How Middle School Teachers Spent Their Summer Vacation

When the middle school faculty returned to school last week, we had a great time catching up with one another. Not surprisingly, “time off” for these teachers also included a great deal of professional “time on.” Here are a few highlights.

Julie Frey (Grade 6 Science) presented at the North American Monarch Institute at the University of Minnesota, discussing how her students became citizen scientists and engaged in community outreach for their work with the Monarch Butterfly Project. You can follow this amazing project on Facebook.

Kathy Heller (Grade 8 Math) taught six different week-long College Board Advanced Placement Summer Institutes, helping middle and high school teachers improve their craft. These were held at UTA, TCU, OU, UT-Austin, UT-San Antonio, and UT-Dallas. She continued her work with the College Board 6-12 Math Initiative, writing and reviewing curriculum for this national project. She also found time to attend the International Origami Convention, participating in discussions with college math professors and other leading origami enthusiasts about the mathematics behind the folds.

Anna Carlson (Creative Dramatics, Grades 7&8) found her way to England where she joined teachers from all over the world at the International Teachers Conference Shakespeare Works when Shakespeare Plays at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

Ryan Churchward (Grade 6 Global Studies) spent two weeks on the Greek island of Lesbos providing service to refugees who have fled to the island. Ryan and a team of seven other volunteers worked at two different refugee camps, assisting with food, clothing, and housing needs. Ryan eagerly awaits his opportunity to share his experiences with his sixth grade Global Studies students.

Abbie Cornelius (Computer Programming) attended the Creative Computing workshop at Harvard University. She connected with leading researchers in the evolving field of computer science education, and together they focused on aligning curriculum and developing age appropriate coding projects and lessons. She writes, “It was great connecting with educators from all around the country and learning what they are doing to promote computational literacy.”

Erin MacNabb (Grade 7 Science) made a three-week journey to Australia and New Zealand, investigating and exploring the beauty and partial demise of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia and the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand. She writes, “We must all work together to protect these diverse habitats for the living creatures that inhabit the areas.”  In addition, while in Christchurch, New Zealand, Erin participated in the Rebuild Tour, which looks at how the city is still trying to recover from the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.

Mary Mac Elliott (Grade 5 History) was honored as one of ten Teachers of the Year by Fort Worth, Texas magazine. You can read about it here. She also used her summer to research ancient cultures, including a trip to Mesa Verde that gave her “more insight into the lives of ancient Americans.”

Connie Hooker (Spanish 5&6), Brian Johnston (Spanish 7) and Sydney Munson (Spanish 8) had the opportunity to attend the NTPRS (National Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) conference in Reno, Nevada. They were able to learn from some of the top language educators in the discipline as well as make some great connections and collaborate with language instructors from around the world!

Bill Buck (Middle School Art) attended the ISEEN (Independent School Experiential Network) in Santa Fe, NM. This particular event combined Arts, Science and Math. He writes, “This was an exciting and well done program that really gave me new ideas to incorporate into my art classes.”

Maggie Knapp (Middle School/Upper School Librarian) was selected as one of eight people for the Library Journal Best Reference Books of 2016 Committee. As a member of this national panel, she will be reading lots of reference books to help compile the Best Reference 2016 list, to be published by Library Journal early next year. Maggie reviews throughout the year for Library Journal, a publication with a readership of over 100,000. Over the summer, Maggie also reviewed for School Library Journal, a trusted and respected journal for over 100,000 school librarians and other subscribers.

In mid-August, Maggie will be a reader for the Library of Congress A Book That Shaped Me essay contest. The contest is open to 5th and 6th grade students in the Mid-Atlantic region. She was also interviewed for the School Library Journal article “School’s In: 26 Things Forward-Thinking Librarians have Planned for Back to School.” Comments 8 and 15 featured programming ideas from the TVS Middle and Upper School Library.

Julie Knudsen (Grade 5 Math) traveled to the Houston area this summer to teach pre-kindergarten through sixth grade teachers how to use math games to boost their teaching and, perhaps more important, their students’ learning. She spent time working with teachers and “playing games with cards, dice and dominoes that can help teach, reinforce and solidify concepts such as one-to-one correspondence, number sense, fact fluency, place value, and fractions.”

Ashley Owen (Music 5 & 6) attended the Texas Choral Directors Association convention in San Antonio. She participated in many sessions that gave her “all kinds of ideas to improve my craft and incorporate more technology into my lessons.” She also attended the Teacher’s Institute at Bass Hall, where she received a certification in Conversational Solfege with Dr. John Feierabend. She writes, “I am refreshed, inspired, and anxious to see my students this week!”

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