Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa's Workshop at Valley Middle School- 2013

The staff at Valley Middle School had Santa's Workshop in the library.  There were stations for teachers to rotate between:  card making, sitting by the "fire", a photo booth and snacks!
 Fun was had by all!

 Enjoying the conversation.

 A Royal Gathering.

 The treats are tasty!

 Card Making

Sitting by the "fire".

 LoRia is a busy Elf!

Santa's Workshop on PhotoPeach

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mr. Sanders keeps their attention by "Chunking" his classtime.

Walking into Mr. Sander's classroom is always such a treat.  I entered the room today hearing the beautiful sounds of a holiday tune coming from the ceiling speakers.  It was just the right genre as it matched the lightly falling snow outside.  Some students just walked in, while a few danced a little jig on the way to their assigned seats. After looking at the board, students then got right to work as they knew the class was just setting sail.

1.) Journal & Share with music - 10-12 minutes

 2. Writer's Workshop - 15-20 Minutes

I have never witnessed a Writer's Workshop that worked like this, but it was the most effective method I have seen.

There were two students today who read their creative writing pieces out loud.  The first student chose to have his writing projected on the board while he read it from Google Docs.  The second student chose to read her writing right from her notebook.  After each student read, the rest of the class gave their kudos, comments and some advice.  I was amazed at how the students responded to the readings. Here are some comments:

"I really liked it when you gave your characters a voice, I felt like they were really saying those things.",

" You described that part in the plane really well, I liked your descriptive words, you painted a great picture." 

All of the students clapped after each reading which was very encouraging, I really liked that.  I also loved the fact that only two students shared their writings rather than having a whole class period full of readings.  The students were responsive and it also felt like those two students were the feature of the day.  Mr. Sanders said it helps to do it that way, or else it creates a very long class period of the same thing.  Mr. Sanders also made comments on a rubric while the students read and this was a very effective use of time.  

3. Reading novel aloud, The Fault in our Stars, by John Green
    about 20 min.

After reviewing the events from last reading, they made a few predictions.  Then, students took turns reading aloud with some great discussion.

Suddenly, the bell rings... time flies when you are having fun!

Until next time, Mr. Sander's will just keep rocking the educational world!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't go to the refrigerator during these commercials!

In Mr. Matt Bakke's U.S. History classes at Valley Middle School students are trying to sell you something and it's not your ordinary item either.  It's a colony! 

Your group will create an exciting, informative sales pitch to encourage people to settle in your assigned colony.  You must include:

   1. A poster
   2. A musical jingle commercial
   3. A sales presentation 

For more information about the project:

Commercial Examples: 

I enjoyed being involved in this project.  The students were demonstrating the 4C's!  Great work, Mr. Bakke and students!

Communication - Collaboration - Critical ThinkingCreativity


In Ms. Young's classroom, student's shared their backpack items.

Ms. Young's 8th grade English class at Valley Middle School just finished up reading,  Diary of Anne Frank.  To make a connection, Ms. Young had students give a speech that tied in concepts from the novel and called it a "Backpack" speech.  Students had to pretend that they were awakened early one morning by their parents and told that they had to go into hiding for an indefinite period of time.  They could only bring 3 items with them.  While giving their speech, students had to have their 3 items and show them to the class.

Backpack Speech info

 Hannah giving her "Backpack" speech.

Great idea, Ms. Young!  The students did a wonderful job and I learned something special about each and every one of them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mr. Sanders RocKs a "Close Read"!

I observed Mr. Sander's English class today at Twining and was blown away by what I saw and heard.  

To start class, Mr. Sanders had the students write in their journals and make connections with the words written on the board.  These words were taken from the article that they would read later.

Words on the board

After journaling, the students read the article silently.
 In My Opinion - Article  

While reading, the students are asked to make the following markings on their article to assist with the future discussion.  

Directions for recording thoughts about the article.

Students taking notes about the article.

While discussing the article, the students are asked to use the hand signals that Mr. Sander's created for class discussions.

Hand signals during discussion

These hand signals allow Mr. Sanders to keep the discussion on track.  It is very useful!

The conversation was very lively, and almost every student participated. Mr. Sanders said the next time he tries this, he is going to give each student 2 pennies.  When a student joins the conversation, they can give up a penny.  Using this idea will allow each student to "give their 2 cents" about the discussion. 
LOVE IT!!!!!!

You rock, Mr. Sanders!  I want to be a student in your class every single day.  Thank you for all you do for kids!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Mrs. Shaffer's students used GoAnimate to demonstrate colloquialisms.

 What is a colloquialism?
A saying that expresses something other than the literal meaning of the words it contains is a colloquialism, like saying "I wasn't born yesterday," to mean "you can't fool me."

 To start off the project Mrs. Shaffer taught a mini lesson on how dialogue is punctuated.  Then she had students write out the dialogue between their 2 characters using proper commas, quotation marks, periods, and capitalization.  After that, the students could create their Goanimate.

Mrs. Shaffer scored students on colloquialisms in their presentations, transfer of informal text to formal text, spelling & grammatical errors, was the conversation realistic, and overall presentation.  Great idea, Mrs. Shaffer!

Colloquialism by Noelle Giauque on GoAnimate

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mr. Schauer's class project is nothing to "sneeze" at.

Using Autodesk Inventor, the students created their own tissue box designs.  "This project fits well in our aligned curriculum and the design process," said Mr. Schauer.  He also stated, "The students really worked hard on their creations and seem to like this project."

Mr. Schauer helping a student nail their project together.

A student putting the final touches on her creation.

 The project is the same, but every box is unique.

These ladies give the project a thumbs-up!

 Way to go, Mr. Schauer!  Your students 
were successful and engaged!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

"If there was a problem YO, I'll solve it." John Fuher

All middle school students in the GF Public School district are required to purchase some sort of netbook case to keep their device safe and protected.  A reliable case can cost anywhere from $15 and up.  This extra purchase can be an issue for some families.  Our social worker, John Fuher came up with a solution.  He designed a $3 netbook case out of Duct Tape and bubble wrap.  The cases are durable and affordable.  John cut all of the supplies for the students and taught the students how to make the cases. 
Thank you, John for helping our students help themselves!

 Social Worker & Problem Solver, John Fuher

Duct Tape netbook cases 

 Just another proud moment  at Valley Middle School...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mr. Johnson's students are getting feedback using Google Comments!

Students in Mr. Johnson's class are creating Google Presentations and getting virtual comments in real time while they work Editing while students work allows for immediate attention to corrections that need to be made before the project is due.  Students are receptive and have been using their manners to comment back.  It is super easy to do!  Just click on the slide you want to comment on, go to insert and choose comment. 

The Wizards conqured their SMARTboard Notebook Software!!!

I met with Mrs. Wavra,  Mr. Johnson,  Mrs. Carl and 
Ms. Younan yesterday for SMARTboard Notebook training.  During the training, we all agreed that SMARTboard Notebook is the way to go when organizing your teaching needs. 

 Mrs. Carl said, "While it might take a bit of time to prepare a lesson, it is worth it!" 

Ms.  Younan said, "I have put a lot of time into creating my Notebooks, but they make my teaching time a lot less stressful because everything I need is right there."  

 Mr. Johnson created a Notebook lesson right away for his science students and plans on using it for other subjects as well.  Kelly Wavra uses virtual Sticky Notes everyday but wants to switch to Notebook.  Overall, a successful session with the Wizard team!  Thanks for time and willingness to learn something new!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Valley 6th grade students are drawing inferences from text.

If you are not familiar with LearnZillion, 
you need to check it out!

After watching the LearnZillion video about drawing inferences, students practice together with their teacher using a common article. 

Next, students are given another article to  practice the strategy independently in their own groups. After reading the article, students then complete the tasks that are given to them by their teacher printed on paper. Students highlighted needed info, and then answered the questions on butcher paper using markers and glue.

Article used for independent group work.

Students working independently in groups, completing the tasks.


This was a great activity and all students were engaged and on task.  I asked a student if she had any questions and she said, "We already practiced with our teacher,  we can do it on our own now."
Way to go, 6th graders!  


Monday, October 28, 2013

Mrs. Lindeman's RT features their heroic ways!

Why not make the students become the force behind change?  At Valley Middle School every month, we feature a pillar of character.  The month of October is "RESPONSIBILITY".   Mrs. Lindeman and her RT volunteered to be the first group to create a video related to that pillar.  They shot the video and I put it together.  I am looking for another group to take on next month's pillar, "RESPECT".  Let me know if you are interested.  This video will also be posted on our RT calendar.

Take a look at their video, they did a tremendous job!  Thank you Mrs. Lindeman for allowing kids to be the driving force for change!

One of the many Super Heroes at Valley Middle School!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mrs. Wavra uses Edmodo to create an online book club with her students.

Edmodo Link

Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students, and parents. It is commonly thought of as the Facebook of schools, as called by pupils and teachers alike.

Grand Forks Public Schools has accounts set up for you and your students.  Contact me if you would like to know how to activate your accounts.  It is easy!

Mrs. Wavra's Edmodo Reading Group

 Thank you for trying something new, Mrs. Wavra!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mrs. Vojacek uses Shelfari with her students to track what they are reading.

Create virtual bookshelves for your books to keep track of what you've read. Discuss your favorite books in a book club. 

Another SMARTboard conquered!!! Way to go, Mrs. Smith!

Mrs. Smith tackled her SMARTboard and won!  Do you want to be less stressed and more organized?  I spent only 20 minutes showing Mrs. Smith the basics of using her SMARTboard notebook.  It doesn't take long and will simplify your life. :)   Here is a quote from Mrs. Smith after our session together, 

"Thank you so much for teaching me something new yesterday.  I have been working with my new knowledge and I love it!!! I think it will simplify my life...YIPPIE!!!!"

Let me know if you would like a "cliff note" session about your SMARTboard, I would be happy to assist. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mrs. Vojacek uses comics to assess standards.

Mrs. Vojacek's social studies classes are, "Showing What They Know" by creating comics.  After reading the chapter, students were given a rubric that listed the requirements for the comic books.  The students published their comics, put them in page protectors and tied them with ribbon.  What a great way to publish student knowledge and creativity!  

Ms. Younan's RT has Valley Pride and used VidRhythm to show it!!!

Remix your world! Create fun/hilarious/awesome video music in seconds by recording your own video and audio samples.

Ms. Younan's RT video link :

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Secondary Technology Dept. is connecting with parents.

"Parent Tech University" is a newly created site for parents to use as a resource for online safety tips,  digital citizenship ideas and online homework help.  The site also has a link to a form where parents can make comments and add their thoughts about what they would like more information about.  To introduce the site,  tech partners met parents during parent teacher conferences and gave them a business card with the site information on it.

Handing a parent a business card at conferences.

Parent station for checking out the site at the school.

Poster with site information including QR code.

Business card with site information including QR code.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ms. Diane Krueger's math class was FliPpinG OuT!

Ms. Krueger introduced Integers and leveraged a deck of cards to make a connection.  Students were paired and given score sheets and a deck of cards.  Taking turns, they flipped a card, looked up the value and wrote a number sentence. 

Next, the students lined themselves up according to their place value on a number line and a discussion was held about the difference between values.

To wrap things up, Ms. Krueger had students write a paragraph about the activity, which aligns with Common Core standards.  They were able to reference the hand and hamburger reference that is taped on their desks. 


Wonderful work, Ms. Krueger!  Your students were engaged the whole time and did not have a moment to misbehave.  You didn't miss a beat! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mrs. Vicki Peake and Mr. Craig Schmit created great visuals using SMARTboard Notebook!

Mrs. Peake teaches 7th grade English and Literature at Valley Middle School.  I have been observing Mrs. Peake this week and wanted to share her SMARTboard creations.  She also made smaller copies to tape to each student desk to help them remember.  Great idea!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mrs. Leake is on the Symbaloo Train at Twining! -- Toot Toot!

Mrs. Leake wanted her students to access all of her sites and have them all in one location.  Symbaloo to the rescue!  Symbaloo organizes all of your bookmarks in a great visual space.  She is going to create a personal page and a student page with all of her high traffic links.  She can then share her student page with her kiddos and manage it and make changes as her curriculum changes.  Can Symbaloo work for you? Let me know.
Check it out!

Thank you for trying something new, Mrs. Leake!  


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ms. Dosch used Screencast-O-Matic

When a student enters Valley Middle School, they are required to go over our school planner rules and Code of Conduct.  Ms. Dosch used Screencast-O-Matic to record the rules and can now use it for new students in the future. Check it out!     

Code of Conduct  - link

Screencast-O-Matic  - link  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Valley Middle School - Summer Plans Video - 2013

At the end of our school year last year, we had a pep rally that focused on making positive choices. We showed a video about our very own teachers making positive, healthy choices over the summer.  At the end of the video, it shows Kim Kuhle and myself driving a bike around town and ending up driving into Valley Middle School.  When the video got to the end, Kim and I actually rode the tandem bike into the pep rally!  It was awesome!  We are going to start our year off with a continuation of the video and ride our bike into our pep rally to introduce our theme this year, 
" Success in Every Direction".  We have signs hanging up all over our school that look like street signs.  Any other ideas on how we could make our theme come alive would be greatly appreciated!

Link to video:

Street sign examples in our hallways: