Wolcott's Weekly "What's Up"

Office of Teaching & Learning Update 10.31.2013

Quote of the Day

"Great feedback causes thought and action not emotion."

- Me


This week's "What's Up" is geared to help you think more deeply about feedback. I hope you can use the information I have shared below as well as the "Personal Growth Map" I shared at our admin meeting to increase the learning of staff and students.

Putting the "S" in F.O.C.U.S.

Purpose of Feedback

"The main purpose of feedback is to reduce discrepancies between current understandings and performance and a goal. Effective feedback must answer three major questions asked by teachers and/or by students:

  • Where am I going? What are the goals?
  • How am I going? What progress is being made toward the goal?)
  • Where to next? What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?"

- Hattie & Timperly, "The Power of Feedback," Review of Educational Research (2007), p.87


Characteristics of Effective Feedback by Nicole Vagle

  • It describes learning; it doesn't quantify or evaluate it.
  • It describes strengths in terms of the learning criteria.
  • It provides next steps for specific action.
  • It is focused and manageable.
  • It is timely (provided within 48 hours or useless to the learner!)


Several Barriers to Effective Feedback by Nicole Vagle

  1. Vague, general comments
  2. Relying on students to figure out what went wrong when they lack information or any understanding
  3. Too much feedback- this prevents students from knowing where to begin ( so they don't)
  4. Inviting versus requiring action on feedback. As a result, students don't act on feedback, or teachers expect students to apply it the next time around, which they often don't.
  5. Covering it all! Instead of prioritizing comments, teachers offer surface feedback on everything. Preferably, teachers provide descriptive feedback on work with the expectation that students act on it.
  6. Feedback that does not align to the learning goals or criteria. An example is giving students feedback on spelling when learning target is on author's purpose and supporting details.

Food For Thought on Engaging ALL Learners

What schools can do to help boys succeed: AEI Top Three

Common Core Transition Team Meeting

We will hold our first meeting of the year on Thursday, November 14th from 3:40-5:00 @ the PDC. All teachers and administrators are welcome to attend. We will review our multi-year transition plan documents for Language Arts, Math and Science. Additionally, I will gather input from staff on how they feel we are progressing, what their needs are and what their concerns may be as move through this implementation period.

Upcoming Professional Development

  • November 13 Advanced Chromebook Training @ PDC
  • November 14 AM: Second Grade Math Meeting @ PDC
  • November 14 PM: First Grade Math Meeting @ PDC
  • November 15 Gifted Education Seminar (GES) Training @ PDC

Please Note: As always, staff will receive an e-invite from Kim for each event.

Be a Critical Consumer of All PD You Receive

We are very fortunate to have many opportunities to learn from some amazingly talented consultants who have provided training to teachers around the country. Each consultant we work with brings a set of tools and strategies they have used and/or have seen implemented for student success. This doesn't mean however that every idea shared with us will work in our context with our students or staff.

After every PD session I meet with our coaches to reflect on the new learning. We discuss the way the PD was delivered and brainstorm alternate delivery models (if applicable) to increase adult learning. We discuss participant reaction to different strategies and then I pose the following question to them: What could we do to kick that session or strategy up a notch and make it better? Is there a way we could take this simple strategy or tool and make it more powerful for our students/staff?

An example is the use of the turn and talk. Getting students to talk to one another about their learning is great in theory, but there are potential challenges:

  1. without a sentence frame, some students may not know where to begin,
  2. one person could "opt" out while the other does all the talking,
  3. what starts as a quick talk can turn into a 3-4 minute event where conversation strays from the original topic, and the list could continue.

Your job as the instructional leader for your school is to critically consume the training; filtering it through our ATP, your personal theories of action, the needs of your staff, and then looking at it's true effectiveness. Is this going to work at my school? If not, take and learn what you can from the training, pass on to your staff what is most beneficial for our setting, and move on.

Curriculum Writing

As we continue to write the new math curriculum, Rachel, Kelly and I will be working with grade level representatives over the next couple of months to polish things up. Please feel free to attend any of the scheduled meetings below.

  • November 5th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 7th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 9th 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 12th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 14th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 16th 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 19th 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • November 21st 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (Math)
  • December 2nd 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS Exploratories, Art & PE)
  • December 3rd 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS Exploratories, Art & PE)
  • December 4th 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM @ PDC (JJHS, SS, Math & KDG)

Please Note: Staff attending full day curriculum writing will receive an e-invite from Kim.

A Sincere THANK YOU!

Ghandi says we need to "be the change we wish to see in the world." We are doing that here in District 68 and you are leading us on the front lines. I can't thank you enough for what you are doing to facilitate change at the building level during these challenging times. Because of your efforts, hard work and diligence, I firmly believe we will accomplish the ATP and provide a better future for our students! Kudos!

Principal "To Do" List

  • Send Greg name of contact person for RenLearn Coaching by November 4
  • Set up meeting with Greg to discuss 7 Keys implementation & your building's progress for 45 minutes during the week of November 18th.
  • Schedule meeting with building Playworks team to discuss "winterizing" of recess routines and procedures
  • Meet with your building psychologist to discuss the notes from the RTI Committee.