Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why PBL?

As we move into a new report card and evaluation system for teachers, principals, schools, and districts, it is crucial that we embrace a project based learning model or framework that will guide our design and planning of projects and instructional units.

The SC Education Oversight Committee (EOC), has adopted the Profile of the SC Graduate as a guide for such evaluation. Part of the EOC evaluation system has to do with world class knowledge. This is measured at the elementary level by the ACT Aspire (ELA and math) and the PASS (science and social studies).

The world class skills and life and career character skills will be measured by the efforts that the teachers, schools, and district make to provide the students opportunities to succeed in these skills. As a result, PBL is critical to the success of our students, teachers, school, and district.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

BIE and Project Based Learning

I was very impressed with the quality of professional development that I received this week (Thurs and Fri) from BIE. As NSE begins to refine our efforts to teach students how to combine 21st century skills and content standards to accomplish necessary task, our involvement with BIE is critical.

I learned that project based learning (PBL) is not another thing to add to our plate, but a useful tool that will help us prepare our boys and girls to be successful in middle school, high school, college, and career. Too many teachers and students "play" school today. We must move beyond the compliant, skill and drill, and compartmentalized teaching and start inspiring our students to be leaders of their own learning.

Project based learning done well can improve student achievement, student attendance, student behavior, teacher attendance, teacher engagement, and community involvement.

I also strongly believe that in elementary school we must take the time to teach and assess the basic skills of reading and math as we facilitate student engagement in projects. However, the project is the main course and the basic skills are the side items and tools to get things done. With the project being the main course instead of the desert at the end of a unit, students will be highly engaged (not just compliant) in the learning.

I am looking forward to the three days of PBL 101 this summer for all of our certified staff. Our classified staff, and parents are more than welcome to attend on a voluntary basis.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

NSE Video Club Receives Golden Achievement Award

The NSE Video Club will be recognized at the SCNSPRA awards luncheon this Friday, April 24, 2015 for its quality work producing the North Springs Today Show each morning.  Four years ago, our news studio was operating on minimal equipment and space.  With the help of our PTO, we were able to upgrade our equipment.  Our Technology and Learning Coach, Nikki Allmann, and our media specialist, Tabitha Glover, have worked with our video club participants to make our news show an effective and efficient way of communication.

Many of our clubs and organizations often use the news show to communicate information about their clubs and initiatives.  Some of these clubs actually prerecord commercials that inspire our community to participate or contribute to the cause.

The Power of Clubs

Students are exposed to a lot of useful information and skills in the regular classroom on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, we do not always take the time to let the student practice or use this information and skill for an authentic purpose.  School clubs and organizations are a great way to get students involved in their school and community while at the same time giving them opportunities to perfect many of the skills we are teaching them in the regular classroom.

At NSE, we strongly encourage teachers and support staff to get students involved in "clubs and organizations" within the school.  It is not enough to create a club just for the sake of creating another club. The club sponsor should be passionate about the club topic and he or she should attract participants that are just as passionate.  Clubs do not always have to meet after school.  Some clubs meet during school hours so that more students can be a part of the club.  Below is a list of some of the clubs at NSE that are making a HUGE difference at our school, in our community, and with our students:

Culinary One on One - a cooking club that actually produces a cooking show
Kids Against Bullying (KAB) - a group of students K-5 who educate us on bullying and how NOT to be a bully.
Military Kids Club - a group of students from military families who raise awareness of the challenges military families face and support each other throughout the year.
Garden Club - these students learn about different plants, prepare the soil, plant and nurture the plants, and then sometimes harvest the fruits or vegetables.
Safety Patrol - a group of about 20 students who open car doors during arrival and dismissal, monitor hallways, monitor the breakfast line, and escort visitors when needed. This group also takes field trips to observe what safety and security looks like in the real world.
Video Club - a group of students who produce and host our morning news show, conduct fundraisers, volunteer at school events such as Cricketfest, etc... This club won the Golden Achievement Award from the SCNSPRA this year.
STYLE - a girls leadership club that focuses on girls becoming leaders in their school and community.
Student Council - a group of fourth and fifth graders who conduct fundraisers for local charities, make suggestions to improve our school, and volunteer at school events such as Cricketfest.
Environmental Club - a group of students interested in how they can help and educate our school community to be more environmentally friendly.
Recycling Club - a class that has taken on the responsibility to educate our school community about recycling, and organize the pick up of recyclable materials. They also conduct unique collection campaigns having to do with recycling such as Shoes for Water and plastic bag
Poster Club - a group of students committed to making sure that all of the other clubs have a way to design and make posters that are grammatically correct and professional to be hung in the hallways.
Energy Club - another class club that educates our school community about conserving energy and monitors energy use at our school.
Girls on the Run - a program that teachers girls about fitness and good character.
Media Helpers - a group of students who works with the media specialist to keep the media center organized.
Academic Team - a group of students who competes in academic challenges in a variety of subject areas.
Maker Club - a group of students who design and make things through a variety of methods.