ENSC Weekly Notes

December 7, 2015

ISTEP Fiasco

Last week, the IDOE released embargoed preliminary school grades. These grades are not in their final form and the released spreadsheets document numerous inaccuracies across the state. Yes, there are errors in our schools and we will be filing audits to the IDOE this week. I have included two very interesting pie graphs that show the distribution of school grades in 2015 and 2014. Math teachers....what is the statistical probably that the 2015 distribution of grades could "just happen" to occur? :o)


If you have been following the media reports, you are most likely aware of the disappointing drops in school grades and student scores across the state. We are not immune from those changes. Numerous officials across the state, including Gov. Pence, are reacting to the ISTEP results with a call to legislators to give teachers and districts a reprieve from this data accountability for one year. Other states have enacted a "pause" on their first year of common core/new standards impact; Indiana could and should do the same. To hold teachers and districts accountable for these dramatic first year changes to the standards, poorly designed test questions, and flawed testing implementation, will only continue to support Indiana's current growing reputation for education as being a "joke."


During my 2015-2016 opening day message, I told you we were not going to be chasing building grades/district grades, but instead, we will be focusing on what is right and best for students. Ensuring students master grade level language arts and math standards is a priority, and we will provide the supports and interventions students need to be successful. At the same time, we are not going to create a "test prep" environment where lessons and efforts are focused exclusively on the once a year ISTEP test so that we earn high building and district grades. All of our teachers collect data throughout the year using a variety of assessment tools to measure student progress followed by instructional changes and interventions to support students. This ongoing process to support academic growth for each student is far more accurate and beneficial than ISTEP ever will be.


We have faith and trust in all of our staff members to continue to do what is best for students every day. We will focus on meeting the needs of our students throughout their K-12 educational experience with the goal that every student graduates from high school equipped with the tools they need to successfully pursue the dreams and goals they have created for themselves.


With all of this said, ENSC has no need to release the preliminary school grades (and they are embargoed). We believe in what you do for our students and know you make student success a priority everyday. We believe it is important for students to enjoy school and and grow academically through a variety of rich experiences. East Noble School Corporation will continue to be student centered rather than "grade" centered.


The below graphs are from the December 4 posting of StateImpact,

a reporting project of WFIU & WTIU, with support from IPBS.

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Mastery Grading

As a district, we are evaluating our grading practices. Grades, or something similar, given to an assignment, a test, or a course should always reflect the standards a student has mastered. When a university or employer evaluates a student's transcript, or a teacher reviews a student's grades from a previous school year and they see an "A," what does that "A" mean? Does it mean the student has mastered all standards and is proficient? Is it possible that the student "mostly" mastered the standards and because the student received extra points for their parents attending conferences and extra points for attending a school event, the student earned enough points to put them in the "A" range? On the other side of this, does a "C" grade reflect partial standards mastery or did the student show mastery of all standards through the unit tests, but do to lost points for late or incomplete homework, he/she ended up with a "C."


There is a group of K-12 teachers and administrators who are meeting regularly to discuss and research mastery based grading. I encourage you to attend the monthly standards based grading professional development meetings that are being held for all staff to learn more and provide input. The next meeting is this Thursday, 3:30 p.m. at East Noble High School in Room 612.

Technology Notes

This week at East Noble School Corporation, students will be celebrating Computer Science Education Week by participating in the National Hour of Code. What is the Hour of Code, you might ask? The Hour of Code is one hour set aside to during the week of December 7-13 to introduce the computer science field of coding to students with the intent to prove to them that anyone is capable of doing it. We believe that these types of computer skills pave the way to success in many 21st century careers and hope to inspire interested students to pursue these types of career paths.


There will be a wide range of coding activities taking place at ENSC this week. In all of our elementary schools, technology integration specialists and/or media assistants are teaming with teachers to introduce basic coding projects using programs such as Tynker, Codable, and Foos just to name a few. At South Side Elementary, Nucor software engineer Nick Smith will be coming into fifth and sixth grade classrooms to talk to students about his career. One of the buildings, Wayne Center, will be hosting a “Coding & Make It Take It Night” the week before break where parents and students can come and create at coding stations and participate in a variety of other learning opportunities. At East Noble Middle School, students will watch a brief video clip to introduce a contest in which students will be encouraged to make a holiday card or “Dance Dance Dance” video. Students will have all week to practice. On Friday, Mr. Deming will announce the start of the Hour of Code, and everyone will code all at one time. Teachers will then choose the winners in their rooms and those students will receive prizes for their efforts. At East Noble High School, students who are interested can participate in a contest similar to the one at the middle school by either creating a holiday card using Scratch or a dance video using Scratch’s “Dance Dance Dance” program. Students will email their creations to Mrs. Jarrett and the projects will be judged, with three winners being chosen.


In many of the schools, students who participate and complete an Hour of Code activity will receive a special sticker to wear to share their accomplishments with the world. Be sure to ask your child about the Hour of Code activities they participated in so they can share their excitement about what they have learned.

Unsung Heros

This week, we have two Unsung Heros highlighted!


Beth Kerr for the Week of November 30.

Oliver and Kelli Savage for the Week of December 7.

Beth Kerr - An Unsung Hero for our District

This week’s unsung hero is Beth Kerr. Beth is a third grade teacher at Avilla and adds much to OUR school. She not only teachers third grade, she also helps OUR STAR program and instils the attitude of caring across the school. Her calm demeanor and quiet push for excellence is greatly appreciated by all. Not only does she add to the school as a valued member of the staff, she also is an active participant with the Avilla PTO, serving as the treasurer. Beth and her husband Bruce have two children who attend Avilla; Parker and Gavin and they are both anxiously awaiting the arriving of a new brother or sister in early March! All of Beth’s efforts to attain excellence for herself, and her students is appreciated by all!

Oliver and Kelli Savage - Unsung Heros for our District

The unsung hero this week is Oliver, North Side's therapy dog and his handler, Kelli Savage. Oliver is a 4 year old golden doodle who has spent almost his entire life as a therapy dog at North Side Elementary. Kelli, a third grade teacher at North Side, got Oliver not quite four years ago and immediately started his training as a therapy dog. Oliver spends all day every day (almost) at North Side working with students, hanging out in class, being read to, and, at times, sleeping. Oliver plays an important role in our Skills for Success program for students with emotional disabilities as a calming presence and is utilized by various other students as part of behavior plans as a reward. Students enjoy taking him for walks, snuggling with him to read a book, and most of all, helping him get a drink at the drinking fountain. Kelli, on top of all her other duties as a classroom teacher and former teacher of the year winner, takes care of Oliver every day by taking care of all of his needs and overseeing his duties here at North Side. Oliver spends a lot of his day in Ms. Savage's room, but he does his fair share of traveling when the need arises. North Side is very lucky to have Oliver, our kind-spirted therapy dog and Kelli a wonderful third grade teacher. They are quite the team!

The Cookies Go To......

Thank you for all you do for our students every day. This week's cookies to go South Side Elementary!


South Side Elementary - 98.5 percent

East Noble Middle School - 98 percent

East Noble High School - 97 percent

Avilla Elementary School - 96.9 percent

Rome City Elementary - 96.6 percent

Wayne Center Elementary - 96.3 percent

North Side Elementary - 94.3 percent

Have a wonderful week.

Curriculum and Building Notes

Curriculum

As we start the slow shut down to relax over winter break and enjoy friends, family, and traditions, it is hard to look forward to see what we also need to be gearing up for – testing season. The DOE is pushing out testing information at a fast pace over the past two weeks that you need to be aware of. All teachers in grades K-10 need to be aware of the following pieces of information and dedicate time to expose students to the information, as well as provide them ample time to practice with the tools.


1. Experience ISTEP – This site will allow student to practice with the tools that they will use on the online Part 2 test. All students will be online in April. Please remember that there are only 10 instructional days between Part 1 and Part 2 since Spring Break is in the middle so giving student many opporunties to practice needs to start in January.


http://in.testnav.com/client/index.html


Have students go to the Practice Test link on the sign in box to practice. This site is not currently working in Chrome so try another browser if you can’t get in.


2. Go to your grade level ISTEP help pages on the DOE website. Please carefully review the Academic Vocabulary that needs to be explicitly taught to students, the guidance on graph paper, and the math formula pages. Do your students have the formula sheets in front of them for class work and homework? Are you using the correct graph paper? Grades 3-8 should also closely exam the Performance Level Descriptors. The DOE is essentially telling you the skills that students who pass the test need to be able to accomplish.


In grades 3-8, the DOE has also released some items from last year’s test that you can use as example problems with students.


3-8 - http://www.doe.in.gov/assessment/istep-grades-3-8

10 - http://www.doe.in.gov/assessment/istep-grade-10


We are be given a road map, so please use it. Don’t be the person who thinks they can find their way without the map and then has to stop at the gas station later. There are no gas stations for next 3 months!

North Side Elementary

Another busy week filled with learning and exciting opportunities. In tech/ library class fifth graders continued working on newspaper structure projects. Students were engaged in hands on learning and creating projects without much direction. These are skills often over looked in education. The students' goal was to create a structure taller than Ms. Valenti, North Side's tech/ library instructor.


Sixth graders had a special visit from some friendly eighth graders who shared their experiences from middle school, shared the expectations as a middle schooler, and fielded questions from curious sixth graders. Thanks to Mr. Deming and Mrs. Laur for bringing them over and letting them visit with the Wildcats.

Rome City Elementary

Now that Romans have entered the whirlwind of December the first week has flown right by. This week our littlest Romans have been working on the color yellow, the number four, the star shape, and the letters G, I, and N. It is such a wonderful sight to see our preschool students walking through the hall, they have such wonderful procedures.


Sight words, sight words, and more sight words is one key to becoming a stronger more fluent reader. Our kindergarten Romans have been working diligently daily at mastering their suggested sight word list. It has been a joy to see some of our young Romans become excited about books and the story that each one has to offer.


In second grade this week they talked a lot about how there is still a lot to accomplish in the upcoming weeks. They even made a plan on how they can stay focused but still include a little “brain break” time. As a school, our Romans have started collecting food for the local food pantry. They will be collecting food for the next couple weeks to be delivered to the food bank before the holidays. What a neat experience for our kiddos to come together to support others in the community during the holidays.

South Side Elementary

It’s been another exciting week at South Side Elementary! Our Legos are here! South Side’s very own Ms. Roberts (4th Grade Teacher) and Mrs. Becker (2nd Grade Teacher and Technology Coach) have been awarded a grant for over $2000 from our local Bosch Company to promote STEM instruction. STEM stands for Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics—all content areas that are vital to the careers of the 21st Century. Ms. Roberts and Mrs. Becker wrote the grant to help fund a high-tech project where students will build and program moving robots using robotics software and Lego kits! We are very grateful for the support our local community partner has provided toward this project, and our students are super excited to started!

Wayne Center Elementary

On Thursday, all of our students were recognized for their hard work during our 1st Trimester. Students received awards for perfect attendance, honor roll, and homework! Students in extracurricular activities were honored as well. We are so proud of all our Wayne Center Tigers! Great job!


Wayne Center is gearing up for their annual Jar Wars competition that will take place December 7-11. Money that is raised will go towards holiday gifts for a family that our Student Council has adopted. Be sure to bring in change for a chance to have your favorite staff member get a pie in the face!

Alternative Learning Center

This week went so fast! Only two more weeks until winter break. The students returned from the short holiday break focused and prepared to work. Several students earned credits and many more are close to completion.


The ALC completed a holiday board for the Bixler Lake drive through. Four students, Alfredo Neri, Hannah Fields, Callie Torres, and Noah Lozano, worked together as a team, to make a great board this year. Every other week the ALC continues to draw names of students for credits earned and perfect attendance.

East Noble High School

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is here at ENHS. The EN Theater Department is presenting Mary Poppins will continue December 11th-13th in the Cole Auditorium. Tickets can be reserved at the box office Monday-Friday, 4-6pm. Student Council will be hosting a Winter Semi-Formal on December 19th from 8-11pm in the ENHS Cafeteria. JAG students are hosting a canned food drive from now until December 15th. This is just an example of some of the many things happening at ENHS.



ENHS Guidance has been busy working with students on getting 2nd trimester schedules situated and off to a great start. Seniors have been working endless on college applications and scholarship opportunities. We recently hosted a junior family meeting, an evening for students and parents to learn more about preparing for post-secondary success. We are anticipating the arrival of PSAT scores from 10th and 11th grades anytime. 9th graders have continued to meet weekly with mentors this trimester. I think it is safe to say, 9th graders are feeling like ENHS is home.


SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) recently completed a Christmas display board for the Kendallville Park’s Department Drive-Thru. SADD students also completed projects for Red Ribbon Week in October. December is “National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month.” Students are currently planning and brainstorming activities to correspond with this theme to bring awareness to students about the dangers of these destructive decisions.

East Noble Middle School

As December rolls in, the middle school has been gearing up for the final two weeks of the semester. Seventh graders in language arts have been focusing on writing. Throughout the week, students developed their peer editing skills and publishing their writing online. In social studies, seventh grade students have been investigating what makes a civilization a civilization. Students identified the elements of a civilization, and used these elements to analysis different civilizations. Math 7 and Pre-Algebra students have been working on solving inequalities. Seventh grade science students are working on understanding earthquakes. Students are working to identify what causes them, how scientists measure them, and how they can protect themselves in an earthquake situation.


Eighth grade students have been working on text analysis in language arts. Students also focused on the tone and mood of pieces of work. In social studies, eight graders have been looking at state constitutions and the Articles of Confederation to determine how the early United States of America’s government functioned. Algebra students have been working with slope and equations of lines. Finally in science, students are working through the chemistry unit. Students are doing lots of experiments and starting to examine why elements react and what they form.


Band is also having a concert on December 16th, and still has tickets for the dessert bar before the concert for sale. For $5, you can enjoy music ensembles and dessert!

Avilla Elementary

OUR STAR is partnering together with the Avilla-LaOtto Christmas Bureau this year and we need your help! OUR goal is for OUR students and staff to donate 1,000 non-perishable items. If we meet OUR goal, everyone will be able to wear a hat on a designated day. We will begin collecting items on Monday, December 7th. The last day to donate items will be Friday, December 11th. Thank you in advance for showing the pillar of Caring during the holiday season.


Congratulations to the following students for winning their age bracket in the Elk’s Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest. These students will represent Avilla at East Noble Middle School this Saturday. Mackenzie Heiman, Danyelle Jordan, Sophie Huckeriede, Taylor Cordial, Henry Cripe, and Nick Munson.


Wednesday evening will be the Winter Music Concert starting at 6:30. Students in grades kindergarten, 2nd and 4th will be performing. Mr. Smith will be leading OUR student once again this year. We hope that all can attend. Following the program, OUR NEHS will be helping students with “Reindeer Dust” in the cafeteria. Please plan on taking a few minutes for your child to participate in this quick activity.