North Side Paw Prints

Staff Newsletter

September 13, 2013

Volume 5, Issue 5

Mission Statement: "Maximize potential in all people every day"

Vision Statement: "To create a culture in which all children can learn lifelong skills to succeed"

Congratulations Cherri and Denise for Going the Extra Mile this Month!

Quote of the Week:

"Maybe the only thing better than teaching is learning." ~ Todd Whitaker

Weekly Reflection: Where Does Your Classroom Stand As A High-Performing Classroom?

32 Characteristics Of High-Performing Classrooms: Spotting The Holes In Your Teaching

Instructional design is the strategic creation of learning experiences through intentional planning, sequencing, and data-based revision of learning.

This process includes both the ways content is accessed, and the learning needs and objectives (and how they are determined) themselves.

This puts instructional strategies, literacy strategies, curriculum mapping, standards unpacking, assessment design, digital literacy, and a dozen other facets of education beneath its umbrella.

With that in mind, we’ve created the following 32 characteristics of higher-level instructional planning to help you spot the holes in your teaching.

Technology Integration

  1. Technology connects students with authentic content and communities
  2. Personalized learning experiences are achieved through a variety of mobile, game-based, or self-directed learning
  3. Technology creates learning opportunities impossible without it
  4. Technology is a means, not an end

Cognitive Demand

  1. Rigor is omnipresent, from bell ringers and quizzes to accountable talk and assessments
  2. Students generate original ideas from seemingly disparate sources of information
  3. Students consistently revisit ideas, thinking and general misconceptions (e.g., via digital portfolio)
  4. Thinking habits are valued over demonstrated “proficiency”

Lesson Planning

  1. Lesson planning templates serve student thinking, not district “non-negotiables”
  2. Bloom’s taxonomy (or related learning taxonomies) is/are used to move students from basic to complex thinking daily
  3. Data is applied immediately and meaningfully to revise planned instruction
  4. There is clear evidence of backwards design


  1. Transfer is required to prove mastery
  2. Data is easily extracted and visualized
  3. The academic standard and assessment form complement one another
  4. There is opportunity for students to demonstrate what they do know rather than simply succeed or fail in demonstrating what the assessment asks for

Curriculum Mapping

  1. Curriculum naturally absorbs and adapts to data sources
  2. Curriculum map is dynamic, changing in response to data and circumstance
  3. There is clear priority of academic standards (not all standards are created equal)
  4. There is clear evidence of the Gradual Release of Responsibility model

Learner Choice

  1. Student questioning–rather than the teacher’s–drives learning
  2. The ability for self-directed learning extends beyond the topical, to assessment forms, research sources, learning technology, topics, and essential questions
  3. Learning pathways can be self-directed by ambitious, supported, and/or resourceful students
  4. Students recognize and can articulate their own role in the learning process at any given time

Classroom Management

  1. Expectations are clear
  2. Discipline is a collective effort: peers, colleagues, administration, and family
  3. Fair doesn’t always mean equal
  4. “Behavior” starts with self-awareness and self-respect, which must be encouraged and modeled

Student Support

  1. Students have choice in demonstrating understanding
  2. There are exemplar models immediately accessible to students of all important work and activities
  3. Students are accountable to peers, families, organizations, and communities, not you
  4. Student literacy levels are meaningfully taken into account when planning instruction

Upcoming Dates


  • Sept. 16th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library, Vision Checks K,1st, 3rd and 5th beginning @ 12, SOM names to V by noon; grades due to office by 8:00
  • Sept. 16th - Sept. 20th - Book Fair 9-3 M-Th, 9-12:45 F
  • Sept. 17th - Constitution Day (It's a federal law to celebrate this holiday.); Progress reports sent home with students
  • Sept. 18th - Mobile Dentist; IRI and Mclass window closes
  • Sept. 19th - Grandparents Breakfast 7:00 - 8:00 am
  • Sept. 23rd - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library, Acuity Testing Window Opens for ELA and Math, Mclass Math window opens; Leadership Meeting 3:10
  • Sept. 24 - Picture Day
  • Sept. 25th - Fundraiser Kickoff
  • Sept. 27th - PD Day 1/2 Day
  • Sept. 30th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library


Oct. 2nd - 6th Grade to Biztown

Oct. 3rd - Staff Meeting In Library 3:10

Oct. 4th - Acuity Window Closes

Oct. 7th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library

Oct. 8th - PTO Meeting in Library 5:30

October 9th - Fundraiser Ends; Mclass Math Window Closes

Oct. 14th - School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library

October 17th - End of 1st Nine Weeks; 3rd Grade Focus on Health at South Side

October 18th - No School (Fall Break)

October 21-22nd - No School (Fall Break)

October 23rd - Parent/Teacher Conferences 3:00-7:30

October 24th - Parent/Teacher Conferences 3:00-6:00

October 28th -School begins at 8:30 Collaboration in Library; Leadership Meeting 3:10 in conference room

This Week's Case Conferences


Featured Video of the Week

"Readers are thinkers and kids need to understand if their not thinking they're not really reading." Kristina Smekens explains a strategy to help increase comprehension with your students called Reading Voice vs Thinking Voice.

Reading Voice v. Thinking Voice

Featured Instructional Strategy of the Week

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Technology Idea

Rethink the possibilities when using search sites:

It's no secret that there are many search sites to utilize when researching a topic. Finding the right one to meet your needs, however, is often a challenge. Students may encounter problems when searching because their spelling is incorrect or the information is above their reading level. Here are some of my favorite sites for helping students find pertinent, accurate, and safe information.


The Voice Search tool from Google is an excellent feature to utilize in the classroom. This add-on enables students to search by speaking, which is a great support for ELL, special needs students, and struggling spellers. TFor example, just click on the microphone and say "puppies" to search for pup-pies. If you specifically want pictures of Abraham Lincoln, say "Google imag-es Abraham Lincoln." Want to learn more about World War I? Say "Wikipedia World War One." For instructions on how to add Google Voice to your computer, click here. (NOTE: Use Google Chrome as your browser for this feature to work best.)

Another invaluable tip from Google is the ability to adjust the reading level when searching a desired topic. The extra 30 seconds required for refining your search can greatly improve the value of the content.


Thanks to KidRex, powered by Google, there is now a kid-friendly, safe search engine made specifically for children. Parents and teachers are encouraged to notify KidRex if there is a website that should be removed or monitored. Add the KidRex widget to your classroom website or blog for students to access easily.


Highly recommended by teachers and professors, the Gooru search engine provides millions of videos, interactive displays, digital textbooks, quizzes, and more on a variety of topics. Click here to learn how to explore the world of Gooru.


Oolone is a search engine that displays results in a visual format. Rather than getting a list of results with just links and brief summaries, Oolone gives you the entire webpage to preview before you click through. Watch this demonstration for a peek at how Oolone operates.

Character Counts Pillar of the Month

September: Responsibility