ChoppED Staff Meeting

Tapping into popular culture is a great strategy to engage staff and students in learning activities and professional development. Our most recent staff meeting utilized a “Chopped” theme as teacher were asked to create lessons. 

The premise and goal was for teachers to work in collaborative and mixed grade level and content area teams to create an innovative and engaging learning experience using a ‘basket’ of ingredients.

This meeting was facilitated by our technology coach, Mrs. Stefanie Pitzer, and she led the staff through the process that provided team building and lesson planning in one.

We set the stage to engage with mixing bowls filled with cooking tools, a cutting board and oven mitt. Staff were provided a chef’s hat and apron to wear. These were given to them to keep and use in their classroom as a ‘hook’ for a future lesson.

Teams were all given the same anchor standard to ‘integrate knowledge and ideas’

Their instructions were to read their grade level standard and ‘cook up’ a lesson that coordinated the 4Cs (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking) while using at least two tools from the ‘pantry.’ Those tools consisted of library books, a camera, our learning management system, a wild card, google classroom, flipgrid, padlet or seesaw. Teachers were also given a mystery tool that they were required to add into their lesson plan in some way. Examples of these included:

  1. paperclips
  2. stickers
  3. round dots
  4. construction paper

While planning their lesson, teachers were thrown a ‘road bump’ challenge that they needed to accommodate for. These consisted of:

  1. Devices not working
  2. Students needing additional practice with digital citizenship concepts
  3. Data from exit tickets that required reteaching
  4. Students having difficulty with appropriate digital collaboration

If teams had a specials content area teacher in on their team, they were also required to add that content area into their lesson. For example, one team had our school counselor, so a social/emotional component needed to be present in the lesson.

Teachers recorded their lesson plans on a Google Slides presentation that they will have access to in the future to refer to. You can access that HERE 

At the conclusion of the session, teams of teachers shared their lesson plans and reflected on the experience. They made connections as to how they could incorporate the concept of a ChoppED lesson in their classrooms. Examples shared for this included:

  1. Creating writing pieces with setting, characters, and plots from a pantry of choices using specific writing skills.
  2. Creating word problems with specific operations or operations
  3. Creating a “Decimal Diner” for students to engage in various math activities related to fractions and decimals.

Setting Reading Resolutions: Celebrating Readers!

We are ringing in another New Year! Throughout 2016 I enjoyed reading so many amazing books. As a school, we established a Little Free Library, Free Will Bookshelves, and added over 100 new titles to our library. It is clear when you walk through DGS and see teachers sharing what they’re reading on posters outside their doors, shelves of books in the hallways, and even a bathtub full of books, that literacy is important to our school. Not only is creating a culture of readers a school goal, but it is a deeply rooted value and belief of the staff. More than reading achievement, my goal is and always has been creating learners that LOVE to read. That love of reading with spark lifelong learning and reading enjoyment!

So, as I have done in the past, I set my own reading resolutions to model reading for my staff and students. In the past, I have set goals to read a professional book a month and blog about it, read a particular series or author, or maintain a good reads account. That has all become standard for me, so my reading resolution this year is to promote reading in fun and unique ways with my students and staff. I am starting by having them set their own reading resolutions and I am harnessing the power of social media to do just that.

On our school facebook page, I posted the graphic below (Created in Canva). I am encouraging parents and families to set reading goals with their students! Readers grow on the laps of their parents! As an added incentive, I am gifting a free book and certificate to any student that establishes their own reading resolution! Let’s get out their and ring in the new year with books!


Ditch that Textbook Book Study Review

I read “Ditch that Textbook” by Matt Miller early in 2016. It was among several of the “Dave Burgess Consulting” titles that I had on my nightstand. It only took me a short time to finish the book, mark up the pages with post-its and notes and knew I had to share this book with my staff.

With our professional learning days accounted for and the end of the year approaching, I decided to launch a twitter based summer book study that teachers participated in on a voluntary basis. I sent out an email and was floored that the majority of my staff wanted in! We extended the invite to several other teachers and before we knew it we had our staff collaborating with teachers across the country on the topic of revolutionizing their classrooms!

The first week was simply introductions. Teachers shared their position and a selfie of themselves with the book. It was an easy way to get acquainted with the hashtag, meet the educators participating, and dip our toes into the twitter book study waters. The teachers below are just some of those that participated!

The remaining weeks of the book study focused on each chapter of the book. There were opportunities for goal setting, resource sharing, and celebration of success. Teachers shared their favorite educational book titles, hashtags, digital resources, and more. Staff set goals for integrating technology in meaningful ways in the fall. Mystery Skype Sessions, Twitter Chats with authors, Hyperdocs and digital badges were all shared as goals for teachers. It was uplifting to see many ‘likes’ and “retweets” of their posts as others validated their tweets and learned from their posts!

I embedded some digital badges in the study to recognize those that participated as well. A the conclusion of the study, they were awarded a participation certificate (linked below).

It was empowering to see how many educators sought to be connected and learn through the summer months. In Matt’s book he indicates the importance of being connected for so many positive reasons: inspiration, motivation, challenge, camaraderie, apps, humor, and collaboration (pages 97-98). Each of those elements was evident during the book study. As teachers used their time on vacation to learn and grow, they were filling their teacher tool belts and making their classrooms better places to teach and learn!

Environment of Numeracy Strategy: School-Wide Number Talk Padlet

If you give a fifth grade student and a kindergarten student the same number, they will look at it in very different ways based on their mathematical knowledge and understanding. Number Talks are a strategy to develop mathematical thinkers and to interpret numbers in various ways. As a school, we’ve launched a school-wide approach to number talks in which students are presented a number and have to represent it in as many ways as they can. It’s powerful to hear a second grade class review fourth grade posts and comment on their use of multiplication or students in 5th grade begin to use fractions, decimals and negative integers in their posts. A padlet is created each week with a randomly selected number and students add to it and review peer posts as they develop number sense and build on mathematical conversations and collaboration!

Made with Padlet

Title 1 Informational Presentation

I will present information regarding Title 1 Intervention Identification and Intervention Support Services on Tuesday, October 4th. Below is the informational overview that is covered as part of this presentation.

As a parent/guardian of a student at a school receiving funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, you have the right to request the professional qualifications of the teachers who instruct your child and the paraprofessionals, if any, who assist them.  You may request the following information about each of your child’s classroom teachers and/or their paraprofessional assistants:

  1. Whether the teacher has met State certification requirements;
  2. Whether the teacher is teaching under an emergency permit or other provisional status by which State licensing criteria have been waived;
  3. The teacher’s college major;
  4. Whether the teacher has any advanced degrees and, if so, the subject of the degrees; and
  5. Whether any instructional aides or paraprofessionals provide services to child and, if so, their qualifications.

If you would like to receive any of this information, please contact Charlotte Ferris ( at the District Office.

Parent University Sessions Announced

Schools are not only hubs of learning for staff and students. They are a center for the development of our parents and community. Join Dunlap Grade School as we launch a year long series of family engagement evenings and parent lunch and learn sessions. Topics and concepts are related to school goals and popular topics. Each session is facilitated by staff, administration or special guest visitors. Our mission is to develop lifelong learners, and we hope our parents take advantage of these sessions to develop their knowledge and understanding of educational related topics. 

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Class of 2029: Kindergarten Orientation 2016

Dunlap Grade School Kindergarten Families,

I am eager to welcome the Class of 2029 to our school as our newest group that we will be able to lay the foundation of lifelong learning for. If you are like me, you look at the children sitting next to you and feel like it was both a moment and a lifetime ago that they came into your lives. You are beaming with both pride and excitement as much as you are with worry and trepidation as they are on the brink of starting kindergarten.

To the kindergarteners, look up at mom or dad right now and tell them, “I got this.” One more time, “I got this.”

And they do… Sure there may be some hesitation, worry or concern, but they are going to amaze you. They are going to grow, develop, and make you proud. They are going to learn how to read letters, words, and sentences. They are going to learn to write to share their feelings and ideas. They are going to learn about numbers, shapes, and math-problem solving concepts. But, they are also going to learn to become more independent. They are going to learn to be a good friend.  They are going to learn that mistakes are ok and we learn from our failures. They’re going to learn all of that and so much more.

But what’s more, just as they will learn from the fabulous educators in this building, we will learn from them and just as quickly as they went from being a baby to being here tonight embarking on kindergarten, you are going to blink and this class of 2029 is going to be graduating high school and you’re going to remember the day they started kindergarten and smile and remember how far they’ve come. Because… they’ve got this.

Kindness Challenge Week Celebration at DGS

Dunlap Grade School celebrated The Great Kindness Challenge during the week of January 25th-29th. The goal of the week was simple: Spread Kindness. The week was part of a national movement to develop empathy and foster kindness in schools and the community. You can read more at


The week was filled with many special activities; including:

  • A Kindness Proclamation by Major of Peoria, Jim Ardis
  • A special respect assembly by community advocate and speaker, Carl Canon
  • An all school Kindness Rocks photograph
  • Daily Kindness Precepts at morning announcements
  • Service and Leadership Club Student Greeters at morning drop-off
  • Parent Guest Readers at lunch time that read books focused on lessons in empathy and kindness
  • Kindness Matters Pencils and Bracelets
  • Chain Link Fence Decorating
  • Collaborative art project by all students that is now displayed in the hallway
  • Kindness Technology projects
  • 5th Grade production of a Kindness Video
  • All school kind act paper chain
  • Daily themed dress up days
  • Food Truck for teachers and staff
  • Kindness Kits delivered to district staff members

You can watch videos highlighting the week at DGS at:

We look forward to taking the momentum from Kindness Week to continue to develop kindness and empathy amongst our staff and students at DGS!

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Math Blizzard Parent Training: Numbers and Operations Progression

Our First and Fifth grade teachers are hosting a Math Blizzard for parents. The goals of the training will be to provide parents an understanding of common core standards and the progression of the standards from Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. If you can’t attend the training, but would like the information and resources, you can view them below:

k-5 numbers and operations

Math Resources

math power point


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