And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain."
This is the last week of school for our students, so the end is near. At this point of the school year, I like to look back at our SEM goals and reflect on our accomplishments. And I will state my case, once again, that the Schoolwide Enrichment Model provides the students at Laurel Mountain an education like no other. I believe that looking at our students' interests and strengths is the absolute best way to educate our children. Working from a strength based model makes school fun, engaging and interesting for our children. It allows our teachers the chance to get to know our students on a personal level, not just an academic level. SEM breeds creativity and critical thinking in our students. It gives our teachers a chance to share their passions with their students. SEM creates a school climate that is full of energy and a love for learning.
And I am certain that the Schoolwide Enrichment Model is what sets Laurel Mountain apart from any other school in the area. I am extremely proud of our teachers, staff, students and community who help make SEM a reality at LME. And I am extremely proud to share our accomplishments from this school year.
Primary Education Thinking Skills (PETS): Mrs. Levitan taught Primary Education Thinking Skills (PETS) lessons in grades 1st, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and some 4th grade classes. Ms. Ferriola taught PETS lessons to our kindergarten students. These lessons teach students about the different types of thinking (convergent, divergent, visual and evaluative) that people use to solve problems.
LEGO Educational Kits: Students had an opportunity to learn with the LEGO Educational Kits during enrichment clusters in all grade levels.
Independent Investigative Method (IIM): The Independent Investigative Method (IIM) of research continued in all grade levels K-5. We focused on increasing the level of questioning in the students’ research questions by focusing on Bloom’s Taxonomy and Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity Model. We increased the quality of authentic products made by the students to show what they have learned throughout their research.
Total Talent Portfolio (TTP): We continued to build and utilize each child's Total Talent Portfolio (TTP). Teachers communicated contents with parents and students during conferences and throughout the year.
Enrichment Clusters: Students in grades K-5 participated in Enrichment Clusters for 6-8 weeks. We offered a wide variety of topics based on student’s interests. We worked towards more student driven clusters guaranteeing that each enrichment cluster round is different, since the students participating are different. Furthermore, we will worked on more student driven authentic products and services focusing on what would the enrichment cluster look like in the “real world”.
Enrichment Cluster Tours: Enrichment Cluster Tours are for parents and interested community members. These tours allowed our parents and guests to witness enrichment clusters in action. We increased the number of kindergarten/1st grade enrichment cluster tours which allowed more of our parents to see the clusters in action. We also had several visitors this year from Round Rock ISD and staff from Eanes ISD and St. John’s School in Houston tour enrichment clusters.
Parent and/or Community Experts: We utilized parent and community experts to assist with enrichment, enrichment clusters and Enrichment slots (E-slots) taking place in the classroom.
Communication: We communicated with parents and our community through the LME website, E-news, SEM blog, emails, Parent University classes and a brand new SEM Twitter account.
Enrichment Cluster Facilitator Communication: This year there were several chances to reflect on enrichment clusters throughout the process. Mrs. Levitan met with each round of facilitators once during the eight weeks of their enrichment clusters. The purpose of this meeting was to touch base with the facilitators, celebrate accomplishments, and provide a forum to discuss questions and/or struggles. Mrs. Levitan also met with each facilitator group when clusters were completed to reflect on the journey. It was vital to have a time to meet together as a group and reflect on the enrichment cluster experience. This was an important learning tool for our teachers. It gave our teachers a chance to ask questions, receive validation, and reflect on their experiences with the children in the enrichment cluster. Reflection is an important part of the learning process. At LME, even the teachers are learners.
New format for Enrichment Cluster Showcases: In the past, the showcases for the enrichment clusters have been a “walk, look and see” format. This year, the students were the docents for the displays from their enrichment clusters. They were able to share “live” what they accomplished and learned during their enrichment cluster journey. This provided a more authentic experience for the parents and guests. But most importantly, it provided an authentic experience for the students. We had several members of Round Rock ISD Central Office, including our new Superintendent Dr. Flores, and Technology Specialists from our district visited during our enrichment cluster showcases. All visitors were VERY impressed with our students and their knowledge.
Collaboration and Differentiation: Mrs. Levitan collaborated with teachers in a variety of areas this year, such as IIM, service learning, enrichment clusters, enrichment slot activities, differentiation, and PETS lessons. In addition, Mrs. Levitan pushed-in to the 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms this year during math to provide differentiation support. In some classes, Mrs. Levitan worked alongside the classroom teacher to help differentiate math instruction. In other classes, Mrs. Levitan would work with small groups of students. Based on their academic needs, she would either enrich or provide more support within the math curriculum. This allowed these teachers to reach all of our diverse learners.
New Enrichment Team (E-Team): In the past, the enrichment team has included our Enrichment Coordinator, a representative from each grade level, special education, TAG and specials. This year, we decided to try something new. The new E-Team was comprised of our support staff, including our TAG teachers, interventionists, counselor, librarian, IT specialist, principal, assistant principal and enrichment coordinator. The purpose of this team was to provide resources and support to classroom teachers to help facilitate differentiation for all students in the classroom. Members of this team worked one-on-one with a variety of students. These relationships provided another levels of intervention with extra love and guidance. Many positive relationships and connections were made between students and staff members who may not normally interact with each other during the school day.
2014 Confratute: This July, ten Laurel Mountain teachers will attend Confratute at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Confratute is the longest running summer institute on enrichment-based differentiated teaching held, this being its’ 37 year! Confratute is organized and run by Dr. Joseph Renzulli, Dr. Sally Reis and their staff from the Naeg School for the Gifted at UConn. It offers a jam-packed week of events to engage, inspire and rejuvenate educators. The ten LME teachers attending this summer are: Mr. Lance Brinkman (4th), Ms. Elizabeth Gordan (4th), Mr. Marty Gordan (1st), Ms. Wynn Holzinger (4th), Ms. Jessica Jackson (5th), Mrs. Nicole Levitan (Enrichment Coordinator), Ms. Donna O'Neal (4th), Mrs. Marci Shrull (TAG), Mrs. Jessica Trejo (4th), and Mrs. Jody Wenum (2nd). Mrs. Levitan will also present a Special Topic session which focuses on how we have built the Schoolwide Enrichment Model at LME. This opportunity would not be possible without the generosity of our parents and community to the Excellence Fund. The donations provide our staff first-hand training on SEM and differentiation practices. The ten teachers attending are very excited about this professional development and are looking forward to bringing back what they learn to campus next year.