Instructional Edge

What's happening in the TLC program at WSR

We've got a new web address!!

The TLC program has a new web address, but we are still here to serve! Check it out.

You can still find all the good work from 15-16 and 16-17. Contact a coach with Questions

EDM4 Conference

Over the summer, a group of teachers and coaches went to Chicago to the Everyday Math Conference. The conference was an opportunity for teachers and coaches to learn more about the resources and tools that are available with the program. As our students continue to benefit from this curriculum our teachers are continually improving their understanding of the process and how they can best help students.
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The Buzz about Billy

The book Help for Billy has created quite a stir at WSR. Along with small groups across the district, 13 teachers at the high school chose to read the book, by Heather T. Forbes, meet as a book club to discuss the information, and then share their learning with others. The premise behind this challenge is connected to a quote by the author that says, “The stressed brain can’t learn”.

Kelli Wichman, Associate at Carey, says "Help for Billy helped me understand that every child learns differently than the next, for different reasons. I was given more “tools” for my “toolbox” to help each student I work with be successful. Definitely, a book that gives children a voice in the adult world to better understanding trauma and a child."

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Connections Matter

Be the Jackalope! How have you been doing in making connections with students and friends.

  • Put down your smartphone and spend 15 minutes non-electronic time with a child
  • Share a meal or cup of coffee with friends
  • Contact a friend to ask how they are doing
  • Offer an encouraging smile to a parent whose child is throwing a tantrum at the store
  • Play a rule-based game with a young child
  • Introduce yourself to someone you’ve seen before in your neighborhood but never said hi to
  • Connect with a young parent and make a plan to do something (shopping, take a walk, lunch)
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Genius Hour….Wading Through The Muck

Sometimes change is challenging. Sometimes making headway is difficult. Sometimes progress is messy. However, if it's good for our students then it's worth it.

So is the case with the W-SR Middle School Genius Hour program. As prevailing educational philosophy moves towards an emphasis on student-centered learning, schools across the state and the nation are developing ways to support their students to understand the role that THEY play in their own education - a term called learner Agency. Providing opportunities for students to make decisions about what, where and how they learn are key elements that allow students to develop Agency over their educational experience. The 2017-18 Genius Hour program at W-SR was constructed to provide a gradual transition of ownership of the learning, from teacher-centered to student-centered.

During the first trimester of the year, 7th and 8th grade students remained on team and experienced a variety of learning 'units' that were based on the interests and passions of the teachers at the middle school. Examples of these teacher interest-based 'units' ranged from homemade ice cream production to Yoga to learning how to play chess, and many more. The overall goal of trimester 1 is for the teachers and students on team to build strong relationships, while the teachers are able to model for their students what it looks like to drive learning through individual passions and interests.

Trimester 2 has been dubbed the "P3" trimester, with a focus on Projects, Problems and Passions. At different times during the trimester, students will be tasked with identifying service projects that could benefit from the learning that they do during Genius Hour. Students will also be asked to participate in problem-based learning, with the goal of developing solutions to the identified problems. Lastly, students will be provided support in an effort to identify what they are truly passionate about, with the goal of doing something personally meaningful with their passion learning during the 3rd trimester.

What do we call this type of 'learning'? What is the best way to 'structure' this experience for our students? What if this doesn't go exactly how we envision it? As you can probably tell, the answers to these questions (and many more) are not clearly laid out and defined. There is a bit of uneasiness with this type of process, but there is also an undeniable excitement and buzz created when students are given the opportunity to learn something simply for the sake of learning it - a buzz that makes wading through the muck of Genius Hour a bit easier and worth every effort.

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Genius Hour students proudly pose in front of the Gro-Hawk Garden, which was planned, funded, constructed and planted during the 2016-17 Genius Hour. The garden has carried over to 2017-18 as students have learned proper harvesting techniques and the producing of fresh vegetables, salsas, popcorn, gourds and herbs.
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BAM! My Year Two Has Begun...

Crystal Betts:

Year Two as an Instructional Coach has started off with a Bang! I couldn’t be more excited about the work that we have started this year with and how it supports our mission: Every Kid-Every Day, Supporting Teachers, Removing Barriers, Getting Better Together!

Zones of Regulation

Creating a trauma-informed classroom can be less taxing than it may seem. It doesn't have to be "one more thing." The first thing you can do to make your room more trauma-sensitive is giving students the opportunity to let you know how ready they are to learn. Students have a window of tolerance that varies in openness in correlation to impacts on the students outside world. The Zones of Regulation can very unobtrusively give you that measure without a lot of effort or drama.
With a simple indication, a student can tell you whether they are ready to learn or need a moment to regulate. Teaching students regulation techniques would be the next step, but that too can be as simple as modeling mindfulness activities or a conversation about stress. If you have questions about the Zones of Regulation, feel free to contact Kari Staack, Crystal Betts or Allison Rasmussen
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Graduate Course Offered to Teachers and Paraeducators

This is our second year offering a course to teachers and paraeducators in the Waverly-Shell Rock School District. This unique learning opportunity allows teachers and paras to earn 2 graduate or certificate renewal credits by taking the course, Refining Our Practice, which is a professional learning course offered by our district that coincides with the current professional learning taking place this year. Those who choose to take the course can dig deeper into areas of interest, new instructional practices, book clubs, and a host of other activities that represent the challenges teachers and paras encounter when working with students.

In the course, teachers choose to complete five “challenges” related to struggles or issues they face in the classroom, and then investigate solutions to those challenges. Choices for learning relate to specifically to math, science, social studies, language arts, teacher self-care, trauma-informed schools, specially designed instruction, and a host of other topics.

As an example, one of the challenges deals with students who come to school exhibiting behaviors that represent struggles with self-regulation and how it’s linked to handling stress. The challenge allows teachers and paraeducators the chance to look at the new science of toxic stress, how it relates to students and adults, and how it impacts thinking and learning.

Another example has a teacher learning about concept of physical literacy and how movement and learning work together to open up the learning part of the brain so students can achieve at a higher level.

Teachers also have the opportunity to design their own challenge in a “Personalized PD” format that allows for a focus on a topic of interest outside of the challenges offered. This year there are 52 teachers and one paraeducator taking this course.