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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Meeting for 2nd Grade Teachers

Second-grade teachers from across the school system will have a meeting on Sept. 5 in the Graham library beginning at 3:00. Teresa Kearley will go through the procedures for gifted screening with you.

Solar System (5th Grade)

One of the 5th grade science stanards is to: "Compare distances from the sun to planets in our solar system." One of the bullets which extends that standards is: Relating the size of Earth to the size of other planets in our solar system." Here is a site that shows you how you can give kids a sense of the sizes and distances you are talking about.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Harley-Davidson Grant

Harley Davidson has a grant foundation program. To look at the information, click this link. The next deadline is far enough in the future for you to be able to formulate ideas. As with most grant programs, there are certain areas on which they focus. For Harley-Davidson their areas of interest are Education (Core Curriculum, Academic Enhancers), Community Revitalization (Job Enablers, Neighborhood, Social Services) Arts & Culture, Health, and Environment.

Also, Harley only funds programs in select areas. There are only eight metro areas in the country eligible. Talladega is one of the 8 (right alongside Milwaukee and Kansas City).

If you have a good idea and lack of money is the obstacle, it's worth taking a look.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tiarra Pointer visits Hal Henderson Elementary School

Tiarra Pointer is a former student of Talladega City Schools. She is in the 10th grade. Tiarra attends Meade Senior High School in Fort Meade, Maryland. Tiarra enjoys getting all A's while accepting an occasional B. While in Talladega, Tiarra attended Houston Elementary School, Dixon Middle School, and Zora Ellis Jr. High School. Tiarra's class was the last group to attend Dixon Middle School.

Tiarra was one of Mrs. Laros's pre-algebra students during the 2003- 2004 school year at Zora Ellis Jr. High School. Tiarra says "Mrs. Laros is a big part of my life. She has had a tremendous impact on me and the things I choose in life. I am really thankful to have someone like her in my life. Mrs. Laros really listens to me and helps me to make wise decisions." Tiarra left Talladega and moved to Maryland to join her mother at the end of the 2003- 2004 school year.
While living in Maryland, Tiarra has been given the opportunity to meet various celebrities, people from many different countries, and to visit "The Mall" in Washington D.C. During her visit to "The Mall," Tiarra has the opportunity to see The White House, The Capitol, The Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, etc. Tiarra has also been given the opportunity to participate in the Miss Teen Maryland Pageant and The National American Miss Pageant.

Tiarra called Mrs. Laros to ask for her address so she could send her a paper about the National Honor Roll Society, which she is now an active member. When asked by Mrs. Laros to speak to the sixth grade students of Hal Henderson Elementary School she accepted and felt honored. Tiarra spoke to the students about the importance of an education, the differences in educational opportunities in Maryland, the diversity of Maryland, the climate differences, and about setting long and short term goals. Tiarra also talked to the students about what the want to be when they grow up. Tiarra wants to become a criminal lawyer. She wants to attend Harvard University when she graduates from high school in 2009. Students, teachers, and lunchroom staff enjoyed Tiarra's message.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back To School Parent Extravaganza

All elementary school teachers should be receiving Extravaganza magnets to send home with students soon. I just wanted to thank you in advance for your help in promoting this event.

I believe we have a great school system and am working hard to let the community know it! This event will help shine a positive light on all seven schools. I know how hard you work every day. Thanks for what you do.

I hope to see you at the Extravaganza!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sample IEPs

Most regular education teaching reading this post have at one point been a part of IEP meetings. Also, you and the special education teachers have discussed students in your class with disabilities, needed accommodations, and other information.

You may not have had an opportunity to look closely at an entire IEP, particularly one from a grade level other than the one you teach. I have posted a half-dozen samples to serve as references for our special education teachers. You are invited to look at those if you wish.

To view them, click on the "Downloadable Documents" link. Open the "Special Education" folder, and then open the "Sample IEP" folder. When you open on of the documents, you will be prompted for a password. Simply click "cancel." You may even be prompted for a password more than once. Just click "cancel" again if needed, and the document will open for you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Groundwater Festival-4th Grade

Last year, 4th graders from throughout our school system participated in the "Groundwater Festival." The intent was to make this festival an annual event, and last year's festival was a success. The time commitment to put the festival together and the amount of work that fell on a very few people led to the decision not to continue the festival this year.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PDWeb Update

Sometimes, you just have to go through a process once to get a grasp of what it's all about. As teachers, we explain a concept and then give our students an opportunity to practice that concept. We are no different in that regard. Hopefully, we all now have a handle on how to sign up for workshops on PDWeb. That little skill set is the same whether you are signing up for a workshop at your school, a district-wide workshop, a summer workshop, or a workshop offered in a remote part of the state.

I have taken the sign-in sheets and awarded credit for all of the workshops that were offered district-wide. If you would like to see a complete listing of everything for which you have received credit, here is how to do it:

  1. Log into PDWeb.
  2. On the little blue bar, click on “My History.”

If you have been awarded credit for a workshop, you will see it. If you have signed-up for a workshop, but credit has not been awarded, you will also see that. You no longer have to wonder whether or not anything slipped through the cracks. What you see and what your principal sees will be one in the same.

Just to let you know who has what responsibility:

  1. If a workshop is offered across the school system, I take responsibility for putting it on the board. That allows me to see who has signed up, print a sign-in sheet, and award credit after the workshop.
  2. If a workshop is offered just for your school, the principal puts it on the board. That way, he/or she can see who has signed up, print a sign-in sheet, and award credit.

If you see some workshops that were offered just at your school, and you haven’t been awarded credit yet, give your principals a few days. Things get very busy in the office during these first couple of weeks. I will send our principals information on exactly how to award you credit if they are not already familiar with the process.

PDWeb is new for us, but I think you will soon see like the idea of not having all of the paper floating around and being able to see all of your professional development history at a glance.

Alabama Power Free Resources

Alabama Power offers several free, educational resources to assist with classroom learning. Here is a list of some of the offerings:

The Water Course – An educational center located in Clanton, the Water Course teaches visitors through interactive exhibits about the importance of water to our state and in our daily lives. The tour is self-guided and admission is free. For more information about the Water Course or to schedule a class visit, call toll-free (800) 280-4442 or log on to www.alabamapower.com/education and click on “Water Course.”

Science Suitcases – For years, teachers across the state have relied on the Science Suitcases program, which offers free, interactive science kits for classroom use. Educators can choose from more than 300 suitcases, which can be shipped to the Alabama Power office that is most convenient to the teacher for pickup. The kits are then returned to the office after the lesson is completed so they can be refurbished and used again. Teachers can review the list of suitcases and print out a request form at www.alabamapower.com/education. Click on “Science Suitcases.”

Patriots & Pioneers – This educational packet contains a VHS copy of the documentary, “The Tuskegee Airmen,” underwritten by Alabama Power. It also contains lesson plans that help students learn about these groundbreaking African-American military flyers of World War II who were trained in Alabama. The packet was jointly developed with the state Department of Education. Teachers can request a free copy at www.alabamapower.com/education.

Learning Power – An online resource for teachers, parents and students, Learning Power provides information and materials on the history of electricity, how it is produced, energy usage and conservation. You’ll find Learning Power by going to www.alabamapower.com/education. Click on “Learning Power.”

Safe-t-opolis – Help your students learn about electrical safety by inviting Alabama Power to bring Safe-t-opolis to your classroom. The three-dimensional model provides an entertaining and visually striking demonstration of the benefits and potential hazards of electricity. To request a visit, go to www.alabamapower.com/education.

Information about nuclear energy – The Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant located near Dothan provides resources for classes that want to learn more about nuclear energy. To find out more, contact the Farley Nuclear Visitors Center toll-free at 1-800-344-8295 or (334) 899-5108.

Alabama Power Service Organization/Energizers – More than 4,800 Alabama Power and Southern Company employees, retirees and their families contribute their time and their own financial resources to a variety of educational and charitable organizations through the Alabama Power Service Organization and the retiree service organization, the Energizers. They are available, through local chapters, to tutor students and support other school projects. To learn more, call Alabama Power’s Office of Education and Volunteer Services at (205) 257-2364.

Alabama Power Foundation – Since its founding more than 15 years ago, the Alabama Power Foundation has provided more than $90 million in grants to a wide spectrum of nonprofit organizations in the state, including educational institutions. To learn more about the foundation and its grant criteria, go to www.alabamapowerfoundation.com or call (205) 257-2508.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

National Board Certification

This just in from the University of Montevallo:

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards

When: August 24, 2006

Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Where: University of Montevallo Wills 200

Presenter: Pattie Thomas

This session will provide an overview of the NBPTS process. A Professional Learning Group will be developed and provide you with guidance and support in this process. The focus for the 2006-2007 year will be on the writing and videoing components of the process.

The group will meet throughout the school year; the schedule will be developed by the group. Most meetings will be held after school, Saturdays or routine holidays for school personnel. (Example: President’s Day) The Inservice Center will provide payment for one day of substitutes during the regular scheduled school year.

Bring your personal and school calendars and join Ms. Pattie Thomas for the overview of the program on the above date.

Monday, August 14, 2006

C.L. Salter Students and Faculty Enjoy the NED Show

On Monday August 14, students and faculty enjoyed and informative show aimed at improving student achievement through character education. Each year The NED Show produced by All For KIDZ encourages nearly 2 million kids. The show has been performed in all 50 states, Canada, England, Australia and the show is performed regularly at the White House.

NED stands for what it takes to become a champion at school and in life:

Never give up
Encourage others
Do your best

If you are interested in having the show at your school contact Mr. Cobb at Salter Elementary.

ARMT Workshops

ARMT Workshops

Where: University of Montevallo Wills 200

When: September 18, 2006

Time: 1st Session: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

2nd Session: 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.


Where: Talladega Teacher Center

When: September 19, 2006

Time: 1st Session: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

2nd Session: 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Teachers and Administrators for Grades 3-8
The Alabama State Department of Education is presenting four sessions which will focus on answering open-ended questions on the ARMT, looking at student data and using the NAEP website as a resource for open-ended practice questions. Each three-hour session will include math and reading.

Teachers and administrators will have the opportunity to attend a three-hour session at two locations on September 18th or 19th. This will allow two teachers to use a single substitute if they coordinate their training with one attending the morning session and one attending the afternoon session.

To Register – Please visit www.montevallo.edu/ic, click on “Current Workshops,” and then follow the links to the STI Registration Page.

University of Montevallo Parking – From Main Street in downtown Montevallo, turn at the red light at Smitherman’s Pharmacy onto Middle Street. Follow Middle Street until you reach College Drive (across from the UM baseball field). Turn right onto College Drive and park in the small parking area on the left side of the road. We will shuttle you to and from Wills Hall.

Directions to Talladega Teacher Center – Please visit www.montevallo.edu/ic and click on the “Driving Directions” link to the Talladega Teacher Center.

If you have any questions, please call the Inservice Center at 205.503.5870 or email wardjw@montevallo.edu.

Professional Development for Rick Shelton

Attending a session that Rick Shelton is doing with a class will count for 1 clock hour of professional development credit. (Limit is 1 hour total for those who may attend several sessions.) Just go to PdWeb to sign up and be sure to sign the sign-in sheet provided. (This sign-in sheet is just a pencil/paper one from the University of Montevallo.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

But I don't know what to write about...

How many times do we hear this statement from students? This coming week, Rick Shelton will share some insight into overcoming this problem. For example, when teaching expository writing, Shelton has these suggestions for the students:

  1. Make an “expert list.” This would be a list of topics where you are really good, have a good bit of knowledge, and you had a great interest.
  2. When you are asked to write an expository piece, pick something from your expert list.
  3. List three reasons why you like that subject. (“Because” is a pretty good starter.)
  4. Write a paragraph about your first reason. Write another paragraph focusing on the second reason, and then another paragraph focusing on the third reason.
For most people (whether they are 9, 29, 89) getting started is the hardest part about writing. This simple technique is one that we all can use.

Rick Shelton will spend six days in our schools. His schedule is as follows:

  • August 14—Graham
  • August 15—Henderson
  • August 16—Young
  • August 17—Salter
  • August 18—Houston
  • August 22—Ellis
Rick’s ability to relate to students through humor that gets their attention, and practical writing techniques which hold their attention, has him in demand all across Alabama and neighboring states as well.

For a schedule of what classes Rick will work, what modes he will address, and what times all of this will happen, contact the individual schools.
In addition to the work he does in countless schools, Rick is the author of Write Where You Are and Hoggle’s Christmas.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How to find Courses of Study

Recently at a meeting at Ellis, I shared that I would send steps to finding the courses of study on the Alabama State Dept. website. I hope this will be of assistance to all teachers.

1. Go to www.alsde.edu
2. Scroll down to bottom and click on "Click here for more special links".
3. Scroll down and at the bottom you will find "Courses of Study".
4. Click on this and print your specific area.

Have a wonderful school year!

"Hope is rooted in the confidence that the direction one is taking makes sense, even if the obstacles seem insurmountable." Michael Fullan

Monday, August 07, 2006

Talladega City School System Makes AYP!!!

Our accountability scores have been released to the public, and they show that the Talladega City School System made AYP! Here is how we did it:

Elementary grade span (grades K-5)-Scored a "Yes" for reading, scored a "Yes" for math, and scored a "Yes" for having at least 95% average daily attendance for the first 40 days of school. That alone would have done it!

We went a step further:

Middle grade span (grades 6-8)-Scored a "Yes" for reading, scored a "Yes" for math, and scored a "Yes" for having at least 95% average daily attendance for the first 40 days of school. That alone would have done it! One grade span getting a "Yes, Yes, Yes" gives a school system AYP. We had two grade spans to accomplish this task!

Looking at each of our schools:

All elementary schools
made AYP.

scored a "Yes" on all performance goals, showed enough improvement in average daily attendance for the first 40 days to receive a "Yes," but received a "No" for two subgroups in participation. The requirement is 95%, and we got 94%.

improved their scores on all performance goals but had two subgroups with a 94% in participation. Had those two sores of "94%" been "95%" instead, and had the dropout shown any decrease, THS would have made AYP.

Having all of our schools achieve AYP is something that is within our grasp!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back To School Parent Extravaganza

Back To School
Parent Extravaganza
September 7, 2006
Talladega High School
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Central Office is very excited about our first "Back To School" Parent Extravaganza. We are inviting all K-12 parents and of course, employees are welcome, too. The event will consist of 5 sessions, including STI-HOME, Motivating your child to succeed, Raising today's child, and AHSGE-Get the Facts. Parents will have an opportunity to browse additional information tables, too.

It's an event you don't want to miss!

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller

Thursday, August 03, 2006

SchoolPad Presentation

Those who went to Suzanne Culbreth's workshop on the SchoolPad will be interested in a number of presentations she has on this webpage. One of them is the presentation she gave for us.

One of the neat things about being in education today is there are a world of resources on the internet and that we can share, rather than create from scratch, the things we do with students. You may well find here (or on many other sites) PowerPoint presentations you could use with students ot when you are giving presentations to fellow faculty members. Always remember to give credit where credit is due, and the original creators are usually happy that you thought enough of their work to use it yourself.

Accelerated Reader--We have upgraded

Over the summer, we upgraded our Accelerated Reader (as well as STAR, and any other Renaissance Learning programs that are at your school.) All of this is now internet based. So, if I were you, I would drag to the trash the icons you have on your desktop for the old AR and STAR.

The reading coaches have been working to put the students into your classes so that the program will be ready to use without your having to do anything. There are some things you will need to know so that you can tell your students what to do.

I put together a PowerPoint presentation that consists of screen shots from the new AR program along with some comments typed on top of them. The presentation will show you things like what URL to go to for the new program, how to make a desktop shortcut for it, how to know what you to tell your students so they will be able to log in (user name and password). If you read the two posts just below this one, you will see more information about where to go and what to do. The PowerPoint presentation is called "Accelerated Reader Quick Start" and is located in the "Technology" folder. You will open that folder, the "Renaissance Learning" folder, and you will see the PowerPoint presentation in the list.

Downloadable Documents-How do I download them?

In the last post, I talked about what available for you to download right now. Clicking once on a folder will open it to let you see what is inside. Click once on the document will either open it or give you the option to open it or save it to your computer.

All of that is pretty old hat to most of you. Here is what you really need to know: If a box pops up and wants a password, just click "Cancel." If the box pops up again, just click "Cancel" again. A password is not required to download anything.

What you see there right now is just the beginning. As new documents are posted, I will let you know through posts just like this what to look for.

One final thought: Don't feel the need to print all of the things you download. Between having a good system for filing things on your computer and a good system for backing up your stuff, printing everything actually becomes counter-productive. If you think that I will one day be sharing with you some practical ideas for storing and backing-up your digital data, you are on the money.

Downloadable Documents-What's there now

On the right-hand side of the screen, you will see a link to "Downloadable Documents." You can only access this site from within the school system. What's there right now?

You will see two folders right now: "Curriculum and "Technology."
In the "Curriculum" folder you will find courses of study for the math, languages arts, science, and social studies for all grades. (Other courses of study will be posted soon.) You can now be assured that the Course of Study from which you are working is the most current one. You can download it to your computer, print it if you wish, copy and paste parts of text from one place to another, insert you own remarks (such as what time of year you would teach that content standard, what resources you might bring in, or anything else that helps that Course of Study become the tool it should be to drive instruction in your class.

In the technology folder, you will see two other folders: "STI Manuals" and "Rensaissance Learning." The STI folder contains instruction for STIClassroom, PDWeb, and SETS (for special education teachers).

Because of the new version of Accelerated Reader we have, I am going to do an entirely separate post of that.


As the week has progressed, more and more of us are getting the hang of PDWeb. Gone are the days of having to keep up with your professional development with a pile of papers. Gone are the days when you wondered how well your professional development records kept in the office matched with the professional development credit you thought you had earned.

You will really start to see the benefit when we approach the end of the year. As you are doing all of the normal end-of-school things, one thing you will not be doing is having to go back and list all of the professional development activities from the whole year. Your signing up all along on PDWeb is taking care of that paperwork.

As you begin to look for summer workshops to attend, you will have resources at your fingertips like you have never had before. Looking for a good math workshop geared for your grade level? All you would have to do is "Search the PD Catalog" and put a check "math" and a check beside your grade level. You instantly see a list of every applicable workshop in the state.

Please remember that to receive credit for any of the workshops you have attended this week, you must go to PDWeb and sign up for those workshops. I will leave all of the workshops open until the end of next week. At that time, I will sit down with the signing sheets and award credit to everyone.