Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer School's Last Chapter

Today we ended summer school with the Reading TAKS test. Students took the Math TAKS test on Tuesday. The students were prepared and I know they did their best.
Our students came each day ready to learn and reinforce previous skills. They were engaged with opportunities for insightful thoughts and challenged to apply their knowledge. Sometimes that process was painful but commitment was in abundance and they never quit. I am proud of our students for working hard and giving their best. I am thankful for the summer school teachers because they gave our students an opportunity to grow in a loving environment.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Outdoor Learning Center

Today a few committee members gathered to measure and mark the fence and lecture pad of the Outdoor Learning Center. This is the first step in getting the project begun. Once the fence was marked the patio and seating area that was originally planned had to be adjusted. The final decision is to have the lecture area in the far corner under the shade of a large tree.
With looming dark clouds that never materialized the ground was painted and plans were made to pick up the project in the middle of July.
In July the plan is to build the fencer and the lecture pad. Upon completion of the second phase benches, ground cover, and landscaping will soon follow.
There is plenty of work to be done and anyone and everyone is welcome to join in. We will keep the blog updated with pictures and plans as they become available.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer School is coming to an end...

With summer school coming to an end, our students continue working hard to prepare for the 3rd Administration of the TAKS test in Reading and Math. The last day of summer school will be Wednesday, June 30th.

Each day students receive solid review and reteach of concepts based on the TEKS. In math you will see students working on their bar graphs tracking their success. You will see students showing their work and proving their answers. In reading you will see students being pushed to think by working through quotes and explaining their meaning beyond the literal point of view.

Students and teachers alike are ready for next week and as would be expected have a "Bring It On!" attitude toward the TAKS test.

So, Bring It On!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thank you Mario!

Today, Sgt. Mario Rodriguez, Jr. was laid to rest surrounded by family and friends of Smithville. I am very proud of the man Mario grew into and thank him for his service to our country. We are all proud of him.

Mario will be missed but he and that beautiful and distinguishable smile that he always wore will not be forgotten.

Thank you Mario!


The CSCOPE State Conference in San Antonio was well worth the trip down IH10 in the early Monday morning. The people that facilitate the conference are incredibly friendly and supportive. There were people stationed everywhere to help guide participants to their destinations. As for the sessions themselves, the PreConference, which I attended, was geared toward administrators. While in the sessions I met other administrators from across the state. Their knowledge of CSCOPE ranged from 0 - 3 years of implementation. I quickly realized that Smithville was one of the few districts going into year 4.
One thing I enjoyed about attending the conference was the additional knowledge gained through other attendees. Of course we spoke about CSCOPE but conversations also hit other aspects of our jobs.
During the first session I visited with a 5A district elementary principal that is entering their first year in CSCOPE coming off a year where they are Exemplary in all areas except Science. In Science they missed the Exemplary mark by 1%. I had to inquire as to why they were moving to CSCOPE when they seemed to have such wonderful success. The answer was that CSCOPE and their district curriculum were very much aligned and the shift would be minimal. The greater answer came in the support they would receive through their regional service center and the knowledge of those constantly working on the curriculum. Of course I wanted to know more but wouldn't you know the session began and therefore our conversation ended.

As for the sessions I attended, I enjoyed the reinforcement of prior knowledge from the State Leadership Conference in the fall as well as previous training through Region 13. CSCOPE has a new Principal Tool for Walk-throughs that was introduced in January and I am eager to learn how we can use this tool to guide our conversations about instruction in our school. The tool is designed to facilitate collaboration and discussions about individual student's needs.

Overall, I enjoyed the conference and wish that I hadn't missed the deadline to attend the entire conference. Next year the conference is scheduled for August 2nd-4th and it is my plan to have classroom teachers attend as well. To talk with other teachers and administrators from across the state is powerful as well as encouraging. The conference also reinforces the amount of support we have at our region service centers as well as campuses and districts across the state.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 CSCOPE State Conference

On Monday, I will be attending the CSCOPE State Conference in San Antonio. This conference is a 3 day event, however I will only be attending on Monday. I will have over 30 sessions to choose from to learn more about our curriculum and how to ensure that we are using our curriculum effectively in our school.

The CSCOPE State Conference focuses on improved student achievement through successful implementation of the CSCOPE curriculum management system. The conference provides various learning strands for new and experienced CSCOPE teachers and leaders. Session topics will focus on:

* CSCOPE system components
* 5E lesson design
* Instructional strategies/differentiation
* Assessments
* Customization

I am looking forward to attending this event as the CSCOPE Administrators Conference in October of 2009 was very informative. I hope to learn more about the lesson planning aspects as well as how to support the classroom teacher.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer School

Wikipedia's definition of Summer School is: a school, or a program generally sponsored by a school or a school district, that teaches students during the summer vacation.

Smithville Elementary is no exception. Our students are attending due to remediation needs based upon TAKS scores or not earning local credit. However, you wouldn't know it if you entered the classrooms. Students are busily engaged in group activities promoting high level thinking in both Reading and Math. The energy and excitement for learning is much like the BP Oil debacle....unstoppable.

You may find students working on the computer, in small groups reviewing math concepts, or reviewing comprehension skills through an awesome book titled The Secret School. Whichever group you happen to come upon you will definitely find engaged student learning. Students have come ready to grow in their learning and leave pumped and excited about what's to come the next day.

I for one am excited about each student's progress and know they will do great at the end of summer school on May 29th & 30th.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

2010 TEPSA Summer Conference

This week I attended the 2010 TEPSA Summer Conference. (Texas Association of Principals and School Administrators) I enjoyed visiting with other administrators from across the great state of Texas and am eager to learn from the sessions offered during the conference.

One incredible session that Mrs. Hewitt and I attended together was titled Drum Cafe. It was a lively session with more drums than I have ever seen - even in a music catalog! It's amazing the rhythm that principals have. The whole time I was thinking that our music teacher, Mrs. Sherrill, would have loved being there. The idea of the Drum Cafe was to communicate through the same drum beat. Of course there were some that definitely were beating to a different drummer - but that was ok.

The sessions offered included using data to drive decisions, issues with social media, motivation and school climate, and many more. I hope to add a few posts of the sessions attended in the neat future.

All in all, the conference allows for quality networking, reinforcement of ideas or concepts, and the opportunity to speak directly with some of our vendors.

I am excited that TEPSA is offering all sessions from the conference online following the conclusion of the conference. This was really great to learn since it is impossible to attend all sessions. TEPSA is truly leading the way with improving Texas schools and providing for online learning opportunities.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

School Dismissal @ 1:25 PM

Smithville Elementary and Smithville Junior High will release at 1:25PM.

Elementary students and staff will dismiss from the JH Gym following our End-of-Year Celebration!

Have a GREAT Summer!

Ms. Murray

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Field Day fun for everyone!

A huge THANK YOU to Coach Kristynik and her crew for organizing a fantastic Field Day! I was constantly amazed at the organization of the activities and the fun had by all was the best compliment for all their hard work. Students and staff were smiling all day - exhausted - but smiling!

Check out a short video of pictures taken from the fun.