The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

News You Can Use - January, 2013

DLT Update for December

DLT met on December 4, 2012. The following are the discussion topics and any decisions made.

Learning Target: I CAN discuss next steps in Standards-Based Grading at the 3-5 grade levels

Learning Target: I CAN determine the measures of success and evaluate the success of the Learning Supports Plan currently in place at the building level.

1. Presentation of the Differentiated Instruction Workshop – Mr. Bandy & Mr. Veiseth

2. Discussion Item on Standards-Based Grading

i. What if we only eliminated grades for grade 3 only?

Mary is going to look at a timeline and determine what this entails in regards to implementation for the 3rd grade only. No decision has been made, but further information and details are needed.

3. RTI – Building Learning Supports Plans

i. Discuss as building

Each building reviewed videos and had discussions about RTI within the building. Further discussions will take place.

4. Presentation to the Board of Education – December 11th at 7:00

Denise Morris & Maggie VanZee presented

5. Decisions Made

- Mary is going to look at a timeline and determine what this entails in regards to implementation for the 3rd grade only. No decision has been made, but further information and details are needed.

Want to read the book "Fair Isn't Always Equal"? Link to below

Learning Targets Must Be Displayed Starting in January!!

Are you ready to display your Learning Targets in your classroom starting in January? Each Curriculum Team has been trained and working on writing Learning Targets the beginning of the school year. The expectation is that ALL classrooms have Learning Targets displayed in their classrooms. A dedicated space is the best way to display so students know where they will be listed each day! The "Tool for Improvement" describes best-practice as having the Learning Targets be part of lesson design and incorporated into the day. Discussing the Learning Target and then re-visiting the Target mid-way and at the end of the class provides accountability for students and they will begin to own the Targets as well. If you have questions about Learning Targets in your classroom, please ask a building administrator!!

AEA On-Line Services

Kristin Steingraeber, AEA Media, shared some valuable resources available to all teachers through the AEA to Curriculum Teams in December. Each teacher should have gotten a handout made from Card Stock with usernames and passwords to the links from the AEA. Some of the sites she shared include: SNAP, Visual Thesaurus, One-Click Digital, CQ Researcher, PowerKnowledge, Student NewsNet (SNN), and Iowa AEA On-line. Iowa AEA On-line has many resources as well: Soundsabounze, TrueFlix, Learn 360, and Culture Grams (and more). The link below takes you to the AEA Media Page where you can access all of the links. Ask you building administrator if you did not receive the handout from the AEA.

RtI Information

Group Attends a RtI workshop by Wayne Callender - PLAN, PLAN, PLAN

Thirteen members of the Oskaloosa Schools traveled to Cedar Rapids to attend a workshop called "Maximizing Tier 1: How to use the principles of RtI to improve Core instruction for all students" put on by "Partners for Learning". Below are the key concepts he talked about which we will discuss as a District Leadership Team.

  1. This is a SYSTEM approach - we must change a system rather than trying to treat one child at a time - we can't have a "one size fits all" approach to helping struggling students.
  2. When assessing students at a formative level it must be "every kid, every question, every time". We should not ask a single student a question - ask the question to the group, have them turn to a partner to answer. Each student should be answering every question!!!
  3. Experts can predict as early as Kindergarten who will be the high school students struggling as Freshman because they do not have the necessary reading skills.
  4. Kindergarten students develop between 2,000-3,000 words during the year which gives them access to the vocabulary to make them better readers. If they do not come in with the necessary skills, we MUST stop and provide the skills. Even if they are not ready, we MUST have a system-wide plan to move them along ANYWAY!!
  5. Poor language skills result in poor reading skills in Kindergarten
  6. 75% of academic achievement is related to the ability to read
  7. Be sure we are not providing Tier 1 instruction during Tier 2 and Tier 3 targeted intervention. What we do during targeted intervention is critical!!! It doesn't matter how small or large the group is if you are not targeted the right skill or providing the correct intervention.
  8. RtI cannot be the same way of doing business but just calling it a different name. We must get serious about finding new ways to help struggling students.
  9. We must build exceptional systems in our buildings - which means providing EXCEPTIONAL Tier 1 instruction.
  10. Progress Monitoring is critical if we are to know if what we are doing is working.
  11. What direction is OUR pyramid moving? Do we have an upside-down pyramid? If so, what is our plan for turning it right-side up?
  12. We need to set up our system for the students we HAVE, not for the students we WISH WE HAD.
  13. Do not fly by the seat of your pants... HAVE A PLAN!
  14. Students moving in tell us a lot about our system plan - whether we are proactive or reactive.
  15. What supports do we have in place to increase motivation?
  16. What is our systems answer to "lifers" - that 5% that nothing will work for?
  17. Improve CORE INSTRUCTION!!!!
  18. #1 Rule in Brain Research - REPETITION
  19. Increased vocabulary skills is corrected to reading
  20. Need 40 opportunities to work with vocabulary words to put them into long-term memory. Not just saying the word, but working with it in context.

PLC To Watch for January

MS 2nd Chance Reading PLC

Abby Peterson and Mollie Roach formed a new PLC this year - they both teach 2nd Chance Reading at the Middle School so felt they needed to collaborate on a regular basis for their students. Not only did they form their own PLC and meet weekly together, they also are piloting a new grading system at the Middle School. They are not giving 2nd Chance Reading students a letter grade; rather they are giving only a 1-4 on their Grade Level Benchmarks!

At the start of the school year they held a meeting in the evening for parents of 2nd Chance Reading students. An incredible turnout allowed them to talk about what students do during class, expectations, what they will learn, and the new way of grading.

Don't know what 2nd Chance Reading is all about? Check out the link below - OR just ask Abby and Mollie. The same program is also at the High School.

Teacher Quality Funds Available for Attending Conferences or Workshops

Do you have a professional conference you would like to attend? Just a reminder Teacher Quality funds are available to anyone who wishes to attend a conference or workshop related to their academic area. If you know of a workshop or conference enhancing your teaching or is aligned with district/building work, complete a professional development leave request form. (on the staff resource page).

Remember - if you have attended a conference or workshop you must complete the conference evaluation form and at the end of the year the Conference Planning form. Both are located on the Staff Resource page for your convenience.

PLC Dates for January

January 9th - Extended hour is Vertical Team/Grade Level Teams (MS)
January 16th - Extended hour is PLC Collaboration
January 23rd - Extended hour is Building
January 30th - Extended hour is PLC Collaboration

SINA TEAM Update - Year 2 Work Continues at the Elementary

The SINA Team attended a meeting at the AEA to discuss the Implementation Plan as a School in Need of Assistance. As a Year 2 school we found out we will need to offer Supplemental Education Resources (SES) to parents at the Elementary. A letter will be sent to parents eligible in January. The SINA team is pictured on the right. (Missing from the picture is Dana Sereg and Dr. Cooksley)

In other news, the work with Angela Maiers continues. Demonstration classrooms are up and running and working weekly with the Instructional Coach, Jen Groenenboom. Ms. Maiers was at the Elementary on December 19th working with 5th grade and 2nd grade teachers modeling and providing feedback. Her day ended with a building meeting to debrief and talk about her next visit when she will work with two additional grade level teams. In addition, the Small Group Instruction Guidebook will be a website where teachers can access information to implement the Reading and Writing Workshop in their classrooms. This will be ready to go in January.

We want to be sure we are implementing our Action Plan at the Elementary - the following outlines what each teacher at the Elementary and PLC's MUST be doing this year:

  1. Use Common Summative Assessments in both LA and Math
  2. Use Small Group Instruction (SGI) in both Reading and Math
  3. Use and analyze data based on GLB's in PLC's - and analyze that information to make instructional decisions
  4. Extended Shares should be on your PLC agenda monthly and recorded in minutes
  5. Family Math Night will be in the Spring - tentatively April 11th

Characteristics of Effective Instruction

Each Curriculum Team and the District Leadership Team have focused heavily on the CEI - Characteristics of Effective Instruction. Below is a videos that might help those not on these teams to better understand what a Student-Centered Classroom looks like.
Iowa Core - CEI - Student Centered Classroom Brief

Rick Wormeli - Differentiated Instruction and Grading

A group of District Leadership Team members attended a 1-day workshop in Des Moines to learn about differentiation and grading. Each received a book called "Fair Isn't Always Equal" where Rick Wormeli discusses some challenging topics related to grading practices. The videos below are excellent and I encourage you all to watch them and reflect on your own current grading practices!
Rick Wormeli: Standards-Based Grading
Rick Wormeli: Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs, Part One
Rick Wormeli: On Late Work

LETRS Training at the Elementary?

Possible Literacy Training Opportunity

Special Education teachers attended an informational meeting on Tuesday, December 18th with representatives from the Department of Education - Rhonda McFadden and Sandy Nelson. They learned about a project called LETRS where districts would make a 5-year commitment to have staff trained on early literacy where theory, practice, and demonstration was weaved into the professional development. This is a K-12 training, but we are looking at the training right now for just the Elementary.

Part of the information shared included a quiz. Do you know the answers to the following early literacy questions?
  1. Which of the following words has a prefix?
  • missile
  • distance
  • commit
  • interest
  • furnish

2. Which word has a schwa sound?

  • eagerly
  • prevent
  • definition
  • formulate
  • story
(Answers are at the end of the article)

LETRS training is divided into learning modules and the Elementary Special Education teachers would more than likely take 9 of the 12 modules. The decision to sign a contract with the Department of Education will be made in January. If the district chooses this path it would assist with instruction and assessment for students with IEP's.

Making this training stronger will be choosing the Universal Screener this spring and utilizing our PLC's to make the assessment of student progress stronger. Many of the system-wide structures are already in place to implement LETRS.

1) commit 2) definition

Want additional information? See the link below:

Enjoy the Holiday Break - from the offices of Curriculum and Instruction :-)

Dates to Mark on Your Calendar for January

DLT meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 8th, 4-6pm

1800 N 3rd St # 2

Oskaloosa, IA

Year 1 Mentoring and New Professional Meeting

Thursday, Jan. 10th, 3:45pm

1800 N 3rd St # 2

Oskaloosa, IA

PLC Facilitator Meeting

Thursday, Jan. 17th, 3:45pm

1800 N 3rd St # 2

Oskaloosa, IA

District SPED Team

Monday, Jan. 28th, 12:30-3pm

1800 N 3rd St # 2

Oskaloosa, IA


The PD Plan has January 14th listed as a Curriculum Team meeting for PE/Art - that is incorrect - you will not be meeting on that date.