Lincoln Lion's Local Buzz

January 18, 2018

Feedback from last week's ASC Walkthroughs

Last Thursday Dr. Arnold, Emily H, and Leigh Anne went through classrooms to do some observations of our instruction in ELA. I was able to debrief with Dr. Arnold earlier this week and here is a summary of his feedback:

  • Evidence of strong classroom procedures and management creating effective learning environments.
  • The effective use of IAs to support instruction and work with students was noted across the building. He noted that he didn't see IA's just doing clerical work, our IAs were working with students in small groups in classrooms and in the alcoves. Great job!
  • Evidence of team planning at multiple grade levels. What was happening in one classroom was happening in another. All grades were in the same parts of unit work and working in the curriculum.
  • Some question on the use of worksheets with instruction that does not give us the "most bang for our buck". (See Leigh Anne's section in the news letter bellow for more on this topic and also in next steps below.)
  • Overall a true improvement and change from what was observed several years ago regarding adherence to curriculum and use of IAs.

Our next steps that he thinks we should really look at is our use of worksheets in our instruction. He did clarify that as a staff we are not totally overboard with worksheets, and the expectation with the feedback is not to eliminate all worksheets. However, as a staff we need to really be intentional with the worksheets we put in front of our students and ensure that what we are asking them to do is not busy work or low level.

As we think about meeting the expectations we agreed upon in our vision, we said that as a faculty and staff we would:

  • Follow the KCS curriculum, instructional expectations, and use high leverage instructional strategies that promote growth for all students.

If we are going to continue to grow and improve, we need to to have a high level of intentionality in what we present to our students and ask them to do. Does the work we put in front of them move students forward? Is it highly connected to our curriculum? Is this just busy work? These are all things that we need to be thinking of when incorporating worksheets in our students' day.


As I walk(hobble) my way through our building, it is exciting to see all the learning that is going on in classrooms. It is thrilling to hear students justifying their opinions using evidence from the text, articulating which strategy they used to solve a math problem, referencing learning targets and anchor charts for support, and building upon the thinking of classmates. On the occasion, I witness students working independently or with a partner on worksheets or packets. Although “worksheets” have a negative connotation in certain educational circles, it is not the “worksheet” that is the problem at all; it is the level of thinking we ask students to do when we hand them a worksheet.

Questions we should ask ourselves before we copy a worksheet include:

  • Can I link what is required on this worksheet directly to a standard?
  • What level (Bloom’s Taxonomy) is required to complete the items on this sheet?
  • If the worksheet is primarily for practice, how do students stop at the point that they can demonstrate mastery?
  • How does this worksheet advance each student’s learning? Is this the best and/or most effective method?

I borrowed this snip from an article/podcast entry from one of my favorite “go to” professional sites, The Cult of Pedagogy:

For those of you who grapple with whether or not there is a better way to impact student growth and learning during independent work, may I suggest the following resources:

  • For the entire article on the value of worksheets/packets and SO MUCH MORE, please visit: I promise you will not be disappointed.
  • In addition, I would love to share one of my all-time favorite resources: Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, 20 Instructional Strategies that Engage the Brain, by Dr. Marsha Tate. Meet me in my office to check it out!

Thank You for Yesterdays RTI Meetings

Thank you for being prepared with the items that Autumn asked for and to discuss the questions I asked you to reflect on. We hope you found the meeting helpful. Thank you also to the SPED team for being at our meetings all day to help discuss students of concern.

My notes from our discussion are not fancy and likely have incomplete sentences because I was trying to keep up with the conversation, but are available for you to see if you want to view what other grade levels are doing. They are in the RTI folder in our school's team drive.

Next week's PLC Meetings

Next week we will have our final discussions for grade level books that we read this past semester. Please be ready to discuss the last sections of your books. Here are two main questions, beyond what you want to talk about, for you to discuss when we meet:

  1. What was the biggest take away from this book that impacted your practice or mindset the most?
  2. Did any part of the book your read challenge your thinking/mindset toward the impact of trauma/supporting students/changing a school's ability to be successful academically with a challenging population? Fill in the blanks, "I used to think......., but now I think........." in relation to what you learned from your book.

I will have new books for you to choose from for the rest of the year in my office on Tuesday. Please come by as a grade level and decide what you want to read next. I hope you all find another good book.

9 Week's Behavior Party

We are going to the movies! We had to move the trip to the 28th, due to a scheduling conflict. We have worked with PTO and the buses will be FREE so this is a ZERO cost trip for our kids!! Please thank the PTO when you see a member for their support of our students. We will have permission slips for you early next week to pass out. Major Kudos to Henry for his work to make this trip happen!

Oh, we will be seeing Inside Out so start thinking about how you can have circles or other work back at school to connect the movie to our Zones of Regulation. There is so much material here we could easily have WEEKS of circle material here!

Science Fair is BACK!!

I am excited to say that the science fair is back! We are working with the PTO to get this exciting information out to our students and families. We will have a kick off on Monday, February 4th in the evening for a presentation for students who want to participate. We will have an event on Monday, March 4th to judge and have science demonstrations in the evening in addition to announcing winners. As we finalize the events we will let you know what to expect. PTO will have fliers to advertise for the Feb 4th evening event next week.

Jason Gordon to Return in February

I hope you all found some of the strategies Jason presented in our faculty meeting this week helpful to you. We can always add to our "bag of tricks" that supports better student behavior. Jason will be returning next month during our behavior themed meeting on the 19th of February to meet with grade levels during PLC meetings. I will have a sheet for each grade level to complete helping us to focus on grade level problems of practice that he can help support us with in finding solutions to some of our grade level behavior concerns or conundrums.

Friendly Data Reporting Reminder

Based on grade level conversations I believe that most grade levels are either done or very close to being done with the mid year DRA assessments. Please make sure that you put your DRA data in the spread sheet so other groups like SPED, Administration, and leadership team can view our school wide data in order to look for growth, trends, and areas for continued focus.

We will be discussing DRA and 9 weeks data at our last PLC meeting this month.

Domtar Family Field Trip

Team, while I cannot require any of you to be at the family field trip next Thursday I would like to encourage those of you who can attend to do so. I have heard NOTHING but really great things from the other schools that have already had this trip. It would be great to have a strong staff showing at the event. I know many of you have basketball, appointments, and other obligations already planned, but if you are available, it would be great to have staff at the event.

Lincoln Lions Are

Respectful, Responsible, Trustworthy, and Safe

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