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Plato's Diary - February 13, 2015

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February 13, 2015

Dear Diary,

It has been another great week at Socrates Academy. I am so happy that I was chosen for this internship. There are so many amazing things that happen during a day here, I can hardly keep up, but I will try to record as many as I can so I can always remember the great work the students and teachers are doing.

On Monday, Miss Priganc and I had several teacher pre-observation conferences. Teachers are given feedback on formal and informal observations and when Miss P is preparing for a formal observation, she meets with the teacher to talk about the lesson plan, learning objectives, interdisciplinary connections and data that is being used or collected. The teachers shared what they were going to be teaching when Miss Priganc was scheduled to come in and it made me really excited to visit classrooms with her this week. I learned a lot about how teachers have to use Common Core objectives to develop lessons for students and how they have to match their assessments to those objectives. I stopped by a 6th grade class and found some students working on Study Island, a computer program that helps them with reading and math practice. The students were finishing up some reading assignments and the teacher was collecting their progress to decide which lessons they may need to work on a little more.

Tuesday was a happy and sad day. Socrates hosted its Enrollment Lottery for the 2015—2016 school year. A lot of parents showed up who were hoping their children would be selected for available spots at the school. It was exciting to see the ones who got in and were so happy, but I felt bad for the families that are on the waiting list. I know it is the most fair way to decide, but it is hard to see people disappointed. But Miss Priganc told them not to be discouraged, because some may still get in if spaces open up. I met two of our new kindergarten families and can’t wait for them to start in August!

Tuesday was also Pancake Fraction day in Ms. Linden’s first grade class. The teachers make pancakes and students have to practice cutting them into fractions. When they are correct, they get to eat the pancakes. It is the yummiest lesson I have ever seen! On Tuesday night, Miss P and I stopped by Chick-Fil-A for Spirit Night. Each month, Socrates families meet up and have dinner at the Chick-Fil-A in the Arboretum. The staff at Chick-Fil-A is so friendly and they work hard to make it a fun night for all families.

I spent most of Wednesday in classrooms with Miss Priganc. Mrs. Burns was hosting math centers and students were playing a lot of games about fractions. The games were so much fun, I don’t even know if they realized they were learning! They were practicing addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers, learning how to multiply and divide fractions in recipes, and comparing fractions with different denominators. They worked really hard and I think they are going to do very well on their fraction quiz!

Then we went to Ms. VanAlphen’s science class. Students were studying weather and completing a tic-tac-toe that allowed them to choose the types of activities they wanted to learn. Some were writing journal entries about living through a tornado (make-believe) while others were practicing climate vocabulary. I was very impressed with the creativity in the class and thought some of the activities were very challenging.

Mrs. Haigh’s class was demonstrating Reader’s Workshop, a model that the elementary literacy teachers are learning how to use in their classrooms. During Reader’s Workshop, the teacher meets with small groups of students while others work independently or in teams. On Wednesday, Mrs. Haigh was working with a reading group and they were looking for traits about the book’s characters. I was really impressed with the traits that were found and the comprehension questions they were able to answer.

In the afternoon, we went to Ms. Devens’ science class. The 4th grade has been studying animal adaptations and they were using their knowledge of adaptations and folktales to write stories that explain why some animals have certain traits. I got to work with some students and helped them to brainstorm some fictitious reasons that animals might have a certain characteristic. Mason chose the blue marlin who has a very unique snout and we laughed when I suggested that maybe his face looked that way because he swallowed chopsticks! Mason thinks I am kind of silly!

On Wednesday night, I attended my first Board meeting. The Board of Trustees from the Foundation meet first and discuss fundraising events happening in the school. They are working to share information about the Annual Fund and get people to donate to the school. There was a lot of talk about the upcoming Read A Thon. Miss P was telling me about some of the book character costumes she is working on and I can’t wait to see them! She loves to dress up and the students seem to like it. After the Trustees meeting, the Board of Directors met. They are responsible for governance and financial oversight of the school. The Leadership Team showed them a presentation about the School Report Card and how Socrates Academy is performing. Everyone was really happy, but we all know that we have to keep working hard to be an excellent school.

On Thursday morning, I attended Professional Learning Team (PLT) meetings with Miss Priganc and Mrs. Brighton. During PLT meetings, we discuss student progress, talk about data, and brainstorm ways to help students that may be struggling. I enjoyed learning from the teachers and hearing about how they are supporting all learners. They don’t have an easy job, but every one of them is committed to helping Socrates students.

On Thursday afternoon, one of Kyria Maria’s 7th grade Greek language classes performed a play they had written about Pandora’s Box. They performed for Mrs. Alwerdt’s 4th grade students who have been studying myths, legends, and other folktales. The teachers had collaborated to discuss how the 7th graders could teach the 4th graders. It was an AWESOME performance and showed me that amazing things happen when teachers work together. I was so impressed with the performance!

Today was a great day! Miss P and I visited Mrs. Brooks’ 5th grade writing class. The students were learning how to write persuasive arguments. They started class trying to prove why bananas rock. Mrs. Brooks gave each of them a banana to get their brains fired up. She was teaching them to dig deeper and showed them a shovel to remind them that details are super important in persuasive writing. All of her visuals were useful to the students. I enjoyed reading the student writing and at the end of class, Miss P taught them a “Go Bananas” song. (I’m starting to think she likes to sing and dance a lot!)

I also got to see Mrs. Kostopoulos’ Spanish class. The students were learning the parts of the body and we sang “Ma Cabeza.” It was a catchy song and I can’t get it out of my head! There was a lot of singing and movement and the students matched Spanish and English words for the parts of the body. I can’t believe these students learn Greek and another language in middle school (Spanish or Chinese).

Before the day was over, I got to visit a few Friendship Parties as they were finishing up. The students had a lot of fun playing games and exchanging Valentine cards. Socrates has so many great room parents and volunteers that make this happen!

Tonight is the Valentine’s Dance in the middle school. They have been talking about it all week and I can’t wait to see them dressed up. I wonder if they will do the Chicken Dance because my wings are ready! I had better go fix my feathers because the dance starts in 7 minutes!

--Plato Koukouvaiya

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