K-12: A Day in the Life of a Student

  • Day in life


    Over the course of the month of May, I will spend one day at every grade level. I will shadow a student throughout his or her entire school day...sometimes even from bus stop to bus stop.  We have such a rich educational program - inside and outside of the classroom - that this experience will help illuminate both the depth and breadth of learning. In addition to the course schedule, I will also get a chance to participate in lunch, recess, special programs and even extra-curricular activities.  As we focus on learning for every student every day, please follow this blog the capture "A Day In the Life of a Student."

    The pictures on this landing page reflect the K - 12 journey. On the left, we see three kindergarten representatives of Hance, Richland and Wexford that spoke at the graduation ceremony last year. On the right, we see several of our Class of 2021 graduates celebrating with each other and their families. It is my hope that the stories and images of "A Day In The Life" help describe the incredible changes that take place over those 13 years.

    - Superintendent Brian R. Miller, Ed.D.

A Day in the Life of A Student

  • PRHS 11th-Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/27/2022 2:45:00 PM

    Pine-Richland High School (PRHS) 11th Grade

    It is a bit of a rainy Friday as we get closer to the end of the 2021 - 2022 school year. In homeroom today, the “Calm App” was used as students arrived with a background mountain scene and peaceful music. This is a daily habit and a relaxing way to begin the day. The homeroom students then enjoyed the  PRTV morning announcements.

    History ClassUS History: 20th Century to Present
    In Mr. Ervin’s class, students are studying The Red Scare and McCarthyism from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Students analyzed images from publications at that time period. For example, the image in this photo was published in 1947. They were asked to interpret this historical image through a present-day lens. The imagery and propaganda in these publications were used to influence and inform US citizens.

    English 11
    This class started with a PEAL (Point, Evidence, Analysis and Link) EAL EAL writing assessment for the following prompt, “Using a major theme or motif from the novel Of Mice and Men, explain how this theme or motif is developed through the characters of Candy, Crooks, and Curley’s wife.” Mrs. Spehar and Mrs. Delp co-teach this particular class. Following the assessment, the class discussed the background information for American Playwright August Wilson as preparation for a review of Fences. August Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. He won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for this play. As one of the students shared, “his plays have universal themes” for all people. Students will begin the play next week.

    TrigTrigonometry and Analytical Geometry
    Students are preparing for the final exam next week. An open-ended item to start the class: “A boat is caught in a storm at Point A. It is sending a distress signal to two Coast Guard Stations at Points B and C that are 50 miles apart on land. If m<ABC = 31 degrees and M<BAC = 54 degrees, find the station closest to the boat.” Mr. Brower encouraged students to use notes, formula sheets and other tools to work through the multi-step solution to this and other practice problems.

    Environmental Science
    Mr. Myzak prepared a warm-up question for the class and then moved directly into the Microcosm Lab. Student teams have constructed their microcosm and are measuring water quality through a lab activity of their “microcosm.” In the analysis, students are explaining the role of a keystone species in an ecosystem, trends in water quality and potential limitations of the microcosm model ecosystem. As another learning activity, students are creating a children’s book to explain a concept from the environmental science course.


    Veterinary Sciences (12:25 - 2:30 p.m.)
    The AW Beattie Career Center offers about 20 different programs. I had the opportunity to participate in the Veterinary Sciences program today. This program has students from all nine sending school districts. The program includes classroom training and lab work. For example, there were four canine patients today that received physical exams (e.g., skin, eyes, ears, nose/throat, teeth/gums, legs/paws, cardiovascular, etc.). The patients also received a bath. Students work in teams of three or four to complete the work. Here are two of the “patients” and a view of the lab:


    Final “Day in the Life”
    With today’s visit, I have finished thirteen days in thirteen grades since the end of April. It has been a remarkable experience to see the progression of educational programs from kindergarten through 12th grade. The staff's focus on students, relationships and content is incredible. The positive environment and culture among students is outstanding. I will prepare and send a brief video summary 

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  • PRHS 12th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/24/2022 2:45:00 PM

    Pine-Richland High School (PRHS) 12th Grade

    Several years ago, the high school shifted the approach to homeroom so that students would have the same homeroom teacher for all four years. Ms. Demsey has been with her group of students - with a slight adjustment due to the pandemic - for that time period. This approach gives an opportunity to strengthen relationships with the teacher and between the students. My schedule today will give me the chance to spend half-day with two different seniors and “bounce back-and-forth” between schedules.

    social studies

    AP United States Government and Politics
    Prior to student work on final individual projects, Mr. Goldsmith started the class with current event discussion of US and China relations and the current White House trip to Asia. The history of China and Taiwan was reviewed for background information and then a discussion was held about recent meetings and dialogue on the diplomatic tour. The discussion focused on economic, foreign policy, political and military topics in the region.

    AP Environmental Science
    For the final activity in this course, Mr. Dugger has provided students with three options (i.e., environmental engineering project, children’s story, or a “one-pager” chapter summary). Some students are evaluating the potential for solar power at PRHS. Others are studying topics such as an integrated trail system and composting. Students were also asked to write a letter to future students in this course to provide tips and tricks for success. They will describe how the course works and strategies to stay organized and provide an overview of the AP exam experience for this particular course. Mr. Dugger also has individual conversations with each student prior to the end of the year. Finally, students worked on a courtyard maintenance project.


    AP Psychology
    Following the AP exam each year, Mr. Roberts introduces a final project for his students to design the “ideal high school.” Students work in groups and apply course content to address the following: physical design; methods of instruction; curriculum; organizational structure; and creativity. Teams are expected to clearly explain the underlying psychological principles. For the purpose of this project, the students do not have financial constraints to the design principles.


    Students are preparing for the final with a quality review of key concepts from the year. Mr. Converse designed seven stations with practical questions for statistical analysis. For example, a coffee and hot chocolate vending machine is designed to dispense 10 ounces of liquid. With 20 samples, students were asked to construct a 95% confidence interval to answer the question, “Is there evidence that the machine is shortchanging customers?” Students could work individually or in teams to solve the review problems.

    AP Physics C
    Students are designing a diorama that depicts a relevant moment from an idea that led to a Nobel Prize accomplishment. Mr. Perry offered various perspectives on prize winners and other matters of physics. A summary of the theory/experiment connected to that award must include: year of discovery; year prize awarded; significance to the study of physics; historical context of the discovery; and various details related to the physicist.

    PRTVTV Production (PRTV)
    As part of the daily schedule, Mr. Koehler and 14 students produce the morning announcements. Roles include: executive producer; director; technical director; floor director; camera persons; audio technician; various graphic technicians; lighting; script/teleprompter; and anchors (main, weather, sports and lunch). Students rotate through each role every two weeks.

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  • PRHS 10th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/23/2022 3:00:00 PM

    Arrival and Modified Schedule
    The high school was operating on a modified schedule today due to the Keystone Biology Exams. Students actively enrolled in a biology course - regardless of grade level - take this state exam at the end of the course. As we progressed through the day, we again saw the diverse set of courses available through the PRHS Program of Studies. Students have flexibility in course selections with the schedule. The diversity of courses occurs with different pathway options and with the number and type of elective opportunities.


    Honors Chemistry with Lab
    The students just finished a unit on titration and submitted an Inquiry Titration Lab report. As they entered Mr. Simko’s class, each student took a playing card(s). The class is now preparing for finals through a review of content and labs over the course of the second semester (e.g., chemical reaction labs such as combustion, single replacement and synthesis). Lab finals are designed to show growth with lab proficiency skills over the course of the year. To assist in the review, students reference class notes and lab materials. The playing cards were used to randomly select students to answer questions. Finally, a multiple-choice Cahoot was used as a final review opportunity.

    Metal CraftMetal Craft
    Students are crafting “spinner” rings. Mrs. Andreassi reviewed some of the key steps and sequence of design and fabrication. Examples of required skills and techniques include: sizing; cutting; forming; soldering; stamping; buffing; and polishing. Soldering is used to join two or more pieces of metal together. The propane torch is used to heat the metal and allow the low melting alloy to fuse together. The “spinner” portion of the ring construction allows part of the ring to actually move while the rest of the ring stays in place. There is a quiet and relaxed focus to this class.

    Comparative Anatomy and Physiologybrain and trophies
    For extra credit, students had the opportunity to create a “brain hat” with all of the aspects of the brain anatomy mapped. Mrs. Billie explained that it is sensory week in this class with a focus on different sensory receptors (e.g., touch, sight, smell, etc.) with the learning goal to compare and contrast the structure-function of cells of the nervous system. Today’s two-point touch lab focused on mechanoreceptors and the parietal lobe of the brain.

    Themes in World History
    In Mrs. Owens’ class, students are studying the theme of genocide. Part of the learning activity is to compare and contrast Armenian Genocide from 1918 - 1919 and the Holocaust from 1936 - 1945. The class discussed the timeline of key events happening in the world and also in this region. Students will complete a self-directed end-of-unit project as the culminating activity and assessment for this unit.

    Honors German 3
    Frau Giuliano opened class with a large group warm-up of adjective endings. Different colors were used to activate prior knowledge to reinforce that endings are not added to words that end in “a.” Students then apply the grammar rule in a translation exercise. Students also watch a sample “class” film trailer related to the learning goal of developing skills to follow plot and ongoing action within authentic literature. As the student productions are produced and viewed, the red carpet will be rolled out and awards will be earned!

    Honors Algebra 2
    teacher and studentSimilar to many courses at this time of year, students are finishing the last unit of instruction and preparing for the final examination. The current learning goal is focused on solving rational equations. In addition, Ms. Lang provided review materials that reflect the scope of content on the final exam and also give students the opportunity to practice multiple-choice test-taking strategies.

    English 10
    Students continue to study Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. In this co-taught class with Mrs. McRoberts and Mrs. McCarthy, students are reading various parts of the play. The next learning goal is to identify and apply thematic concepts to the text.

    Closing Thoughts
    In this sophomore year “Day in the Life” experience and especially at this time of the year, you could feel the academic rigor and requirements. Students (and teachers) are preparing for the final assessments of the 2021 - 2022 school year.

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  • PRHS 9th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/20/2022 3:00:00 PM

    Pine-Richland High School (PRHS) 9th Grade

    ArrivalArrival and Activity Schedule
    Like most mornings, it was a smooth (and quiet) bus ride this morning. Most students are relaxing, listening to music or even snoozing a bit. We had time to go to the cafeteria to eat breakfast and talk before the start of the day. It was an activity period today at the high school so that seniors could go to the stadium for a class picture. At the high school, there is usually an activity period for special topics, group meetings and other activities.

    Health and Physical Education
    Students are working on a SMART goals project (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timebound). Most students had identified goals related to exercise, nutrition or stress management. Mr. Koss described the motivational impact of monitoring results and tracking progress. Students shared in small groups or partners with a few examples for the whole class. The class then moved to the gymnasium for a choice of basketball, volleyball, cornhole, badminton or cardio in the fitness room.

    Gym / Class


    Spanish 2
    Senora Hines welcomed the class with some Spanish dialogue and conversation. Students are working on a history and culture project in class related to a decade in Spanish history (1950s through 2000s). They are working on preterito (“past tense”) and using the learning activity as an opportunity to practice (e.g., people, events, etc.). I was able to share some recent cultural experiences from a trip to Spain.

    Honors US History
    Working in small groups, students are completing a DBQ (Document-Based Question) related to analyzing primary and secondary sources. Related to the Spanish-American War, students focused specifically on contextualization. Placing the event in context is designed to help situate that event and more accurately understand the war (i.e., before, around and after). While almost all students were in-person, one student was able to actively participate from home via Google Meet and the interactive display board. Each team of students provided a whole class update about one of the documents so that all students could update their graphic organizer. Dr. Poole also shared with students that she and two other Advanced Placement teachers are evaluating the essays together to strengthen inter-rater reliability. This practice will help students develop a clear understanding of future expectations.

    Honors Orchestra
    Students are preparing for the upcoming orchestra concert. Mr. Belchick has delegated the “conductor” duties to several students. Approximately 40 students were present for today’s class to run through the concert selections. There was a sharp contrast between “The Avengers” and “Por Una Cabeza.”


    Honors Biology
    As final preparation for the Keystone Biology Exam (including a motivation speech), Ms. Demsey’s students played “Around the World” and Cahoot review games of biological concepts and vocabulary.  Ms. Demsey was able to reteach and review critical concepts based on the student response. At Pine-Richland, students take the Keystone Biology Exam in either ninth or tenth grade at the conclusion of the biology course.

    ELAHonors English 9
    As the final unit of the year, each student will conduct research using credible sources. Mr. McKown gives each student the opportunity to select a question of interest in an area where the student does not already have background knowledge. For example, “How do neurologists map the human brain?” and “How did the continents get their names?” The websites used for this project must conform to specific database sources. The skills required for this project are critical for scholarly work and have practical application beyond high school. Students will use MLA citation format, select direct quotes and paraphrase each quote. For this class, the results of this learning activity will also serve as a building block for the final exam. This project is a great example of the application of skills learned through prior experiences K - 8 can then be applied to more complex assignments. The image to the right was developed during the ELA In-Depth Program Review.

    Friday is “PT” day in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corporation course. The cadets (and I) had the opportunity to get stronger with: push-ups; crunches; squats; lunges; jumping jacks; etc. Major Morrison and Chief Gasperetto shared that enrollment for 2022 - 2023 at this point is 126 cadets (90 from PR and 36 from Mars). This number represents the largest historic enrollment for each group and in total. Several years ago, Pine-Richland School District and Mars Area School District entered into a crosstown agreement that allows Mars students to join this program. The combined enrollment has allowed the program to continue and grow. Great job today by the cadets!


    Honors Geometry
    Throughout the day, we heard about the challenge of the group quiz. The learning goal and assessment focused on geometric probability. Thank you to Mrs. Walker for the opportunity to show our knowledge!


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  • PRMS 7th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/18/2022 2:50:00 PM

    May 18, 2022

    Pine-Richland Middle School (PRMS) Seventh Grade

    Arrival and Start of the Day
    At all six of our schools, breakfast is available for students prior to the start of the day. Many students took advantage of this opportunity today at the middle school. Sodexo has been managing the food service program at Pine-Richland for over 30 years.Students

    In seventh grade, there are three teams. We started today with the academic support period. This period provides an opportunity for students to study, complete extra practice, and finish homework. It is a really good opportunity to strengthen the skills of time management and organization. Students may also visit a teacher if they require additional help and support. This period and structure also provides the time for band, chorus and orchestra.

    English and Reading
    In English, students are engaged in a variety of learning goals and learning activities. One example relates to a “snowball story.” In this example, three writers work together to construct a story. The first writer looks at a picture and begins writing the story to include: setting; at least one character; and the start of the plot. The second writer continues with more information about plot, characters and conflict. The third writer then has the responsibility to resolve the conflicts and give the story a close.

    In addition, students are finalizing their individual blogs. This project has developed over the course of the year and includes various types of writing for different purposes. Mr. Prucey shared a high-quality example from a seventh-grade student to help other students add finishing touches to the graphics, layout and overall design. Students will eventually share their blogs with their parents. Lastly, students worked in pairs or small groups on a learning activity that helps them apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to commercials. 


    In addition to reading and English, there are a number of other classes and programs at PRMS to focus on reading comprehension, fluency, writing, listening and speaking. Students have opportunities to learn and grow through exposure to different programs and activities. Our teachers and support staff members work collaboratively to help every student. The design of the master schedule allows flexibility for students and staff.

    Business and Computer Applications
    In preparation for today’s visit, Mr. Srsic’s class developed a set of interview questions for me. We even had microphones for the interview. We discussed “why” the “Day in the Life” experience was happening. I was able to share the purpose for the visits to kindergarten through twelfth grade and the value of seeing the entire educational program through the eyes of a student. The class also asked about my job and background. The class then reviewed requirements for a travel brochure slide deck and presentation (i.e., name and destination; historical persuasive information; hotel and hotel room information; activity information; restaurant; and conclusion). Requirements for the assignment were outlined in the rubric.

    Life Science
    In support of scientific explanations, students are focused on analyzing claims and evidence for matter and energy in ecosystems. This learning goal was to describe how some organisms use light and carbon dioxide to make energy storage molecules through photosynthesis. Specifically, the students were using evidence cards to support claims related to the questions, “Why does deforestation lead to increased carbon dioxide in the air?” Students worked individually and in pairs for the activity. Mrs. Mason designed a Socratic seminar for tomorrow as a strategy for students to share and defend their analysis, claims and reasoning/evidence.


    After a great lunch conversation with Mr. Minsinger and some students, it was all about slope (i.e., rise/run). Mr. Aglietti and Mrs. Hillegas work together in teaching math class. Students first interpreted whether the slope was positive, negative, zero or undefined. They then calculated the slope based on the change in points on the “y” axis and then the “x” axis. This learning activity required students to apply concepts and skills through multiple steps. A Cahoot was used to practice key concepts and to find the slope.

    World CulturesCultures
    Konnichiwa. As students entered the classroom, they prepared for the arrival of Sensei (“Teacher”) Thompson…and followed some unit-specific classroom routines. The students are studying Japanese culture and language. The specific learning goal is to describe how/why a feudal society developed in Japan, to dissect how centralized feudalism changed Japan and to assess why Japan isolated itself from the world during the 1600s. Each student had the opportunity to practice some Japanese calligraphy at the end of class. Sayonara.

    Similar to the eighth-grade experience, the day moved quickly at PRMS. Technology is integrated into the experience where appropriate. The use of interdepartmental teams creates a “school-within-a-school” environment. As a result of the design at Eden Hall, our sixth graders are ready for middle school. As a result of the design at the middle school, our eighth graders are ready for high school.

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  • PRMS 8th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/16/2022 2:45:00 PM

    Live Morning Announcements
    Morning announcements are produced live each day at PRMS. The program can involve between 20 - 30 students at any time. Since today was National Barbeque Day, Mrs. Murslack and Mr. Clack had a special plan for this celebratory day which included a charcoal grill and hot dogs…perfect for the heavy rain!


    Middle School Model
    Led by Dr. Kristofic and Mr. Minsinger, PRMS is one of 14 exemplary Middle Grades Schools in Pennsylvania that has been re-designated as a PA Don Eichhorn “School to Watch” as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. It is one of only two schools in Pennsylvania to earn re-designation for the fifth time. Interdepartmental teaming is a key tenet of the model. Students are organized into one of three teams at the eighth and seventh-grade levels. For most eighth grade students, they follow a bell schedule that includes: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Language, Health/Physical Education, Music (Band, Chorus, and/or Orchestra) and/or Academic Support, and a nine-week cycle of Business, Automation/Robotics, Art and Family & Consumer Science.

    As part of the Holocaust Unit, students are reading a play related to The Diary of a Young Girl by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Students started class with a “pop quiz” from Mrs. Pfeifer related to Act 1 of the play (e.g., author’s purpose, responding to questions using text evidence, comparing/contrasting character traits, and drawing inferences).  Students were then organized into three groups to meet various learning goals. This play was based on the actual diary and won the 1956 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

    Orchestra (or Band, Chorus, or Academic Support)
    On this day, I had the opportunity to join the eighth-grade orchestra with Mrs. Piroth and Mr. Belchick. This class meets on either an “A” or “B” day schedule. After tuning and talking, the students performed scales as a warm-up and also discussed aspects of music theory related to the D Major scale. They then practiced two pieces that will be performed in late May or early June for third-grade students at Hance, Richland, and Wexford. The purpose of those visits is to help students gain exposure and interest in potentially joining the program at Eden Hall. At PRMS, students may select more than one form of music (i.e., band, chorus, or orchestra). Other students remain in homeroom for an academic support period.


    ArtartIn art, students are creating a “monster” drawing to practice value/blend with colored pencils. Ms. Angeloff demonstrated the use of thick and thin lines to create variation in the work. This technique allowed students to ensure visual texture and patterns. Students were able to work independently. The department is also working to hang artwork for display in the building.

    Physical Science
    It is “coaster” week! The learning goals include (1) describing forces acting on an object (gravity and friction) and(2) exploring and explaining the transformation of energy during a roller-coaster ride. As one of the class warm-up activities, Mr. Kantz included a volleyball demonstration with students (young and old). Students were able to demonstrate and describe the principles of balanced force, inertia, potential energy, kinetic energy, gravity, and gravitational force. As a lab activity, the students are now working in pairs to apply principles to the design of an energy skate park via Chromebooks and an interactive website. The website then allows each group to run a simulation to see the correlation between potential and kinetic energy.


    Many students begin the first year of world language instruction in eighth grade. After exploring French, German, and Spanish in seventh grade, students then make an informed choice for eighth grade. Madame Kelly opened class with a quick check for understanding (and retention) from a lesson last week. Then, the learning goal in this class then focused on the use of ER and IR verbs. Students reviewed vocabulary and subject-verb agreement. In this class, there was a student participating from home via Google Meet. When students got into pairs or groups of three, the technology allowed them to work together in a similar manner to all in-person students.

    Today’s learning goal is to practice simplifying rational expressions. Students review and submit homework. When simplifying expressions, students are able to “cancel.” Ms. Cekella then provided students with a guided practice lesson to help reinforce some critical skills for the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam. As eighth-graders in this course, the students participate in both the PSSA Mathematics assessment and the Keystone Exam for Algebra 1.


    Health/Physical Education
    Eighth-grade students alternate on the “A” and “B” schedules for health or physical education. Mr. Wolfe and Mrs. Warrick combined classes for today. In physical education, students participated in a dynamic warm-up - in a refreshing light rain - before making the choice between softball or walking.

    Social Studies
    In this American history course, students have been studying George Washington. Today’s learning goal was to identify the causes and effects of the development of political parties. Mr. Bailey shared background information to explain that the first parties were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Students engaged in an activity to read an abridged version of President George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796). In this learning activity, students were asked to summarize the address to more clearly understand the key points.

    The day moves quickly at PRMS. Despite the bell schedule and number of courses, students also have plenty of time to talk to friends and classmates. It was evident through the courses today that teachers are focused on positive relationships with students and a positive environment in the classroom. It was also clear that the students continue to demonstrate growth and maturity as they progress through the grades. Due to testing, I was a bit “out of order” today and will be with seventh grade later this week.


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  • Eden Hall 6th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian MIller on 5/11/2022 4:00:00 PM

    Eden Hall Upper Elementary School Sixth Grade

    AnnouncementsMorning Announcements
    We did not even make it to homeroom today! We reported directly to the recording studio for a live stream of the morning announcements. There are producers (teachers), director (student), two anchors, camera director (student), camera persons (two students) and several other students operating the tricaster (switches camera), graphics (tied to tricaster and supports the news) and sound.

    Forest Biome
    Several years ago, the daily schedule shifted slightly for sixth grade to organize students in four-person teams. This shift emerged from an in-depth program review process to ensure that all students had ELA, math, science and social studies each day. This adjustment emerged in science but had a “ripple effect” on other classes. In addition to the academic schedule, this change also prepares students developmentally for the five-person teaming model in seventh grade. The Forest Biome includes Ms. DeRaimo, Mr. Goheen, Mrs. Holland and Mr. Shaulis.

    groupMove-up Day Experience
    By coincidence, today started with a move-up day experience. All 375 sixth grade students met in the Eden Hall auditorium for a presentation by Dr. Kristofic, Mr. Minsinger and several other staff and students of the middle school. Topics included: Schools to Watch; teaming structure; daily class schedule; lockers; transitions; academic support period; lunch; and more. The assembly included a video and presentations by several seventh-grade students. It was a very positive overview to help answer questions and take the “mystery out of the middle school.”

    EXPLORE: Business, Computers and Information Technology
    After the assembly, we transitioned to a shortened business class. Students completed an assignment related to computer science career exploration. Students select a potential area of interest and learn more about the educational requirements, soft skills, STEM skills and potential salary. It was also interesting to see the students work on the “keyboards with no letters.” Developing proper keyboarding skills is part of the upper elementary school curriculum and shows with students who can effectively type with a blank slate.keyboard and science

    Social Studies
    Students are finishing the last day of The Roman Empire reader’s theater. After selecting roles (those in togas picked first), the students read Scene 5. The essential questions for these scenes are, “Why were the Romans motivated to expand their empire?” and “Could the Roman Empire have been saved if they did something differently, or were they doomed to fail from the start?”Social Studies

    The movement between classes and four-teacher teams really make the sixth-grade experience similar to the middle school. As part of the study of weather, students were placed in research teams for an activity to model a vortex. Each team followed a set of steps and made observations. At each point of the lab, the students developed hypotheses about the scientific principles.

    English Language Arts
    As a warm-up, students begin with some daily language and vocabulary practice. The learning goal is to analyze multiple sources of research to evaluate a topic. Students researched charitable organizations using both biased and unbiased sources. They are now creating a persuasive slideshow using the research. The final slideshows will be evaluated against multiple criteria. Ultimately, the “winner” for the biome will then serve as the recipient of an actual fundraising activity.

    For some students, an extension activity during RAM Time relates to the study of Shakespeare and the dramatic presentation of a monologue (i.e., immersive acting and theater). Students learned about physical, vocal and historical characterization. To get ready for those presentations, students worked on character development during a “taxi/rideshare” skit.

    studentsForest Biome Meeting
    These “neighborhood” meetings are held at least once per month. As the first item, two students in each homeroom who have earned the most dojo points in the last month are recognized. A student from each homeroom is then recognized for a PRIDE award. The quality for this April was diligence. Students receive a certificate and round of applause. The remaining time was spent in follow-up questions about the move-up day assembly for the transition to middle school.


    Elementary (K - 6) Wrap-up
    Over the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend a full day in each elementary grade from kindergarten through sixth grade and in each school. In addition to the teachers, I wanted to extend incredible appreciation to the following groups: principals; paraprofessionals; secretaries; custodians; bus drivers and monitors; food service staff; and other related service providers. It takes each and every person and role to ensure a positive and successful school.

    This experience also gave me the opportunity to see the consistency of curriculum and educational programming across schools and classrooms. Each school (and classroom) has its own culture and personality. However, the curriculum, resources, technology, schedule, interventions/supports and instructional experiences are very consistent. The positive relationships and energy is so motivating. Incredible work!

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  • Eden Hall 5th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/10/2022 4:00:00 PM

    SchedulreEden Hall Upper Elementary School Fifth Grade
    As we start fifth grade this morning, we begin with morning work! The routines of school are so important to learning. In Mrs. Myler’s class, students are working on a form within the Social Studies Google Classroom. Mrs. Myler and Mrs. Clark are the two-person team that works with students in the Grasslands Biome. This “school within a school” design really helps students make connections with classmates. It supports the transition from primary school to upper elementary school. We will learn more about the sixth-grade design tomorrow.


    RAM Time
    Ms. Shenefiel joined multiple classrooms via Google Meet to facilitate “Genius Hour Projects.” This application of technology for in-person learning is a great example of how the past two years have provided an opportunity to transform educational delivery. Each student remaining in the biome has selected a research topic to practice the research process. The students are then identifying credible sources to develop a presentation. This project has been ongoing for many months. For example, topics include: gymnastics; anxiety; dolphins; Ancient Egypt; music genres; and more. Some areas of learning focus include: checking facts; connecting information to tell a story; and representing information in a clear and compelling manner. Starting next week, students will choose “how” they would like to present to classmates. This type of learning activity is helpful because students are applying research skills to areas of personal interest and also have flexibility in the style of presentation (e.g., slide show, collage, puppet show, demonstration, etc.).

    Career Lesson: Financial Reality Fair and Smart Futures
    Instead of science today, Mrs. Hawrylak, one of the school counselors at Eden Hall, joined class to deliver instruction in two areas of career and life. First, the students reviewed learning goals related to budgeting in preparation for a financial reality fair (e.g., housing, furniture, utilities, cell phone, entertainment, food, etc.). Given the income connected to a potential job, the goal is to budget money effectively to ensure you do not spend more than you have earned. Next, the class discussed the concept of entrepreneurs defined as a “person who organizes, manages and assumes the risk of a business.” Entrepreneurs are innovators who start companies to create new or improved products. The students discussed examples of products and people who are entrepreneurs. Students then gained an introduction Smart Futures as a web-based resource that provides learning activities for career topics. Students earned a “badge” when they completed the entrepreneurship lesson.


    encoreIn the five-day rotation, we then had music class with Mr. Timcheck. We practiced rhythms with the “dot” of a dotted half note…dotted quarter note…and more. We then transitioned into parts for the classroom musical (“The Music Man”). Students selected roles in the cast. Over the last month of school, the students will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform the musical. Active engagement for sure! I would also use this opportunity to use the “way back” machine to see Mr. Timcheck in the starring role of “

    Can’t Stop the Learning” produced by PRSD in 2017! With his planning and preparation, Mr. Timcheck made the most of each beat…with no rest…next stop…River City, Iowa!

    Recess and Lunch
    Gaga Ball! Recess was followed by a great chicken salad at lunch!


    English Language Arts
    In addition to the class novel Earthquake Terror by Peg Kehret, students started by reading a self-select novel with a partner. They had 10 minutes to read with their partner before returning back to the class. The learning goals for today specifically focused on the use of tone and mood in the story. The main characters in the story had just experienced an earthquake while camping with family in California. For the main learning activity, each student wrote a poem to reflect mood and tone based on 10 phrases from two of the chapters. Thank you to Ms. Furge for serving as the substitute teacher in class today. She is a building substitute who supports Eden Hall each day.

    ClassThe learning goal for today is focused on the use of measurement conversions to solve real-world problems. Ounces, pounds and tons were compared to strawberries, pineapples and small cars. Big to small…multiply. Small to big…divide…and nothing says accuracy like checking your work through use of the “inverse operation.” These calculations - and the thinking that goes into them - are important for developing mathematical minds!

    There is a fifth-grade concert tonight! Approximately 100 members of the Class of 2029 conducted the final rehearsal. It should be great!

    ChorusEXPLORE and Dismissal
    The class discussed World Cultures Day scheduled for May 12th. Then, the students started a “Compliments Activity” for the end of the year. This is an opportunity for the class to share positive and anonymous comments about a classmate.

    Fifth-grade Grassland was incredibly welcoming today. I was impressed with the maturity of the students. I was also impressed with the level of focus in each class. Positive energy. Kindness. Fun. Learning. A really good day in fifth grade.

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  • Eden Hall 4th Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/9/2022 3:00:00 PM

    Eden Hall Upper Elementary School Fourth Grade
    In fourth grade, students are organized into two-person teams. It was a pleasure to be part of the Aquatics Biome with Mr. Belchick, Ms. Berezo and 45 students! Each student has an assigned locker. After storing backpacks, students begin the day using Chromebooks to access the digital Freckle program for ELA or math practice. The morning announcements are produced live in the television studio and streamed to the interactive display boards in each classroom. There is a five-day rotation at Eden Hall. Today is Day 5!

    ClassEnglish Language Arts
    Our first “switch” was for ELA class. A “state” assignment was introduced. In this project, students conduct research and prepare a presentation about one of the states, such as: fast facts; history; land and climate; cultural; people; arts and entertainment; events and attractions. Students receive a note-taking guide and rubric to outline project requirements. The learning goal is focused on research and note-taking skills.

    Students must be able to review a lot of information and then select the critical parts for the project. Ms. Berezo modeled the skills needed to complete the assignment and had students help her before doing the same thing on their own. This preparation and research will eventually be used to create a slideshow to present to the class.

    We then “switched” back to Mr. Belchick for math class. The learning goal focused on interpreting and comparing data on a simple line plot. This type of display allows someone to organize a large amount of data in a very clear way. Students first interpreted a line plot that already existed before developing their own. Interestingly, the use of line plots reinforces the observation made in Mrs. Smith’s second-grade class last week. We can see how math skills “spiral” over the years. Students worked to understand the appropriate scale. This lesson also gave students a chance to practice addition and subtraction with fractions. As a fun practice at the end of class, a Kahoot was used to check for understanding.

    Mid Day

    Midday Excitement
    Lunch…excellent…recess…beautiful weather…many choices of activity…kickball with Mr. Belchick serving as the all-time pitcher. It was an intense game of kickball…lots of fun. 

    In the investigation notebook, the first question was, “Why is it important for scientists to write scientific explanations?” Students answered individually and then worked collaboratively to strengthen understanding. The class then participated in a “gallery walk” with a moon phase project displayed through Google Slides on each Chromebook. Students aligned the phases of the moon to various life events.


     Amplify Science is built on digital resources. Students were able to view simulations of earth and sky patterns based on a sample investigation plan. The simulator could be set to a specific date and time to observe the location of the earth relative to the sun. Importantly, the students were assessing if the investigation was systematic (careful and orderly) or whether it could be improved by reducing the number of variables.

    RAM Time
    Reading and math time at Eden Hall has students moving to many different locations for many different programs and learning activities. Simply put, it is an opportunity for each student to get what they need (e.g., extension, extra help, independent study or specific programs). It is an important part of the full educational program at Eden Hall and plays a big part in the master schedule.

    During EXPLORE today, we had physical education…with the mile run postponed due to all the rain last weekend! We had a dynamic warm-up activity with Mr. Kunz and Mrs. Adams focused on cardio, agility and some muscular strength. We then practiced one of the field day games.


    Organized into four teams, we played a snowball battle game. The rules allowed every student to stay active the entire time. It was fun. We got sweaty! It was a great way to compete and show sportsmanship. Good luck on the mile next week!

    Even though Eden Hall is a large school, it feels much smaller in the two-person biome. The design of the students to really get to know each other. Thank you to all staff and students that support the fourth-grade Aquatics Biome!


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  • Richland 3rd Grade

    Posted by Dr. Brian Miller on 5/5/2022 4:00:00 PM

    Richland Elementary School Third Grade

    Morning Routine
    ClassroomI am excited to be part of third grade today with Ms. Boss (most subjects and first picture) and Mrs. Fulford (math and second picture). Consistent with all other homerooms, students arrive at school, unpack and begin morning work. The morning work helps “prime the brain” for learning. After staying in the same class for most of the day in kindergarten through second grade, third grade is the first time that students begin changing teachers and rooms. We did a “quick switch” across the hall for math.


    After studying geometry for a couple of weeks, we had the opportunity to participate in two activities. The first learning activity was a Geometry Escape Room. We worked in teams to apply our prior knowledge. As Mrs. Fulford said, “More minds and more hands are better to crack the code and solve the case.” Using our Chromebooks to enter information, the Escape Room required us to unlock Door #1: Geometry Vocabulary; Door #2: Identify and Classify Shapes; and Door #3: Partition Shapes. Then as a culminating activity, each student is designing “Geometry Town” to include at least nine buildings of various geometric shapes.

    Mileage Club, Lunch and Art
    Ms. Boss’s class covers ground quickly in third grade. Since it is a Thursday, we had mileage club and lunch. We then moved to art class with Mrs. Laslavic. The students had completed work with clay…but it needs a bit more time to dry before the projects are “fired in the kiln.” This gave us the opportunity to use a protractor to set up our looms (for future wefting and warping). The demonstration was recorded as a video that allowed Mrs. Laslavic to distribute materials and get the most out of every minute. BUT…before doing any of the artwork…we had a class mantra… “I am positive…I am creative…I am courageous…I am mindful…I am brilliant…I am an artist!


    RAM Time and Reading
    In third grade, Ms. Boss and her students focus on reading (and a little math). Students are organized into flexible groups. Some students were reading with Ms. Boss in a small group and discussing key elements of the story. The students identified evidence in the text to answer questions. Students also used context clues to understand ideas that were not explicitly stated by the author. Other students working on daily fact practice, book club reading assignments and other learning activities. The class then moved into grammar concepts related to the use of “a or an” with a “consonant or vowel” (respectively)! Ram Time

    As a special activity, we then split into two groups to read and perform a play (notice the comma after the introductory words…inside grammar joke for the students). The play, An Earth Day Carol by Paula Thomas, gave students the chance to select parts, perform stage directions, and learn about sustainability. It was interesting to learn that the first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 (notice the comma between the day and year…another inside grammar joke for the students). The main character is committed to following the three R’s and always reduce, reuse, and recycle (notice the comma in a series…final inside grammar joke for the students). 

    It was again remarkable to see the level of maturity with Ms. Boss’s third-grade class. Students were positive, kind and hard-working. They had fun learning. They had fun with each other.

    P.S. Another Mileage Club Day!

    Mileage CLub

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