Wolcott's Weekly What's Up

Office of Teaching & Learning Week 3.8.2015

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Teaching and Learning Updates

CHANGE: Math Assessments Beginning Unit 4

In order to better communicate with parents we ask all staff to begin sending home all final math tests (the tests of which scores are entered into the online grade book). We believe having the actual final math assessment, in addition to the student's self-reflection sheet, will help parents understand what their child knows and doesn't know from the unit of study.


Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we continue to improve our math curriculum.

ELA Common Core

On Friday, March 6th administrators and teacher representatives from all six elementary schools began discussing how District 68 will move forward and more intensely address the implementation of the Common Core ELA standards.


A multi-step process has been developed in order to have new curriculum in place for next school year:


Step 1: Identify Student Outcomes

The new curriculum should be one that:

  1. Fosters a love of reading within each child.
  2. Provides students a wide variety of text to read at different levels of complexity.
  3. Develops academic vocabulary and language.
  4. Increases reading stamina.
  5. Engages students to read for purpose and ask questions about their reading.
  6. Develops the metacognitive skills necessary to develop students' reading comprehension.


Step 2: Identify Staff Needs In Order to Meet Student Outcomes

The new curriculum should be one that:

  1. Excites teachers in a way which allows them to share their passion about reading with students.
  2. Is laid out in a clear progression from grade to grade.
  3. Utilizes pre-assessment to drive instruction of the new standards.
  4. Uses post-assessment to determine Tier 2 intervention and enrichment.
  5. Provides clear targets for use with students.
  6. Assists the teacher in the explicit modeling of thinking skills.
  7. Provides teachers multiple opportunities to formatively assess students through the lesson/unit.
  8. Equips teachers with a rich tool box of materials to assist in lesson/unit design.


Step 3: Identify Resources

  • Four different companies presented materials to the District team on March 6th.
  • After the session, staff voted on the materials they felt met student needs.
  • Resources from two companies (Schoolwide Reading and National Geographic) were deemed worthy of more in-depth review by building and administrative representatives.
  • Additional samples of materials from these two companies have been requested in order to look at more formally.
  • Staff will be taking a close look over the next several weeks for alignment of these programs, as well as the Super Kids materials currently being piloted in several K-2 classrooms, to the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Calkins Units of Study, as well as current District 68 science and social studies curriculum.


Step 4: Purchase Curricular Resources

  • A decision on resource purchase will be made during early April in order for staff to have materials prior to leaving for summer vacation.


Step 5: Write the New Curriculum

  • The new curriculum will be written during the summer of 2015.
  • Pre/Post assessments, prioritized learning targets and pacing calendars will be developed.


Step 6: Provide Training on Utilization of the New Resources and Curriculum

  • New resource training and utilization opportunities with be made available to staff in June and in August. Those wanting to get a head start on familiarizing themselves with the new resources will have these opportunities. Others, not wanting to take advantage of summer opportunities, will receive training during late August and at the building level throughout the school year.


Step 7: Implement the New Curriculum

  • Support will be provided to teachers implementing the new curriculum during School Improvement Day sessions, Principal PLCs, Monday Meetings and individual coaching.


Step 8: Revise the New Curriculum

  • During the summer of 2016, we will make revisions to the curriculum based on needs identified during the first year of implementation.

STAR Custom Training

We have purchased STAR Custom form Renaissance Learning (RenLearn). STAR Custom allows us to develop assessments (pre, post, and formative) online in a secure testing environment. Students can take our tests by logging into STAR and receive immediate feedback.


A RenLearn specialist will be at the PDC on March 24 to train district staff. If you are interested in attending, please contact your building principal.

Summer Kagan Training: Plan Ahead Now

This summer we will be offering Kagan training in-district on August 3-6. The training will be divided into two parts, days 1 & 2 and days 3 & 4. Staff can sign up for all 4 days, day 1 & 2 only or, if they have already received day 1 & 2 training, just days 3 & 4. Internal University or training pay will be available for attendance.


An Internal University Registration Smore will be sent out next week with detailed information.


If you are interested in learning more about the Kagan workshops, please see http://www.kaganonline.com/workshops/host_a_workshop.php .

State Superintendent Koch Announces New KIDS Implementation Plan

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has been working with piloting school districts and education stakeholders to review, analyze and develop a strategy regarding implementation of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). The purpose of this initiative is to capture statewide data on the school readiness of kindergartners, a milestone toward college and career readiness. KIDS data is a tool for parents, districts, local communities and the state to develop responsive policies to support school readiness. The data can also be integrated into existing instruction, assessment and reporting systems to inform instruction and meet other local purposes. ISBE will partner with education partners this spring to raise awareness and provide support to local districts. The state will move toward collecting and reporting school readiness data for all kindergartners over the next three school years.

  • Year One: Awareness, Planning and Training (2015-16)

    • Raise awareness with parents, teachers and administrators

    • Begin planning with instructional teams to review existing assessments and reports and plan for training

    • Teacher, administrator and coach training

    • Districts may choose to begin partial implementation with some teachers

  • Year Two: Partial Implementation (2016-17)

    • Administration of the instrument utilizing flexibility options:

      • Using only a subset of core domains, reducing the number of measures

      • Implementing with a subset of students

    • Districts may choose to begin full implementation

  • Year Three: Full Implementation (2017-18)

    • Collecting and reporting school readiness data for all kindergartners

    • Training new teachers and supporting existing teachers

    • Allowing school districts to report school readiness data utilizing approved alternative kindergarten readiness assessments

The KIDS instrument is provided to the field as a developmentally appropriate school readiness instrument with no direct per-child cost. In response to feedback from school districts, ISBE will work with education stakeholders to explore additional school readiness instruments, including PARCC K-2 assessments, which meet state goals. This spring, ISBE will provide all school districts with a KIDS Implementation.

Leadership and Learning Resources

Overcoming Barriers to Instructional Leadership

In this article in Kappan, John D’Auria (Teachers21) discusses four obstacles that must be overcome if school-based administrators are to provide effective instructional leadership.

Undervaluing the importance of school climate and culture – “Similar to successful classroom teachers,” says D’Auria, “skillful leaders help educators learn from error, persist in the face of setbacks, listen carefully to the voices of fellow practitioners, understand that trust is foundational to learning, and engage in ongoing dialogue and conversations about problems of practice.”

Letting problems of the moment distract from the mission – “Issues that demand their attention constantly bombard leaders,” says D’Auria. “These issues can easily become black holes that absorb huge amounts of energy and time.” A boiler malfunction. A student bringing a weapon to school. An irate parent group. A controversial athletic event. Some principals are naturals at bouncing back from such events, but others need to develop that skillset.

Not paying attention to impact – “[B]est practices are only probabilities,” says D’Auria. Leaders need to continuously assess how initiatives are affecting teaching and learning and make adjustments if necessary. “Without this balance between action and results,” he says, “blame often substitutes for responsibility, and that keeps the organization from continually improving.”

Underestimating the importance of skillful practice – “Competence matters,” says D’Auria. “Skillful leaders now must be able to observe and analyze instruction, collect, examine, and mine data, run effective meetings, manage conflict, deepen collaborative skills in others, and influence organizational learning.” Many school leaders need support developing this wide range of skills.

D’Auria believes that four key elements interact to create improving and inspiring learning among teachers and students:

  • A reflective learning culture;

  • Strategic alignment to a common vision;

  • Continuous improvement informed by evidence-based adjustments;

  • Skillful practice.

    A number of other components are woven into those conditions:

  • A deep understanding of rigorous and relevant content;

  • A wide repertoire of effective teaching strategies;

  • Knowledge of how to develop and support high-functioning teams;

  • Vision and core values;

  • Shared responsibility;

  • A growth mindset;

  • Trust and listening;

  • Feedback and dialogue;

  • Resource optimization.

“Learn to Avoid or Overcome Leadership Obstacles” by John D’Auria in Phi Delta Kappan, February 2015 (Vol. 96, #5, p. 52-54), www.kappanmagazine.org; D’Auria can be reached at jdauria@teachers21.org.


This article courtesy of Kim Marshall

© Copyright 2015 Marshall Memo LLC

Principal To Do List

  • Assist with PARCC Testing
  • Send name of up to 2 staff to the STAR Custom Training on 3/24 at the PDC to Kim Superits by Friday, March 13th at 3:00 pm
  • Review Special Education Workload Plans
  • Celebrate the great learning going on within the walls of your school
  • Don't let the test stress get to you or your staff...it's only a test! PARCC does not measure ALL the great things going on in your building!!!!!

On the Radar

  • 3/16 Board of Education Meeting: Afterschool Programming Update
  • 3/17 District Admin Meeting
  • 3/19 The "Innovation Station" Classroom w/Gerry Varty @PDC (PRINCIPALS INVITED BUT NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND)
  • 3/20 Learning Space to Learning Vehicle: The Changing Role of The Library w/Gerry Varty @ PDC (PRINCIPALS INVITED BUT NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND)
  • 3/24 STAR Custom Training
  • 3/24 Principals Teaching & Learning Meeting
  • 3/24 RTI Committee
  • 3/27 End of Quarter
  • 3/30 SPRING BREAK!
  • 4/7 School Back in Session
  • 4/7 District Admin Meeting

Stay Strong and F.O.C.U.S.ed!

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