Sunday, September 27, 2015

Arts and Community Engagement - Week of Spetember 20, 2015

As I travel around the district, coach and see great things happening as the Arts and Community Engagement Program Coordinator I often take pictures and tweet or FB with information.

Here are some highlights from this past week.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Asking Questions - Searching for Solutions

How do you make something better?  Ask questions, surround yourself with knowledgable and inquisitive people and seek out answers.

Last week I tweeted Microsoft OneNote EDU with a platform question.  Before I knew what happened the tweet had been forwarded from the program manager to an engineer. Within minutes I had a private message asking for contact info. Today I had a conference call with a Microsoft engineer from Washington.

Last year the teams I work with used Microsoft OneNote to unwrap their New National Standards and collaborate during the curriculum process. This provided a great platform for our work and collaboration across the district when we were not able to be in the same location.

This year I have challenged our educators to use OneNote Class Notebook for Authentic Assessment, Feedback and collaboration for students. I have modeled this through setting up Class Notebooks for all of the educators that I coach and work with.

Today during our conference call I learned that the questions I posed had not been considered or thought of in the design. The team was very interested in further discussion.

We are leading the way with the way we are using OneNote Classroom for coaching and classroom instruction video and reflection.  Our phone conversation ended with the engineer saying- "as we develop this out, we will be in contact with you to test." 

I am on cloud nine that I was afforded the opportunity to visit with an engineer for Microsoft Education today and chat about platform design to meet our needs here in Sioux City.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Storified my Story - First Weeks of School

While attending a professional development session yesterday with George Couros, my creative brain was stretched. How can we find more ways to connect? As I travel around the district, coach and see great things happening as the Arts and Community Engagement Program Coordinator I often take pictures and tweet or FB with information. With that, I have seen Storify used to document #chats on twitter but never thought of using it to collect the great things happening in the Sioux City Community Schools in a story.

Here is my first attempt at creating a Storify.  I am excited about the potential of this format to share the many great things our students and teachers are doing. Please click and view:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Teach Music....Boost Reading or Boost Reading...Teach Music

We are often asked as music teachers how we can help "support the team" to help students become more literate and better readers.  There has been much discussion lately on social media regarding the following points:

-Teaching Music for Music's Sake
-Teaching Reading and Math through Music

I truly believe that we can do both.  It really boils down to transfer of skills and labeling what we do.  Many times we simply are not aware of the "regular education" terminology and struggle to find that point to "fit in".

As I was scouring the internet for information and terminology that works in teaching music and teaching reading and math, I came across the following article on NAfME: Teach Music - Boost Reading .

I think it is vitally important that we get this information posted in our classroom so that all of our stakeholders can see the correlation between Music and Reading.  With that, I created a poster.

I created this poster with the app Fingerpaint on my ipad and pages on my mac.  I uploaded the background from Fingerpaint into pages and then added two text boxes and the text.

Let's start a discussion on the ways we could create a poster that is Teach Music......Boost Math.  Please comment in the comment section.

How have you set up your learning environment?

Many times we find ourselves coming and going from one class to another or one rehearsal to another.  Often taking the time to reflect on what is working or what is not working in our classrooms for our students.  Many days as I reflect on what I have done, some element of classroom management creeps in.  What would have happened if .....  What could I have done differently to engage.....

While preparing for my student teacher to take over my classrooms a year and a 1/2 ago, there was one prominent question that stood out while she was observing.  “How do you manage these kids?  What do you do if....... ?  How will I know......?”  From time to time, I believe we are all searching for new techniques for our tool box or suite case.

With that, I sent out the following email to get some “tried and true” techniques that have worked for teachers to share with my student teacher.   When bouncing from building to building or grade level to grade level as most of us do, the most important thing we can remember is that building relationships with our kids must be our top priority and then curriculum.  The old adage of “they don’t care what you know until they know you care” truly sums it up.  I have to admit, after 21 years in the classroom there were some pretty cool ideas shared and I would like to share them with you.

I first shared this poem from  Annette Breaux, 101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors, 2nd ed. (Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, 2011), p. 1.

How Does One Manage a Classroom?
by Annette Breaux

“How does one manage a classroom?   Is it really rocket science?  For I’ve been told that it’s difficult to control so much student defiance.”

Well, management is about the teacher, and what the teacher expects
Because everything about the teacher absolutely affects
How students will or won’t respond, how they will or will not act,
And with excellent classroom management, students behave well.
That’s a fact!

So set clear rules and procedures, and show how you want things done
And remember that on the scale of importance, being consistent is number one!
Consistent in how you treat each one, consistent in your preparation,
Consistent in being professional, regardless of your level of frustration,
Consistent in saying what you mean and meaning what you say,
Consistent in making every student feel special every day,
Consistent in your refusal to give up on anyone,
Consistent in helping students to see a task through ’til it’s done,
Consistent in having a good attitude, for your attitude sets the tone,
Consistent in being available, so that no student feels alone,
Consistent in helping every child to know he can succeed,
Yes, being consistent is the key to classroom management, indeed!

Being consistent is not difficult— just be consistent at being consistent— And soon your discipline problems will be a memory that is distant!

The following are a few of the responses that I received back from educators throughout our district.

Children and Puppies
Children are like puppies.  When they are learning something, the first time you do it they will shake their little heads and have to work themselves up to try it.  The second time you do it, they will give you the look that says, “OK, I’ll try this again.  It seemed to work pretty well the first time.”  The third time you do it they will sail right into it with confidence, knowing they have done this and done this.  After that, woe betide you if you try to change the procedure, because for them it is now carved in stone.
Teach them the procedure you want them to follow as soon as you get a hold of them, practice it the first three class periods, and revisit it every once in awhile when they need a reminder.

Tips and Tricks
-Have visible, clear, simple rules to follow that are fair for all
-Never raise your voice unless it’s an emergency
-Use positive reinforcement more often than negative
-Greet each student at the door with a smile
-Remember that each student carries baggage through the door, just like you do; be flexible with the daily assignment
-Always approach a student with a question first. Appearances on what is happening are often deceiving. If you want to know what is happing, simply ask “What are you doing?” or “What is going on?”
-Be 100% positive, meaning eliminate negatives from addressing what you want students to do. Instead of saying “don’t talk,” say, “please sit quietly.” Instead of saying “Do not touch your recorder,” say, “Please put your hands in your lap.” Start fixing things by telling students what they did well and then telling them how they can build on that.
-Reward good behavior frequently—acknowledge good listening, following directions, good singing.  Don’t get in the habit of talking over kids.  Use the school reward systems of tickets/coupons—if they have one in place.  Enlist the help of classroom teachers and principals for severe or disrespectful behavior problems.
-Set a high expectation and follow through.
-Be humble and willing to admit when you are wrong.  Being human is part of being humane and students respect an honest apology.  They learn so much more from an adult making it right than they ever will from an “It doesn’t matter, because what I say, goes.”

Class Tickets
My class earns tickets.  If I catch a student picking something up that isn't theirs, helping a friend, standing the correct way in line, setting a good example, answered a hard problem etc, etc., I will have the student get a ticket and put it in the "Compliment Box."  If a teacher in the hallway tells my class they are walking nicely that is worth 10 tickets for the class.  BUT, the students can also lose tickets.  If they are rude, not following directions, running in the hallway, talking out of turn, etc, they have to take a ticket out of the "Compliment Box."  (They hate doing that by the way, so it really helps with the good behaviors :))  As soon as the class has earned all 300 tickets, I then give them a class party.  Usually a "sound party,"  like a "K (k sound) Party"  and I bring Cookies, Capri Sun, and we play Kickball.  They all start with the "K sound."  It is simple, but effective with the class.

Management:  Path of Least Resistance!
1.  When behavior is acceptable, SAY IT. What you REINFORCE repeats itself. (This cuts down immeasurably on poor behaviors in the first place).

2.  When behaviors are very slightly going wrong, treat them seriously. JUMP ON IT, then get off it.  REINFORCE GOOD BEHAVIOR HAPPENING VERY NEARBY.

3.  When poor behaviors are just beginning to accelerate, use hypotheses, directed to the whole class. Voice soft and a little stern. (“My quietest classes will NOT owe me a recess.”  “Kids who give consistent good effort, oftentimes find the best grades on their report cards.”)  REINFORCE GOOD BEHAVIOR HAPPENING VERY NEARBY.

4. When unacceptable behaviors are getting serious, or habitual, direct your corrections to individuals. Use your TEACHER VOICE.  (“John,  I was thanking Dave for using his maturity in this situation because I WANTED YOU TO DO IT TOO- of course!”  “Susan, if it’s too difficult to keep from getting so EASILY DISTRACTED, you’ll be sitting away from the kids. I’ll see if I can TRUST you better before you can come back.”)  REINFORCE GOOD BEHAVIOR HAPPENING VERY NEARBY.

5.  When behavior looks like all-out mayhem, use the “P.A.” voice – a microphone is best – to choose a person or group for a privilege of some sort. (“ENOUGH. FIND YOUR SPOTS – NOW. Let’s get down to business of who goes on the Minneapolis trip, and who we would NEVER even let on the bus!” “FIND YOUR PLACES…No, I WILL TELL YOU. It looks like Mary will get to play her instrument first. Who knows WHY that is??” – proceed to honestly spell it out; this exposes evil-doers – “ONE: When I told this class to SIT DOWN, she was the first one there. TWO: her mouth was CLOSED. THREE: her eyes are WATCHING.”)

***At this point, to nip any planned bad behavior in the bud – particularly if the group is not quite subdued yet – it may be necessary to actually mention the negative here. (“Why didn’t I say ‘Anna’ just now? Did you catch it?” – let peers offer the negatives Anna was doing. YOU turn them around into positive statements as to what behavior Anna needs to do. End with a calm direction: “Anna, make your corrections. I expect this to improve right away.”)  REINFORCE GOOD BEHAVIOR HAPPENING VERY NEARBY.

6.  Behaviors any worse? Enlist the help of the office.
Good luck! No one has all the answers, all the time, and it’s OK to stumble; get back up and find what works best for you.

Many of us are finding ourselves in districts that are initiating PBIS ~ Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, some are using CHAMPS and yet others have acronyms that fall in line with classroom management.  I was fortunate enough to be a team leader for our building PBIS team.  I highly encourage you to be a member of the team in your building if you are part of PBIS/RTI.

Below are a few resources that I have found to be of great use as I am continually filling my suitcase:

Behavioral Interventions - numerous ideas with sound advice. 
Dianna Browning Wright - Fabulous Consultant. 
Todd Whitaker - Fabulous Consultant.  Twitter - @ToddWhitaker 

Discipline with Dignity:  New Challenges, New Solutions by Richard L. Curwin, Allen N. Mendler and Brian Mendler
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov
50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior:  Simple Solutions to Complex Challenges by Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker
Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Teaching with Love and Logic:  Taking Control of the Classroom by Jim Fay

I hope that you will take the time to fill your toolbox or suitcase with a variety of  techniques.  It is my hope that not only will you benefit professionally from some of these ideas but that your students will benefit as well!

What techniques have you used and found successful?  Please share in the comments so we can all increase our capacity.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Authentic Assessment in Art, Music and PE

Throughout discussions of the new National Core Arts Standards and National SHAPE standards last year our teams discussed the many ways we could assess our students (formative and summative) at the individual level based on individual skill development towards the standards. We are a standards based teaching and reporting district TK-6 as this time. As a teacher leader in our district, I met with our TK-5 art, music and pe teams this past week and will continue to coach at the individual level. Using the Marzano proficiency scales we were able to develop our 6 levels of proficiency aligned to Power Standards the team selected last spring after unwrapping the new national standards.

Art educators discussing Marzano proficiency scales.

Since meeting with the teams and discussing many ideas for formative and summative assessment, I have been out coaching. Here are a few of the great ideas and assessments that are happening for critical feedback and academic growth for our students.
  • Educators using OneNote Class Notebook to collaborate and offer critical feedback for success. Students are able to hit "record" and play/work into their tab for feedback and reflection by themselves and by their teacher. I met with a HS PE educator last week that is setting up a Class Notebook for students to video themselves on the weight machines. They will work with the educator and trainer on proper form, record and reflect. MS and HS music educators are using the platform for individual student feedback, reflection and assessment while they are playing, singing during class. Another educator is using it for lessons as they are unable to reach all of their students. Pictured here is a MS art educator using the platform for student portfolios and group collaboration and reflection.     

Example of Class Notebook set up for MS Art and Design
  • Educators are using Plickers for formative and summative assessment and the kids are loving it. One class even saw the educator in the hall and begged for more the next time they are in class.  Through the use of Plickers are educators are also learning how to use Jing to help screenshot and add comments they need. 
Art educators using Plickers to indicate agreement/disagreement with proficiency scale language.

Vocal educator using Plickers in MS Choir.
Music educator using Plickers to assess rhythm patterns.

  • Educator setting up board like Board Math(a strategy used for review of math facts) in music and calling it Board Music.  This will also serve as an assessment.
    Board Music

    I am incredibly excited that our educators are finding authentic ways to assess our students at the individual level and provide critical, meaningful feedback for growth.  I look forward to seeing gains in our student achievement with this feedback.

Art Educators Rocking the New National Core Arts Standards

Our elementary art educators have been working hard to wrap their minds around the new National Core Arts Standards and what they mean for our students. Our art educators had the opportunity in June to work with Tammy Hoppe, an art educator from Northwest Iowa that was on the National Core Arts Cornerstone Assessment team.
Art educators working with Tammy Hoppe
Our elementary art educators spent a great deal of time unwrapping standards last year and met last week to finalize proficiency scales on the Power Standards that they will be reporting out student growth to parents.  I look forward to the continued growth and development for our students.

Educator Mrs. Grigg bringing her learning to her students.

Students collaborating as a group to create a Sumi Ink Mural.

Tuneful Beatful Artful - Elementary Music

Our elementary music educators are working hard this year to focus student achievement in music around the theme "Tuneful, Beatful, Artful".  Our educators had the opportunity to work with Dr. John Feierabend at Leadership Academy in June and have incorporated much of his research and success in music education into their classroom lessons for our kids.
Dr. Feierabend working with our elementary music educators at Leadership Academy
 Our students are working on becoming tuneful, beatful and artful so that as adults they can participate in the music that is in their lives. Adults who are tuneful are able to sing lullabies to their babies, sing "Happy Birthday" to their children and friends, and sing for services and/or ceremonies. Adults who are beatful can rock on the beat while singing that lullaby, dance at their weddings or at their friends' wedding, and can clap their hands in time with others at a sporting event. Adults who are artful are moved by music and seek out venues to share artful experiences with others in concert halls, and in community bands and choirs or by listening to NPR. Artful adults enjoy being moved by music. Children who learn to be tuneful, beatful, and artful before they leave elementary school will grow to be adults who benefit from what music can offer. Those who go on to sing in choirs or play an instrument will do so in a more musical manner. Those who choose not to sing in choirs or play an instrument later will still be enriched by being able to share music in their daily lives.

Our students are enjoying a musical workout where they are working on the following:
  • Pitch Exploration
  • Echo and Call and Response Songs
  • Simple Songs
  • Child Created Songs called Arioso
  • Movement Exploration
  • Movement for Form and Expression
  • Movement with the Beat
  • SongTales
Educator Mrs. Graben singing a SongTale to one of her classes.

Students exploring space through movement exploration with their educator Mrs. Dake

Throughout this week I have heard the following feedback from our educators: 
  • "Heard from a student while doing the move it segment 'I need to find a recording of this for home!'"
  • "My ESL kiddos can echo sing, students and teachers have been in tears hearing these children volunteer to sing solo."
  • "The kids and I are having so much fun in music this fall. The kids are really starting to share their voices".
  • "Wow!  This is incredible, I have 5th graders singing in class that haven't sung before."
Educator Ms. Holman singing a Call and Response song with her students.
    Educator Ms. Bondy working on a Beat Motion activity with her kids as they chanted the Rhyme "Who Took the Cookie".