Teaching and Learning Times

January 2017 Edition

Learning for All

In this edition:

Core Belief: We believe professional development is most successful when it is personalized and job embedded.


What's Happening

  • Save the Date: January Professional Development Day is January 20th
  • Elementary Science, Social Studies, and RELA updates (January)


Promising Practice

  • Differentiation


Books and Blogs

  • Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives
  • The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher's Month by Month Handbook for Empowering Students to Achieve
  • Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School



Technology Tips

  • Google: Having a Google Doc in Multiple Folders in Google Drive
  • Canvas: Grade Passback
  • Schoolwires: Web Page Templates - About Your Teacher
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Core Belief: We believe professional development is most successful when it is personalized and job embedded.

Our third core belief is we believe professional development is most successful when it is personalized.


When educators think about professional development it is often through the lens of "days" and/or training. Yet no matter how well those sessions are organized to model best practices and support teacher learning, they are never as effective as a job embedded and personalized approach. The Office for Teaching and Learning provides many teachers with this type of support and opportunities for growth through:


  • instructional feedback and walk-through's by the Supervisors
  • instructional coaching and cycles of inquiry by the instructional coaches
  • curating resources specific to individual teacher goals
  • supporting grade level, curricular, and data teams
  • personal or small group support in curriculum design and implementation


Additionally, there are many ways that job embedded professional development is occurring in your building as well:


  • instructional coaching with focus on feedback (as opposed to supervision)
  • Instructional Rounds with focus on timely and specific feedback.
  • individual teachers are setting personal and professional learning goals focused on action research and conducting cycles of inquiry through their practices.
  • some members of New Teacher Academy are self-observing through audio/video recording of chunks of lessons and reflecting on what they notice.
  • members of New Teacher Academy are observing others and reflecting on how that time together could help grow their practices.


A focus on learning and personal growth makes all the difference in how we approach challenging and difficult tasks.



And as Dylan Wiliam says, "If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve not because they are not good enough, but because they can be better, there is no limit to what we can achieve."

What's Happening!

Save The Date: Friday January 20th Professional Development Day

Our next District-Wide Professional Development Day is Friday, January 20th to be held at Strayer Middle School. Many of the room assignments will remain the same and the structure for the day will also remain similar. Be on the lookout shortly for more details.

Elementary RELA, Science, and Social Studies Update (January)

Elementary Science and Social Studies is currently in year 2 of the curriculum cycle, and Elementary RELA is in year 1 of the curriculum cycle. As we continue to work through the process of curriculum revision, two of our goals are to:

  1. Effectively communicate transparently

  2. Elicit teacher feedback


Back in September, we asked elementary teachers to respond to three different surveys regarding their attitudes and perceptions of current curriculum and resources. Each of the three surveys garnered around 50% participation. The results of the three surveys can be found below:


Throughout the month of December several members of the Office for Teaching and Learning camped out in each of the elementary buildings to get more feedback and thoughts about next steps. Brief summaries of those conversations and next steps can be found below.



So What's Next for Science and Social Studies?


  • School Board presentations and recommendations for resources (February/March)
  • Design of curriculum and assessments (February/ March)- First Drafts
  • Revision of Science and Social Studies curriculum and assessments (April/ May)
  • Professional Development Opportunities (Summer 2017)
  • Implementation begins (Fall 2017)

Promising Practice

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Books and Blogs

Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives

"Introducing a spelling test to a student by saying, 'Let's see how many words you know,' is different from saying, 'Let's see how many words you know already.' It is only one word, but the already suggests that any words the child knows are ahead of expectation and, most important, that there is nothing permanent about what is known and not known."
— Peter Johnston
Sometimes a single word changes everything. In his groundbreaking book Choice Words, Peter Johnston demonstrated how the things teachers say (and don't say) have surprising consequences for the literate lives of students. Now, in Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives, Peter shows how the words teachers choose affect the worlds students inhabit in the classroom, and ultimately their futures. He explains how to engage children with more productive talk and to create classrooms that support not only students' intellectual development, but their development as human beings.

Grounded in research, Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives shows how words can shape students' learning, their sense of self, and their social, emotional and moral development. Make no mistake: words have the power to open minds – or close them.

Kelly Says: This book opened my eyes to the small differences in language when providing feedback to my own children and students. The feedback we give students can mark whether we believe in the fixed or growth mindset. The key to providing feedback is to focus on effort, strategy, and process. Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston

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In the book "The Growth Mindset Coach: A Teacher's Month by Month Handbook for empowering Students to Achieve" authors Annie Brock and Heather Hundley organize their text for powerful discussions and lesson plans to lead students towards growth mindsets. There are variations based on the age and level of the student. For a quick glimpse of each month, see below:


AUGUST- Teaching is a Practice, not a Perfection

SEPTEMBER- Everyone can Learn!

OCTOBER- My Brain is Like A Muscle That Grows!

NOVEMBER- I Am A Valued Member of This Learning Community

DECEMBER- WE Love A Challenge

JANUARY- Feedback Is a Gift- Accept It.

FEBRUARY- A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish

MARCH- Mistakes Are Opportunities for Learning

APRIL- There's A Difference Between Not Knowing and Not Knowing Yet!

MAY- I Got This!

JUNE- I Can't Take Care of Myself If I Don't Take Care of Myself

JULY- A New Day is a New Opportunity to Grow

Awakening the Heart by Georgia Heard Exploring Poetry for Elementary and Middle School

Lynne says, "Awakening the Heart explores how to cultivate poetry in elementary and middle school classrooms through examples, detailed exercises, creative projects and focus lessons. This book has a space in the high school English class also. I have seen the lessons in the book used successfully with adults too. This book is about creating an environment in which students feel safe to make their own poems."

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Here are some reasons to teach poetry throughout the year:

  • Poetry is a highly effective way to promote fluency.
  • Poetry’s short, spare, and concise format is often more manageable to read, especially for struggling or reluctant readers.
  • Poetry’s range of subject matter is vast and varied, and can help build children’s interests for writing.
  • Poetry demonstrates rich, precise, imaginative language.
  • Through poetry students can practice inferential thinking in text that is short yet filled with meaning.
  • Poetry gives voice to children’s feelings about themselves and the world, and helps them make a personal connection to literature.
  • Poetry can help create a more relaxed and positive classroom atmosphere.

Poets....


Observe the small moments around us
Find poetry in the ordinary
See beauty in the ugly
Are curious and filled with wonder
Love the meaning the sounds of words
Look at the world in a new way
Pay attention to and write from all our feelings
Give voice to the unspeakable
Are empathetic

Technology Corner

Adding a Google Doc to Multiple Google Drive Folders... without Copying

Have you ever looked for a Google Doc in one folder because it makes sense for it to be there when it's in a completely different folder because when created it made sense to put it THERE? Wouldn't it be nice for the same doc to be available in more than one folder yet still be the SAME Google Doc, not a clone? Call it repeating. Call it echoing. Cross-folder storing. Doc mirroring -- whatever you wish. SHIFT + Z will get you there.


  1. Just click once on the file in any Google Drive folder that you'd like to have available in a second Google Drive folder. Don't open the file. Just click it once to select it.
  2. Once the file is selected type SHIFT+Z and you're given a Drive browser pop-up that helps you navigate your Google Drive folders to find where you want the doc repeated.


Whether you click on the doc from its original location or from its repeated, new location, you'll be editing the same thing from either place. We use this feature in OTL often and wanted to pass along the tip to help you find your Google Drive resources faster.

Canvas Time-savers: Grade Passback

Are you tired of transcribing grades from quizzes into PowerSchool? Do you wish new grades and grade updates could transfer into PowerSchool with a click of a button? You're not alone! Why not learn more about this system built into Canvas known as Grade Passback? On any graded student submission simply select the checkbox that reads.


Include this assignment's grades when posting

to your school's Student Information System.


Grade student submissions include graded discussion boards, assignment tools, and quiz tools. When you're ready to pass grades from Canvas back to PowerSchool simply click the "Post Grades" button at the top-right of your Canvas Grade book. Canvas then scans all of your Grade book graded assignments for any of those checkboxes you've selected, and if they meet the Grade Passback requirements the grades and grade updates are sent up to PowerSchool. Learn more about Grade Passback in the Canvas Training course here.

SchoolWires Time-savers: Web Page Templates ===> About Your Teacher

Last month's SMORE demonstrated how to create a Contact your teacher web page in SchoolWires using a template. This month we continue along that theme to show you where the About Your Teacher template is using the tutorial below. Use the About Your Teacher template to create an information page for students and families looking to learn more about you that you'd like to share before they join your private learning community such as Canvas.


Although many teachers are using systems such as Canvas for sharing day-to-day communication with families, it's still important to have a presence on the World Wide Web with a basic teacher web site. Once used as the primary source for communication, the SchoolWires web page system exists now as more of a business card, of sorts, for teachers by providing some basic information for families. For example, families will enjoy learning about a child's teacher in the upcoming school year over summer months. SchoolWires can provide families some much needed back-to-school information until systems like Canvas become available in the Fall.


Learn more about the About Your Teacher SchoolWires template in the video below.

SchoolWires: Template - About Your Teacher

QCSD Systems Log In's

Having trouble keeping up with the changes? Check out this document to help. (it is still being updated as of 9/9/16)

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Previous Editions

October 2016: Click here

November 2016: Click here

December 2016 Click here

Who makes up the Office for Teaching and Learning team?

Dr, Lisa Hoffman- Director of the Office for Teaching and Learning

Dr. Kathy Winters- Director of Elementary Programming

Mr Tony Carty- Supervisor of Prof. Dev., Assessment, and Blended Learning

Mr. Greg Lesher- Supervisor of S.T.E.M.

Ms. Erin Oleksa- Supervisor of Literacy and Fine Arts

Mrs. Kelly Cramer- Instructional Coach webpage

Mr. Chad Evans- Instructional Coach webpage

Mrs. Lynne Morgan- Instructional Coach webpage

Mr. Todd Silvius- Instructional Coach webpage

Mrs. Mary Carol Swanson- Administrative Assistant