Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prepping For The First Day

We've spent a lot of time in the past few weeks prepping for our first day of E-Time (January 6th).  At our most recent SEM Professional Learning session, we shared some ideas on what to do/plan for that first session.  Remember, for many of our students, this will be their first exposure to SEM and enrichment!  Below are some guiding topics and questions that we thought might assist our teachers.  Thank you Mrs. Kirby and Mrs. Raney for pulling this together!

First Day of E-Time

  • Class discussion of key words: enrichment, E-Time, interest, choice, passion, discovery
  • Show students some of the common interests within the classroom from Renzulli profiles
  • Complete grade level interest surveys - (binder in the workroom)
  • Group students with common interests and give them time to discuss what types of activities they would enjoy doing.
  • Discuss what some of the activities could look like-
    • Making cards for new students
    • Researching your favorite sport
    • Learning how to take care of pets
    • Scrapbooking
    • Creating clay sculptures
    • Interviewing community helpers
    • Designing an ocean mural
    • Performing magic tricks
    • Using problem-solving skills to solve pattern block puzzles

Our Hollywood Debut!

It's been a long time coming....

I've finally been able to put our experience at Laurel Mountain Elementary into a short movie!  There are some great examples of current enrichment clusters as well as some good advice and suggestions from the Principal and SEM Coordinator.

Once again, we would like to send a big THANK YOU to Laurel Mountain for hosting us and spending the time to answer our questions.

Friday, December 2, 2011

E-Time Is... E-Time Is Not

Our professional learning on E-Time earlier this week was a big hit!  We began with our Scavenger Hunt of the Laurel Mountain S.E.M. blog (see previous post).  We then had an energizing and enlightening (more "E" words) Skype session with Laurel Mountain S.E.M. coordinator Nicole Levitan.  She was kind enough to share her time answering questions and giving advice on how Laurel Mountain has successfully implemented E-Time.

Drawing on what we took away from the Scavenger Hunt and from speaking with Nicole, we then created a list on the SmartBoard of what E-Time Is and Is Not.  Check it out...

We wrapped up our professional learning with a challenging reflection piece facilitated by Laurie O'Neill.  Each teacher thought of one word that summed up the afternoon's learning.  They then shared their word with their E-Team.  Each team then wrote a sentence incorporating every teacher's word (that's when it became a bit challenging).  Check out their sentences below.  It wasn't as easy as it sounds!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A-Hunting We Will Go...

.... Scavenger Hunting that is!

Teachers, you'll be playing the part of a detective and completing a Scavenger Hunt of Laurel Mountain's S.E.M. Blog.  More specifically, we will be looking at the different components of E-Time.  I think you'll find that this will be incredibly productive as we build our understanding of what E-Time is and what E-Time is NOT.  Also, you'll see some concrete examples of how Laurel Mountain classes are using their E-Time (with ideas that you can take-away)!

You're with your new E-Team, so let's get started!  First, open the following link that will guide you through our Scavenger Hunt:

E-Team Scavenger Hunt.

Then, use the following link (to the Laurel Mountain SEM blog) to help you discover the answers to the Scavenger Hunt questions:

Happy Hunting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Countdown to E-Time...

So we've updated our students' Renzulli Profile, now what?

If our E-Time (which begins January 6th) is truly designed around our students' interests and talents, our next step will be to analyze these profiles and search for commonalities.  Those commonalities will be the launch-pad for designing our E-Time sessions.

Teachers, as you review your class profiles, what commonalities do you see in:
  • students' interests?
  • students' learning styles?
  • students' expression styles?
By December 2nd, please respond to this post, and indicate what similarities/commonalities/themes you see among the students in your class.  When you respond to this post, please sign-in using your Coppell GMAIL account.

We look forward to discovering more about our students' talents and interests!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Laying The Groundwork...

Yesterday's Professional Development session on SEM focused a lot on laying the foundation for what is 21st Century Learning.  What will be required of teachers to effectively reach 21st Century Learners?  How can we teach and prepare students for careers and fields that don't yet exist?  These are all questions we attempted to tackle.  Check out these two videos we referenced:
    Dan Brown's Open Letter to Educators
    Changing Education Paradigms by Sir Ken Robinson
    The videos above will certainly get you to thinking on the direction we're heading!
    We then spent a large amount of time discussing how S.E.M. can address the needs of 21st Century Learners.  S.E.M. provides students opportunities to explore learning based on their own interests and talents... What could be more compatible with 21st Century Learning?
    While it has taken us a bit of time to get S.E.M. "off the ground," we all agree that now is the time!  This will be an extremely laborious task and process (as we saw at Laurel Mountain Elementary), but we are ready to begin.  Check out our Journey to S.E.M. roadmap below.  It was part of the vision that was shared with the Austin faculty yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sallie Ride In Action...

Students in Mrs. Wettreich's 4th grade class are studying all the different careers in the field of Science.  Today, they did an activity from the Sally Ride training where you match different scientists "in action" with their title and field. 

Overheard while taking these photos... "I didn't know you could be a scientist and work in movies!"

Check out these photos...

Students will also reflect on how we view scientists and answer questions such as:
  • Who can be scientists?
  • What are characteristics of scientists?
  • Where do they work?
Students will then do a Google Image search of "Scientist."  What do you think they will find?  Will it be an accurate portrayal of real world scientists?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Laurel Mountain SEM

ENERGIZED.... That's how I felt as we left Laurel Mountain Elementary last Friday (in spite of the long drive down to Austin at the crack of dawn)!  It was such an eye-opening experience to see SEM "in action."

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll work on getting a video together to share our experience with you.  Until then, suffice it to say that the excitement on the kids' faces and the passion in the teachers' voices spoke volumes. 

It was also great to discuss the "nuts and bolts" with the campus principal and SEM coordinator.  Our teachers came armed with questions, and it really helped to speak with people who have been through the struggle of implementation.

Check out the pictures below....

Visiting with the Principal and getting ready to see the Clusters in action....

 It was the perfect weather for the Sports and Fitness Cluster to meet!

The First Aid Cluster was exploring different parts of the body.

The Lights, Camera, Action Cluster was adding final touches to student created movies.

Check out Laurel Mountain's SEM Blog and their "Shout-Out" to Austin Elementary

Monday, October 17, 2011

Laurel Mountain, Here We Come!

This Friday is the big day!  We'll be taking our long-awaited visit to Laurel Mountain Elementary to see SEM in action.  We'll be armed with cameras and Flips to document our trip and bring back examples to share with the Austin staff.

Oh, and we'll be leaving at 4:00AM!  I'm hoping there will be a coffee stop along the way!

On another note, check out these examples of the Daily 5 "in action."  Thank you for sending Mrs. O'Neill!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Daily 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5!

With the expectation that the Daily 5 be consistently implemented across Kinder-3rd grade, Austin will host a Daily 5 session tomorrow afternoon for teachers who have yet to receive the training. We can't wait to see the impact that this will have on our little readers!

Check back in a few days for pictures and details on how the day went!

For more info on the Daily 5, check out:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ride, Sally Ride!

It's been a busy two days of Sally Ride training for our 4th and 5th grade teachers!  We've been receiving some great feedback from participants.  Here are a few 'action shots' from one of the modules.

If you won't have a chance to participate in the training but still would like an overview of what is being discussed, check out the following video!  As always, we're proud to see our very own Ms. Snyder!

Sally Ride Overview:

If She Only Knew Me... (Part Deux)

A few students in Mrs. Kirby's GT class decided to do their own spin on the book, If She Only Knew Me.  Take a look at what they came up with.  They will really make you think!

If They Only Knew Me:
"If they only knew how frustrating it is to have your group let you do most of the work because they know you’re “smart” then I would get more opportunities to work by myself on projects so I could make it mine."

"If they only knew that I can’t be good at everything then they wouldn't fuss so much when I get something wrong the first time I try it.  I know I messed up and I feel bad enough already."


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Check Out This S.E.M. Blog!

Our neighbors at Laurel Mountain Elementary (in Round Rock ISD) are SEM experts!  They have developed a blog entitled, "Developing the Whole Child - SEM at LME."  The blog chronicles their journey towards a school culture of enrichment (sound familiar?).

Check it out here:

Laurel Mountain Elementary is an excellent school for us to "keep an eye on."  They have experienced the challenges and excitement of getting SEM off the ground.  How exciting!  We are thrilled to have the opportunity to take a team (along with some CISD district admin) down to Laurel Mountain next month!  We'll keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We've Got Some Work To Do (in Science)!

Below are some pictures from the first Sally Ride Science Academy training.  All elementary administrators received an overview of the training that 4th/5th grade teachers will receive next week.  Austin Elementary is proud to be hosting the trainings in our new "PD Room."

We "think" this is Town Center AP Shannon Edwards!

Our very own Ms. Snyder (Austin 5th grade teacher).  She made us very proud!

Hard at work identifying traditional AND nontraditional science careers

More than anything, this training helped me realize we have some tough work ahead in promoting a love of science and careers in science.  Studies overwhelmingly show that we are moving towards an economy that will heavily rely on S.T.E.M. careers.  However, are we doing everything we can to equip our future workforce with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete in the global economy? 

I am extremely excited for our teachers to participate in this training.  They will be key in addressing problems such as the disparity of boys and girls choosing science careers, students dwindling interest in math/science as they advance through school, and preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.  As the blog title suggested, "We've Got Some Work To Do (in Science)!"

A topic that was raised frequently throughout the training was the idea of "Science Literacy" or equipping students to be "literate in Science."  What does this mean to you?  How do we work to ensure that our students are "Science Literate?"  Ideas????

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If She Only Knew Me...

As a continuation of our Ruby Payne training on students from poverty, Laurie O'Neill shared the book If She Only Knew Me at our Faculty Meeting on September 7.  Check out reviews for the book at:

The book follows "Justin," a child living in poverty, through a typical day at school.  It shines a light on the lack of relationships that Justin has with his teachers.  The reader finds themselves questioning, "How much do I not know about my own students?"

What are some helpful hints you could share to make sure the "Justins" of our classes are being successful?  In other words, what advice would you give his teachers?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sally Ride Speaks!

Check out this Voki from Sally Ride:

She gives some great details for parents about the upcoming Sally Ride Science training for our Austin teachers!

Off to a good start!

We've officially kicked off the new school year!  2011-2012 promises to be a year of growth and challenges for students, teachers, and administrators alike as we work to continuously improve the quality of education @ Austin.  This blog will be utilized to document that journey.  Please check back often as we update the blog on current and upcoming professional development opportunities @ Austin.

Coming soon?  Many teachers and support staff at Austin will be participating in a training from the Sally Ride Science Academy this September with the purpose of increasing awareness of careers in Science based on students' interests and talents.  

Check out: