Ms. Jessup's Class Newsletter

April 7, 2014

"The Eleven Year Old" by Chip Wood, an excerpt from the bestseller Yardsticks, a book about children's growth, development, and behavior.

Powerful advocates and strong believers, elevens are passionate about their ideas and opinions, allegiances and sense of justice.  They're devoted to classmates and peer groups, and the social negotiations surrounding cliques (which often peak at eleven and twelve)  can be positive practice for teenage and young adult affiliation and attachment.  Elevens' social practice includes all the heartache and cruelty associated with forming and losing friendships- adults must respond to bullying with clear guidance and redirection.

Clearly in a physical and cognitive growth spurt, elevens often appear awkward.  They're actively engaging whole new worlds with outward boldness, yet inward tentativeness.  Everything at eleven is in rehearsal.

Praise elevens for that rehearsal, remembering that their pronouncements are less sure than they sound, their assertiveness probably not intended as rudeness.  Notice their voluminous rough drafts, their sketches and doodles- these things matter to elevens.  Find ways to respond to them in writing.  Such communication "at a distance" lets adults continue building strong relationships with eleven-year-olds.

Even elevens "contemptuous" behavior is a positive.  With their eye-rolling, teeth-sucking, deep-sighing, tongue-clicking, shrugging, "whatever" posture, they're practicing "distancing"- establishing physical and social safety when sensing a threat from another.  And who better to first practice with than trusted parents or teachers!

Elevens prefer learning new skills to honing old, but they're profound of revision and final-draft excellence, despite their complaints.  Teaching formal debate channels elevens' need to be contrary and their sense of justice.  Arguing an opposite opinion gives them great lessons in perspective-taking and empathy.

Elevens do well with project and service learning, especially when it's their idea.  Homework can be a hassle, but the more they're held responsible, the more they learn from the positive logical consequences for accomplishment- and the negative consequences for not following through.

Elevens are ready to spread their wings a little.  Parents often report better behavior away from home and moodiness around the family- where it's safest to show their insecurities.  Less grown up than they sometimes wish, elevens can still completely enjoy retreating to younger childhood patterns.  They're truly the tweeners.

Ms. Jessup's 5th Grade Class Motto

Preparing Plaza Teachers for FLiP
by Susan Rizzo, Director of Instructional Technology

Plaza Middle School teachers are gearing up for the full rollout of FLiP for the 2014-2015 school year. They have participated in a variety of FLiP trainings throughout the year to help prepare for next year. Teachers have used their ten laptops each day to expand learning opportunities in their classrooms.

In April, they will spend time visiting fifth grade classrooms across the district to see teachers in full action. All 10 elementary schools will host small groups of Plaza teachers over a two day period. The observations will be followed by an afternoon of reflection and additional FLiP training. Ongoing training and support is an essential component to ensure success.

Next year, Plaza teachers will be using a variety of digital programs and tools to help students gain a deeper understanding of content and further develop skills of researching, creating, collaborating and problem solving. Google Apps for Education is one set of tools that will help support this type of learning. As a part of Google's suite of products, we have the ability to run a Google Script called gClass Folders. This script will allow us the opportunity to automate the process of creating student folders based on course enrollments in PowerSchool. This process will help increase efficiency for teachers and provide an easy to use framework for students to organize their digital files. Digital planners and calendars are additional tools that will help students stay organized and keep parents informed. Desire2Learn is another digital tool that will be used to help support learning. Students will use D2L to access content, to collaborate, take assessments and for publishing. The year ahead at Plaza Middle School promises to be an exciting time of teaching and learning for all!

New Black Belt in Town!

Finley completed her black belt test last week!

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