• Future Teachers

    Posted by William Benson on 11/21/2018 7:00:00 AM

    I spoke with a Ms. Navarrate’s fourth grade class at Newlin Elementary last week during their career day. It is never too early to think about career paths. While there were no takers for my job, there were several students interested in becoming teachers. Given the national teacher shortage, I thought it would be a good idea to sign them up with a letter of intent for future positions in ABSS. Of course, the offer is conditional upon receipt of acceptable reference, a satisfactory background check, appropriate credentials, eligibility to obtain a North Carolina teaching license, and provision of sufficient funds from the appropriating body to the Board of Education.

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson with future teachers

     

     

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  • Girls on the Run

    Posted by William Benson on 11/20/2018

    Brittany Pate, an elementary ESL teacher, has girls on the run at Eastlawn Elementary School and I had the pleasure of running along yesterday afternoon. The program encourages positive emotional, social, mental and physical development and participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age, while training to run a 5K no less.  The girls maxed out at 2.5 miles yesterday, in good shape for their target race: a mid-December jingle jog!

     

    -WBB

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  • TOK at Williams

    Posted by William Benson on 11/19/2018

    TOK (Theory of Knowledge) is a mandatory course in the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. At the core of the course is a fundamental way of thinking about what we know. In TOK, students are asked to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. I had the pleasure of participating in Mr. Stuart Ringwalt’s TOK class at Williams High School last week. As we were getting started, students shared what they like about IB. Students stated that the curriculum challenges the way they think, causes them to question what they learn, and requires them to take responsibility for their learning.  One student commented that it forces them to look outside their personal bubbles. Another student suggested that all classes should do these things.

     

    The focus of the day’s lesson was revisionist history, and an essential question: to what extent is it ethical for a culture to alter information regarding history, science, or other areas of knowledge to fit the need of society? We discussed the importance of point of view (e.g. revolutionary patriot vs. loyalist) and selected observation (citing only the evidence that supports your position). We talked about healthy skepticism and the need to confirm facts, challenge arguments from authority, consider different explanations, and pay attention to falsifiability.

     

    I am a firm believer that true student engagement in class requires students to be cognitively engaged – in other words, having original thoughts. I was impressed with the thinkers and level of thinking in this class. Thank you, Mr. Ringwalt, for inviting me to participate. We are lucky to have you in ABSS.

     

    -WBB

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  • The Right Answer

    Posted by William Benson on 11/2/2018

    Sometimes the importance of getting the right answer in mathematics can get in the way of students deeper understanding of the problem-solving process. During a recent visit to Southern Alamance Middle School, I saw a great example of a strategy to overcome the issue. Students were presented with problems that had already been solved – incorrectly. Students were charged with finding and explaining the source of the error.

     

    -WBB

     

    Student work sample

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  • Growth Mindset at Graham Middle

    Posted by William Benson on 11/1/2018

    I had a great lunchtime conversation this week with students at Graham Middle School. They explained to me the importance of having a growth mindset (as opposed to fixed mindset) in achieving their goals. The concept is based on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. According to Dr. Dweck, individuals with a growth mindset embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, they reach ever-higher levels of achievement – which was clearly evident in my lunch companions – proud (of their school community) articulate (in conversation), confident (in their ability to grow), accomplished (in positive personal achievements), and on a path to a lifetime of success.

     

    -WBB

     

    Lunch with Graham Students

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  • Problem-solving at Andrews Elementary

    Posted by William Benson on 10/23/2018

    I had the pleasure of joining Mr. David Seymour’s fourth grade class last week for some math problem solving – more specifically, solving multi-step word problems. Mr. Seymour provided the following context for the first problem:

     

    Students our school secretary, Ms. Doss, has asked for our help.

     

    Hello fourth graders! I need your help. I am creating a budget for next school year for Ms. Robinson. I know that last year, the teachers used 550 marker pens, 310 fewer board erasers, and 55 fewer pencils than board erasers. How many total items did the teachers use? Remember to use words, pictures, and numbers to help solve this problem!

     

    -Ms. Doss

     

    According to the National Assessment Governing Board (2002), problem-solving is defined as tasks that require students to recognize and formulate problems, determine the sufficiency and consistency of data; use strategies, data, models, and relevant mathematics; generate, extend, and modify procedures; use reasoning (spatial, inductive, deductive, statistical, or proportional) in new settings; and judge the reasonableness and correctness of solutions.

     

    As such, it is important that students have the opportunity to solve problems like the one posed in Mr. Seymour’s class – multi-step problems in which more than one strategy could be used to solve, require a written response, and have authentic context.

     

     

    -WBB

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  • Books in Honor of Dr. Book

    Posted by William Benson on 10/17/2018

    I had the privilege to receive the first book from a book fundraising drive honoring Dr. Connie Book’s inauguration as Elon University’s ninth president. The Elon campus community gathered on Tuesday this week for a special College Coffee to support the effort which will provide books to ABSS. The presentation was made by Elon student Ashley Billie '21, the recipient of an Odyssey Program scholarship and an Elon Teaching Fellow. There are nearly 200 Elon graduates working for ABSS. Ashley would like to teach English. I asked her if she would be interested in an early contract.

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson receives book

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  • Lunch Bunch @ Broadview

    Posted by William Benson on 10/16/2018

    I had the pleasure of having lunch today in the cafeteria at Broadview Middle School with a group of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students (along with Ms. Johnson, our Chief Secondary Officer, and Principal Battle). We had a wide ranging conversation touching on the transition to middle school, favorite subjects, sports, musical interests, and career aspirations. However, we spent the majority of time comparing and contrasting amoeba, paramecia, and euglena – a dialog initiated by my lunch mates. We discussed similarities and differences in organelles, motion, and nutrition – including the uniqueness of euglena in that it can consume, as well as make its own, food. We also discussed the differences in complexity of the organisms. Relevant, detailed, insightful comments were made across grade levels – a testament to these students and their experiences in science classes at Broadview.

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson with students

     

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  • The Power of Story

    Posted by William Benson on 9/19/2018

    Stories connect us. Storytelling is an art. There is science in storytelling. In fact, there is research that suggests if stories are told in a certain way, a strong emotional connection occurs. Students in Ms. Burgesses’ class at South Graham Elementary school have been learning about the key elements of stories – characters, problems, plot developments, and outcomes. Using a graphic organizer, students used a mentor text, A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, to identify the key elements of a story. I had the pleasure of reading the text, after which Ms. Burgess led a group effort to identify the various elements. Next up, students will be writing their own stories – moving from knowledge and comprehension to synthesis and evaluation, a significant increase in cognitive demand.

     

    -WBB

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  • First Day of School: Phase two

    Posted by William Benson on 8/28/2018

    We welcomed our traditional school year students back yesterday. In visiting schools, it was clearly evident that that our teachers were exceptionally well prepared to welcome back students. Starting back to school can be an anxious time for students (and parents for that matter), regardless of age. One of the classes I visited was reading First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg. In the story, Sarah Jane Hartwell is scared and doesn't want to go to school. She doesn't know anybody. She is certain it will be awful. However, she is quickly befriended by her principal, Mrs. Burton, who helps smooth her jittery transition. Our teachers, staff, and building administrators did just that and so much more yesterday. Thanks for getting us off to a great start.

     

    -WBB

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