Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014 Shirley Sovereign

PK-1 Principal/Director of Teaching & Learning
Shirley Sovereign
Twitter:  ssovprincipal
SKYPE:  shirley.sovereign

Staff Development:  Comprehension and Technology

We were fortunate to work with Kristin Ziemke during inservice this week.  Ms. Ziemke is an author, presenter and 1st grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools.  Teachers, who attended the International Reading Association Conference last year, saw her presentation on reading and writing instruction using technology tools and asked that we bring her to HW so all teachers could benefit from her knowledge, insight and experience.  Ms. Ziemke worked with small groups of teachers in the morning and with all K-6 teachers in the afternoon.  JH and HS literacy teachers were invited to the presentation.  The learning fit well with HW System Design Essentials.

Here are a few of the BIG ideas:
  • Learning new ways of teaching can be scary, but we need to put ourselves out there on the continuum and step forward by learning at least one new thing each quarter.
  • Value students' questions.  What really matters are the student's questions rather than the teacher's.
  • Teachers set the tone, "Dream it, and we can do it."
  • Learning is social.  Let's bring the FUN back in the classroom.  A habit of learning is fun.  We never stop learning.
  • Help students get to the place where they know a lot of tools, and they can choose from the options.
  • Teach the brain to be flexible and fluid.
  • What critically matters?  Deep thinking, curiosity and wondering.
  • Students need to have a strong sense of community to have a strong sense of digital community.
  • Knowledge of pedagogy drives and guides instruction.  Best practice is king.
  • Best practice still looks the same, we just have new tools to work with.  

 Instill in students the thinking, "I'm the kid that can do it."
With new digital tools, every space is a learning space.

Preschool Parent Advisory Meeting
This group met to review feedback from the annual preschool parent survey.  After reading and discussing parents' comments, the group selected common themes in the responses to share out.  The parent survey covered these questions:  1.  What are the important things your child should learn in preschool?  2.  What information should be included on the report card and during P/T conferences?  3.  What comments/questions do parents have about the use of technology in the classroom?  4.  What questions/concerns do parents have about the transition to kindergarten?  5.  What are the strengths of our program?  6.  What improvements could be made in the program?  Overall, responses were very positive and supportive of the district preschool program.  The results of the survey will be posted on the district website.

Other items on the agenda were the transition activities that will take place yet this year to support the students as they transition into kindergarten at Crestwood Elementary.
  • Kindergarten teacher observation day in the preschool:  April 25th
  • Kindergarten parent & student meeting:  April 29th
  • Kindergarten Buddy Day:  May 22nd
  • All district preschool field trip:  May 29th
Career Day
An opportunity for students to think about and plan for their future careers is offered every other year through Career Day.  This massive effort brings together an exhibit of well over 100 careers for our students to investigate by talking directly with professionals in those career areas.  The team, which includes guidance counselors, success teachers, administrators and secretaries, does an outstanding job of contacting presenters and organizing the many details for this event.  Teachers and students prepare ahead so students are ready to ask in-depth questions about their career interests.  Excellent job to everyone involved this year!  HW Career Day gets better every time it is held!

Community Foundation of Howard County
The Foundation grant awards were presented during an event at the Lime Springs Community Center Wednesday evening.  Howard-Winn staff members received several grants for various school projects:

  • Cresco Wisdom and Wellness - $1,250 
  • Coding and Robotics for fourth grade - $1,500 
  • Natural Outdoor Playground - $1,500 
  • Smartboard for Pre-K classroom - $1,050 
  • Smartboard for Transition-K classroom - $1,050
Samantha Burke, Elma preschool teacher, also received a grant on behalf of the Elma Early Childhood Center for technology and the Summer Wisdom and Wellness Program.

Lime Springs Children's Theater Production

Several Lime Springs-Chester School students in grades 3-5 will participate in the production of "Holka Polka."  This will be held on April 11 at 7:00 p.m. and on April 12 at 1:30 and 7:00 p.m. at the Methodist Church in Lime Springs. 
Mrs. Melissa Adams shared a photo of the Holka Polka cast.


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