The Curriculum Chronicle

Your Monthly dose of all things English: August Edition

Meet the New Gal

Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! I hope your summer was refreshing and you are reading this with a mind full of potential and excitement. Some of you may know me, others are new to our district or buildings. My name is Elizabeth Sheridan and I come to you after 8 years teaching English and Theatre at Des Moines Roosevelt High school. I am honored and so excited to begin this role serving you and your classrooms. I grew up in Urbandale, IA and received my Bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa. I am currently pursuing my master's in Administration through UNI as well. Go Panthers!

My kiddos, Adler (5) and Amelia (3) will both attend Cowles Montessori in DMPS this fall. Also pictured below is my first baby, an 8 year old Dachshund named Oscar. I love all things wiener dog and can spot one a mile away. My husband and I are active in the theatre community and love attending and participating in the rich performing arts offerings around the city. I am also an avid Cardinals baseball fan and love catching a game in St. Louis or just listening in on KXNO.

Mailing list (Everyone)

This e-mail, as you can probably tell, was sent to a VERY LARGE number of people. It was, in fact, sent to the 2017-2018 distribution lists I was provided for ELA teachers from HR. Please take a moment to look over the list. Find your name, and then look around close to it for your colleagues. If I missed someone (new teachers, teachers with new assignments, or just random omissions), please do two things:

1: Let me know so I can add them to the list for the future

2: Forward this e-mail on to them right now, so they can work through its contents as well

The list can and should include special education teachers who work with ELA curriculum, ELL teachers, and anyone else in the building who likes to be kept in the loop on secondary literacy issues.

August 22 Requests and Needs (Everyone)

With the exception of English III's previously scheduled textbook adoption session with McGraw Hill, no other groups will be called together in person on August 22. There are still tasks that I need from each BUILDING and each PLC. Please read your emails/newlsetters carefully as this is the most effective way to communicate with all of you at-a-distance. All other teachers should plan to use that morning to meet in PLC's to continue doing the great work of designing amazing and equitable learning opportunities for your students.

Please read through the following items that are flagged for relevancy in parentheses: i.e. (Everyone) (ELA 6, ELA 7) so you can skip to the sections that apply to you.

PLC Informational Survey & Equity Audit (Everyone)

In an effort to serve you better and gain greater insight into your needs and perspectives, I ask that your PLC use the time on 8/22 to complete the following survey and attached organizer. (return to me no later than 8/24)

The work we will do all year is centered around improving the experience for our students through equity and the texts we choose are a direct reflection of what we are seen to value. We reach our students through the texts and media we choose to put in front of them. Please consider carefully the viewpoints you include on both a large and small scale but record to the best of your ability your current plans.

This is not meant in an evaluative capacity, but to engage in dialogue about our current reality and shifts that may need to occur to provide more student voice in our classrooms. I appreciate your honesty and candor in moving our work forward. Please send these to me by the end of the day 8/24.

Novels (Everyone)

This is the major task for any time during your pre-service hours, and it will likely require meeting with your fellow ELA teachers to complete. I need ONE e-mail from each building about novel requests, so please designate ONE fortunate individual as the recorder and communicator for this task. I need that ONE person to send me a list containing the following information:

  1. Which novels your school plans to use in semester 1 (please indicate which grade level or course will be using the novel and which unit the novel will be supporting)
  2. Whether or not you already have this novel or you need me to get it for you (even if you already have the book, I like to know what you are teaching; it helps answer questions across the system when they arise)
  3. If you need me to provide the book, please indicate how many classroom sets you need. Classroom sets are purchased in sets of 40.

For example: Wonder, Grade 6, Unit 2, we already have 57 books in our possession


The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Grade 8, Unit 1, we need 3 classroom sets

Please include the author or edition so I am sure to order the correct novel. Nothing like getting 100 copies of the sci-fi novel The Invisible Man when you wanted a ground-breaking novel about civil rights.

Central to Our Vision:

Please keep in mind that novel selection is one of the most definitive ways that we can reflect cultural proficiency and meaningful representation in our ELA classrooms. When selecting your novels, make choices rooted both in the the standards you will be teaching and in the ability of our students to see themselves and their world reflected in the text. I want to bring as many novels into student's hands as possible. Keep in mind that texts like The Hate U Give will be wildly popular and while I would love to purchase one for every student grades 6-12, this is not feasible. There may need to be compromise in timing in order to share books most effectively.

I would love to have novel requests from all buildings by the end of the day August 22, but I understand it may take a few days for you to decide exactly what you want to use this year. Additionally, you should discuss your novel selections with your SIL, VP, or Principal to ensure that everyone is on the same page about texts in our classrooms. Once your list has been discussed by your team and given the green light by the appropriate administrator, please send it to me by the end of the day on Monday, August 27th. This is a very firm deadline, as we must make our novel purchases in bulk in order to get the best prices and stretch our dollars as far as possible!

District PLC Sign Up & Structure (Everyone)

You should be receiving information via Infinite Campus messenger on how to register for your district PLC this year. In ELA, we are offering 11 PLC choices: ELA6, ELA7, ELA8, Reading, English I, English II, English III, English IV, AP English, Journalism, and Central Academy English. With the exception of Academy English, all PLCs will be hosted at Lincoln High this year and will run from 2:45-3:45. Our first PLC is scheduled for September 19th at Lincoln High School. Room assignments and specific instructions will be coming from your PLC Facilitator through IC messenger.

Please sign up for your district PLC as soon as possible so you get all of the info!

Other District PLC days for your calendar:

Nov. 7

Jan. 23

Feb. 13

April 3

*Edit: ELL and SPED will have separate PLC's not under my control. Co-teachers or those of you who may fall into more than one category may choose where you feel you will get the most support.

Vocabulary Materials & Topic Assessments (Everyone)

As adopted by our Vocabulary task-force last Spring, a set of vocabulary materials from Prestwick House that focus on word families and roots. This adds a layer of consistency to our vocabulary instruction from 6-12 than we've had in recent years.

These resources lend themselves to routine inclusion into bell-ringers/closers, Wednesday Writing Workshops etc. and they are well paired with other activities many of you already do. Please look in your assessment folder for the scanned copy of the grade level book for reproducible. A link to the quizlet is found here.

The purpose of providing these resources is to see more consistent vocabulary instruction and assessment that can only grow from here. Feedback of their use is appreciated!

Other Topic Assessments: These did not all get completed prior to the change in responsibility so I am working to get these done in a timely fashion. Unit 1 will be done and uploaded by the end of the week. Disclaimer: These are a resource and should inform your instruction in the same way as any of your other assessments. They are meant to begin a dialogue between buildings about the effectiveness of instruction. Do not place more importance on them than is warranted.

Achieve 3000 (only Achieve 3000 users)

Boost accounts have been verified for Callanan, Harding, McCombs, Weeks, and Hiatt. The BOOST upgrade allows for better individualization and resources for teachers in specific skill instruction. Nicole Tennant will be in Des Moines September 11-13 for push-in support in those middle school classrooms. She will be available for individual questions and support in the afternoon of 9/12. This is a teacher-directed day but any Achieve user or administrator is welcome to visit with her at that time. Location TBD.

Other Achieve users still can see many improvements to lesson design this year and better coordination between literacy and social studies than in the past. Please use Achieve as a part of your already great instruction. There is so much it can do to support you.

I will be sending out separate Achieve messages regarding data needs and special features. Check your email if you are an Achieve user.

English III StudySync Training (English III only)

Kyle Nelson and his team with McGraw Hill will be providing targeted training on the online components of our new StudySync textbooks. Please bring your fully charged laptop to Roosevelt room 2000 at 8-12 on August 22. I will bring coffee.

I have sent a separate communication regrading this training. Check your email and be sure any ELL or SPED co-teachers or student teachers are invited and welcomed to this training.

MAP (grades 6-8)

MAP is an important tool and measure of our student's progress and acts as an entry point into conversations of literacy and reading habits with our young people. There will be no district required MAP training this year as we are hoping the program is well known enough to many in each building and support can be more targeted to those in need. If you or your building has questions regarding administering MAP, please contact me ASAP to arrange support prior to the testing window.

Dates for MAP testing are as follows:

6-8 MAP Reading

Sep 4 –Oct 1

Dec 3 – Jan 11

May 6 – May 17

MAP (grades 9-10)

MAP is an important tool and measure of our student's progress and acts as an entry point into conversations of literacy and reading habits with our young people. There will be no district required MAP training this year as we are hoping the program is well known enough to many in each building and support can be more targeted to those in need. If you or your building has questions regarding administering MAP, please contact me ASAP to arrange support prior to the testing window.

GOOD NEWS! Winter MAP is no longer required! I know you will all appreciate those extra days towards the end of the semester. The testing window will remain open for those of you who use MAP as a progress monitoring tool or have a strong desire to provide students more than one opportunity to demonstrate growth. Topic scores have been calculated out of the highest score and students with testing anxiety who may wish to have that additional opportunity are at your liberty to do so.

9-10 MAP Reading

Sep 4 – Oct 1

Dec 3 – Jan 11 (no longer required)

Apr 22 - May 17