Please take the time to read the short message from our SEL folks. The topic is empathy and teenagers. This week we also have two teacher features. We hope you enjoy the article on empathy and the features about two of our finest.
Have a fabulous weekend as we conclude the month of March.
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
The Lesson Scenario:
Charlie Brown and Lucy were going to play a game of monopoly. Both of them wanted to be the banker. Lucy decided that the fairest way was to spin a spinner and whomever’s name the spinner landed on - that person would be the banker. Lucy spun a spinner and declared - “It landed on me. I am the banker” Once they started playing, Charlie Brown got suspicious - he thought Lucy may have cheated! He wondered if the spinner she used really gave each of them a 50% chance of winning...
Mrs. Ringwood and Mrs. Chong used this scenario to teach the various factors that can influence the power of a statistical test (effect size, sample size, alpha level). Each group of students was given a mystery spinner and divided into 4 roles:
As an extension some groups tried to use their data to predict the true probability that their spinner had of landing on Lucy’s name. Each spinner tested by students was different - see pictures.
Mrs. Ringwood and Mrs. Chong used this experience to review and reinforce the concept of a Type 1 and Type 2 error. In this scenario a Type 1 error would be if Charlie Brown concluded that Lucy cheated, but she really didn’t cheat. A Type 2 error would be if Charlie Brown concluded that Lucy did not cheat when she really did cheat.
In this simple and engaging activity Mrs. Ringwood and Mrs. Chong were able to teach some of the foundational concepts of a significance test. In a quick glance around the room one could see students laughing, collaborating and communicating with their peers. Students were discussing when enough data was truly enough to make an accurate prediction, and the nuanced difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 error. Students were actively engaged and applying their statistical knowledge.
Westlake is truly blessed to have teacher collaborators like Mrs. Ringwood and Mrs. Chong that build rich learning experiences for our students.
Mrs. Ringwood and Mrs. Chong’s dedication to create a rich and engaging statistics program is truly evident in the interests students take in the program.
Starting next year Westlake will launch a new course, developed by Mrs. Ringwood, called Beyond AP Statistics. This course is for students who have completed Advanced Placement statistics, and still have a passion to learn more about stats! Students will design and implement their own studies while applying more advanced statistical techniques such as ANOVA, multiple regression analysis and non-parametric tests. They will also learn how to use the statistics computing platform R, which is growing in popularity on college campuses.
One of the most rewarding aspects of serving at Westlake High School is being able to attend all the events, games, concerts, plays, and banquets that we offer as a campus. Our calendar of events is packed with opportunities for our students, directors, and coaches to showcase the work and the final product of their labor. Our calendar, compared to most 6A high schools, is very full! This allows the administrative team to observe so many of our students and staff excelling in their chosen areas of interest.
As a former coach on our campus, you can have a very small view of the large amount of activities that are happening. You only experience your games and meets while not having the larger view of this wonderful campus. As a parent, one begins to have a similar view as they may only attend events that their children are performing or playing in - this is quite normal and is simply human nature. I had a few events that helped to change my perspective as a teacher/coach here. Once, I had an offensive lineman inform me that he would be missing three days of practice to attend Live Oak as a teen teacher. He told me that he understood that he may not get to start that week on Friday night, but said that the Live Oak program for our 5th graders was very meaningful to him. As I became an administrator and watched our teen teachers who were involved with Live Oak, Pedernales and Harambe, I realized that many of our programs impact our students greatly. After coaching football for many years on Friday nights, I had the opportunity to watch Kerry Taylor and his staff with our band kids on Friday nights and in competition. I immediately had a new perspective on how hard our band students work, and the joy this activity brings to our students. Kerry and I quickly became good friends which would have never happened unless I had stepped outside of my normal circle.
So the moral of the story is that maybe we all should attend activities that our kids are not directly involved with. The challenge is for our parents and staff to attend at least one activity/event this spring to gain a new perspective. There is a great opportunity this Friday evening as our varsity girls and boys soccer teams have their opening round playoff games here in a double-header. Baseball will be playing Lake Travis here at home as well. Please check our events schedule on our home page for all of the events. One positive aspect of taking this challenge may be getting to see parents that you may not have seen in a while due to different schedules. It’s a nice chance to get caught up with old friends while they are watching their kids. As I attend so many events, a frequent conversation with parents is that this is the first time they attended this event and how overwhelming of a positive experience it was. Take some extra time to support all of our students and staff - it will be a worthwhile experience.
It’s always a great day to be a Chaparral!
As I was pondering my reflection for the week, our long-time, incredible English teacher and Department Chair, Becky Stucky, came into my office. I asked what would be a nice topic for a reflection this week. In the words of Becky Stucky, “Hasta la vista, for a week!” While all of our spring break plans change as we get older , the sentiment of enjoying a week off is very thrilling. For whatever reason this year, the beginning of this break, and the need for this break, just seems more exciting and valued. And on a more more important note, the reply I have received from our students and staff has been more about spending time with family and friends than mentioning any destinations.
To place even more emphasis on the importance of friends and family, our community continues to rally around any event in our community where we need to take care of each other. In any crisis, I will always hear from a parent, student, teacher, or staff member, that they are amazed by the love of this community. This is the Westlake we all appreciate!
We hope you enjoy the break. Relax. Take a break from any screens for at least a 12 hour stretch (this is a challenge that has been brought to me by my daughters). Hug on your loved ones. Be safe. Make good decisions. And remember, we are all modeling behaviors for someone who sees us as a major influence. Make some lifetime memories - you may never know what event will become a special family memory. I am including a picture of palm trees because this has become one of our family's favorite lines and memories. I love a great palm tree, love the beach, and beach towns all over the world. When I may not be in the best of moods, my girls will quickly say “maybe daddy needs to find a good palm tree.” Find your palm tree this break!
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
If you have noticed that your child is a little tired, this is a very normal part of a school cycle. If you child is really tired, this is a normal part of the high school cycle. If you are tired as a parent or teacher, this is perfectly normal for this time of year. The week before the final week of the third quarter is sometimes the week where the fatigue of a long quarter with only a few three day weekends shows up. This year, our third quarter had an increased numbers of students with the flu, respiratory infections, and a vicious cedar season. We have also had the warmest February based on the number of days over 80 degrees which only increases our desire for the upcoming Spring Break holiday. Magically; however, our whole community will get the ol’ “more pep in our step” as we head towards a week off, which also signals a mere 10 weeks left in the school year. When I was visiting with parents before our last PTO meeting, I mentioned the amount of days left before the end of the year. Some parents were excited, some were aghast, and some got a little teary eyed as they thought about the time left cruising along with their kid. We will have a mere forty-seven days of school left when we return from Spring Break.
This week, we had the opportunity to receive a message from Margaret Dunlap from Stanford’s based Challenge Success program. Mrs. Dunlap led our staff through a message and activities during our early release time. Mrs. Dunlap gave a presentation to our parents and community that same evening. We were thrilled to see over two hundred parents and students in attendance. With all the activities going on that evening, this was a rather large crowd of high school, middle school, and even elementary parents. There were two very interesting items/ideas that Mrs. Dunlap questioned or provided to both groups. The first reflective question was, “What do parents want the most for their children?” The research overwhelming reports that happiness is the number one thing parents want for their children. The interesting question that arises is: what is the “happiness” that they see for their kids - and that is where things become very personalized. Answers vary and folks become very entrenched on what happiness really means. This question of happiness may fit into the conversation of “what is success” that I mentioned a few weeks ago.
The second piece of information that she shared was a fact. Our high school students spend an average of 9 hours a day on a device. A device was defined as anything that has a screen and can be turned on and off. This would include phones, laptops, tablets, CPUs, and even television. Nine hours is a huge amount of time that kids are spending on devices at home, in school, in cars, and simply everywhere. The use of devices is influenced by two major groups for teenagers who include peers and parents. Teenagers report that habits involving media and devices are first modeled by their parents and this serves as the foundation for acceptable use. This part of the presentation seemed to be a very thought provoking message as parents began to think about their own habits surrounding devices and screen time. Questions are great for consistently thinking about the process of parenting, for we all know all kids are different and situations are very unique. Keep on parenting and enjoying this amazing journey with your kids because 649 of our students will be graduating very soon.
It's always a great day to be a Chaparral!
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections