CSRA Regional Education Service Agency

4683 Augusta Highway SE
Dearing, Georgia 30808
Fax 706-556-8891


January 2017

the Director's Corner

Gene Sullivan, Executive Director

Welcome to 2017!

While 2016 provided some frustrations for Georgia educators, it certainly provides a most interesting segway to 2017. Perhaps the two most impactful developments of 2016 were the adoption of ESSA by Congress and the defeat of the Opportunity School District amendment in the November elections and both will cast a significant shadow in 2017. The Georgia ESSA plan should roll out about the time for Winter GAEL and is in fact a significant part of the program on Monday, January 30. IF the Betsy DeVos' nomination for Secretary of Education goes through, it should provide an interesting lesson in the conflict of law and politics. Hold on to your seats on that one. Of significant interest is a report to Georgia ESSA committees from Dr. Richard Welsh, UGA professor. The next section of the Flyer provides the abstract of that report and the full report is available on the GAEL website.

The defeat of the OSD amendment may bring political retaliation and what form it takes is yet to be seen. The other important question is what the Governor's Education Reform Commission legislation will contain including the significant change in funding formula. Very few of the other recommendations formulated by the ERC have been discussed so we all shall await the Governor's State of the State speech to the General Assembly next week to learn what is on the agenda.

A major topic in each year's General Assembly is educational funding. Gone are the experienced leaders of the House Appropriations Education Subcommittee and it will be most interesting to see who takes Tom Dickson and Valerie Clark's roles. The Governor has expressed displeasure with school leaders that did not follow his 3% teacher pay raise directive but it was a snake in a box that made it difficult for system leaders in smaller systems to make ends meet. We do expect the elimination of the last of the austerity cuts (also known a formula reductions) that were imposed during the Perdue administration. At this point in the political warble it would be dangerous to hope for much more than the elimination of the austerity cut. You can bet it will be cast in a favorable political light for the Governor. The FY2016 budget included almost a $1.5 Billion increase for education but also included cost increases for health care and transportation that ate up $1.1 Billion of the increase. Watch how that spins this year!

2017 will also mark the installation of the new certification requirements that may present headaches until we adjust to the new procedures. And therein lies the clue for 2017-adjustment. We are all going to have to adjust to a lot of new ways and new ideas-lots of which we don't even know about yet-but you must know that they are coming. We must pledge to support one another and encourage one another through the coming days!

This article appeared in the GAEL Flyer January 4, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

Professional Learning Courses
Upcoming courses at CSRA RESA

  • January 17th - ABCs of Guided Reading and Lesson Planning 101
  • January 18th - SLDS Training
  • January 26th - Stock Market Game Advisor Training
  • February 3rd - Classroom Management Clinic
  • March 6th - Media Specialist PLC

    To register for courses, please click here.

the Teacher's Voice

Ms. Alecia Hilson
#motivation #studentsuccess
Math and Science
Middle School Teacher

Glascock County Consolidated School

My name is Alecia Hilson and I teach 8th grade math and science at Glascock County School. This is year 30 for me, and that means I have tried an endless list of tricks to have my students blow away the state test. What I have learned over the years is that what works is what engages students in learning. You can use any curriculum to teach, but you can only teach someone that is willing to learn. The idea is to get students to buy in. If students engage, they will learn. I am not the creator of new ideas, but I am very good at recognizing what works and borrowing good ideas from successful colleagues. If you have not realized it yet, your best resources for success are gleaned from fellow educators that have found a way to get students to work. This is where RESA can be very helpful. The RESA team is in the classrooms of successful teachers and exposed to the best teaching practices out there. Don’t forget to ask them for help when you need it. In this article, I am going to share a day in the life of my classroom and a few of the things I do throughout my day that help me get my students to actually engage and therefore learn.

Music, videos, interactive media…these are things that are a part of every day in the life of any 8th grader, and these are the things that I use to hook my students and get them to learn without realizing it. I begin each day with a visit to YouTube. Of course at this point, I am clicking a link in my lesson plan in Google Docs or pulling up this week’s entry from my class blog. I really enjoy organizing my year with a blog and I have kept one for several years. It is so convenient to put each week’s technology links, videos, and documents in a blog. The blog allows the students and the parents access to the materials. I encourage you to give it a try if you have not. My blog is on Weebly. It is free and user friendly. This year my school district began using Google Docs for lesson plans and I have not found the time to keep the blog updated as much as I would like. Google Docs does allow you to link your technology as well.

However you organize your plans, YouTube should be a frequent quest. I am always amazed at the endless free resources available to me on that site. When students enter my door for class, I try to have a tune playing. I will play some spoof of one of their favorites or some really catchy beat with lyrics that reinforce the underlying concept of my standard for the day. I choose songs that repeat simple lyrics so that the students will sing along and learn the basic ideas behind the standard, and I play the same song for several days as we study that concept. Then, I replay the songs when we review later in the year. When the students hear the song, they generally will recall the learning; Music is like memory Velcro, and who doesn’t like music? Make sure the students pay attention to the lyrics. Sing with them and leave printed copies of the lyrics on the desks.

Here are a few of the ones that really caught on and were favorites in math: The Singing y=mx+b project, Exponent song (cup song), and Gangnam Style Math (Transformation Style) Fun Learning Math . In science, we enjoyed: Heat Transfer Song (Hot to Cold) Mister C, The Energy Song – Mr. Edmonds, and States of Matter Rap. There are so many more. Spend some time searching YouTube, and you will be rewarded with interested and motivated students. The students will even begin to help me find songs to play. They will ask “What are we studying next? I want to pick the song!” Many of my former students stop me to say that they are still singing the songs and using them to get through classes.

The song plays while the students enter the classroom, settle down, and do the warm up problems. Next, we may watch a short video clip to introduce the specific skill being introduced for the day. Again, there is an endless variety. Keep them very short and very specific. Some of my favorites are: Slope Dude, Digital Storytelling /Math Tutorial Finding Slope, and any video by Tyler Tarvar such as Slope – Intercept Form y=mx+b.

After the video, some practice time with the content is required. Whenever possible, I will incorporate a web quest, internet tutorial or interactive game to reinforce or teach the concept. This is where the students use the laptops and not the Smartboard. Some of my favorite interactive sites are Algebra vs. Cockroaches, Shape Mods, Save the Zogs, Exploring Pitch and Volume, The Fuse Box Circuit Builder, and Build a molecule Phet. I usually create worksheets to go with the sites to guide students as they complete their practice. I recommend just doing a quick search or exploring the websites of other successful educators for ideas. It is extremely important to choose sites that teach the standards for your content. Networking is the best way to be successful in education. I have also had my students create digital portfolios and based on my students’ test scores they are very effective. Digital portfolios do require reliable technology and IT support.

Another thing I like about using technology in the classroom is it allows students to share what they have learned. Along with the old standbys like PowerPoint, Publisher and Moviemaker, students can create a cartoon at PowToon to explain how to solve an equation, use Sway to create an interactive presentation on solving systems of equations, or create an avatar at Voki to explain the 4 states of matter. These are just a few, but any variety of technologies that allows students to present their learning is a good investment of your time. Don’t forget to actually have the students present their projects. It takes time, but the student ownership and learning is worth it.

My students enjoy all of the technology I have mentioned thus far, but there is no doubt that I have the most excitement and participation on review day. Before I move to a new unit, we review with Kahoot. My students love Kahoot. The most asked question when students enter my door is “Are we doing Kahoot today?” When using Kahoot, I take advantage of the games already in the public domain. There are so many good games already put together. When trying to decide which games I want to use, I pay attention to the statistics offered by Kahoot. They show you the number of times a game has been played and the number of times it has been added to someone’s favorites. I use those numbers as a guide to help me identify some of the best games in the public database. If the class score drops below 70 percent, I would suggest that you have a student demonstrate and explain how to get the correct answer. Kahoot will also allow you to print a spread sheet of the student’s answers for the game. This can be used for individual remediation of weak skills. Kahoot is an assessment that students beg to take!

It is true that there are still a few tools from my 1980’s educator’s tool box that work. My students still love to cut, paste, color and roleplay, but I cannot imagine a day in my classroom without technology. I have always searched for real world, relevant, new cutting edge ways to get my students to engage and be excited about learning. With all of the new apps and technology tools flooding the internet, there is no way to be an expert with one before something new and exciting replaces it. Instead of letting that frustrate me, I have learned to embrace the excitement and just go for it. As educators, we have been given this means to engage our students. We cannot let the uneasy feeling of not having all of the answers stop us from using it. Get out there and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to learn with your students, they can show you how it works. The students are used to figuring out new media and they enjoy teaching you. What they do not realize is that in the process I also taught them the math. My email is ahilson@glascock.k12.ga.us. I do not know all of the answers, but I will do my best to help. Your students will think your teaching is “on point” when you pack it full of engaging technology. I enjoyed sharing my experiences and hope that something I have shared will help you and your students succeed.

Math Updates

CSRA RESA's Math Team hit the ground running to start the new year!

On January 2nd, two consultants conducted professional learning with K-8 Math teachers in McDuffie County. In addition, two consultants were in Jefferson County to kick off the second course of the K-5 Math Endorsement.

For our Math team, January holds an elementary MDC training in Swainsboro, substitute training at CSRA RESA, professional learning sessions in Warren and Glascock, as well as completing the K-5 Math Endorsement program proposal!

We are very excited about our K-5 Math Endorsement proposal! We will keep you informed about its progress.

submitted by Gin Sellers
Media Specialist PLC

March 6th, 2017

Tour and collaboration

with Susan Noland,
Mulberry Elementary School media specialist

Recipient of the
Judy Serritella Georgia
Exemplary Library Media Program 2016.

Please click here for more details and to register.
Spotlight on Literacy Lessons
Check out all the lesson plans on the
Literacy Library page at

Professional Learning Opportunity
“Knocking on Your Door”

Have you ever thought if only I could do some quality, independent, self-directed professional learning activities that really would guide me on HOW to improve ME as a teacher? Have you thought if only I could do my professional learning at a convenient time for ME and maybe even in my pajamas? If any of these thoughts have popped into your mind, you will really enjoy Georgia FIP: The Keys to Student Success. Making it even more convenient for you, FIP can be accessed through your SLDS platform. Once you are logged in to your district's platform such as Infinite Campus or PowerSchool, you can go to the SLDS platform, click the PD tab, then click the FIP link! Very quick and you don't have to remember another login!

What is FIP, you ask? The Division for Assessment and Accountability is proud to offer Formative Instructional Practices (FIP), a blended model of professional learning for Georgia educators. The courses are designed to assist Georgia educators in learning about formative instructional practices and, most importantly, how to use these strategies to improve teacher and student learning. A key expectation of FIP is that teachers develop the skills to guide students to take ownership of their own learning, a goal every teacher strives to reach.

Educators can participate in GA FIP independently, with a peer group, or through a district or school-wide professional learning community (PLC). Educators can earn course credit hours for completing online modules. And yes, this professional learning supports TKES standards, and your completion certificate can be loaded in your TKES platform!

So by now, you are asking how many modules must be completed. The answer is simple--as many as you want.

Sounds exciting, right? Progress at your own pace. You can even stop in the middle of a module and come back later. This professional learning opportunity is based on your needs and your time! You can learn more about the FIP initiative by going to GEORGIA FIP .

Take control of your time and your learning! Join the FIP community today!

Please contact Mary Stout or Laura Hooven at CSRA RESA if you need any assistance.

Building your own Personal Learning Community

I would like to share a few very current and reliable sources for you to build or continue to build your own personal learning network. These are webinar sources that I have participated in and individuals that I have followed for my own PLN as a teacher, media specialist and instructional technology specialist. Connecting with other educators expands our vision, opportunities, and understanding of how to successfully integrate technology in the learning environment.

submitted by Diane Griffin

Remember to use the SLDS platform
Student Data, Lexiles, Teacher Resources,
and GOFAR.

Have questions? Ask a RESA consultant for help!

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4683 Augusta Highway, Dearing, GA, 30808

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