Author: Bonnie Riggan

West Wind hosts student art show

West Wind hosts student art show

Reading Time: 2 minutes

student art_300x250_scaled_croppAbout twice each year we coordinate with a local school to have artwork by their students turn our office walls into our very own art gallery. This month we hung a new batch of work and invited the students and their parents to come by for an art show so we could thank them for letting us brighten our office with their projects.

The current artwork is from Hoover Elementary School in Iowa City. Art teacher, Cerina Wade, had the 6th graders at Hoover do a project based on artist Faith Ringgold’s Quilt Stories. Ringgold began making story quilts as a way to have her voice heard and in the hopes that her stories would be published as books. Wade liked having her students create their own quilt stories because they involve a number of creative processes. The students first write a very short story with the understanding that they will need to draw a picture depicting the story too. Once the story is written and drawn it is pieced together with a variety of patterned and colorful paper cut to emulate quilting blocks. The final step is to piece the whole work together.

It has been such a treat to read all of these stories accompanied by the drawings of what the story looked like in the young authors’ minds as we walk down our colorful gallery hallway.

You can view this video to see and hear Ringgold discuss the creative process with her most famous quilt story, Tar Beach, which was published as a book.

50th anniversary of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech

50th anniversary of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech

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I watched and listened to much of the event honoring the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I have a dream speech.”

It was inspiring and prompted me to watch the entirety of Dr. King’s speech again. We hear the sound bytes from the speech often enough, but listening, really listening, to his entire message was well worth my time. It is a reminder of the obstacles that had to be overcome, an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made, and a reminder there is much to do still today.

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28th, 1963

High School Graduation Means beginning of Endless Possibilities

High School Graduation Means beginning of Endless Possibilities

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My son graduated from high school last Friday and I said I would write a blog post about it. As I started thinking about what to write I looked back at what I wrote when my colleagues and I posted back in the fall about our kids starting the school year. Here’s what I said:

My youngest started his Senior year and will graduate early, so in six short months our lives will change in ways I have long planned for but still can hardly imagine. Both of my boys will be up and out in the world and all of us will find new freedoms and challenges to chase. Braydon’s school life has not always been a positive experience. Seeing him here, having navigated this stretch, makes me proud, relieved, and excited about his future plans and the possibilities that lie ahead for him.

Continue reading “High School Graduation Means beginning of Endless Possibilities”

Teacher collaboration improving outcomes for students

Teacher collaboration improving outcomes for students

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The Dallas Center-Grimes Community school district in Iowa is making strides in reaching important district and building goals by having collaborative teams of teachers learn together about how to conduct formative assessments of student learning. The entire district leadership and teaching force is focused on this effort and four years into the commitment, this focus appears to be improving teacher practice, and in turn, improving learning outcomes for students.

Read about the process, challenges, and benefits of the district’s work in All Aboard! published in the April edition of Learning Forward’s Journal of Staff Development (JSD), Co-authored by Deb Hansen, senior policy analyst at West Wind.

 

May 2013 Cultural Heritage Recognition

May 2013 Cultural Heritage Recognition

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May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage month. We were in the midst of our customary recognition of cultural heritage months, which we hold every month, when we ran into a wrinkle that we just couldn’t smooth out on our own and we’d like your help.

At West Wind we honor each cultural heritage month recognized by presidential proclamation. We do so in a couple of ways, one of which is to create a special banner each month for our website. In deciding the design of the banners we always look at a variety of images that could represent the group and deliberate which images to use. We take this seriously and really wrestle with the task. Our discussions invariably include the following points of consternation: Continue reading “May 2013 Cultural Heritage Recognition”

May 7, 2013 Teacher Appreciation Day

May 7, 2013 Teacher Appreciation Day

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image created for West Wind Education Policy by Leah Dusterhoft

In recognition of the day, some of us at West Wind want to share about teachers from our K-12 years who we remember and appreciate.

BY DEB HANSEN—I have been thinking lately about my High School German teacher, Frau (Mrs.) Chua. At the time I thought she was very strict, and I was a bit intimidated by her, but now that I am an educator, I realize she used great instructional practices. She provided theory, always demonstrated what she wanted us to learn, gave us daily time to practice, and coached us on our usage. As a teenager, I thought we had a lot of quizzes and assignments, but I suspect she using formative assessment to inform her instruction. Surely, my German teacher is long since retired, but maybe not — when you are 15 everybody over 25 looks old. She would have been pleased to hear me speaking German, as I traveled through Austria last summer. Of course, I was rusty, but a bit of review with audio tapes refreshed my skills enough that I could chat with new friends in Viennese cafés. Continue reading “May 7, 2013 Teacher Appreciation Day”

Cultural Heritage Banner Compilation

Cultural Heritage Banner Compilation

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In 2012 we observed each of the national cultural heritage months recognized by Presidential proclamation. In doing so, we wanted the actions of the observation to be sincere and to be part of our professional development at West Wind. We decided that for each cultural heritage month we would have a brown bag lunch during which we would explore each culture with a discussion including such things as: identity and naming of the groups in the culture being observed; counter-stories to the stereotypes of the culture; and what are some of the issues children and families face in the educational system. These brown bags have been a great source of learning, debate, and growth for us. Continue reading “Cultural Heritage Banner Compilation”

West Wind receives New Communications Award

West Wind receives New Communications Award

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West Wind Education Policy Inc. is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a 2012 Commendation of Excellence in the Government division in the External Communications & Communities category of the Society for New Communications Research Excellence in New Communications Awards program. The prestigious awards program honors individuals and organizations pioneering the use of social media and Internet communications technologies. Continue reading “West Wind receives New Communications Award”

October 1, 2012 is World Bullying Prevention Day

October 1, 2012 is World Bullying Prevention Day

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Today is World Bullying Prevention Day. One in four students are bullied at school. Nine out of ten LGBT students are bullied. The effects of bullying include fear, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, and difficulty focusing in school.

Marking October 1 as World Bullying Prevention Day is one example of how awareness is being raised and action is being taken .

For more information on how to take action against bullying, please visit: stompoutbullying.com

 

Olympic chatter chastising a champion

Olympic chatter chastising a champion

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I have easily watched more television since the Olympics began on July 27 than I have since July of last year. It is so easy to just keep watching event after event. The command athletes have over their sports, their bodies, and their minds is evident and addictive to watch and think about. But, the actual competition is only part of the story and only part of what keeps me roped in. Continue reading “Olympic chatter chastising a champion”

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