Inside-Out PD, AVID, and the world of the International Baccalaureate will be working closely together this year at Windsor Mill Middle School. On the heels of being named both an AVID school and an IB School for Global Communications, WMMS is setting the foundation for a year of focused learning. Inside-Out PD, the WMMS PD framework, is a streamlined and purposeful school-based professional development model that holds teacher learning at its core. It is designed to simplify the ‘asks’ of teachers and to ensure that the learning provided applies directly to teachers’ practices and classrooms. The Inquiry Teams (PLCs) reflect the initiatives of the district and school and the goals of teachers and can be tiered to reflect the variety of needs of teacher interest and experience. This year, WMMS has three Inquiry Teams: Responsive Instruction, AVID, and Project-Based Learning, a teaching and learning practice central to IB. The STAT teacher meets with the FITz—the Facilitators of the Inquiry Teams--to train them in facilitating their teams. The Inquiry Teams meet monthly for PD responsive to their purpose and to engage in a coaching practice centered on the artifacts teachers bring based on the previous month’s learning. Sharon Walder, Facilitator of the Project-Based Learning Inquiry Team said of the Windsor Mill PD model, “Inside-Out PD has benefitted me because I have the opportunity to work on new ideas and try new things which ultimately has made a positive difference in the classroom. I have also had opportunities to work collaboratively with other staff members.”
Inquiry-Team Facilitator, Joseph Bensley, and STAT Teacher, Niamh McQuillan model the coaching process for other team facilitators.
Inquiry-Team Facilitators (left to right) Adam Berkowitz, Sharon Walder, Krystal Hockenbrock, and Joseph Bensley engage in the coaching process to prepare for an Inquiry-Team meeting.
Windsor Mill Middle School’s Student Council promises to have a memorable year in 2017-2018. Seventh grader, Michael Oduniyi, was appointed Baltimore County Student Council Middle-School Liaison in June of 2017 and has had the opportunity to attend multiple leadership workshops, including the two-day River Valley Ranch BCSC Leadership Conference. Windsor Mill launched the Student-Council election campaign in September during a Tech-Tuesday lunch. All students learned about the BCSC and were given the opportunity to submit an application to run as a representative for their homerooms. The following week, each candidate gave a one-minute speech to his or her homeroom on why he or she was the best candidate for the job. Students voted, and this year’s WMMS Student Council representatives were revealed during morning announcements. Homeroom representative Kaylinn Tyler said, “Student Council gives students a voice, and as a representative, this makes me a better person. I’m looking forward to students in our school coming together to help each other and have experiences they can share.” The Council convened for the first meeting in October to team build, create norms, and identify goals. In coming months, the representatives will elect officers, take part in an induction ceremony, and identify topics of focus to make Windsor Mill Middle the community where all students come to learn.
Submitted by John Ayres and Saba Fayyazi
Social Studies Department Chair and Grade 7 Student, Ridgely Middle School
Students in Mr. Ayres’ seventh grade Social Studies class are participating in their first book study on the novel A Long Walk to Water. Mr. Ayres, in perusing resources with colleague Heather Harget, found a Facebook group of educators with content in common. He reached out to the group to find a willing Skype participant from Canada. Students alternated asking questions about the content within the book. They seemed to really enjoy learning about their similar and different perspectives. This was Mr. Ayres’ first experience Skyping in the classroom, but certainly not his last.
Submitted by Emma Santucci, Kristen Listman, Samantha Skazis, Stephanie Mueller
3rd and 5th Grade Teachers , Church Lane Elementary School
This school year curiosity about Maker Space has filled our CLETS classrooms. Teachers are eager to incorporate maker learning into their instruction and students are motivated to create! As the Maker Liaison, I constantly supporting teachers with their making wonderings. Some teachers have started right away and others are on the path to embedding it into their instruction. My Team Building Tuesdays (TBT) will also have some maker learning activities for teachers to engage in before bringing it into the classroom. Check out how our 3rd and 5th graders have explored with Maker Learning this quarter:
For our Unit 1 ELA culminating event, third graders researched an endangered animal. Addressing the essential questions from the unit, students looked at the relationship between humans and their animals. Students transformed their research into digital presentations using tools like Discovery Education boards, Wixie and Power Point. After researching, we dove into an exciting maker challenge. Using the engineering design process, students determined what problem their animal faced. Then they worked in groups to build a prototype of something that could help solve that problem. Using cardboard and Makedo tools, students created reservations to protect red pandas from poachers, water filtration systems to clean the oceans for the sea lions, jungle alarm systems to warn jaguars of approaching danger and fish traps to round up food for the polar bears to eat. Throughout the project, students showed their creativity, collaboration skills, and problem solving strategies. We finished our week by using Flipgrid to share our final projects with our classmates.
5th grade students in Ms. Mueller’s class have been working on an ELA Stem project that requires each small group to research, compare and contrast, and brainstorm the best type of basket in order to build their own version. Students engaged in collaborative discussions throughout the process to build on each other’s ideas and present their opinions. Each group had to work together to use math strategies including adding and multiplying decimals to budget for materials in order to build their basket. Students then had to use a sequencing graphic organizer to brainstorm their ideas for their persuasive commercial. Students had to write opinion pieces in order to persuade others to purchase their basket by supporting their point with reasons and information. The final product of the project was a persuasive commercial in which students collaborated to film their commercials using Flip grid based on the persuasive writing piece they composed.
Shirley Byrd has been teaching at Pikesville High School for 4 years. In that time, she has experienced many changes including our lighthouse transition and all new curricula in all of her courses. She has embraced these changes and the end result means hands on learning for her students. From AP environmental science to GT Forensics to Paramedical Biology, there always seems to be a simulation, lab, student-created project or small group activity going on in her room.
AP environment Science:
To get the students engaged in the soil lab, Ms. Byrd uses the What if the Earth Were and Apple? Demonstration to drive home hard facts regarding the amount of available soil the planet. Student then conducted various labs to examine soil properties and model soil horizons.
Students had been looking at qualifications of death examiners in our area and nation-wide. At the end of this study Ms. Byrd had her students create a classified ads for death investigator that would meet the needs of our geographic area. Students used word art and other web programs to make visually appealing ads.
One of the death investigators is a forensics pathologist and so students viewed a human autopsy and then conducted their own autopsy on a kosher pickle. All the pickle victims died in different ways and the students had to write a report on a cause of death. Lastly, students conducted a virtual autopsy using their devices. They had 18 cases to choose from in this culminating activity.
Third grade teacher Jessica Rossi is always willing to go the extra mile in order to provide her students with unique, memorable, and engaging learning experiences at Rodgers Forge Elementary. Most recently, she devised a hands-on simulation experience for her students to try using drones to carry out real-life scenarios. The students first read an article about the many ways that drones are currently being used in our society as well as ways they may be used in the future. After identifying and discussing identified situations, students actually went outside to fly drones through six simulation experiences. For example, one group attached a “pesticide” card to their drone, had to fly it several feet in front of them and land it in a hula hoop sized-spaced, designated as the “apple orchard.” Team members then had to remove the “pesticide” card from the drone, attach an “apple” card to the drone, and fly it back to the starting point in order to successfully complete the mission. This simulated the real-world use of drones to dispense pesticide on crops that are being attached by insects, and then to later deliver a healthy apple to someone’s doorstep.
The entire simulation experience connected to an opinion writing piece that students would be working on next, stating whether or not they believe that drones are valuable to society. From their own simulation experience, students were able to talk through various problems that could be presented. For example, students who were simulating the use of a drone to deliver pizza discovered that drone flight is not always stable, due to user control issues or wind factors. They realized that this could cause the pizza to tilt from side to side, which could cause the cheese to slide to one side or to get stuck to the box. They also recognized the difficulty of accurate landings, especially with unpredictable wind, and students worried that the pizza might accidentally be delivered to a neighboring house instead. Students took these valuable observations and more away from the simulation in order to write their opinion essays, and, as you can imagine, they are itching to get back outside with the drones for another experience soon!
STEM students in Marisa Rardon’s second grade class came to the rescue of Baltimore City after a wall collapsed due to faulty mortar holding the bricks together! Through this second grade Science simulation, students acting as structural engineers went to work to create a more durable mortar and wall design.
These eager structural engineers went right to work. First, they explored the properties of materials in order to determine which materials were best suited for creating a mortar mixture and wall design. Next, they followed the engineering design process to determine the best mixture for mortar, planned a design for their wall, built it, and tested its strength using a wrecking ball. Whew! That took days of working collaboratively and solving many problems! Next, they reported their findings to improve the guidelines for building retaining walls so a disaster like this one doesn’t occur again!
The students selected PowerPoint to present their research and test results. They included their results for testing the wall for strength using the wrecking ball, as well as the type of mortar their group decided was the best and why. Their PowerPoint presentations included photos of themselves completing the different steps of the Engineer Design Process. These young structural engineers were immersed in the process from start to finish! In the end, the students used OfficeMix to add a video of themselves reading their PowerPoint presentations. The mixes were then converted into videos to share with families and other classes.
Students in Theresa Cash’s fourth grade class at Edmondson Heights Elementary School were busy researchers, authors, and illustrators!
The class used their devices to research and read about many memorable individuals throughout history such as, Jackie Robinson, Milton Hershey, Jane Goodall, and Nellie Bly, as part of their first ELA unit. Each student selected a memorable individual and created a realistic fiction story based around a small moment in that person's life. This activity was part of their culminating event. Once each story was written, texts were transcribed into bound books, and colorfully illustrated.
Every author needs an audience and a platform for “selling” their books, so second grade students and BCPS officials were invited to “Meet the Authors.” These guests were given a recording form and invited to visit ten authors, listen to them read their books, and obtain their autographs in order to document their visits.
These fourth grade authors captured the hearts of their audiences and inspired them to research and write their own stories! Stay tuned for future publications!
Year 16 as an educator in Baltimore County started a little different than years past. I spent 15 years working with kindergarten and or first grade students on learning to read, write, and strengthen problem solving skills. This year I was not walking into my own classroom of 23 or more students but walking into a gymnasium with students ranging from Kindergarten through fifth grade. Some think this was, but I saw it as a challenge. I knew I could teach kids to read, write and become problem solvers as I had 15 years’ experience in doing this, but teaching kids grades Kindergarten through fifth grade health and fitness goals was a whole different ballgame. But I was up for the challenge.
Being a lighthouse school has always helped with teaching our kids different ways to find information and to present their findings in many ways. Our 1:1 device ratio has allowed kids to use a variety of digital content and strengthen their technology skills. My teaching strategy used to be to model, have students work in partners and then have them “show what they know” on paper. I feel like being a lighthouse school has changed my teaching into a more blended learning experience. Students don’t always have to use a device and can learn without one, as we already know, but the technology has helped students become more creative problem solvers. I was able to bring this to life in the classroom for the 4 years we were a lighthouse school in first grade and was ready to continue the challenge in physical education.
Students ranging from grades 3-5 start the year out doing Fitnessgram. Fitnessgram is a program that allows teachers, administrators, parents and, most importantly, students to identify, understand, and make positive changes to their health and in turn build the healthy habits needed to carry them well into the future. Students perform and record a series of tests in the physical education and can see if they fall within the “healthy fitness zone” which is based on their age, weight and height. The series of tests are runs, push-ups and curl-ups. Students begin practicing these tests in the second grade and they start recording and looking at their healthy fitness zone in fourth and fifth grade. When teaching students the proper form for push-ups and curl-ups students have a hard time making corrections as they can’t see what they look like while doing them. I decided that in physical education we would put these devices to use. Students recorded themselves doing push-ups and curl ups. We then recorded students that were showing proper form for each. Students had an opportunity during one class to watch the videos of proper form on their device as well as record themselves. Using the device was a way to motivate students to do push-ups the correct way since they would be recording themselves. It also helped them to make their own corrections as they could see where their mistakes were and not by me calling them out to them. After the students were able to record themselves and watch examples they could record their final and put it into a PowerPoint presentation to give to me. They were able to tell me about the corrections that they made by comparing their first video with their final video weeks later after practicing.
The students enjoyed working on this project and they were able to do a successful push-up and curl-up after using the device to record and make corrections. Just this one enhancement has made the students in gym see how technology can be used in a different content areas in a meaningful way. I can’t wait to continue this journey of the lighthouse school in my new position.
From October 4th – October 8th, I was fortunate to travel to Cork, Ireland with my barbershop quartet, Pratt Street Power, to perform for the Irish Association of Barbershop Singers’ International Convention. While I was there, I performed at a primary school and observed their music teacher and students. At the convention, my quartet received feedback from international judges of barbershop and were given techniques and concepts to aid our improvement. All of the information gained has already been applied in my classroom! Incorporating body movement while singing and working through the emotional lens rather than the technical lens has helped my students connect to the music more and enjoy telling the message of the song rather than showing that they sang every note correctly. We are learning to trust our basic technique and our consistency as musicians so that we may work on finding the true meaning of a song and how we should perform it so the audience will understand. It was an incredible trip that yielded numerous opportunities for professional development and growth!
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.