School Beat

School Beat – August 6, 2009

August 6, 2009 // 0 Comments

Audio, visual enhancements to be installed by PETER YOUNG Director of Technology Rockford Public Schools Students learn better when teachers support a variety of learning styles. To provide that opportunity for teachers, multi-media projectors and sound amplification systems will be installed this summer in classrooms to enhance the visual and audio learning experience. These classroom enhancements are made possible by the funds provided by the millage renewal bond from the spring of 2008. Currently, a teacher’s computer screen is projected onto a 32” TV monitor mounted in the corner of most classrooms. These are being replaced with new ceiling mounted multi-media projectors that can project whatever is on the teacher’s computer onto a large eight-foot screen. The new projectors will also include a sound system that will amplify whatever audio programs are being used on the teacher’s workstation. This will allow all students to see and hear what is being shown from all corners of the room. Projectors can be used in many ways to share information with students. They can encourage group participation by projecting live video of experiments or lab work, or by viewing image-intensive websites suitable for class discussion, or allow a student to display their own presentations to the rest of the class. These multimedia projectors are perfect for this generation’s visually oriented youth because they help make abstract concepts easier to understand and remember. In addition to the projector installation, all classrooms from kindergarten through eighth grade will be receiving classroom audio technology systems. With this new technology, the teacher wears a wireless microphone that is connected to a sound amplification system, which allows his or her voice to be heard evenly throughout the classroom above other background noise. There are many benefits to this for both teachers and students. While not actually making the classroom louder, the teacher can use a quieter tone of voice and still be heard and understood, while not getting fatigued by the end of the day. The bottom line is that both students and teachers benefit by both hearing and being heard during instruction time. Both of these new technologies are exciting innovations in teaching tools that will provide an improvement in student attention and participation, enthusiasm and motivation for learning, and ultimately increasing […]

Go green!

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

by BOB SIEGEL Principal, Valley View Elementary Being a Michigan State University (MSU) alumni and HUGE fan of the Spartans, when I first heard the phrase, “GO GREEN!” I instinctively shouted out loud, “GO WHITE!” (Green and White are MSU’s school colors—in case you missed the NCAA basketball tournament.) This past fall, Valley View Elementary School, along with other schools in Rockford, focused on educating our students about  the importance of protecting our environment on our “one and only” planet Earth! At Valley View, teachers Nancy Berg (fourth grade) and Brad Davison (fifth grade) invited fourth- and fifth-graders to be leaders of this effort by joining our school’s newly created “Green Team”—a hands-on experience at helping safeguard Mother Earth. What started out as a simple group of students looking to engage in fun activities under Nancy and Brad’s leadership, became a group very serious about their efforts and highly organized. The experience culminated in the reception of the “Green Award,” given by the Kent County Intermediate School District. Valley View’s upper-elementary students truly embraced the concepts of conservation and recycling to the point where they gave up recesses to organize their tasks. A “tree-hugger” I am not, but one can no longer overlook the need to be conscious of the environment around us! As a leader of future leaders, it’s incumbent upon us as educators—and parents—to teach our children the importance of considering how and what we USE, from material goods to electronic devices. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a parent and educator, it’s that whatever we place a high priority and focus on is what our children will grow up to place importance on when they are adults. The way that I view this topic is analogous to how we should treat our bodies. We get ONE shot at taking care of our earthly “temples,” as the Greeks used to say. If we mistreat our human bodies by eating poorly, failing to exercise, and abuse chemicals, the result will probably not be a long and prosperous life. Unfortunately, once our body begins to malfunction, we do NOT get to trade it in for a new one! The same goes for “Mother Earth!” I’m not sure we’ll ever truly know the extent […]

Learning through travel

July 9, 2009 // 0 Comments

by MICHAEL HIBBELN, PrincipalRoguewood Elementary School With the school year behind us, summer break serves as a time to relax and regroup for many of our families and students. With all that our Rockford community has to offer, students have many opportunities to spend their summer days close to home. Perhaps it is a canoe trip down the Rogue, or a visit to one of the many parks-opportunities are all around us! Passing the days with trips to the beach, riding bikes on the White Pine Trail, or just playing outside in the yard until the stars come out is what a childhood summer is all about! Yet, with the traditional summer break, summer also provides us with the time to take those family vacations we’ve been planning and waiting for all year. By spending some part of the summer traveling, students will return home with more than souvenirs, but memories that last a lifetime. When they return to the classroom in the fall, these memories and experiences serve as a great resource to draw from when being a student. When traveling this summer, make a point to visit important historical sties with your student. Students may not be in social studies class this summer, but social studies come alive when you travel. Sometimes through travel, your students can learn much more than they would have in a classroom and also make important connections to what they studied during the year. Through travel, you might get the chance to see your child in a different light that was not evident when under the pressure of daily routines. Maybe they were always the last one getting out the door in the morning or forgetting homework. But when traveling, you might see a new side of your child’s independence. Encourage this to come out by assigning them a specific responsibility, like being in charge of the map or directions. By traveling, you take your student out of their daily environment, which in turn exposes them to how others live. With this, their cultural awareness rises. Learning about other cultures and geography is something discussed on a weekly basis at school, but nothing can expose a student to this like travel. Finally, even the best travel plans can […]

Reach for the world, read!

July 2, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CINDY KITZROW Director of Library and Media Services Each year the Rockford Public Schools’ (RPS) reading specialists and library staff have a tradition of promoting summer reading. The theme for the 2009 Summer Reading Program is “Reach the World… Read.” The primary purpose of the program is to encourage students to read throughout the summer. The students are given a goal sheet. They record the books or minutes they spend reading. The students are asked to read 10 grade/age appropriate books or spend 15 hours reading throughout the summer. Each student who completes their reading goal will be invited to participate in a special celebration when they return to school in the fall. Research and beginning-of-year scores show that children who do not read consistently over the summer lose fluency and are prone to more reading “errors” in the fall. The summer-reading effect on student achievement is well-researched. The long summer breaks the rhythm of instruction which leads to forgetting and requires a significant amount of review when the student returns in the fall. Reading programs have a positive effect in showing literacy growth. Studies support the findings that those who read more know more. The culmination of our summer reading program will be celebrated with a one-day reading event. The Rockford Rotary Club is also charged to improve/increase literacy through various activity involvements. On Saturday, August 29, Rotary is sponsoring a reading celebration called “Reading Rocks in Rockford.” The Krause Memorial Library along with the RPS library staff, reading specialists and teachers are helping to plan numerous events for children of all ages. We will have Michigan authors, celebrity readers, and much more performing on the Garden Park stage. There will also be various reading activities throughout the city. The community will also help kick off the RPS K-12 fall reading program called “Pennies for Peace.” We will be reading the books Three Cups of Tea and Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson. “Pennies for Peace” is a service-learning program. We will be collecting pennies to help support a school in the remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We all want to share our vision to reach communities around the world to increase and improve literacy.

School Beat — June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

Addressing teens’ cell phone use by DAN WARREN, Principal East Rockford Middle School We have arrived at a place in our lives where we are instantly connected to each other through technology. It only takes a few seconds for us to connect for a conversation with just about anyone in just about any place in the world. We are communicating through personal technology at a rate so fast that when new information actually arrives to most of the general public, it’s already old news. Not only are we easily and quickly connected to others, our technology also allows us to gather information on any topic within seconds of pushing a few buttons. Want to find out a play-by-play analysis of your favorite professional sports team? Just dial it up. Or, maybe if you have the appropriate system, you could watch it live in the palm of your hand. Arguably, the cell phone is the personal electronic device that has revolutionized our ability to easily communicate with the world. Some of us remember the days when only physicians had pagers or the bulkiness of the first mobile phones. Today, a cell phone the size of a business card is all you need to run an international business. Personal technology devices that allow us instant communication and the ability to gather information are all probably very good for us and most likely unavoidable in today’s “need to know and do” society. And I am sure these devices will become even more efficient over time and certainly increase in popularity with each citizen. Allowing students to have cell phones in school is a challenging dilemma for both educators and parents. Aside from the obvious disruption cell phone use presents in public, how do we maintain normalcy in the instructional day, while knowing that a student is in possession of a communication tool that could easily be used for various inappropriate means? There have been many court cases involving student improper use of cell phones in school settings, most involving cyber bullying and transmitting unacceptable content. Obviously, this adds another layer of student behavior schools and parents have to manage. At some point in the future, maybe the cell phone will serve as a student’s personal computer that connects seamlessly […]

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