SLMS – Week of 5.17.2015



Great anchor chart in Ms Sam’s room! Simple but powerful because students HAVE to know and refer to this info! Its appealing and accessible in the room.




  • Happy birthday Ms. McMillan

GradeCam at SLMS!

We have been approached by a GradeCam representative to start a 60-day free trial! This is going to come with some new features that will help us out in the classroom! Sams has already led a talk about this before, if you are in need of a refresher, please see her, an instructional coach and we will arrange for another talk. You can also visit some of our teachers who use it with great success – Sams, Brunner, Mack, Lee. We have some tremendous experts in the building and can use this to help get to students understanding [and misunderstanding.]

Last month of school

Life doesn’t stop for teachers or for a particular time of year. We have to keep high expectations for students and student behavior:

  • Minimize time in hallways, during class transition and class breaks
  • Keep high standards for on task behavior in the room. Get them attentive to task in room, be respectful to teacher and each other and follow class/school rules

KUDOS – Congrats to Our Spanish Quiz Bowl Team!

With little practice but great coaching, our team received 2nd place n our Division and 3rd in the county! Great success for our students and fabulous coach! When you see them, congratulate them on the awesome feat!

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KUDOS – Great job with Poetry Slam!

Kudos to Ms Hayden and Ms Darden for the work they put in to make this student showcase a great demonstation of what our kids can do we we set a VERY high bar! We need more events like this where our students have the opportunity to showcase their learning and abilities. This was also a great incentive for the students – if you want to see different behaviors from your kids in class, create different opportunities for them outside of class and hold them accountable while supporting them! Thanks 7th ELA for this great event!

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A New Season

I’ve had a chance to talk to everyone by now about my leaving Spring Lake MS at the end of June. This was a hard to decision to make but ultimately, as I was sharing with Ms Vaughn, its about family. You all are a tremendous school family. This was the first school where I’ve been in that proclaimed ‘We are a family!’ proudly and emphatically. With the challenges our students and families bring the only way we can successfully support and teach kids is to draw strength from one another – like a true school family should.

It has been an humbling pleasure to come to work everyday and have conversations with each of you, getting to know you, your families and what goes on with you. It is with pride that I say that I’ve been the principal of Spring Lake Middle these years and have had our great unique experiences [never had a school shut down midday from a city water main break ;)]. It is with joy that I look back on the changes we’ve made in our school towards improving learning and teaching – I think we can look back and say that we have made a difference with the implementations in our classrooms.

But ultimately, its with esteemed pleasure that I say I’ve been the SLMS principal to great kids and the best staff in world. My sincere hope is that we stay in touch and keep active in each other’s live [some of you all purposefully don’t follow me on Facebook because we work together – come July 1, I expect 45 new friends!]

I appreciate you all for what you do and what you put into this school, I thank you for all you will do for SLMS and I love you all for who you are.

‘Once a Bronco..,’


Showcase – BYOD and Mobile Learning! I visited Mr Butts room last week and had a fantastic time watching the engagement level and students working! You can see a couple of things here: evidence of planning, students working towards specific and observable outcome, work tied to objectives and the tech integration. Not only did Mr Butts have the grade level Chromebooks in the room, he was also letting them listen to their own devices or even work from their devices. That’s what our learning environment needs to be about – personalizing to make it comfortable and engaging for them. Careful planning and monitoring makes this all possible!

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Monday May 18

  • Faculty Meeting with Dr. Till [Principal Selection]

Tuesday May 19

Wednesday March 20

  • EOG Pep Rally

Thursday March 21

  • Science EOG and Final Exams – School wide testing schedule
  • 8th Grade Send Off Dance

Friday March 22

  • EVAAS Roster Verification Due
  • Science Make up Exams



SLMS – Week of 4.12.2015


Hope You Had a Great Spring Break!

This was a great time to recharge. I spent some time with my family, had some great adventures and now I’m ready to come back to BroncoLand and make sure that we finish strong! We’ll need that same energy level and commitment from everyone. Let’s commit to finishing strong! Our kids deserve it.

Let’s Welcome..,

Our newest Bronco, Zechariah Abraham! Ms Abraham and baby are doing well! Zechariah is one healthy Bronco!


BroncoTime! We will be running BroncoTime for the next 4 weeks! This is designed to be targeted intervention time for students. In our small groups, we should be using different strategies from our regular time in the classroom. Let’s think different strategies for filling in the gaps our kids may have.


Found this great video on how to effectively run a one-computer classroom. We are blessed to have the tech resources we have but every now and then the labs and carts can all be unavailable at the same time. That doesn’t mean we can’t move forward with our lesson – we have to adjust.

With our great resources available – MobyMax, SchoolNet, Tenmarks, Teacher Toolbox – we can really make a difference for some students. Careful planning is the key.


Monday April 13

Tuesday April 14

  • Mission Possible Workshop – Lazar with 6th students [select]
  • Track Meet @ Reid Ross

Wednesday April 15

  • Rising 6th Grade Visit – WT Brown ES, Lillian Black ES, Manchester ES
  • Soccer @ Nick Jeralds MS

Thursday April 16

  • 8th Grade Field Trip – John Pechman Center/Lake Rim 8:30 am [Blue Team]
  • Rising 6th Grade Visit – College Lakes ES, Warrenwood ES
  • Baseball/Softball vs Nick Jeralds MS at Home
  • Best Practices Workshop – Ireleand Drive MS 4:00 pm

Friday April 17

  • Freestyle Picture Day
  • 8th Grade Field Trip – John Pechman Center/Lake Rim 8:30 am [Gold Team]

Saturday April 18

  • CCS Job Fair at Jack Britt High School


SLMS – Week of 3.22.2015


Kudos to:

You all! Thanks for a great BroncoTime! I really appreciate all the effort you all put in to make this small group intervention impactful. This is our time to address some skills gaps our kids may have in these sessions. If we plan and execute carefully, we can really make a difference here for some students who are missing a step or two in critical areas.







7th Grade! for hosting a great 3-on-3 basketball tourney! Good to see the competition and smiling faces all around!

PBIS Team! for their first round of recognitions! It was good to be able to positively speak of some great things students are doing [even if they don’t always make the best choices]. Too often, we spend time planning for and managing the choices of students who don’t always look for positive solutions or alternatives. Please take time to use the BroncoBucks we were given recognize the VAST majority of kids who are doing what they do!

Thanks again to Ms Willingham, Mr Williams and the PBIS team for making this happen.

Student Success – 8th Grade Math! Wanted to share this data board from Ms Sam’s room! Its a creative way to not only show the hard work students engaging in but also to celebrate the hard work and achievement. I invite everyone to take 5 minutes during their planning period to stop in and see the creativity! This is a creative way to also satisfy the data board requirement for your room.

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Remember, next week we are testing! We will be using next week as a trial run for our EOG testing in May. This is always a good chance for us to get one last look at the skills gaps our kids may have so we can make preparations in addressing concerns AND we can take a look at our testing plan to see if there are any holes in our plan.

This is a screenshot of the plan but it isn’t very clear. Please find the email sent by Ms Brown earlier this week for a good copy. Make sure that you know where you need to go AHEAD of time.

One thing I noticed during BroncoTime is that some of us waited until it was time to change to look for details. Please read over this over the weekend and Monday. Tuesday is too late to get your questions answered.




New Inspiration

For this week’s inspiration, I’m pulling in a familiar face, GradeCam! I recently filled in for a 7th math class and part of the BroncoTime activities involved using GradeCam to provide multiple looks at small chunks of the students’ work. Grade cam was great, logical choice. Many of us have seen GradeCam and know how it works. I wanted to write about a great feature I didn’t know about – the GradeCam Smartphone app! Thanks to Ms Crumpler, she showed me how to run the activity from my phone. Not only did it work great, but I didn’t need my laptop or the teacher’s laptop to get it functional.

Lots of teachers are using GradeCam now with great success – Mr Fulmore, Ms Sams, Ms Lee! If you want to see some examples, you can look at champions in this building and how they are incorporating it into practice. I know the video was made before the app came out but I encourage everyone to check it out and use it in your class to get a good look at how kids are doing, what they know/don’t know and what we need to do to help reach them.


Monday March 23

  • Regular School Schedule
  • Department Meetings
  • Baseball/Softball at Home against Albritton
  • Orchestra Concert 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Tuesday March 24

  • Testing Schedule – See plan
  • Track Meet at Pine Forest High School

Wednesday March 25

  • Testing Schedule
  • Music in Our Schools Program – 2:30
  • Soccer @ Home against New Century MS

Thursday March 26

  • 8th Science Testing, 6th/7th Regular Schedule
  • Baseball/Softball @ New Century MS

Saturday March 28

  • Athletic Department Yard Sale
  • 7th Grade Car Wash


SLMS – Week of 2.8.2015


Kudos to Ms Sam’s

IMG_2558Thanks to Ms Sam’s for organizing and driving our Pride Week! These events are the lasting memories that students and teachers form when they look back on with fond reflection. The good friendly competition among the grade levels really permeated the school and we could see it in all the . The teachers on the different grade levels got very into the competitions! It spurred the students to really get involved!

Way to show that #BroncoPride!


Congrats to our Winter Sports Teams

Because of their great seasons, our Winter Sports teams are all in contention for either first or second place in our divisions. Our teams and coaches have worked very hard this year and that hard work is evidenced in their places this year. When you see a coach or a wrestler or basketball player, take the time to congratulate them for fantastic season and thank them for representing SLMS this year.


  • Please make sure are calling in absences in due time. When teachers call in late we have to draw on other personnel to help fill in. While this is not a problem with most of the teachers it does only take one or two a day for this to become burdened work for the remainder of the staff.
  • Please check the school calendar for upcoming events. As we are becoming more efficient in our practice, relying on the school calendar should be integrated into your practice. Please keep in mind, it is a work in progress and we do our best to update it with accurate information. But if there is something left of or miscommunicated, you should make sure that you contact the person in charge to clear up any discrepancy.
  • During our Collaborative Planning we should be making sure that we are planning with our Next Steps documents. These have been strategically designed to make sure we are planning with the best information the right way. If you need help with them, please see an instructional coach.
  • Please make sure you are completing your lesson plans in a time manner. When we are visiting classrooms, we often look at them to see the full direction of the classroom. They help answer questions we may have and are unable to ask you at the time of the visit.


Value of Classroom Visits

I was having a conversation with a teacher last week about how things were going in her class and the adjustments she was making. I was very glad and proud to hear about how things are progressing. As we talked about growing her skills, our conversation moved towards seeing good and great practices in other classrooms here at SLMS. It impressed me that she has independently been reaching out to teachers already and has been making visits.

Visiting classrooms is a very impactful practice. This is a great way to get questions answered and see either how some things can be improved or gather some new ideas.

I found this article from a school district entitled Bridges to Success Teacher to Teacher Classroom Visit. It outlines some great points on what we should consider before and after a best practice visit to a classroom. Some of the major points include:

Objectives of the observation:

  • Observe how children are learning in this classroom
  • Observe what children are learning in this classroom
  • Observe how the classroom environment supports children’s learning
  • Observe differences and similarities between this classroom and mine
  • Reflect how my classroom activities/environment are (or are not) aligned with what I observe here

Recommended process:
a. Teachers meet before observation to agree on objectives of observation, review lessons or activities and review norms, such as: length and best time of day to visit, level of observer interaction with children, preferred location for observer to stand/sit in classroom
b. Observation takes place
c. Teachers meet after observation to share reflections about the observation

I encourage everyone to make best practice visit. This is a high impact strategy that also addresses one of the Teacher Observation Standards about researching teaching strategies. I also encourage everyone to ask for an instructional coach to make the visit with them. Taking a second set of eyes with you as you visit and being able to debrief with a person after the visit help the with the cognitive process of unraveling and understanding the visit.

This is a great strategy we can use to help each other get better.


Monday Feb 9

  • Faculty Meeting

Tuesday Feb 10

  • Pine Forest District Walk Thru – College Lakes Elementary
  • Bronco Girls Basketball vs Max Abbott MS at Home [Strength Game]

Wednesday Feb 11

  • Curriculum Planning – 7th Grade Math Teachers w/ Yimiya Pearson
  • Bronco Wrestling vs Gray’s Creek MS at Home [Strength Game]

Thursday Feb 12

  • Bronco Girls Basketball vs Gray’s Creek MS at Home [Strength Game]

Friday Feb 13

  • Grades Due


SLMS – Week of 1.31.2015


Kudos to 7th Grade Team

Ms Hayden and the 7th grade team put together a ‘Superbowl’ Themed 9 Weeks celebration for their students! This was a great inclusive event! Instead of just one criteria, they celebrated students who achieved on their benchmarks, participated in the debates and A & B Honor Roll! Great way to show some love to students!

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[On a personal note, I had a great plate of wings and pinwheels!]


What Does an Engaged Student Look Like?

be8e9f8312193f96f0c0d5df6a06ba30How am I ensuring students are engaged in my classroom?

Am I expecting students to be engaged because I say so?

How am I helping students who are not fully engaged develop skills/attitude to be able to engage in work tasks in the future?

Does my classroom inspire engagement?

How can our school further inspire engagement?







Found this great video on 21st century education. Its a needed share.

We need to keep in mind that with our instructional planning we have responsibilities to teach our needed objectives but also prepare students for their future. Are we doing all we can, what we can, to prepare students for a work future? Are we helping them be competitive in a global market? Our students will be going up against student who have never visited the US who can speak English very well, think creatively and accept and overcome challenges they have not seen before.

Are we helping create students who will be ready for their future



Week of January 31st

  • Bronco PRIDE Week

Monday Feb 2

  • Pride Week – Jersey Day
  • SIT Meeting

Tuesday Feb 3

  • Pride Week – Blue and Gold Day
  • Bronco Basketball against LNJMS at Home
  • Bronco Wrestling at LNJMS

Wednesday Feb 4

  • Pride Week – Tie/Bow Tie Day

Thursday Feb 5

  • Pride Week – Twin Day
  • Detention Duty – Ms Abraham
  • Bronco Wrestling at Home Anne Chestnutt MS
  • Bronco Basketball at Anne Chestnutt MS

Friday Feb 6

  • Pride Week – Pride T-Shirt Day
  • Pest Control – Entire building at 4:00
  • Happy birthday Ms Hall



SLMS – Week of 1.25.2015


Instructional Spotlight

This is a great share! Mr Butts has designed a great layered lesson and you can see the benefits and payoff with the great engagement in the room. This is the result of advanced planning for  learning outcomes and attention to instructional design. Great embedded use of technology! You see a clear focus on learning! Pay close attention to Mr Butts role here! He has has designed student high level student work/projects that allow him to check on progress and understanding. This is incredibly beneficial for his kids because he can be supportive and push students. He has given them the resources to they need to find the answers for their project/work and he can work on helping kids with the higher level functions. Great job here!

Productive Struggle

I read about this term recently. The title drew me in instantly, I was curious what it meant and how it pertains to our work. When I read the article [How ‘productive struggle’ leads to deeper learning] not only did it make sense but it resonates with all of us. It makes sense in our work, professionally and personally.

Productive struggle for students is when they have work that is slightly above their skill level and they have to ‘stretch’ to reach their goal. This makes sense in our classroom because if we give students work they can do at their skill level we would never introduce new material to them OR never give them work that would allow them to explore new areas of their personal development. I’m sure we all have a story to tell about someone ‘pushing us out of the nest’ to help us reach a new level or accomplish a goal. I thank many people for their encouragement and push. If not for that I wouldn’t have become a teacher, began looking for different ways to reach kids in my classes, and be at peace with my daughter being away at college [working on that on].

For us, this means we need to plan and design lessons carefully. We need to be aware of where are students skills are so we can give them some good room to stretch. We also need to be there to be of support to students. This means scaffolding and personalizing as we need for each student as we come to new content. We need to know what resources are best used to teach and what resources are best to assess.

I think productive struggle is a great concept. When I think about my accomplishments, I am most proud of the good work that I was successful with that didn’t come easy. After the sweat and work, I was proud of the journey at the end. Let’s give our kids some work they can be proud of at the end. We can be proud because we will have helped them stretch and realize they can be successful in their work.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Our conferences are this week. This is a great time to connect with parents and put a plan in place for second half of the year.

I’ve attached an article below in the Resources section on parent conference strategies, Six Tips for Planning Productive Parent Conferences. It has some great considerations points. I want to briefly focus on Tip: 4 Listening.

We have to remember that we are making parents understand that we are all committed to making plans that will truly help their kids be successful. That is their primary concern [and ours]. Let parents know that you are listening attentively – take 10917865_10152964938755115_6363538115855950748_ngreat notes, nod affirmatively and communicate a good educational plan. Keep the other tips in mind as you plan these meetings with your team.

Shout out to our Treyvon Taylor as he delivered Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ at the Spring Lake Rec Center. Here, he is pictured with Mayor Chris Rey.



‘Nothing was going to stop me..’

“I have a very happy life”

I was moved when I saw this. It would be easy to feel sorry for this young man, his uphill walk is very different. But looking at his 3 philosophies for a happy life I feel less sorry for him and more admiration for his courage.

Happy Point #2 – Surround Yourself With People You Want to Be Around

This point makes me think of our school and climate. We can’t pick and choose our students but we do control the atmosphere we set in our classrooms and hallways for students and ourselves. Sam’s point about surrounding himself with positive people translates into us creating an atmosphere that students want to belong to and are happy to be a part of.

  • Everyday we can welcome them to class
  • We can smile [even when we don’t have a lot to smile about]
  • We can share teach about the intrinsic value of good work
  • We can teach that respecting others brings about smiles.

Let’s think about our climate, what and who we are surrounding ourselves and how a positive atmosphere benefits everyone


Week of January 26th

  • Literacy Week
  • Parent Teacher Conferences [Conferences before, after school and through planning periods. Students with failures should be contacted]

Monday Jan 26

Tuesday Jan 27

  • Bronco Basketball at New Century
  • Bronco Wrestling against New Century at Home

Wednesday Jan 28

Thursday Jan 29

  • Happy birthday Ms Gorman
  • Bronco Wrestling at John Griffin
  • Bronco Basketball against John Griffin at Home

Friday Jan 30

  • Pest Control – Entire building at 4:00
  • Happy birthday Ms Hall



SLMS – Week of 1.11.2015

Great to see everyone back for the New Year! We’re off to a tremendous start! 5 great days!


I want to highlight two great practices that I’ve seen this week, both 8th grade classrooms. What I want to draw attention to that both are using tech to high level of impact and in both cases, not EVERY student has a computer. Ms Covington’s room only has four computers set up, Ms Sams has one.

This is a video of some different groups in Ms Covington’s class. You can see the students working on different things on different project/evidences of learning. For the group in the back, these students have specific [high level] research tasks that they have to complete. This take forethought and planning. Students know what is expected of them and are working towards accomplishing it

Do you use GradeCam? Do you need to give a SchoolNet test? This video shows a great strategy for giving these assessments with only one computer in the classroom! Great flow and activities!

For both of these, it has to start with planning! Have these conversations in Wednesday collaborative planning and develop it on you protected planning day.

Who is doing the work in your room? [I know its a repeat but its GOOD REPEAT]


I came across this graphic on the internet. It poses a simple, but thought provoking point that we constantly talk about in our planning – who is doing the work in your room? Think of this in several different ways:

  • Are your kids listening passively in your room for large chunks of time;
  • Are your kids sitting and waiting and getting occasionally;
  • Are you kids being compliant [to some degree] as you talk only for you to realize they still don’t know it later;


  • Are you making creating opportunities for them to struggle their way to learning;
  • Do you build time in your lessons for kids to reflect on what they don’t understand and get answers from their classmates;


Told does not mean taught
Sage on the Stage vs Guide on the Side


This week’s inspiration comes in the form of an infographic. While it’s informational, I would call upon you to look at differences below and reflect on what students look like in your classroom. This visual is a look at what engaged/disengaged elearners [online] should look like. We are going to take away the ‘elearning’ part and consider what our kids look like in our classrooms. Take a look at the behavioral pieces, ask yourself ‘Are my kids goal driven?’ ‘Do they show commitment to revisit completed assignments?’ Our opportunity for reflection here is what can WE do to help make our kids more goal oriented? What practices I put in place that will help students continually try to improve/refine previous work?

Look at this and start a conversation with your teammates! Be reflective! Let’s design better learning and teaching opportunities.

Infographic on Engaged and Disengaged elearners

# B r o n c o P r i d e


Monday 1.12

  • Athletic Pictures
  • Faculty Meeting [Bring laptops]

Tuesday 1.13

  • Grade Level Meetings
  • Basketball @ Nick Jeralds Middle
  • Wrestling vs Nick Jeralds Middle @ Home

Wednesday 1.14

  • Collaborative Planning

Thursday 1.15

  • Protected planning
  • Detention Duty – Sams
  • Wrestling @ Anne Chestnutt MS
  • Basketball vs Anne Chestnut Middle @ Home

Friday 1.16

Monday 1.19

  • MLK Day


SLMS – Week of 12.07.2014


Curriculum Planning
We were fortunate to have had training on instructional planning by the CCS Curriculum Team. This training was led by some familiar faces, Ms Lazare, Ms Pearson and Ms Colville. This training was using learning stations in the classroom as means of raising rigor, spiraling and teaching learning objectives. But this strategy starts with careful planning:

  • having a good grasp of what needs to be taught;
  • knowing how it needs to be taught;
  • what outcomes we expect;
  • what resources are best suited for the learning goals;
  • and collaborating/communicating throughout to make sure we are doing the best job we can for kids.

Below is an short video capture of Ms Lazare’s presentation, speech and slides. As we move forward, we are going to make sure we have a good handle on our instructional planning, what we do on Wednesdays and Thursdays.


Please remember we are encouraging parents to check their child’s grades regularly – either on ParentPortal or the Parentlink App. This level of transparency is great for parents to help us with student achievement. But it also gives parents an undeniable look into our grading practices – how often are grades put in? why are there so few grades? when will make up grades be put in?

Please make sure that you are putting in your grades regularly. Our handbook outlines what our expectations for grading are – 2-3 grade entries a week and a variety of assignments.

Who is doing the work in your room?


I came across this graphic on the internet. It poses a simple, but thought provoking point that we constantly talk about in our planning – who is doing the work in your room? Think of this in several different ways:

  • Are your kids listening passively in your room for large chunks of time;
  • Are your kids sitting and waiting and getting occassionally;
  • Are you kids being compliant [to some degree] as you talk only for you to realize they still don’t know it later;


  • Are you making creating opportunities for them to struggle their way to learning;
  • Do you build time in your lessons for kids to reflect on what they don’t understand and get answers from their classmates;

Remember, ‘told does not mean taught’. Careful design and planning along with our honest dialogues collaborative planning is how we make sure students are getting the best lessons possible and that learning is maximized.

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[Here’s another thought provoker for you – how would you rate the work you design for your students?]

These are some recognitions from last week! Congrats to these SLMS Broncos for their hard-work and for making a difference here. [Also had to include an unfashionable shot of our normally superfashionable Mr Bellamy]






Today’s inspiration comes more in the form of a challenge. I came across this interesting post, 21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This Year, and immediately thought of my courageous, multi-talented teachers. The things listed in this write up are points that we should be aspiring to eventually try and incorporate into our classroom. These are just things for us to try for personal curiosity – these are truly learning opportunities that will help us dive deeper into our standards and objectives:

  • We’ve talked about the value of using Skype in the Classroom, read #20 about incorporating GHO [Google Hangouts] in the classroom;
  • #17 talks about collecting the products and work of students in the classroom;
  • #9 and #16 are among some that help build the culture, community and identity of  a classroom.

Look for the one or two things you can try now or after the break. Connect with an inhouse expert and lets propel the learning and teaching forward at SLMS.

# B r o n c o P r i d e


Monday 12.08

  • Faculty Meeting

Tuesday 12.09

  • Grade Level Meetings
  • Basketball @ Pine Forest Middle
  • Wrestling vs Pine Forest Middle @ Home

Wednesday 12.10

  • Collaborative Planning

Thursday 12.11

  • Protected planning
  • Best Practices Session [ELA, Math, 8th Science] @ Douglas Byrd Middle
  • Basketball @ Lewis Chapel MS
  • Wrestling vs Lewis Chapel Middle @ Home

Friday 12.12

  • SLMS Winter Concert 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Saturday 12.13

  • Saturday Academy


Learn Lead Grow: Goodbye Jeopardy, Hello FlipQuiz.Me! #Eddies14universalskills

#twitterchat: Why Teachers Like Learning Models

HelloTalk Offers a Handful of Helpful Tools for Learning a Language

Universal skills for all learners

5 tools for making your own maps

HSTRY – Create Multimedia Timelines in an Online Classroom

How You Can Build Democracy in the Classroom

Good visual on Blooms vs DOK

Today’s Educator: A Jack of All Trades and Master of One

Tips for engaging students in meaningful conversations

6 great what if questions teachers ask everyday

SLMS – 11.30.2014

Here’s hoping you all had a great Thanksgiving! I spent my time driving, eating, laughing and resting – a wonderful vacation!


Improving Learning and Teaching
For the month of December, we will be focusing our improving our planning efforts during Wednesdays and Thursdays. We will start by having some special visits by CCS curriculum specialists Yimiya Pearson and Lucille Lazare. This week they will lead a talk on using data for planning and differentiation in the classroom.  I will personally lead the talks for the remainder of the month. Our goal here is to be more efficient, purposeful and impactful with our collaborative planning and our protected planning. All these efforts, everything we do, goes towards improving learning and teaching.

Supervision and Communication
With this being a short a month, we will need to make sure we have a tight focus on supervising students. Given this short window, we can count on students to want to leave classrooms a little more, not use the best language or judgment when treating others or do their assignments. We have to prepare for this:

  • Use your best professional judgment when dealing with kids asking to leave the room. Know where your kids are at all times.
  • We need to make concerted efforts to clear hallways as soon as possible and start the learning and teaching as soon as possible.
  • Agendas – when I have met with parents recently who are concerned about students grades, performance and attendance, I always ask about agendas. Parents have been very receptive about students using agendas to record assignments and have the student take the agenda to the teacher at the end of class to note behavior and performance. Take some time Monday to connect kids with their agendas and embed that in their process. Make contact with parents to let them know we need them to have their agendas
  • Make sure you are contacting parents when there is a change in grades. Phone calls are great, emails are just as good. We also have a lot teacher using digital tools like ClassDojo to communicate with parents. Keep them informed. We can understand this – we would expect no less for our own children.

Let’s make sure what we have some good quality learning activities in place for our students! Every day is an instructional opportunity we cannot get back! We can get creative in how we teach standards! Its important that we plan learning outcomes, keep a rigorous frame of mind in our plans and make sure we are collaborating!


I mentioned @ClassDojo earlier and it inspired me to find a video of it. Ms Sams has led a training on how we can use it in classrooms to help – this isn’t a training video, just a creative way to showcase the positives.


Monday 12.01

  • SIT Meeting

Tuesday 12.02

  • School Pictures [Make Up Day]
  • Parent University – Presentation, Online Safety for Parent and Students


  • Progress Reports Go Home
  • Protected Planning


  • Data Planning with CCS Curriculum Specialists
    • Math/Science in the morning
    • ELA/Social Studies in the afternoon
  • Basketball vs Westover MS at Home
  • Wrestling vs Westover MS Away


Top 10 Reasons to Start using Google Drive in the Classroom

  • ideas-for-motivating-adolescent-male-readersA must read for teachers and school leaders

4 Ideas For Motivating Adolescent Male Readers

Important YouTube Tip for Teachers and Presenters

  • Start and stop YouTube vids during your presentation when you need to.

5 Social Media Must Knows for Every Teacher

  • Build Communities and Share Information – great starts!

Skype Translator: How it will change communication forever

  • Language is no longer a barrier

ASCD EDge – 5 Things Not to Say When Students Make a Mistake

  • Instead of starting over, ask what did we learn from this? Let’s work thru this.

10 Great Apps for Middle Schoolhow-to-kill-learner-curiosity-fi

5 Tips about reporting to parents

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How To Kill A Learners Curiosity In 10 Easy Steps

Three Effective Ways to Look for Educational Content in Twitter

5 tips to create strong learning environments with iPads

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PBL Project Planning: Matching Projects to Standards

SLMS – Week of 11.23.2014


Our Thanksgiving Break is upon us! I want to take this moment to personally thank each and everyone of you for what you do individually and as part of the group to make difference in the lives of our students. Often our work is thankless and each day seems to take a little more energy than the previous. Added to that, I know that we ask a lot of you in and out of the classroom – it takes a lot to be a teacher in this day and age! Please know that your efforts and commitment








Congrats to Ms Gorman and Ms Willingham for receiving their Bright Ideas Grants! These ladies were honored for their work in dreaming up some great ways to use these funds to help support the work in their classrooms!

I encourage you all to visit and learn about a similar opportunity through Communities in School. These require short write ups so the grant writing process won’t take too long. Let’s dream big so we can do some great things in our classrooms!

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These are some images from our Saturday Academy! Major props need to go out to our teachers and leaders for developing and delivering these great activities! We all need to take notice here that these aligned learning activities can and need to happen in our daily practice. They need to be a part of we design learning goals. Let’s make sure that we are collaborating and searching our resources – SchoolNet, CCS Google Site – for these and other learning alternatives and we are challenging our kids with these learning goals.


WHAT A SPREAD!  Thanks to Ms Floyd and her correlate for their vision and implementation of our great Thanksgiving potluck! The food – spectacular! The smiles – undeniable! The wpid-20141118_120715.jpgsuccess – remarkable! The only thing that could surpass this was the number of time Ms Boles visited the room!

Let’s make sure what we have some good quality learning activities in place for our students this week! Every day is an instructional opportunity we cannot get back! We can get creative in how we teach standards! Its important that we plan learning outcomes, keep a rigorous frame of mind in our plans and make sure we are collaborating!


Monday 11.24

  • Department Meetings

Tuesday 11.25

  • BT Meeting Short


  • Teacher Workday – Remember, if you don’t plan on being at work that day, please complete paperwork with Mr Jones