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Friday, September 29, 2006

Lowe's Donates $50,000 to THS Career Tech Education Center

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Talladega Career/Technical Education Center for the renovation of the Family and Consumer Science learning space. The FACS program is one of the most popular programs offered to students at Talladega High School. Students in the program develop the skills necessary to address challenges faced by individuals and families in the home, school, workplace, and community. Students learn the importance of developing the ability to think, communicate, manage, and lead which will prepare them for success in an increasingly technological and diverse society as well as the global economy.

Over the last year the FACS teacher, Kimberly Mitchell, and the director, Dr. Trellys A. Riley, have contacted numerous businesses to ask their assistance in complying with Business and Industry Certification requirements from the Alabama State Department of Education. When Ms. Mitchell and Dr. Riley applied for the grant from Lowe’s, they went to meet with the local Lowe’s Manager, Daniel Miller in Oxford. Mr. Miller took time to meet with the two of them and offered the assistance of his staff. The staff at the Oxford Lowe’s store has been extremely enthusiastic and encouraging throughout the process.

With the grant from Lowe’s, the students in the FACS program will enjoy a new kitchen facility, sewing tables, and new appliances which will allow the program to continue to meet the needs of students at Talladega High School. BIC (Business and Industry Certification) is a requirement for continued operation of all career/tech programs. The FACS program in Talladega was cited for equipment and facilities concerns from the on site review team last spring and faced a desperate situation needing to meet the requirements, but having no money to do so. According to the teacher, she and the students are thrilled and so appreciative of what Lowe’s has been able to do.

As a part of the FACS program students learn the importance of giving back to the community, and Lowe’s has certainly set a fine example for the students to model. “The grant in Talladega represents Lowe’s commitment to education,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “By supporting local schools like Talladega Career/Technical Education Center, we believe we are not only contributing to a cause that’s important to our customers and employees, but we’re also helping schools build a stronger foundation for the children who will be tomorrow’s employees, homeowners and community leaders.”

This type of teamwork makes great things happen for Talladega City students! Thanks to Dr. Riley and Ms. Mitchell for their hard work. Congratulations!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

3 Cheers for our CNP Director

Talladega City School CNP Director Joni Baker was featured in the fall 2006 edition of "Hot Topics" a national newsletter for the Food Service Industry.

In an article entitled, "A Safer, Healthier Hot Lunch", Ms. Baker promotes our state and its proactive role in determining guidelines for districts throughout Alabama. She states, "In Talladega, implementing the local Wellness Policy means educating students on healthy habits, and reinforcing behaviors on campus."

Joni reveals Talladega's elementary school requirements of limiting the opportunity for non-nutritious snacking by requiring that vending machines to be carbonated beverage-free. Ms. Baker shares how our junior high school vending machines may contain a maxium of 30% carbonated beverages, and 50% for high schools.

We are proud of Joni Baker and what she does each day for the students in our school system. Great job!

Monday, September 25, 2006

We have been accepted for District Accreditation

We have received a letter from the President of SACS-CASI informing us that we have been accepted into the process for District Accreditation. What this means is that sometime within the next 18 months, we will host a visiting team who will decide on whether our school system as a whole will receive accreditation. We will receive the same review every 5 years thereafter.

This process replaces the one that is so familiar to usthat of a school hosting a team, writing a report, etc. each five years. For two schools, this announcement has a fairly immediate impact. Both THS and Ellis are up for their own accreditations this school year. Now that the school system has been accepted to pursue District Accreditation, those two schools will not go through the process individually.

District Accreditation is one of several changes that SACS has instituted to streamline the process and avoid duplication.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More on ARMT and open-ended questions

Here are several resources mentioned in yesterday’s ARMT workshop that seemed particularly interesting:

Math Instructional Strategies

Need stems for open-ended questions? Here are some starters

Converting closed questions to open-ended questions in the math class. Here are some examples

May other examples can be found here.

Rewards Money for Northside-Hal Henderson and C.L. Salter

Congratulations to Northside-Hal Henderson Elementary and to C. L. Salter Elementary. Both school received $8,500 as a part of the Alabama State of Education "Rewards and Sanctions Program." The schools received the money for having made "Adequate Yearly Progress" for two consecutive years.

Pictured with Salter principal Shelton Cobb are State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton, Alabama State Board of Education member Stephanie Bell, Superintendent Lee Messer, and Governor Bob Riley.

Pictured with Northside-Hal Henderson principal Alicia Laros are Dr. Morton, Mrs. Bell, Mr. Messer, and Governor Riley.

The presentation of these awards was made on September 14 at a ceremony in Montgomery.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ARMT Open-Ended Questions

Here are some of the “big ideas” I took from a workshop this morning on ARMT Open-Ended Questions:

  • Doing well on the Stanford is still important. On the ARMT, 60% of the reading questions are actually taken from the Stanford-10. In the area of math, 30% of the questions are from the Stanford-10.
  • Open-ended responses in reading test one thing—Reading Comprehension
  • Students need to use a “just the facts ma’am” approach. No topic sentence. No concluding sentence. Simply list what is asked for. Spending time writing great prose won’t help the score, and will take away valuable time that could be spent elsewhere.
  • To help students prepare throughout the year, as you read things in class, ask students questions such as, “What three things did you learn from this?”
  • We all know that charts and graphs are important. When these appear in the textbook, train students to quickly locate in the text the reference made to the chart or graph.
  • Why can’t I write outside the lines? The instructions on the open-ended responses caution students against this. What happens if they do? Here is the explanation: The answer booklets are cut apart and the individual sheets are scanned into a computer. When the booklets are cut, anything outside the lines will be cut off. The people scoring the responses will never see what had been written.
  • Students are not supposed to underline passages on the ARMT. Why is this not allowed? After all, underlining is a good strategy. The answer is that the machines which score the answers are so sensitive that something written in the booklet several lines away will still be read by the machine. Here is a strategy that students can use: Put a finger on the particular spot in the booklet as a “place marker.” A student may wind up with several fingers spread up and down the page to mark specific spots.
  • Here are some activities to help prepare for ARMT
  • Here is a pretty thorough handout on the subject of open-ended questions
  • This year, we have schools in our system who have been chosen to take the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress). You can go here for sample questions. What you will find is that you could run off one reading passage and glean sometimes as many as 80 questions that you could ask from that one passage.

Yahoo Toolbar and Accelerated Reader

Renaissance Learning recommends uninstalling the Yahoo ad Google toolbars it you have those running. The pop-up blocker features of those are interfering with the program.

If you scroll back to a September 5 post on the subject of toolbars, you will instructions on how to remove them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For Your Viewing Pleasure

You may want to check out the right side of the screen under downloadable documents. If you select "The Faces of Talladega City Schools" you will find a documentary of sorts displaying some of the many faces that help make our system work. I am proud we have so many people working together.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What happened at the Board meeting?

To find out the answer to this question, you would usually call someone who you thought would have gone to the meeting. Or, you would wait until the next morning to read the Daily Home.

If you happened to have come here thinking this just might be a vehicle for getting the word out quickly, good for you!

Here are the highlights:

  1. You are going to need to make a couple of changes on your calendar. April 27th and April 30th are now holidays. May 4th and May 7th are now school days. This change is due to a change in the date of Race Weekend. This change will mean parents will need to be made aware. The appropriate changes on STI Office will need to be made.
  2. Our school system is going to pursue SACS “District Accreditation.” With District Accreditation, the entire district goes through accreditation one time every five years instead of every school going through the process on its own. Think about it: one visiting team instead of seven. One document instead of seven. Handling all of those details one time instead of seven. Tomorrow, our school system will send a formal letter asking to enter the process. If accepted, we will have 18 months to prepare for the review. You will hear much more about this move during the coming months.
  3. One retirement and one hire: Joann Duncan has announced her retirement, and she will be sorely missed. Congratulations to D’Toria Porter who has been hired as an instructional assistant at R.L. Young.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

National Board Certification Grants

I have the Alabama State Department grant applications for National Board Certification funding, if you are interested. I can be available to videotape, too. The fall application deadline is September 25th.

Just give me a call 315-5614 or email me pthomas@mail.talladega-cs.net.

I'll be happy to assist!

The Extravaganza is HERE!

The Back to School Parent Extravaganza will take place on Thursday, Sept. 7th from 6 until 8 pm.

Each PTO president has agreed to reward students whose parents participate in the Extravaganza. Participation will be tracked by sign-in sheets on each school's table. This is not something you will have to do.

Any further promotion you can give will be appreciated. We are hoping for a good turn out. The speakers will be addressing "Motivating your child to succeed", "Raising today's child", and "STI-Home" for the k-8th grade parents. The high school parents will also have an opportunity to hear about scholarships, the graduation exam, and STI Home. These are all topics that encourage parent involvement and awareness. It should make your job easier if the parents are more involved.

This event will also promote our system as a whole. There are wonderful things happening in classrooms across this district. Keep up the good work!

Enhancing Computer Performance

John Locklin has identified computer performance problems throughout the school system which can be traced back to three basic problems. Here are the problems and their solutions:

1. Installed toolbars, i.e. google and yahoo.
2. Symantec Internet Security that comes pre-installed on new computers.
3. Error messages that say Not Authorized to View this Page or Forbidden.

The solutions are easy.

1. Uninstall the toolbars. To do this you click on start, then control panel, add and remove programs. Remove anything that says toolbars, as well as any program that you have added.

2. Open the internet security by double clicking on the ball with grid lines. You will find this in the toolbar with the clock. Disable each part, filter, spyware, etc. You may also remove it completely from your computer, by following the steps above.

3. Install the proxy filter, which should be in place on every computer in your classroom. Steps for this are given below.

Step 1 Open your web browser
Step 2 Click on Tools
Step 3 Click on Internet Options
Step 4 Click on the Connection tab
Step 5 Click on LAN Settings
Step 6 Click on Proxy Server to put a check in the box
Step 7 In Address Box type
Step 8 Tab to Port Box and type 8002
Step 9 Click on OK (this screen will close)
Step 10 Click on OK (this will close Tools)
Step 11 Try to go to the Internet

John Locklin
Technology Coordinator
Talladega City Schools

phone # : 256-315-5680
cell # : 256-223-7797

Friday, September 01, 2006

ARMT Preparation Documents Available to Download

The ARMT Items Specifications for each grade from 3-8 are available for download. Click the "Downloadable Documents" icon and go to the "Curriculum" folder. For each grade, you will find the item specifications for reading and for math.

For those who have a projector, these resources are excellent and will save you having to Xerox the information for each individual student. \You may download these documents to your computer. As you teach each of the Course of Study objectives, you may use questions from these guides to help you prepare students for the ARMT.

As the time for the ARMT approaches, you will have at your disposal a set of questions for every content standard at your disposal.