Teacher Reports on Professional Development
The workshop in Arlington was one of the best summits that I have attended on concussions. The speakers, many of whom are pioneers in this field, were excellent. We learned about the metabolism process of a concussion and why this is such a vital piece for reoccurrence. We talked about how detrimental the subconcussive blows may be for athletes, and I would not be surprised if some rule changes concerning young athletes take place in the next few years in regards to this.
The final speaker described an ongoing study he is doing with the National Football League that follows player history and treats symptoms they may have now and documenting them with imaging.
Athletic Trainer, Decisions Teacher
I attended a lecture, “Lisbon, Portugal—City of Seven Hills.” Lisbon and the area of Portugal have a fascinating, but often overlooked, history due largely to the location at the mouth of the Tagus River. According to tradition, the city was founded by the Phoenicians as a trade colony, and the name developed from an association with Ulysses. Following the Punic Wars, the region was taken over by the Romans, who introduced the Latin language and the first written records. After the fall of Rome, various German tribes invaded, and the Moors dominated the area until the Reconquista of the medieval period. In 1147 Alfonso I took control of the city, established Christian rule, and received recognition as King of Portugal. Through the efforts of Prince Henry, known as The Navigator, Portugal became a leader in the Age of Exploration and controlled a huge overseas trade empire in Africa and Asia. Columbus first approached the Portuguese for support of his voyage, but was turned down. After his discoveries, Portugal claimed what would become Brazil, and great prosperity continued through the 16th century. The involvement of such diverse influences explains the frequent references to Portugal in historical sources.
The lecture addressed a question students often ask related to language. Though Portuguese is based on and similar in written form to Spanish, the pronunciations are very different. The distinctive sound is due to some German and Moorish impact; however, the main cause was the intentional desire to separate from Spain. In addition to specific answers, the lecture provided a refreshing reminder of the many opportunities to study the currents of history in this small area.
Middle School History
This year's spring HBIDA conference was one of the best I've attended. The topic of the keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks, was "The Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation and Resilience in Children." He spoke of the impact a charismatic adult can have on a struggling student who gathers strength from this adult, and he encouraged us all to consider carefully our words and attitudes toward all students.
I attended two valuable breakout sessions. Dr. Michelle Beard, a psychologist, spoke about diagnosing and diagnostic testing. These topics greatly affect my work at Kinkaid, and learning the ins-and-outs of both diagnosing and the diagnostic tools will benefit me on a day-to-day basis. The final break-out session I attended was by Dr. Elena Denis, who spoke about executive functioning—what it is, what it looks like at school and in the workplace, and how to improve executive skills in children. Her handout has already become a valuable tool for me, and I will reference Dr. Davis when discussing executive function skills with parents.
Lower School Reading Specialist
Attending the HBIDA conference was again an invigorating reminder of all we need to do to help our students. The topic was "Reading, Literacy and Learning." Robert Brooks is truly an inspiring speaker and one whom I can listen to and get something pertinent from every time. I appreciate the opportunity not only to benefit from listening to leaders in their field, but also to be able to use these valuable insights in improving my own pedagogy.
Lower School Instructional Specialist
I attended a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson, hosted by The Progressive Forum. I was interested in the fact that Sir Ken has gained renown as a proponent of creativity and passion in the field of education. In my previous job, creativity and passion were not to be trusted; they were considered character weaknesses, the puff rather than the stuff. They were okay traits to possess in theory, but when it came right down to it, logic and analysis were the most valued traits. I wanted to hear what Sir Ken would say because, as an expert in the field of Education, his arguments about the primacy of nurturing students' creativity and passion would probably carry more weight than my own arguments.
Truth be told, I found his talk a little boring, but only because the things he is saying are not new or "revolutionary" to my mind. I've known all along that creativity and passion are fundamental things to nurture in my students. These qualities are the keys to becoming life-long learners and valuable members of society.
Upper School English
Sir Ken Robinson’s message did not deviate from his usual; there is overwhelming evidence that many schools have problems that are both obvious and serious and that few take steps to change things. He often points out that schools were designed in a vastly different era and we may consider shifting from this outdated paradigm. As an example, he points out that even under No Child Left Behind, there is nothing that requires classes to be 45 minutes of one subject after another instead of say 90 minutes of interdisciplinary work. While Sir Ken Robinson doesn’t typically offer specific solutions, he points out how much of the current system we assume to just be “the way things are done.”
I found the talk to be very interesting and I was pleased to find that, in the few instances where Sir Ken does mention the good that some schools are doing, he seems to be describing the Kinkaid environment. I think he would applaud our goals of fostering creativity and the well-rounded student while giving everyone the personal attention they need. Even though he directs his attention at the public side of education, I think that he is an inspiring speaker whom anyone interested in education could appreciate.
Upper School Mathematics
I had the opportunity to attend a seminar, "In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Writing Through Illustration Study," led by Katie Wood Ray. Ms. Ray's talk was filled with big ideas for general teaching approaches as well as more specific examples of lessons in illustration study that we could take right from the seminar to our classrooms. The talk was particularly beneficial because of its focus on implementing illustration study in writing workshop with very young writers. She explained that by supporting children's thinking about illustrations in writing workshop, we enable our young writers to practice skills like building stamina, planning and designing, rereading, and editing their work. While children who are just beginning to write may find skills such as these intimidating to execute in their actual writing, attacking this process through illustration, something they can do much earlier, allows them to learn about and experience those same elements of the writing process from the very beginning.
We also learned how to use illustrators as mentors in our writing workshop. By reading well-illustrated texts and then revisiting and discussing them, children can learn how authors express elements like tone, the passing of time, or movement through illustrations. Once they see these techniques in mentor texts, we can then encourage them to utilize the same techniques in their own illustrations. Overall, Ms. Ray demonstrated to us that illustration is a valuable and equal part of the writing workshop because its process requires many of the same techniques that students use in their writing. Whether it is taught independently to younger children or concurrently with writing to older children, illustration serves as another way for children to access the writing process and can help them more fully develop both their skills and their ideas during writing workshop.
Lower School Assistant
The Katie Wood Ray Workshop was excellent. Fortunately, we got to see her before she retired! She is planning to move on to something else in the education world (perhaps webinars) and will not be doing any more workshops in conjunction with her Heineman books.
Ray’s In Pictures and in Words is an excellent reference book for lower school teachers who are trying to teach illustration and text in making books. You always want to take a few new teaching points from a conference, or just a nice reminder of important pieces, and I had several aha moments: teach illustration so it can hold meaning; build stamina in illustrations and text daily; use thoughtful process in planning the books; make sure you share and reflect at the end of writing time each day; no dictation—they need to approximate the best they can; best reading teaching happens during Writer's Workshop; and writing does the work that illustrations do, and vise versa.
We benefit as a team when the entire team hears and discusses the same information. We plan to share the new information we learned in a workshop with Kindergarten.
I had a day away from school to hear Katie Wood Ray speak for the last time. Ms. Ray is now researching and writing full time and will no longer be holding workshops. Her focus through the years has been writing in the classroom, and for the last few years she has included, along with Matt Glover, writing in Prekindergarten. This workshop was enjoyable, and it was good to be with the whole prekindergarten team.
Katie Wood Ray’s passion for elementary writing instruction and her love of children's literature was obvious the moment the workshop began. She introduced us to the question she asked herself, "What if children were introduced to key qualities of good writing in the context of illustrations?" This question led to the research behind In Pictures and In Words, her new book. The answer was simple, yet powerful: "The thinking students do while reading picture books can help them see the connection between what words and illustrations do to make meaning." I absolutely agree with this idea, and the point was made even stronger through the video footage and discussions at the conference.
Thank you for allowing the prekindergarten team to attend Katie Wood Ray’s professional development workshop, “In Pictures and in Words: Teaching the Qualities of Writing Through Illustration Study, Grades Pre-K-4.” It proved to be a valuable experience for our team. I think that we were given some new ideas for helping our developing “writers,” and we were also reminded of some of the basics of the writing program for our age group.
I particularly appreciated Ms. Ray’s emphasis on valuing illustration as writing. She talked about ways to encourage students to build their stamina for creative work, develop habits of process (planning, designing, drafting, revising, editing), utilize the habit of “reading like writers,” and learn about qualities of good writing in a parallel context. By using illustrators as mentors, students will be exposed to an extensive repertoire of illustration techniques and will begin to compose illustrations with specific intentions. Ms. Ray spoke about the importance of aiming for depth, not coverage, when encouraging young writers. It was a day well spent.
Lower School Assistant
The Katie Ray workshop was another insightful and refreshing look at the work that Matt Glover did when he was here at Kinkaid. I love the handout with the extended book list and valuable information to refer to when we return to our classrooms. I love the Making Books section: “Why Book Making Makes Sense For the Youngest Writers.” I'm going to implement this process with my granddaughters. They'll love it!
Ms. Ray’s presentation was simple, interesting, valuable and so complimentary of what we do each day. It will greatly enhance our writing program.
Lower School Assistant
With a colleague who is an alumna of Boston University, I attended a Boston University Alumni event called "Head Games." It was given by Dr. Robert Stern, a professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at BU, which has a center that studies Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
I have a great interest in this field and found the talk to be most beneficial. Dr. Stern spoke of the BU CTE center and why some changes to protect athletes are taking place. We learned some of the science behind concussive and subsconcussive events and the long-term effects on the brain. Dr. Cantu, who is the "concussion guru" of sports medicine, is also a member of the BU team.
Athletic Trainer, Decisions Teacher
As a member of the World Affairs Council of Houston, I attended a riveting talk. Maseh Zarif, Research Manager for the American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project, spoke on Iran's nuclear program and the implications for the region. With the Israeli Prime Minister's recent visit to Washington D. C., the timing could not have been better for such a lecture!
Just yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U. S. senators he has not decided whether to strike nuclear sites in Iran. Mr. Zarif spoke about various options and alternatives given the current environment. Among the questions posed: How will Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers react to having a nuclear armed Iran? What can be done to prevent or delay further development of nuclear programs in Iran?
My knowledge of the situation, region and options was greatly enhanced as a result of this talk and the ensuing discussion. Aspects of the geography of the region (political, economic, environmental and historical) are crucial in our understanding of current events.
Middle School History
I attended the Soccer Champions Coaches Clinic in Las Vegas. I earned my Level 1 Goalkeeping diploma, which has given me a greater understanding of the position.
The majority of goalkeeping sessions provided a base with which to build a solid understanding of how players should be introduced to goalkeeping. The field sessions allowed those of us learning the position to put it into action. For me, this was the key to learning the proper technique.
The other twenty sessions of the clinic covered a wide variety of soccer topics, from how to play a flat back four, to quicker play through the midfield, to training strikers to play at game level intensity during practice. There were also several sessions dedicated to team management and dealing with parents. The fact that I chose not to eat lunch (I did snack) either Friday or Saturday because I didn’t want to miss any of the sessions, speaks to the quality of this clinic.
I am looking forward to improving the quality of my coaching through greater confidence in my goalkeeping training. The level 1 diploma class has given me a clear path for teaching our players. Even though the greatest learning curve came via the goalkeeping diploma, I come away with other ideas to make the Kinkaid Falcons soccer program better. I am looking forward to trying them all out.
Head Varsity Boys’ Soccer Coach