Connecting with Your Students (VSS2010)

Yesterday I sat in on several sessions at the Virtual School Symposium in Glendale, Arizona. Two turned out to be vendor driven, one never really got to the point and one truly provided some great ideas to think about.

The presenters were from the Branson School Online. Leanna Christians is the K-12 virtual principal and Christina Narayan is an elementary virtual school teacher. The theme of their presentation was the “Circle of Trust”. The idea that you don’t want anyone involved with the school to feel outside the circle. They talked about parents, students, teachers, administration and staff.

The entire time I was listening to Leanna and Christina I was thinking about how everything they were saying applied to every BAM (Bricks and Mortar) school.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Students need to connect with other students
    • Leadership groups
    • Peer counseling
    • peer tutoring
    • social events to build community
    • class pets (whether real or stuffed)
    • Reading buddies
    • Collaborative storytelling
    • Blogging
    • Group discussions
    • Learning Circles
    • “Gotcha” awards if the student is doing something exceptional
  • Survey families about themselves
    • They use Google Forms to do this
    • Christina subscribes to Hallmark.com for $10 a year in order to send out digital birthday cards to students and parents.
  • Administrators need to connect with the teachers
    • teachers should feel safe and free to take risks
    • admins can connect with staff via phone or e-mail
    • Administrators should make sure that teachers are competent in their abilities
  • The school needs to connect with parents
  • The school needs connections to the Community
    • College Fairs
    • County Parks
    • Career Planning
    • Field trips with other schools

In Leanna’s closing comments she said “if you don’t fail at atleast one thing, you are not trying hard enough”.

I challenge you to find three new ways you can connect better with your students and then implement them!

Summer Reading Resources

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kokopinto/

I’m going pretty low-tech on this post with the exception on how to access all these great summer reading resources you should be aware of.

Follow the links below to let your students, parents, colleagues (even family members) know of the great reading incentive programs available for children this summer. Some offer free books, money, even just a pat on the back.

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnobleinc.com/our_company/community/Summer_Reading/Summer_Reading_Program.html

This program is designed for students in grades 1 through 6. Read ANY 8 books, write about them in your 2010 B&N Passport to Summer Reading and bring it to a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Children then choose their free book from a list of paperback titles. The program runs May 25  through September 6. Teachers, parents and children can download the Summer Reading materials for free at http://www.bn.com/summerreading.

Borders

http://media.bordersstores.com/pdf/summerreading.pdf

This program is for children ages 12 and under. To participate, children must read ANY 10 books. Download and complete this form and bring it with you to a Borders or Waldenbooks store to choose your free book. They have about ten titles to choose from.


Scholastic

http://www.scholastic.com/summerreading/index.htm

Meet the Summer Reading Challenge with these great articles from Scholastic on how to keep kids reading over the summer. Encourage readers age 7 and up to join the Read for the World Record Challenge! The Top 20 schools with the most reading minutes will appear in the “Scholastic Book of World Records” 2011 edition.

For New Jersey Readers

http://www.njsummerreading.org/children.php

Organized by the NJ Library Association and the NJ State Library, these committees have gathered information on book lists, films & movies, web resources, performers, program ideas, crafts and details on upcoming workshops. Also check out their site for free prizes from McDonald’s for reading 5 books.

TD Bank

http://www.njsummerreading.org/images/pdf/TDBank-2010.pdf

Are you aware of the 2010 TD Bank Summer Reading Program? Children who read ten books by the end of the summer will receive $10 from TD Bank to deposit into a new or existing TD Bank Young Saver Account. The Summer Reading Program takes place May 3rd – September 30th. More information is
available at http://www.tdbank.com/summerreading.

Have a great summer and read some great books!