Parent Connect Parent Connect


I have iPads in my Classroom! Now What?

I have iPads in the Classroom. Now What? from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

The Possibilities of Student Blogging

Andrea, Silvia and some students reflect on student blogging.

This video will be used as part of a free, online course for teachers.


What is the Daily 5?- Parent Connect 9/24/12

This year, we are piloting a new literacy program in grades 2, 4 and 5.  This grew out of our summer professional development book groups, which you can read more about here. The program, called the Daily 5, is grounded in the knowledge base of what activities and behaviors are most effective for developing basic literacy. The Daily 5 was written by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, who also maintain the website.

Our first Parent Connect this year was dedicated to sharing information about The Daily 5 and our implementation of it this year. Here is a review for those parents who were not able to join us, as well as anyone else interested in learning more.

Everything we do is grounded in an understanding of what our students need in order to be successful in this connected, high tech world. We believe the Daily 5 helps us help our students to become independent learners.

Our librarian, Karin Hallett, shared some of the research behind this program in the following slides:

If you would like to learn more, here is an excellent article that synthesizes current research and underscores the importance of self-selected independent reading.

We watched a video of Amy Stein teaching her second graders the "I PICK" strategy for learning how to choose "good fit books."

We also watched Stephanie Teitelbaum introducing "Read to Self" to her 4th and 5th graders.

Here are some thoughts from Andrea Hernandez and Jon Mitzmacher:

This final video includes a discussion about The CAFE Book, which is the counterpart to the Daily 5, as well as information about the data collection process.

Stephanie has started a professional blog, Teach, Blog and Tweet, where she will be documenting and reflecting upon the process as it unfolds. Please feel free to follow her there, and add your voice to the discussion.



4th Grade Part of International Action Research

An International team of four classrooms partnered to do action research. They asked the questions: Does Blogging support and improve QUALITY student writing?
Our 4th graders, together with their teacher, Mrs. Teitelbaum, are part of this fabulous blogging adventure during the month of March 2012 .


Support their efforts and visit their classroom blogs (with student blog links) and model quality comments for them. '


Third Garders Being Called Upon As The Experts

Third graders had the opportunity to be called upon being experts. They were asked to skype into an educational conference presentation being given by Kelly Hines from North Carolina and share their experience of using Skype at school. Students were excited and prepared well by being assigned different job responsibilities during the Skype call.

Here were their job descriptions:

  • Answer and Hang Up Skype call
  • Greeter (Introduce ourselves)
  • Q&A
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Live Blogger
  • Note-Taker- laptop
  • Note-Taker- paper & pencil
  • Note-Taker- Doodler - iPad

Distribution of Job Responsibilities

Mrs Hines sent us three questions ahead of time. As a class, we collaboratively brainstormed how we could best answer these questions.

Question: Preparation & Brainstorming

Skype Prep

Skype Prep

Here is the post from our Blogger:

Today we are skyping with about 50 teachers learning to skype. We are telling stories about our skyping. We are teaching teachers. We had three people to answer questions. We are telling stories of why it’s good to skype.

Here are the notes they took on the laptop about our Skype call:

* Skyping with North Carolina
* Teaching teachers
* About 50 teachers learning
* Answering questions
* Telling stories
* Never skyped
* Showing our teacher
* Asking to check out our blog
* Learning how to skype with other teachers

Here are the images taken by the student photographer (remember third grader!)


Note Taker- Pencil & Paper

Videographer & Q&A

Doodler/ Illustrator

Here is the screenshot of our "doodler/illustrator" from the iPad.

iPad "Doodler/Illustrator"

Here is an excerpt of the video taken by one of the third graders to document the connection.

It was a fantastic opportunity for the students to practice their oral presentation skills, learn about specific audiences (in this case teachers learning about using Skype in their classrooms) and documentation skills (paper & pencil, video, images, illustrations and blogging).



Reflective Writing

February 24th, 2011


Professional Development Session Reflective Writing- Thursday, Feb 24 4-5 pm Essential Questions:

  • Is reflective learning a 21st century skill?
  • How do we grow to a more reflective culture as students and teachers?
  • How do we as a learning community reflect on professional reading?

Image credit:

Two staircases, side by side, to show the idea that there are different types of blogs. The classroom blog (1st image) has a different audience and different "voice" than a reflective professional blog.

Show & Tell of our Professional Blogs

Reflective Culture

  • Time to write
  • Platform: Ning or Professional Blog
  • Structured: Write about Language Arts and/or Math Curriculum OR
  • Unstructured: Reflect about reflecting or anything that is on you mind.

5th grade brainstorming reflective vocabulary...


Professional Development Day- January 28th

On January 28th, while students had a day off, MJGDS teachers spent the day learning together, sharing ideas and resources and nurturing our professional learning community. We watched Adora Svitak's TED talk, "What adults can learn from kids." We discussed the importance of deep, reflective learning.

We then had the opportunity to practice using our blogs (on our faculty ning) for professional reflection by writing our individual philosophies or vision statements. Here is the wordle of our philosophies:

Through this exercise we were able to see clearly our common beliefs about teaching and learning. Connecting these beliefs with our standards and benchmarks puts us in the position to think critically about our curricular materials and strategize our next moves in upgrading content and curriculum. Stay tuned!

In the afternoon session, we watched two short videos about passion, one called "Finding Your Element" from the ImagineIt Project and another short video that our very own Mrs. Tolisano created, also about passion (this one shows footage from our school, and we enjoyed it so much that we watched it twice.)

Teachers were given the opportunity to search the creative commons images on flickr to find one image that represents their passion. It was fun and highly educational. Many teachers were unaware of the image resources on flickr; others learned the importance of searching for images within the creative commons. As always, discussion centered around how to use these new ideas and skills in their own classrooms with their students.

Finally, teachers took the time to share and discuss our individual plans for professional development. Each teacher has identified a specific area for professional growth and outlined a plan for the year. During this session we learned about our colleagues' goals and discussed the connection between our passions and our professional growth as teachers.


K12 Online Conference LAN Party JAX

On January 20th, MJGDS hosted the 3rd Annual K12 Online Conference on January 20th. Over twenty educators from local FCIS schools joined in a network and learning opportunity.

Using the The K-12 Online Conference platform which invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning.

We watched Dean Shareski's keynote presentation "The Moral Imperative of Sharing" and skyped in Dean from Canada to talk to us live.

Here are some resources and links we talked about:

Professional Blogs and Twitter usernames from attendees (please add your blog and link as a comment if I omited your blog)



Technology & Curriculum Coordinators Meet at MJGDS

21st century teaching and learning is about communicating, collaborating and connecting. It is about the skills our students need to succeed in THEIR future and how we can best prepare them. It is a shift from teaching and learning in isolation to recognizing that learning is social. 21st century teaching is not only about connecting on a global scale, but also about reaching out at the local level. It is about elevating technology to be an ubiquitous tool in school in order to expose and practice literacy skills.

Technology and Curriculum Coordinators from the Florida Council of Independent Schools (our accrediting agency) were invited to MJGDS for a professional development network opportunity. It was a thrill to be able to welcome over 20 educators from 10 different schools.

We hope to continue meeting several times during the rest of the school year to discuss education, collaboration, resources and to expand our learning networks as professionals.

21st Century Schools

MJGDS Faculty Presenters at FCIS Conference 2010

Florida Council of Independent Schools held its annual statewide conference in Jacksonville. MJGDS had six faculty members representing our school.