Friday, November 20, 2015

News and Notes: Volume 2, Number 11

So much to share with you--it has been another great week to be a Trojan. I would like to welcome newly appointed WLPS Board of Education member, Shelli Kritzman. Shelli is filling the seat left vacant by Jim Vibbart. Jim certainly left his mark on our school system in many ways. He ended his long tenure as a board member with a challenge for all of us...I will share that next week. 

Don't forget the high school Drama Club is hosting its fall performance this weekend, You Can't Take It With You (performance details can be found HERE), and next Monday and Tuesday are parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school. 

History Alive!

Our students in 6th-8th grade are walking a little lighter these days with one less textbook in their backpack, thanks to our new digital curriculum, History Alive! With History Alive! our students have access to their book and materials 24/7 on their phones or computers. Compared to a printed textbook that is stagnant and doesn’t adjust to a student’s learning style or pace, our students now have a multi-faceted learning tool that can move at whatever pace works for them. Lessons begin with one big idea and then incorporate note-taking, group work and step-by-step discovery. Students have access to challenges, game-type activities, to test their understanding of the concepts before/after each chapter, which provide them with feedback so they can quickly review areas they are weak on or confirm they are on the right track. They don’t have to wait for a teacher to grade their quiz---they know right away what they need to work on.
The dynamic lessons provide tools for teachers to create engaging and enriching lessons. So far this year, our students had their own Constitutional Convention debate where they assumed the roles of the delegates, with custom-made masks and all (as seen on the left). Over the period of three days, “the delegates” debated the issues supported by their assigned delegate, taking on the personas of that delegates and accurately representing his views. Mrs. Easlick assumed the role of George Washington who led the convention. They even went as far as taking a vow of secrecy, securing the room by closing the blinds and locking the doors, just like in 1797. At the end of the convention, the delegates who signed the constitution did so, and those who did not, actively refused to sign it and stated their reasons for refusing.

This is just one of the dynamic lessons. Mrs. Klump-Ward who teaches with History Alive! said some of her personal favorites lessons include a week-long series of act-it-outs for each territorial acquisition in the 1800s (Louisiana Territory, Texas, Oregon Territory, etc.). In addition, students can act out mini-dramas to represent the challenges of the groups of people who moved West in the 1800s (forty-niners, Mormons, missionaries, etc.). Students can even participate in their own foreign policy adviser meeting where they make recommendations and respond to four foreign policy dilemmas faced by the US presidents from the 1790s to the 1820s. They are constantly interacting with the content in new, exciting and engaging ways.

Obviously access to technology is an essential part of our ability to continue to embrace blended learning and digital curriculum like History Alive! across all subjects and grades. Currently, the 7th and 8th grades have one cart of Chromebooks that are passed between the classes for students to use throughout the day. And 6th grade has a set of 30 Chromebooks specifically for the History Alive! program.

We will be kicking off a fundraiser for more technology for our district on Giving Tuesday so we can continue to incorporate learning tools like History Alive! in line with our blended learning goals. Watch for a special Thanksgiving edition of News and Notes next Wednesday for the details.

Invisible Fundraising
I'm often approached by parents and community members asking for ways to support WLPS. There are actually a variety of ways you can support us at no cost to you. We call these invisible fundraising. Click HERE for a breakdown of all the invisible fundraising options available and how to participate.

Rake N Run
Last week I mentioned Rake N Run but I wanted to share some pictures and an outstanding video created by sophomores Karolyn Wagner and Kailey Grooms for their multimedia class. It requires no introduction and captures the spirit of this long-standing service event, enjoy.


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