Instructional Edge

April, 2018- Snapshots of Events at WSR

Cross Country Connections

Sometimes, a little bit of technology goes a long way! Such is the case in Mr. McGrane’s 4th grade classroom at Shell Rock Elementary. As a conclusion to their Geography unit about the different regions of the United States, the students embarked on a challenge against another 4th grade classroom in a different region and state. The tricky part of the challenge was the fact that neither class knew where the other was from. The classes participated in a “20 Questions” of sorts, using their new found knowledge of the geography of the United States and geography based questioning strategies, to figure out where the other students hailed from. The result? A unique opportunity for the students to apply their mapping and geography skills, as well as a new found understanding and appreciation for their peers from Texas and New Jersey.

"This opportunity provided our students with a chance to practice their speaking and listening and presentation skills. It was also exciting for me to see students improve their reasoning skills and negotiating skills." ~Mr. McGrane, Shell Rock Elementary (4th Grade)

WSR 3rd Graders Experience Young Writer's Conference

On March 26, 2018, all Waverly-Shell Rock third-grade students had the opportunity to participate in a unique writer's conference. They were able to attend the Posenkany Young Writer’s Conference held at Wartburg College. WSR teamed up with Wartburg College’s Dr. Stephanie TeKippe in the Education Department to provide an inspirational keynote speaker, Anne Mazer, author of The Salamander Room, breakout sessions, and lunch for all of our students. The Iowa Reading Research Center provides some interesting information in their blog about writing. We can see how important this day is for our third-grade students. Please follow this link to view the article. The Young Writer’s Conference certainly gave our students a community feel to writing with this experience.

In breakout sessions throughout the day, students were lead by Wartburg College students enrolled in the Language Arts methods course and are working towards a BA in elementary education. College students were responsible for writing and delivering the lessons geared towards writing enrichment. The lessons developed were also connected to writing standards for grade 3. These sessions held the purpose of enhancing students’ writing and creative processes. Sessions offered to 3rd graders included developing and organization in writing, descriptive writing, opinion and persuasive writing, narrative and poetry writing, and conventions of writing.

9th Graders at WSR HS Experience "Get to Green"

Stress can be a difficult thing to manage at all ages so Waverly-Shell Rock 9th graders have experienced a method of self-regulation called, "Get to Green". Green is where a student is when he or she is ready to learn, calm, content, focused, and are able to concentrate. As a student experiences frustration, anger, worry, excitement, etc., they become yellow. And if the dysregulation continues, a student might become furious or out of control and be considered red. Many times students experience sadness or worry which is designated with the blue zone. So what does a student do to manage the different levels of stress and "Get to Green" so learning can happen? Well, teaching students about deep breathing, relaxing muscles, going for a walk, and intentionally settling themselves down allows a student to regulate their own stress and Get To Green. When students get to green on their own, they are more able to stay focused, feel relaxed, and be ready to learn.

Students respond to learning about Get to Green:

"My initial reaction was that this information will be very helpful to students, especially high school students because we have a lot of stress in our lives. And this system will help us a lot." 9th grader

"I thought it was good information that is useful to all ages. This method is a great way to self reflect." 9th grader

"This is very useful and made a lot of sense. A few classmates and I just used this at the start of the period." 9th grader

Community Builders bring in High School Students

The Wartburg Community Builders program has been a part of the W-SR Middle School for 17 years. For the past 16 years it has been a part of the 6th-grade experience, but this year it shifted to the 7th grade. The content of the Community Builders program has taken the focus of the 7 habits of highly effective teens. On February 1st W-SR High School students joined the Community Builder groups to share experiences in the transition from MS to HS and ways they prepared for their high school career.

W-SR Nexus: Bringing School and Community Together

W-SR Nexus is an elective credit course that is intended to provide a unique learning experience for any Waverly-Shell Rock High School student. Nexus students engage with interest based community partners in order to drive their own learning through problems, projects and other meaningful initiatives that have been identified by community stakeholders.

Student and Community Partnership Benefits

  • Increased engagement/meaning/purpose by placing W-SR students in Real-World learning environments

  • Provides opportunity for students to develop success/career skills in this Real-World setting (Communication, Problem-Solving, Collaboration, etc.)

  • Students develop a heightened sense of community awareness and pride

  • Students provide an army of fresh (and free!) perspective to the unique challenges of today’s society and business world

  • Students engaged in partnering with their community as problem-solvers become the leaders of their communities in the future.

  • Parental/Student Goodwill toward community partners, resulting in positive public relations

Student and Community Partnership Possibilities

  • Inbound Projects (partner initiated, problem based)

  • Outbound Projects (student initiated, passion based)

  • Service Learning

  • Career Embedded Partnerships (Learning Focused “Internships”)

  • Existing National/International Initiatives

  • W-SR Enhancement (School Centered)

  • Other School/Community Partnerships NOT already identified

For more information about W-SR Nexus and other student-centered/community embedded learning opportunities at W-SR, contact Instructional Coach Chuck Buseman

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Assessing Math Concepts and Developing Number Concepts

Elementary Teachers (K-4) spent a recent professional development learning more about Assessing Math Concepts (AMC) and Developing Number Concepts. AMC is a continuum of nine assessments that are formative, summative, and diagnostic to determine what a child knows and still needs to learn. Developing Number Concepts is a cohesive curriculum featuring hands-on activities that give students repeated math experiences.

Some other highlights about these programs include:

  • Short Personal Interviews

  • Focus on Number Sense and Concepts

  • Designed to give teachers the most information possible in the shortest amount of time

  • Aligned with Common Core State Standards in Mathematics

  • Contains teacher-directed and independent activities

Teachers begin with personal interviews to gain a cohesive look at a student’s understanding of core math concepts. These foundational concepts are needed in order for students to be successful in math, including at the middle school and beyond. The concepts identified in the interview correlate to the curriculum series.

The curriculum then provides an organized set of meaningful experiences for students. Teachers can differentiate the instruction to meet the needs to the students. This curriculum is based on years of research about how children learn, so the activities provide experiences to develop number sense and concepts from a concrete to an abstract understanding.

Instructional coaches have already been in numerous classrooms helping students gain access to this curriculum. Instructional coaches have helped with the assessments, analyzing and summarizing the assessment data, training teachers and associates for activities, and developing progress monitoring support.