• Running Records at Highland Elementary School …

    Posted by William Benson on 1/27/2020

    …not as in time and distance in a foot race, but as in reading fluency, a critical component of a balanced literacy diet. Reading fluency is important in order to bridge word recognition and comprehension. I had the pleasure of co-teaching with Mrs. Willingham at Highland Elementary School last Friday fluency was our focus.

     

    Upon arrival to class, I caught the last part of a student-led morning meeting where students were offering suggestions for school improvement. Students then participated in a student-led mindfulness, self-affirmation exercise.

     

    After logging reading minutes from the previous evening, students were split into two groups. My group included Princeton, Isaac, Siena, Madison, and Nevaeh. Each student had their own passage to read. The passages were placed in clear folders. Taking turns, students read their individual passages while the others in the group followed along, counting words and recording errors with dry erase markers. At the end of one minute, students provided feedback to the readers regarding errors and total word count. The quality of the feedback from students was exceptional. With that feedback in mind, students read their passages again with fewer errors and movement toward a goal of 120 words per minute.

     

    Great lesson! Great students! Thanks, Mrs. Willingham for letting me help -- and making Highland and ABSS your professional home!!

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson and students

    Comments (-1)
  • Lunch with Leaders at South Mebane Elementary

    Posted by William Benson on 1/13/2020

    The ABSS Board of Education had lunch at South Mebane Elementary School today. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by two of the school’s leaders, fifth graders Camila and Cayden. Camila and Cayden took me on a tour of the school, highlighting evidence of Stephen Covey’s seven habits at work in the Leader in Me at South Mebane (1. Be Proactive (You’re in Charge), 2. Begin With the End in Mind (Have a Plan), 3. Put First Things First (Work First, Then Play), 4. Think Win-Win (Everyone Can Win), 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (Listen Before You Talk), 6. Synergize (Together Is Better), and 7. Sharpen the Saw (Balance Feels Best)).

     

    Confident and charismatic, Camila and Cayden explained how the seven habits have advanced their school community. And, while they cited synergy (working, succeeding, and celebrating together) as a favorite habit, their personal gains from the program were clearly evident. We talked about music, art, food, current reads, athletic pursuits (running – and I did not bring it up first!), and career plans. Camila would like to become a pediatrician and Cayden would like to become president (or an architect, I suggested that both should not be out of the question). If you are wondering what the next generation might bring to the leadership table, look no further than the student leaders at South Mebane Elementary School -- impressive!.

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson with student leaders at South Mebane Elementary

    Comments (-1)
  • Holiday Visitors: Graham HS Ensemble

    Posted by William Benson on 12/18/2019

    One of their shirts read, "We can sing anything." Believe it!

     

    -WBB

     

    Graham High School Ensemble

    Comments (-1)
  • Doing Complex Math and Feeding the Carolinas

    Posted by William Benson on 12/18/2019

    What could be better? Alexander Wilson Elementary School students were recognized today as the top donating school in North Carolina. Students earned points doing complex math problems in Imagine Math, a new system-wide math resource, donating points earned to Feeding the Carolinas. AW students donated over 900,000 points of 7.7M points donated in all of NC. Well done!

     

    -WBB

     

    Alexander Wilson Students

    Comments (-1)
  • Workplace Climate

    Posted by William Benson on 12/17/2019

    Maintaining a positive climate in the workplace is an important part of retaining great employees. Climate within the workplace is largely within our control and part of our focus on Total Rewards. Teachers have long participated in a state working conditions survey.

     

    Central office staff recently completed a workplace climate survey and the aggregate results were shared with all. There were 82 respondents. According to survey results, 84.1% of respondents enjoy working here and 89% feel they belong in their departments. However, also according to survey results, only 56.8% of respondents feel trust exists in their department. We can, and will, do better.

     

    Once a month, I recognize a member of the central office with a Thumbs Up award. This month, the entire office was recognized for their participation the workplace climate survey.

     

    -WBB

     

    ABSS Central Office Staff

    Comments (-1)
  • Brain Mapping Poetry at Southern Alamance High

    Posted by William Benson on 12/13/2019

    After a bell-ringer/warmup in which students identified and corrected grammar and sentence structure problems in a few lines of text, Mr. Rother introduced main focus of the day’s lesson – dissecting, analyzing and deconstructing poetry (NC Standard RL.11.1,2,3,4). After a review of TPCASTT (tile, connotation, attitude, shifts, title revisited, and theme), students were divided into 6 groups.  Groups were given poems based upon zone of proximal development. Group members then self-selected roles (Researcher, Artist, Annotator, and Timekeeper) for the task at hand: create a brain map on poster board with sections including tone/tone indicating diction, theme, shifts, and connotative meaning. I spent most of the time with Mike, Mia, Clayton, and Benjamin listening to their discussion and analysis of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” The lesson was exceptionally well-planned, student-centered, aligned to the cognitive demand of the standards, and used appropriately differentiated text. Mr. Rother is in his third year of teaching. In NC, this makes him a third-year beginning teacher; clearly a misnomer. Mr. Rother is a master in the art of teaching.

     

    -WBB

     

    Note to Mike, Mia, Clayton, and Benjamin: If you see any issues with grammar or sentence structure in my post, please let me know!

     

    Mr. Rother and students

    Comments (-1)
  • Thankful...

    Posted by William Benson on 11/26/2019

    ...for all ABSS employees -- hard workers who put students first and go the extra mile to put a smile on one's face. Happy Thanksgiving!

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson and Dave with his turkey attire

    Comments (-1)
  • Poetry Study at Pleasant Grove Elementary

    Posted by William Benson on 11/15/2019

    First graders in Mrs. Bradley’s class are studying poetry, identifying words and phrases that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses (NC RL 1.4).  With the class divided into two groups, students identified words that communicate feelings or appeal to the five senses in one of two poems. Mrs. Bradley’s group used the poem titled What a Night and my group used a poem called The Roller Coaster. After reading the poem aloud, students used a copy of the poem to identify words that appeal to the senses (boxing) and words that communicate feelings (underlining). Students then sorted the words into a word window with senses in one window and feelings in another. Students shared what they thought the author was trying to communicate in the poem. In the case of The Roller Coaster, initial fear turned to fun by the end of the ride. The two groups then had an opportunity to share their poems, word windows, and thoughts about how the author feels about a roller coaster, or in the case of Mrs. Bradley’s group, a thunderstorm. Great lesson! Great students! Great Teacher!

     

    -WBB

     

    Br. Benson with Mrs. Bradley's Class

    Comments (-1)
  • Chicken on the Fence Post

    Posted by William Benson on 11/8/2019

    I can’t think of a better way to start the day than playing music. I had the opportunity to do just that this morning with Ms. Brown-Hughston’s 7th Grade Orchestra class at Turrentine Middle School. Today’s piece was the 19th Century dance reel, Chicken on the Fence Post. I brought a cigar box guitar and homemade amp to play along. Central to the lesson was having students produce short melodic improvisations (NC 7.ML.3.1) using five notes. This was the first lesson where students were asked to do what can be somewhat intimidating – well, at least for me -- solo improvisation (I opted for a group improvisation.). Ms. Brown-Hughston has built a highly supportive classroom climate where students clearly feel comfortable taking risks – and they did an exceptional job! Great lesson! Thank you, Ms. Brown-Hughston for choosing to make Turrentine and ABSS your professional home!!

     

    -WBB

     

    Dr. Benson with orchestra students

    Comments (-1)
  • Superintendent's Cup: Middle School XC Champions

    Posted by William Benson on 11/1/2019

    I had the pleasure of awarding the Superintendent's Cup for our Middle School Cross Country Championships this week. Western Alamance Middle School Girls and Southern Alamance Middle School Boys were the winners. The reality is that all of the runners are winners in my book. Understanding and pursuing an active healthy lifestyle is important. Chose a physical activity you enjoy and make time to do it. 

     

    Western Alamance Middle School Cross Country Southern Alamance Middle School Cross Country

     

    P.S. I run.

    Comments (-1)