While we, as adults, often experience that “bad case of the Mondays,” dragging our feet as we kick off another workweek, we have to wonder what our children feel like when they wake up, day-in and day-out and prepare for school. Many children come to school lethargic, not looking forward to the day of learning ahead. However, in Olean, many teachers have adopted the use of Chris Biffle’s Power Teaching philosophy, where repetition of important content is taught in a series of rules and in an energetic and engaging manner.
A student in Miss Bess’ First Grade leads the class in the rules of Power Teaching. This is done first thing every morning to reinforce the behavioral expectations of the day.
A hot button topic in many schools throughout New York State is the Common Core aligned curriculum modules in math. Many are questioning the instructional strategies used to teach various mathematical concepts. To help answer the questions of parents, 4th grade teachers in Olean held a parent night for the purpose of highlighting the concepts of the Core Knowledge math modules, explaining the reasoning behind building this conceptual understanding among the whole of the student population.
Sue Kallenbach and Nancy Sullivan of Olean Intermediate School welcomed parents to OIMS this month for an evening of math conversation. Both teachers discussed where they had been in the curriculum thus far this school year and explored new mathematical concepts with the parents present. They welcomed questions from parents, many of which wondered why they couldn’t just “teach the trick” to the students when solving various mathematical problems. Kallenbach and Sullivan both held the importance of building the conceptual understanding of the students as a means of outfitting them with multiple strategies to use when solving a problem. When we “teach the trick” students are only given one way to derive a solution and aren’t given the option to solve in multiple ways, or in the way of which they are most comfortable.
Parents look on as Mrs. Kallenbach and Mrs. Sullivan explain where they’ve been in the curriculum modules, and the direction that they are headed. Parents also reviewed several problems and posed questions to the teachers to provide further clarification about the mathematical concepts being taught.
The web-based assessment program, Castle Learning, is a K-12 resource which provides core testing content using a variety of formats. Instant grading, detailed assessment reports, and instructional feedback are benefits that save time and improve academic success. Just ask Christine Lightner, Earth Science Teacher for Olean Summer School, 2013. Olean Summer School offers Earth Science review and instruction supplemented by online credit recovery and the use of past regents’ exam questions created for student assignments using Castle Learning.
When students in the fifth grade classes of Mrs. Laura Hamed, Mrs. Tammy Martin, and Ms. Cari Matejka at Olean Intermediate Middle School began their study of the solar system, little did they know what an out of this world experience it would be. The unit actually began much earlier in the year with an in-depth study of Earth. By learning many of the concepts associated with Earth, students were then ready to begin their six week study of the solar system with foundational knowledge they could tap into, compare, and apply to their new learning.
If your classroom has not participated in a virtual collaborative project before, take this opportunity to learn how easily it can happen and how teachers and students enjoy it! In April 2013, Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Keller, and Mrs. Hart took their 2nd & 3rd grade East View Elementary resource classroom students on a tour of Olean and to meet Mayor Linda Witte as part of a New York State classroom collaborative project.