WFMS INSTRUCTIONAL BLOG


After seeing so many great instructional and management techniques during the first two weeks of school, I wanted to create a quick way for you to share great ideas with other teachers in our school. This blog will also serve as a clearing house for best practices that our school is using and can help you identify ideas that you may want to try to implement in your classroom. If you have a great instructional or management idea, please let me know and I can add a blog article on your idea! BN

**When you get to the bottom of the page, make sure you click on the (2)...etc. to see more blog post!**



 
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Sunday, Nov 2nd, 2014.
Recently Mrs. Lathrop was a feature presenter at the State Louisiana Association of School Librarians Conference. She presented a session on the amazing work she does to build our school book club, create parent involvement, and inspire future librarians! Her session was titled The 3 R's: Reading, Relationships, and Relevance Congratulations to her for this wonderful honor and the great work she does each day to promote literacy in our school!
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Sunday, Nov 2nd, 2014.
Last week, our 8th grade science classes were recognized in a national case study by Pearson Education regarding Mrs. Howle’s and Mr. Cutrer’s use of Pearson products effectively in their instruction and assessment. The case study also focused on the use of digital assessments and the integration of literacy in science classes though the use of the Common Core Standards. Congratulations to Mrs. Howle and Mr. Cutrer for their work on this study. Click below to view the entire case study.

Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Sep 30th, 2014.
During a station activity in 6th Grade Social Studies, Mrs. Pruitt recorded herself reading a book excerpt on her iPad. This allowed her to press play on the recording when students started the book reading station and they could hear her "read-aloud" the book. By allowing the recording to "read" to students at the book station, the teacher was free to monitor and assist other groups during the lesson. This is an excellent example of using technology to enhance a lesson. In addition to the technology components of the lesson, having students read full books in social studies is an excellent connection to literacy and reinforces the tenets of the Common Core Standards.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Sep 5th, 2014.
Blog Posted by Mrs. Lemoine: Mr. Cutrer has used interesting grouping technique with his 8th grade science classes. Students were working on the metric system in class. They had to make conversions within that system independently. As they finished, he went around the room and checked their work. Once they had all answers correct, he announced to the class the he/she was now an expert. That student was then allowed to move around and help others who were struggling. Students were working very hard to get the “right” answers in order to be named and “expert.”
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Sep 5th, 2014.
Blog Posted by Mrs. Lemoine: This school year WFMS is offering a STEM Exploratory class for 8th grade students. Their first challenge was to desigBlog by Mrs. Jodi Lemoinen a “shuttle” to hold and protect an egg from cracking at various heights when dropped. Students had to think about their design, but also, just like in real-life, they had to work within the parameters of a budget. Students had to “pay” for the materials they chose to use in their design. For example, a whole sheet of newspaper cost $2000 and a half sheet was $1000. Students could not spend more than $6,600. Mrs. H. Howle, our STEM instructor, introduced this activity with lessons that involved reading scientific articles about terminal velocity and watching Mythbuster videos. At the conclusion of the activity, the team that had designed a successful shuttle AND came in most under budget was declared the winners. Students returned to the classroom to either write a press release about the success of their mission or an obituary for their egg if it had not had a successful flight. Students were so engaged in this activity they begged Mrs. Howle for another chance to design shuttles using any items they had from home. Mrs. Howle agreed to this and began “Junk Box Wars.” Any items were allowed in the design this time, and we saw garbage bags, duct tape, and even a bed sheet.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Sep 5th, 2014.
The following blog post was created by Mrs. Jodi Lemoine during a classroom observation.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Monday, Aug 25th, 2014.
In the picture below, students in Mrs. Knight's ELA class debate a topic that is prevalent in a book that they are reading this nine weeks. A statement is read and students must decide if they "Agree" or "Disagree" with the statement. Students then move to different sides of the room based on their choice. Each student is given several rubber bands to place on their wrist and each time they speak or make a point, they give up a rubber band to the student moderator. When a student no longer has rubber bands, they must only listen to future conversations during the activity. Using this discussion strategy allows all students to be involved in the debate or discussion and ensures that no single student dominates the conversation.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Aug 22nd, 2014.
Mrs. Ingram's 8th Grade Science students are assigned class roles that allow them to assist the teacher and take on leadership roles each week. This classroom management tool is an excellent example of several components in the Teacher Compass Evaluation Rubric and provide an extra level of student engagement in the classroom.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Aug 22nd, 2014.
At WFMS going to the library is an event to celebrate! Our students have a genuine interest in reading and keep Mrs. Lathrop and our library workers very busy throughout the school year. This week Mrs. Lathrop planned an "3 Ring Circus" activity to introduce students to the library and its functions....and of course teach the procedures in a fun way!
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Aug 15th, 2014.
Post submitted by Ms. Ganes:
The 6th grade students are learning the divisibility rules. They are having fun making interactive notebooks and playing games using the rules. Students are using teacher-made dry erase boards and having conversations about divisibility. One student was so excited that he learned the rules, the teacher made him take a bow to the class!!!
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Thursday, Aug 14th, 2014.
Students at WFMS use a math procedure called P.A.S.S. (1. Problem, 2. Answer or Action, 3. Sentence – Final Answer, 4. Sentence – Because) as a strategy to systematically solve math problems and understand the boarder math concept being learned. Finding the solution to the problem is only one step in the process. Below is an example of how students in Mrs. Harvey’s 8th Grade Math classes are using P.A.S.S. to solve whole class and individual problems.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Sunday, Jan 26th, 2014.

Recently, several WFMS teachers attended a professional development workshop on Socrative Seminars. During their training, they learned about the process which allows students to lead in-depth discussions that are completely student focused. The nature of the questioning process also ensures that they discussion and questions asked are of a higher order nature. Below is a picture of Ms. Harvey's 8th Grade ELA students participating in one of the sessions. Below is a website with more resources for using a Socrative Seminar in a classroom. http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/socratic-seminars-30600.html

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Posted by Ben Necaise on Monday, Nov 25th, 2013.
8th Grade students in Mrs. Harris' class recently completed an activity in which they used a tournament bracket format to analysis and evaluate the attributes of book characters. The students brainstormed different attributes that the characters could be evaluated with and then proceeded to chose the character they wanted to "compete" for each attribute. For example, students would set up a bracket to have characters compete for "Who has the best Personality" or "Who is the most trustworthy". Once students debate each pairing, an ultimate winning character is chosen. Students them must provide textual evidence that proves why this character won the attribute tournament. This lesson is an excellent way to have students debate topics by using textual evidence and the tournament format can be applied to many different topics and subjects. For example, social study classes could debate which leader was the most effective. Science classes could debate which discovery was most important. etc.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Monday, Nov 25th, 2013.
Recently, students in Mrs. Breaux's 6th Grade ELA class experience a snowball fight in class! The twist with this kind of snowball fight was that students had to create higher order thinking questions about the book they were reading and write them down on a piece of paper. The paper was then balled up and under the specific instructions by the teacher, they students stood up and threw the paper across the room at each other. Each student then must pick up a "snowball" and a question and answer session takes place between the students. This strategy is an excellent way to gain the attention of students and create a kinesthetic lesson while integrating student centered questioning techniques.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Oct 22nd, 2013.
From Mrs. Lemoine:

7th grade Social Studies has developed a way to integrate literacy strategies daily through their “Daily Social Studies” activities. Monday focuses on academic vocabulary. Tuesday focuses on reading maps and graphs. Wednesday is fill in the blanks and requires students to use prior knowledge or find evidence to complete. Thursdays focus on reading non-fiction text and responding to questions/prompts. What a great way to ensure the content is being taught THROUGH literacy!
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Oct 22nd, 2013.
From Mrs. Lemoine:

8th grade Science has been increasing the rigor in their content-area working with “ABC Answering.” Mrs. Howle discovered that the “C” part of “ABC” was challenging for students, so she had them concentrate on “AB” calling this their “Ab workout.” Students have responded well to this and are getting better at “backing up their answers.” We created a graphic organizer to help students go through “ABC Answering” called “Steppin’ Up Our Ab Workout.”

7th grade Science has taken a scaffolding approach to using the “ABC Answering” method. Mrs. Parkerson revised one of the Chunking graphic organizers given during October Literacy Strategies. She chunked the textbook, and students are having to prove with text why teacher-generated statements she has provided are true. Having students look at a text using the Chunking strategy is building their capacity to respond to content-area questions using “ABC.”
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Oct 22nd, 2013.
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From Mrs. Lemoine:

"6th grade Social Studies created a unique grouping activity that required students to answer document-based questions. Students were put in groups of 3 to 4. Each group was given a non-fiction text related to their content area (i.e., Mummies, Pyramids, Hieroglyphics, etc...). Each group also had a unique graphic organizer to complete in citing text evidence and identifying central ideas. Students read independently and then shared their thoughts to complete the graphic organizers."
Posted by Ben Necaise on Thursday, Sep 26th, 2013.
The following article is from Mrs. Lemoine our Literacy Integration Specialist:

Our RTI program is off to a robust start this school year. Through the hard work of every core teacher, our RTI plan has been implemented with fidelity. In order to make this process as simple and easy to understand as possible, we created a flowchart to detail the organization of our RTI program.

Below are some examples of how our teachers are implementation and RTI Plan and Providing Reteaching and Reaching Activities:


1. Mrs. Pritchard adjusted the traditional way of grading quizzes in her math class. Instead of using the scoring system of 8/10, she created a chart to see what standards students missed to easily determine her RTI groups.

2. Mrs. Pruitt had students identify their incorrect answers on a test using number strips. She then aligned and pasted each student’s strip in a folder organized by class. This method allowed her to easily see the questions that were most missed, and she used that information to determine what standard she would teach during RTI time.

3. Mrs. Bush has used the enrichment part of RTI to provide students time to work on projects and other hands-on activities that they do not have whole class time to use.

4. Mrs. Parkerson created a very user-friendly document to organize her RTI groups and plan for intervention. A copy of this document is available through Jodi Lemoine.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Aug 27th, 2013.
Using effective questioning techniques is one area that many teachers have asked for assistance with over the past year. This school year several teachers at WFMS are using a method call “Fist to Five” which is an easy to implement questioning and informal assessment process. An explanation of the technique follows: After reviewing information taught or read, the teacher will ask all students to use the chart below to show a hand signal that determines their level of understanding of the information discussed or reviewed. After the class raises their hands, the teacher identifies students who do not understand the information and ask probing questions to determine specific deficiencies. Next the teacher identifies a student who displayed a (5) and requires them to answer the question which created a student-to-student conversation. This process allows for an honest self-assessment by the students and required them to assist each other or explain a topic in detail to their peers. This helps all students understand the information at a higher level, while allowing the teacher to serve as in more of a facilitator role. Students also learn very quickly that if they are not honest with their self-assessment and simply hold up (5), they may soon be asked to provide a detailed answer to another student.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Aug 20th, 2013.
During my last year in the classroom, I became frustrated with how some students would not complete classwork or homework assignments. While reading the newspaper one day, I saw an article about how many "runners were left on base" by a baseball team. This statistics refers to the scoring opportunities lost by a team because they could not bring in those runners to score points. I felt like this was a perfect statistic to display in my class to show how many opportunities we lost in "effort" points. I did not include test or quiz grades in this statistic. I placed a chart on my wall to track each class and updated the numbers each week. I used the information to challenge each class to improved their numbers and would provide rewards to the class that had the lowest number.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Saturday, Aug 17th, 2013.
This school year, 8th Grade Science adopted a new way to ensure that students will actively keep their science notes rather than passively collect information. This notebook allows students to model how scientist keep research notes. During each unit of study students have a main question that all of their class work and activities relate to each day. At the end of each unit, students are required to use their interactive notebooks to develop a thesis based on the information they learned and how it relates to the big questions.

Below is an excerpt from the AHA Interactive Notebook"
"You will be using your interactive notebook in class everyday to help you learn new science concepts and to help you make connections to those concepts. Your interactive notebook will also help you organize your thoughts in a fun and creative way. Your interactive notebook is your portfolio showing what you have learned and created this year.""
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Attachment:

 AHA_Notes_Sample.pdf
Posted by Ben Necaise on Tuesday, Aug 13th, 2013.
As our entire school begins the full transition to the Common Core State Standards, we are looking forward to the positive impact that common department time will bring to our school. We are also very fortunate to have in place a full time Literacy Integration Specialist, Mrs. Jodi Lemoine, who will help our entire faculty focus on and improve our literacy integration in all subjects. One early example of this collaboration can be seen below. Mrs. Thomas, our 7th Grade Art teacher, and Mrs. Lemoine worked together to create a way for students to include literacy components in their daily art lessons. The lesson requires students to complete regular research, writing, and student generated questions during their art activities. The format below is an excellent example of how non-core classes can address the Common Core Standards in their regular instruction.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Sunday, Apr 28th, 2013.
Recently in Mrs. Hendry's 7th Grade ELA class, students were preparing to create product pitch presentations that utilized propaganda and persuasion techniques that had learned about previously in class. In addition to allowing students a wonderful opportunity to explore their creative side, the lesson also pushes students to think at a higher order level. Another aspect to this lesson that was interesting was they way Mrs. Hendry provided students with input on the grading criteria. Since the project was complex, she provided the initial rubric for all students. She then placed a rubric feedback "parking lot" on the back wall and stated that students could provide suggestions and amendments to the rubric for the next two days. This strategy allowed the teacher to plan the major aspects of the rubric but also allow flexibility for student input.
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Thursday, Apr 11th, 2013.
Recently, WFMS ELA teachers used a Mock Trial activity to allow their students to evaluate student writing samples. For many years, social studies classes have used mock trials to simulate court cases and legal situations to better understand our laws and Constitution. However, using a Mock Trial activity is ELA is something new and interesting. The 8th Grade ELA teachers allowed students to place student work on "Trial" and used the activity to evaluate the writing sample using LEAP and CCSS aligned rubrics. These activities were not only enjoyable to the students, but it allowed them to truly perform at the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. In addition, this lesson allows students to learn a great deal about court proceedings and provides a cross-curricular experience because of the information and court room vocabulary that must be learned before the simulation takes place. Below is an example of an exchange that took place during the lesson.

"You will come to know the truth: that my client read the writing prompt and underlined the topic, used text to support his/her answer, stayed on topic, and organized his/her ideas in a multi-paragraph essay. My client followed the directions of the teacher and wrote an essay worthy of receiving a 4. Therefore my client is not guilty."
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Posted by Ben Necaise on Friday, Apr 5th, 2013.
7th and 8th Grade Students were able to evaluate each others Spring Testing writing samples as part of their LEAP and iLEAP test preparation this school year. The idea behind the grade level exchange of work stemmed from a belief that if students can truly understand the criteria used to grade their writing on standardized test, they could personally improve their own writing as a result of the evaluation process. Teachers taught students how to apply the state released rubrics below during their peer evaluation activity. Not only were they able to grade a peer's writing sample, but they were also able to receive feedback on their own writing during the activity. This practice also aligns with the fundamental tenets of the Common Core State Standards and allows students to participate in multiple parts of the writing process.
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