Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Middle School?

Being a Middle School Principal, I often get asked this question, "Why Middle School?"  My response always is "I love working with Middle Schoolers!" 

The reasons I love working with this age are multi-faceted.  Middle School students are old enough to understand my sense of humor and yet young enough to think I'm funny.  Everyday, I get the opportunityto observe students searching for their own identity, while trying to fit in with whomever they want to impress at that particular moment and moments happen a lot with middle school students. 

Middle School students are incredibly inquisitive and problem-solving by nature.  Typically, they are willing to help others, including their peers and staff members.  This was demonstated to myself and other people who attended a meeting I was at this week.  On Wednesday night (January 16, 2013), during our monthly school board meeting, I saw these attributes (and others), in two young men and one young teacher, as they presented to our school board on how being a 1:1 school with iPad's has impacted their learning and teaching. 

This presentation all started last summer when our Superintendent, Gary Zittergruen, and our administrative team were brainstorming topics to share with the board during the board agenda item entitled "School Improvement Update".

Naturally a 1:1 update from the Benton Community (BC) Middle School (MS) made sense being the board gave the middle school a thumbs up to become a 1:1 school last spring.   Normally, I'm not a nervous person, but in July -- October sounded way to soon to present.  So, luckily our team made a decision to have the January "School Improvement Update" be about the 1:1 in the BC Middle School.  In hindsight -- our MS students and staff would of been more than ready to share with the board in October.

Two 8th graders, Spencer Sahu & Brandon Thoennes, along with one of our MS Social Studies teachers, Wade Riley, presented to the board on how having iPad's in the teacher and students hands has changed the way learning is happening here at BC Middle School.  Below is a schematic of their presentation which they collaborated on to develop.  Spencer was the brainchild behind the flowchart -- but Mr. Riley, Brandon and many other students and staff were very willing to share their own take on how having an iPad has changed their teaching and learning.

While the board listened and asked questions, Spencer, Brandon and Mr. Riley shared information and changed their presentation on the fly.  They collaborated and problem-solved right during the presentation to give the board a dynamic view of ways in which the iPad is being used in the learning taking place.

I hope the school board saw that their decision to support the MS in this learning initiative has paid off.  So why do I love working in a middle school?  There isn't enough space in the world wide web to write all the reasons -- but resoundingly the biggest reasons are the people:)

P.S.  Thanks to the two mom's who took time out of their schedules to drive their son's to the meeting and sat and watched them sharing, and even were willing to share their insights as parents of middle schoolers who have iPad's in school.

P.S.S.  My proofreader says I love working with Middle School students because I'm nuts myself:)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hy Vee Receipts

Apps, Apps, and more Apps!

There are so many different apps out there for our staff and students to use for their learning.  One recent app that we added to our 8th grade vocal music students iPad is the app "Video Star".  Our students created music video's using this app.  They did a fantastic job and enjoyed being introduced to this creative side of producing, acting and directing.  One student commented to me that he had to come out of his comfort zone to get into "character" for the video.  We are stretching our students and staff to create an environment that connects their learning to the world outside of educational walls.

One way we pay for these Apps is through the Hy-Vee "Cash 4 Students" program.  Hy-Vee customers save their Hy-Vee grocery receipts, turing them into the the Middle School Office.  At the end of the school year, collected receipts will be delivered to the our local Hy-Vee store.  Based on the receipt total, a donation from Hy-Vee will be made to Benton Community Middle School.  Below are some of the receipts we have received to date. 

So please,
  • Save your receipts from any Cedar Rapids/Marino Hy-Vee store.
  • Give these receipts to your children, your grandchildren, your neighbor's children, anyone willing to turn them into our Benton Commun ity Middle School Office.
  • Hy-Vee donates $1 for every $200 in receipts collected!
  • The top 5 schools receive an additional $500 each!
  • We'll use this money to continue our 1:1 learning.