As far as Halloweens go, yesterday's party was the ending to an active day. After a classification activity and an observation activity, students costumed up for the parade and subsequent party.
The Secrets of Our Success
I have had the opportunity to meet with our district superintendent a couple of times in the last week (After visiting our classroom, last Friday, he now calls me The Caveman.). I have also been interviewed in regards to the state of the district, the direction we have taken in the last few years, and where we are headed.
In Monday's meeting at the administration building, Superintendent Ridder asked select teachers, "What is the first thing someone should see when entering a classroom?" According to one participant, the answer, was, "Kids." After some chuckles, I added that, upon entering a classroom, I would look for the joy of learning. I want to know that students are acknowledging their progress, and they are loving their school experiences. In education, we refer to engagement, meaning that students are fully into a lesson, learning what they are supposed to learn, collaborating with one another if needed, with no distractions.
"Now we're getting somewhere!" exclaimed Dr. Ridder.
He then proceeded to ask the group more about some 21st Century Skills. He suggested that we consistently promote behavior as our primary goal from early childhood to high school. Before hitting the academics, he postulated, we must get behavior right. He cited communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity as the crucial methods in which Joplin Schools should unify. Interestingly, Ridder wants to see these behaviors in both the children and the adults!
This outlook seems spot on. My hope is that Room 404 already leads in many ways in these areas. In last week's conferences, many parents shared that their children were talking about the lessons and activities we do in our room - some that surprised me. I hope it's obvious that extra effort has been placed on every single one of these areas in Room 404. Happily, Dr. Ridder told me, "You know what you're doing," acknowledging my veteran-teacher status.
Those are the types of things that drive the behavior, the engagement, and the joy of learning in our classroom. We don't always hit our targets, but it's a work in progress. Won't you join me in fostering these same behaviors at home and abroad?
Multiplication Master #2
One hundred congratulations to ZAYNE for his efforts to master basic multiplication. ZAYNE earned his new status of Multiplication Master by scoring 100% on three timed multiplication quizzes.
Multiplication skills make up the foundation of much of our Math for this year and the future. Students are encouraged to "over-learn" basic facts to make future lessons easier. In fact, we will take timed quizzes every day next week!
In our efforts to bring Lewis and Clark into understanding, we took the class outside to measure the actual footprint of the famous keelboat. We attained a pretty good picture of the 8' x 55' wooden watercraft. A glance at the gym wall also gave us an idea of the height of the 30-foot hinged mast that was positioned in the center of the boat. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark called this boat the barge in their journals. We remarked the needs of the expedition to have a narrow, flat-bottomed boat that could effectively carry several tons of supplies, Indian trade items, and foodstuffs, as well as a majority of the men traveling with the group.
Need I Say More?
It's always a treat when former students return for a visit.
Once a Hoggatteer, always a Hoggatteer!
Where the Rivers Run: Bonus Video
In the first of these snippets (the one on the left), students explain the the assistant principal the process of designing a boat for a purpose. They also made a case for teamwork. At right, students begin the process of loading the first boat with dinosaurs.
Below is a great shot of a fully loaded boat reaching its capacity (left), until its remarkably fast sinking (right).
The boat design project combined the following:
I love it when a plan comes together.
We Are Still College Bound
Cadin Jones wants to be an engineer with the U.S. Army when he grows up. And he's already planning on doing what it takes to get there — going to college.
For the article in its entirety, see the Joplin Globe website.
Where the Rivers Run: Product Testing
The plans had been made, discussed, and modeled. The only thing left was to test the final products. Teams made their ways to the aquarium of science for testing. They were amazed at the results.
We Are College Bound
There was some screaming, some cheerleader tumbling, and some dancing before we returned to the school just ahead of lunch time. It's probably a good thing that there was some bubble wrap on my desk just waiting to be popped when we got back.
One thing that made it worthwhile for me, personally, was getting to see former student DANIELLE, who now attends a different school. DANIELLE's teacher allowed her to walk across the stands to get to me and give me such a warm greeting that could melt a pharaoh's heart.
All subjects blend together in Room 404. We started Tuesday morning with a quick look at different boat styles, and we took a closer look at the keelboat used by the Corps of Discovery. Students discovered the differences between a boat that is meant to carry massive amounts of weight and a boat intended to travel quickly and easily through the water.
When Meriwether Lewis commissioned the keelboat, he needed a vessel that would carry many supplies. The boat had some amazing technological features for the earliest parts of the 18th Century. It had an innovative and practical design. I suppose I expected no less from my students in designing a boat to float dinosaurs in our classroom aquarium of science.
Spoiler alert: sadly, all of the dinosaurs perished in this experiment.
We began the actual project by making personal designs on paper. It was apparent which students were paying attention and applied a flat-bottomed boat design. After each student presented his/her design to the team, each team selected design features to include in their prototype and final product.
Teams then made prototypes out of regular scrap paper, folding and tearing to construct a three dimensional representation of their designs, before naming the boats and building their final products from single sheets of aluminum foil.
Along the way, our classroom received a visit from the principals, the director of elementary education, and the superintendent of schools. They stayed for a moment to observe the project and get a view of Hoggatt Cave. TARYN did a spectacular job of explaining what we were doing.
I'll post the results and some videos in the next few days.
Congratulations to this terrific young man! He blasted through his first three timed multiplication quizzes with ease, scoring an easy 100% on each. That's enough to earn him the title of Multiplication Master.
This week, we will continue to quiz on basic multiplication facts. Improvement is expected each time, and it is strongly suggested that students study at home.
Short Week/Busy Week
From time to time, there comes a week that is just jam-packed with extras. This is one of those weeks.
First, this is a short week, with no school on Friday, so there is no written homework expected from my Hoggatteers. That should lighten their load for other things - like studying for their timed basic multiplication tests and for their parts in the Hoggatt Cave tour.
Did I mention the multiplication tests? Oh yeah! There will be Quick Quizzes every day, this week, and I'm looking for improvement on every one of them.
This Tuesday our school will host a visit from the superintendent of schools, Dr. Norm Ridder. Dr. Ridder has already visited a majority of classrooms in the district, and hopefully will stop by Room 404 for a bit while he is at Cecil Floyd. I'm looking for my students to greet him professionally and to respond appropriately to whatever lesson we are doing when he arrives.
Operation College Bound
On Wednesday, we will meet up with other elementary schools at Missouri Southern State University for the kickoff pep rally for Operation College Bound. We will return to school before lunch. In the spring, our fourth graders will make a trip to Springfield for a look at Missouri State University.
On Thursday, a gentleman will visit our school to interview me for the district's strategic planning. Superintendent Ridder will use information from such interviews of staff, students, administrators, parents, and community members to create a one-page strategic plan to help our district recover and thrive.
This being Anti-Bullying Week for our school, our counselor, Mrs. Pearce, will visit the classroom for a presentation. Mrs. Mouton's class will join us at the proper time for this short lesson and discussion.
Thursday, we will gather in the auditorium for the kickoff assembly for our annual Major Saver fund raising campaign. This campaign funds the Joplin Schools Foundation - not Cecil Floyd. Students are asked to sell discount cards to friends, neighbors, and family members.
Opinion: We Should Be Special
Our school has the ability to be special.
Our school could be unique.
Our school should shine.
When KOAM's Lisa Olligas visited us, this week, she mentioned me by name from the microphone, remembering reports about our class that she did a number of years back. It reminded me, as well, of a time when our school's positive publicity was more prevalent.
Later in the day, the Leadership Team (consisting of principals and teachers) met, and Principal Hennessey posed the following question:
What do we do well?
The thoughts above came to mind. With the sounds of Livin' Life still ringing in my ears, I wanted to believe her question was leading to something better. After all, wherever we are now, we could be special, unique, and shiny. With some creative thought, we could bring our community into the conversation. We could make our mark with parents and students. We could be the source of pride.
Why can't Cecil Floyd be the flagship of our district, we're not the newest, our building is not the most modern, and, honestly, we don't have the highest test scores, but with a little creative thought and elbow grease, we can create magical events and experiences for our students and their families.
I'm not talking about sending home a note to parents to announce that they can visit the school to read with their children. I'm not talking about families gathering for cookies and lemonade. I mean, let's create an event, an experience, a festival for families that they will remember. Let's create something so intriguing that makes them want to do it again.
We shouldn't wait for TV cameras to come to us. We do plenty of things in our classrooms that get students through the day. We feed off of those magical moments where we provide students with experiences they otherwise would not have - not because we want to be popular with little kids, but because we want to motivate them to learn and to improve.
My wish is for Cecil Floyd to be known for more than a spectacular once-a-year craft show. It is possible for us to be known for our family of children, our outreach to families, and our impact on the community.
With this attitude, we are special, we are unique, we shine, and we soar higher than the rest.
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