Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween!!

Image result for happy halloween

We will add pictures to the front page of the Windsor Website over the weekend from our Halloween Fun.  As we prepare for Halloween, please take the time to remember our children who have allergies, other special needs or disabilities.  Some thoughts to share their perspectives about Halloween. Yesterday, your children went home with bracelets to remind them to be a D25 PAL.  Teachers shared what it means to be a D25PAL.
•1 in 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy.  That’s about two kids in every classroom.
•For kids with food allergies, even a tiny amount of the food they are allergic to can make them very sick. The most common food allergies are to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts (like walnuts and almonds), soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish (like shrimp and crab).
•Don’t share your food with friends who have food allergies.
•Wash hands after eating.
•Help all of your friends and classmates have fun together! There are lots of ways to have fun without food! Listening to music, playing board or video games, making crafts, going for a bike ride, and playing sports are just some of the cool things you can do together. This way, everyone stays safe and has fun! If a friend with food allergies feels sick, get help right away! If your friend feels sick or thinks they may have eaten something they are allergic to, tell an adult right away or dial 911! They will make sure your friend gets help and gets the medicine they need to feel better. You may notice TEAL pumpkins as you Trick or Treat around the neighborhood. A teal pumpkin represents a national campaign that started in 2014 to help create a safer and happier Halloween for all.

We are hoping that we are helping to create a more educated community around food allergies! One of the issues we currently continue to have in school, is children sharing food at lunch. Please help us by talking with your children about the seriousness of food allergies and why we don't share food!  THANKS!
Here is the link for more information about food allergies FARE

 A friend shared this with me today and I was so struck by it that I wanted to share it with our Windsor community. It is certainly something to reflect about! Enjoy the very busy weekend and have a safe and wonderful Halloween.

With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind, a lot of little people will be visiting your home.
Be accepting.
The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills.
The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues.
The child who does not say trick or treat or thank you may be non-verbal.
The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy or is diabetic.
The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue (SPD) or autism.
Be nice.
Be patient.
It’s everyone’s Halloween.

Friday, October 23, 2015

What Great Educators Do Differently Conference

Last Friday, five classroom teachers, Ms. Hiltz and myself attended the What Great Educators Do Differently Conference.  Also in attendance were District Curriculum Coordinators and Dr. Eric Olson, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. 

This was one of the most engaging and wonderful conferences we have been to in the field of education. Several "gurus" in education presented including Todd Whitaker, Angela Maiers, Shannon Miller, and George Couros.  There were  also more "local" presenters from Wisconsin, Deerfield and Iowa. Our own, Dr. Olson, presented at an after lunch Ignite Session. I attended on Saturday as well and could not leave the event. I have thought about what I learned more than I ever have before when reflecting on a conference.  Our teachers were energized by the event. We have shared with our staff what our top take aways were from the conference. For some it was the use of Twitter to connect with our community. For others it was the notion that children come to school having difficulty expressing their voice and we need to find ways to have them feel comfort and trust to share in school. As I reflected upon the time, I have so many thoughts about what to work on both this year and ​in coming years. Twitter is a communication tool that more and more of our staff is using to communicate about all the wonderful things your children are learning and doing in school. We hope you will check Twitter often  @WindsorWildcats #wildcatway

In addition to increasing the use of Twitter, one area that I would like to improve at Windsor is recognizing our children as leaders and​ increasing opportunities to have our students learn leadership skills. In addition, I want our staff to look at the purposes of grading and how we grade what we grade. The use of specific and targeted feedback increases student awareness and understanding of what they need to be working on in all areas of content. I want more of us to recognize our WOW moments as Angela Maiers shared. These are moments that we Want the World to know!  I had so many WOW moments this week- one of them- working with our 3 graders about our new social-emotional curriculum, Second Step. Seeing them every week will allow me to learn more about these students as learners and allow them to learn more about me.  This falls right into the next area I would like us to focus on: increasing those relationships with students so that they know we are there for them. It is so important for our students to know how much we value them. 

As Todd Whitaker said, we need "Purpose, Passion and Excellence!"  At Windsor we do so many things that are purposeful. We have a passionate staff and strive for excellence. We are so very lucky. That being said, we are always looking to be better!  This conference certainly gave us all food for thought on how to make that happen!  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Personalizing Learning and October Worthy Wildcats!

Many of you may have heard about the movement in District 25 toward more personalized learning (PL) for students. The District defines personalized learning as "student-driven, process-centered opportunity for learners to explore their own interests." This approach has evolved over time from a first foray into PL as self-directed research projects where students choose the topic and complete research on it and share their learning in some way, to more incorporation of PL as a pedagogical approach. Across this District, PL projects have resulted in presentations, models, books, letters to governmental agencies, and even appeals to parents for a variety of objects or experiences.

The graphic below helps to display how PL fits into the approaches to instruction that have been used in the past several decades.

The philosophy of personalized learning includes documentation and reflection, questioning, planning, peer and teacher feedback, and self-assessment. The graphic below explains a bit more about these important elements.

The ultimate goal of PL is to utilize these approaches throughout the curriculum, across a child's whole day of learning. PL weaves together multiple areas of education including the Common Core Standards, Habits of Mind, 21st Century Skills, the use of technology, and the District's WIRED and Vision 2020 goals. PL also aims to help children become comfortable with failure and to learn from roadblocks they encounter while making progress toward their goals. 

Staff in District 25 are being trained on how to personalize learning for students in a coordinated effort with central office staff and each school's Advanced Learning Facilitators. LMC Directors and Technology Facilitators also play key roles in helping to bring personalized learning to fruition in the classroom. At Windsor, PL is happening everywhere! Teachers are incorporating student choice and exploring ways to make learning meaningful and engaging for each student. It's exciting to witness the evolution in progress!

Want to know more about how personalized learning works? Check out the links below!

Personalized Learning @ D25
Principles of Personalized Learning
Brian Evolution Video: Brain science shows how children's brains are developing differently

We are so pleased to share our October Worthy Wildcats!  Students were selected for displaying Wildcat Way Behaviors and Excellent Character!  They were outstanding in being KIND, SAFE and RESPONSIBLE. They helped peers, showed kindness, played with those looking for a friend, acted responsibly,  and did all these things without being asked!  Way to GO!
Congrats to Kindergartener Cecilia D., First Grader Jaxson K., Second Grader Gwen V., Third grader Sophie J., Fourth Grader Daniel T., and Fifth Grader Allie T.
Allie T. 

Cecilia D.

Daniel T. 

Gwen V. 

Jaxson K. 

Sophie J. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What is the Global Read Aloud?

Almost all of the classrooms are participating in the Global Read Aloud at Windsor School. You might be wondering what exactly is the Global Read Aloud?

This is the information we shared with our staff from the sponsors of the Global Read Aloud

“The premise is simple; we pick a book to read aloud to our students during a set 6-week period and during that time we try to make as many global connections as possible. Each teacher decides how much time they would like to dedicate and how involved they would like to be. Some people choose to connect with just one class, while others go for as many as possible. The scope and depth of the project is up to you. In the past we have used Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, our wiki, email, regular mail, Kidblog, Tackk, and any other tools we can think of to make these connections. But you choose which tools you want to use.  Teachers get a community of other educators to do a global project with, hopefully inspiring them to continue these connections through the year.”

“This is meant to make the world a little smaller, to open our eyes to the rest of the world and look at all of our shared experiences.  How phenomenal for a child to know that the same book they are reading is being read in classrooms across the globe.  It is also a great way to integrate technology in a meaningful way without having to figure it out alone.”

Windsor is so excited that so many children and teachers will be part of the Global Read Aloud (GRA) and connecting with other students. There are a variety of books that students are reading at this time. Grades 1 and 2 are doing a Picture Book Author Study of Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Students in Grades 2 and 3 are reading The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henke. Some teachers are having students participate in a post card exchange with others participating in the GRA. Other classrooms may be using Skype with other classroom across the country or different parts of the world. Other technology tools or social media include using Edmodo or Twitter. For the upper grades, students are reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Mrs. Fabrizio is also participating by reading this book to connect with our students participating in the GRA.

We are delighted to bring the Global Read Aloud to the staff and students at Windsor. Thanks to Mrs. Komarek and Mrs. Stella for bringing the GRA to Windsor! Please ask your children about what they are reading and how they may be connecting with others in the global community.

Mrs. Murphy's 3/4 Multiage connecting with students in West Virginia via Skype for the GRA

Friday, October 2, 2015

What is the Makerspace Movement?

You may have heard some recent buzz in the world of education around makerspaces.  "Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs, are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn." (source)

Schools, libraries, and other community organizations have begun to experiment with providing spaces for people to interact with tools and materials to build--often the designs are in response to a specific problem that has been posed, but sometimes the maker is just building based on imagination and interest. This is not a new concept in higher education, where schools such as MIT have well-known media labs and shared invention spaces.

Now, K-12 schools have begun to buzz about educational makerspaces, and Windsor is, of course, interested in staying up on the trends! Our Tech Facilitators, LMC staff, Advanced Learning Facilitator, and interested teachers have begun to talk about how to incorporate this type of learning into our school, seeing how it may benefit students and bolster interest in science, math, robotics, and engineering. It also dovetails nicely with the pedagogical approaches of personalized learning that are being implemented across the district.

So far, opportunities for students might include using Lego Robotics, coding with the Sphero, or experimenting with Makey Makey kits. Kathleen Corley, Windsor's Tech Facilitator, held two drop-in sessions for staff this week to test out some of these options, and is helping teachers to determine how to weave these opportunities into their classrooms. (Below, one of Windsor's Kindergarten teachers, Kristina Krueger, plays with the Sphero, with the help of Mrs. Corley and Mrs. Komarek.)

So, if you're looking for a birthday or holiday gift and your child is interested in robotics or coding, check out the devices above! And, look for more news from Windsor as we explore this exciting movement.

Interested in finding out more about educational makerspaces? Here's a great article from Edutopia.