Archives for August 2016

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Welcome back to school!

It’s going to be a GREAT year.

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All Students Learn

All Students Learn

By Michael Scott, Assistant Principal, Hutchinson High School

 

One of the best decisions that I made in high school was joining FFA my sophomore year. A requirement for membership was for a student to take an agricultural education class.

A unit of study for one of my classes was electricity.  After the teacher provided the classroom instruction, students were asked to apply their knowledge of wiring switches and outlets.  The teacher assigned students to install properly these switches and outlets in approximately fifteen different ways.

The teacher provided a two foot by four foot model of a wall to each student to install the switches and outlets.  If a student installed them properly, the light bulb at the top of the box would light. I struggled greatly in getting through these fifteen different lab scenarios.  In fact, I never finished them all before the next unit of study began.  My mind was not wired to quickly learn how to wire outlets.

At our District back-to-school workshop week, the opening theme, which is also one of our District’s core values is “All Students Learn.”  I don’t want to give the impression that my teacher didn’t give me the opportunity to continue to work on my electricity labs nor did he think that I couldn’t learn. We were given the opportunity to continue if we weren’t done, but at the time, I chose not to continue with the labs. Today, however, I wish that I would have continued. I wish that I was more motivated to finish the labs and felt like I would eventually be able to learn this skill.

As a District, “All Students Learn” is one of the core values that we need to continue to put into practice in decisions about and interactions with students.  As a core value, it is something in which we believe.  We also need students to believe in themselves that they can learn.

Smart but Scattered Teens by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare is an excellent resource for educators and parents in helping teenagers with skill development. This book addresses many skills that students in their teenage years may need to further development in order to reach their full potential.

In the article that I wrote this time last year, I referenced this book in order to promote a mindset that we should not see students as lazy or unmotivated but rather possibly lacking the executive skills needed to be successful.

Here are more specific ways Guare, Dawson, and Guare (2013) recommend to assist your child in planning, persistence, and attention in order to continue to support a core value of “All Students Learn”:

  • “If the goal your teen sets is well into the future, help her set some concrete benchmarks along the way so that she can have the sense that she is making progress toward her goal’ (p. 235).   This persistence and goal setting can support students not to lose hope—they can do it!
  • For teens to become consciously aware of good decision-making practices in order to continue to use them, “Provide specific praise for key elements of task performance by recognizing strategies that your teen uses.  For instance, I admire the way you take your coach’s feedback and convert it to an action” (p. 241).
  • “Always offer praise for staying on task and for successfully completing a task.  Instead of focusing on your teen when he is off task by nagging or reminding him to get back to work, provide attention or praise when he is on task, and also when the task has been completed” (p. 191).
  • “If a task seems overwhelming…encourage her to work with a teacher or perhaps to meet with you and a teacher to help break the task into more manageable parts, with specific deadlines for each part” (p. 200).

These are only four of many more suggestions in this book.  A core value of “All Students Learn” flourishes when all of us work together to support this belief and instill this belief in our students.

Preventing Summer Slide

Preventing Summer Slide
by Reading over the Summer

By Cheryl Nash, Director of Teaching and Learning

 

“Summer Slide” is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.  Research findings are clear that differences in children’s summer learning experiences during their elementary school years can ultimately impact whether they earn a high school diploma and continue on to college. In order to address summer slide here are some ways to inspire reading over the summer.

  • Provide casual opportunities for your children to come in contact with reading material about their interests. Keep a variety and rotation of books and magazines around the house related to their interests, and make others available to see which ones they might pick up on the way to acquiring new interests. Powerful images, illustrations, and photos about high-interest topics in magazines such as National Geographic encourage most folks in at least glancing through the text. Curiosity is strong in children so quality and compelling reading material can help lure them into connecting with the text.
  • Promote curiosity by selecting books because you know it is of high interest to your child, and if your enjoyment is authentic, let her hear you laugh or make spontaneous comments aloud “to yourself” as you read. By saying, “Wow, I never knew that,” you can start a conversation in which your child asks what you read. Don’t insist on telling her if she doesn’t ask. She’s more likely to inquire about your enthusiasm when you don’t say, “Here, you’ve got to listen to this.” If she doesn’t inquire, try leaving the magazine open to the story when you leave the room. That is when she’s most likely to follow her curiosity and pick it up to see for herself what was so interesting to you.
  • Visit libraries, used and new bookstores, or online booksellers with your child to help reveal his interests and promote new ones. What captures his attention as he browses the library or bookstore shelves? If he enjoys books about certain topics or by specific authors in the past, ask the librarian for additional suggestions. If he has a favorite book or author, go to an online bookseller that makes suggestions based on past purchases or designated preferences, and look for suggested books that are similar to his favorites.
  • Find ways to read together by following your child’s leads with shared reading. Using a book she chooses, perhaps one above her independent reading level, take turns reading together. Have your child read one sentence, paragraph, or page, and then you read the next. If she doesn’t like having you jump in with help when stuck on an unfamiliar word, allow her to skim critical sections before reading. This will help her point to words where help is needed. Alternatively, she might prefer to switch with you and have you read the challenging part so that she can read the next section. Any plan is fine as you keep in mind that the goal here is for her to enjoy the reading experiences with you and not participate in a corrective reading lesson.
  • Be willing to take a risk by letting your child’s reading errors go unchecked during the reading. It may be difficult for you, but the reward will be a child who likes to read. If you are still bothered by a few errors that he made in his oral reading, such that you remember the error after you’ve finished reading together (but don’t write these down while he reads — he will be on to you), you can work on it a little later. Wait until you and your child are doing something else, or until designated homework or study time. Then you can slip in a reading tip and give cues to guide him in the concept he missed. For example, instead of drawing attention to the specific error, consider intervening if he confused the reading of the word “through” with the word “thorough” (a very common error even in mature readers).

Hutchinson has some opportunities over the summer for kids to be engaged in all kinds of reading experiences. Check with your local library as they have a summer program called “Read for the Win” or visit their website at www.hutchinson.lib.mn.us.

Hutchinson Public Schools

Hutchinson Public Schools