Grandview C-4 School District

THE C&I Focus

January/February, 2014

C-4 Instructional Priorities

Over the past two years, the C & I Team has been on a mission to identify the instructional priorities of the district. We asked ourselves, we asked teachers, we asked principals, we asked parents, we asked students - and all of us had a different answer. Alarming, right? So, what are they, really? While we’re still not sure, we’re merging the discussions and thoughts from across the district with CCSS, all that lies ahead in equipping students with “21st Century Skills”, and borrowing from the BIG IDEAS and essential skills thought processes, and this is where we’ve grown to thus far. (Click on the picture to reveal each instructional priority.)

What do YOU think? Share your thoughts at as we continue to work together to focus our vision, learning, and work into our GC-4 Instructional Priorities.

Oh yeah, and here’s another one for future pondering….What does “21st Century Skills” mean to you??? Simple question, complex answer.

@justintarte suggests an answer to the previous “21st Century Skills” question – check it out and see if you agree with his answer!

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- Your C & I Team

Things I'm Learning

Lisa Walker- Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction

For me, the start of a new year brings many conflicting feelings. Often, I’m regretful that another year of my life has passed…my kids and remaining parent are getting older and therefore, I am too! I think about those missed opportunities, things I said I was going to do but somehow didn’t get done…but then I just have to STOP – and think about the MANY blessings in my life, things that DID get done, and how I’ve grown both personally and professionally.

I tend to gravitate towards strong visuals and over the winter vacation, I happened upon several graphical quotes that sum up my reflections as 2014 begins.

In our profession, the amount of CHANGE we are presented with can be exhausting. I saw this, and went hmmmmm………

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Sometimes when change is presented, I struggle because I’m looking for the answers to all of the questions swimming in my head, I need to find the meaning before I can get started. It can seem overwhelming and too big. But I learned once again this year, that when I just start to move into the change the “ahas” begin to unfold.

I shared in an earlier C&I Focus my struggles with trying to remain current with emerging trends in our profession. I mean how do we work an entire day with staff and students, go home to do the prep/planning/follow-up work in the evening (and don’t forget about answering a zillion emails), AND then find time to read the professional journals, books, reports, etc. Really????

Then I tried something I had previously resisted, because I THOUGHT I didn’t have time to add this change…Twitter. I had NO idea that adding this change would actually save me time AND help me to stay current in our profession. On Twitter, I’ve established a personalized Professional Learning Network (PLN) where I can gather snippets of information aligned to my learning needs, the needs of our district, AND during the limited amount of time I have each day for new learning.

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I took the leap, let go of some of the old stuff, and started focusing a little bit of time on practicing the new. Was it overwhelming? Not at all, because I followed this advice…
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The secret is not about finding a large chunk of time to try that new idea/big unit/entire lesson, it’s about finding a small place, each day, to make those incremental changes. Typically, we see bigger results from smaller and more frequent use of best practices, rather than one, brilliant unit that was taught and then put on the shelf until the next year!

KUDOS to all of you who have embraced the changes upon us. Each day, I see differences in classrooms with MORE kids (THEM) talking to each other to solve problems or extend their learning and thinking through collaboration. As access to tech tools increase, I see more kids (THEM) using tech on a daily basis – not on an optional basis. I see staff (US) using tech each day through direct and modeled instruction. I see deeper questions, which students (THEM) and teachers (US) continually revisit and discuss throughout the lesson. Again, the instructional changes in these classrooms have occurred because MANY of you (US) have understood and begun the transition of using up-to-date learning strategies as integral, rather than optional, components of the lesson.

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As we start 2014, I say THANK YOU - for moving and GROWING with the changes. THANK YOU - for your constant thinking about how we can improve the learning experience for THEM and US! As you begin 2014, think about this question….

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I hope like me, your answer is, “NO – I’m better!” If you’re not there yet, there’s still time. Remember…..small changes each day…..lead to significant results!

Here’s to a great 2014 and another year of learning from each other and growing together!

@LisaGWalk (aka GC-4 Twitter Stalker)

Shifting Our Focus to CCSS

Alicia Ketchum- Director of Curriculum and Instruction

As all of you know, we are closing in on the time when districts, schools, teachers and students will be held accountable for meeting the expectations of the Common Core State Standards. Over the past few years our district has invested in preparing for this event. Below are some of the steps we have taken to shift our focus to Common Core.

  • Groups of teachers and administrators have participated in professional development focused on instructional shifts associated with new standards.

  • Instructional Coaches have studied strategies for transitioning to the new standards and they have collaborated with teachers in their buildings and across the district to provide information and support during the transition.

  • Building PLCs have focused on understanding the Common Core and incorporating reading, writing and math strategies to prepare students for college and career readiness.

  • Curriculum Authors and the High School English Language Arts (ELA) Department developed curriculum and assessments aligned to Common Core Standards for kindergarten through high school and teachers have implemented the curriculum.

  • High School Curriculum Teams are continuing to focus on the development of effective lesson plans and units aligned to Common Core.

  • Teachers have begun the work of aligning the math benchmarks and assessments to Common Core.

  • Resources designed to support Common Core have been acquired and utilized in classrooms for kindergarten literacy and K-5 math.

  • Instructional Coaches have developed summer school curriculum and assessments aligned to K-8 Common Core and teachers have implemented the curriculum.

  • Resources designed to support Common Core have been acquired and utilized in summer school K-8 classrooms.

  • Laptop computers have been purchased and were delivered to the high school students in November to kick off the 1:1 teaching and learning initiative designed to move students toward self- directed learning and authentic problem solving (PBL).

One important idea we have come to understand about transitioning to Common Core is that “every teacher is a reading teacher”. Please take advantage of the link below to discover five close reading strategies we can all use to support students as we transition to the Common Core.

Failure IS An Option! (and we shouldn't be afraid of doing it in front of our students)

Scott Sisemore- Director of Instructional Technology

Integrating technology into a classroom can be a scary thing for a lot of teachers and administrators. Although the majority of teachers in America agree that technology has a positive role to play in education, the actual act of integrating the real thing can be daunting for a lot of people........and that's ok!

Part of the problem can often be how we view ourselves as teachers. If we hold that traditional view that a teacher should be the smartest person in the room, whose job it is to dispense knowledge on our pupils, then the idea of trying something new, and possibly failing in front of those pupils, does not seem like a good idea. This can also apply to an administrator's fear of failing in front of his/her staff.

In reality we need to be comfortable with failing in front of kids (staff). Failure is one of life's greatest teachers. We also want our students to know that it's ok to fail, as long as you don't give up, learn from it, and become better as a result. The teachers who have the greatest success integrating technology into their classroom are those who understand that it's ok to fail in front of students..........and.......maybe more importantly, that it's ok if a student knows more about something than they do! Students can teach us! Students will teach us if we give them the opportunity. Doing so doesn't make us vulnerable, it shows kids that we are learners too. I argue that this is much more powerful than students thinking we are all knowing and all powerful.

We have to be willing to take chances in education if we are going to innovate. We can't be afraid of the occasional failure because the only way we can prevent failure is to never try anything new!


Try something new with technology in your classroom and enlist your students to help you make it happen. Check out our Website at for ideas and support. You can also contact our instructional technology team and we will come to you with ideas and support.

Start small, make it work, and go from there.

Famous Failures

Check out this short and inspirational video about how failure has helped shape our lives and society.

Famous Failures

Get Ready….Get Set….Here it Comes….Summer Explorations 2014!

Prissy LeMay- Coordinator for Professional Development and Extended Learning Services

As we begin the 2013-2014 second semester, I have started my thinking and planning around Summer Explorations 2014. WOW! It will be here before we know it. I am so excited to receive the certified summer school applications because the BEST teachers for our students are GRANDVIEW TEACHERS! YOU can be a part of a summer school team and work with OUR students though courses that will be fun and exciting with technology embedded in the learning experiences.

I would like to share some information with you about Summer Explorations 2014. The program is for 20 days and will be in session from June 5 – July 2, 2014 at the following locations and times.

Butcher-Greene Elementary (grades K-5): 8:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Grandview Middle School (grades 6-8 and band): 7:20 a.m. – 11: 20 a.m.

Grandview High School: Session 1: 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Session 2: 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Enrollment Packets:

Enrollment packets for elementary and middle school students and transportation pick-up and drop-off sites will be mailed and posted on the district website on March 7, 2014. Packets for all three levels will be available at all sites. High school enrollment packets will also be available at the Center for Alternative Instructional Resources (CAIR).

Enrollment Dates and Sites for All Levels:

Enrollment for elementary, middle, and high school students will be held at Grandview High School on March 25 and March 26, from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. and March 27 from 1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Elementary and middle school students will enroll for Summer Explorations at the same grade-level completed during the 2013-2014 school year.

Local Investment Commission (LINC):

Before and after care for Summer Explorations will be provided for elementary and middle school students.


Curriculum options will focus on rigorous academic coursework including: expanding various credit acquisition and career readiness experiences, in addition to Missouri Options and credit recovery at the high school level, reading instruction to include READ 180, math benchmarking at the elementary and middle school levels, along with band 5-12, and fine arts K-8, provided by Kansas City Young Audiences (Arts Partners). Some high school courses will be available on-line. All offerings will focus on the Common Core State Standards.

Food Service:

Breakfast and lunch will be provided at each site.


Transportation will be provided for elementary and middle school students to and from the summer school sites. Transportation will be available for high school students to the morning session and at the conclusion of the second session at Grandview High School. Pick-up and drop-off locations will be limited and specific information regarding these locations will be distributed during enrollment.

There is much planning to do with many individuals/departments working together to make summer learning the best for OUR students. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming C&I Focus.

The Focus on Special Education

Sheryl Malloy- Coordinator of Special Services

Problem/project based learning is a district focus and I often think about how this can positively impact the learning of students with special needs. In an article on Special Education, Jerry Webster shares some thoughts on the benefits of project based learning in all classroom settings; inclusion, resource or self-contained classrooms. He points out that projects in the classroom can support a wide variety of educational objectives:

  • Reinforce content retention – Project learning has proven, in research, to improve concept retention in a range of subjects.

  • Deepen understanding – When students are asked to use content knowledge, they are driven to use higher level thinking skills, such as evaluate or create.

  • Multi-sensory instruction – Students, not just those with disabilities, all come with different learning styles.

  • Teaches skills in cooperation and collaboration – Future jobs will require not only higher levels of training and technical skills, but also the ability to work collaboratively in groups. Groups work well when they are chosen both by the teacher and the students; some groups could be affinity based, others could be cross ability, and some could be “friendship” based.

  • Alternative means of assessing students' progress – Using a rubric to lay out standards can put students of varying abilities on a level playing field.

  • Student engagement at its best – When students are excited about what they are doing in school, they will behave better, participate more fully and benefit the most.

Project based learning is another way to provide opportunities for students to deepen their knowledge of curriculum in highly engaging activities.

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