Middle School Monday Memo

March 11, 2019

PASmart Grant 2019/2020

Good afternoon, Agora faculty!

We are pleased to announce that Agora is a recipient of Governor Wolf’s PASmart grant to increase computer science programming in grades K-12. The purpose of this email to provide more information about the opportunity that has been provided to us and to give you an opportunity to indicate your interest in being part of Agora’s computer science programming in the future.

WHO: Six Agora teachers – 2 from grades K-5; 2 from grades 6-8; 2 from grades 9-12

WHAT: Attend training, develop and implement computer science coursework, and become teacher leaders in this emerging content area at Agora

For the purposes of this grant, computer science is defined as “the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.”7 CS is often confused with the everyday use of computers and the internet. CS education is not about teaching students computer literacy (such as effective internet searching or creating and collaborating on digital documents), nor is it about the use of education technology (such as using an online system to do homework rather than a worksheet). It is also not to be confused with information technology, which are software applications that professions use in the workforce (such as CAD for architects or Photoshop for designers). CS is not about the use of computers, but rather the creation of those uses.

WHERE: Face to face training required, including the PA Computer Science for All Summit at PaTTAN Harrisburg. Other face to face dates and locations to be announced by PDE

WHEN: PA CS for All Summit to be held June 27-28, 2019; Other dates to be announced

  • Grades K-5 – 36 hours of f2f training between May 2019 and May 2020; 12 hours of virtual coaching; competency-based CS course (asynchronous)
  • Grades 7-12 – 32 hours of f2f training beginning at the PA CS for All Summit; 12 hours of virtual coaching; competency-based CS course (asynchronous)

WHY: To develop and expand our computer science offerings for ALL Agora students


  • Participants will attend all face to face and virtual trainings
  • Participants will complete the competency-based computer science course
  • Participants will develop coursework for their grade band based on training
  • Participants will implement/teach computer science coursework
  • Participants will serve as teacher leaders for other faculty as CS coursework expands at Agora


  • Travel expenses paid
  • Stipend (to be determined)
  • Teachers in grades 7-12 may be eligible to earn PA Instructional Certification in Computer Science

Are you interested? Please complete the survey below by NOON on WEDNESDAY, March 13, 2019. We have a very limited window and quick turnaround time for submission of our grant details. (Note that you must be logged in to your agora.org account to access the survey.)

2019-20 PASmart Grant Applicant Survey

Questions? Check out the PAsmart website!

Details from PDE regarding teacher training and expectations are limited at this time, but Anne and Regan will be happy to help as much as we can!

Thanks for considering this opportunity!

PSSA Expectations:

Teachers not at a testing site for the week will conduct office hours during PLT with students not testing.

  • Teachers will meet with their MTSS team once to discuss students and once with their department team to discuss strategies and curriculum throughout the 4 weeks of testing.
  • Teachers need to check email throughout the testing window.
  • Just a reminder, when students are out testing they are not required to complete class work for those days; the test days count as their attendance for class. Likewise, students not attending testing are required to attend class or complete the required assignment based on the teacher’s testing schedule.
  • Teachers need to submit their testing teaching plans to both Bridget and Heather.

Observations and Differentiated Projects:

If you are working on a differentiated project, there is an update form to be completed in PA-ETEP.

  • It can be found in the Custom Forms: Part 2 Mid Year Update.
  • Please complete this by the end of March

If you are receiving a final observation/evaluation, since you are not completing a project, principals will be scheduling those in the next week or two. Please watch for the email.

Teacher Shout Outs!!

Grade 6 Math Teachers (Casey Oakes, Alex Webb, Michelle Klara, Stephanie Oberholtzer, Suzanne Postler: WAY TO GO TEAM!!

  • They use Nearpod with AMAZING results – the team reports consistent 100% participation, and have been able to give feedback on student work in real time. Nearpod seems to be a far superior way of assessing conceptual understanding and may be better than workbooks!
  • They’re considering piloting Nearpod as an alternative to Illuminate – because we continue to struggle with math questions in Illuminate, the team has already begun thinking about and researching ways they could use Nearpod to house (part of) the assessments!
  • They’ve changed the way their students experience the concepts – The team looks ahead to the unit assessments so that their students have practice with the kinds of questions they’ll see at the end of the modules!

Jill Phillips has an awesome sweet tone and presence with your students!! It is really great to see!! Way to go!!

Ashley Burns does an awesome job greeting students and having something for them to do from the beginning of class. She has a breakout room for each student from the beginning of class and uses the Elluminate planner to create and reuse the rooms. Within the first 10 minutes of class, students completed an activity in their personal BO room. Immediately following that activity, Ashley closed those rooms, and after clear directions, sent them off to yet another individual BO activity where students practiced a quick grammar pre-test. She is not afraid to use break-out rooms and it was great to see!!!

Anne Dillon, Rebecca Bartuska, Brenna Saxton, Marisa Richards-Walter, Lauren Seraut received a shout out from a parent who is extremely happy with how they have all helped her son who was a previous truancy issue and hated school! According to his therapist he now is enthusiastic and there is a positive change in him. Mom occasionally sits in on his classes and stated that she is very impressed with each of the teachers and the way they engage, support, and encourage your students. Way to go!!!

John Thomas will have his Podcasts be available on iTunes!!! Way to go!!! So exciting!!

Elementary Career Fair

The Career Fair Committee is happy to announce that we will be holding the 2019 Career Fair on May 10.

We appreciate all of your help in finding volunteers to present their careers!

Some requests last year from parents were careers that involve animals, art, music, skilled trades, police officers & fireman, just to name a few!

The Career Fair Committee is happy to help the volunteers create an interesting and exciting PowerPoint to help their presentation.

For a link to our Flyer to send to professionals you feel would be interested in presenting, please see below. We look forward to working with you and them and educating our students to become more Future Ready!


Thank you for your help in making this year’s Career Fair a success!

The 2019 Career Fair Committee

Upcoming dates:

March 22: Half day - AM classes and PM Professional Development

March 29 - End of third quarter

Total Enrollment

General education and special education students: