Thursday, November 13, 2008

Teacher Spotlight

Mrs. Walters, fourth grade teacher at Cody is doing a wonderful job of differentiating in her classroom. What I admire most is her focus on pre-assessment. She finds out what students already know, then uses this data to plan her unit. This is the key to differentiated instruction! For example, she recently pre-tested her students on graphing skills. Amazingly, all of her students achieved proficient or advanced. Just think of all the time that would have been wasted and how bored her students would have been if she hadn't pre-assessed and continued teaching the unit in the usual way!! Now her students are being challenged in new and exciting ways. She is extending their learning by teaching them about percentages. Students are also being asked to apply what they know by doing projects with real world connections. Mrs. Walters plans to use this graphing site with her students. Be sure to bookmark it and use it with your students. Thanks, Mrs. Walters for sharing it and for being our Differentiated Teacher of the Month!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

License to Learn!

HAL students have a license to learn this week! Using the link students made their own personalized license plates. I asked them to create one that would tell others about them. Here is one I created:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One of the best resources I've found this year is Differentiated Assignments: Helping Students Show What They Know, by Patricia Pavelka (Husky Trail Press). The book gives specific ideas to use when giving assignments to your students. Instead of planning 3-4 different assignments for the different levels in your classroom, you are planning one assignment that can be completed by all in a variety of different ways.
Instead of using workbook pages, author Pavelka suggests using magazine pictures for tasks. Magazine pictures involve choice, are motivating, and requires students to use higher level thinking. For example, when working on nouns, students choose a photograph and list all the nouns they see in the picture, or nouns their picture brings to mind.

I used calendar and magazine pictures, but you could also use pictures off the internet. Here is a site that might be good.

Silly NIllies and Dr. Dooriddles

This is a picture I use when I am introducing Silly Nillies to students. Silly Nillies are two-word definitions for phrases. The words must rhyme and have the same number of syllables. My clue is "an overweight feline." Students eagerly respond, "fat cat!" Thy just love to solve these! After practicing a few more, I ask students to create their own.

Dr. DooRiddles is a fun way to develop students' fluency and flexibility with word meaning and associations as it improves their spelling, vocabulary, reading and problem solving skills. Students carefully read through clues in each riddle, analyzing connections within and between clues to figure out what is being described. There are books appropriate for every grade level. Here is an example:

My stream is the one that
Conformers stay in
The hair on a lion that is
Not on his chin
What am I?

These activites can be done whole class, small group, or individually. They make great anchor activities as well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Preserving the Past

This morning at 6, I jumped out of bed, dug in my purse for two quarters, jammed my feet into some slippers, grabbed my glasses and keys, and headed out the door. Where was I going in such a hurry, you ask? The nearest newspaper stand, of course! I just couldn't wait to read the article in the Telegraph about our school history project.

I wasn't disappointed. "Preserving the Past" was the front page headline. What a perfect title! I hadn't really thought of it that way before, and when you think about it, that's exactly what our students are doing. My goal was to get students to use higher level reading, writing, and thinking skills and compare school life today with school life in the past. Now I realize we're doing much more, and I'm very proud of the HAL students for taking on this challenge.

I want to express my sincerest gratitude fo Jim Whitaker, Dr. William Hasemeyer, Marion Effenbeck, Donna Effenbeck, and Eva Swedberg for talking with the students on Tuesday. Your stories were very entertaining. The students couldn't stop talking about them on the bus ride back to their schools. They especially liked the "spit wad" story! That tale is worth the price of the book alone!

My thanks also to John Lindenberger and Beth Gilbert for their coverage. I have received two phone calls already from people who had read the story and wanted to share some other wonderful memories with the students. I appreciate your dedication to our students.

If you would like to read the article, click on the link below:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

School Stories

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved school. You may not believe this, but I used to pretend I was Laura Ingalls Wilder! On Saturdays, I would I put on my pink bonnet and teach my stuffed horses and bears their letters and numbers!

As we all know, education has changed greatly since Laura’s time. I’m willing to bet that our children know very little about how school used to be for their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.

So, I'm asking the HAL students to research school history. For this project, students will be asking questions to find out more about this topic. Last week students traveled to Centennial Park, The Senior Center, and Linden Court to interview people about their school memories.

Next week, some people from the Living History group will visit our schools. Students will also be talking to their family members about their experiences. The information they gather will be combined into a class book. Our plan is to sell the books and donate the proceeds back into the community. If you have a school story to share, please contact us!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Students Score Big At Super Book Bowl

Students Score Big At Super Book Bowl

One hundred and sixty elementary students participated in a variety of reading activities at the first annual Super Book Bowl held Friday at Jefferson Elementary School.

The event, sponsored by the NPPS HAL (High Ability Learner) program and K.I.D.S. Klub Community Connections, was a culminating event of a program started earlier this year called, “Score Big with Books.” Students from across the district formed teams and read twelve books nominated for the Nebraska Children’s Choice Literary Award.

Denise DiGiovanni, North Platte Public School’s HAL Director created Score Big with Books. “Providing additional enrichment experiences for all students is one of our priorities this year,” she said. “We wanted to do something which would bring students from all of our schools together. We also wanted to encourage students to read books, talk about them with others, and personally interact with different kinds of text. A district-wide reading challenge was a way to accomplish those goals.”

Twenty-five teams signed up and competed in the Super Book Bowl. During the competition, they fielded questions game show style from KNOP-TV Sports Director, Joe Swift. The winning team received a trophy and a prize bag filled with donated items from the University of Nebraska Athletic Department, A to Z books, Waldenbooks, and author Rejean Luebs Shepherd.

The teams were cheered on by family members and other students who were attending the Super Book Bowl Mega Day organized by K.I.D.S Klub. In addition to the reading competition, students had the opportunity to make bookmarks and pennants, play Bingo for Books, and vote for their favorite story. They also got to participate in reading and sports activities with the NPCC Knights, NPHS football players, and NPHS cheerleaders.

Local sports celebrities were also on hand. Division II Football Player of the Year, Danny Woodhead, read a book to the students and talked to them about the importance of practice and goal setting. Marcia Serrato, a NPPS teacher, shared her experience as an Olympic torch carrier.

The Book Fair was another highlight. Children attending K.I.D.S Klub’s before and after programs displayed booths they had made for each of the books on the reading list. Carrying Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful bags, students toured the booths and quickly filled their bags with small tokens related to the books. Kids visiting the booth of Tooth Fairy’s First Night, by Anne Bowen, for example, received a toothbrush donated by Dr. Barrett Klemm. At Sakes Alive, A Cattle Drive, by Karma Wilson, students pocketed cow finger puppets. At each booth, students could also sign up to win larger prizes. Prizes were handed out at the end of the day.

“We’re thrilled to have partnered with HAL and members of the community for another fantastic learning event,” said Michael Davis, Director of K.I.D.S Klub’s Supplemental Education. “By working together, we can impact a greater amount of students and deliver more unique educational opportunities, like the Super Book Bowl, that will help us achieve the district’s mission of student learning, student achievement, and student success.”

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Free Rice!

You know those Internet newsletters you subscribe to, but never have time to read? Well, I don't know what got into me last week, but I actually got around to reading Pieces of Learning, and I hit pay dirt with their recommendation of

This site is a great vocabulary builder , and for each question you answer correctly sponsors of the site donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations to help end world hunger. It is both educational and socially commendable! For younger students, you can use this site to help teach dictionary skills. For older students, you can do what I did and connect the site throughout the curriculum. I asked the HAL students to find out how many grains are in a pound! Talk about some challenging math!

This is a great anchor activitiy for students to do when they've completed work early.