Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reflection, I'm Not Alone

Cathy Harron, fourth grade teacher at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Front Royal, Virginia was heading up to PA with Hodge, full of excitement and nervous, not knowing what to expect from a professional development that actually centered around one of her favorite activities, hiking!  We pulled up to the retreat and saw several people seated around in a circle, each one in what appeared to be a trance like mode.  We looked at each other and both kind of backed away.  Hodge tried to call ATC's Karen Lutz, but got no response.  Luckily he had a smart phone or some sort of device that enabled him to find another entrance into the Kirkridge Retreat Center. Right place, wrong entrance.   We were definitely happy to see Karen’s welcoming face as we came in.
The next day was packed with learning.  I had never put much thought into how the AT had come to be and found it very interesting to discover that it was not originally meant to be a through trail.  There are a lot of wonders people take for granted simply because they have always been there.  I believe it is very important that our children and our children’s children understand that the beauty and richness that comes from our national parks can only be preserved if everyone takes definite positive steps towards that goal.  Activities ranged from lessons on phenology to global warming activities. 
Sunday we hiked the trail and it was awesome.  It wasn’t too hot or too cold.  It wasn’t too windy or too still.  It wasn’t too hard or too easy.  Actually, what I liked best about the entire weekend was, for once, I wasn’t an anomaly.  I’ve been told over and over by everyone I know that I am odd because I love to hike and camp and be outside and if I can’t find anyone to go with me, I’ll go by myself or bring my dog. If I had been born a man I guess I wouldn’t seem so odd to so many people but the older I get the fewer women I can find that are even willing to go outside for a pleasant walk never mind a hike.  The week end of April 6-7 almost every female there loved the same activities I do.  It was wonderful talking and laughing and just having fun with people like me.
One of my favorite subjects to teach is science.  My co-workers don’t care for it as much because it isn’t cut and dried.  I like the students to ask “why” and “how”.  I want to take them outside and let them get dirty trying to find the answers.  I want them to take the time to think, to discuss, to dream, to be problem solvers, inventers, evaluators.
I am hoping that this professional development will enable me to teach my students in a way that challenges them, intrigues them, and enables them to become valued citizens in their community while still aligning everything with the SOL tests in a strong enough way that they can pass the tests with impressive scores.  Tall order - I know. 
I do not usually take pictures.  When I do I forget to get them developed.  If they get developed they end up tossed on a chest, sometimes they even make it inside the chest, to be lovingly put in an album . . . someday.  These pictures, however, illustrate the wonders that are so vital for our children to recognize and safeguard for future generations.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Grant Opportunities!

Posted on September 20, 2013  print    
Deadline: November 8, 2013
NCTM Invites Applications for Projects that Connect Mathematics to Other Subjects
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is inviting applications for projects to create senior high school classroom materials or lessons connecting mathematics to other fields.
For the 2014-15 cycle, NCTM Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas grants of up to $4,000 each will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 9-12. Materials may be in the form of books, visual displays, computer programs or displays, slide shows, videotapes, or other appropriate media. The focus of these materials should be on showing the connectivity of mathematics to other fields or to the world around us. Any acquisition of equipment or payment of personal stipends must be critical to the grant proposal and may not be a major portion of the proposed budget.
Any published sources must be documented. Proposals must address the plan for developing and evaluating materials, the connectivity to other fields or disciplines, and anticipated impact on students' learning.
All funded activities are to be completed between June 1, 2014, and May 31, 2015.
To be eligible, applicants must be a current (on or before October 15, 2013) full individual or e-member of NCTM and currently teach mathematics in grades 9-12 at least 50 percent of the school day.

Posted on September 20, 2013  print    
Deadline: April 30, 2014
ING Unsung Heroes Program Invites K-12 Educators to Apply for 2014 Class Project Awards
The ING Unsung Heroes awards program annually recognizes K-12 educators in the United States for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects, and ability to positively influence the children they teach.
Educators are invited to submit grant applications describing class projects they have initiated or would like to pursue.
Each year, one hundred educators are selected to receive awards of $2,000 each to help fund their projects. At least one award will be granted in each of the fifty United States, provided one or more qualified applications are received from each state. Of the hundred finalists, three will be selected for additional financial awards. First place will receive $25,000; second place will receive $10,000; and the third-place winner will receive $5,000. All awards must be used to further the projects within the school or school system.
All K-12 education professionals are eligible to apply. Applicants must be employed by an accredited K-12 public or private school located in the U.S. and be a full-time educator, teacher, principal, paraprofessional, or classified staff member working on a project with demonstrated effectiveness in improving student learning. Previous recipients of ING Unsung Heroes awards are not eligible to apply for another award.
Complete program guidelines, the application form, and information on previously funded projects are available at the ING Web site.
Primary Subject: Education
Geographic Funding Area: National

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Evolution of a Hiker

Post by Nancy Stevens, Gifted Teacher, Harmony Middle School, Loudoun County, VA

Vera would be so proud!
I was never a hiker. The reason could be that I didn’t grow up in a family of hikers, or that my husband the hunter never takes me along because I talk too much, or that hiking shoes just aren't that cute. But the truth is, I never had the desire. Bugs love me, poison ivy finds a way to always cross my path, and restroom facilities in the great outdoors are sadly lacking. When my co-worker Lori Demark approached me about applying for TTEC, I was a little apprehensive; but, as a teacher, I am constantly putting my students in a position to try new things…to stretch themselves. I could do no less. Upon our acceptance into the program, I couldn't help the feelings of excitement and, yes, apprehension as I looked over the itinerary for our fall workshop…a 3-5 mile hike…hmmmm. I began to gather together my gear: Vera Bradley back pack, ankle snow boots (the only walking boots I had), sunglasses, jeans, t-shirt (cotton of course), baseball cap, water bottles, and rain gear. I tried to bring a fanny pack but my kids said “NO!”
Upon our arrival at the Kirkridge Retreat Center in the wilds of eastern PA, we were met by Karen Lutz. Karen has become friend, mentor and inspiration in the short time we've been together. It was late the next evening after our initial greeting, classes and nightly activity, that I had a chance to sit down with Karen and Lori to go over my hiking apparel and equipment. My cap and sunglasses were good, every thing else would have to do except the boots which were exchanged for tennis shoes. Thank goodness I brought them and not some cute clogs. My ensemble was now complete, but I realized that if there was ever going to be a second hike for me, major changes needed to be made.

Look at me now!
I was determined to become the example that I needed to be for my students as one of the TTEC representatives in our school. Bringing the AT to Harmony Middle School through a hiking club is the goal that Lori and I have set for ourselves, and I was determined to be a viable part in the implementation of that goal. With that in mind, I signed up for the overnight hike at the summer week-long workshop held in my back yard at the National Conservation Training Center located in Shepherdstown, WV. As a newbie, I was immediately accepted. (Yay!) Under the guidance of Bob Sickley, our supreme hiking leader, I managed to find myself appropriately suited up and on my way. You can see from the photos just how far I've come. Don’t be surprised when the next time you see me, it will be as we pass on the AT!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rangeley School Board Learns of Outdoor Program

RANGELEY — The school board saw two PowerPoint presentations, voted for funds for a school bus parking area, and elected a new vice chairman at its meeting Tuesday.
Starting in 2010 with GPS mapping, Simonds worked with student volunteers to develop Maine Trail Finder, Hike Safe and Leave No Trace. Participation has grown considerably for activities such as work on the Fly Rod Crosby Trail, survivor hikes and night skiing, a scavenger hunt with four teams, and a rescue scenario with live victims.
Lucy is on the TTEC Advisory Council
Participants also support the Warrior Hike, in which military veterans hike the Appalachian Trail “to walk off the war,” and join in Rangeley’s Trail Town Festival, “though the latter is difficult to ramp up less than two weeks after school starts,” Simonds said.
Simonds confessed that as the program continues to grow it has become part of her. “A Trail to Every Classroom has been the thing that has revitalized and transformed me,” she said.
Superintendent Susan Pratt presented a rundown of report-card data and its connection to funds from No Child Left Behind grants. The federal funds are administered by the state and are used to hire a teacher, Georgia Campbell, assisted by Shirley Schrader and Susan Damm.
The intervention program serves 40 students from kindergarten to eighth-grade in the fields of math and reading. Parents have the right to decide yearly if they want their children to be involved in the program.
The old skate park on the school property, which was in disrepair and had become a dangerous liability, has been demolished and school buses currently park on the site. Pratt recommended installing a culvert and creating a wider driveway onto the access road, installing wiring from the electrical panel to the site, installing  receptacles for bus charging and installing motion-activated lighting. The board unanimously approved the plan with costs not to exceed $13,000. It will be paid from the maintenance budget, which currently has a $22,000 surplus.
Pam Ellis was unanimously elected to replace Michele Eliot as vice chairman of the board. Eliot had asked to step down from the position.
Pratt received approval for hiring of Danielle Ellis as physical education teacher, John Crosby as coach of middle school boys’ soccer, Don Turner as ESL education technician 2 and Hannah Johnson as Special Education education technician 2.
The Facilities Committee discussed options for the portable classroom, and hopes to take action by the end of next year. The Finance Committee is looking at how reports and warrants are formatted and comparing Rangeley with other schools to see how they do things differently. The committee is going through monthly finance reports and noted there are no outstanding expenses.
The board approved second readings of a policy on student use of cellphones or other electronic devices, edited to include digital photographic devices, and a policy on student wellness. The board waived third readings of both policies.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A.T. Influenced Art

Post by Lori DeMark, Art Teacher, Harmony Middle School, Loudoun County, VA

Thank you Karen and TTEC crew for a wonderful Spring Workshop that I was able to build on this summer. I left the spring workshop much like the summer one, excited and over flowing with information. But after the May workshop I was able to spring into motion and implement something immediately in my curriculum. As 7th and 8th grade art, I wanted my students to focus on an aspect of the A.T. that would bring about knowledge and history of the trail as well as be a tool to motivate my students to go hike it. I decided my 7th grade students would focus on animals indigenous to the A.T. specifically in the Northern VA region. After looking at various sculpture processes, I decided we would use plaster to create 3D animals. However these would not be realistic based animals, but ones culturally infused with the Oaxacan Art Style. This was a diverse and interesting way to merge two very unlikely cultures together and the results were just fabulous.

In 8th grade, I decided the focus would be on wildflowers of the A.T. again focusing on plants specific to our region of the trail. I gathered visual examples online, through books, and locally from nurseries and my yard. Students drew flowers in their sketchbook while exploring different watercolor techniques. After mastering various watercolor materials and methods students looked at the work of Georgia O’Keeffe and created an A.T. Wildflower Still Life. My students were captured by the beauty of the flowers especially how delicate some flowers were. I was happy to share my students paintings at the TTEC conference in July along with the 7th Grade Animal Sculptures.
Thank you TTEC classmates for your kind words about my students’ artwork  this summer. I brainstormed with Rita the possibility of an Art Show at the A.T. Head Quarters. How cool would that be!!!! I can’t wait to implement these projects again this year, this time with 8th grade looking at flowers in bloom during the fall season. I will bring samples to the TTEC October Workshop.


Have you seen it?! The latest enewsletter is out! Click here:

Looking forward to the upcoming


SORO (Southern Region)
September 20-21
Hot Springs, North Carolina
VARO (Southwest VA Regionj)
October 11-12
Wilderness Adventures
New Castle, Virginia
MARO (Mid Atlantic Region)
October 5-6
Ironmaster’s Mansion
Gardners, Pennsylvania
NERO (New England)
November 1-2
Marsh Bilings Rockefeller National
Historical Park
Woodstock, Vermont

North Carolina NCCAT participants

North Carolina NCCAT participants
At the Wayah Bald Fire Tower

Mary Jane

Mary Jane
On top of Silers Bald