Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Intentional Practice

Kim Marshall, an education author and expert, wrote a summary about this recently published work around intentional and purposeful practice.  I thought you might appreciate it!

Practice Makes Perfect – But Only the Right Kind of Practice

            In this Education Next review of Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool’s new book, Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Daniel Willingham (University of Virginia) highlights the distinction the authors draw between merely repeating a process and deliberate practice. The old adage says that practice makes perfect – “But if practice is all there is to it, why has my typing improved so little in the last 40 years?” asks Willingham. “Even though I type every day, my typing is not really practicing, because I’m not purposefully or systematically trying to improve it. Given that I have not formally studied typing, I may even be reinforcing bad technique.”
            According to Ericsson and Pool, several key components are involved in making mere practice deliberate:
-    Evaluating what needs improvement;
-    Selecting one small aspect of the skill to work on;
-    Developing a strategy;
-    Evaluating the results of the revised performance;
-    Practicing a lot (perhaps 10,000 hours).
In this construct, talent is much less important, except perhaps in athletics, where physical attributes give some people a big advantage. But Ericsson and Pool argue that in most domains, innate ability is important only before people start practicing. “The kid with a high IQ will play better chess than the kid with a low IQ,” summarizes Willingham, “but only because neither knows much about chess. If they both practice, the influence of IQ will disappear, and whoever practices more will be the better player.”
            What are the implications of this book for schools? Clearly it’s helpful to get past the innate ability/intelligence paradigm, and the concept of deliberate practice has wide implications. For example, teachers may think students will learn collaboration skills if they’re assigned to do group projects. “But working in a group is simply experience,” says Willingham. “If you want students to become better group members, they need to practice being a group member. They must be explicitly taught how to work in groups, and that’s something few schools do.”
It’s also important to work on one skill at a time – for example, breaking down the process of writing a research paper into smaller tasks, each of which needs practice, feedback, and refinement: using a database to locate research; evaluating the relevance of sources; creating an annotated bibliography; writing a rough outline; writing a detailed outline; and then the four or five steps of writing the actual paper.
Ericsson and Pool’s book got Willingham thinking about teachers’ professional learning curve, which tends to flatten out after the first few years. Could the reason be the lack of deliberate practice – and the time to engage in that kind of systematic analysis of areas for improvement, practice, feedback, and more practice? In addition, says Willingham, “Practice is only possible if practitioners agree on who the experts are, so the goals of practice can be articulated. In addition, educators will need to define the sequence of subskills to be acquired on the way to expertise. Practitioners need to know what ‘once you’re mastered X, you move on to Y.’”

“When Practice Makes Perfect: What Everyone Can Learn from Top Performers” by Daniel Willingham in his review of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin, 2016), in Education Next, Winter 2016 (Vol. 17, #1, p. 80-81),

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Thankful Principal...

I am Thankful for...

…Barrows School staff that are second to none in their dedication and love of kids.

…the opportunity to have a job that allows us to impact the future every day.

...our hard-working custodial staff that makes Barrows Elementary shine

...the perseverance that our students show when faced with challenges – they believe in the Power of YET! 

...opportunities to read to our young students, because they always enjoy a good book, and I enjoy reading with them! 

...the fun and excitement a dance party creates. 

...our staff who welcome families in the office, care for sick kids, and do so much before the learning even begins  

...all of our supportive and engaged Barrows families.

...our cafeteria staff who serve hundreds of meals every day, all with smiles on their faces!

…our kind and hardworking Barrows students that make it a joy to come to work each day.

...the joy on kids faces while they play.  

...our paraprofessionals whose job title does not truly reflect the support they provide for our students each day.

...our students' creativity.

...FUN, because we work with kids and school should be FUN! 

...the 380+ students, staff, and parents that walk through our doors on a daily basis. 

...our commitment to Be Safe, Be Respectful, Persevere, and Collaborate

the honor to be the principal of this incredible school.

I am thankful for you Barrows!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Love, Mrs. Leonard

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Presidential Election

Dear Barrows Community-

Last night our country elected our 45th president of the United States.  With the election will come mixed emotions for children and families.  Our recommendation as a school?  Talk with your child about it, share that over the many years of our country’s history there have been people in our country on both sides of the election results.  Teach our children that what matters each day is to be kind and respectful – especially of those who may feel differently than you.  This is a wonderful excuse to talk about tolerance and how we as a community respectfully engage with family, friends, and neighbors who may differ from us.  It also provides a wonderful opportunity to talk about our systems of government and that there are countries around the world that do not allow their people a voice in selecting their leaders, or that their leadership is a lifetime appointment (rather than a 4 year appointment.)  This is a time for learning, acceptance, and inclusion of each other.  And in the end… most importantly… be kind!


Mrs. Leonard

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Barrows Shining Stars can celebrate Safety!

Dear Barrows Community,

As you have likely seen, we have been communicating about the importance of a focus on our Barrows' Belief of "Be Safe."  We value our ongoing partnerships with our families in supporting our students.  Just like reading with your child at home supports their growth as readers, practicing and discussing expectations for student behavior helps reinforce their learning and growth in this area.  I would like to share the language and expectations that we utilize with our students, especially during our outside times, with the hope that our Barrows Families will help reinforce these safety measures and expectations with our students.

It is important that all of our Barrows students know that our school is a safe place to be.  In order to ensure this for our learners we need your help as partners in this work.  Consider talking with your child about how they can show safe and appropriate expectations during outside play - both during the school day and outside the school day.  Talk with your child about how we want them to have fun as well as be inclusive and safe for all, and see what ideas your child has about how they can contribute to this effort. This includes physical safety and also being kind, thoughtful, and inclusive of their friends.

As we've asked previously, as our blacktop space is a small and concentrated area, if your child would like to run around and play while waiting for the 1st bell to ring in the morning or after dismissal, please direct them towards the courts and fields.  We ask that children not play running or tag on the blacktop for safety concerns.

We thank you for your ongoing support!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Barrows Elementary Veterans Day Assembly, 11/1/16

Barrows Elementary School enjoyed an early assembly to teach about the importance of Veterans Day.  On November 1st Barrows Elementary School was honored to recognize Veterans from our Barrows families. We welcomed the following Veterans to our assembly; 
  • Corporal Justin Scott, Marine Corp
  • Sergeant Richard Edmund Hillery, Army
  • Boatswain Mate, 2nd Class, Bruce Russell, Navy
  • 2nd Class Petty Officer Michael Delaney, Navy
  • Sergeant Thomas George, Army
  • Airmen Thomas Tassi, Navy
  • Petty Officer First Class, Paul A. Hall, Navy
  • SP4, Raymond Conwell, Army

Barrows 5th grade teacher Carina Becker invited her brother, an artist, to support our Barrows assembly through the creation of a unique Veterans Day chalk art;

Our Barrows Elementary School is so proud to honor our Veterans and military families.  We are participating in our second annual Operation Gratitude collection to support our currently serving military.  We would appreciate any monetary donations to help fund our postage to get the candy to the troops! (Accepted at the Barrows Elementary School office)

5th graders Brian Ronayne and Astrid Puff hold a special flag flown over the Iraq War for our Pledge

Thank you to our Veterans for joining our assembly today - we appreciate your service!