Nothing Says Kindness Like DONUTS!

Kindness is delicious! Thanks to Miss Sugg’s first grade class at Fishers Elementary School for writing about their Donut Kindness Project and sharing with HSE21 Shorts.

IMG_8520We are Miss Sugg’s class. This year we made it a class goal to serve in at least 3 different kindness projects this year. After watching videos and reading books on how to spread kindness, we brainstormed ways to show kindness in our community. Who deserves appreciation? What should we do for them? How can we make this happen? This is how The Donut Kindness Project got started!

After the class decision to begin spreading kindness to the community with donuts, Miss Sugg’s students got to work!

Dac9kg1VwAAPFJ0Students created a list of tasks that would need to be accomplished, and each student chose a job according to their interests and passion.  Students wrote persuasive letters to the principals (to seek permission for the project!), made parent invitations, contacted donut shops, and researched where, who and how they would serve.

DZARBoQXkAACaeM (1)With jobs completed and a plan in place, the class was ready to invite the principals into the classroom to share the project plan and ask for permission to make it happen! Students delivered letters to Square Donuts and Taylor’s Bakery (both within walking distance of the school) to ask for their partnership.

IMG_1822With the “Go-ahead” from our principals and help from the local bakeries, were off to our Kindness Walk! Our first stop was at Square Donuts to pick up our 4 boxes of donated donuts! During our walk we donated a box to the Fishers Police Department, the Fishers Fire Department, the Fishers Public Library, and to local construction workers! We ended our walk with a pit stop at Taylor’s Bakery to celebrate our hard work and success with some donut holes for our own!

Celebration Houses 1 – Connected Learning

IMG_8995This two-part story is a wonderful example of how great teachers foster deep and meaningful learning. As you read about the Celebration Houses project, notice how Indiana’s Academic Standards are addressed in ways that are inquiry-based, engaging, and authentic. Notice how student teams collaborate towards a final creative product. One more…Notice how technology was employed purposefully as a cognitive learning tool!

HSE21 Shorts asked fifth grade teachers Amber Hudson and Lisa Keaffaber, from Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High, to take us into their ‘teacher brains’ to explain how this learning experience connected content from across the curriculum. In our next post, we’ll examine ways in which this project fostered community connections both within the classroom and throughout our city.

Q: How did this project come about?

A: It all started when Amber said, “Hey, I heard about this gingerbread house idea, and I think we should try it.”  After brainstorming some ideas on how to incorporate it into our curriculum, standards, and our students’ interests, the Gingerbread Celebration House Project was born.

Students returned from Thanksgiving break to find the classrooms transformed. In place of desks were heaps of cardboard and cardboard boxes. Hanging around the rooms were 31 QR codes with pictures, and huge sheets of paper with thought-provoking questions.

Before students could experience the room, we read two picture books: one on being an American and one on faith.  Both books focused on the beautiful differences that are among us and seen in our celebrations of faith.  After experiencing the songs, dances, videos, and pictures of the various holidays via the QR codes and pictures, each student uploaded a video to FlipGrid explaining which celebrations they found most interesting. This is how we determined which student would construct which house.

IMG_9008Q: What were your goals for the project?

A: Our goals were to give students an awareness and appreciation of cultural celebrations from around the world that occur throughout the year AND to have them share their understanding with the people of Fishers.

Though many families in our district do celebrate Christmas, other important holidays are celebrated by families in our classroom and around the world that are also significant and special.

Q: How did the learning experience align with academic standards? 

In humanities class, social studies is incorporated into reading and writing. Through reading, students discovered both similarities and differences they had with other students’ traditions.  For example, light (as in candles and strands of lights) are a common feature in holidays for Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

Here is a sample of Indiana Academic Standards for humanities subjects that were addressed in this project:

Reading standards

  • Determine two or more main ideas of a text.
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more events, ideas, or concepts based on specific information in the text.
  • Combine information from several texts or digital sources on the same topic in order to demonstrate knowledge about the subject.
  • Determine the meaning of general academic and content-specific words and phrases in a nonfiction text relevant to a fifth grade topic or text.

Writing standards:

  •  Introduce a topic; organize sentences and paragraphs logically, using an organizational form that suits the topic.
  • Employ sufficient examples, facts, quotations, or other information from various sources and texts to give clear support for topics.
  • Connect ideas within and across categories using transition words (e.g., therefore, in addition).
  • Include text features (e.g., formatting, pictures, graphics) and multimedia when useful to aid comprehension.

In STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) class, math and science are interwoven for a more real world experience. Constructing and decorating the Celebration Houses became an authentic means through which students could practice STEM skills. Students used the engineering design process to develop a viable structure for their house; they then applied their skills to construct and decorate their houses.  Hands on.  The engagement was through the roof — literally!

Math standards:

  • Multiply multi-digit whole numbers fluently using a standard algorithmic approach.
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using models or drawings and strategies based on place value or the properties of operations.  Describe the strategy and explain the reasoning.
  • Solve real-world problems involving multiplication and division of whole numbers and decimals
  • Find the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths by modeling with unit squares of the appropriate unit fraction side lengths, and show that the area is the same as would be found by multiplying the side lengths.  Multiply fractional side lengths to find areas of rectangles, and represent fraction products as rectangular areas.

Enjoy the Celebration House photos below, and be on the lookout for Celebration Houses 2, as the Celebration Houses head out to the Fishers community!


Encouraging Leaders Through Literature

Amazing how a simple conversation between educators can spark a cross-curricular, global, enduring learning experience.  Thanks to Mrs. Kussy & Mrs. Robinson (3rd grade) from Brooks School Elementary for writing up this incredible HSE21 project to share with us, to Mrs. Patrick (BSE Media Specialist) for the video story, and to the many third graders who, through Wikispaces, are teaching the rest of us about some wonderful, insightful books!

It started as a simple collaboration between us and Mrs. Patrick and with a goal: get powerful diverse books into the hands of third graders and effectively use them to help students learn to identify a theme and support it with explicit text evidence. The books the students are reading are in the BSE Library’s collection of diverse literature which was purchased through the “Windows and Mirrors” grant — an HSE Foundation Grant that Mrs. Patrick received in 2015.

We began with three simple goals for our students. First, read and enjoy books with diversity. Second, identify the theme and support it with evidence. Third, share it beyond our classroom walls. Of course, Mrs. Patrick had a brilliant suggestion to create a class Wikispace website as the avenue to share these beautiful books and the student’s thinking and writing. Each class created its own Wiki to do just that. Students are united together in one space sharing their thoughts globally while reading diverse global texts. Students began the year sharing responses and reflections in a personal space, notebooks. Then they moved to sharing reflections via a classroom space, Seesaw. So a natural progression was to move to a global space for sharing, a Wikispace.

Weekly, students are self-selecting diverse books of interest to read and share their thinking. As they do this, they are able to add to other classmate’s posts to support their thinking with more evidence. Our next step is to have digital discussions about their affirmation or opposition to the same pieces of literature.

Throughout this entire process students have had to opportunity to discover that they are connected in some fashion with leaders of the past or present, and realistic fictional characters. Naturally, this had led us as teachers to discuss global issues being addressed through the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Along the way students are discovering leaders, real and fictional, representing cultures and diversity from all around the world and are in turn identifying these places on the world map. As we step back and analyze the work the students are involved in, it is addressing every content area and more. All of this work is “Encouraging Leaders Through Literature”.

Learn about many diverse books on our class Wikispaces!  

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.51.57 PM

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.50.14 PM

Let’s Talk About Hunger

HSE21 recognizes the value of giving students the opportunity to consider pressing global problems – world hunger, for example. In HSE Schools, issues like world hunger are confronted in manners that are age and developmentally appropriate. For high school seniors enrolled in AP Environmental Science, confronting world (and community) hunger recently meant participating in an in-school Oxfam Hunger Banquet.


Mrs. Safi, AP Environmental Science teacher at HSE High School, used resources provided by Oxfam to host the Hunger Banquet.  Each student drew the role of a specific character  – each character had a personal story. Students sat in groups based on their characters’ economic class; each economic class shared a typical meal. Mrs. Safi led discussion as her students (role-playing the Oxfam characters) shared the stories of their lives. Before class ended, discussion circled back around to the facts of hunger – both in the world and in our local community. From the many students whose meal consisted of only rice, to the two first world students who could choose from a smorgasbord of tasty options, the Banquet was an enlightening experience for all.




Note: The AP Environmental Science curriculum is written by the College Board and approved by individual states. A description of this highly applicable course is in the box to the left.






Student Voice and…Money!?!

This post comes to us from Kelly Hogan, second grade teacher at Durbin Elementary. It’s a great example of 21st century learning in action – Students were given voice and choice. They pooled their ideas and discussed options. They practiced creative decision planning. This ‘lesson’ was authentic and relevant – it’s never too early to learn to budget! #meaningfullearning

From Mrs. Hogan (3/25/16):

Our school’s student council planned a spirit day.  Students were allowed to wear their favorite college wear and bring a $1 donation.  Donations this month came right back to the classroom for supplies.  We raised $24 as a class.

I decided that the students should have a voice in what items were purchased.  Students started by creating a list of items that they were interested in purchasing with the money.  We then narrowed this list down by voting on which items we were most interested in.  Our list was down to 5 items at this time.  We then looked up a game we were interested in and learned that it would eat nearly all of our budget; they swiftly eliminated that from their list!  Groups of students took the remaining four items.  They “shopped” for the items online.  After some time they realized that shipping was going to eat a lot of their budget.  I shared that I was an Amazon Prime member and they determined that, even though their items may be a $1 or $2 more on Amazon,  the shipping costs elsewhere were more than that.  Each student group found an item to present to the class for purchasing.  Each student calculated the total cost of the 4 items.  They then determined the amount we needed to cut from our current wish list.  We were able to get our purchase to $0.21 under our budget!  They are INCREDIBLY excited for their purchases to arrive!

From Mrs. Hogan (3/28/16):


Our purchases have arrived!


Mechanical pencils for all!

Changing Lives Through Global Connections

MURCH1Brooks School Elementary connected educator Amy Murch has always been a pioneer when it comes to bringing the world to her classroom. Last year, Murch’s fourth graders participated in the Skype 50 State Challenge – racking up a total of 45 states and 5 countries! Through forums such as Skype Education and Twitter, Mrs. Murch and her students have taught Irish students about Genius Hour, celebrated creativity on International Dot Day, learned principles of flight from a NASA researcher, and written a blog post for world explorer Justin Miles. Night Zookeeper has become the class’ portal for writing enrichment; and this week, Murch’s fourth graders are gearing up for the Global Read Aloud, in which students from over sixty nations will connect through literature.

All that to say, by becoming a global connected educator herself, Mrs. Murch has developed quite an expertise in connecting her students — and is now helping other teachers learn to connect their classrooms as well. Don’t miss Amy’s new article on using Twitter in the classroom at

Then download the Murch-inspired Twitter for Educators Infographic (shown below) here:  Twitter+for+Beginners+PDF

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 6.11.50 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 6.12.08 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 6.12.23 PM




HSeLearning: We Love Cohort PD!

IMG_2789This year, one focus of professional development in our junior high buildings has been preparedness for next year’s one-to-one technology roll out. To be clear, teacher training in our district is never centered on technology as an end in itself, but on ways in which digital access serves as a powerful tool to extend, deepen, and personalize learning.

Today, HSE21 Shorts would like to introduce you to a PD model that has been successful and rewarding this year: the HSeLearning Cohort. Our inaugural HSeLearning Cohort has been a group of seventh and eighth grade teachers who are meeting this spring to expand their skill sets and prepare for change. The Cohort is composed of ten teachers from each of our District’s three junior high buildings (30 in all). Selected by their principals, these teachers cut across all subject areas but are united by their growth mindset and willingness to risk.

The HSeLearning Cohort has thus far completed three of four full days of learning together. Topics have ranged from district-supported software applications to social media to digital tools for formative assessment. Working in subject area teams, teachers have discovered portals fScreen Shot 2015-03-29 at 9.13.36 PMor rigorous and relevant digital content, and have explored their role as modelers of digital citizenship for this generation. With the help of Matt Miller (, the Cohort even dialogued with teacher in Argentina via Google Hangouts. Matt used this experience to help our teachers understand the potential global reach of our classrooms in the 21st century.

IMG_2792What has made the Cohort PD model enjoyable and successful? Many things: relevant, timely content that has emphasized practical classroom applications, time to design lessons and plan for next year, and, above all, relationship and connections. In coming back together each month this spring, HSeLearning Cohort teachers have had the opportunity to work together with others who teach the same academic content. They’ve built friendships. Though their buildings are miles apart (RJH to FJH to HJH = 12+ miles), HSE21 Shorts predicts that many of these teachers will continue to share ideas and collaborate–something that’s vital to highly effective teaching practice in today’s digital world.

 *Special thanks to CIESC for inspiration in the design of  the HSeLearning cohort model, and to the Indiana DOE’s Office of eLearning for professional learning grant funds.

HSE Schools Spoke Up!

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 9.11.57 PMEarlier in the year, HSE21 Shorts noted our district’s participation in SpeakUp, a national educational technology research study. Since 2003, the Speak Up National Research Project has provided “participating schools, districts and non-profit organizations with a suite of online surveys and reports to collect authentic feedback from students, educators and parents.” SpeakUp and its parent organization, Project Tomorrow, also summarize and share the national findings with education and policy leaders in Washington DC.

In the coming days, Shorts will be highlighting Hamilton Southeastern’s SpeakUp data. For today, we want to acknowledge the stellar participation and follow-through of our district buildings in this endeavor. The screenshot above is taken from the SpeakUp website. You’ll note that our district placed fifth in worldwide participation, and that our high schools were both top five individual schools. Quite an accomplishment–one that will give us important local data to drive decision-making in the area of educational technology!

Learning in Community: BSE Math & Science Night!

11021102_10206030606269406_1659028471392239613_nIt’s a powerful thing when an entire learning community comes together to promote exploration and discovery! This was exactly the case recently at Brooks School Elementary. BSE’s annual Math & Science Night has grown in several years from a few exhibits in the gym to an extensive, not-to-be-missed evening for teachers, students, and families.

Planned and sponsored by the BSE PTO, Math & Science Night is not a fundraiser, but  a community learning event-an opportunity for parents and children, teachers and students to explore math- and science-related exhibits together! The evening is structured as an open house, with tables set up all around the school hallways and gym. Exhibitors come from within and outside the school community; all provide fun and interactive learning experiences. This year, both the HSE Robotics club and FHS First Robotics teams brought robotics exhibits including robots driven with video game controllers (HSE) and a robot that throws a large ball (FHS).  Several FHS AP Biology students ran tables with exhibits as well. Kristin Patrick, BSE’s media specialist, spent the evening in the computer lab showing how technology-rich learning experiences happen in classrooms every day and answering any questions parents had.

BSEManthandScienceNightOutside presenters included Chemistry is a Blast! from Eli Lilly, Star Lab’s mobile planetarium, IUPUI Forensics, Indiana Astronomical Society, National Weather Service, Anderson University School of Nursing, Anderson University Engineering, Stryker surgical instruments, Purdue Entomology (hold live bugs!), Ball State Archaeology, Purdue Food Science, and others too numerous to mention!

When asked what made Math & Science Night such a powerful success, PTO Chair Amy Pollak responded, “It put math and science in such a fun, positive light. I even heard a little girl say, ‘I want to be a scientist when I grow up!’ Perfect.”

Modeling Positive Social Media Use With Twitter

In yesterday’s post, HSE21 Shorts highlighted ways elementary teachers are using Twitter to share classroom happenings with parents ‘in the moment’. Today we turn to high school, to see how teachers of our district’s teens are using this digital communication platform to their advantage as well. The biggest difference–instead of  a target audience of parents, high school teachers’ tweets are often aimed at the students themselves! With 59% of U.S. teens on Twitter (possibly more in the Fishers community), the social media mega-site is an excellent way for teachers to get their messages out.

What types of messages do teachers communicate through Twitter?

Some tweets contain study tips:
Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.42.19 PM

Some have links to assignment details: 
Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 10.01.04 PM

And many are just downright encouraging!
Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.38.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.37.36 PM

In an era in which oversharing and meanness can be rampant online, high school teachers are finding ways to model respectable and worthwhile social media use.

#digitalcitizenship #rolemodels

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 10.57.48 PM