Team Thomson News & Notes
March 27, 2017
Important Information for You!
This Monday and Wednesday, Kindergarten and Developmental Kindergarten teachers will participate in our third round of Data Days. I look forward to working with Megan and each of our PLCs as we prepare for the last marking period and ensuring that all students get exactly what they need in these last ten weeks of school (wow, only ten weeks). Please remember to come prepared for your PLC's Data Day with the most current data for your students, including: classroom data (running records, DRA if you have given it); STAR Data; any progress monitoring data from parapros, etc.
March is Reading Month-PTO Pals
As we enter the last week of March is Reading Month, please remind students to continue to track their reading minutes on the reading calendar. Additionally, you will want to add a quick note in your classroom newsletters reminding students/parents to return their reading month calendars when we return to school after spring break.
Also, don't forget that Monday is 'Read with a Stuffed Animal Day'. Students are allowed to bring a stuffed animal to school to read with today and hopefully special time will be set aside to do some extra reading with them or to them.
On Friday, March 31st, there will be 3 hours of professional development from 8:00-11:00 a.m. for our Thomson Staff. All teaching staff are required to be there and all support staff are invited. Our topic will be School Improvement. We will be evaluating our current plan and making tweaks where needed. The goal is that the bulk of school improvement work will be completed at the end of this day. In order to make the most of our time please plan to meet in the library ready to start at 8:00 a.m. on Friday.
Report Card Comments
It's report card time and each of you face the prospect of writing constructive, insightful, and original comments on a couple dozen report cards or more. A daunting task? Yes, it can be unless you look at it as writing a sincere letter to each parent as to how their child is doing in school. Is their child a student who is learning or a one who is struggling? Writing comments about a students progress in the classroom, while definitely a task, are important to a parent and help to build the home school relationship. Please take time this marking period to write comments about individual children rather than what was taught by you/learned by students this marking period. Unfortunately, - while easy, does not help the parent – they have read/seen the classroom newsletter and know that information; does not help the student—the parent does not know what they can do to help the student; and, it does not help the teacher, parent, and most importantly the student. Comments are to be on every students report card and reflect each of the academic areas thoughtfully.
Spring Break Energy Ed. Shut Down
I expect we will receive a reminder this week from Eric Chorley with a recap of instructions for shutting down equipment during Spring Break. However, it is important to remember all those radios, CD players, etc., are known as "vampire electronics" and they use energy even when not turned on. Please unplug all electrical items except your computers. Computers should be shut down but connections may stay connected. Thank you for doing your part to help our District preserve funds for needed purposes versus wasted energy costs.
Extreme Makeover Office Edition
As you have probably noticed, Jim as started removing the wall paper from the office walls in preparation for painting. Next Monday, April 3rd and Tuesday, April 4th at 8:30 a.m. will be 'Office Makeover Days'. I am so excited to work spruce up the office as the office is one of the first places all of our families visit and should be a welcoming not tired and worn out. If you will be home and are planning to join in the fun, please let me know.
Learning Targets: Differentiation through Instructional Planning
This week let's take a look at differentiating instructional planning. Specifically, let's look at the elements of instruction which include, content, process, product, and learning environment.
Content can be differentiated through several strategies including:
- Presentation of content through multiple examples, in different media and formats. Know your students' prior knowledge and interest and adapt the lesson learning target to an individual learning target.
- Highlight critical (to the learning target) features of the content.
- Use tiered methods so that students of different ability levels (with regard to the learning target) can interact with the content meaningfully.
Process: A key feature of a differentiated classroom is a pattern of whole-class, small-group, and individualized activities (Moss & Brookhart, 2012). One must pay attention to the learning target students are trying to achieve when planning these activities. Johnson & Johnson (2009) and Kagan (1989/1990) point out that just implementing different types of activities is not in itself differentiating instruction. Work must specify what each student should be accountable for learning. Strategies for differentiating through process include:
- Providing diverse examples of skilled performance (different ways to hit the learning target).
- Providing opportunities for students to practice with varying amounts of scaffolding.
- Provide descriptive feedback.
- View mistakes as opportunities for learning and giving feedback
- Have students keep track of their progress (Hattie's Effect Size).
Product: Wormeli (2006) cautions us to ensure learning targets are substantive and that we avoid "fluff" assignments. The learning target is the gauge we use to evaluate whether products actually help students accomplish and demonstrate the intended learning. Strategies to help differentiate instruction through product include:
- Keep all assignments substantive and related to the learning target.
- Use the learning target to evaluate whether the (differentiated) products actually all help students accomplish accomplish and demonstrate the intended learning.
- Use criterion-referenced evaluation for final products (i.e.; rubrics).
Learning Environment: Ames and Archer (1988) indicate that to create a strong classroom learning environment one must focus on helping all students access importance learning targets. Offering students choices in assignments fosters self-regulation and allows students to feel in charge of their own learning. However, you must take great care to make sure the choices are in line with the learning target. This will help students feel empowerment as learners. Strategies to keep in mind for differentiating through Learning Environment include:
- Offer choices in content, tools, and level of challenge (consistent with the learning target).
- Offer choices of rewards and other affirmations.
- Offer choices of work environment (consistent with the learning target).
- Attribute success to effort, and the reason for effort to learning something new.
Quotes Worth Reading
"Your smile is your logo, your personaility is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark."
"We rise by lifting other up."
"Don't complain about things that you're not willing to change."
Celebrations & Announcements
Happy Spring Break! I wish you all a wonderful week of whatever your body and soul needs and safe travels whether near or far. Enjoy!
Important Upcoming Dates:
- Monday, March 27th-Read with a Stuffed Animal Day; PTO Yankee Candle Fundraiser Kick-off; Data Day
- Tuesday, March 28th-Tornado Drill
- Wednesday, March 29th-Data Day
- Thursday, March 30th-$5 Jean Day to support the United Way
- Friday, March 31st-No School for Students, Teacher PD 8-11 a.m.
- Spring Break-April 3rd-7th
- Monday, April 10th-Report Card Grades must be entered by 4:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 11th-Report Card Printing
- Wednesday, April 12th-Staff Meeting, 7:35 a.m. (Agenda: Lesson Plans); Send Report Cards Home; Spring Walk-in Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Thursday, April 13th-Fire Drill
- Friday, April 14th-Good Friday, No School