Back to School

By: Desiree McConnell

Where did the summer go?  That is the question I keep asking myself as I get ready to head back to school Monday.  I suspect that many of you are asking yourselves the same question.

As I prepare for the coming year the need to set goals has been top on my priority list.   The division I really want to focus on this year is our Middle School division.  I am focusing on that division because they are the ones that I see the least.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, we have a fixed schedule for Lower School.  Having a set schedule for our Lower School is good due to the fact we actually see the kids on a regular basis.  However, it is “bad “since the time we see them is so limited. Within the limited amount of time we have them it is difficult to teach a lesson and allow sufficient time for students to check out books. All of that being said the following are my goals for the year.   I am only listing 5 as I think that is a realistic goal for me.

1.) Increased collaboration with Middle School teachers: Spend more time in their classrooms working with them.

2.) Use Aurasma to highlight and introduce new titles

3.) Purchase more Graphic Novels

4.) Teach a class or classes using at least one new piece of technology or App (not including Aurasma)

5.) Start a lunchtime book club

What are your goals for the coming school year?


The Journey

By: Desiree McConnell

One of my projects for this summer has been to work with a coworker to develop a plan and curriculum for teaching our entire school community about Digital Citizenship. As we explored the topic and learned more it was apparent that we needed to educate the entire community, not just the students.

Digital Citizenship was a topic only talked about before this past school year and one that no one had really invested any time in researching.  We found as we started conversations that most people didn’t know what Digital Citizenship was or what it covered. However, that changed this past fall when a group of us saw a need to educate our school community on the topic of Digital Citizenship.  Since then, we have had speakers from the FBI and dedicated an entire month to building awareness and educating our community.  During “Digital Citizenship Month” each grade level was responsible for teaching their students about cyber bullying, privacy, and etiquette for communicating online using lessons tailored to their specific grade level. After the “kick off” it became apparent that our efforts were just the beginning and much more education needed to happen for the entire school community.

The following are some of the questions that we found needed to be answered and continually revisited as we develop our plan of action and curriculum.

Who will teach it :

1.)  Librarians

2.)  Teachers in all areas

3.)  Technology specialists

4.) Chaplain

Who needs to be taught :

1.)  Parents

2.)  Faculty

3.)  Administrators

4.)  Students

Why :

1.)  Most parent’s aren’t teaching their students about Digital Citizenship

2.)  Increasingly schools are being called on to discipline students in regards to online behavior.

3.)  Technology is part of the world we live in

4.) Using technology responsibly is a skill that is necessary for success in the world today

5.) The way people in the school community use technology can affect the school

When :

 1.)  Integrate in the curriculum by using real world examples dealing with technology within lessons throughout the curriculum

2.)  In computer classes

3.)  Organizing parent educational coffees

4.)  During staff meetings

5.)  Through monthly posts in the school’s news letter

6.) During Chapel

The areas covered above are just the beginning and we know as this journey continues that there will be more questions than answers.  However, we do know that the topic Digital Citizenship is a topic that is not going away.  Like technology itself Digital Citizenship is an ever changing and growing area of study.  Tailoring your curriculum and educational opportunities to your school community is essential in order to be successful.


Some Things Never Change

By: Desiree McConnell

In our Lower School classes a few weeks ago we read Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by: John Rocco. A very cute, entertaining book that shares the adventures a little boy who thinks his super powers come from his hair.  After reading and discussing the book students were asked to draw a picture of themselves as super heroes and tell their super power.  As the week went by and I watched students working, their reaction to the activities, their responses to the book, and questions the students have asked.  I made some observations.  Despite all the technology we have and the push for more technology integration in schools and classroom kids still find joy in the following simple things:

1.)    Checking Out Physical Books

Even though many of my students have iPads and Kindles at home they still love checking out books and are always very sad when they can’t.  Students particularly enjoy getting picture books and will sit and share them with a friend, many times reading them to each other.


2.)    Being Read to

My students thoroughly enjoy being read to.  It doesn’t matter how old they get they enjoy hearing stories.  In my 15+ years of teaching I can’t ever recall a student being upset that I was going to be reading to them.  In fact, some of the best memories of student’s time in my class are of the books I read to them.


3.)    Bookmarks

My students love bookmarks.  I can’t say that they really use them, but they enjoy getting them. In fact, even if they don’t check out a book they make sure to take a bookmark.  Perhaps it is the fact that it is something free that they can take.  I am not sure of the appeal.  We do make an effort to have interesting bookmarks, but many times the same ones are available for weeks on end and the excitement for them never ceases to dissipate.


4.)    Coloring/Free Drawing

Kids enjoy using crayons, markers, and colored pencils to draw and create.  The cheers that I hear from students when I tell them they can free draw, color, or illustrate something makes me smile. Perhaps it is due to the fact that so often these days they don’t get to do these activities as much or without defined perameters.

All of this has helped me to see that no matter the amount of technology, money in the bank, or facilities that the kids have they still enjoy the simple things.  We need to remember this as people and educators.  Using and providing expensive gadgets isn’t what is important.  Providing students with tasks and experiences they enjoy IS.