Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Knowing where they are...Getting them Ready!

Each day students are asked questions, given assignments, quizzed, tested and talked to about school. All of this activity is supposed to tell  teachers if the student is making academic progress. The progress is based on what we, as educators, have determined a student should know at a particular date and age. Parents and students get report cards with grades on them so that they can measure school performance. What purpose does all of this talk about progress and grading serve? The talk is about effective teaching and learning!

We are all, parents, teachers and students, using this information to determine what a student knows and what we need to teach or learn next.  The difficult part is getting the student involved in this process. Setting goals, talking with teachers, and understanding what students need to be ready for the next grade is not easy or simple. However, when we take the time and put in place the resources for students to become involved it works. AMS has committed itself to providing this support during the day by getting students more time with teachers, in small groups, during the school day with our 40 minute, three times each week, Go Knights! period.  Students not only have time with teachers but can work on projects, do research, make up test, and work with peer tutors without missing class time!

Knowing that students are the most important part to the learning process, we have to be creative in getting them the time they need to learn. When students have confidence in their abilities they are willing to work hard and demonstrate what they know. AMS is committed to making sure every student is ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and demanding world. That's why we say "Go Knights!!"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Every tree we see started as a small seed.  The shade, beauty and protection trees provide for us are the potential the seed possesses.  However, not all seeds that have this potential become trees.  Some never get the chance to even start on their way towards becoming a tree while others sprout and look as if they are well on their way only to have its potential interrupted by the forces of nature or man.  Now I'm using this seed/tree metaphor to get us thinking about how we support students on their way to becoming educated and contributing members of our community. 

The Knights Intervention period is designed to provide immediate support for students during the school day. Each 40 minute period is focused on making sure students learn, not just hear, the content they need to know. Teachers focus on what students need to know for success now and in the future as well as re-teaching essential skills students may not have learned in earlier grades.  In order for this to work teachers are focusing on:
  • Skills students have and how well they can demonstrate those skills.
  • What changes are we making to support high growth for every student?
  • Teams of teachers creating lessons that lead to high growth for every student.
  • Effectively identifying students who need similar support and providing it in a timely and effective manner.
  • Informing students and parents of their progress as we support them in setting and achieving goals. ("Simplifying Response to Intervention: Four Essential Guiding Principles", Buffum, Mattos and Weber, 2012)

As a community we have to provide shelter from the storms of life we know occur.  Unlike trees our students don't exist in just one place and must be able to adapt to all sorts of changes.  The principles we are using to make sure we live up to our promise to make sure every student achieves high growth require hard work and a steadfast dedication focusing on the most important element in education: the student.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"I don't have to do it if I don't want to!"

The fact that some students choose not to learn impacts not only the student but those around them. Teachers, peers, parents, guardians all talk to the student and encourage him or her to “do better”, or “try harder” because we all believe they can. Students who have decided not to learn don’t show the desire or put forth the effort it takes to make academic progress. To put it simply, “I don’t want to do it so I don’t have to.”

In the past the solution would have been to send the student out or give a “0”, parent conference, student conference, remediation, afterschool or any of a number of different traditional remedy. Ayden Middle is breaking away from that response. With a scheduled time during the school day to give every student support our support for students who are refusing to learn is shifting from the traditional to:
  • ·         Mandatory homework help
  • ·         Peer tutoring
  • ·         Goal setting and study skills
  • ·         Re-teaching
  • ·         Mandatory make-up/study hall

These opportunities are put in place to make sure that all students make high levels of academic growth and that no student is allowed not to learn. Please join us as we make sure all students make high growth.

Go Knights!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bringin' The Rigor

Today in education we talk a lot about "world class education", "ready for college and work" as ways to make sure all of our students get the education that benefits the student and his or her community.  Most of us tend to ask students, "Do you have any homework?", "How'd you do on that test?", "What did you do in school today?"  Lots of homework, doing more work, to much work for students and helping students makes it easy on them are different points of view when it comes to teaching and planning.

The beginning of the Common Core State Standards in North Carolina means that students and teachers must adjust and be able to practice the types of thinking that come with rigorous teaching and learning.  Students must be able to extend their thinking beyond simple recall and reproduction.  Copying notes and memorizing facts have their place but successful students will be those who understand how to engage creatively with others and use all of their knowledge at any given moment.

So, how do you recognize rigor?  Well, here are some key indicators we can all look for when we trying to determine rigor.
1.  Students have to explain answers and defend arguments.  Teachers and students ask questions requiring a range of knowledge.  Questions connect to other subjects and not just a narrow range of topics.
2.  Reading materials are not simple but require students to extend their vocabulary and thinking.
3.  Activities have real-world connections.
4.  Students are actively engaged. The level of focused attention is visible when engaged in the task or working with others.
5.  Collaboration is a key part of the problem-solving process. Students learn how to work together while solving problems with meaning to thier communities.
6.  Students are responsible for the quality of their work.

Rigor.  The next time you ask a student, "What did you learn in school today?" maybe a better question is, "Who did you work with today and what problems did you solve?"

Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer is Coming!

The cool weather in Eastern NC makes it feel as if summer will never really get here.  However, one thing is for sure and that is time keeps on ticking (into the future).  We are always looking forward to what we believe will be good times such as cool swimming pools, the beach, the mountains or simply sleeping in and not being on a schedule. Things are heating up here at AMS despite the cool weather!

The month of May will see the beginning of schoolwide testing with the Common Exams in Social Studies (all grades), Science (6th and 7th) and the 8th grade Science EOG.  The Common Exams are new exams by the state and will be given in all core subjects where there is not an EOG.  We will also have the Algebra EOC and finally Math and Reading EOGs.  Man, it's getting warm in here.

So, knowing that the heat would come we have spent the year preparing, studying, quizzing and testing.  Students are reading, writing, quoting and researching to make sure they can stay "cool" when the heat comes.  Teachers have planned, tested, quizzed, talked and tutored students throughout the school year to give them the "air conditioning" they need to be ready for the heat.  We have stressed being at school and being prepared because we knew summer would come even when we were in the grip of icy winter.  AMS knows how to prepare!

Well.  Summer is here and don't let the temperatures fool's hot.  Parents, students, staff have worked all school year to make sure we can stay "cool" when the end of year test come around.  I know you are ready for the beach, pools, the mall and some free time...and the end of year heat.

I need you to say it with know how we do it in this neck of the woods...Go Knights!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

21st Century Skills

"We cannot allow these implements of destruction into our schools! Students will deface property, engage in unsavory activities and generally create chaos!" This opinion was expressed about pencils in the early 1900's. Imagine school today without pencils and pens. The tool once thought to be a problem is now a key part of learning. I see the same thing happening with digital technology. Computers, phones and mobile devices are rapidly changing not only the way we teach but how students learn. No. We cannot get rid of paper and pencils but we do need to make room for activities that will help our students master the increasing demands for rapid problem identification, solving and analysis many careers demand today. Yes. We have new "pencils" and we will have to change but what else is new? 

Think of it this way. How would you like to go to a dentist who refuses to use modern techniques because what he or she learned in the 1960’s still works? Hanging on to the past is a great idea for classic cars and rock but not for education. Let's get together and reflect on failures and successes with new methods and tools. Afterall, many of the things we do now will be looked on as ancient and the very near future!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Let's get writing!

One of the great things about teaching English is when a student works hard and produces a great piece of writing.  Here's a link to help teachers and parents understand and help with the writing process.  Language Arts Podcasts