Instructional Edge

January 2018

Reading Library

Carey Elementary's Trauma Sensitive Schools

Carey Elementary has been piloting concepts of a trauma-sensitive school this year. The school has implemented Zones of Regulation, Calm-Down Corners/Fill Up Stations, and Morning Meetings.

  • Zones of Regulation: a curriculum to foster self-regulation and emotional control
  • Calm-Down Corners/Fill Up Stations: a place for students to self-regulate
  • Morning Meetings: a daily class meeting for students to interact, develop social skills, and promote positive classroom culture

Carey provided information for families through their monthly newsletter about these different components. Teachers participated in building meeting discussions to reflect upon implementing these features in their classrooms. The building has also been collecting data about the implementation.

On January 15 Carey’s trauma-sensitive leadership team presented to the elementary teachers. The Carey teachers shared testimonials about how they started their implementation and tips they have discovered along the way.

A variety of teachers throughout the district have been implementing these components of a trauma-sensitive classroom. The teachers were grateful for Carey teachers sharing their ‘real-world’ experiences. It helped teachers feel validated in their attempts and hopeful of trying some new things in the classroom.

Thank You to the teachers that presented to their peers!

The Joybots are HERE!!

So what are these Joybots all about?

West Cedar Students and Teachers were treated with a special message from the creator of #botjoy, Artist Gary Hirsch. All were gifted with 2 joy bots, one to keep and one to give. If you'd like more information contact Allison Rasmussen, Stacy Carignan or Jess Heying.
Joybot kick off 2 75

Learning Management Systems

Do you use a learning management system (LMS)? W-SR teachers use Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology, and Naiku to assign and manage assessments, survey students, make announcements, and support discussions. Infinite Campus is better known as a school information system, but it has steadily growing its LMS tools. Most of these systems can now integrate with Infinite Campus, so assessments can be directly imported into Infinite Campus.

This integration may come at a price. Infinite Campus has introduced a module called Campus Learning that some teachers may have tried for free this year. There will be a cost to continue it next year, but some may find the value in using it. It does have many good features of an LMS, and it can integrate with many of the other ones too.

A question that I hear frequently is "Why do we use so many systems?" The first response that comes to my mind is that teachers have found what works for their own classes and have developed curriculum around those systems. Switching to another system could be a significant challenge. Also each system seems to have some particular advantages. From my own experience, I find that Classroom works very well with Google Drive and on Chromebooks. Canvas allows me to design a very wide variety of question types such as matching, essay, file uploads, and fill-in-the-blank. Canvas also allows me to write complex math equations.

The disadvantages of using several LMS programs are on the other end. Students need to learn multiple systems. If parents are trying to watch student progress, they need to know which teachers are using which systems. Teachers may need to transcribe grades from the LMS to Infinite Campus. Sharing content between teachers can be an issue too.

There is an advantage to having students use multiple systems. That exposure should be an advantage after high school when students may need to learn yet another system. They will be familiar with the basic concepts of using an LMS.

There is no discussion that I know of to ask staff to choose one LMS for everyone. But you may want to investigate the choice if you are thinking about starting to use a new one.

  • Are there other teachers using it?
  • Are they happy with it or is it lacking?
  • Can students use it on a wide variety of devices?
  • Is it intuitive for the student and teacher?
  • Can you share content with other teachers, both locally and globally?
  • Can I import or export contents and assessments?
  • Can I transfer from previous years?
  • Are there tools in the LMS for the type of work that I would like to do?
  • Is there a cost for using the LMS?

Like most software, LMSs are improving every day, The choice between them can be very confusing, but picking the best one for you can certainly improve your work and student outcomes. If you would like more information or suggestions for your situation, please let me know.

Inquiry Based Learning

"Inquiry-based learning is more than asking a student what he or she wants to know. It’s about triggering curiosity. And activating a student’s curiosity is, I would argue, a far more important and complex goal than the objective of mere information delivery." Edutopia

With the release of the new Social Studies standards, teachers at the High School and Middle School have started to look at ways to get student curiosity and questioning to grow. Teachers have looked at resources such as: Make Just One Change; by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana, and Inquiry Based Practice in Social Studies Education; by S.G. Grant, Kathy Swan, and John Lee. These books along with information from RQI ( Right Question Institute ) have allowed teachers to look at the power of student curiosity. When students are asking and answering their own questions on a topic, there is deeper meaning and increased depth of knowledge. As the district continues to move forward adopting the new standards and looking at ways to increase student skills, the ideas of inquiry and questioning will be at the forefront.

Go-Hawk Coffee Shops

The high school and middle school special education departments identified a need to provide more opportunities for students with special needs; an opportunity to improve the 21st Century Employability Skills of students. As a result, a coffee house theme was established at both the high school and middle school levels to address these specific needs.

Through the two coffee shops students build confidence and gain ownership and responsibility for their work. The business interactions help develop appropriate social and communication skills. Students are given the opportunity to focus on post-secondary expectations for living, learning, and working.

Go-Hawk on the Go

Go-Hawk on the Go is located at the High School. On Friday mornings, it serves coffee, hot chocolate and cider to staff members during the first three periods of the day. Go-Hawk on the Go earnings go back into the coffee shop to purchase supplies. In the future, Go-Hawk on the Go plans to expand their business to students, collaborate with the Restaurant Management Class, and build community connections with local businesses. Go-Hawk on the Go was awarded the McElroy Excellence in Education Enrichment Grant last December.

Go-Hawk Cafe

The Go-Hawk Cafe operates out of the Middle School. It is open for business to serve staff members on Friday mornings. The cafe offers caramel pecan rolls, egg bake, and on occasion biscuits and gravy. Drinks include coffee and hot chocolate. Students make, serve, and deliver the cafe food and drink options. The money collected goes back into the business with the hope of expanding in the future along with funding future projects.