Saturday, November 18, 2017

Being safe, respectful and responsible with dogs...and having fun with them, too!

Many readers know that Horace Mann is lucky to have a canine staff member:  Stanley "Stan" Cramer.  Stan is a sweet, handsome Golden Retriever who comes to school on Thursdays with 1st grade teacher Patti Cramer.  Stan is a trained therapy dog and he enjoys being pet, read to and played with by kids and adults, alike!

Last week, we had an assembly featuring Cleveland animal photographer Greg Murray.  He is a born Lakewoodite (right on Norton Ave!), but has received national attention for his book, Peanut Butter Dogs. Not only did he share hilarious pictures of dogs eating peanut butter, he talked about following his career dreams and volunteering with the Animal Protective League (APL). He also provided helpful information and safety tips on interacting with dogs we may encounter.  

All students received a coloring/activity book about pet safety, and three students received their very own copy of Peanut Butter Dogs. Congratulations to Will McBride (kindergarten), Andrew Babson (1st grade) and Erin Gerity (4th grade)! The presentation was quite interactive and many students were able to ask questions about Mr. Murray's work.

Special thanks to Mrs. Cramer and her student teacher, Samantha Vidnovic, for bringing Mr. Murray to our school. Check out the picture below with Stan, Mr. Murray, Ms. Vidnovic and Mrs. Cramer's class.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

We Celebrate Our Veterans!

Veterans Day (originally Armistice Day) provides an important opportunity for students to learn about and appreciate the men and women who have served in the United States military.  Did you know that there are about 22 million vets in the US?  They certainly do deserve this day of acknowledgement.

With many staff and students wearing red, white and blue and other patriotic themes, we were fortunate to have 20 veterans join us for our assembly on Friday, November 10, 2017.  It was a treat to see students walk in with their veteran family member(s)!  We were inspired by the theme music for each of the five branches of the military.  At Horace Mann, we have a few Army and Marine vets, just a couple from the Air Force and no one who served in the Coast Guard.  The overwhelming majority of our vets were in the Navy.

Special thanks go to Mr. Waryk for leading us in singing patriotic songs and to our PTA for the refreshments to welcome our guests.  I'd also like to thank several 4th graders who participated in the program:
Scouts of the Color Guard:   Nathan Bruwer, Michael Frend, Kelsey Karban, Greydon Rosser and Jacob Tannous
Readers:  Ava Brooks, Erin Gerity, Nate Lewis and Justin Lewis

Thank you, veterans!  We look forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary of this holiday in 2018.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Buddies are the BEST!

There's a long and treasured tradition at Horace Mann called Book Buddies:  5th graders are paired with kindergarten students for a weekly get-together.  Both the older student and the younger student bring a book to share and teachers often coach the older students about how they can help their young friends who are just learning to read.  As kindergarten students become better at making familiar storybooks sound right (using expression, "reading" the story in memorized phrases), they often join in as their older buddy reads a common story.

It is a joyful thing to see our oldest and youngest students so engaged together over books.  Of course, sometimes Book Buddies do other fun things, such as designing jack o' lanterns in honor of the season.  Please scroll down to see a few pictures of the Buddies in action last week.

We hope that books coming home with every K-5 Horace Mann student on their reading level--and from our well-stocked library--is encouraging plenty of reading together at home, too.  Thank you for everything you are doing to partner with your child and his/her teacher to make reading a high priority.  If you are interested in learning more about the Reading Workshop here in Lakewood and how you can help your child at home, please join us at the PTA meeting on Tuesday, November 14th at 7:00 pm (childcare provided).  I'll be recapping the K-5 Literacy Night hosted by the district last week at Emerson.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Guide for Parents: Common Sense Media

Technology and today's media resources provide ready access to amazing resources for Lakewood students and adults, alike.  At the same time, we are increasingly aware of the challenges created by improper use of technology, including physical unhealthiness, decreased personal relationships and empathy, and exposure to inappropriate content.
Image result for julie ferrone

Even savvy parents can find it difficult to navigate this ever-changing landscape.  Fortunately, we have Horace Mann's new Curriculum and Technology Teacher (or CaTT) Julie Ferrone to help!  Mrs. Ferrone is a longtime Lakewood teacher (and parent), and we are fortunate to have her at The Mann on a part-time basis this year. 

In addition to supporting classroom teachers and students with fantastic technology enhancements to the curriculum and being lead adviser for both Future Club and Future Club Jr., Mrs. Ferrone has created a handy resource to help parents with issues like digital citizenship, online safety and finding the right ways to handle media at home (check out "Device Free Dinner").

Here's the link to Mrs. Ferrone's Common Sense Media resources:  Common Sense Media

If you have any questions or ideas, she'd love to hear from you on Twitter @LKWDjferrone or

Sunday, October 15, 2017

HMann Staff Spotlights: 1st & 2nd Grade

The 1st grade team at Horace Mann is a lively one, with two homeroom teachers (Patti Cramer & Julie Harkness), a shared intervention specialist (Jen Frank), shared educational assistant (Marie Banak) and shared student teacher (Samantha Vidnovic).  Throw in collaboration with CHAMPS teachers, Ellen McCafferty (SLP) and other related service providers, and you've got a party!  In particular, this team stands out for their teamwork.  Not only do they plan and TBT together, but they also co-teach everything from math to reading workshop book clubs (yes, book clubs in 1st grade!).  Their efforts have a phenomenal effect on student learning, and lead to satisfaction and fun for adults all the while.  Check out this recent book club video of Farouq, Elliot, and Brigid:
Moving on to Grade 2, the spotlight shines on long-time teammates Anne Carney and Patty Wynne.  Their conscientious work ethic shows in the gains their students make in all subject areas.  Additionally, Horace Mann students are succeeding behaviorally in 2nd grade, and their teachers consistently make time to allow students to access privileges on our PBIS reward menu.  Here are pictures of Leom reading to his first grade teacher's class (in the comfy chair, of course) and a Violet reading to our therapy dog, Stan (he comes to school each Thursday).

Keep up the great work, Horace Mann :)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Spotlighting Our Staff - Preschool & Kindergarten Mann welcomes a new preschool teacher to our staff.  Jonathan Davis as the general educator is a great addition to the integrated PK class team of Michelle Zahursky (intervention specialist) and Tammy Viserta, educational assistant.  We also welcome student teacher Samantha Vidovic to the same classroom this quarter.  Kids recently made self portraits, often needing to check the mirror!

After a smooth orientation and screening process, kindergarteners at Horace Mann are in the good hands of Mandi Sloan and Cassey Rini.  These teachers are avid users of the Seesaw app, and parents report they feel very in touch with their young scholars when they receive the social media updates throughout the day. It has also been inspiring to watch our kindergarteners take to mindfulness practices, such as yoga and mindful breathing.  Here is one student using a Hoberman Sphere (or “breathing ball”) and his friend making a ball with his hands.

Our teachers are second-to-none, and we are grateful for the expertise and care as they facilitate development of the whole child. We are ALL IN at Horace Mann!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Math Assessment - iReady

As we work with students, we should use many lenses to understand their skills.  When we understand their skills--and their traits as learners-- we can provide instruction that meets their needs. 

Many Horace Mann families are familiar with AIMSweb as the assessment tool the district has used for many years to benchmark students' reading skills, both decoding and comprehension.  In recent years, we've also added the "running records" as part of Reading Workshop that tell us what level book (that is, letter) is appropriate for each student.  Teachers use these assessments, in addition to daily observations of student work and other tests, such as the KRA for kindergarten and the AIR tests for grades 3-5, to guide their planning for reading instruction.

When Ohio adopted the Common Core State Standards several years ago, it necessitated a significant change to instruction for many subjects, especially math.  Responsively, Lakewood adopted Eureka as our curriculum, and we've used the assessments for each module--as well as daily "exit tickets"-- to see how students are doing.  While those tools have worked well, we've been lacking the overview of student skills that AIMSweb provides for reading.

After careful research, the district decided to try i-Ready, an adaptive diagnostic math assessment for students in grades 3-5.  This online tool provides a custom assessment for each child by giving an easier or harder item based on student performance.  Thus, no two students have the same test, and the experience yields highly individualized information.  Since it is built on the Common Core, the test explores exactly what we need to know about student skills and is expected to provide a roadmap for planning instruction.  If you are curious to learn more, here is a link to the iReady website:  i-Ready.

While we still have plenty to learn about using i-Ready, I feel optimistic about its potential.  After all, when we need to make changes, the worst thing to do is nothing at all.  By adding this simple, kid-friendly assessment to our toolbox, we are making good on the district's commitment to actively engage students in their learning.