CIES Wednesday Envelope

for Elementary Staff--January 28, 2015

In This Issue:

  • Parent Guides Now Available on the District Website
  • Making Sense of Words That Don't Work
  • Rumor Busters for Balanced Literacy Walk-Throughs
  • Reminder to Register for February 2nd System Staff Development
  • Frequently Asked Questions about DIBELS

  • Managing Letter Cards for Phonics

Parent Guides Available on the District Website

The hard work of our summer writing teams is now complete! Thanks to the hard work of our Publishing Department, they are beautiful and available on the District website for parents to view. Direct parents to the Student + Families tab/Curriculum Guides.


If you choose to print these guides, you will find a printable version linked on your grade level's page on the CIES site.


Thanks to the following teachers whose hard work on the summer writing team resulted in a much needed product: Holly Brunson, Jessica Carr, Janna Cuevas, Stephanie Hanson, Melissa Sanchez, Chrissy Thompson, Michelle Thyren, and Melissa Uecker.


And thanks to Desiree Roush in Publications who made the brochures look amazing!

Making Sense of Words That Don't - Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D.

“Students find it so refreshing when they learn that English is not crazy, and when they have the tools they need to do word investigations.” Read more of this article from Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D. in Edutopia.
Making sense of spelling - Gina Cooke

Rumor Busters for Balanced Literacy Walk-Throughs

  • Your site's walk through data is only visible to your Principal, Assistant Principal, Lit. Coach, SDAS, Curriculum Coordinator and Assistant Superintendents...NOT to other sites.
  • Walk through classrooms are selected randomly, based on scheduling and availability.
  • The goal is to conduct walk throughs in every classroom several times this year to ensure successful implementation of Balanced Literacy and Benchmark Literacy materials.
  • During the 2014-15 school year, SDAS walk throughs will focus on Interactive Read Aloud and Mini Lesson.

Remember to Register for February 2nd System Staff Development

Register in Keep Certified to ensure you receive your Continuing Ed clock hours.

Click here to see your options.

Frequently Asked Questions about DIBELS

Q: Why are the sixth grade benchmark goals lower than the fifth grade goals?

A: The difficulty level of the passages used by grade, so composite scores and benchmark goals can't be directly compared across grades. The difficulty level of the passages increases by grade in a roughly linear fashion. However, student performance increases in a curve, with the most growth occurring in the earlier grades, and slower growth in the upper grades. Between fifth and sixth grade, the difficulty level of the materials increases at a faster rate than student performance, so benchmark goals are lower in sixth grade than in fifth.


Q: The font used for the LNF and NWF student materials is one that many young children are unfamiliar with and it seems like it may affect their scores. What are your reasons for choosing this font?

A: The font used for DIBELS 6th Edition student materials is Times New Roman, the most common font used for print materials. The benchmark goals were developed using the same materials that are now used for assessment, so should take into consideration any challenges that students have with the font. Note that for DIBELS Next we have chosen to used a different font, Report School, which was specifically developed for early literacy instruction.

Managing Letter Cards

Looking for ideas to manage letter cards for phonics instruction? Here are some ways teachers around the district are making it work!


  • Kids use "Morning Work" time on Monday to cut the letter they need for the week, then put them in an envelope in their desk.
  • Cut laminated index cards in half and store them in a basket for each desk grouping along with whiteboard markers. Kids write the letters on the cards they need for the day and wipe them clean when done.
  • Modify the Work Mat by typing the letters kids need for the activity at the bottom of the page. Then they can cut them out and use them.
  • Lay out letters on the counter of your room and have kids pick them up when they come in the classroom.
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