Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lexia Core 5 Taking Root @ NSE

Lexia Reading Core 5 has become very popular at NSE among early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers.  As we have focused on our tier II and tier III reading interventions this year, there has been some concern about how we are meeting the needs of tier I students in the regular classroom.  As a result, several classroom teachers have explored the use of the Lexia Reading Core 5 program.  Several teachers piloted the program and were seeing immediate results.  We have recently expanded the use of the program to kindergarten, first, third, and fourth grades.  Our goal is to fully implement the program in grades K-3 next school year with a few licenses in fourth grade. 

I believe that the use of the Lexia Reading Core 5 program will help enhance our already effective use of the Accelerated Reader program as a reading management tool, the impact of having a part time reading coach, a more intense and effectively monitored RTI program by a full-time certified teacher, and of course the effective implementation of our core reading curriculum in each classroom. 

"Lexia Reading Core5 provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning in the six areas of reading instruction, and delivers norm-referenced performance data and analysis without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test.  Designed specifically to meet the Common Core and the most rigorous state standards, this research-proven, technology-based approach accelerates reading skills development, predicts students’ year-end performance and provides teachers data-driven action plans to help differentiate instruction." -

Friday, March 13, 2015

Sustainable Learning Cottage @ NSE?

We are very proud of Mrs. Parker's fifth grade STEMS class who had the opportunity to present at the annual Council of Educational Facilities Planning International (CEFPI) conference in Columbia. CEFPI consists of professional engineers, architects, and district personnel involved in building energy friendly schools.

Mrs. Parker's class started learning about the uses and benefits of solar energy last school year (2013-2014).  They continued their learning and began wondering what it would take to build a LEED certified building on the NSE campus this year as they looped with Mrs. Parker.  As a result, they designed and built models of a sustainable learning cottage.  This led to the idea to create a presentation about the cottage and present it to interested professionals.  Well, they created the presentation and have had the opportunity to present to engineers and architects in their classroom.  They continued to refine their presentation and were awarded the opportunity to present at the CEFPI conference today.

These 11 and 12 year old students presented in front of 120 professionals and received an immediate standing ovation. The students were poised, well spoken, funny, and very knowledgeable about their topic. As their principal, I could not be more proud of these boys and girls, their parents, and their teacher for taking the initiative and having the courage to work on such an authentic project. Excellent work!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Project Based Learning Focus @ NSE

The faculty and staff at NSE have had a heart for project based learning for awhile now.  We are excited to announce that NSE will be joining the second RSD2 cohort working with the Buck Institute of Education (BIE) starting this summer. BIE will give the faculty and staff a model or guide for developing units of study involving engaging and real world projects.

All faculty and staff members are invited to attend a three day summer professional development this summer to start the process.  We will work with BIE trainers throughout the year to finalize our projects and refine our skills in planning these units.

"Project Based Learning's time has come.  The experience of thousands of teachers across all grade levels and subject areas, backed by research, confirms that PBL is an effective and enjoyable way to learn -- and develop deeper learning competencies required for success in college, career and civic life.  Why are so many educators across the United States and around the world interested in this teaching method?  The answer is a combination of timeless reasons and recent developments." -

These "recent developments" for NSE and RSD2 are the adoption of the new SC ELA and math standards. The SC standards are written to prepare our students for a career and the real world.  As a result, we need to be teaching through real world projects.  SC, RSD2, and NSE have adopted the following as the profile of a high school graduate.  

Monday, March 9, 2015

PDS National Conference

Dr. Catoe, Mrs. Dawson, Dr. Buchheister, Ms. Koransky, Ms. Myers, and myself attended the Professional Development Schools (PDS) annual conference March 5-8.  We were honored to present a presentation entitled "Educating Citizens of the Future: Teaching Equity for All."  The presentation was all about exposing our University of South Carolina (USC) teaching candidates to how North Springs Elementary (NSE) addresses meeting the strengths, interests, and needs of the students at NSE.

NAPDS 2015 Exemplary School Award
We also had the honor of receiving the 2015 NAPDS Exemplary Schools Award.  This is the second time since 2009 that NSE has been recognized for its exemplary involvement and implementation of the PDS model for preparing teaching candidates.  NSE actually received one of the first awards given by the NAPDS back in 2009.

Ms. Myers
In addition to presenting and receiving the award, our recent interns had the opportunity to present their inquiry project results to an international audience.  I was very impressed and proud of the quality and content of the presentations.

Ms. Koransky

NSE's involvement in the preparation of teaching candidates is critical to the teaching profession.  As a PDS school we benefit from the involvement of an USC liaison, USC adjunct, coaching teachers, and quality teacher candidates.  We offer a full day for our teacher candidates to observe quality teaching as part of our "Celebration of Teaching."  At the conclusion of the day, our interns have an opportunity to interact with practicing teachers, administrators, and district board members to ask questions and make comments.