Archive for the ‘PPEA Teacher Highlights’ Category

2013 December Highlights

December 9, 2013



Middle School:


High School:  The high school student council under the leadership of Debbie Graven  and Student Council President Helena Miller are currently conducting a penny race to raise money for the tornado victims in Washington IL.  Pennies add to each class’s total and any other coin or bill deduct.  The winning class will win a PACE ice cream party. BUT if the four classes raise at least 3,000 dollars by the end of the fundraiser, student council will put on an all school movie day!


2013 October Teacher Highlights

November 11, 2013

Farmingdale:  Kindergarten had a fun farm day.  Teachers have aligned their farm theme and activities to the Common Core Standards.  Kindergarten students have also started rehearsals for the performance in Clayville in December.

PPMS:  Seventh grade students wrote tips for success for this school year in comp class.  Middle school students are also encouraged to read the Rebecca Caudill books this year.

PPHS:  Jenni Durbin has been using the Chromebooks in her classroom, and the kids LOVE them.  She said it has been so nice to be able to have access to the internet and to begin going “paperless.” They’ve been using Canvas (similar to the Blackboard program colleges use), and the kids have really seemed to enjoy it.  It’s nice to have access to the classroom from computers, ipads, cell phones, etc.  Any information they use in class is on Canvas, so students always have access to it from home.

Teacher Highlights August 2012

November 12, 2012

High School:

The English 431 dual credit class taught by Shannon Littleton is now  a “paperless” course. They are using a learning management system called Canvas so that students submit all their essays electronically (rather than submitting hard copies) and collaborate with each other in an online environment (utilizing peer reviews, online discussion boards, etc.). It not only saves valuable resources (paper and ink), but it prepares them for an increasingly wireless college and work environment.

Teacher Highlights September 2012

November 12, 2012


  • The new custodian, Jenny Green, is doing a great job.
  • The first grade classes will be participating in our annual First Grade/Sixth Grade Habitat Day on Thursday, October 11th. We will spend a good portion of the day exploring the habitat, identify various types of leaves and trees, and making leaf rubbings, natural bird feeders, and animal tracks. Each first grade student will be paired with a sixth grade student to accomplish the variety or activities.
  • The first grade will also be hosting Miss Carrie from the Dept. of Agriculture this month. She will be sharing a lesson with each class about pumpkins, providing a craft, and traditionally, a delicious pumpkin snack.

Middle School:

Pleasant Plains Middle School had a very successful book fair in September.  We participated in All for Books which is a program supported by Scholastic.  We raise money for a local cause and Scholastic will match our donation.  PPMS students raised $270 for the local Angel Tree program.

High School:

Junior English classes (Langley and Konkoleski) are collaborating with Mr. Piper’s Farmington High School junior English classes on a project analyzing Benjamin Franklin’s system of virtues found in his autobiography. Students will be analyzing the excerpt from the autobiography individually, following one of Franklin’s virtues for a 24 hour period and writing a reflection of their progress, selecting a virtue to analyze with their group of students (each group has six students representing each of the classrooms involved), and then producing a collaborative video of presenting their analyses of the virtue.

February 2012 Teacher Highlights

February 15, 2012


  1. Mrs. McGraw’s technology students are competing in the Blue Ribbon Challenge this month.  The Blue Ribbon Challenge encourages students to log on to Study Island and compete in a number of reading, math, and science related ISAT games answering questions to help them prepare for the upcoming tests.
  2. The first grade team met with the Rochester first grade teachers again at the end of January to discuss Common Core Standards and to continue working to align our curriculum with the new standards.  They shared ideas and resources in both reading and math and began the process of curriculum mapping.
  3. Mrs. Ballinger is having the students participate in Jump Rope for Heart.  During physical education classes, the students are engaging in fitness games that promote a hearty, healthy lifestyle.   Monies raised will be donated to the American Heart Association.

Middle School:

  1. Caitlin McGovern has published an article that talks about the importance of introducing music to everyone in a school, not just those in band.
  2. Deanne Guccione has several fifth and sixth grade students who are taking part in the middle school Book Club this year.
  3. Linda Gunia has had her students writing to two military pen pals.  Those gentlemen visited PPMS, and they presented the fifth grade students with a PowerPoint that showed them life on their American military base and their base overseas.
  4. Tammy Haerle is studying Japan with her seventh grade students.  They are creating 3-D salt-dough structures of the country.  They will also be visiting Osaka restaurant to experience Japanese food.

High School:

  1. Operation Teen Safe Driving, led by Jamie Naylor, did an excellent presentation on safe driving.  It was well done, and it seemed to have an emotional impact on the students.
  2. The Senior Transitions Class held a college “social.”  Students learned various aspects of surviving the freshman year of college.  Topics included things such as: the freshman 15, making healthy food choices, choosing a room-mate, and home-sickness.

August Teacher Highlights

September 29, 2010

Farmingdale:All teachers

Teachers have been incorporating projectors and document cameras into their lessons.  Anne McGrath has been using them for English review games, math, new concepts, and to project worksheets; Shelley Haddick has been using the projector to demonstrate in Google maps where the Mississippi river is in relation to Pleasant Plains for geography; Dawn Kearney has been using the document camera to project English worksheets and the projector for review games.

Middle school:  Liz Arnoltz

Liz Arnoltz’s 7th grade exploratory class has been learning choral reading and has been performing these readings for other classes.  The first round was in front of teachers.  Tone of voice and inflection were a focus.  Students stepped forward if there was a solo.  The works were ballad style poems that were memorized.

High School: Libby Jenkins: PBIS(Positive Behavior Intervention Supports)

The high school has rolled out the PBIS model this fall with an assembly on the first day.  The PBIS at the high school is headed by Libby Jenkins.  She has done an amazing job of leading the rest of the committee with enthusiasm.  So far the incentives have been a success and the students are using the vocabulary of Respect, Responsibility and Integrity.

May Teacher Highlights

May 24, 2010

High School – Andrew Stevenson:

Two weeks ago, Students of Project Lead the Way’s Introduction to Engineering class worked with Skype, telecommunication software, to complete a Virtual Team Design project.  A virtual team was made up of people that rely primarily or exclusively on electronic forms of communication to work together to accomplish a goal. This goal was to design a locker organizer that would save time and students’ lunches while still being stylish.  Students teamed up with Normal Community West High School students to accomplish this goal.  They split the task into several steps using the Engineering Design Process.  They used Skype to see and get to know their team members.  Each member of the team had a specific task and then used Skype or email to message back and forth information and files.  This allowed students to have an opportunity to use communication technology and further their design skills.

Farmingdale Elementary – Heather Greer

During multi-cultural week, Heather Greer’s fourth grade class Skyped a man in Australia who showed photos of daughter’s classroom, house, and road signs.  He also answered questions about cultural differences.

Middle School – Team 6 (Diane Bensko, Debbie Greene, TJ Fraase, and Carrie Risdon)

Approximately two weeks ago, Team 6 acquired 1850 census documents, estate inventories of Sangamon County residents from 1827-1863,  and research documents from the University of Illinois Springfield from research completed by Sangamon State University history majors from approximately 1970 to the early 1980’s.  Students took the census information and researched an occupation for that time period and wrote an essay about it.  The data from the estate inventories was placed on a graph where students compared inventories such as grain and livestock of IL innkeepers with Sangamon County innkeepers and Clayville innkeepers.

March Teacher Highlights

March 20, 2010

Elementary School (Mary Zaborac, Kristie Walters, Shelly Haddick, Heather Greer, and Karla Ealey):

The 4th grade teachers have been working with their students on the Rite of Passage project.  They start the project with career speakers.  Parents come in and share information about their careers with the 4th graders.  This year there was a nurse, orthopedic surgeon, attorney, computer programmer, cosmetologist, teacher/coach, and many more.  The students then began researching the career of their choice.  A web quest was designed by the 4th grade teachers that includes completing an interest inventory, researching the Occupational Outlook Handbook site and other informational sites, and creating their first resume.  The students are now finishing up the project with a written report.

Middle School (Taylor Frank, Luke Jason, Tami Haerle, Kate Ruggless, Liz Arnolts):

7th grade is about ready for their forensic science unit.  Taylor Frank’s dad, a forensic scientist for the Il State Police, is coming in to speak with the students.  They are also starting their Africa unit.  They are using “Google Earth” as a mapping tool.  At the same time, they are learning how to use some of the application within GE to learn more about/see these areas.

High School (Libby Jenkins):

Last week Libby taught a 2-side mixer circle dance to her Fitness class, and they loved it.  It’s called a two-side mixer.  They make a circle, and the kids dance.  As they dance, they rotate one and end up dancing with everyone in class. It includes a step-step slide, a do-se-do, and stomp kicks. They really have a good time, and it’s good cardio.  Libby can do a 10 sec. count at the end to see their training rate.  She would love to do a large group and have three circles going at once.  That would be awesome.

Also, they are doing their third Data Day in Fitness.  They do push-up, sit-ups, reaction time, lung capacity, target heart rate, body composition, blood pressure, body measurements, waist to hip ratio, and resting heart rate.  The kids enjoy this.  She does it once a quarter.

February Teacher Highlights

February 22, 2010

Farmingdale – Christine McGraw:

The students (3 & 4 grades) are having a Study Island contest.  They are all trying to earn blue ribbons through the study island program.  They can do this at home, and she has scheduled time for them to do it at school also.  The classes are competing against each other, as well as individual students.  The class with the most ribbons at the end of the month earn a reward, and then each student who completes the entire program earns special rewards.  This is a great way to get the students to use the program which is designed to improve standardized test scores.  By doing the contest, now she is not only motivating them to use it, but also giving them practice for the upcoming ISAT test.

Middle School – Diane Bensko:

PPMS Jr. Beta Club was well represented at this year’s State Beta Club convention held on Feb 1 & 2 at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.  76 members attended with Mrs. Bensko and other chaperones.  Highlights of the two day event were Sam Childress’s unsuccessful bid for state vice-president, Sam’s nomination skit placed 3rd, Maddie Lewis and Kaitlyn Finley’s vocal duet made the finals of the special talent competition, Joseph Livingston received a 1st for his woodworking, Tyler Lanterman placed 1st in the Science competition, Jenny Haley’s sculpture placed 2nd, Alena Ares placed 3rd at the spelling bee, and Riley McManus placed 3rd in the Social Studies competition.  Approximately 1300 middle school students from across the state attended this annual event.

High School – Jamie Naylor  (media specialist):

Collaboration is a key term for almost anything in this world… and she is trying to do her part.  Some collaboration efforts at this time include discussions with Gretchen Liefer in her Case Studies class (A5) regarding the copyright laws and internet safety topics, with Lauren Radliff in her American History classes regarding a Civil War journaling project, and with Jenni Durbin and D’Wayne Peterson in their American Cultures class regarding their Great Depression unit.  These units are great examples of student centered projects, and she’s happy that she has been invited to participate in these projects.  Her role in all of these units include locating appropriate resources, teaching database search strategies, and brainstorming with the teachers for the different aspects of the unit (process, resources, students’ product).  Collaboration discussions on the horizon also include Brian Conklin’s Physical Science classes in the science fair project unit as well as Krista Crossland’s 20th Century classes in their upcoming Civil Rights unit.

January Teacher Highlights

February 21, 2010

High School – Aaron Gilbreth

High School teacher Aaron Gilbreth was awarded an Agriculture Grant from the State to use for his classrooms. Mr. Gilbreth will purchase 25 netbooks and a wireless router for use in his classrooms to work towards “FFA Preparing for the Future.”

Middle School – Diane Bensko,Debbie Greene,TJ Fraase, and Carrie Risdon

Middle School 6th grade teachers held their own Festival of Trees in December and then chose the Animal Protective League and the Children’s Miracle Network as the charities to donate to.

Elementary School – Wendy Bonczyck, Julia Sprehe, Bonnie Humphrey, and Kelly Hegele

Kindergarten teachers are doing a two week unit on Paleontology.  Students are doing a dig with brownies as dirt and nuts as rocks.  Toy dinosaur skeletons will be hidden in the classroom sandboxes to simulate digs as well.