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Curriculum Matters

December 2015 - Volume 1, Issue 1

A message from the Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment

As 2015 comes to a close, we thought it fitting to share a newsletter with you highlighting the many interesting things happening in our district.

We are in year one of implementing our Comprehensive Plan. The plan has two major goals around which our work is based. While the newsletter is not all inclusive, I hope it will serve to make you aware of the many ongoing projects in curriculum, instruction and assessment. We plan to publish a quarterly newsletter to keep you informed.

Looking forward to the many exciting endeavors that await us in the New Year!

My best wishes to you for a happy holiday season and a restful winter break!

Maryellen Brousseau

SASD Comprehensive Goal #1

Souderton Area School District will use emerging technologies to critically and creatively engage in research, communication, collaboration, and innovation to contribute to our ever-changing, interdependent world.

Google Boot Camp Training

The boot camps are being run by Rich Kiker from Kiker Learning, which is now 1 of 5 Google Education Partners for Professional Development in the world!


January 27 One Day without Certification
During this one-day hands on learning experience, participants will learn Google Drive and Classroom.
Participants: 40 MS/HS

April 26 and June 21 Two Days with Certification
During this two-day hands on learning experience, participants will learn the essentials of Google Apps for Education with a focus on the skills and techniques needed to complete the online exams to achieve “Google Educator” status. Participants will be able to take the exam and have it paid for by the district. Those who complete the exam will have first consideration for the next round of piloting 1:1.
Participants: 40 HS /MS

Link about the certification: https://edutrainingcenter.withgoogle.com/certification_level1

ROLE Reversal

With the intent of full 6-12 implementation of 1:1 computing in the 2017-18 school year, 19 teachers at Souderton Area High School are piloting 1:1. The book ROLE REVERSAL: Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom, by Mark Barnes, was purchased for all faculty members at Souderton Area High School, thanks to a grant from the Indian Valley Education Foundation.


The staff development in moving to 1:1 computing for students has not been focused on technology, but rather on how instruction needs to change to be more student-centered and inquiry-based to promote increased student engagement and learning. ROLE (Results Only Learning Environment) Reversal provides a very concrete structure with great examples of how teachers’ instruction can change to be more student-centered and inquiry-based. The book also clearly indicates with examples how technology in the hands of students makes such a structure even more engaging for students.


Through the work and reflection of the 19 piloteers, and from the feedback of all faculty members, Souderton Area High School has narrowed its focus on staff development to the three areas bulleted below.


  • Inquiry-based ROLE Reversal-type teaching is a great natural means of differentiating instruction.
  • Inquiry-based, ROLE Reversal-type teaching is intended as a TRIGGER for intrinsic motivation for ALL students, not as an added layer for teachers. Inquiry-based instruction can also LIBERATE already motivated students.
  • Technology can help decrease the time needed to give quality feedback.

"Teaching and Learning Today" K-12 Task Force

This task force is composed of teachers, administrators, technical staff, business partners, and parent representatives. Its purpose is to define the specific goals and strategies that will guide us for the next five years and help accomplish the mission of our Comprehensive Plan. Although there will be a strong technology component to the conversation this task force will really focus on what our classrooms should look like in the next five years. The following belief statements will guide this conversation.

We believe:

  • We believe in a learner-centered classroom, where teachers serve as instructional facilitators and pose questions that provoke discovery, investigation, and innovation.
  • We believe expanding our instructional repertoire supports student achievement.
  • We believe in reaching beyond the space and scope of the classroom to construct dynamic learning experiences.
  • We believe collaborative inquiry-based learning transforms school culture, learning experiences and individual student engagement to mirror an ever-changing, interdependent world.

"Technology In The Classroom"

Technology in The Classroom premiered on Tuesday, November 17th, with approximately 200 visitors, including parents, students, and community members. We are so grateful to the many teachers and students from throughout the district who took time to share how they use technology in their classrooms and presented expos and classroom sessions.
SASD Comprehensive Plan Goal #2

Souderton Area School District will ensure that barriers to student learning are addressed in order to provide opportunities for students to grow and achieve academically, socially, and emotionally.

AP Excellence

Souderton Area School District is on the AP Honor Roll Achievement! The AP Honor Roll consists of the 425 school districts in the U.S. and Canada that simultaneously achieved increases in access to Advanced Placement® courses for a broader number of students and also maintained or improved the rate at which their AP students earned scores of 3 or higher on an AP Exam. Reaching these goals indicates that our district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are ready for the opportunity of AP.

CDTs Classroom Diagnostic Tools

By the beginning of January all schools will have received 1/2 day training in how to interpret the CDT results and how those results can impact instruction. The second round of CDT testing is scheduled to take place in January. Building principals will decide how and when their building will participate in administering the CDTs.

Indian Valley Education Foundation

The Indian Valley Education Foundation's (IVEF) purpose is to raise significant resources through professional fundraising methods in order to continue to offer a world class education. We can no longer solely rely on sources of traditional funding - taxes, state & government aid. The paradigm of public school funding has shifted, and in order to survive this shift we must work together to ensure that all the children in the Souderton Area School District are provided with the resources and opportunities to succeed.

Use this link, http://www.indianvalleyef.org/index.html, to learn more about the IVEF.


Mini-grants will once again be offered through the Indian Valley Education Foundation. Now is the time to begin thinking of innovative grant proposals to submit to IVEF in the spring.

http://www.indianvalleyef.org/mini-grant-program.html

Emergent Literacy Series

Our Reading Recovery Teachers developed a series of five, half-day workshops for first grade teachers called The Emergent Literacy Series. These sessions are designed to develop better and stronger understandings of the reading and writing processes for our emergent readers. This is proving to be an exciting opportunity for outstanding learning, conversation and collegial sharing.

Everyday Math 4 - EM4

In response to requests from teachers, we are working with the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit to articulate the learning progression for the eligible content in EM4. This will help teachers in each grade level to differentiate instruction. More information will follow in the upcoming weeks.

Gifted support teachers have updated the math enrichment binders to align with EM4. District office will make copies and distribute them to building program leaders in the next few weeks.

Extended Day Kindergarten

For the first time ever, in each of our elementary schools, we have an Extended Day Kindergarten Program which provides an additional hour of instruction for identified at-risk students! Teachers are using eLessons aligned with the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) and Math Their Way to support the foundational skill development of our kindergartners.

Growth Mindset

Learning about Growth Mindset is the building goal at both Indian Crest and Indian Valley this year. Krista Rundell, from Thom Stecher and Associates, is working with the middle level teachers to examine the roles of expectations, language, and feedback in developing a growth mindset (for teachers and students).

Kindergarten Phonics

Kindergarten teachers at every building are piloting the Pinnell and Fountas Phonics Program. Teachers have generously shared their feedback and will participate in an evaluation of the program to be conducted in late spring. At that time consideration will be given to continuing the Pinnell and Fountas Phonics Program in grades 1 and 2.

Middle Level Instructional Leadership Team

A Middle Level Core Instructional Leadership Team formed at the beginning of the school year. The team is made up of newly appointed middle level core curriculum coordinators and administration. The team meets monthly to discuss curriculum, instruction, assessments and professional development.

Parent University

Beginning in January, the District will be launching Parent University as an extension of our Title I program in the elementary schools. Parent University will include a variety of opportunities for parents and community members to learn more about the academic topics covered in the Souderton Area School District curriculum. Parent University will feature content rich workshops led by district instructors and other leaders within our community. The goal for this year will be to host two district wide events. We will share specific information as soon as it is available.

PA Assessments

Keystone Testing Window:
  • Winter: January 6 - 20
  • Spring: May 16 - 27

PSSA Testing Window:
  • English Language Arts April 11-15, 2016 [Grades 3-8]
  • Mathematics April 18-22, 2016 [Grades 3-8]
  • Science April 25-29, 2016 [Grades 4 and 8]
  • Make-up May 2-6, 2016

Perception Surveys

In September a data team from each school gathered together to participate in a 2-day workshop led by Mr. Brad Geise from Education For the Future. This workshop was focused on collecting, analyzing and using data to help us grow. Part of this work focused around perceptions and how that data plays a large role in our school and district community. Mr. Geise provided our district with perception surveys that can be taken by staff, students and parents. Each school is deciding what extent they will be participating in collecting perception data. Information for each building will come from principals.

Progress Reports

The first trimester is behind us and the feedback on both the language and the technical aspects of the document will help inform future revisions. Thank you for your constructive feedback. We will be providing some resources at the January 27th In-service Day.

Project MAX

Both of our middle schools are participating in professional development and developing modified units of study through Project MAX. The purpose of Project MAX is to increase the capacity of Pennsylvania schools to provide all students, including those with complex instructional needs, with maximum access to general education curriculum and PA Core Standards.


Project MAX Mission Statement:

SASD believes in the presumed competency of all students, including children with complex instructional needs, to learn given the appropriate balance of support and challenge. We are preparing our students to communicate, think critically, collaborate, and be flexible for the global world beyond school. We demonstrate these beliefs by insuring:

  1. Access to the same high quality education as a student’s age appropriate peers replete with grade level content and academic standards.
  2. Maximized opportunities for all students including those with complex educational needs with access to appropriate grade level standards and eligible content
  3. Ongoing professional development for staff to develop the requisite skills.
  4. Collaboration between regular education, special education and related service staff members.
  5. Deployment of appropriate assistive technology.

Reading Curriculum Correlation Chart K-5

During the January 27th In-service afternoon, the CIA Team will be sharing a K-5 Reading Curriculum Correlation Chart that will provide teachers with a road-map linking the PA Core English/Language Arts Standards to the Reading Units of Study and the Essential Understandings from our SASD Curriculum and pointing toward Core Aligned Resources

SLOs

In the Spring we will need to review SLOs and prepare for the 2016-2017 school year requirement for a growth measure on all SLOs.

Special Education Audit

We are in the midst of a PDE Special Education audit. The first portion of the compliance monitoring, the Facilitated Self-Assessment (FSA), was completed 12/10/2015. The FSA included an Educational Benefits Review (EBR) for 10 students selected by the state. On or around 1/4/16, the district will receive a list of 60 students whose files may be reviewed by the auditors. Special education staff will then prepare those files for review. The auditors will be in in the district 1/11-1/14 to review files 10 files from the list of 60 and to interview district office staff, school staff, parents, and/or students. The special education department wishes to thank our district stakeholders for their help and support through this process.

WIDA ACCESS 2.0

Administration will begin January 26 and conclude on or before March 4.


Purpose and Use of ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

  • Helps students and families understand students’ current level of English language proficiency along the developmental continuum.
  • Serves as one of multiple measures used to determine whether students are prepared to exit English language support programs.
  • Generates information that assists in determining whether ELLs have attained the language proficiency needed to participate meaningfully in content area classrooms without program support.
  • Provides teachers with information they can subsequently use to enhance instruction and learning in programs for their English language learners.
  • Provides districts with information that will help them evaluate the effectiveness of their ESL/bilingual programs.

Links for You

Professional Development Calendar 2015-2016

Our next PD Day is January 27. All levels begin in the buildings with a Principal led focus. In the afternoon: Elementary - EdMenu @OR; Middle School - Department Meetings; High School - Department Meetings; Pupil Services - Department Meetings.

Ramsey Musallam: 3 rules to spark learning
Young Innovators Fair - January 2 - 3 [Expo in Oaks]

The mission is to inspire children in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math with mindblowing exhibits, hands-on attractions, and live entertainment. Over 50 attractions in 10 Innovation Worlds there will be many opportunities.

Beyond the Shine Series: 5 Parts

A series of posts that are dedicated to examining ways to use digital tools to engage students in real learning. In this particular post you will discover how careful examination of the standard is essential in technology integration.

Tech Integration, 1:1, & Student Learning: 3 Parts

A series devoted to student centered learning in the technology enhanced classroom. Five powerful ideas on facilitating student centered learning with technology and 16 sweet tools that are a must for that student centered classroom.

Katie Kennedy-Reilly

Contact Katie for questions and ideas related to curriculum and instruction. Additionally, ESL program questions should be directed to Katie.

Catherine Heller

Contact Catherine for questions and ideas related to Federal programs, grant writing, PA assessments, CDTs, PALS and other district assessments.

SASD Staff Developers

Carolyn Rosenberger

Contact Carolyn for questions and ideas related to new teacher induction and mentoring, ongoing coaching in instructional best practices with a focus on literacy, differentiated instruction and student engagement, Project MAX and supporting the implementation of K-8 curriculum.

Susan Van Saun

Contact Susan for questions and ideas related to new teacher induction and mentoring, ongoing coaching in instructional best practices with a focus on technology integration, differentiated instruction and inquiry based learning, 1:1 classroom pilot support, and supporting professional and instructional use of Google Apps for Education.