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Austin Elementary at Confratute – Read NOW for real-time insights

July 15, 2010

The Austin Elementary Enrichment Team is at Confratute and they are very excited about all they are learning.  Read on for excerpts from the blog they are keeping while there, and make sure you come back to our website throughout this week as new excerpts will be added daily.  If you would like to read their blog postings in their entirety, feel free to visit http://semplechangesaustin.blogspot.com/

MONDAY, JULY 12

We all made it to UConn safe and sound.  Today, we have gotten some of the history of Confratute and learned that there are approx. 700 in attendance (represents 38 states and attendees from around the world – the farthest traveled is a gentleman from Guam). — Laurie O’Neill, Principal

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Debbie (Sblendorio) and I are very honored to have been chosen to attend this conference and even more grateful to the Coppell Gifted Association for providing the funding for us to attend!! I look forward to sharing all that we are learning with our colleagues. We also hope to be able to have an opportunity to share what we have learned with the Coppell Gifted Association!! You are the best!!  — Beth Cook, 3rd grade

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We had our first session last night from 7:00-8:30. We did a group scavenger hunt in which we were given 10 clues. We then had to solve the clues then take pictures of our answers in creative ways. After we gathered our pictures, we used a great online resource called Comic Life (http://plasq.com/comiclife-win ) to make a comic strip. This would be a great tool to use to re tell a story, I know even my kindergarteners would love it! Use the demo version, it’s totally worth checking out! — Heather Cechin, Kindergarten

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TUESDAY, JULY 13

Yesterday was the Opening Keynote with Dr. Renzulli and his wife, Sally Reis. They discussed the theories of enrichment and talent development as well as the goals of Confratute:
· To learn
· To create and produce
· To interact
· To enjoy and relax.
So far today we have accomplished all four goals! Beth and I learned a little about the Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Reading (SEM-R), some of us went to a bookmaking class and created foldable books that could be used for any grade level.  Check this out www.makingbooks.com — Teresa Raney, Literacy Coach

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If you have ever watched the video of Ma and Pa Kettle (You Tube) about solving a math problem, then you know how much laughter we had this morning as we listened to Ms. Math – Dr. Rachel McAnallen . I don’t think there was a person in the room who did not re-examine the way we were taught math and probably perhaps the way many of us have taught math to our students. If you’d like to experience what we did with Ms. Math then visit the Confratute Ning at http://www.confratute.ning.com/.

Dr. Joe Renzulli discussed that an enrichment program deals with much more than just test scores. As our Enrichment Team looks at theory and research (as it relates to enrichment), we will have to decide what our goals of schoolwide enrichment will be for Austin Elementary. From the goals, how will we go about organizing and implementing this at our campus? There are many ways in which we can deliver enrichment opportunities —-from enrichment clusters, using Renzulli Learning, compacting the curriculum, offering Type 1, 2 and 3 learning experiences to so much more.

What do I mean when I talk about Type I, Type 2, and Type 3 Enrichment opportunities? It really isn’t rocket science! Type I experiences bring a learner in touch with kinds of topics in which s/he may develop an interest. It can be something as simple as a two-minute announcement each morning about a topic. Guest speakers, field trips, virtual field trips are also examples of Type I experiences. If interest is peaked, it can lead to Type 2 or it can skip directly to a Type 3 experience. Type 2 consists of materials, methods, and instructional techniques that are concerned with the development of higher-level thinking and feeling processes. Type 3 consists of activities where the student becomes an actual investigator of a real problem or topic. — Laurie O’Neill, Principal

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There’s more positive energy here than I’ve ever experienced at any professional development conference in my meager 13 years of teaching. — Cathy Kirby, GT Specialist

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 15

I attended an evening strand titled “60 Tools in 60 Minutes” that was to introduce 60 web tools to be used in the classroom. It was STUPENDOUS! Not only did I pick up a few new sites to share with classroom teachers, many of the sites were familiar and completely validated the direction we are headed at Austin! If you want to access the list, take a gander at http://brianhousand.com (scroll down until you reach the Confratute banner, and click on 2010).

Today I had the chance (along with David) to attend Day 2 of “101 Ways to Use Renzulli Learning”, which is the website element of our SEM. When we had our training in the Spring with the Renzulli rep, Debbie, she told us to watch for the launch of the new and improved teacher site. Ladies and Gents…”new and improved” doesn’t do it justice.

My friends, a new day is dawning at Austin Elementary…and yes, it’s going to be LEGENDARY. — Sarah Daugherty, IT Specialist

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THURSDAY, JULY 16

http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/sem/movie/South_Grove.mov

I invite you to view the above video about SEM at South Grove Elementary in New York. One of the strand presenters, Nora Friedman, was the principal at this school (she just retired this past May). This makes me feel like “this is what school is all about”…..smiling faces – rigor and enjoyment! — Laurie O’Neill, Principal

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SATURDAY, JULY 17

Although I was tired to the deepest part of my bones, my soul has been filled with an elixir of excitement for new opportunities for our students and staff!! We were immersed in a great week of learning, self-reflection and collaboration with the finest instructors in the field of gifted education. Yet, these well-known scholars, who are THE experts in their field, were humble, caring individuals who wanted nothing more than the success of ALL children.

My hope is that we are able to help you feel the excitement, taste the elixir of the joy of learning that we tasted and have your soul renewed (as mine has been) and that 2010-2011 becomes our best year ever for our students and ourselves!!

Once again, I would like to thank the Coppell Gifted Association for funding this opportunity for me. I am truly thankful!! I look forward to sharing with you what I learned this week!! You are invited to come see what this looks like in my classroom this year! I would love for you to come visit!! — Beth Cook, 3rd grade

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