Get Inspired for Summer Learning!

The 2017-2018 school year is coming to a close, and that means summer break is upon us!  While the prospect of having almost three months of from school is exciting to say the least, the change in schedule and break from daily learning can also produce the question, "What do we do all day for three whole months?" So, to inspire your summer learning, we've put together some resources that give a variety of options. In this post you'll find links to resources for families who may want to engage in learning activities, but we've also included some options to help plan fun activities you can do as a family.

For ideas to extend and support summer learning to help avoid the "Summer Slide," here are a variety of free resources in this blog post from Edutopia: Free Summer Learning Resources

From our K-5 math resource, Bridges in Mathematics, here is a bingo board with 16 fun math challenges:
Bridges Summer Math Bingo Card

If you're looking for new and creati…

Building A Better Pleasantdale: PD Pathways

As you may know, our district has made a commitment to a continuous improvement process and uses our Strategic Blueprint to honor that commitment. In the area of Building Human Capital, the district has devoted resources to improving professional development for our teachers. When asked what type of professional development is most useful, our teachers advocated for PD that is tailored to their position or needs, is not bound by time or location, and is convenient and flexible. The administration took these suggestions to heart and created a PD Pathways program.

The online Professional Development Pathways will allow teachers to complete valuable professional development at their own pace, in a location of their choosing, using their district laptop and/or iPad. All of the approved courses have been reviewed by the administration and either advance our district mission, support the Strategic Blueprint, or help advance ongoing district initiatives. This is a wonderful way for our te…

A Field Trip To Change the World...One Straw At A Time

On Monday, April 23, some 5th and 6th-grade students attended the Clean Water Celebration in Peoria, Illinois with their inspiring teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Lauermann. Students in her classes were selected to attend after submitting a thorough and developed research proposal about an environmental topic.  At the event, the students were able to do experiments, teach about the endangered species program we are supporting in Mrs. Lauermann’s classroom, and listen to a motivational speaker Marcus Eriksen. Mr. Eriksen is an environmental scientist, educator, and author committed to building stronger communities through art, science, adventure, and activism.  His books chronicle rafting adventures down rivers and across oceans and highlight his experience as a veteran of war and a scientist for conservation.He shared stories that were startling about how much garbage he saw and destruction to ecosystems he witnessed while sailing on his JUNK raft (made of trash). He spoke to the students abo…

A Truly Inspiring Day of Learning

As educators, we aspire each and every day to create opportunities for learning and growth for every student.  Some days we are more successful at accomplishing this goal than others.  Fortunately, April 20, 2018, was one of those days where learning was at its very best at Pleasantdale Middle School!   In fact, it was a "banner day at PMS!" in the words of one staff member.

To start the day, students attended three Career Day sessions.  In collaboration with Junior Achievement, a non-profit organization whose goal is the inspire and prepare students to succeed through career education, students were exposed to a variety of career presentations like cardiologist, plumber, food blogger, graphic designer, and project manager.  These speakers shared with students what kind of education and classes they took to prepare for their careers, their day-to-day job responsibilities, and advice on maintaining positive work relationships.

Following Career Day, all staff and students part…

A Message About Earth Day from the PMS Recycling Club

Since Earth Day is Sunday, April 22, we thought it was fitting to spend some time with our Pleasantdale Middle School Recycling Club and Principal Sonntag to talk about the recycling efforts here at PMS.  Take a few minutes to read through their interesting interview below...

Mrs. Knapik:  What is the name of your club, and what does your club do?

Students:  We are the Pleasantdale Middle School Recycling Club.  We are students who skip recess to help our school recycle on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays every week.

Mrs. Knapik:  Why do you think recycling is important?

Students:  The environment is getting so polluted, and people are throwing litter everywhere.  It's really important that we help our environment because it needs help, and this is the only earth we have.  The environment helps us by giving us fresh air and water and supporting animal life.  Recycling is for anyone.  It is helpful, and people in the future will appreciate it.

Mrs. Knapik:  Earth Day is this Sunday, Apr…

2018-19 Action Steps

In Pleasantdale schools, we have a clear focus on doing what is best for students, families, and staff, and to that end, we have created a roadmap to that provides us with the direction we need to build a better school district. This plan, which we call our Strategic Blueprint, focuses on three main areas for improvement: Building Learning Capacity, Building Learning Environments, and Building Human Capital. It is within these three categories that we create action steps to help us achieve our district’s mission: To create a community of inspired learners. Our plan lays out a vision of a better district and also the steps that we will take to make this vision a reality. It allows us to focus our work and maintain a high level of return on our improvement efforts.

Having worked in education for nearly 20 years, I have found that this type of organized improvement effort is rare. Schools are often “please all of the people all of the time” organizations, and teachers and administra…

An Experience Unlike Any Other

Last week, Pleasantdale Elementary opened its doors to our families for the annual Experience Elementary. However, unlike previous years, this year the experience for families was much more interactive. In conjunction with our school theme, We're Going Places, and Dr. Seuss Week, the school was transformed into an interactive learning playground. Every staff member was engaged in the transformation. While the focus of the evening is on the classroom and allowing students an opportunity to show their families what they do in class, we modeled how Pleasantdale Elementary School is a great place for students because every single adult works together to create learning opportunities for our students.

Students and families were welcomed into a world where learning is valued and creativity is celebrated. Inside classrooms teachers had set up Work Stations, a component of our new Bridges math resource. Students were able to show their parents how Work Stations are part of their learning …