Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Anti Bullying activities - not just about a day

Our PLP video group conducted interviews about the importance of standing up for each other and Unity Day during explore block. 

Unity Day 2015
Together against bullying — united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion 

Bullying Prevention Awareness month was initiated by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center Site Exit Dislcaimer in October 2006. Since it began, the event has grown to an entire month of education and awareness activities, and is being recognized by schools and communities throughout the world. PACER recognized that students, parents, and people around the world need to become more aware of the serious consequences of bullying

PACER developed National Bullying Prevention Month to raise awareness and also to change the culture around bullying, which was historically considered a childhood rite of passage. “We know that bullying can lead to school avoidance, decreased self-esteem, depression, and even self-harm,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “Bullying intervention and prevention is something in which everyone can play an important role.”

At Barre City School we address the issue of bullying every day in a proactive way.  Among other things, specific activities include direct instruction about peer/relational aggression, other types of bullying, peer to peer training and modeling, active strategy teaching for bystanders, an excellent system of alertness, follow up and addressing problems as they arise. 

Our entire middle school, every student and staff member, participated in Unity Day today.  Between decorating the banner, the hallways, the drive, sending letters, writing, interviews, and a variety of other activities, students were actively engaged in sending a common message.  When I walked into the cafeteria during grades 5 and 6 lunch, I saw that every student and teacher was wearing something orange.  What an incredible sight! Equally impressive was the 7th and 8th grade representation, and as I completed my end of the day walk through, I was so glad to see the peer interviews happening. Our students are clearly hearing and internalizing the message that anti-bullying efforts are not about a day, or a week, or a month.  Positive change comes one small moment at a time, all stacked up together.  These moments can and need to happen every day, every week, every month, all year and for years to come. We know this at BCEMS, but we sure did have a great time today coming together for this national event.  
We started our day by walking to put posters up on all of the trees that line our drive.

Our office staff participated - Thank you ladies! 

One of the activities completed today

Some of our 7th and 8th graders make a statement. 

Some of our fifth graders.  

Ms. Bettis and two of her students after completing some of their activities.

Mr. Woodard and Mr. Mislak 

One of our behavior specialists - Justine 

Students - every single one (400 of them!) signed the banner today.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

So many things happen each day in our school that help us to feel connected to each other.  Why is that important?  Can kids learn, be their best selves, do what we want them to do, what we need them to do, without that feeling of connectedness and community?  Some might argue that they can. Some might argue that building a sense of community may take a back seat to the many other things that we need to pay attention to.   Building community is not taking a back seat at BCEMS.  The research that confirms the importance of building a sense of community in schools continues to grow. Students who identify their school as having a strong sense of community are more likely to access all of the academic, social and extra-curricular opportunities available to them.  Along with academic achievement, schools with a strong sense of community emphasize the development of qualities essential to good character and citizenship, such as fairness, concern for others, and personal responsibility. Everyone shares an understanding of the school's values, which then shape daily interactions.  These interactions lead to an increased investment in student learning. 

Ms. Cosgrove's TA (Team UJAMAA) starts their day with a group breakfast ~ an opportunity to support each other with whatever they may need. 
Class meetings, cross grade mentoring, the Barre Youth Mentor Project, organized opportunity for student voices to be heard, collaborative learning, restorative practices, whole school celebrations, community service opportunities, cafeteria contributions, pod meetings, plp/explore blocks and advisories are just some of the things happening at Barre City School to help us continue to build our collaborative, connected learning community. These activities help to cultivate respectful, supportive relationships among students, teachers, and parents. These relationships are the heart of who we are and are essential in supporting engaged learning.  
Student agreements posted in the classroom build a sense of community. 

Members of Students on the Move, our student voice group, review the whole school assembly program. 

At our monthly whole school celebration we all danced together to start things off! 

One explore/plp group created a project in our gardens in which they harvested pumpkins and invited younger students to bring one home. 

School wide celebration of fitness - walk, run, fun.

As part of our explore/plp experiences, the PEAK team volunteered their time and harvested 1500 pounds of produce at a local farm! 
Members of the boys soccer team building benches for our fields.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Visible Learning and Teaching 

Recently I was able to observe the process of formative assessment happening in a 5th grade math class.  

Formative assessment is specific, timely, and directly connected to learning goals. Teachers gather valuable data through this process by observing the actions, behaviors, and words of students. Teachers may take notes as students conference with one another, pair and share, or work in collaborative learning groups. These informal assessments are about checking for understanding in an effective way in order to guide instruction. During my time observing I listened to small group conversations which created opportunities for students to guide their own learning.  Students were successfully applying the new learning and problem solving in the moment. This provided natural opportunities for the students to revise and improve their work products and deepen their understandings.  The teacher and I were also able to quickly connect the “visibility” of her teaching to what her students were able to show about what they had learned.  

Evidence shows that the greatest effects on student learning come when not only the students become their own teachers, but the teachers also learn about their teaching, and then apply that learning to their instruction. In the most successful classrooms, both the teaching and learning are visible. When it is clear what teachers are teaching and what students are learning, student achievement will increase. What I observed in this math class was an excellent example of this process. As a school community, we can celebrate our commitment to providing these essential opportunities for students so that we can continue our own learning about what works best for our kids. Opportunities for learning are endless. For all of us. 
  Students in Ms. Shaffer's class working through a word problem at a concrete station as part of a CRA assessment.