Friday, February 29, 2008

Commitment and Passion!

As we quickly approach FCAT week I want to pause for a moment and take a realistic view of how this very important, mandatory state assessment fits into the overall philosophy of our learning community. The FCAT results dictate our school grade and we have performed extremely well, always scoring among the top elementary schools in the state. We are, of course, very proud of this because it is always good to see in your results the hard work that you have invested. But beyond this, it also reflects our sincerest efforts to “Leave No Child Behind.” To maintain such excellence over ten years as we have done, ALL children must make and maintain progress. We are proud of ALL students who work to the best of their abilities either by earning a Level 3 or higher or significantly increasing their efforts over the previous year, regardless of the level.

The FCAT assessment is simply one day out of a child’s life. It in no way reflects all of that child’s talents, skills, abilities or potential. My teachers work very hard to develop and implement the best possible overall teaching practices to educate and nurture their children. This commitment is what brings us great results on the FCAT but more importantly is their passion for equipping students with the skills and knowledge that he or she needs to have success in life that is the true measure of our success as a learning community. When March 20th arrives and this year’s test is behind us, I know without hesitation that each of my teachers will continue to embrace each day and each student with the same commitment and passion that they have shown in the days leading up to our high stakes assessment.
Believing is just the beginning...

P.S. The puppies have arrived - all 8 of them!!! I finished the website, well... its published at least. I am still adding a few finishing touches, including pictures of the newborns. I think it is a pretty good first effort, and I am supremely proud that I taught myself something new. If you are interested check it out HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Posting and PUPPIES!!!!

Do you know that feeling you get when you are teaching yourself something new? It is a mix of excitement, frustration, and then elation. I prefer the elation but to tell you the truth during that frustration part is were the really good stuff takes place. Problem solving, creating, analyzing, applying, synthesizing all happen when you are engaged in an activity that doesn't always feel comfortable but pays off in huge ways when pride in the accomplishment of something longed for is achieved.

My dog is about to have puppies - yeah, that's right, I said puppies. My daughter is positively thrilled, her dad and I are nervous. The dog's gestational timeline does not understand that this is one of the single most hectic times of the school year for me. My life right now is consumed with one word - EVALUATIONS! We had planned for our dog to have puppies one day, just not NOW. When we agreed to start the breeding business I promptly offered up that I would design the website we would use. How hard could it be, right? HAH!

I spent the better part of last weekend consumed with teaching myself how to design, create, and edit our site using a new program called Expression Web. News alert - Melanie does not know the program - yikes! I'll spend sometime this weekend getting the site finished and then posting it to the web (in between checking on the little ones who are due to arrive at any moment). I don't think I did too bad for a first attempt but boy, it sure wasn't the piece of cake I thought it would be. I rationalized, used trial and error, deciphered computer code, wrote and edited content, built the whole thing from a blank white screen. I was excited, frustrated and elated all at the same time!!!!

I was also reminded - reminded of how important it is to teach our students how to be self directed learners. I was driven by a need to know, but where would I be, if along the way I had never been taught to think through problems, not to give up, to search for answers or alternative solutions, to look for help. There will come a time in our students' lives when they will be faced with something challenging, something new and it is absolutely critical that they have the skills to tackle the task and teach themselves how to maneuver through. Self directed learning isn't always easy but it sure is satisfying.

I'll keep you posted on the pups and the website!

Believing is just the beginning...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Flip out over technology

Do you know what a "flip" is? The flip video camcorder is one of the newest tools transforming classroom instruction. It is a small camcorder that fits in your pocket and can record 30-60 minutes of quality video to be instantly uploaded through a usb port on your classroom computer. It is so easy a student can do it on their own.

Imagine the possibilities....record a student reading aloud, readers' theatre, poetry reading, share chair in writing, mini lessons, math strategy demonstrations, science experiments....just about anything! Have students do a news report about their field trip or class activity. Check out this video taken by a fifth grader ( I just happen to have a fifth grader I know) at the Jacksonville Zoo this week.

With a little extra time, students can use the software to edit, add music and make the video personalized. All at the low cost of $100 to $150! I'll bet the kids would flip over this technology!

Believing is just the beginning....

Friday, February 8, 2008

There is NO Place Like Home!

I am soooooo glad to be back at home with my school family. We had a great time last week in Hollywood, CA and sure learned alot at the America's Choice National Conference but being back this week sure has been comforting. I have loved all the smiles from the kids and conversations to catch up with you. There are so many wonderful things happening around the Creek right now. The Happy Birthday standards based bulletin boards school wide are exceptional. The writing coming out of fourth grade is on the mark - I see lots of 6s in our future! Kindergarteners are beginning to read and write stories like fiends. Second graders are creating iMovies in Media. The whole student body is "moving it" to Radio Disney. The list goes on and on. There is a never a dull moment here - thank goodness! The excitement of Imagineers and Dreamers engaged and learning is better than any red carpet primiere could ever hope to be. Stars of stage and screen - eat your heart out - the stars inside this school will outperform and outshine you everytime!

Believing is just the beginning...

Friday, February 1, 2008

LIVE from the Creek!

WOW! What a week we have had so far in Hollywood. Our virtual tour went off yesterday without a hitch - even the live video feed from Chets featuring a lesson by our own Maria Mallon. The film we premiered will be uploaded to youtube and will be up on the blog soon! Debby Cothern and Michelle Ellis did a beautiful job of showcasing how we have transformed standards based bulletin boards over time into powerful teaching and learning tools. I delivered a mini session on our work with book of the month. Both our presentations can be found on the LIVE blog. Suzanne Shall and Melanie Holtsman shared all the technology that is being utilized in your classrooms. I will sit on a panel discussion today with alumni schools and we look forward to presentations by Angela Phillips and Rick Pinchot today - I hear Melanie is planning to ustream the session - which means it'll be up on the blog soon too! Debbie Harbour presents this afternoon. Melissa Ross delivers her session tomorrow and then we round out the conference by ending with a bang - dayle timmons delivers the closing keynote address! If you haven't checked out the LIVE from the Creek blog yet make it a point to do so today - it'll be just like you are with us - except you aren't fighting the time change!

Believing is just the beginning...