Students should be at 66% of their goal by this Friday. If you notice someone who really needs help, please let me know. We will continue to monitor and encourage students to make weekly targets and a comprehension score of at least 80%. Nita Green is meeting with our targeted 3rd and 4th grade student to ensure they have a book on their reading level each day.

Students should be asked to take home a book every night and read for 20 minutes. Be sure to communicate with parents about their child's AR point goal and their progress toward reaching that goal.

Mathematics
1st & 2nd Grade - Lone Star Daily Rigor is being used with students each week.
3rd & 4th Grade - Math GPS is being used to help students weekly. Teachers should be on week 25-30 this week. We must maintain this pace in order to finished by testing time.

Think Through Math (TTM) for Grade 3-4 - Teachers please ensure that all students have been assessed for TTM. Letters have been sent home during the first report card to parents. Remember that there's an app for TTM and it can be used on the iPad.

Professional Development
Remember Valerie James is available for demonstration lessons so be sure to ask her to visit your classroom for additional support as needed. Each week, you're working with Valerie to determine words students must know to be successful. These words are colored by strand and should be posted on the word wall. Be sure to review them frequently with your students. Dr. Bright and I will be looking for these during our classroom observations and walkthroughs.

Kristen Weichel is working with ELAR teachers in 3rd & 4th Grades. She studies the unit IFDs and Assessments to bring materials and ideas for teachers to use during ELAR instructional time. She will also provide support for Guided Reading and is available to conduct demonstration lessons.

Gradebook Reminders
  • Record Grades Weekly - Grade should be recorded weekly in the grade to afford parents & students the opportunity to view through parent portal. 
  • Late Work – this is accepted within five (5) days of the original due date. Be sure to record grades in a timely manner to allow parents to become aware of missing grades during the five (5) day period. Late work penalties do not apply to make up word from absences. 
  • Minimum number of grades – the district required a minimum of nine (9) grades throughout the six weeks. This includes grades for Science & Studies. You have the option to count assignments twice in the grade book. The same assignment that can be counts for Reading can count in Social Studies too. 
  • Unit Assessments – these will be counted in the grade book. Remember to provide intervention or tutoring before administrating a retest for unit assessments. 
  • Zeros – students have five (5) days to complete an assignment before it becomes a permanent zero in the grade book. We want to support you in motivating students in getting their work turned in on time. We’re working on a Google Doc for you to report students to campus administration with two (2) OR more permanent zeroes in the grade book. Teachers are expected to communicate with parents about the progress of their child and give suggestions to improve their performance BEFORE permanent zeroes are given to students. 
  • Parent Communication – please enter your parent communication into Aware under the Journal tab. This will help us keep track of our efforts with parents. Let us know if you need help with this. 




#EdcampAwesome - February 21st
Edcampawesome is back so save the date for February 21 & go register NOW for the BEST professional development experience: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/edcampawesome-tickets-14691690241

I'm looking to give out jean passes to any teacher who registers & attends EdcampAwesome. You have the opportunity to get 5 days of jeans passes... One pass will be given for simply registering and additional Four more passes will be given to individual who actually attend the unconference (stop by the office - show your online registration to get your first jeans pass).

This professional development opportunity is one you don't want to miss! So seriously, go register!!

#SummerLS
Recently my friend Todd Nesloney shared a post to his website about the Summer Learning Series (#SummerLS). Many of you participated in this online professional development with a focus on technology. The #SummerLS is being considered as the Best Open PD/Web Conference/Webinar Series by The Edublog Awards. You can read more about this from Todd's website.

Student Voice (#StuVoice
How are you incorporating student voice in classroom instruction? Perhaps consider using KidBlog!



*** Special Announcement ***
Save the date for August 5-6! Revolutionizing Learning will once again be hosted at Royse City High School. We'll have a special guest speaker coming this year... perhaps you've hear me talk about this guy... Teach Like a Pirate's Dave Burgess!

I'm so very excited about this news and can't wait to hear Dave speak again. You don't want to miss out on this!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tech Top 5

I’ve decided to do a weekly Tech Top 5 that I think would be helpful in the classroom and are easy to implement. Please let me know if you have any suggestions and let me know what works (and what doesn't!)


Tech Top 5:


1. Using different fonts is a great way to customize your documents. Here’s how to add fonts to your google docs: create a new document, click on the font drop-down menu at the top, click on ‘more fonts’ at the bottom of the menu. Here you can select fonts on the left to add fonts to your list on the right. Ta-Da!


2. Yikes! Anyone ever have an crazy ads come up when sharing a YouTube video with your class? Here’s how you get rid of those ads and create a friendly link to share on social media, your blog, remind, symbaloo, or in class: First, copy the link to your YouTube video, then go to www.SafeShare.tv and paste your link in the box about the green button, then click ‘Generate Safe Link’ and then you have a link that will show the video without ads.


3. School Wifi. Did you know you don’t use your data when you’re on a wifi network? You can get on our district wifi by using the password bd20132014 on rcisd network. This will work on all campuses. On iphone - go to settings, select the rcisd network and put in the password. Your phone will automatically connect when you’re on any RCISD campus.


4. Did you know you can have an attendance shortcut on your desktop and phone? For a shortcut on your, go to your attendance login page - and click and drag the small image next to the URL (web address) to your desktop. It will create a shortcut that you can click on that will take you directly to your Attendance Login. For cell phone shortcut, open the Safari App, and go to http://pportal.rcisd.org/txGradebook/Login.aspx then click on the box at the bottom with the arrow coming out of it and click “Add to Home Screen”. Now you have a shortcut to attendance on your phone!


5. An alarm is a great time management tool (and attendance reminder), here’s how you can set an alarm on an iphone: click on the Clock App, then click ‘Alarm’ on the bottom of your screen. then click on the plus sign in the top right and add an alarm, be sure to click on the weekdays as a recurring alarm if it is for school. I set mine for attendance 9:55 so that if I’m in the middle of a lesson, I can snooze it and the alarm will come back on 6 minutes later.


*Resource of the week: a great way to collaborate WITHOUT student logins: Padlet and Lino - these are both ipad and computer friendly - Here's a quick rundown on how they work and how you can easily implement them into the classroom: http://vimeo.com/67512237#

Lastly, Remember that iStation is now on the iPads in the Library! Reserve them here: Library iPad Checkout  (Thanks Julie!)


I hope you find these tips helpful and useful. If you have any questions, or want to share something that works for, please share it in the comments below.
-Christiana

Monday, December 8, 2014

ENews 12.08.2014

Monday - Santa's Workshop All Week!!
  • 8:30am-12:30pm - Worley to PBMAS/System Safeguards Training @ Admin
  • 3:30pm - Staff Meeting (next one schedule Monday, January 12)
  • 7:00pm - School Board Meeting
Tuesday - GT 1st & 2nd Grade Field Trip
  • All Day - Writing Coaches on Campus (Meet in Front Conference Room)
  • 9:30am-12:30pm - Bright to Asst. Principal Meeting
Wednesday - PLCs & Dress Like an Elf Day & Kristen Weichel on Campus
  • 3:30pm - STAT Meeting
  • 6:00pm - Kindergarten Gingerbread Night 
Thursday
  • 7:50 - ARD (Jacobs, Worley, 4th Grade Teachers)
  • 8:00 - Finch to Technology Integration Mtg @ Admin
  • 9:30 - Office Staff Appreciation Breakfast @ Admin
  • 1:30pm-3:00pm - Roberts to Dyslexia Meeting @ Admin
  • 7:00pm - Honor Choir Christmas Program
Friday - Canned Food Drive ENDS
  • 8:00am - Jacobs & Green to Bilingual Classroom Instruction Framework @ Admin
#EdcampAwesome - Message from @ZachSnow
I'm really excited to let you know that EdCampAwesome is coming back to RCHS on February 21, 2015. I strongly encourage you to go ahead and register now. We are making 450 tickets available for this year's event. We did sell out of tickets last year. Registration is free and is live as of this morning. We are starting the all out promotion on social media today but I wanted to give you the link in this email. Go register NOW...it's FREE!!!
Here it is: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/edcampawesome-tickets-14691690241
Also, for those of you interested, PD hours will be offered for this incredible day of learning.
Seriously, go register!


Staff Meeting Today @ 3:30pm
All staff members please make arrangements to attend this meeting. Kenny Kaye Hudson will be sharing some additional information about the Texas Accountability & Interventions System (TAIS) process. We'll also examine the strategies we must focus on this next quarter as a campus. Also, be sure to watch the Homework Assignment Video Kenny Kaye shared with us about implementing and monitoring school improvement plans. Here's is the link from the website.

Safety & Security
Please ensure you are not using rocks to keep our exterior doors open during recess times. This presents a serious security risk to all our staff and students.

Reading Instruction
Guided Reading books have been organized in the 4th Grade pod by reading level. Teachers will develop groups based on student's instructional reading level. Reading groups will meet daily. Lower level readers will meet every day while higher level readers will meet at least 2x per week.

Accelerated Reader (AR) Update - Students should be at 50% of their goal by this Friday. If you notice someone who really needs help, please let me know. We will continue to monitor and encourage students to make weekly targets and a comprehension score of at least 80%. Nita Green is meeting with our targeted 3rd and 4th grade student to ensure they have a book on their reading level each day.

Students should be asked to take home a book every night and read for 20 minutes. Be sure to communicate with parents about their child's AR point goal and their progress toward reaching that goal. Jamie Garcia has developed a document that could be easily used by classroom teachers to update parents each week. It will be coming to you this week.

Mathematics
1st & 2nd Grade - Lone Star Daily Rigor is being used with students each week.
3rd & 4th Grade - Math GPS is being used to help students weekly. Teachers should be on week 21-25 this week. We must maintain this pace in order to finished by testing time.

Think Through Math (TTM) for Grade 3-4 - Teachers please ensure that all students have been assessed for TTM. Letters have been sent home during the first report card to parents. Remember that there's an app for TTM and it can be used on the iPad.

Professional Development
Remember Valerie James is available for demonstration lessons so be sure to ask her to visit your classroom for additional support as needed. Each week, you're working with Valerie to determine words students must know to be successful. These words are colored by strand and should be posted on the word wall. Be sure to review them frequently with your students. Dr. Bright and I will be looking for these during our classroom observations and walkthroughs.

Kristen Weichel is working with ELAR teachers in 3rd & 4th Grades. She studies the unit IFDs and Assessments to bring materials and ideas for teachers to use during ELAR instructional time. She will also provide support for Guided Reading and is available to conduct demonstration lessons.

Grades
Grades should be recorded weekly in the gradebook to afford parents and students the opportunity to view through the parent portal.

Student Voice (#StuVoice) - How are you incorporating student voice in classroom instruction?

Hour of Code December 8-14
Join the largest learning event in history December 8-14 as millions of students and adults in more than 180 countries take part in a one-hour introduction to computer science. The Hour of Code, designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn the basics, can be done any time during the week and includes resources for teachers to use with students in grades K-12.

Want to see some of the amazing resources available?
As a teacher, you don't have to know how to code yourself to participate in the Hour of Code. Just turn the learning over to your students and watch the magic happen!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tech Training update! :)

Hey boys and girls! Join me for tech trainings (these will all be in my room at 3:30 - bring your chromebook or device and any questions you have!) sorry for the short notice on these. I challenge you to come to at least one of these trainings, remember these count toward your hours for our district training incentives!

Wednesday, December 3rd - KAHOOT and Q&A - I'll be available for any questions and help you have, and I'll show you how to single handedly boost student engagement with one app!

Thursday, December 4th and Tuesday, December 9th will both be about Web 2.0 tools and apps. These are our last trainings before break! As always, I'm here if you guys need anything at all!
Christiana :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

ENews 12.01.2014

Monday 
  • 8:30am - Jacobs to Digital Leadership Training
  • 3:30pm - Campus Leadership Team (CLT) Meeting - Jacobs, Bright, Powley, Worley, Green, Taylor, Padgett, Pogue, Jones, Chaney, Garcia
Tuesday
  • 9:30-12:30 - Jacobs to Principal Meeting
Wednesday - Pictures with Santa
  • 8:30 - Bright to iStation Training
  • 3:30pm - Elementary Curriculum Advisory Mtg @ Admin
  • 3:30pm - STAT Meeting
  • 5:00pm - Chickfila Spirit Night 
Thursday - Valerie James on Campus
  • 8:55 - ARD (Jacobs, Worley, 3rd Grade Teachers)
  • 3:15 - 3rd Grade "Meet the Teacher" - Jones, Chaney, Reynolds
Friday - Santa's Workshop Begins Next Week
  • 8:00am - Guided Reading Training -Padgett, Martinez, Jones, Northcutt, Reynolds, Soto, Williams, Green, V. Taylor
  • 8:30am - Powley - Counselor Training
  • 6:00pm - Fate Christmas Tree Lighting - Honor Choir Performing!
Early Reading Resources from TCEA's TechNotes
Research says that to help beginning readers develop a love of reading, it's important to offer a wide variety and number of books that will interest every child. But this can be difficult, especially if you're on a tight budget. Here are a few great free online resources for books for young readers.

Kindergarten teacher Matt B. Gomez has provided a wonderful Symbaloo of 50 free online early readers with audio and has promised to provide 50 more in the future. These also work well on most mobile devices, too.

Storyline Online offers wonderful beginning books read by Screen Actors Guide members. These videos are beautifully done and can be watched over and over again.

Watch children's author and illustrators read their own books in the Storytime Reading Room. There are many books available free. In addition, with payment for individual books or a subscription, students can even record themselves reading a book.

This website is packed full of great audio books for kids.

And don't forget about YouTube. A search for "elementary books read aloud" brings up hundreds of wonderful videos perfect for beginning readers, and all free. If you're worried about the ads and related content that might appear when watching a YouTube video, just paste the URL into ViewPure and it will strip out the ads, comments, and other distractions.





Lead4Ward Video - Word Play
Here's a short video that was shared with me about engaging learners with academic vocabulary. It's also great for ELL learners. Take a look at the video here.

Staff Meeting Next Monday, December 8th @ 3:30pm - All staff members please make arrangements to attend this meeting. Kenny Kaye Hudson will be sharing some additional information about the Texas Accountability & Interventions System (TAIS) process. We'll also examine the strategies we must focus on this next quarter as a campus.

Also, be sure to watch the Homework Assignment Video Kenny Kaye shared with us about implementing and monitoring school improvement plans. Here's is the link from the website.

Reading Instruction
Guided Reading books have been organized in the 4th Grade pod by reading level. Teachers will develop groups based on student's instructional reading level. Reading groups will meet daily. Lower level readers will meet every day while higher level readers will meet at least 2x per week.

Accelerated Reader (AR) Update - Students should be at 33% of their goal by this Friday. If you notice someone who really needs help, please let me know. We will continue to monitor and encourage students to make weekly targets and a comprehension score of at least 80%. Nita Green is meeting with our targeted 3rd and 4th grade student to ensure they have a book on their reading level each day.

Students should be asked to take home a book every night and read for 20 minutes. Be sure to communicate with parents about their child's AR point goal and their progress toward reaching that goal. Jamie Garcia has developed a document that could be easily used by classroom teachers to update parents each week. It will be coming to you this week.

Mathematics
1st & 2nd Grade - Lone Star Daily Rigor is being used with students each week.
3rd & 4th Grade - Math GPS is being used to help students weekly. Teachers should be on week 16-20 this coming week. We must maintain this pace in order to finished by testing time.

Texas Early Math Inventory (TEMI) for Grades K-1 - students must be assessed with this instrument BOY, MOY, and EOY. Once students are screened, teachers should implement the recommend lessons from the program.

iStation Math for Grades 2-4 - students must be assessed with this instrument BOY, MOY, and EOY. Once students are screened, teachers should implement the recommend lessons from the program.

Think Through Math (TTM) for Grade 3-4 - Teachers please ensure that all students have been assessed for TTM. Letters have been sent home during the first report card to parents. Remember that there's an app for TTM and it can be used on the iPad.

Professional Development - Guided Reading training is coming to Royse City on December 5th with Vicki Reynolds. 2nd, 3rd & 4th Grade ELAR teachers needing Guiding Reading training will be attending this day.

Remember Valerie James is available for demonstration lessons so be sure to ask her to visit your classroom for additional support as needed. Each week, you're working with Valerie to determine words students must know to be successful. These words are colored by strand and should be posted on the word wall. Be sure to review them frequently with your students. Dr. Bright and I will be looking for these during our classroom observations and walkthroughs.

Kristen Weichel is working with ELAR teachers in 3rd & 4th Grades. She studies the unit IFDs and Assessments to bring materials and ideas for teachers to use during ELAR instructional time. She will also provide support for Guided Reading and is available to conduct demonstration lessons.

Grades – Please make sure you are updating grades on Parent Portal on a weekly basis. This gives parents and students the opportunity to become aware of a missing assignments.