Friday, April 11, 2014

Then and Now

I have an antique desk in my office the students like to sit in on occasion.  When I tell them I had a desk just like that all the way through 8th grade they are a little confused/fascinated.  I’m not saying my experience from St. Joseph’s was the norm, but it does fascinate me to see how different school environments and philosophies have changed.  By and large I don’t think kids have changed all that much, we (schools) are just working to figure out better ways to recognize needs.    

A parent forwarded me an article from CNN entitled, Why do we make sit still in class? (link included).  
The paradigm of the still, quiet classroom with neatly aligned desks unfortunately requires that some students spend a great deal of energy complying with physical restrictions rather than learning. Certainly, at some point, children need to learn to control their bodies. But making it an overriding concern in the classroom might be a waste.

One of the many awesome things about CCA schools (AES specifically!) recognizes we can’t educate students the same way with the same methods as we did 20+ years ago.  Amazingly our methods of teaching students continues to grow (some might say change) and although it is work and sometimes can feel confusing or frustrating, it is definitely with the students’ needs in mind using the best data and research available.  Some might argue, it was good enough for me back then, it’s good enough for them now.  And they are in a way correct.  School, medicine, technology, riding in car without a seatbelt was good enough for me and my generation but don’t we owe it to our students to give them the best education based on the most recent data?    

It was refreshing to read through this article and know AES understands the importance of movement (exercise chairs, PEP grant funding, NEVER cutting recess or PE) along with a continued focus on the arts (additional art time for the coming 2014.2015 school year) as well as an increase in integrated technology.  Cool stuff to be a part of.    
Click here for the full article:

WE are AMANA!  A proud part of the CCA Community School District!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I didn’t think of this, but I sure wish I had…

There are all kinds of urban myths around education.  I have no idea if this story is real, but the message is heartfelt and one in which I totally concur with:

My daughter's new elementary school principal sent this to all the students as they received their state standardized testing scores this week:

"We are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you-- the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do...They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have traveled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best... the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart.""

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lunch with Preschool!

So last week I had a preschool student and his 5th grade brother have lunch together. This lead to the question "when do I get to eat in your office?" from about 15 other preschool students.  So...I said "how about Monday?"  Let me tell you, preschoolers don't forget...I got to have 18 preschool students eating lunch in my office, what a treat!  There were some peas smooshed into the carpet but that's OK.  They got to sign their names and water my plants.  They thought that was pretty cool. 

So many times I hear either jokingly or serious, "careful, or you will get sent to the principal's office."  With so many students coming in for lunch, to visit, to hang-out, to read to me, to get math help etc. I'm glad going to the "principal's office" is a good thing.

Definitely a huge hi-light to my day.  Thank you Mrs. Lechtenberg and all the preschool teachers.  What a really neat group.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Do's to Remember When Reading Aloud

(Continued information regarding reading to your student from Jim Trelease.  The following is a sample of 30 suggestions)

1.  Begin reading as soon as possible.  Never too early, never too late

2.  Include books with repetition for infants and toddlers

3.  During predictable readings, allow the child to fill in key words or phrases

4.  Read as of as you and the child have time for

5.  Remember:  The art of listening is an acquired one.  It must be taught

6.  Avoid long descriptive passages.  It's OK to shorten or eliminate.  Apparently Charles Dickens did in his public readings

7.  Allow time for discussion after reading

8.  Remember:  Reading aloud comes naturally to very few people.  You must practice

9.  Use plenty of expression

10.  The most common mistake in reading aloud, is reading too fast

11.  Reluctant readers or active children may find it difficult to just sit and listen.  Paper, crayons, and pencils allow them to keep their hands busy while listening.

12.  Fathers should make an extra effort to read to their children. 

13.  When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard

Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Read Aloud to Children?

(The following are exerts by Jim Trelease, New York Times Bestseller The Read-Aloud Hanbook.  Mrs. Austin, one of Amana's 4/5 teachers whom I view as an expert in reading instruction, provided this information to me)
  • The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children
  • Without the "want-to," all the "how-to" drill work (reading instruction) is not going to create a lifetime reader.  Your reading aloud is what builds the child's "want-to."
  • Reading aloud...conditions the child to associate reading with pleasure, creates background knowledge, builds "book" vocabulary, and provides a reading role model
  • Regardless of sex, race, nationality, or socioeconomic background-students who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest.  Conversely, those who don't read much, cannot get better at it.
  • Reading regularly to a child helps to close the gap and give the at-risk child a "head" start, especially important since most instruction in school for the first four years is oral
  • The larger the vocabulary, the better the child understands the teacher and the lesson
How can I give my child words if I don't have them myself?  All the words you may be missing can be found at the "people's university"-the free public library (and Mrs. Cooper and the staff at Amana provide a world class library!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some interesting technological happenings in Amana:

(This is just a snip-it of the great teaching and learning involving technology at Amana)

1.  I've got some 4th grade helpers inputting our 100 great things about Amana (started as a 100s day project).  The helpers are creating a document in Google Docs, shared it with each other and me.  Very cool.  I am hoping to link the doc on a later blog.

2.  Mrs. Austin's class is continuing book talks with middle school students.  The students are using iChat and sharing books live from Amana and from the middle school.

3.  Mimio boards and training.  We got some more in-service this week on the mimio boards (graciously donated by the Amana PTO). Very cool.  Mrs. Toy's student teacher is incorporating the technology in her lessons.  We have mimios in three classrooms.  They are being used and the kids love it!

4.  We can't seem to keep our computers in the lab.  I love walking into the classrooms and seeing students sitting engaged, working on the computer or walking into the 1st grade and seeing the class using technology as part of their literature instruction and watching the kindergarten using Starfall to help reinforce letter recognition (check it out online) to name just a few uses.

5.  The preschoolers also have a computer center.  So cute. (I have a goal for this year to purchase at least one iPad for the preschool class.  So many great applications.  My own kindergarten daughter loves our personal iPad.  Very engaging.  As always, I have an idea for some funding...)

6.  Mrs. Cooper.  I can't thank her enough for her tireless efforts to integrate technology into the students' learning. 

7.  Last (and certainly not least) I want to recognize my wife Susan for all the hard work she does on the CCA website.  It's a tremendous source of information.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day!

I'm not sure who invented Valentines day.  Pretty sure they were candy makers, florists, or card companies.  Doesn't matter, I would like to thank them.  Valentines in an elementary is awesome.  7 sweetie grams, two heart shaped boxes of chocolate, two bags of chocolate, untold amount of valentines cards and enough candy to fill my candy bucket for a while (until the kids find it again).  Lots of hugs and "Happy Valentines day Mr. Macumber."  I love the way they try to spell Macumber.  My wife got to spend the day helping with the 2/3 party and the kindergarten party.  Very special day.  Happy Valentines day.