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Throughout the month of October, all learners will engage in classroom lessons that promote strategies to address and overcome bullying. Learners will also be invited to participate in three contests:
- Enter a poster contest (Week of October 9th-13th) – Due Date: October 13th
- Enter a poetry contest (Week of October 16th-20th) – Due Date: October 20th
- Enter a video contest (Week of October 23rd-27th) – Due Date: October 27th
The theme is Be an Everyday Hero Help Stop Bullying. $25.00 gift cards will be given to the winners. The gift cards can be for American Eagle, Justice, Dairy Queen, or other businesses of interest.
On Wednesday, October 25th, all learners are encouraged to wear orange in honor of Unity Day. An aerial photograph will be taken of participants.
5 Tips to Help You Customize Your Math Class
By: John Miller
Standing Stone Elementary
Until a few months ago, if you would have spoken to me about MCL I would have thought you were talking about the medial collateral ligament. After I attended the SAS Institute on personalized learning, however, I came away with a better understanding of what mass customized learning or personalized learning should look like. The problem was, I didn’t have any concrete examples that I could use as a model. So when I came back to Standing Stone I figured I would try to implement a more customized style to my math class. Although the process takes time, and I am still working to find the best approaches to put my students in the center of their learning, I am enjoying the journey. If you are wondering where to start on the road to a more customized approach, let me offer you 5 tips on how to customize your math class.
1.) Lay a foundation:
You are going to need to change the mindset of your students. Many of them believe that it is your responsibility to make them learn. In a customized classroom, the onus of learning is bestowed upon the student. They need to become a learner and take responsibility. This ownership of learning is one of parts that has sold me on customization. I have more time to facilitate and meet with students than I ever have. Another change you will need to prepare for is testing. I no longer schedule tests. Students tell me when they are ready to test. Our class talks about what it means to be “test ready”. Do they think they have mastered the material they set out to learn? If the answer is no, why test?
2.) Organize – Make a checklist:
You probably have a series for your math and if you don’t there are plenty of resources out there on the internet. To keep some semblance of order, I decided I would make a checklist of all the work that students would need to complete to master a skill. You can come up with your checklist by standard or by chapter in your series. Each of my checklists starts with the standard and essential question, a video (our series has interactive ones), work on the skill, and finishes with some type of assessment. The assessment piece is key so that I can track the progress. Luckily, our series has a short online assessment component that gives me instantaneous feedback. I place everything on Google classroom. This way I can reuse it and the students have an easy place to access materials.
3.) Be flexible:
You may find that some of the changes you make require you to be a little more flexible. For example, each class period I let my teacher’s manual out for students to self check their work. This took some discussion with my students and a lot of flexibility on my part. Never in a million years did I think I would let the answers out for my students to look at, but it works as long as the students understand that getting the correct answer isn’t the goal, it is mastering the skill. Being more flexible about students moving about the room and the noise they make as they collaborate is something you will find takes some time to get accustomed to. Change is difficult, but you will find that is it probably more difficult for you than for the learners in your room.
4.) Space your room:
This is one area where I need to improve. I didn’t really think of how my room was set up before I began. If you are going to have a customized classroom, you are going to need to customize and use your space efficiently. Do you have room for students to work collaboratively? Do you have space where students can work independently? Do you have all of your materials easily accessible? Do you have all of your manipulatives easily accessible? Most of these were a “no” for me. I had the materials available for the lesson I was working on. With students working at their own pace, I need to have more of my materials readily available. Also, testing still causes me a bit of a problem. Most students do not want to be in the classroom while they test because of the noise. I don’t blame them. So finding enough space for them to test in a place that doesn’t have any distraction has been a problem for me. These are areas that I will continue to work on in the coming year.
5.) Use your colleagues:
This is a no brainer. You know that you have a colleague that will think of something that you did not. Use them. When I started this process I spoke with my 5th grade team, our technology coach, our instructional coach, and anyone else that I could bounce an idea off of. I learned how to use Google classroom which I had never used. My colleague came up with the idea of posing questions that required mathematical reasoning online so that my students had to show their mathematical reasoning ability. Without help, I would have failed. With my colleague’s help, I will continue to improve.
I must admit that I was skeptical about this process when I started and I know that I don’t have it all figured out. However, when I see how engaged my students are, how much they have accomplished, and the data I am getting back, then I know I am moving in the right direction. I hope these tips help you to do so as well.
Home and School Together
Computer Animation Club
Beginning on March 30th until May 11th, students are invited to join Computer Animation Club which meets from 2:45 PM – 4:00 PM in Room 221. Each Monday, students will learn how to tell stories using computer animation. Instructors from Juniata College will teach students how to use a computer program called Alice, which was developed by Carnegie Mellon University. Information Technology represents a new and ever changing field in the world of careers. It is our goal that students who excel and enjoy computer animation will pursue programs in postsecondary studies and find fulfilling professions. Although space is limited, interested students can join by having a parent/guardian complete a permission slip located in the office.
Financial Aid Night
Did you know that you can apply for grants and scholarships regarding post secondary studies beginning in the seventh grade of your child’s educational journey? Do you want to help your son or daughter avoid accumulating a mountain of debt to obtain a degree from a college or trade school? Come and learn more during the first Financial Aid Night at Huntingdon Area Middle School on May 19, 2014 at 6:30 PM in the Large Group Room. Mr. Dan Wray from Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency will provide valuable information for all. Our eighth grade students were so inspired by this individual that they requested that Mr. Wray return for an evening discussion with adults. Please read about Mr. Wray’s biographical information below and come. Light refreshments will be provided.
Dan Wray is a regional representative for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), a state agency whose primary goal is “Making Higher Education Affordable”.
Dan spent his youth laboring on construction sites, mounting tires, pumping gas, mowing lawns, and doing a whole lot of other things that convinced him to go on to higher education. He received a Bachelor of Science degree and commission as an Ensign from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, way back “when ships were wood and men were iron”. OK, maybe not quite that long ago.
During eleven years with the Coast Guard, Dan did a whole lot of the things you see in the movie “The Guardian” with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner, as well as a ton of things Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner were afraid to do. He spent many months north of the Arctic Circle on the polar icebreaker Northwind; played wing on the Coast Guard Academy’s rugby team; sailed on the square-rigger Eagle; and in the process traveled to 48 states, 2 US territories, and 35 foreign countries.
Since his Coast Guard days, Dan has worked for Penn State and several financial assistance organizations, helping students (including his own five children) maximize their gifts, achieve a higher education, and find their dream career.
Each month, the school counselor visits the classroom to provide lessons pertaining to the academic, social, and career development of all students. Sixth graders have acquired strategies to address relational aggression and establish new friendships; seventh graders have learned about online safety, completed interest inventories, and further explored the difficult reality of bullying; eighth graders have engaged in career exploration and how to improve peer relationships.
Teen Issues Group
Every Tuesday, students have the opportunity to participate in a group facilitated by the school counselor and professionals from Mainstream Counseling as well as the Youth Advocate Program. Students, with teacher permission, meet weekly during lunch to discuss an array of issues which may include: careers, study strategies, friendship skills, conflict resolution, grief/loss, setting goals, divorce, bullying, drug and alcohol prevention, coping skills, peer pressure, tolerance, health & wellness, or depression. The goals of the group are to generate positive thinking and enhance the social, academic, as well as career growth of young people. The group is limited to 6-8 students. Students benefit from group interaction and the presence of three professionals who aspire to work with children. If you would like your child to participate in this unique experience, please contact the school counseling office.
Over the course of the year, professionals have met with interested students during lunch to discuss careers. We have been honored by the information shared by Mary Jane Smith of MJEMS photography, Pam Houldin of Horsepower Farm for therapeutic horsemanship, Brad Clark of the Pennsylvania State Police regarding special emergency response team (SERT), and Mindy Sullivan, physician assistant, from Pediatrics and Beyond. On April 17, 2015 students will have the opportunity to speak with individuals who will be graduating from college in law, business management (Actuary) and Math. Additionally, discussion on athletics/sports and being a positive role-model.
Tours of Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center and Juniata College
All middle school students are invited to tour the Huntingdon County Career and Technology Center and Juniata College. The school counselor takes a van of students to HCCTC once a month as weather permits. Adolescents may choose two areas of interest from an array of programs entailing computer servicing, automotive mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, cosmetology, culinary arts, and many others. Students may learn about life in a post-secondary setting by taking a walking tour of Juniata College. Please contact the school counseling office if you would like your child to participate in these career development activities.
Efforts are being made to coordinate a job shadowing experience for middle school students. More details will be offered as soon as possible.