#NoOfficeDay – 2nd Grade

You all know how much I look forward to these #NoOfficeDays! The dedicated time each month, set aside to spend time with y’all and our students is hands down, one of the most enjoyable things I do all year. The humbling reminder of how hard our teacher work, the time spent engaging with students in their turf and seeing the learning first hand are all reason I continue to schedule these days and highly encourage every principal out there to do the same. My day in 2nd grade did not disappoint and without further adieu, here is how 2nd grade put me to work. 

The first hour of my day was spent something I had never done in my three years of #noofficedays. Second grade students spend the first hour of the day rotating through the library for book checkout. Each 15 minutes a class comes in, handles their business (very efficiently I might add) and returns to their grade level for the next rotation. I was able to assist with the checkout process for each of the classes making sure students entered their number and scanned the barcode accurately. By no means a hard job, but it put a large spotlight on the passion our 2nd graders have for reading. It gave me great pleasure to help them with their books, knowing they would continue to build their excitement for reading. I hope that passion continues to grow and never subsides! 

Following the grade level check out I was able to join Mrs. Valentin’s classroom where stud nets are always so eager to welcome me. It doesn’t matter the time of day, they always stop what they are doing and great me with a “Good Morning/Afternoon, Mr. Arend”. Mrs. Valentin demands their best and it includes academics and manners. We got settled in and I was able to give three small groups of students their spelling test while at he teacher table. It was clear which students had studied as we worked our way through the list. Especially when one young man had completed all 15 words while I had only read through 10 of them. Mrs. Valentin even had me administer the test starting with #15 and working backwards. After everyone finished their test, the students showcased their talents in a classroom spelling bee using the spelling list as well as other words they may have been introduced to throughout the year. They loved it! The students in Luz’s class have so much fun learning! 

My next stop in 2nd grade was across the hall in Ms. Smith’s classroom. Her students were transitioning into math and had been waiting for me to arrive. Upon my arrival Ms. Smith introduced the math stations to the students and I was able to use the teacher table for an old fashioned game of “Go Fish”. Only this game of Go Fish focused on finding two numbers that when added together equals 100. Students knew all of their facts using base ten numbers that would equal 100 and worked tirelessly to best Mr. Arend. I’m surprised I was able to even make a pair with all of the students who would ask me for a card. It was great to play a game like this with each of the students and see them think through there decision making and their a excitement when they found a match. 

After the humbling experience of getting beat in Go Fish by a bunch of second graders it was time for recess. I felt like a student who came to school dressed inappropriately as all I had was a light sweater and the wind was ridiculously cold! After getting special permission for the recess teachers we moved our play area to the grass where students could run races. I’m not sure what it is about running until they are so tired they fall over, but students love to run when I visit their recess. They simply race against each other with the fastest moving on to the next round and the other getting back in line to challenge someone again. Students will stand in line for several minutes while waiting their turn, but they look forward to it. So much so, that the teachers were aware of what we may do and remind the students (and me) that racing had to happen in the grass. 🙂

Lunch is lunch and the cafeteria seems to get a little bit louder when I am in there as each of the students wants me to sit a their table. There is no way to make them all happy, so I simply walk around and make sure I am keeping the peace…best I can. 

After lunch I was able to enter Ms. Romero’s room where students were writing for me to join them in some math rotations. In order to work with all of the students who were working on specific tasks related to what they needed to improve on (place value or adding/subtracting) I rotated back and forth between a couple of groups. Students worked hard in each of the groups. We completed a crossword puzzle in one group that had clues related to successfully answering questions by forming the correct number based on the clue and the other was a fun alien strategy game where we tried to move our pieces just the right number of spaces to land on an alien. We determined how many spaces we would move based on rolling three dices and generating a number sentence where we could add or subtract using all three numbers.  I faired a little better at this game then Go Fish, but the students still gave me a run for my money. 

We headed to specials which is always so inspiring for me to observe the talents of our specials teachers. Ms. Newsome had students completing a winter silhouette which was simply amazing. I do not have much of an artistic ability so seeing her works and the works of our students makes me very proud. Mrs. Caldwell was leading the students through some “do” and “re” exercises and of course I had to help the students. Upon my help, someone was quick to point out someone was singing to low. Wonder who that was? Once the students nailed the exercise the next activity included some Xylophone work. In partners students played the notes they had just finished singing. Let me tell you, the patience Mrs. Caldwell exhibited was phenomenal as you give stud nets instruments and mallets to play them. My last stop was in the gym as the students were being led through a series of exercises and Star Jacks as they prepare for 3rd grade. The students showed immense school spirit as they shouted out S…I…G…L…E…R…and the Stars, Stars, Stars. We concluded with a little challenge as students had been showcasing their dribbling skills. A couple of students are always able to rise above he rest with their talents and they get to challenge me. One of the students actually made me lose my dribble and the ball. I let him…right? 

As the students headed back to class I ended the day in Mrs. Mogollon’s classroom for IC. She was in an ARD meeting, so with the help of Mrs. Griffin we had a great conversation about weather, activities, transportation and clothing and how each of those topics can change depending on which season you are in. Students had a fabulous understanding if the difference between each season and had no problem sharing what their favorite season was and why. Can you believe, out of the class of 19 and the two adults in the room, only one students shared my love for fall? Of course most of the students loved winter and it was because of the snow! I guess they had recent memories of December and the ice that impacted their decision. Regardless, they loved sharing their thoughts with me as they filled out their very own anchor chart for each of the seasons indicating differences through each one. As the lesson progressed, we would have started talking about why seasons change, but as you know, we just didn’t get to it, there wasn’t enough time, and it’s ok. I know they will discuss it next week and I can’t exist to follow up with them to see how it goes. 

It was a great day spent in 2nd grade. I appreciate all of the ladies in he office holding down the fort and especially Mrs. Hempstead as she filled in for me at a couple of meetings so I could remain in 2nd grade as planned. It takes a village folks. 

Thank you 2nd grade students and teachers for allowing be to be your guest! I am already looking forward to my next #noofficeday! 

Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Bright Future Campaign – Week 16 Rewind – #NoOfficeDay 3rd Grade

Bright Future Campaign – Week 16 Rewind – #NoOfficeDay 3rd Grade
My day started with our specials teachers after winding up our All Pro Dad’s Day. I walked into music as the students had already started their lesson and it was pretty cool to see the connection Mrs. Caldwell has with her students. The level of comfort they have with her is so noticeable and the learning that takes place due to the level of comfort is impressive. For example, how many of you know what “Syncopation” means? Students enjoyed listening to “Chairs to Mend” as Mrs. Caldwell read this story aloud, of course incorporating her musicality along the way. 
After music, I entered the art studio and caught just the end of a brain pop video introducing our artists to digital photography and some tips on using a digital camera. After the video students where given their digital cameras and instructions on taking pictures of their partner and then working in their self-portraits. I wonder what will happen to the picture one young man took of me? 
I made it into the gym, just as time was ending and students had just wrapped up some free throw practice as they prepare of their Free Throw Contest. The only thing you need to know at this point is, I need more practice at shooting my free throws. It’s been way to long! 
Returning to 3rd grade brought me to Ms. Das’s classroom where she was ready for me to serve at a station focusing on cause and effect. She prepared a great activity where students worked together identify he effect of a given cause. As partners worked together taking turns identify correct effects, they continued until all their pairs were matched. After finding all the pairs, Ms. Das has prepared an extension in which students then had to come up with their own cause and then their partner came up with an appropriate effect. Students were very successful and some were even able to work the activity backwards starting with he effect and coming up with what a potential cause may have been. 
Next up were the students in Mrs. Tolle’s room. As I entered the students were working through a problem solving question that incorporated specific literacy elements such as characters and setting, which clearly helped the students comprehend the necessary information they needed to solve the problem. Students displayed several different strategies to solve the problem which was the target of the lesson. Students were not focused on the answer in this lesson. Today the process was the focus and students showcased their knowledge of the process. Following math, students transitioned to LA in which I was able to work with students on another well done differentiated activity. This activity focused on sequencing events from a passage students had read. Only in this activity the highlighted aspects of the story were reworded so it was not directly what the students had read in the story. To scaffold the activity for some students, Mrs. Tolle, then provided some details from the story so students could use the given details as a guide in determining what happened next. The students were very successful and in some cases, they even surprised themselves! 
It was an honor to supervise the students during lunch and recess without 3rd grade teachers. I know they enjoyed the free hour and I hope others did as well! 
The afternoon started in Mr. Mateos room where the differentiated activities continued to meet students needs. We started playing a little game, Mr. Mateos called “A la Cola”? (If I am typing that wrong, please correct me Mr. Mateos) Students started in a line and were given a time they needed to display on their Judy Clock. Students has just a few seconds to display time on their clocks and then the bell rang and answers were checked. If they got it wrong, they had to go to the end of the line. We even had a couple of questions involving elapsed time. The students did very well! After our game, students rotated through stations. Mr. Mateos prepared a place  value station for me to work on with students where we enjoyed rolling the dice to create large numbers and then showcase our understanding of reading and writing numbers in standard, expanded and word form. However, I was more impressed with the activity Cesar was doing with students at his table. The students had previously been discussing the cost of buying a house one day after college and had greatly underestimated the real estate market. Cesar took advantage of this and created an activity that showed students an accurate cost of a variety of homes, which students cut out and glued onto paper. Once they had four homes and prices of the homes, they had to use their place value skills to determine which house had the highest dollar amount associated with it and the lowest and then ranked the numbers in order, lowest to highest and vice versa. Cool activity for students to practice a skill but develop a deeper understanding of a real life skill. I’m certain that covered a process standard! 
I made it into Mrs. Romeo’s room for my final stop of the day. Students were being introduced to an IC lesson where magnetism was being introduced. The hook involved a “trick” of sorts where a paper clip magically hung in a cup that was turned upside down. Students quickly discovered a magnet was involved and their minds were completely engaged. Following the introduction, students rotated through three stations that allowed them to explore different types of magnets and different types of materials that were and were not magnetic. Students were able to demonstrate an understanding of why magnets worked, including the opposite poles, and connected that to a Brain Pop video they watched at the beginning of the lesson about magnetism. Needless to say, students loved the rotations, Mrs. Romeo add some wrinkles to the stations to keep the students interested throughout their time at each rotation and students walked away with an understanding of how magnets worked, what types of materials are magnetic and why. 
It was a great day in 3rd grade and I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with the students.  I know our teachers in 3rd grade work hard, but spending the entire day in their rooms and seeing lessons from beginning to end and the various scaffolding and extending taking place, it was evident as to why the students were being as successful as they were. 

Thanks 3rd grade students and teachers! 

Bright Future Campaign – Week 15 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 15 Rewind
This past week was cut one day short as ICEMAGEDDON took over Dallas/Fort Worth, but the Sigler Staff and students were still shining bright, right up until dismissal on a frigid Thursday afternoon. 
As you know, we are in the midst of MAP testing at Sigler Elementary and students are spending a majority of their mornings completing assessments on the computers or working independently so students can have a quiet testing environment. In a perfect world, our students would log on, do their absolute best and achieve a score higher than their previous score. Of course, we do not reside in a perfect world. We celebrate the achievements made and reflect upon those that were not and adapt as needed to equip students with the tools they need to achieve the desired score the next time they are assessed. 
While I like seeing our students hit their goals just as much as the teachers do, take a step back with me just for a moment. What about the other successes we have that are not measured by MAP? 
What about the fifth grade student this year whose attitude toward school has totally changed? Last year this student did not arrive to school on time, did not want to work when she was here, and rarely demonstrated a compassion or care for others. This year she is on time, working hard in the classroom and developing relationships with her peers that did not exist a year ago. Measure that on the MAP! 
What about the teachers who are desperately wanting to partner with a local apartment complex and provide families with tools and resources to begin educating their children before they reach pre-kindergarten or elementary school? Teachers know the power our parents hold and yearn to teach our parents strategies to incorporate into their homes to strengthen the foundation necessary for learning. Does that show up on a MAP score?  
At the end of the day, we are measured based on the success our students have on assessments, but for me, its the success of the whole student. Yes, academics are one part of that, but again, the mission of Sigler Elementary is to “Prepare Students to Excel in a Diverse and Changing World” and our staff is ensuring our students will be ready academically, emotionally and socially. 
While everyone is working tirelessly to ensure our students and families have what they need to be successful, please do not forget to ensure you have what you need to be successful. It is easy to get caught up in making sure everyone else has everything they need and forget about your own well-being. Take care of one another! A great example of this is the fellowship being promoted through the Crock-Pot Club and the large number of staff signing up to feed one another. Another way you can support each other is by inviting your significant other to our winter party next week and celebrate the relationships you have at work by introducing your significant other to the folks you spend so much time with each week. My wife is excited to meet many of you and see several of you again and I hope you feel encouraged to bring your significant other with you as well. 
There are just a few days remaining in 2013 portion of the school year and 2014 is just around the corner. Let your brightest light shine in the remaining days. The students’ future depends on it! 

Bright Future Campaign Week 12 Rewind – #NoOfficeDay 4th Grade

Bright Future Campaign Week 12 Rewind – #NoOfficeDay 4th Grade

I believe most of you know how I feel about the #NoOfficeDay and last Friday was another example of why I keep these days on my calendar. The time spent with the 4th grade students and teachers was just what I needed and more importantly, I hope the students and teachers enjoyed it as well. 

My day started with Mrs. Boyd’s class and math was on the schedule. Mrs. Boyd had planned, in detail what I had needed to do and provided all the materials, whiteboards, powerpoint and everything else I needed. Students showed me everything they knew about problem solving and solving multiple step problems. It was obvious students in Mrs. Boyd’s class had been working on problem solving and their success showed just how much their hard work was paying off. I was impressed with the technology being used in the room while I was at the teacher table. Students were on the laptops working on Big Brainz while Mrs. Boyd had the tablets checked out for students to use TTM. All students were engaged and every moment was maximized. Not only are moments maximized, but the space 4th grade and Mrs. Boyd use is as well. Take a look.

(Not sure why it’s upside down, but you see my point) 

After math it was on to IC in Ms. Zwall’s room. Students rotated through seeing me at the teacher table as they presented their ecosystem/biome posters to me. Students had been working in groups of 4-6, collaborating on all aspects of an ecosystem of a specific biome. Students including key words such as composers, decomposes, predator, prey, carnivore, herbivore, omnivore as well as the oxygen cycle, and food chains and food webs. I was very impressed with the level of understanding among the students and their excitement in sharing their work. Never underestimate the power of having students share their work with you or with their peers. They were empowered to share their knowledge with me! 

Specials was next and I was able to join Art and PE. I didn’t make it to music for a couple of reasons. 1. I want to be surprised when I see their performance later this week and 2. I had to have a heart to heart with a couple of boys as our soccer game got a little to competitive in the gym. Nothing like the competitive spirit to get boys to push a little too far. It was a small little hiccup in the day and the boys rebounded nicely. My time in Art class impressed me while students shared their knowledge about art. Mrs. Newsome has a beach ball the students use to answer specific questions about a piece of art she has displayed. Students read the question, answer in complete sentences, which she reminds them of as necessary, and then passes the ball to another classmate. Their understanding always impresses me! We didn’t focus on what they are learning when I was in elementary school! 

As we transitioned back to 4th grade I was headed into Ms. Bernal’s room for a guided reading lesson about MLK. Ms. Bernal had prepared a beautiful venn-diagram for me to use with the students after reading about Barbara Jordan, another powerful “orator” who fought for civil rights. Again, the 4th graders impressed me with their knowledge of MLK Jr. as they recited facts from his life while completing the venn-diagram. His birthplace, college, Father’s job, his job and why he left the legacy he did. 

Each student in Ms. Bernal’s class was engaged with a teacher during my time in the room which was impressive and speaks to the organization Ms. Bernal holds, as we know more adults doesn’t always mean more gets accomplished. It can be distracting when not done right. 

FolLowing a spirited lunch and recess Mr. S’s class was my last stop. After a brief introduction and review of our topic, MLK Jr., we participated in a fire drill and reverse evacuation drill (which I need to do with classes more often). Students did a great job conducting themselves and it’s always great to get a different perspective. 

Upon our completion of the lockdown drill, we began our Poetry Friday activity. The task students were given was to write a poem about what they are passionate about. Fortieth grade is in the midst of writing their MLK Jr. paper so the poem shared as an example was “Stand Up”, by MLK Jr. himself. 

Stand Up
Stand up against the bully.
Come and join the fight.
Stand up against the bully.
Try to do what’s right.
Sometimes it’s tough
to speak your mind.
The going’s rough
to get behind
the kid who’s teased and kicked around,
to pick him up when he is down.
But stand up against the bully.
Do what you can do.
Stand up against the bully,
Just maybe you’ll help him too.

I will be honest, as I was not completely sure what type of poems the students would create after discussing the rhyme and cadence along with other observations students had after reading the poem above. Student poems focused on littering, bullying, dancing and many other passionate topics. The day ended with a little poverty cafe full of wonderful poetry examples from or finest poets and of course, loads of finger snaps. I couldn’t participate in a poetry cafe without a little poem of my own, so while students were working , so was I. 

Check it out and don’t judge! 

(At this point, I’m just happy the picture is here) 
(Turn your head to read) 

All and all it was an amazing day! Thank you 4th grade students and teachers for making me feel at home and allowing me to be one of y’all for the day!

Counting down the days until my next #NoOfficeDay! 

Bright Future Campaign – Week 9 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 9 Rewind

Last week at Sigler we began our CMIT meetings or our Campus Monitoring and Intervention Team meetings to review student progress thus far. While these meetings take up a tremendous amount of time, the conversations we are able to have about our students are necessary. These conversations allow for our homeroom teachers to express celebrations and/or concerns about students within their rooms and other professionals within the building are able to share their interactions with the students or provide their knowledge in collaboration with the teachers in the room as to how we can better meet student needs. 

While our staff is well aware of the process highlighted above, the one thing that I am reminded of each time we conduct a round of our CMIT meetings is the “mindset” our teachers have towards their student’s future. It is no secret, many of our students have academic needs that require intense interventions and these students also need passionate educators who have a “mindset” that their students can succeed. 
While this “mindset” is necessary for ALL staff and teachers within the building, I wonder, do our students share this same “mindset”? If not, what can we do, to deliberately change a student’s mindset, to ensure they understand, they can be successful. 
While, I look forward to getting back in classrooms this week and seeing our students and staff do what they do best, I ask you to watch the video below and ask yourself what your “mindset” is and how I can help you change a fixed “mindset” you may have towards any one thing taking place within our building and more importantly, how can you help change a fixed “mindset” a student in your classroom may have. 
The Power of Belief - Mindset and Success: Eduardo Briceno at TED

Bright Future Campaign – Week 8 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 8 Rewind
We are entering week 9 which means one-fourth of the school year is already behind us. Wow, that went fast and yikes, we need more time. Did you think the same thing I did? Please, take a few deep breaths and enjoy the day off before returning to work tomorrow. With nine weeks under our belt, it is easy to start making the list of all the things you have to get done…
Finish P/T Conferences (or reschedule no-shows)
Enter Grades
Start 3 O’clock Rocks
CMIT Meetings
…and I know that is just barely the tip of the iceberg. Before you start to get more overwhelmed as you continue to add to the list above, please take a moment and refer to the link below. 
Ted Talk: How to Make Stress Your Friend – Kelly McGonigal (15 – min)
Now, what if we make another list of the reasons why you became a teacher. This past weekend I stumbled upon this list, “21 Reasons to Quit Your Job and Become a Teacher”. I have good news for you! You are already one step ahead of the rest of the world. Embrace this AWESOME responsibility we have and make this the best week yet!
With the list of 21 reasons to quit your job and become a teacher fresh in your head, I am reflect on last week at Sigler and am compiling my own list, 21 reasons to be the Principal at Sigler Elementary. While I will not share all 21  with you now, I will express a couple that I added to the list this past week. 
I have the opportunity at Sigler to observe teachers interacting with students on a daily basis. This past week I was in Mrs. Simental’s room, which was timely due to her new baby, (Congrats) and couldn’t help but notice the great instructional strategies she was using with her students. 1st grade’s morning math interventions groups were finishing up and as students returned to their rooms, incoming students knew the routine inside and out as they immediately sat at their carpet for morning calendar. If you recall, this was one of the 5 statements I shared with you last spring. There are clear procedures for movement in the classroom and students demonstrate understanding with little to no direction from the teacher. After finishing up calendar students participated in a brief brain break to get the blood flowing and stretch the legs a bit before sitting down and participating in a teacher guided math lesson that included many opportunities for students to “turn and talk” to their neighbor and the expectation that all statements coming from students, whether they were responding to her or responding to their peers were in complete sentences. 
Another statement we have been reflecting on is, The learning target is clearly posted and verbalized by both the teacher and the students. (Raises Engagement Levels by 27%) This thought was evident in the minds of our 4th grade teachers and students this past Thursday as they took advantage of the early release day and used the blueprint from their most recent math test to identify TEKS that students were successful with and not yet successful with on their most recent test. After identifying the TEKS that needed to be addressed, students were split among the grade level and were able to focus in on specific skills that needed reteaching. Early release days can be tough on teachers and students as you are pinched for time, but this was an amazing way to maximize the day and make the learning meaningful for students and the teaching targeted to exactly what students needed based on their recently administered assessment. 
As you know, Teachers are the #1 Factor in Student Achievement! 

Keep pouring everything you have into your students and they will rise to the occasion! 

Bright Future Campaign – Week 7 Rewind – Boom Goes the Dynamite

Bright Future Campaign – Week 7 Rewind

Humor me if you will, but I had to dig up one of the classic tv moments of all time to assist with this weeks rewind. We have all been there, stepping into a situation we were unfamiliar with and expected to perform at a high level, but come up short. The saving grace for this inspiring communications major was his coined phrase, “boom goes the dynamite” which led to his ten seconds of fame all around the world. (Happens at 2:30 into the video)
What I didn’t know at this time was what exactly the word dynamite meant or where it had come from. While we know it’s dangerous and has the potential to send things to kingdom come, did you know the word dynamite comes from the Greek word dunamis, which means power? 
I couldn’t help but relate this new word, dunamis to my reflection of our Bright Future Campaign at Sigler as each of our staff hold the power to inspire change in our students’ futures. 
I was able to see this change first hand this past week as I entered a third grade classroom where a fourth grade student had come to see her former teacher to share just how much she had been accomplishing in fourth grade, specifically on a writing assignment. Her third grade teacher from last year and her fourth grade teacher his year, obviously have the power! 
How about the students I observed in third grade who were rotating through math stations working on their problem solving as they were challenged to find a specific amount of money, using a specific number of coins. Students may not have realized it, but the power was building in them as they each successfully found ways to make the change they were asked to find, almost surprising themselves at times. 
Yet another example of power was witnessed in 5th grade as students were determined to find the least common multiple of various numbers as they worked on solving real world problems that revolved around a couple of ferris wheels. Students started the problem thinking here was no way, the ferris wheels would ever have a common stopping point when they were different sizes, but when given the power to figure it out successfully, they quickly realized, there was an answer and therefore began to realize what the term, least common multiple was all about. 
The moral to my story, each of you holds the power or possesses the “dunamis” and transfers that potentially powerful “boom” to each of your students daily! So, as you prepare to share just how much potential our students have with parents, towards the end of the week, remember it only takes a spark to set the dynamite off and we all know just how powerful the dynamite can be when ignited. 
“Boom goes the Dynamite” 
Matt Arend
Sigler Elementary

Bright Future Campaign – Week 6 Rewind/#NoOfficeDay 5th Grade

Bright Future Campaign – Week 6 Rewind/#NoOfficeDay 5th Grade
This past week at Sigler was one in which we surprised our very own Alicia Fernandez, as Office Max came out for their annual “A Day Made Better”. It was very special to see the emotion from Mrs. Fernandez as our students and staff acknowledged her and as the representatives from Office Max awarded her a prize package over $1,000 dollars, including a Kindle Fire! Congratulations Alicia Fernandez!

#NoOfficeDay – 5th Grade

Man, I look forward to these days. Those unfamiliar with #NoOfficeDays, these are days I spend out of the office with a specific grade level for the day. Last Friday I spent the day with 5th grade. Before I begin to showcase the highlights of my day, I must say, we as a campus get tunnel vision at times, focused on the students we have in our grade level from year to year. After spending time with our 5th graders, y’all are doing a phenomenal job! These students have come through the finest classrooms, led by the finest teachers and are all the better for it.

As the day began, I was jumping right into my chair at the teacher table for my first hour of guided reading. Students in Mrs. Tucker’s class were hard at it when in arrived and reading a passage covering the American Revolution, which they have been studying in Social Studies. I loved how the team was connecting across the curriculum, as students were sharing what they knew about Paul Revere as they read this story. This specific story shed light on a special young lady who played a similar role to Paul Revere as a 16 year old girl. The discussion had with two groups was engaging as we wondered why we had not heard of this young lady before and how unfair it was for the girls in the group to have this story go untold until now.

I transitioned into Mr. Braden’s room as students were working on some note taking in pairs, determining what exactly they were reading and whether the purpose for their reading was informative, analytical or both. As students shared their thoughts, it was obvious they had made some connections to this Folktale, Terrapin and The Hare.

Specials broke up the whole group conversation, and I began my specials rotation in the “Art Studio”. Students waled right in and engaged in a warm up activity defining a piece of art based on prior knowledge of art. Students clearly have the mind of an artist as they articulated details about a mask they were studying  including whether it was 2-D or 3-D, if it have overlapping parts and  the specific medium and media being used.

As I left art and entered the music room, students were just wrapping up a mini-lesson on reading music and jumped into a brain break which included some folk dancing and mighty nice footwork (not my footwork). Students danced to a choreographed routine, in which each of them knew the steps and participated fully. My time wrapped up with a Mi, Re, Do exercise in which students had the liberty to see with their hands, bodies or however they needed in order to decipher between the various notes. Each student was able to participate using their own learning style. Great job Mrs. Caldwell!

The final stop during specials was fitness and PE which had combined together for a little scooter basketball.  Our students have so much fun while they are with our coaches and our coaches have a darn good time with them as well. Students were excited to play and anxiously awaited their turn to play again as they rotated around.

Getting back to 5th grade allowed me to see just how much our students mature from KN-5th. Students had been reading a Folktale, Terrapin and The Hare and were faced with a couple of reflective questions they needed to answer when walking back into the room. Once answered students participated in a “reading seminar” where they were able to share a question they may have had about the text and fellow students were able to weigh-in in an attempt to answer the question or add their own in-sight. It was awesome to see a teacher sit back and listen as students controlled the classroom for 45 minutes.

Returning from lunch and recess, which is always a good time to see how our students interact outside of the classroom, brought me to Mrs. Beck’s IC class to see some group presentations from a Mind Missions activity they had completed before lunch. Students were given materials to create a “shoe” that would provide comfort, warmth and work in weather conditions.

Students presented and model their shoes as they articulated why they designed their shoe how they did and after reflecting, we’re able to share what they may have done differently given a second chance. Audience members asked questions that proved students had throughout about their designs and showed they had been listening intently. Bravo to the creators, presenters and audience members.

I doubled back for math and revisited Mrs. Tucker’s class and ended my day in Ms. Mancilla’s room. Both classes were focused on an old favorite of mine, The Product Game. Students were in small group rotations in Mrs. Tucker’s room were I was able to play the product game with students to help them think about some questions they needed to answer about the game. Playing the game while answering the questions showed me our students have the ability to be successful, but at times need a concrete visual or must be a part of something in order to male connections to their learning. After playing a couple of games, winning one and losing one (still can’t believe it) I took my skills to Ms. Mancilla’s room to redeem myself. The day before Mancilla had provided me the lesson plan and shared I would be teaching, so I hope I didn’t let her or her students down. We worked through the necessary vocabulary and a was able to select a brave volunteer who played the game with me as an example for the other students I’m the room. After redeeming myself, students played the product game in pairs for the remainder of the class. Of course, as students packed up for the day I found a few more minutes to square off against one young lady as my first first opponent was a young man. Again, I left feeling on top of my game and let the students know I would be returning to defend my reign as they continued to learn some of the strategy needed to win the product game.

We are entering our 7th week of the school year and yes, I know teachers are feeling the pressure of needing to succeed in their grade level, but please remember, you cannot do it all. Narrow the focus, pick an area or two and rock and roll. Know that as students leave your grade and go on to the next, there is another teacher who is fighting the battle right along with you. If students keep entering 5th grade ready to succeed we are doing what is right by our students.

In closing, I couldn’t help but wonder, would one of our 5th graders be on stage one day, just as this young man was last summer at our AVID Summer Institute. 


Bright Future Campaign – Week 5 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 5 Rewind
There are some tremendous things happening at Sigler Elementary and this week was another example. As I mentioned last week, each day you walk into our building is an opportunity to win Game 7. I saw many folks preparing to win Game 7 and by preparing for Game 7, of course we know they are creating a Bright Future for the students they impact. 
Mrs. Hempstead and I made a visit to 1st grade last week to briefly fill in for the BL teachers so they could observe a writing lesson. While visiting I was able to work with a classroom of students and have them teach me about ordering numbers into a least to greatest and greatest to least order. The students were able to show me why numbers went where and created a short number line with sticky notes and putting themselves and their notes in order. 
I’ve been impressed to see how quickly our 1st graders are getting into the routines in 1st grade. Students are completing stations, changing classrooms for flexible groups and ELD and I love walking in on their brain breaks! Our first grade team has high expectations for the boys and girls they are teaching and we cannot wait to see just how bright their future will be! 
Has anyone else noticed our music teacher, Mrs. Caldwell, running around the building capturing video of our teachers and staff having a little fun at our school! You know you’re going to like it at Sigler! Thank you to those who have participated and we are looking forward to seeing the final product and sharing it with others. The teachers and staff work so hard, it’s nice to have a little fun amidst all the chaos. 
Finally, last Tuesday our 3rd-5th grade students broke out into their first Future’s Day Speaker Series. While I know the girls were on their best behavior, I must compliment the boys as I spent the afternoon session with them and was very impressed. We had a Plano PD officer speak to the boys and school board member Marilyn Hinton speak to the girls. Both serve as excellent examples of perseverance, grit and an example of what can happen when you set goals and work hard to achieve them. I’m excited for our next round of speakers in October, Dorothy Shaw and Lawrence Mann. Our students will enjoy hearing from both of them. 
It’s week 6 and it’s another week to change lives, win Game 7 and most importantly let your students know you are crazy about them, as Principal Salmone Thomas-EL states in the video clip below. 

Bright Future Campaign – Week 4 Rewind

Bright Future Campaign – Week 4 Rewind 

This past summer I read something about pressure and the pressure we face as educators to nurture, instruct, grow…and the list goes on. Within the article it referenced everyday we come to work as Game 7 of the championship game. Do or die, win or go home and I cannot shake that from my mind. Each day we enter the doors of Sigler Elementary it is game 7. We must execute, we must improve and with every game 7, you must win. In this case, our winning translates into student success and bright futures. Are you up for the challenge to win game 7 and impact the future of the students we serve?

Each year begins and we set goals. We set goals as individuals, we set goals as teams and we set goals as a building to annually strengthen programs already in place. This past week our Site Based Improvement Committee met to share our building goals with parents, community members as well as staff. Thank you, Patricia Hempstead and Kim Peake for organizing the meeting and thank you Alicia, Scott, Kari and Lauren for sharing your specific content areas with those in attendance. 

Two of our goals are listed below and following each one, is an example of how I saw these goals being achieved within the past week. 

Study and use the district written curriculum 

On the surface this sounds really easy and straightforward, but the staff at Sigler is taking it a step farther and making sure the depth of knowledge necessary for students to grow is being addressed. This past Wednesday, Kindergarten was kind enough to allow me to sit in on their afternoon planning session so I could witness just how our teams are studying and using the written curriculum. Kindergarten teachers discussed how students at the young age of 5 can make connections with the settings in a story and how that can be translated to their own experiences. They discussed the importance of character development and sharing with students how characters can change in a story or how their feelings may change just as the feelings of KN students can change over the course of a school day. 

It was pretty awesome to hear our KN teachers discussing such high level reasoning when it comes to reading when lets face it, not all of the students are reading! They may not be reading yet…but they are learning how to think about their reading which will pay dividends down the road. Keep it up Kindergarten! 

While preparing for our SBIC Meeting, I came across this reflective question:

Does the activity/strategy you are planning directly support the desired learning outcome (learning target)? As you study and use our district curriculum, please reflect on that question with each activity/strategy you use. 

Model and promote substantive collaboration to foster a learning community 

Collaboration is something we are focused on this year at Sigler and I see examples of this daily. Specifically this past week, I was able to see this first hand through the observation of an ELD lesson again, in KN. Our teachers worked hand in hand to make sure this group of bilingual students were able to have a conversation back and forth, introducing each other and sharing the name of their teacher in KN. I am excited to follow the language development of this group of students over the course of the school year. 

(In highlighting KN this week, I will aim to highlight 1st grade next week and work my way through the various grade levels/departments) 

Our first early release was scheduled for this past Friday and staff had an opportunity to work together, study some student data and develop a plan based on their findings. Specifically, I wanted to thank 2nd grade for joining the conversation with 3rd-5th as they are working hard to collaborate with our “STAAR” grades so they can strengthen the support they are giving students as they are preparing them for 3rd grade. I’m excited to see 2nd grade flourish and soar as we involve them in more vertically aligned conversations.

In closing, I wanted to highlight a few statements made in the documentary “TEACH”, which the staff was able to view Friday. Our staff works tirelessly for our students and every now and then, taking a moment to watch a move such as “TEACH” allows for the battery to be charged, reignites the passion, or simply allows your fire to burn brighter. Your reflections may lead you a difference direction, but these statements below, made me personally reflect and I hope there was at least one moment during “TEACH” that caused you to reflect. 

“To teach is to question, and sometimes you have to begin by questioning yourself.” 

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews