Wolcott's Weekly "What's Up"

Office of Teaching & Learning Update November 17, 2013

Quotes to Note

"Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways—operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes—makes you smarter. Or to put it a slightly different way, experiences where you're forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them—as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go—end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it."

  • Coyle,D. (2009) Talent Code: Greatness isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How. New York: Bantom Books.

The Talent Code

One of my favorite books is Daniel Coyle's, The Talent Code. The book is divided into three parts—deep practice, ignition, and master coaching—which correspond to the three basic elements of the talent code. Each element is useful on its own, but their convergence is the key to creating skill.


What I like about the book is the ability for us to correlate his work to all that we do in education. Whether it be learning to read, struggling through understanding math in a new way, or developing relationships with peers, it is never easy- but that is a good thing. Why? Because without struggle no new learning can occur! This is a message that we can't remind ourselves, our students, or our staff enough on our path to accomplishing the Academic Transformation Plan.


Coyle has several simple quick videos on his website (video link below) that can be shared with staff and students that reinforce his work, increase success and get us thinking about how we can best channel our efforts for maximized benefits.


PS. We have extra copies of The Talent Code in our office. Stop by and get a copy from Kim if you are interested.

Curriculum Writing

As we continue to write and enhance our curriculum, we have a number of dates scheduled below. Please feel free to attend any of the scheduled meetings.

  • November 19th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 21st 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • December 2nd 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS Exploratories, Art & PE)
  • December 3rd 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS Exploratories, Art & PE)
  • December 4th 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS, SS, Math & KDG)

Please Note: Staff attending full day curriculum writing will receive an e-invite from Kim.

PARCC Field Testing

On Friday, I sent out a memo regarding PARCC Field Testing this spring. Due to the fact the three week window for the Performance Based Assessment (PBA) falls during our spring break, we will be facing a little bit of a time constraint. Please do not worry! This is field testing, mean we want students to perform their best, but we can only do what we can do with want is in our control. There is no need for anyone to panic or worry. All will be fine.


Additionally, I have been in contact with the Assessment Office at ISBE regarding the impending waiver request to the Department of Education in Washington. The waiver would allow the following grades/students to be exempt from a portion of ISAT this spring:

  • Edgewood 3rd and 4th grade ELA
  • Meadowview 3rd and 6th grade Math
  • Sipley 5th grade ELA


It is not known what effect this may have, so please help staff avoid unnecessary speculation. We will know more in January.

PARCC States

There has been some question as to the number of states who have left PARCC. Collectively the states in PARCC educate about 22 million students. The PARCC states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

Principal To Do List

  • Daily "2x4" Conversations: Spend 2 minutes with 4 staff members each day talking and thanking them for their hard work and struggle ensuring student success in the district.

And, Thank You!

And I thank all of you for your hard work and struggle implementing our Academic Transformation Plan and for doing the little things you do each day to make each child's day a little brighter.

I think the challenge for us as administrators, at times, is the constant attack on why we are doing what we are doing, because it sure would be easier to stick with the status quo. But we can't! We owe it to our students, their parents and our country.

Stay Strong & FOCUSed!