Friday's Rewind

A look back, some time to reflect, and a look ahead...

Montrose Elementary School of Innovation

It is a very exciting time to be a part of Montrose Elementary (soon to be School of Innovation!) We had our first planning session for this transition on Wednesday evening and it went extremely well. Cassie, Angie, and I will be meeting in the near future to create a marketing brochure and will share this with you once it is completed. Moving forward we have lots more work to do as we look to develop new curriculum and learning experiences to support critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication skills, social media literacy, digital production, and more.

To clarify, our recognition as a school of Innovation is not the same as the STEAM grant proposal that I submitted for consideration. Should the STEAM grant be accepted in the future, we would then become a school of choice, busing provided for families, and additional financial support would be established that could allow for even more programming. You can find the minutes from our last meeting at our MES One-Stop Shop Site under the School of Innovation tab.

Also, Montrose Elementary School of Innovation will be the featured story in the next publication of the Insider. Thanks for all of your efforts that have made this day possible for our school!

Odds and Ends

  • Jen Cogan, Jen Olson, Lisa Kunde and I will be meeting in the coming weeks to look at options for a modified specialist schedule on assembly days that would shorten everyone's prep by a few minutes to ensure that everyone would get their prep on these days. This suggestion was discussed and approved within our BLT committee.
  • The suggestion of having recess before lunch was brought up as well. If you have interest in this and would like to work on the logistic of how we could do this at MES, please let Lisa Kunde or I know.
  • We have reached 5,000 MMM's and our students have earned a popcorn party. We will be doing this at 2:15 on Friday, Feb. 19th and parents from our PAC committee have volunteered to come in and get the popcorn distributed to classrooms. 4th grade will need to determine what time they would like to do this at as they have specials at 2:15.
  • We are in the very preliminary stages of staffing for 2016-17. I will update you when more information is available.
  • Our media time for 16-17 will be shifting its focus to infusing technology, google applications, innovation, digital media, and more. I have already talked to Linda about this transition and look for input from her and other staff members as we start to create new programming for our students.
  • Finding subs has been a challenge for BHM schools and other districts in the state. What we have found at MES is that when a sub is put in overnight, we typically are unable to fill that need. We are examining options to support this moving forward at the district level. Tricia and Title I staff are also not able to be used as subs in these situations due to funding issues associated with federal programming. This means that we may need to split classrooms and/or have staff cover during prep as needed when we are short.
  • Most students have paid their Field Trip/Supply/Planner fee for the year, but for those that have not, please help remind them to pay these before field trips occur. If you have a family that wants to "pay as they go" please add $2 per bus/student to your ticket price to get the total. For example, 4th grade is taking 3 buses to a twins game and the cost of a ticket is $10. The charge for this field trip would be $10 + $6 for buses = $16. The fee's are capped at $25 for the year as the school will cover any additional costs.

Do More with Less - Best Practices in Analyzing Student Work

We have made monumental growth in the use of data to drive the decisions that we make in our school. Our PST team analyzes student progress as we determine the effectiveness of interventions and supports, our PLC teams use this information to create intervention and small group supports, and as a whole we have become more comfortable with data-driven conversations.

The Collaborative Inquiry training experiences over the past 2 years have given us time to reflect on current practices. We identified a need to focus more on student work as a formative assessment and less on standardized and summative measures.

So how do we translate using student work into our daily practices? Let's say for example that we are on unit 5 in the math curriculum. Day 1 we teach our EnVisions lesson, assign independent work for students, collect it the next day, rinse and repeat. Sometimes we may even correct our assignments as a class and turn them in to the teacher with a score written on the top to be entered into the grade book. While this practice has been utilized for years to save time, it really defeats the purpose of why we really have students do independent work in the first place. The purpose of having our students do independent tasks is to use this information to provide them with specific feedback for improvement and to use as a guide to alter our own instructional practices to correct any misconceptions in student learning.

Before you give your next assignment to students, ask yourself - Am I going to analyze the work I am asking my students to do and/or provide opportunities for feedback/reflection? If the answer is no, you may be better off not assigning the task at all. A student's score on the assignment (12/20, 20/20, 9/20) is not important. What is important is the information gathered about what misconceptions/challenges students are having and our plan to address these areas in the coming days. Analyzing the work that students do allows us to pinpoint what our instruction needs to focus on. We can gain so much more from analyzing a few pieces of work each week than we can from simply collecting numerous assignments for the sole purpose of entering a grade into our grade books. Does this assignment really measure the skills that I am looking for? We want to be intentional about the work that we assign our students. If you plan to analyze the assignment, but the assignment isn't effective for measuring the skills your are looking for, then a new assignment is needed.

I look forward to future conversations surrounding homework, feedback, and how student work can guide/alter our instructional practices. Thanks for reflecting!