The Excellence Fund provides for my position as the Enrichment Coordinator (THANK YOU!). It also allows for us to purchase needed supplies for enrichment clusters and E-slot activities. Another way the Excellence Fund helps develop world-class talent is providing funds for our staff to attend professional development, like attending the Differentiation Workshop hosted by Region 13 which featured Ian Byrd.
Ian Byrd, who was a teacher of gifted students in California, is a differentiation expert. To learn more about him and check out his website, click here: http://www.byrdseed.com/
Laurel Mountain was able to send six teachers to his workshop on January 14. Marci Shrull (TAG), Lisa Ferriola (TAG), Chelsie Douglas (1st), Debbie Kownacki (2nd), Cindy Eiland (3rd) and I were able to attend the all day training thanks to the Excellence Fund (THANK YOU again!).
We spent the day engaged in a variety of activities focusing on raising the level of thought and questioning in the classroom. The idea of differentiation is meeting the individual needs of all the students in the classroom. This may mean bringing a challenge to some students who have mastered the concept, while reteaching a concept to others who have not gotten it yet. Differentiation is a huge component of SEM.
No matter where a child is at, he/she deserves to be engaged, having fun and be challenged with a variety of questions. And that is what Ian Byrd focused on. Even though his presentation is geared towards "gifted students", at Laurel Mountain we believe that these best practices are good for ALL of our students. After all, all of our students are talented and gifted, it is our job as educators to help develop those talents and gifts (#thisiswhySEM).
Mrs. Shrull said, "My favorite lesson idea that Ian Byrd gave was to create a type of "March Madness" bracket out of whatever you are studying. Seeing his examples, as well as the examples others in the room gave, made me think about compare & contrast in a whole new way."
Ms. Ferriola commented, "Ian Byrd demonstrated more ways to differentiate in the classroom to meet all learner's educational needs. He also taught us many ways to get groups to work as teams to accomplish a task or have a meaningful conversation/debate about content area demonstrating deeper understanding.
This was an opportunity where the teachers at Laurel Mountain were able to be learners for a day and bring back that new knowledge to their classroom.
LME teachers working together to build the tallest free-standing tower out of spaghetti and masking tape in only 18 minutes. It stood for a good 20 seconds before it came crashing down. Mrs, Eiland led the charge on this activity.
This was a new way of looking at the March Madness brackets. We decided to pair off different math concepts taught across the grade levels. In the end we decided that money was the over winner, even though measurement put up a good fight.
On a totally different note, we were able to purchase a brand new cart of iPads this year thanks to the Excellence Fund (one more time- THANK YOU!). We budget every other year for staff members to attend the SEM conference, Confratute, at the University of Connecticut. On the odd years, we use the Excellence Fund to bring the experts here to train our staff and to purchase "big" items for enrichment. Well, a cart of iPads is a BIG item.
This new cart will be used for enrichment clusters and E-slot activities on Fridays. All of the other times, the iPads are available for check-out by classroom teachers to support SEM in the "everyday" classroom. We all know that our children love using technology. And now thanks to our parent and community support, we have a brand-spanking new set for our students to utilize.
5th grade helpers demonstrating how to use iMovie on the new iPads to the "Book Trailers" 2nd and 3rd grade enrichment cluster.
2nd and 3rd graders using the new iPads in the "Mindbenders" enrichment cluster.
Byrd, iPads and the Excellence Fund are more ways that we develop world-class talent here at LME.