On a daily basis, schools across the nation attempt to help students understand how their words and actions have a significant impact on the lives of their peers. Many would expect that helping students learn this important lesson would be simple and straightforward. However, the reality is that the developing frontal lobes of children make this learning process long and complicated. The fully developed adult brain can quickly, effortlessly, and accurately predict the consequences associated with every decision and action. Furthermore, adults can use this information to execute a decision that will lead to a positive outcome. For adolescents, the path to making a good decision is not nearly as clear or easy. Without a fully developed frontal lobe, children must train themselves to slow down and think through the intended and unintended consequences associated with their decisions.

With this in mind, today’s Bullying Awareness Week assembly focused on showing students the many possible roles they could play in a bullying situation. More specifically, students from our Peer Advocates leadership group role-played a situation where a student was making repeated mean comments toward another student during recess.

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The “Bully Circle” was comprised of the target, bully, side-kick, passive supporter, possible bully, disengaged observer, possible defender, and defender. The role-play helped students better understand that anyone who is around a bullying situation is playing a role in the situation. At the conclusion of the role-play, Ms. Mosier encouraged students who find themselves in similar situation to slow down, identify the role they are playing in the situation, and make the decision to become a defender. By taking the time to walk students through the many decisions they face when confronted with a bullying situation, we hope we are training their brains to make decisions that will positively impact everyone around them.

This week was Bullying Awareness Week at ACDS. All week during Morning Meeting/Circle of Power & Respect, students participated in activities designed to raise their awareness of bullying and teach them how to stand up for themselves and others. Today, the entire school came together for an all school activity. The assembly began with the Kindergarten through 5th grade watching “Three Bully Goats Griff” put on by the 5th & 6th grade drama class, while the 6th through 8th graders participated in role playing and watched a video created by ACDS teachers and students about their experience with bullying. Then everyone came together in the gym to read “Fill Your Bucket.” Working with their buddies, students then decorated their own bucket and wrote kind notes to put in the buckets of others.

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At ACDS, the faculty has spent time discussing and exploring best practices in technology integration, and more specifically, how we can use technology to meet our school-wide goal of challenging all students. Earlier this week, our Middle School Spanish teacher, Mrs. Hernandez Basta, created and delivered a technology-laden lesson that is an excellent example of how technology can be thoughtfully and effectively employed to best meet the needs of a diverse learning population.  Outlined below are the key components of the lesson and brief explanations of how the use of technology enriched the lesson.

The period was designed to provide students with an opportunity to review and practice the concept of direct objects which was taught earlier in the week. When the students entered the class, they used their iPads to log into Haiku our learning management system, and then Mrs. Hernandez Basta gave them a brief introduction to the lesson. For the remainder of the period, the students worked in pairs and small groups to successfully complete the activities found on the Haiku course page Mrs. Hernandez Basta had created.

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As you can see from the photos, the students worked through several games, practice quizzes, and videos that Mrs. Hernandez Basta vetted, selected, and embedded on her Haiku course page. Research shows that giving students choice and appropriate control over their learning path significantly increases engagement and success in a class. In this lesson, the students designed their own journey through direct objects.

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In the photos you can also see that the students were able to take practice quizzes and play games. All of these activities provided the students with instant feedback. In the past, students would complete a worksheet that might not be graded and returned for several days. Haiku and other websites allow teachers to create quizzes, tests, and activities that give students immediate feedback which improves and expedites the learning process.

Also on the page were two YouTube videos that were created by other Spanish teachers. These videos allowed students who needed more time to learn about direct objects the opportunity to do so while other students moved onto practice quizzes and games.  In short, all students were being appropriately challenged and could move at their own pace.

Finally, it should be noted that while the students worked in pairs and small groups, Mrs. Hernandez Basta met with students individually to assess their level of mastery related to direct objects.

This lesson is just one example of the many thoughtful technology integration projects employed at ACDS. Next time you are on Haiku, look for other ways that teachers are using technology to meet the needs of our students.