Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Turnovers for Teens

Last week a number of middle school students invited their parents to the LMC for Turnovers for Teens.  Turnover for Teens is an opportunity for students and parents to spend time in the LMC.  Students can share with parents what they are currently working on and show parents the new educational technologies they are using in their classes.  Mrs. Clara Johnson, LMC director, organizes the event.  She reports that participation has steadily grown in the past few years.  If you are interested in attending the next Turnover for Teens it is scheduled for Friday, January, 20th.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cashton Middle/High School Guidelines for Successful Student, Parent, and Teacher Communication

Last month, I wrote about our faculty's work to define guidelines for positive student, parent, and teacher communication.   The following document is a summary of our work and will serve as a guiding document for all faculty as they address this important aspect of the educational process.  I encourage parents, students, and fellow educators to review the document.  Your feedback is appreciated.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rube Goldberg Machines

Mr. Hanley's 6th grade science class recently completed a unit on Simple Machines. The final assessment including students creating their own Rube Goldberg Machines. The following link contains video of their final products. Mr. Hanley's Machines

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Music Concert

The music department held their annual Holiday concert on Monday night. Attendees were treated to many holiday favorites. The highlight of the night for me was listening to community members and the high school choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus to end the evening.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Technology Integration Field Trip

Over the past week, I took a little time to go on a technology integration field trip through our building.  My goal was to identify ways our staff leverages technology to guide, expand, and enhance learning objectives. Below are the results of my trip:

A pencast on Mrs. Lundeen's Website

For important lectures Mrs. Lundeen selects one student to create a pencast.  The student uses a Smart Pen to take notes.  The smart pen records Mrs. Lundeen's lecture as the student takes notes.  At the end of class Mrs. Lundeen posts the pencast on her website.  Students can access the pencasts if they were absent or to review for assessments.  Watch the entire pencast on Mrs. Lundeen's website: http://bit.ly/uAfPM5

Enhanced research tools in Mr. Bakke's 8th grade Social Studies 

Students are using Diigo, Weebly, Google Docs, free video/audio converters, the Library of Congress primary resources for teachers website, and other web 2.0 tools to conduct research for their 2012 National History Day Project.  The theme for 2012 is Revolution, Reaction, and Reform in History.

Blogging in Mrs. Wallace's High School English Class
Blog Activity

Students are creating blogs to track their reading projects throughout the semester.  In each post students summarize, reflect, and make prediction.  All students are required to review and post comments on other students blogs.  Mrs. Wallace uses a Doc to help student access each others blogs.

Online tests in Mr. Hundt's room.
Mr. Hundt's Website

Students in Mr. Hundt's classes take most of their tests online.  Students who need their test read to them go directly to his website.  Mr. Hundt uploads each test on youtube.  Students use an iPod or an iPad to listen to the test.  If they need a question re-read they can simply back up the youtube clip.

Gizmos in Mr. Kaus's 7th grade Math class

Students in Mr. Kaus's math class use Gizmos to deepen their understanding of the concepts of area, volume, and surface area.  Gizmos are online simulations that allow students to inquire and explore concepts at their own pace.  In the lesson I had the opportunity to observe, Mr. Kaus used one of our COW Labs  (Computer on Wheels).  Using the COW allowed each student to use these online manipulatives at their own pace.

Using Google Docs to coordinate extra-help passes for EBLOCK and to track tier II interventions.
EBLOCK is an opportunity for students to receive additional instructional support during the school day.   Twice a week we run an alternative schedule that allows for a 25-minute block of time for students who are struggling in a class to get extra help.  Class advisers access student grades via Skyward Family Access.  Student in need of support are assigned to specific teachers via a shared Google Doc.   Enrichment opportunities are provided for students demonstrating good grades and behavior in all classes.  Every three weeks teachers document the Tier II interventions they are providing students at-risk for failure in their classes.   The Intervention Log is a shared Google Doc monitored by RtI coaches who assure students in need are getting intervention support.

Students taking online exams via Skyward Mrs. Morrison's 7th grade Language Arts

Two fixtures that anchor Mrs.Morrison's grammar instruction are grammar challenges and grammar quizzes Quizzes are completed on the computer using Skyward’s Online Assignment Templates.  The grammar challenges, a formative assessment,  are posted on Monday; students have until Friday midnight to complete their challenge, and using their notes is encouraged.  Throughout the week,  Mrs. Morrison is able to observe the questions in which students are struggling and address their needs to increase understanding throughout the week.  Thursday is a day dedicated to review and take the on-line grammar quiz.  Similar to the challenge, feedback is immediate.  Students see their grades and are able to peruse the grammar quiz to observe the incorrect questions and what they should have marked. 

QR code review scavenger hunt in Mrs. Mosley's and Mrs. Wallace's Language Arts 9 class
The 9th grade Language Arts classes went on an Animal Farm Review Scavenger Hunt using QR codes.  The class was split into groups of 4, each with a different set of questions.  The groups started with a question, which was displayed on an iPad.  The students then had to hunt throughout the school for the correct answer.  Once the answer was found, students scanned the next question.  After 10 questions, all students found their way back to the classroom to do a final vocabulary exercise.

IPOD translation activity in Ms. Glaze's Spanish class

Students worked in pairs to translate information at different stations throughout the room.  iPod's are used to help students find meanings and words they do not know.

Student created yearbook in Ms. Curtis's Desktop Publishing class.

Sttudents in Desktop Publishing class are currently producing the school annual completely online.  Using Jostens Yearbook Avenue, students create a username and password that allows them to log in and work on their pages anywhere there is internet access.  Last year was the first year the annual was produced online.  Many upperclassmen have had the opportunity to produce the book both ways.  Overall, students prefer designing the yearbook online.  Senior Amber Dahl, said "Yearbook Avenue is more user friendly compared to the old way the yearbook was produced."  Senior Kelli Schmitz added, "Online you have all the necessary tools to complete the page in one spot." Mrs. Curtis reports using this technology has saved the yearbook club time and money.

This list is by no means comprehensive, I didn't include the musical composition projects in Mrs. Miller's class, the collaborative virtual zoo in Mr. Hanley's class, How-to videos in the in Mrs. Mosley's innovations lab, a blended learning environment through Quia in Mr. Heinberg's Agriculture classes, or interactive Smart board activities in Mrs. Huntzicker's room.  It is exciting to work with teachers and support staff  who are continually reflecting, researching, and refining their practices in an effort to improve student achievement.  These opportunities would not be possible without the support from Cashton community.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wrestlers start the season strong. Girls Basketball loses a heart-breaker.

On December 2nd, the wrestling team opened the 2011-12 season by winning the Black River Falls Invitational.  Brett Von Ruden, Dillon Flock, and Dominic Flock won their individual weight brackets.  This past week the team opened conference with a win at Brookwood and placed 5th at the competitive Tomah Invitational.

Brett Von Ruden

Dillon Flock

Dominic Flock

The girls basketball team lost a hard fought game to Wonewoc-Center on Friday night.  The score was 44-41.  Senior Amber Dahl led the Eagles with 13 points.  Senior Whitney Hanson added 10 points.  The Eagles battled back from an 18 point halftime deficit, but fell three points short.

The upcoming week will be busy for Cashton student athletes.  The high school boys basketball team will host Necedah on Friday.  The middle school boys basketball team will battle Bangor and Necedah at Bangor on Tuesday.  The girls basketball team will host Melrose-Mindoro on Tuesday and Hillsboro on Thursday.  The wrestlers will visit New Lisbon on Thursday and Arcadia on Saturday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Slate 2011

This past Tuesday and Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend SLATE (School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education).  Spending a couple days out of the building can create challenges for students and staff, however I appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with fellow Wisconsin educators and to sharpen my vision of technology integration in our school.

Skill Up
On Tuesday, I listened to Scott McLeod.  Mr. Mcleod is an Associate Professor of Education Leadership at the University of Kentucky.  He is responsible for co-creating the popular Shift Happens videos, and each time I read his blog, watch a video, or have the opportunity see him in person I am impressed with his ability to relate how the changes occurring outside of school should effect how we lead our schools.  Perhaps the point that resonated with me the most was we must develop skills valued in the economy students enter when they graduate.

Learning from Ashwaubenon's 1:1 and BYOD at New Berlin
The concept of 1:1 is not new.  I am sure many school districts in the state have either attempted or, at a minimum, had conversations about a 1:1 electronic device environment in their school.  Leaders from Aswaubenon shared their experiences implementing an initiative that provided all 9th and 10th graders with 3G enabled netbooks. The central point to Mr. Anderson, Mr, Lucius, and Ms. Rhude's presentation was that its not about the devices its about learning.  The project focused on applying their school's mission, communicating with key stakeholders throughout the process, and most importantly focusing on the learning opportunities these devices create.  I thought the use of 3G enabled machines was innovative and gave the district the best chance to provide the equity desired in a 1:1 program.  

Later in the afternoon, I listened to a contingent from New Berlin District.   A little over a year ago the district decided to open the school network to student's personal electronic devices.  This is an issue that many high school's will have to address in the coming years.  The discussion centered on properly preparing their district's infrastructure; shifting from an acceptable use to an appropriate use policy; and communicating the purpose of the project to students, teachers, parents, and staff.  Zach Solie, a sophomore, shared his positive experiences with the group.  Listening to Zach, I couldn't help but think of a statement made by Scott McLeod earlier in the day:  We need to stop preventing the potential of technology in our schools due to a fear or lack of understanding.  Stop penalizing 90% due to the action of 10%.   

What it does it mean for Cashton?
I am proud of the strides our district has made to support 21st century learning.  As an early adopting Google Apps district, I am confident that many of our students could have presented a workshop at SLATE titled "Google Apps from A Student's Perspective." Creating a  virtual zoo, a community of blogging students, and embedding Google Forms quizzes on classroom websites are just a couple of examples of how our students learn and collaborate. Being in the presence of strong leaders makes me want to be a better leader.  I owe it to the students of Cashton.

Oh, and I got a ton of ideas, models, tech-solutions, and apps to pass along to teachers.  Here is a short list of a few of my favorites:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boys and Girls Basketball Teams Win Season-Openers. Wrestling starts on Saturday

The boys basketball team opened the season with a 40-27 win at DeSoto. Caleb Fernholz led the Eagles with 18 points and James Slattery chipped in with 12 points. The Eagles next game is Friday, December 2nd versus Wonewoc-Center.

Whitney Hanson scored 15 points as the girls basketball team won the coaching debut of Patte Michalek. Kelli Schmitz added 10 points for the Eagles. The Eagles next game is Friday, December 9th versus Wonewoc-Center.

The wrestling team season starts on Saturday, December 3rd at the Black River Falls tournament.

Pictures provided by Lynda Hurtz

Pictures provided by Kim Fanning

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Health Careers Academy

This year, Cashton High School started a Health Careers Academy. The mission of the Health Careers Academy will be to provide opportunities for students interested in pursuing medical or health science careers. Members of the academy will participate in monthly luncheons with local health professionals, attend fields trips to explore health care facilities, research health related post-secondary programs, have the chance to volunteer at local health facilities, and will gain CPR and AED certifications.

Supporting the recruitment and development of health professionals is not just a school issue. Cashton, like many areas in the Scenic Rivers district, is a rural area. According to the Agency for Health Research and Quality (www.ahrq.gov) one-fourth of America’s populations live in rural areas and when compared to urban Americans, rural residents have higher poverty rates, tend to be in poorer health, and have less access to care. A major contributing factor to this problem is the lack of primary care physicians and other health care providers in rural areas. One way we can change this trend is to provide opportunities for current students in rural areas to learn more about the health professions. It will likely be easier to attract physicians and health care professionals to rural areas who have grown up in rural areas. Proactive programming in the middle and high school is one way identify and attract our most successfully students to enter this emerging profession and to keep their talents in the area.

This school year students have had the opportunity to meet with:

Judy Gilbertson- Vernon Memorial Volunteer and Job shadow coordinator. She provided students with an overview of Vernon Memorial, job shadowing areas, and volunteer program. Students were able to pick up applications to apply for job shadowing experiences. Nine students have taken applications.

Sherri Harris- Nurse Practitioner came and spoke with students about her education and background, her scope of practice compared to Drs., Physician assistants, credentialing, why she chose a rural setting, and where she sees a need in the future for healthcare.

Samantha Kraft- Scenic Rivers AHEC spoke with students on services she can help with such as applications for school and scholarships.

Planned upcoming events include a Pharmaceutical Representative, the HealthCare Extravaganza, and hopefully field trips to Gundersen Lutheran and Mayo Health Systems Hospitals.

A special thanks you School Nurse, Tiffany Giesler, for leading this group and to Scenic Rivers AHEC for partnering with us on this project.

If you or your child are interested in joining the Health Careers Academy please stop in the office or speak with Tiffany Giesler (ext. 229) for more information.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Positive Parent and Teacher Communication

This past month our faculty met to discuss an important component to student success. A positive relationship between parents and teachers creates an environment in which the student can reach his/her greatest potential. At our meeting teachers discussed effective and productive communication strategies, factors to consider when deciding to contact parents, lessons learned from tense meetings with parents, and communication actions by teachers and parents that can negatively impact student progress. Common effective practices discussed included contacting parents early in the term; making sure to contact parents for positive reasons; maintaining a class web site to update parents on the daily objectives and classroom assignments; staying focused on the facts during parent meetings; working with parents to create a plan for success; establishing a means for follow up communication; and selecting the right mode of communication.

We reviewed parent-teacher communication guidelines developed by other districts and our ultimate goal will be to develop common communication guidelines for parents and teachers. Any feedback from parents or resources from other educators would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quarter 1 Honor Roll

Congratulations to the following Cashton Middle/High School students for making the Quarter 1 A-Honor Roll.

12th Grade
Mariah Campton
Sonia Cummings
Amber Dahl
MacKenzie Daines
Ryan Deflorain
Dillon Flock
Megan Flock
Sarah Gronemus
Whitney Hanson
Allison Hemmersbach
Chloe Kaiser
Amelia Korn
Clare Leis
Robin Muenzenberger
Haley Nowakowski
Samual Roamer
Kelli Schimtz
Hans Stennes-Spidahl
Amber Tway
Cody Von Ruden

11th Grade
Lane Dickman
Morgan Dickman
Crystal Felch
Jacob Hemmersbach
Megan Hemmersbach
Ashley Hurtz
Hannah Peterson
James Slattery
Ashley Thornton

10th Grade
Kala Arentz
Katrina Bjornstad
Kole Campton
Jacky Dickman
Nichole Gaethke
Janessa Kuderer
Troy Muenzenberg
Marisa Schaldach
Nathan Schmitz
Carrie Urbanek
Casey Urbanek
Jenna Von Ruden
Tanner Von Ruden
Shania Wendland

9th Grade
Mark Gronemus
Betsy Schreier
Brandon Vieth

8th Grade
Jocalyn Carpenter
Lindsey Kramer
Ethan Leis
Jamie Schmitz
Grace Schroeder
Lauren Thornton
Daniel Zinnel

7th Grade
Rose Adams
Gabriel Anderson
Avrie Butzler
Emma Freiberg
Rebecca Gronemus
Harley Hundt
Breanne Huntzicker
Karlee Kirking
Angela Klinkner
Kaleb Mlsna
Olivia Pieper
Noel Schmitz
Alexis Schroeder
Stephanie Tirado mendoza
Abby Wendland

6th Grade
Brady Butzler
Kyah Flock
Taylor Flock
Taylor Hanley
Madaline Leis
Autumn Ritter
Emily Swenson
Laura Zinnel

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quarter 1 Recap

Many thanks to Lynda Hurtz for creating this animoto video of students.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Google Apps Certified Trainer

Mr. Bakke, our middle school social studies teacher, is one of a group of Cashton Educators currently training to become a Google Certified Trainer. One requirement is the creation of a two-minute video outlining how the teacher is integrating technology in the classroom and their innovative approach to using Google Apps.

Cashton Students Are All In

A couple events over the past two weeks have reminded me how important a role that extra curricular activities play in the development of middle and high school students.    In both instances these opportunities would not have been possible without members of our Cashton learning community going above and beyond what is required.

On November 4th, students in the music department put on a variety show for the community.  The format allowed family, friends, and community members the opportunity to watch students perform individual, small group, and whole group pieces.  The atmosphere was fun and relaxed, and I am pretty sure the students enjoyed the chance to select the music and help with the choreography.   Kathryn Miller, choir director, and Matt Muraski, band director, deserve a great deal of credit for planning this event.

On November 11th and 12th, student athletes in grades six through twelve participated in Cashton's first ever "Be An Eleven" Bigger, Faster, Stronger Clinic.  Over two days, students learned the keys to proper speed, strength, and conditioning techniques.    Students also participated in personal and team goal setting exercises. Coaching representatives from all athletics teams were present and actively working together to understand how these techniques will help their student athletes improve performance.    It is important to note that it is technically the off-season between fall and winter sports for our athletes and coaches.  However, rather than using this time to "take a break" the athletics department and students were working together to improve.  A special thanks for Bill Freiberg, activities director, and Joe Woodhouse, strength and conditioning coach, for organizing this event.

It is inspiring to work with students and educators willing to put in the time and effort required for success.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Job Skills Innovations Lab

Cashton High School students are participating in a redesigned Job Skills course this year. This summer we renovated the old FCE room into a 21st century innovations lab. The room contains a graphics computer lab. Each computer is equipped with Photoshop and other graphics software. Mrs. Curtis, our business education teacher, helps students learn how to use these programs to create original designs and multimedia projects. The curriculum is project based. Mr. Schmitz, technology education teacher, helps students learn how to produce these multimedia projects on large scale formats. The production equipment in the lab includes a digital vinyl cutter, a laser engraver, screen printing equipment, a heat press, and a digital embroider. Already this year students have produced mouse pads, posters, wellness day prizes, homecoming t-shirts, and personalized water bottles. Mrs. Mosley, special education teacher, is the lead instructor for this course and works to integrate work habits and technical skills that will prepare students for employment in the 21st century. In the coming months the job skills team plans to market their products for special projects and other school organizations.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eagles Athletes Prepare For The Playoffs

The fall sports seasons are winding down and that means playoffs!

The volleyball team lost to Kickapoo 3 games to 1 on Tuesday.

Cross Country will participate in the Sectional meet on Saturday, October 22nd. The girls race is at 9:30 am and the boys race is at 10:10 am. The top teams qualify to the state meet and the top five individuals not on either of the qualifying teams will also qualify to state.

The football team will play at DeSoto on Friday, October 21st at 7:00 pm. The football team was profiled on WKBT last night:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wellness Day 2011

On Wednesday, we held Wellness Day at the Middle/High School. The goal of this interactive event was to promote safe, healthy, and positive lifestyle choices for our students. Bill Westerman provided the keynote address for students. He shared a powerful, personal story of coping with, and eventually managing, his drug addiction. The themes of Bill’s speech were personal accountability, hope, and redemption. In speaking with students after it was clear his message resonated. After the assembly, student participated in self-selected physical education activities and healthy habit seminars. Physical education activities included rock-climbing, yoga, salsa dancing, core training, mountain biking, geo-caching, fishing, archery, plyometrics, and strength training. Healthy habits seminar topics included personal finance, tobacco education, nutritional awareness, organizational techniques, and peer relationship training. Students had the option of a healthy sack lunch from the cafeteria or to purchase a grilled chicken plate provided by the FFA. I was proud of our students’ willingness to try new activities, and I am pretty sure they enjoyed a break from our normal daily routine. I would like to personally thank Sarah Mosley for spending countless hours coordinating and organizing this event. Without her leadership this event would not have been possible.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. I am proud of our school’s commitment to providing students with educational opportunities in a safe environment. However, like all school environments, issues of bullying and harassment occur. Preventing bullying and harassment is truly a team effort. We will succeed if students feel comfortable expressing bullying concerns and are confident that these concerns will be addressed. All staff must be observant and willing to confront behaviors in the school setting that are indicators that bullying is occurring. Parents can support our goal by monitoring their child’s behaviors and communicating concerns to school staff appropriately.

Bullying awareness resources for students and parents:

Stand up to Cyberbullying

The Bully Project

The 5 meanest sites on the web for kids

Websites to be aware of and to make sure that your child is avoiding.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Butts in Seats Event

The Cashton Student Council is partnering with Sleepy Hollow to host the Butts in Seats Event. On Friday, October 14th from 3:30 to 7:00 pm representatives from Sleepy Hollow will be in the Cashton Elementary Parking Lot. Any licensed driver can stop by and test drive one of several new Chrysler and Dodge vehicles. For each test drive Sleepy Hollow will donate money to the Cashton High School Student Council. Come on out to test drive a car and help support Cashton's Student Council.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Skyward Family Access

Mid-quarter grades will be posted to Skyward Family Access on October 4th. Family access is a powerful tool that makes it easier to access student information and grades at any time during the school year. If you do not have Skyward Family Access please contact Nancy Schmitz in the high school office (654-5131, ext 203).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cashton ACT Scores are 2nd Best in the Region

Cashton High School students performed exemplary on the ACT this year. Cashton seniors (class of 2011) scored an average of 23.2. This composite score is exceeds the state average of 22.2 and represents the second highest composite score of the 26 high schools in the Coulee Region. Standardized testing data is not the only measure of student achievement, but these scores represent the amazing academic potential of our students.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Cashton High School will be celebrating Homecoming Week, September 26th-October 1st. This year’s theme is “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. The celebration will kick off Monday, September 26th at 7:00 pm when high school students will compete in games and have a bonfire at the Cashton Park. On Tuesday, September 27th, the volleyball team will take on Wonewoc. JV and JV Reserve matches start at 6:00 pm and the Varsity match starts at 7:30 pm. On Friday, September 30th, the homecoming parade will begin at 2:20 pm. The route will start at the elementary school and end at the high school. At 7:00 pm the football team will battle the Bangor Cardinals. On Saturday night, the homecoming dance will be held in the high school cafeteria from 8:00 pm to midnight. The students invite the entire community to come out and celebrate this fun week. GO EAGLES!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Google Apps for Education

Last year, Cashton school district began using Google Apps for Education. The core applications allow faculty and students access to e-mail, a calendar system, cloud collaboration software, and easy platforms to create websites and blogs. Among the many other tools are applications that allow students to edit and share pictures (Picasa), explore the world (Earth), translate text (Translate), and video conference. Using these educational applications saves the district money and the agreement includes language assuring that all confidential information will not be used or disclosed by Google.

This is a short video that explains the powerful instructional uses for Google Apps

Monday, September 12, 2011

Great Start to the Year

We have started our first full week at Cashton Middle/High School. The year is off to a great start. This past week I visited with our 6th and 12th grade social studies classrooms to introduce our new EBLOCK schedule. During EBLOCK students will have time to get "E"xtra help or participate in "E"nrichment opportunities. Student and teacher feedback has been positive. The following link provides more information. I look forward to meeting the many more students this week.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

2010-11 Scenic Bluffs Conference Season Recap

2010-11 Scenic Bluffs Conference Highlights

The Eagles are well represented in this all-sports recap from last season.

Video provided by Nate Beier, GX3Media

Friday, August 26, 2011

Assessment and Grading Guidelines

One of our key goals this year is to implement consistent, fair, accurate, and efficient assessment and grading guidelines. Last year, our faculty studied the work of Doug Reeves, Rick Wormeli, Thomas Guskey, and others. As we analyzed our practice we found diverse philosophies and sporadic implementation. We all agreed a common set of guidelines for all to follow would improve our capacity to meet our goal. We thoroughly studied successful assessment policies from Grand Island, NE; Elko County, NV, Minnetonka, MN, and Whitefish Bay, WI. The 2011-12 school year will be a year of implementation, reflection, and adjustment. Cashton MS/HS Assessment Philosophy and Grading Guidelines reflect our collective commitment to progressive assessment techniques. I would be interested to hear from other school leaders that have been through the same process.