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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weekly Update: ICLE

ICLE Cycle Practice

In your half-day plannings, we reviewed the rubrics for Rigor, Relevance, and Learner Engagement. During the month of May, I would LOVE to begin practicing using these tools with you. I have shared a calendar with you (ICLE May 2013) where I have blocked off some dates and times for this purpose. Please take some time to check your own calendars and schedule a time for me to come visit.

1. Open the shared calendar. Create a NEW 30-45 minute appointment during one of the ICLE blocks of time. That will be the classroom visit time.

2. We will meet a day or two before for 10-15 minutes for a brief preconference. This can happen during planning, lunch, or after school. If you would like to schedule it during one of the ICLE blocks of time, that is fine. We can also find a time together once you’ve set-up your visit time. Whatever you prefer.

3. After the classroom visit, we will meet one more time for 15-20 minutes for a post-conference reflection. Again, you may schedule this during one of the ICLE blocks of time, or we can work it out during another time.

Click HERE to access the Rigor & Relevance Rubrics and Framework.

If you would like more information on any portion of the ICLE cycle, check out the links below. I have also included instructions for accessing a shared calendar, just in case you haven’t done that recently.

I look forward to the numerous classroom visits that you will all schedule. Thanks!

(Here are the links…I speak a little more slowly in recordings than in real life. Weird.)

Links to register for upcoming meetings/trainings:

Faculty Meeting (May 1)

Intermediate Team Meeting (May 6)

Teaching in the Outdoor Classroom (May 8)

Primary Team Meeting (May 20)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I've been thinking about stories...(A bi-weekly update)


My life changed a little over the weekend. One of the people responsible for this change is Kendall Haven. He is a scientist and a speaker. Really, though, he is a storyteller. What does a scientist-turned-storyteller do? He researches storytelling and brains, of course. Haven's research shows the necessity of stories, storytelling, and the story structure to brain development and learning.

I heard Haven speak this weekend. It was 10:00 on a Sunday morning and I was working. I loved every minute. Haven explained that our brains contain a "neural story net"; basically, we are born programmed to make sense of the story world. He reminded me that stories have been a human tradition since there have been humans. Widespread literacy is a pretty new phenomenon, but we don't have to be literate to tell a good story. My son tells fantastic stories about dragons and Ninja Turtles with guest appearances by Puss in Boots, but he can only write a letter T and recognize a handful of letters and numbers. Haven proposed that if more teaching occurred in the story format, kids' learning would be easier. His research, in fact, shows that this is the case.

You can read about Haven's research in his book Story Proof, which of course means I bought a new book (Kindle makes book-buying too easy). Now, I like reading educational research, but it gets rough when it gets too technical. Not a problem in Story Proof. The introduction ("Introduction: It was a dark and stormy night") begins: "I once heard it said that life is like chess and that stories are like books of famous chess games that serious players study so that they will be prepared if they ever find themselves in similar straits. I thought it a clever and well-turned phrase--stories form a roadmap for life--until I began the research for this book. Then the profound truth of it struck me full force...Lives are like stories because we think in story terms, and plan our lives in story terms."

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities

FREE Course (Neuroscience)

More free courses (video series)

Conoco-Phillips-Rice Elementary Model Science Lab and see attached fliers

Region IV Summer Science Opportunities (some are FREE)
·         June 11–13           
Science Academies for Grades K–4
·         June 18                
Critical Concepts in Elementary Science: Force, Motion, and Energy    $80
·         June 19                 
Science as a Foreign Language: Supporting ELLs in Science   $35
·         June 19                
Critical Concepts in Elementary Science: Physical Properties of Matter   $80
·         June 20                
Critical Concepts in Elementary Science: Flow of Energy through Living Systems  $80
·         June 27                
Strategies for Science Language Learners: Academic Vocabulary  $90
·         July 9–11              
Science Academies for Grades K–4

Some Stuff I’ve Been Reading
Story Proof, by Kendall Haven

“Poetry Speaks to Children”—from NPR’s All Things Considered

Some Sites Worth Exploring
Teach Kindness
Mood Boards
Free resources for students that want to learn to code (VERY COOL!—watch the video)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Techie Kids

If you would have asked me five years ago how much of a role technology would play in my future daily life, I don't think I could have described where I am today. The exponential growth of technology and how we use it is nerve-racking, even for someone who enjoys packing her brain with as much tech info as she can get. It becomes even more nerve-racking when we consider how this constantly changing world impacts our children. The video below talks about parenting and technology, but it also got me thinking about how the same ideas apply to our classrooms. What are we gaining by using technology? What might we be losing? How can we strike a meaningful balance for our students?

Click HERE to read Rosin's full article.

More poetry resources...

Six activities to celebrate national poetry month

TONS of great resources from Scholastic

Five great ideas for poetry month

Pinterest board with so many awesome ideas!

Weekly Update: Poetry Month


I often struggle to enjoy the month of April, despite its cheery reputation. Sure, it’s springtime; the flowers are blooming, things are getting green again, I can start wearing fewer clothes (which equals less laundry). Being a teacher in April is different, though. It is the loooooong month between the glory of Spring Break and the we’ve-almost-made-it-to-the-end rush of May. And, it is the testing month. Enough said.

However, something great happens in April, and it is something that continues to keep it in the running as one of my favorite months. April is poetry month!

Now, poetry did not always thrill me; I used to hate it. That was when I was lead to believe that you needed some sort of special skill to really understand it, not to mention write it. This is not true, though, which leaves me to my first of several editions of What I Love About Poetry.

Poetry is for EVERYONE

No matter your age or experience, you can find a poem for you. Sometimes it might take a little hunting, but you will know the poem when you find it. You may not even understand it, but it will speak to you. Then, you can spend time reading it, over and over again. Most poems aren’t long, which gives you the benefit of experiencing what each reading brings to the words. Poems are written for our youngest, tiniest people. Feeling silly? Find a baby and play this-little-piggie on her fat little toes. Poetry. Feeling gloomy? Natasha Trethaway brings the beauty to even the saddest of moments. I typically read poetry when I’m feeling a little tired and thoughtful. Here is the first stanza from one of my favorites.

fromFidelity by Tom Clark

Fidelity, after long practice, to
The things that have crossed one’s path in life,
Moves one to find “history” in a morning,
A moonlit night, a transitory patch
Of sun upon grass, the turning of a cat’s
Sleek head over its shoulder to look back
Into one’s eyes, a lifelong lover’s touch,
The memory of the shy sweet sidelong
Smile of a friend one may not see again
In “this life”—these things define home
To one now that one lives largely in one’s mind—
As though there had ever been any other
Place—once born, once having existed—
In which to somehow locate a world

Upcoming professional development opportunities and district meetings…

Energize Your Earth Science Curriculum
Grades 4-5
GT Approved
May 11, June 14, July 12, or August 2
Click HERE for more information

Creating All STAAR Readers and Writers with Barry Lane & Alana Morris
June 17 & 18

TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) provides free webinars. Check out their calendar:

Some stuff I’ve been reading/studying…

Battling the Test-Prep Blues

Making Thinking Visible, by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, & Karin Morrison
I’m not far, but this is a great read so far. It is separated into three parts: Part 1-Some thinking about thinking; Part 2-Using thinking routines to make thinking visible; Part 3-Bringing the power of visible thinking to life. Very interesting!

TED-Education: Creative Problem Solving course in iTunes U
This is on iTunes U, which means it is FREE!!!! The course includes seven videos, the longest of which is 27 minutes. Most of them are under 20 minutes in length.

Some sites/apps worth exploring…

April is National Poetry Month!
Helpful sites for resources:

Common Sense Media's ON for Learning Award is given to the very best in kids' digital media.  You can explore this year’s highest rated for learning potential apps, games, and  websites at this site. There is also a link for a downloadable list.

This site provides helpful resources for helping kids think about their digital footprints, or how what they do online contributes to their identities.