Garland ISD news: Jan. 5-9‏


Contest challenges students to show off marketing, technology skills
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Garland ISD will kick off its third-annual Book Bytes contest Jan. 6, calling all reading enthusiasts to advertise one of their favorite pieces of literature through technology.
Open to any GISD student, the competition challenges participants to create book trailers using Photo Story, Movie Maker or iMovie. In addition to showcasing advertising and technological capabilities, Book Bytes also allows competitors to hone their critical thinking skills, creative direction talents and research abilities. License-free or original music and photographs can be featured in the digital advertisements, which have a two-minute time limit.
Only one submission per student or group will be accepted. Participants have until noon Friday, March 6, to submit their original piece in person to their campus librarian.
For more information on the 2014-15 Book Bytes contest, visit the Library Services Department’s website.

Teachers reinvigorate classrooms after inspirational trip

Ron Clark Academy

Students might notice some exciting changes in the classroom this spring. Innovative instructional initiatives inspired by Convocation keynote speaker Ron Clark are sweeping the district, thanks to a recent inspirational road trip.

Encouraged by Clark’s energetic, motivational presentation, Garland ISD organized a two-day trip to the Ron Clark Academy last fall. Director of Professional Development Nelson Orta helped coordinate this life changing experience.
“After Ron Clark spoke at convocation in August, we began planning a group visit,” Orta explained. “The Professional Development Department designed an opportunity that not was only about experiencing the Ron Clark Academy, but also reflecting on learning and our practices in GISD.”
Campus principals were tasked with choosing one teacher who routinely goes above and beyond—known as a “runner” in Clark’s philosophy. Those 71 runners, along with 28 principals, two area directors and three members of the Professional Development team, loaded two busses headed to Georgia at 5:30 a.m. Oct. 9.
“There was a lot of singing, cheering, chanting and collaboration on the busses,” Orta said. “We arrived in Atlanta at 8 p.m. Over the next two days, GISD educators observed Academy teachers and students in their classrooms. They also met with Academy teachers to discuss their philosophy, and had access to students and Ron Clark himself throughout the visit.”
When these educators returned to GISD, they started sharing—and practicing—what they learned during the remarkable outing.
“That magical place changed me in many ways. It changed me as a parent, teacher and even as a person,” said Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence teacher Fernando Loaiza. “You look at yourself, and you say, ‘I am a good teacher.’ But being a good teacher is not good enough. You have to strive to become a great teacher. And that is one of the things that fired me up.”
Loaiza now features cheers, music and movement in his classroom—mediums that excite and motivate his students. Fellow runners are also incorporating ingenious methods of instruction, such as simulating a surgery to teach the mathmatecial order of operations.
These fresh techniques were on full display during a Jan. 5 staff development training called Design Your Own Learning. The teacher-led affair kicked off the spring semester, equipping educators with novel ideas to jumpstart their classrooms in 2015.
“Teachers have been challenged to be ‘life changers’ by Ron Clark,” Orta commented. “Our educators are still influenced by what they observed in Atlanta, and are affecting others at their campuses. We are excited to see the transformations happening in classrooms throughout GISD.”
Photos courtesy of Ron Clark and GISD staff.

Sewell principals kiss a pig for charity

Sewell Elementary

What would you do for $10,000? Administrators at Sewell Elementary School recently proved they would pucker up to a pig.

Assistant Principal Deidre Hannible and Principal Susan Craig smooched the swine before Winter Break, after learning that students and staff reached the campus’ Jump Rope for Heart goal.
“Last year, we raised $9,100—the most in the district,” said physical education teacher Reida Wallace. “I wanted to keep that going, so this year, I set the goal for $10,000. I thought the kiss a pig incentive would help us reach it, and our principals agreed to participate.”
Kicking of the four-week campaign last fall, students solicited donations and were able to jump rope in gym for an entire week if they raised at least $5. Wallace revealed the grand total before school let out for the holidays.
“More than half the members of our campus made a donation,” she said. “Layton Dotson, a kindergartner, was the top contributor, raising $525.”
At a special assembly, Craig and Hannible made good on their promise. They planted one on a product of Garland High School’s FFA.
“The pig was scared and would not come out of its cage, so they got down inside it,” explained Wallace. “The kids were so excited. They chanted ‘Kiss the pig. Kiss the pig,’ before counting down and erupting in cheers. We also recognized everyone who gave.”
Sewell’s Jump Rope for Heart campaign marks one of the district’s first this school year. Many other campuses will follow suit this spring. With the bar set high already, Wallace hopes GISD students take away more than just the competition from this campaign.
“Heart disease affects everyone, whether we experience it ourselves or know someone who does,” she said. “It is very important that students know how to take care of themselves—eating right, exercising and living an active lifestyle. If we do not take care of our heart, it cannot take care of us.”
Photos courtesy of Sewell Elementary.

Maria Rada Pena named Jupiter Chevrolet’s Teacher of the Month

Maria Rada and Back Elementary Students

Jupiter Chevrolet’s Teacher of the Month SUV has made another stop on its journey to reward dedicated educators in Garland ISD. Maria Rada Pena from Back Elementary School received this month’s honors Jan. 6, along with the specially wrapped prize.

“I was surprised to walk outside with my principal and see my students next to the car,” said Back’s bilingual kindergarten teacher. “I am really excited because my husband and I only have one vehicle, so this will help a lot. Thank you Jupiter Chevrolet, GISD and Back Elementary.”
Rada Pena’s honor can be credited to thousands of votes during the November/December contest on Jupiter Chevrolet’s Facebook page. Coworkers, administrators and Back families all rallied to bring the coveted award to one of their own.
“We put the link on our website and in our newsletter, telling everyone we could to vote for Ms. Rada,” said Principal Teresa McCutcheon. “She deserves this recognition for being a hardworking, loving and patient teacher. Her students and parents just adore her.”
Rada Pena will drive her new wheels until the end of the month. Would you like to see your campus represented and your favorite educator named Teacher of the Month? Cast your vote before Jan. 28.

District partners with Discovery Education to host Math Academy

Teachers during training

Garland ISD established its partnership with Discovery Education when the district implemented the use of Techbooks in elementary classrooms. Strengthening that relationship, Garland ISD and Discovery Education have joined forces once again to present an intensive professional development training for teachers and instructional leaders. The district will host Discovery Education’s Math Academy Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Curtis Culwell Center.

This one-day event will highlight 21st-century teaching strategies, as well as learning capabilities for all-level math and integrated classrooms. Attendees can expect to learn practical applications for teaching math through a digital medium, personalized solutions for transition needs and best practices from experts.
In addition to six hours of professional development, the Academy also offers breakfast, lunch and a 60-day free trial to Discovery Education Streaming Plus.
Teachers and instructional leaders across North Texas are invited to register now for this free training. Interested GISD staff should contact the Professional Development Department to attend. Early registration is recommended as space is limited to the first 200 educators who sign up.
For more information about Discovery Education’s Math Academy, visit the district’s featured events calendar.