Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wanny's Words - Growth Mindset at BCS

By Wanny Hersey
Superintendent/Principal at Bullis Charter School

recent article in Education Week explains the importance of what Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, calls growth mindset.  At BCS, growth mindset is part of our fundamental teaching philosophy which asserts that student ability can be developed through hard work and a commitment to learning.  The opposite of this - a fixed mindset - is the belief that a child’s ability is already set.  Individuals with a fixed mindset are far less likely to develop new skills and talents, or even improve the ones they have.

Last spring, our teachers worked together over the course of several staff meetings to read some of Dweck’s landmark research and to collaborate about how this can be further incorporated into our teaching methods, most notably in our Focused Learning Goals (FLGs).  An example of how a teacher might use the growth mindset is by emphasizing how a student worked toward a goal, rather than on the achievement of the goal itself:

(Reading Goal, 2nd Grade): STUDENT is making significant improvements in her verbal retells during guided reading groups, and as evidenced by her increased DRA level.  She is able to include most of the important characters, events and details in her summaries.  To challenge her further in coming months, she will communicate retells in written form.

Of course, the teachers are only one part of the equation - it is important for students and parents to adopt a growth mindset as well in order to instill a “love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment” (from Dweck’s website).  In the coming week, try using a growth mindset perspective with your child (if you don’t already), and see what happens!

A growth mindset can help your child develop a lifelong love of learning

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Compassionate Fifth Graders

Proud to be wearing their "compassion zapper bracelets" for the POW and WOW!

What do compassion zapper bracelets and a Woodrow Wilson doll have in common?  They are both “products” being advertised as part of a POW and WOW skit Ms. Young’s class is preparing for this Friday’s assembly!

Fifth graders had a class vote to determine what their presentation would entail – they decided on a live game show with video commercials played in between segments. Students brainstormed various aspects of this week’s word – compassion – and the proverb from Woodrow Wilson: “If you think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself.”

Students work together to put the finishing touches on the game show presentation!

Students worked together in groups to plan, write, rehearse and perform skits – complete with props, proper settings, and dialogue.  While the process is fun and collaborative, students also enjoy getting to share with the school why they think compassion is important. 

"When Zach shows compassion in our skit, other students will see that it is important, and that they should help others when they need help also,” said Oliver, a student in Ms. Young’s class working on a skit about a “Flash” insurance agent who comes to help him and his friend when their table breaks.

Come see the final performance – and maybe even win a hand made prize during the game show – at this Friday’s assembly from 8:05 – 8:55 at BCS.

Students creating game show prizes!

Filming a compassion skit

Practicing lines before filming begins!

Recording a compassion commercial on the playground!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Family Dinner Slideshow

Enjoy a few pictures from our annual Fall Family Dinner!

Wanny's Words - Developing the Whole Child

By Wanny Hersey
Superintendent/Principal at Bullis Charter School

As many of you know, one of my favorite writers on child development is Madeline Levine, Ph. D. Dr. Levine is a child psychologist and co-founder of Challenge Success, a project of the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Her recent blog post “Six Things That Matter More Than Perfect Grades” (posted 9/3/13) succinctly captures the reasons why education should be about so much more than grades.

Since the inception of our charter school, we have emphasized and woven into our curriculum all six components that Dr. Levine includes in her list of things “that matter if we want our kids to have meaningful, productive, and moral lives:”
  • Having Friends
  • Character
  • Resilience
  • Interests/Passions
  • Collaboration
  • Self-Reflection
So many things our teachers do - from regularly reflecting with students on Focused Learning Goals to sharing their passions with students through co and extra-curricular classes - are designed to develop the whole child, or as Dr. Levine writes “a good person with a sense of purpose and meaning in the world.”

Focused Learning Goals (FLGs) are developed annually to identify specific outcomes in the academic, social/emotional, and passion for every student throughout his/her educational career at BCS. By implementing FLGs for all students, no matter what the grade or learning need, we are delivering on the mission for our school that is grounded in research and best practices.

The FLG process is unique to BCS, and is designed to do exactly what Dr. Levine believes to be important in a child’s development - provide opportunities to build resilience, develop specific interests and passions, and practice self-reflection. 

Teachers and students work together to develop the whole child at BCS

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Week at BCI!

Our 5th graders got started in the MakerSpace with Mrs. Reed where they dived into design-thinking, learning how to empathize and rapid prototype in a real-world activity.  The vast choices of raw materials they were able to choose to work with unleashed limitless creative innovations among the students.

Fifth graders tinker in the MakerSpace!
Next door in the FabLab@BCS, the 6th graders were prototyping as well!  Students interfaced with some of the latest technologies  - including electronic modules - and had an opportunity to ideate and test their unique creations with Mr. Malpica, our FabLab Director.
Mr. Malpica demonstrates how to use the electronic modules for students
In art class, Mr. Lipson brought history to life by having students make their own prehistoric rock art, which they had been studying as part of their social studies curriculum.

Mr. Lipson shows students how to carve designs
Meanwhile, 5th graders brought logos to life while learning about 2-D vectors in Art class.  A few students designed new logos for the 3-Time Award Winning Bullis Kids News!

New logos for Bullis Kids News!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teacher-Led Tech Conference Video

Here's a video of our teachers participating in the BCS/BCI Teacher-Led Tech Conference earlier this month!

Read more about the Teacher-Led Tech Conference in our earlier post.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Work Party at BCI!

Over the weekend, we had more than 200 parents, students, alumni, and teachers come out to help, rolling up their sleeves and tackling a multitude of different projects – from assembling lunch tables to organizing the staff room to setting up the FabLab and MakerSpace – to get our second site ready for the first week of school.

Please enjoy this slideshow from the work party on Sunday as a “thank you!” for those of you who were there.  And for the families that were not able to make it, I hope these pictures and a glimpse of BCI will allow you to share in the excitement of that day.  As the lyrics in the slideshow music say - we took care of business!

Music Credit: 
Randy Bachman - "Taking Care of Business" 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

3-D Prototype Trains - Made By Our Teachers!

Ms. Stone shows off her 3-D prototype!
Our staff members had a chance to experiment with new design software that will be in the FabLab@BCStoday.  Ms. Stone, our 7th grade Social Studies/ELA teacher, proudly showed off her 3-D plastic train - the "Stone Express" - that she made using a laser-cutting machine.  Ms. Stone said that she created the train by following a set of directions using a special design software program, and then with assistance, sent those plans to the laser cutter which produced her very first 3-D prototype.
"I am comfortable using technology, but I am not a designer, so it was a challenging project for me.  It was important for me to go through the same process my students will be going through this year so I could see all the adjustments and changes that needed to be made to the design before getting the finished product.”
Ms. Stone added, "I was working in a room full of other teachers, and when we saw the trains we all said - 'Whoa that is so cool!'  None of us can wait to share this with our students!"

Aptly named the Stone Express!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Teacher-Led Teach Conference at BCS!

As you know, BCS teachers are currently being locked out of their classrooms by the LASD board members.  While this has caused outraged throughout our BCS parent community, our teachers are not skipping a beat!

Teachers learn from Ms. Lura!
Today, all of our staff members participated in a BCS/BCI Teacher-Led Tech Conference as part of our annual two weeks of professional development leading up to the start of the school year.  Now that’s what we call being innovative!

Our talented staff members taught courses for their fellow teachers on topics ranging from “Blogging in the 21st Century Classroom” to “Assessing on the Go” in a series of workshops designed to highlight how some of the most effective technology tools such as Socrative, Doceri, Voki, and Edcanvas (among others) are being used to engage students andenhance BCS's individualized and blended learning models...all capitalizing on our most valuable resource at BCS and BCI - our teachers!

Check out the photo below to see our teachers leading the way in innovative teaching practices!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BCS In the News!

We’ve had so much good news today, we couldn't help but share it with everyone!
First, our Bullis Boosters Club (BBC) launched a successful summer camp last week to inspire confidence and promote enthusiasm for learning for students who would not normally have the opportunity to attend a camp in the Los Altos and Mountain View Whisman school districts.  Read more about their innovative projects and teacher collaboration in this Town Crier article.

We also had a wonderful write-up in Forbes Magazine, just released today, about our FabLab@BCS.  This article includes an interview with Superintendent/Principal Wanny Hersey and our FabLab Director, David Malpica, detailing the benefits of our partnership with Stanford University and how our FabLab can be used to truly make a difference in children’s lives.

And our incredible staff reported back to work this week after summer break.  Here is a picture of them collaborating, ideating, and creating some amazingly innovative curriculum plans for your students next year.

Ms. Lanzot and Ms. Stone collaborate on a new project
jenny speaking
Ms. Cheng shares her project ideas with the staff

Friday, July 19, 2013

Design Thinking at BCS and BCI!

In preparation for our unique opportunity to teach students at BCI, over 20 of our staff members just completed two-days collaborating and creating units that integrate the Design Thinking process and enhance our existing PBLs, led by Marcy Barton, founder of  Marcy, who travels around the world teaching educators how to integrate 21st Century learning in the classrooms, commented on our impressive group of teachers at the training. 

"They are inspiring!  They are creative, productive, innovative - everything that Design Thinking is about, they've got it in spades!"

We couldn’t agree more!  You can hear directly from our teachers about their experience:  Mr. Gross tells us what Design Thinking projects he is already planning for his students next year, our new Art Specialist Mrs. Felder shares her enthusiasm about joining the BCS team, and Ms. Cheng explains why she is so excited about the upcoming school year.

design thinking 2
A group of teachers from different grade levels/specialties collaborates on their first design thinking challenge!

design thinking 1