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Archive for May, 2012

Celebrate Student Strengths as the Year Comes to a Close

Use the final days of school wisely!

They provide the last opportunity to positively impact this group of students.

Think–recognition of their strengths, affirmation of their worth, wishes for their futures.

Here are 5 ideas to take and adapt!

Allow students to do some of the planning and organization.

1. The Grand Good Bye!  an end of the year team gathering (hopefully in a pleasant & comfortable spot)

• Slide show of pictures from throughout the year.****Make sure each child is represented and no one group of students is over represented–you may need to do some last minute photography!

• Positive recognition for each child –Explicitly state how each child contributed to the team–don’t let the cynics on the team rule the day! Identify a positive attribute in each student.

• Teacher skits of some of the more memorable team moments.

2. Sharing of portfolios:

• Kids share portfolios with incoming 6th or 7th or 8th graders as a preview of coming attractions for the next year.

* Students reflect on what they are most proud of from the year and share in small groups.

3. Homeroom Olympics: organize a field day with all sorts of fun activities and have each student sign up up to compete in at least two

• Tug of War

• Water balloon toss

• Backwards sprint

• Kickball

• Scavenger hunt

4. The Legacy–One last community service project that will stand as a reminder to your students that when they came together on a project they made a little corner of the world a better place.

• Create a garden at the school.

• Paint picnic tables at a local park.

• Write and illustrate children’s books for the incoming kindergartners

5. Exit Interviews: each homeroom or advisory teacher sits down for a one-on-one conversation with each child in their group

• Ask students to share suggestions form making the team experience better for the next group.

• Ask them to share their favorite activity of the year.

• Share one thing you really enjoy about the person you are chatting with.

• Offer one positive wish for his/her future.

Remember the old middle school adage:

They may not remember what we taught them, but they sure will remember how we treated them.

Build Students’ Vocabulary as a Team

Found a great new resource for teaching vocabulary! 

Vocabulary at the Center by Amy Benjamin and John T. Crow (Eye on Research). Here are a few of its topics and resources:

  • Explains why vocabulary is everyone’s job, not just the English teacher’s.
  • Clarifies what it means to really know a word.
  • Helps us figure out what words to teach.
  • Describes how a word stays learned.
  • Provides very helpful appendices.  ex. words about cause and effect, words about amounts and degrees, & Latin and Greek word components

Teams can use the strategies and resources in a variety of ways.  Here’s one:

  • Choose one of the subsets of generic academic vocabulary (Appendix A) that contains words that are applicable in all of your classes.  A good example is Set Three: Words about space and divisions of space.
Words About Space and the Division of Space--chart

Words About Space and the Division of Space

  • Decide which members of the team will be responsible for introducing specific words.
  • Explore ways each team member can reinforce the words in his/her classes.
  • Determine how the team will assess student progress.
  • Set a time frame and build a calendar of who and when to keep the team on track.
  • Settle on one or two proven effective instructional strategies to use.

Benjamin and Crow offer a variety of strategies. The one that follows would be used to reinforce the meaning while serving multiple purposes:

  • Helps students internalize new words.
  • Reinforces content.
  • Teaches the structure of a complex sentence in a fairly painless way.

Here are the steps of the strategy (p.24)

  1. Have students use the designated word in a phrase (a group of words that make sense but are not a complete sentence).   Example: an array of colors
  2. Turn the phrase into a simple sentence. (for this purpose, ask that the sentence be something that can be declared true or false).  Example: The sunset at Key West is a brilliant array of colors.
  3. Have students use one of the following words  (subordinating conjunctions) to turn their simple sentence into a complex one. Be sure to model and explain the sentence transformation process! although, as, because, if, unless    Example: The sunset at Key West is a brilliant array of colors because of the lack of pollution that can lessen the effect of the red and orange colors of the light spectrum.

According to Benjamin and Crow these five subordinating conjunctions create sophisticated relationships between two complete thoughts. Making connections, using different contexts, and multiple practices make it more likely students will internalize critical vocabulary.

Free- Webinar: You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

Free 45-Minute Webinar

Help Students Understand and Manage Their Digital Footprint

You Are What You Post: Create a

Positive Web Presence

May 9, 3 pm EST

May 9, 7:30 pm EST

May 10, 9:30 pm EST

To registerhttp://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CTMay910


Can’t attend one of these three live sessions?

Register instead to provide On-Demand access for your entire student population!

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web PresenceOn Demand

Jill Spencer, Chris Toy, and Ed Brazee will offer a free webinar through
JK Thomas & Associates Ltd.

You Are What You Post: Create a Positive Web Presence

It is sometimes difficult for an adolescent to think beyond next week, let alone several years in the future. In addition, they have tendencies to occasionally act first and think later.  In today’s world of instant access to information about everything and everyone, impulsive postings  have long lasting ramifications.  Colleges, businesses, even parents checking out their child’s prom night date use the web to ferret out information about applicants.  Our young people must learn to be proactive in building their online reputations, and it is incumbent on the adults in their lives to help them understand that process. This webinar will be an invaluable resource for understanding the possibilities and challenges inherent in one’s online life.

Intended audience:

  • students
  • parents
  • teachers, administrators, counselors and other school staff members

Ways a team might use this information:

  • In advisory
  1. Share the webinar  with students in 10 minute segments and structure conversations around the salient points of each segment.
  2. Use the information in the webinar to create your own interactive lessons.
  • Digital citizenship lessons
  1. Use quotes, statistics, etc. from the webinar to frame a lesson on cyberbullying or other topics
  2. Explore the topic of social entrepreneurship using examples of adolescents doing good in the world through online social activism; perhaps spur students into starting a service learning project.
  • Parents’ night
  1. Use it as the central focus of the parents’ night program to (1) help them understand the positive aspects of their children’s online participation and (2) give them some tips for guiding their children through the maze of web.
  2. Share the registration information as a good resource for parents to access.
  • Information to put in parent newsletters
  1. Create a section of your newsletter entitled “Tips & Facts” for Digital Parenting” and use information from the webinar to give parents some concrete advice.
  2. Copy links from the webinar for parents to use  (e.g. Common Sense Media).
  • Educate your community
  1. As you advocate for additional technology (hardware, software, & curriculum integration), use information from the webinar to demonstrate the urgency of providing 21st century resources for your students.
  2. Volunteer to go to the Rotary (take students!) and other civic organizations to do a program that emphasizes the world your students will be entering as they graduate. Use webinar information to help make your case.


  • Free 45 minute webinar

For more information beyond this free webinar

Option to purchase 6 additional + 2 bonus modules that go more in depth on the topic, including

  1. First Impressions Matter: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Improving Your Digital Footprint
  3. “To Be or Not to Be” Personal Branding
  4. Being Safe Online: Ensuring Online Safety and Privacy
  5. Presenting Yourself Online—Where Will You Be Found? (Hint: More than on Facebook)
  6. Weighing the Options — Making Choices

Bonus module #1: But, What About Young Adolescents (10- to 15-Year-Olds)? A Primer for Parents, Teachers, and 10-15 Year Olds

Bonus Module #2: Raising Children in the Digital Age—Any Century Parenting

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