February 2013

February 2013 Board Highlights

Oblock Junior High

 English FestFive seventh grade students from Oblock Junior High participated in the ESSPA English Festival held at Gateway High School on February 7.  Cloe Hall, Matt Hartley, Ryder Springel, Tori Turcheck, and Tanner Froehlich represented Oblock GATE at the competition.  There were several prerequisites to the competition that the team needed to complete.  Teams were to submit ten multiple choice questions for the four novels selected, write a poem based on the theme from one of the selections, and artwork from the novels.  Oblock placed 3rd in a very competitive field of Gifted participants.


GATE Chess Tournament
On February 14, Oblock Junior High hosted the GATE Junior High Chess Tournament.  Sponsored by the ESSPA (Eastern Suburbs Special Programs Association), the event is held annually under the direction of junior high GATE coordinator, Mr. Joe Miller.  Mr. Brian Stevens, Oblock special education teacher, served as adjudicator, making sure that all matches were correctly scored and judged.  Sophomores Gionna Knauss and Cameron McCabe registered all the students this year.  Participating school districts were Woodland Hills, Steel Valley, McKeesport, Greensburg Salem, East Allegheny, and Plum.  Members of Oblock’s chess team were Nick Klonowski, Ryder Springel, Jonathan Hiener, Frank Czura, Matt Hartley, Jacob Taraosky, and Quinn Stezoski.  Plum also hosted the high school level tournament sponsored by ESSPA.


 AEO Celebrates Black History Month
To celebrate Black History Month, February’s book challenge was any book by an African American author. Any book in the Oblock library or that was on grade-level was acceptable.  The students who accepted this challenge were Tara Marcyjanik, Brianna Lentz, Sommer Lewis, Haley Lenhart,-Smith, Frank Czura, Ryder Springel, Alyssa Fleischman, Jacob George, Thomas Hyland, Christina Guerriero, Hannah Arrow, Dominic Alese, Marissa Beighley, Jacob Walko, Amanda Martin, and Eric Scherger.

Reading Hall of Fame
As of February 28, 195 students had achieved Reading Hall of Fame status, and another 181 are in the All-Star level working to reach the top.  These students scored over 126 points on AR tests to reach this achievement.  More than 196 students have already made it to the Varsity level, and 65 students in the Junior Varsity level.  The goal is to have all students at that level by the end of the year. Mr. Fishell is thrilled with the high number of students achieving such a prestigious level of reading.  Currently 637 students (out of 665) are in one of the windows; that’s 96% of the students at Oblock!

Another milestone was reached this month when a total of 18 students reached the impressive 300 point club.  Great job students!

 Professional Learning Communities

Dialogue and collaboration continue in all areas at Oblock Junior High as teachers meet in PLCs before and after school, during common open periods, in-service days, and even informally during their lunch periods.  PSSA preparation, 9th grade scheduling, and Moodle were the subjects of several February meetings.  The English/reading teachers met to develop open-ended questions, 4-Square open-ended questions, and other PSSA items to prepare their students for the March and April writing and reading tests.  They also discussed possible changes to the curriculum to line up the courses of study with the common core standards.  The seventh grade reading and math teachers discussed Study Island.  Those same seventh grade reading teachers also talked about AR results and success.  The eighth grade math teachers discussed PSSA preparation, sharing notes, aligning curriculum, and the Keystone quarterly assessments.  The librarian collaborated with the English teachers regarding valid websites for research and the appropriate methods of note taking, outlining, and citing information.  The science teachers adjusted their curriculum and content, and they also discussed on-going projects and lab technology.  The science teachers also worked with the technology department to create the STEM Club, where selected students will use Google Sketchup, a 3D printing of bird house, and traditional wood shop construction to implement the club and finish a task.  The social studies department discussed common exams, curriculum, and the Keystone Exams.  The foreign language department discussed putting together language questions in the same format as the PSSA tests to ensure more practice for the upcoming tests.  Across the curriculum parent phone calls, weekly failures, and changes in student handbook with regards to discipline were discussed.  Other PLC activity included obtaining and incorporating online PSSA prep materials into lesson plans, as well as scheduling the various levels of students into the appropriate classes for next year.  

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