Posted in Class News, DGE Events, DGE Online Tech Club

A Few Announcements

  • Every Friday is “Physical Fitness Friday” and we will be running/walking the mile in preparation for the 5th grade Physical Fitness exam and playing NationBall (a variation of dodge ball).  Please make sure your child is wearing sneakers.  Anyone in open toed or ill fitting footwear will not be allowed to participate. Also, if your child has health issues that would prevent them from participating, please email me.

 

  • The DGE Online Tech club is in full swing.  We have about 20 students in it at present and there is room for more.  Our access code has changed, but you can still complete the request form by clicking here.  Directions and a new access code will be emailed to you.  The DGE OTC will be active through the summer and you can join at any time so long as you complete the form linked above.

 

  • On behalf of the PTA I wanted to remind you that there will be a Family Movie Night on Friday, May 2nd.  Click here for the flyer with more details.

 

Posted in Class News

I WON!

I was just informed that my students had the highest level of participation in our spring fundraiser and because of that I have won a brand new iPad! So in honor of this wonderful gift and the hard work of my students in raising funds for our school, I have asked them what they might like as a thank you.  They of course said NO HOMEWORK!  I have agreed to thank them in this way and we now will not have any homework tonight, Wednesday, April 9th and Thursday, April 10th.  THANK YOU 3rd GRADERS!

I will receiving the iPad on the 11th along with the fundraiser items and I will be posting more about it very soon.

~Mrs.Ruiz

Posted in DGE Online Tech Club

Online Tech Club

A few things have delayed my starting of DGE’s Online Tech Club but I have many ideas for projects!  I have some students signed up already as young as TK and up through 3rd.  I would really enjoy having all grade levels represented, so please encourage any 4th and 5th grade students you know to sign up!  Here is the link to the Google Form I need parents to complete to get their child involved: DGE Online Tech Club. I will be sending an email this weekend to all those signed up and will begin our first project next week!

~ Mrs. Ruiz

Posted in Class News, Competitions

Women’s History Month Contest

Due to a district training I was not in the classroom much during the window of time for the Fontana Teachers Association’s Women’s History Month contest.  That doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to select student work to submit, it means I was unable to work with all third graders at Grant to have the same kind of showing we did in the Civil Rights in America contest.  I am very pleased with the work my students did in a very short amount of time.  I would have liked to have had some multimedia projects as well, but again having enough time was the issue. I hope FTA will have another contest in April so I can help Grant have another strong showing in all categories.  Without further ado, here at the 3rd graders I have selected from my class to compete in the FTA Women’s History Month:

Essay Contest: Jordan, Sofia M, Joseph, Sophia H, and Jenna.

Art Contest: Priscilla, Jazmin, Chelsey, Jenna, and Jacob T.

Congratulations to all of my 3rd graders for their hard work and to those students whose work was selected.  Letters from FTA will be going home with the selected students tomorrow.  The awards ceremony will be on Thursday, April 17, 2014 from 4:45-6pm at the FTA Office, 16850 Seville Avenue, Fontana, 92335.

Posted in Class News

California Baptist University

Today we had some special visitors from California Baptist University (CBU). Last year when Mrs. Cabrales asked teachers to select a class college/university to promote higher education with our students I chose CBU because that is where I went to earn my teaching credential and Masters (I earned my Bachelors in International Business from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA).  It was CBU who prepared me to be a teacher, and I enjoyed my classes there very much. I think CBU is a fine local institution and I thought they would be a nice fit for my students.  As it turned out they have a very active “ambassador” program and not only send promotional items, but actual student ambassadors to come out and talk to the kids about college and what it is like to be a CBU student.  This is the second year that CBU has come out to visit my class and today was the day.  The kids had so much fun and enjoyed the guests and the CBU goodies they brought them!

CBU

My son Xavier is modeling the shirts each student was given.  2027 is the year these 3rd graders would graduate college if they attended directly after high school. As an incentive to wear the shirts I have made Wednesdays “CBU Shirt Day” for a spirit point on Class Dojo.

~ Mrs. Ruiz

cbu front~

cbu back

CBU Website

CBU YouTube Channel

Posted in School News

Field Testing the New State Test

Recently a letter went home to all DGE families about the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) which are the new computer assessments our students will be taking to gauge their academic progress.  I am reposting the links here as I cannot stress enough how important it is for families to know and understand the changes in not only our standards, but they way they are being assessed.

Sample Questions

California Department of Education Smarter Balanced Website

Any questions regarding these assessments can be directed to our principal at AnneMarie.Cabrales@fusd.net

~ Mrs. Ruiz

Posted in EdTech Experiment, Graduate Studies, My Opinion

21st Century Learners

I am presently attending online classes at Grand Canyon University to earn my Master’s in Educational Technology and I am very excited about the way it is already getting me thinking.  It was just what I had hoped for in bringing back some of my passion for teaching had been killed due to the drastic cuts in funding for education.  The following is one of the discussion questions I had to reply to and my response.  If you are interested in the link I am referring to, it can be found on the right side of this page under “Graduate Studies.”

“Based on the Standards for 21st-Century Learners, how prepared are students for using technology in their daily lives after leaving your classroom? What improvements might you make in your curriculum? Provide specific examples.”

First off I was quite impressed with the depth and detail contained in this brochure by the American Association of School Librarians. I don’t think I have viewed libraries in the way outlined in the brochure and that is an error on my part.  I do believe that my impression of the libraries I have access to is that they are (like my school) limited in what they can serve the community due to funding.  There is ONE library in the city in which I teach that is anything at all like what the brochure describes, but that is because it is a relatively recent addition to the city having opened in April 2008.

As to the discussion question, I feel like a broken record at times as I consider my response to this, but being that is a new class I will reiterate. My students were much more prepared for using technology in their daily lives after leaving my classroom about 4 or 5 years ago when my school had the funds to expose them to those technologies.  Technology needs replacing and updating, and with all of the reductions in education, my school did not and continues to not have the funds to buy new technology for the students to interact with.  As technology slowly shriveled I took it upon myself to do what I could to continue to expose my students to current technology.  I am a lover of technology and while I am not one of those that will run out and buy every latest gadget, I do invest in those that I feel will serve me in some way in both a personal and professional way.  This was the case when the iPad first came out.  My family invested right off and I looked for ways to bring this to my classroom.  I bring my iPad to school every day and have not only taught with it, but have had students create with it.  Granted, 32 third graders and ONE iPad is a bit of a challenge, but at least I was exposing them in some small way to what possibilities there are.  I share applications with my students and they are always surprised that they too can have the application I am using.  I often have parents asking me about applications and referencing their child telling them about me using it in class.  I love when that happens!

Just the other day I asked my students how many knew how to use a touchscreen…whether it be a tablet or otherwise and every hand went up…32 hands!  That wasn’t the case a few years ago.  I recall I had students who had no idea how to interact with a tablet and I was amazed at how quickly things change.

After years of being disappointed and frustrated at the technology situation at my school, I have noticed more and more families have access to the technology I would like to use in my classroom.  While my district has not embraced the BYOD (bring your own device) notion, I am working on doing it my way in creating an online tech club.  Essentially I will use my class website, Discovery Education and Edmodo to create assignments that enhance the curriculum that students can do at home with the technology they have access too, and with the aid of their parents.  I of course would be accessible for help as well.

As to a specific example, March is Women’s History Month.  I would expose my students to text and video to build and enhance their knowledge on the subject.  I would then build an assignment within Discovery Education where students use the Board Builder feature (much like Glogster) to meet the following common core standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Students would share their completed “boards” with one another as well as present them to the class as well as other audiences.

Discovery Education: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/

Edmodo: https://www.edmodo.com/

Womens History Month: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/

Glogster: http://www.glogster.com/

~

I will be developing this idea along with the structure of Dorothy Grant’s Online Tech Club, so stay tuned!

~ Mrs. Ruiz

Posted in DGE Events

Read Across America

read-across-america

March 3-7, 2014 is Read Across America Week @ DGE!

Read Across America was created by the National Education Association as a way to honor Dr. Seuss and reading.  If you would like to learn more you can visit both the NEA’s Read Across America website and the Seussville Read Across America website.

Here is the schedule of weekly events for the students to participate in:

Monday, March 3rd:

“The Sleep Book”

Pajama Day!  Students may wear their PJs to school.

Tuesday, March 4th:

“Book Character Dress-Up Day”

Students may dress as a book character and should bring the book that inspired their costume to school with them to share with their class. OR Students may wear a t-shirt that shows a book character or title and bring the book to school to share with classmates.

Wednesday, March 5th:

“Wacky Wednesday”

Mismatched Clothes Day! Students may wear mismatched clothes to school.

Thursday, March 6th:

“Daisy-Head Mayzie”

Wacky Hair Day! Students will wear their hair in wacky hairstyles.

Community Reading Night! 4-6pm in the library.

Friday, March 7th:

“Cat in the Hat”

Crazy Hat Day! Students will wear their craziest hat to school.  We will also be having guest readers come to the classrooms and read to the students.

Other fun tidbits:

Students will be given tickets each day for participating in the day’s theme and a raffle will be held daily for prizes

PTA will be selling Seuss related items after school every day of Read Across America to fundraise toward a DGE field day at the end of the school year.

Each class was asked to create posters for Read Across America and my students were very excited to do so!  Here are their creations.  I would like to thank PTA for donating the poster boards.  The kids had a blast!

~ Mrs. Ruiz

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself,  any direction you choose.  ~ Dr. Seuss

Posted in My Opinion

Enough is Enough

Today I reached an all time high level of frustration, which had nothing at all to do with my students.  It is more to do with the incredible lack of resources my school and classroom have.  I don’t blame my principal for this, or even my district.  I blame the government.

Today I attended what was the first of a three part series of sessions by Discovery Education as a part of their STAR Ambassador program. While I understand this program to be designed to expose teachers to the various aspects of Discovery Education for use in the classroom as well as the latest web tools available to enhance student engagement and outcomes, it only served to remind me how much my students have lost in the way of technology.

I have spent my entire 14 year teaching career as a part of the Fontana Unified School District. I have worked at Maple and Cypress Elementaries and transferred to Dorothy Grant Elementary because it was the newest school at the time and had far more technology than any of my previous schools.  I have always been relatively well versed in the latest technology and I was very excited to be able to teach with it and did for several years. I have been at Grant since 2005 and over the past 9 years I have witnessed and experienced our technology dwindle.  When I first arrived at Grant I taught a 4/5 combination and had 4-6 classroom machines, mobile computer lab, site computer lab, digital cameras and video recorders at my disposal for students to use and create with. Over the years since my arrival I have watched this technology break or become outdated and dwindle to barely anything at all.  Presently in my classroom I have one working student machine.  We no longer have a mobile lab, digital cameras, or video recorders.  We do have a computer lab with relatively up to date machines, but with the amount of mandatory school-wide student assessment required, I am unable to take my class to the computer lab for our allocated once a week 45 minutes due to the lab being frequently closed to class visits due to assessment.

Discovery Education is a wonderful company with much to offer teachers.  I became a Discovery STAR Educator shortly after my arrival at Grant and learned a great deal from them that I employed in my classroom.  I went to many summer institutes which were always fabulous, and even presented for Discovery a handful of times.  A few years go I let my STAR status lapse as the realization that my access to up to date technology was rapidly dwindling and doing any further work with Discovery would only make that painfully obvious.  I was not wrong in that assessment.  Today’s session with Discovery reminded me of all that has been lost to me and my students the last several years as technology has died at my school.

What exacerbates this issue is the Common Core and it’s requirements.  I wholeheartedly embrace what the Common Core means to do, what I do not embrace are those expectations being placed on my students, my colleagues, my school, and myself with NO FUNDS to purchase the technology we need to teach our students with so they can be successful. Lofty expectations with NO SUPPORT is will fail.  How can my students pass a rigorous computer assessment if they RARELY get to use a computer for academic purposes?

I am not one to sit back and do nothing when an issue disturbs me this deeply.  I have chosen to educate myself via these sessions with Discovery, and with my pursuit of my second Masters Degree in Educational Technology along with an Administrative Credential. I have chosen to be more vocal about my opinions on education, positive and negative.  The issue of technology in schools and equitable disbursement of funds needed to serve ALL our students has been a long time issue for me that I have largely only voiced my dissatisfaction with among my immediate colleagues.  That will no longer be the case.  A life motto of mine is that we are all entitled to our opinions.  I will always respectfully voice my opinion as I am not out to offend anyone, but merely have my voice heard.  I am tired of teaching in silence.

Posted in General

News for the week of August 30th

In case you missed it here is the body of the email I just sent to parents whose email addresses i have.  If I don’t have yours, please email me at ruizmy@fusd.net.  Thanks!

Hello Parents!

We had another great week and I wanted to share a few things with you.

1.  Our fundraiser ends this coming week on September 5th!  Please support PTA and your child by purchasing and selling the items.  It is through PTA’s fundraising that our transportation to the LA County Fair is paid for.  Thank you PTA! 🙂

2.  The Class Dojo website was not cooperating with me this afternoon and I was unable to print the weekly reports.  I had previously sent home your child’s code and perhaps you made a note of it as well off the weekly report.  Please feel free to log into it and check how your child did.  I cannot guarantee I will check my work email over the weekend as I am terrible about remembering when not at work, but I will do my best in case their are any questions.  If you are able to log in a print a report of some kind, please sign it and return it with your child on Tuesday so they can get a parent signature point.

3.  Monday is Labor Day!  There is no school.  No letter was generated by the school for this and I am not sure why, but now you know!

4.  Chapter 2 OARS test report for math was sent home today.  Make sure you check how your child did and sign it so they can earn a parent signature point on Tuesday.

5.  We have begun Accelerated Reader!  Some of you may already be aware of this educational tool and some may not.  I have known about it for years, but I was never fortunate enough to be at a school that had it.  We now have it at Grant and I am one of the site coordinators for it.  It is an excellent tool to aid in reading comprehension.  The class just took their pretest today and I will be sending more home soon about Accelerated Reader that is specific to your child.

6.  The 3rd grade team has been planning our RTI and it will likely begin late this coming week.  There is a chance you may have to pick up an additional notebook or composition book for your child, but more will come on that next week.

7.  The Harvest Festival is coming soon!  We will need parents to help with games and make donations for prizes.  If you are interested in helping with this, please let me know.

8.  Your child has a list of their user names and passwords for all the websites we are using at school presently.  Ask them about this paper and have them show you the sites we use.  On Discovery Education they can even show you how they did on their last comprehension and vocabulary test!

Well that list turned out to be much longer than I thought it would!  Guess I had a lot to say after all.  This year is continuing to be off to a strong start and I am enjoying this class of students very much.  Thank you all for your support!

Sincerely,

Melanie Ruiz
National Board Certified Teacher
Dorothy Grant Elementary, 3rd Grade
Fontana Unified School District
Class website: www.mrsruiz.net
 
St. Bernard