• 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

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  • 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.

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  • Prepared for Halloween Visitors

    Posted by William Benson on 10/31/2019

    We are expecting a visit from pre-K and K students from Eastlawn Elementary this morning. If you look closely at the picture below, you will see the elements of a reimbursable meal (fruit, vegetable, grain, meat, and milk) courtesy of our Child Nutrition staff!

     

    Child Nutrition Staff and Dr. Benson

     

    P.S. My costume? I dressed up as a superintendent!

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  • Guided Reading with Mrs. Richardson at Newlin Elementary

    Posted by William Benson on 10/25/2019

    Guided reading is component of balanced literacy and is critical in the development of young readers. Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kimberly Richardson, is a master of guided reading strategies.  I had the pleasure of having a seat at the table this morning during her small group. Working with four students, Mrs. Richardson began the lesson by having each student use a dry erase marker to trace the letters in their names while sounding the letter (She made one for me so I could demonstrate as well.). Students then randomly chose letters (upper and lower case) from individual bags, naming each letter. Afterword, students sorted pictures that began with either ‘m’ or ‘s’ into two columns, saying the word, the first sound, and the letter. We then moved on to a short story. Students were given an opportunity to talk about the pictures before reading the story chorally, each student pointing to the words as they read. Using two small cards, students were asked to frame specific letters and words. Finally, students engaged in writing a simple spoken sentence, helping them understand that words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters and that sentence meaning is determined by sequencing of words.  Great students, great lesson, great teacher – in what was a clearly evident nurturing classroom!  Thank you, Mrs. Richardson!!

     

    -WBB

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  • Walking South Mebane with Principal Royal: Pen in Hand and More

    Posted by William Benson on 10/23/2019

    You can learn a lot about school-wide focus and strategic action by walking classrooms with principals. I had the pleasure of walking South Mebane Elementary School with Principal Royal this morning. Pen in hand (students writing about their learning) was evident across classrooms. Students were writing in their math journals while using Imagine Math (a new system-wide resource). Students were writing in science as they described their Life as a Drop (of water that is, as they described the water cycle from the viewpoint of a drop of water). Students were writing during Daily Five, using graphic organizers and a restate, react, relate, and respond template in order to capture individual student learning.  Students were writing as their learned content using articles from Achieve 3000 (also a new system-wide resource). Fidelity of implementation of key strategies in South Mebane's strategic plan was evident everywhere.

     

    South Mebane is a Leader-in-Me school. Principal Royal and I were formally greeted by student leaders in classrooms and informed of what learning was occurring with great attention to detail. The walls throughout the school are covered with student work across disciplines, including Time Person of the Year magazine covers with student pictures and personal narratives of where students see themselves in the their futures (Covey’s Habit #2: Begin with the end in mind.).

     

    All in all, it was an incredible visit. Thank you, Principal Royal and South Mebane adult leaders for all you are doing to improve outcomes for students – I could not have asked for a more perfect start to the day!!

     

    -WBB

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  • Exponential and Logarithmic Equation Meet and Greet at EAHS

    Posted by William Benson on 10/18/2019

    I spent part of the morning today in Mr. Ryan Byrd’s Math III Honors class at Eastern Alamance High School.  Students started with a spiral review warm-up in which they had to use synthetic division, write and solve an absolute value inequality to find the range of acceptable weights for a company that makes and bags granola, help some chose the best investment strategy over six years for a variety of interest rate compounded semi-annually, monthly, and continuously.

     

    Mr. Byrd focused on three NC Math III standards with two clear learning targets:

    • Students would be able to solve exponential and logarithmic equations using a variety of methods, and ,
    • Students would be able to mathematically justify their answers and critique the work of answers.

     

    Everyone in the classroom was given an exponential or logarithmic equation to solve on a “Hello, my name is” sticker (Mine is pictured below.). Students then set out to solve their equations, becoming the expert on their assigned equation. Students then began the Meet and Greet, approaching others in the class to solve their problems. Before moving on to the next equation, students had to check their solution with the problem giver and obtain the problem givers initials on a master list of names. The problem giver provided guidance in the event the solution was not correct. Students spent the next 45 minutes moving around the room, meeting, greeting and solving equations.

     

    At the end of the lesson, each student completed an exit ticket where they described in their own words how to solve exponential and algorithmic equations, rating their confidence on a scale from 1 to 10, and identifying what additional support they need to find success.

     

    Throughout the lesson, students clearly owned their learning and had opportunity to make meaning for themselves. They were cognitively engaged in novel, student-centered, collaborative work. At the end of the class period, Mr. Byrd knew where every student was in their learning. Exceptional lesson! Thank you, Mr. Byrd, for choosing to make EAHS and ABSS your professional home!!

     

    -WBB

     

    T shirt with helllo sticker  

     

    P.S. The equation, if want to try, is 9-3x+2=48. Mr. Byrd frequently refers to a poster in his classroom – All things are difficult before they are easy. I came away a believer today.

     

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  • Text Analysis at AO Elementary

    Posted by William Benson on 10/11/2019

    Before reading this post, try sequencing the following pieces of text in the order they occurred. Be ready to defend your answer. If you need help, I am sure one of Ms. Woodruff’s students would be happy to help.

     

    1. Students were learning to analyze the structure of texts relate to each other and the whole (NC RI 5.5).
    2. Finally, after working as a class to annotate the full text, students used a graphic organizer to outline the correct order of events in the text.
    3. After first reviewing the unpacked standard, students working in groups of two were presented with a piece of text that had been deconstructed into parts.
    4. Students then shared their thinking with another group.
    5. I had the pleasure starting out my day in Ms. Jayne Woodruff’s fourth grade class at AO Elementary this morning.
    6. Students were asked to think about what the author intended the reader to understand, and in what order, putting the pieces back together. Students used signal words in the text to help with sequencing.

     

    I had the pleasure starting out my day in Ms. Jayne Woodruff’s fourth grade class at AO Elementary this morning. Students were learning to analyze the structure of texts relate to each other and the whole (NC RI 5.5). After first reviewing the unpacked standard, students working in groups of two were presented with a piece of text that had been deconstructed into parts. Students were asked to think about what the author intended the reader to understand, and in what order, putting the pieces back together. Students used signal words in the text to help with sequencing. Students then shared their thinking with another group. Finally, after working as a class to annotate the full text, students used a graphic organizer to outline the correct order of events in the text.

     

    Great lesson! Thank you, Ms. Woodruff!!

     

    -WBB

     

    Students sequencing parts of story

     

    P.S. Ms. Woodruff’s students are known as Wahoos, as in Woodruff’s Wahoos – surely a good omen as the University of Virginia takes on the University of Miami tonight! Go Wahoos!! (UPDATE: Or not, Virginia falls to Miami, 7-19)

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  • Guest Speaker at CTEC

    Posted by William Benson on 10/8/2019

    Students at CTEC heard a firsthand account today of personal struggle and triumph from a Marine who is paralyzed from the waist down due to a rocket-propelled grenade blast in Afghanistan in 2012. Unlikely to walk again, David Tupper is the first in NC to be fitted with bilateral C-braces, microprocessor-assisted custom orthotics for both legs. The microprocessors control hydraulics that enable David to walk – to the park, grocery store, as well as play with his children. His is a remarkable story and ABSS is thankful for his willingness to share it with us!

     

    -WBB

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  • RAECES at Early College

    Posted by William Benson on 9/27/2019

    I attended Mr. Cone’s Freshman Seminar class at the Early College today. Freshman Seminar focuses on college prep, study skills, and life skills – and provides an opportunity for students to adjust to work and life on a college campus. The focus of today’s seminar was increasing the quality of student explanations for answers to questions utilizing evidence. Students used RAECES (Re-state, Answer, Explain, Cite evidence, Explain evidence, and Summarize) as a framework for their responses. After a student-led review of RAECES, Mr. Cone used current events from CNN to pose questions. Students were required to cite evidence from CNN transcripts to support their answers. Working first in pairs, students developed responses to the questions on their Chromebooks. Mr. Cone moved around the room responding to student questions. Students then shared their responses with another group, discussing whether or not the responses met all of the requirements as well as critiquing the quality of the responses. Great lesson, Mr. Cone!

     

    -WBB

     

    P.S. And by the way, you had me at evidence!

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  • Making Meaning at Southern Alamance Middle School

    Posted by William Benson on 9/23/2019

    I spent part of last Friday morning co-teaching with Ms. Emily Kremer at Southern Middle School. Her eighth grade science students were learning about elements, compounds, and mixtures (NC 8.P.1.1). I had the pleasure of working with students at the Explore It! table. Students were asked to compare and contrast three different groups of snap cubes. One group represented elements (all one color), another group represented compounds (multiple color cubes snapped together in a fixed ratio), and the third group represented mixtures (multiple color cubes, some snapped together, some not). Students were given 1 minute to observe and record similarities. Students then shared their observations with the group. Students were then given 2 minutes to observe and record differences among the groups. Ms. Kremer added the timed component to the station in order to ensure each student in the group had an opportunity to make meaning (have an original thought) before sharing with the group – an idea the came from her participation in our Teaching and Learning Symposium this past summer. Students went on to develop definitions and identify specific examples of elements, compounds, and mixtures. Other stations in the lesson rotation included Illustrate It!, Write It!, Organize It!, and Create It!

     

    Kudos to Ms. Kremer! Outstanding lesson!!

     

    -WBB

     

    Elements, compounds, and mixtures

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