August 21, 2020
Virtual Team Time in Seventh Grade Math at WMS
It has been said that change is the only constant in life. In recent months, public schools have been living out the reality of that statement, continually rising and adapting to the challenges of teaching and learning in the midst of Covid. Teachers have always been known for their creativity, flexibility, and adaptability, and never before have these three key traits been more evident in classrooms than with the start of this unique school year.
At Walton Middle School, seventh grade math teacher Mrs. Makala Ellenburg, along with her partner Diana Gillis, spent time carefully planning, then executing a plan for both face-to-face and innovative learning students to collaborate with each other. These days, students can’t huddle together to work in traditional small groups like they have in years past. Creatively, the math teachers found a way for students in the classroom and students at home to share their thought processes through a virtual huddle. Whether they were six feet or sixteen miles apart, all students experienced a sense of community in math class to close out the week.
Through Microsoft Teams, Mrs. Ellenburg assigned students to groups via channels. Each channel essentially functioned as a small group. First, Mrs. Ellenburg gave students instructions to introduce themselves to their channel members. She also clearly outlined her expectations, emphasizing that only math conversations were acceptable within the channel. She then walked students through how they would then participate in “Team Time” with their group. On the ClearTouch board, Mrs. Ellenburg posted a math problem, giving students time to work it out on their own, whether they were in their classroom desk or at their kitchen table. While giving instructions, the teacher ensured that both her in-house and at-home students understood her expectations. After working each problem out independently, students posted their answers in their group’s chat. Mrs. Ellenburg even had a plan for students whose families have not had the opportunity to pickup their laptops yet; those kids held their white board answers up for a group member in the class to answer on their behalf in the Teams chat. Due to Mrs. Ellenburg’s thoughtful lesson design, all students were able to actively participate in the groupwork. Each group then discussed any differences in their answers, landing on a solid final answer that they posted in the chat.
During whole class discussion, Mrs. Ellenburg spent time praising groups for productive group talk. She pointed out instances where students questioned each other’s thinking, pushed each other to elaborate, and clarified their own misunderstandings. Even though the small groups were meeting virtually, their conversations about math were often rich and thought-provoking. Mrs. Ellenburg intentionally spent a great deal of time establishing the norms for Team Time so such positive collaboration can continue throughout the year. As students and the teacher continued to work and share their learning, they even discovered together that they had the capability to take pictures of their math work, then upload it into the chat within the channel so their thought processes could be made even more visible to their peers.
No doubt, teaching and learning have rapidly changed, and the learning curve has been steep for everyone. However, Mrs. Ellenburg and her students are proving that challenges are actually opportunities to learn and grow together—coming out more capable and better equipped on the other side.
August 21, 2020
Re-opening Update for Parents 8/21/20
We are excited to wrap up our first week of school! We want to thank everyone for being so supportive of not just the start to the 2020-2021 school year, but to all the changes that have taken place due to COVID-19. Everyone has been so gracious and positive this week. Students are working hard, faculty and staff have been innovative and flexible, and our parents have been awesome partners on this new journey. We are glad to be back!
Because we want to continue the success of our first week, we would like all parents of our brick and mortar students to continue to reiterate the importance of social distancing and the wearing of masks, when social distancing is not feasible, with their children. We found that as the week progressed, many students started to feel comfortable and more at ease in their surroundings and that’s encouraging, but we do want to continue to remind students that social distancing and masks are best practice until the pandemic is over. Students - keep up the good work!
Thanks to all of our distance learning and virtual students and families as well. Thank you for being a great team player this week as we have collaborated with technology and other new procedures. Please remember we have a page devoted to our Innovative Learning Digital Academy, as well as Walton Virtual School, on our website.
As the weeks continue, please know we will continue to make the right adjustments and best decisions for our students. We want to continue to build upon our success, and we want our re-opening to be a positive experience for our community!
August 20, 2020
Maude Saunders staff and students are back and ready to learn! Some students are here in person and some are attending our Innovative Learning Digital Academy. Either way, we are one school, one team, with one mission… Excellence!
August 20, 2020
August 19, 2020
District Nominee Wins Florida Commissioner’s Business Award
The Walton County School District honored the St. Joe Foundation as a winner of the 2020 Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award. The award is sponsored by the Florida Department Of Education in partnership with the Florida Education Foundation and acknowledges Florida businesses in partnerships that forge commitments to enhance education in their area and provide extraordinary contributions to schools and their students.
St. Joe Community Foundation awarded approximately $227,000 for the opening of Walton’s Magnet Innovation Center (MIC) at St. Joe Watersound and provided the facilities where the program is housed. In addition, St. Joe invested $50,000 for books and technology to our newest elementary school, Dune Lakes. Walton County School District’s partnership with St. Joe helped our students place at Odyssey of the Mind and win first place at the Lego League competitions.
St. Joe is one of only 5 businesses in Florida selected for this prestigious award. The St. Joe Foundation’s work within Walton County School District was detailed in a grant and submitted to the review committee resulting in the agreement of FLDOE and the Florida Education Foundation that St. Joe’s support in Walton County clearly defines them as advocates of education. Because the District’s nominee was a winner, Walton County School District was granted $5,000 to continue enhancing the learning environments for Walton County students.
The School Board and Superintendent Hughes presented St. Joe representative Bridget Precise, Senior Vice President, Residential Real Estate with the Commissioner’s Business Award Certificate, signed by Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Mr. Richard Corcoran. Thank you St. Joe for your continued support and congratulations!
August 19, 2020
Superintendent Hughes stopped in to visit Mrs. Held’s class as they learned innovative practices on compound words as well as Ms. Wilkerson’s ILDA class. The method we educated may have changed but The Way is still EPIC! Wow…..Our Teachers Really Make It Happen! Thanks for a great 3rd WCSD!
August 19, 2020
Superintendent Hughes was conducting a conference call in the parking lot of VRB and captured this precious GM/Guardian Rebecca Trailer donating a wagon full of supplies for our students. Thank you so much for supporting our schools, collaborating with us on the frontline and making a difference. God bless you and know that we appreciate our community partners and stakeholders; we call it EPIC!
August 15, 2020
We are excited to see students on Monday! We expect students to wear masks on buses and as they are transitioning from car drop off to class. Masks will also be expected during any other transitions where social distancing is not guaranteed, such as class changes, walking to lunch, etc. Feel free to bring a mask from home, or we can provide one! See you on August 17th!
EPIC is still the way!
August 14, 2020
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