Weekly Update 1-15-16
Wright City R-II School District
Hello Wildcat Nation!
I thought the picture in the background was appropriate for all of you who have a New Year's Day resolution involving 'getting into better shape.'
January is always such a busy time. It is also a time of uncertainty with weather. And, that uncertainty, can amp up some of our youngster with glee and anticipation while at the same time amping up adults worry about drives home on back roads. Please take care. We appreciate you just the way you are!
And...for those of you who are St. Louis sports fans, they say a picture is worth a thousand words...sooooo........
- Who wrote the 2014 novel Gone Girl?
- The Bengal Tiger is the national animal of India. True or False?
- Who played Houlihan on TV's M*A*S*H?
- Who said: "I'm a rock star because I couldn't be a soccer star"?
- The smallest muscle in your body is called stapedius. Where is it located?
Missouri Teachers Website
We have a BOE meeting on the 21st of January at 6 p.m. at the Central Office.
- Call to order
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Approval and Adoption of Agenda
- MSBA Board Meeting Review
- Board Recognition Week (January 24th - 30th is the official week)
- High School Presentation
- P.A.W.S. report
- High School Upgrades - These are the specs for our 4th summer of our 5 year facilities plan regarding upgrades to the gym locker and coaches area as well as the soffits. If approved, we would take these out to bid.
- Award bid for Water Project - This is the HS area where the shot put was. The shot put and discus areas have already been moved. This is the creation of a detention pond area to mitigate water flow to our neighbors just south of our property line. We received 4 bids, with 1 of them being 1/2 the cost of the other 3.
- Bond Refunding - This is our 3rd and final refinancing of bonds as they become eligible this fiscal year. It is estimated this will save $167,000 in interest. The 3 refinancing items this year has save around $1.5 million in interest. After this refinancing, we will have no existing debt at rates above the historic lows of the past few years.
- Quarterly Budget Update
- Website Preview - Jen Hecktor and Andrea Schremp will take the BOE on a tour of the new website. We look to go live on January 27th. The calendar is not working correctly as of yet, so a fix is being explored. It is a beautiful site. We will add teacher level pages in August.
- Program Evaluations: Code of Conduct. We are embedding these into the PAWS report per past practice. Our incident rate and OSS rate have risen compared to last year. Ms. Hecktor and I have had informal conversations with building folks regarding this during the 1st semester. We look to do a Plan Do Study Act on the topic based on the data shared at the BOE meeting. More on some of that data in a minute.
- 2016-17 School Calendar - This is as per the committee's recommendation. Thank you to all of you who gave them input.
- Legislative Update - This is a standing item from December to May, when the session concludes. As I type, 1,100 bills have been filed in Missouri. We will go over a few big ones we will monitor. An ESSA timeline will be shared as well.
- County Wide Tolling Meeting - A meeting last week was held with elected officials across Warren County regarding tolling. More on that in a minute.
- Approval of the minutes from the December 17th and January 5th meetings.
- Accounting Protocol - We have a few minor changes
- Third reading of Policies BBB, BBBA, BBC, BHA, BHD (rescind), DGA, DLCA, JFH (rescind), KL
- Transfer of Fund 1 to Fund 2 to Cover Certified Salaries
- MSBA Full Service Maintenance Agreement - this is an annual item.
- St. Charles Community College - this is an updated agreement for a program we already participate in at the HS.
As you may or may not know, MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) has a new director and a tough upcoming budget.
First, the budget. MoDOT hasn't had a fuel tax increase since 1992. To help them out, the legislators allowed MoDOT to issue bonds to run projects. Those ceased a few years back. The money from those bonds is about to dwindle. In 2009, they had $1.3 billion for road projects. In 2014, that dropped to $700 million. In 2017, it is to drop to $325 million. This is why MoDOT has a 325 plan (for $325 million) that looks to maintain around a quarter of the roads it has in Missouri.
And Missouri has many state roads. Missouri is the 7th largest system in the U.S., but has the 45th highest gas tax. Missouri has $34,000 miles of state owned and maintained roads, 10,400 bridges to maintain, and $268,201 lane miles of road surface. Yet, their state tax is 17.3 cents per gallon. Illinois is at 39.1 cents, for comparison. The US average is just over 48 cents. Diesel is another rate altogether, but only South Carolina, Oklahoma and Alaska have a lower diesel tax.
Missouri has only 1 interstate eligible for a toll via the vote of the people or by legislative action. That is I-70. The new director is from a northeast state that relies heavily on tolling for funding. He immediately started a study on the possibility of tolling on I-70 once he took office in November. The study is being conducted by a billion dollar firm out of Europe that maintains tolling.
Our waiver on I-70 ends on December 4th. So, they have this legislative session to do something with this. That is, unless they enter a Public Private Partnership (P3). That means, the public turns over the finance, design, build, operate and maintenance of a publicly owned asset to a private company. That company can charge whatever they want and change fees as they see fit. There are 5 such P3s in the nation right now. This would not require the vote of the people or action of the legislators, just MoDOT turning it over.
So why was there a meeting with both Wright City and Warrenton Board of Education members invited? Impact could be huge on us.
To avoid the populated area push back, they are talking about said toll would be from Foristell to Blue Springs. that would mean we would have potential issues in getting business to move in, as well as home growth. It could mean that commuters from Warren County will utilize outer roads and N / OO at a high rate, which could cause us congestion issues with our buses.
The individual cost to you as a commuter would not be great on a given day...less than $3 per day if at 15 cents per mile. However, what if it is a P3 and they want to charge 45 cents per mile?
One topic they are exploring is adding a 3rd lane and only that lane be tolled. This would be done by cameras. Concern I had with this is that people will pull out of and in those lanes to avoid cameras but take advantage of less traffic. That type of lane switching could add transportation concerns for our buses.
Some fun stats presented at the informational meeting:
- 49% of Missouri Employers resides within 30 miles of I-70.
- 63% of Missouri's jobs resides within 30 miles of I-70.
- 61% of Missouri's population resides within 30 miles of I-70.
We will keep you up to date on any developments that may occur in this arena this year.
We did a comparison of # of discipline referrals, # of students receiving a discipline referral, % of all referrals coming from 5 students with the most referrals, and the # of Out of School Suspensions. We did this by comparing the 1st semester of last year to the 1st semester of this year.
The number of referrals:
- HS is up 8.7%
- MS is up 69.4%
- West is down 24.3%
- East is up 1.0%
- District is up 10.0%
The number of students who received a referral:
- HS is up 2.4%
- MS is down 2.3%
- West is down 22.3%
- East has the same number
- District is down 5.9%
The % of referrals coming from the 5 students with the most referrals:
- HS is at 25%, which is 5 percentage points higher than last year.
- MS is at 35%, which is 6 percentage points higher than last year.
- West is at 34%, which is 1 percentage points higher than last year.
- East is at 37%, which is the same as last year.
- The average of those 4 buildings is that 33% of the write ups comes from 5 kids in each building, which is an increase of 3% from last year.
The number of days a student is suspended (OSS):
- HS is up 7.8% to 219 days
- MS is up 90.8% to 227 days
- West is down 46.8% to 32 days
- East is up 100% to 22 days
- The District is up by 27.23%
What we gleam from this is it is a trend that warrants immediate study and action. We have had many informal conversations during the first semester as we could 'feel' the data shifting. However, it is time we put our Baldrige Process to work.
Jen Hecktor will lead a Behavior Task Force that will study and offer recommendations for actions. The Task Force will have teachers, counselors and administrators as participants. This will then be part of a Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle.
To be clear, we are not saying the goal is less write ups or less OSS days, although that is a great by-product that helps students learn from and with you and their peers. We want consequences to be fair and just. What we are saying is that we need to do our best to reach all of our students before their behaviors escalate to the level of a write up or to the level that warrants OSS. We also want to have tools in all of our toolboxes to de-escalate situations to the best of our ability and to offer steps of consequences to be as fair and just as possible.
I know we are already bringing in Dr. Cox, who is a well known and highly respected consultant on how teachers and administrators can effectively address students who have high frequencies of behavior issues. That is great step. The Task Force will look into other sources of help needed.
We will explore programs such as Leader In Me, Missouri Institute for Positive Coaching (Dr. McGuire out of MU), Capturing Kids Hearts, and others that may also provide us with tools both in the classroom and in the field of play to help reach our kids in a positive and impactful manner. The Task Force may make recommendations that we move into action within one of these programs.
I will revisit last week's Mr. Kotter intro at the end of this Smore. And, in many ways, the way I will do so will emphasis the high expectations of Mr. Kotter. That is certainly a part of this. And a reason we have risen to the incredible success we have had. However, the heart and connection part of Mr. Kotter is in play on this topic. And I know we all want every kid to succeed. We have a few that are not, and they are leading to the data above. We need help in helping them. We will work on doing just that. The data is not a judgment on anyone. It is a temperature check that warrants us to address a need.
W-2s and more!
As always, we will be sending you your W-2s for tax purposes this month. It will be by January 31st. Accompanying your W-2s, you will have an additional form (or in some of your cases, 2 forms) that are reports for your tax filings regarding the Affordable Health Care Act. These will not come at payroll time.
The additional form(s) are provided by Mercer. That information will not be in the portal. After we print W-2s, most of that information will be in the portal soon after, but it will not be sufficient for your tax filing since the portal version will not have EIN and other information needed. If you need a reprinted W-2, you will need to contact Central Office with that request. Right now, the portal has last year's W-2 information.
Have you heard of MOOCs before?
MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. These first came on the scene in 2008 and have become very popular in the past few years. They are free and online. Run by various organizations and universities including Stanford, Michigan and MIT. There are no grades for these courses.
Why do I mention these free courses that can cover subjects such as electrical engineering and biochemistry and digital web design?
We are going to explore utilizing them at our high school next year.
At 1602 students (as of this week), we are bigger than 3/4ths of the state's districts. Yet, we are much smaller than the truly big districts in the state. There are so many advantages to our size. One disadvantage is that we have less HS course offerings than those to the east of us.
MOOCs will allow us to expand in an individualized and personalized way. We will have an hour of MOOC courses that a student can choose to be part of. The student will select the course they are interested in exploring. Let's say we have a Health Occ student that wants to take Medicine and the Arts via University of Cape Town. The teacher and the student will review the syllabus and decide collaboratively what product(s) that student would need to produce at the end of the MOOC to show they have learned the content. Then, the student progresses in the class and the teacher has regular check ins and offers support as needed. This will be an elective credit, but allow the student to dig deeply into something they care deeply about or are deeply interested in.
We will offer the MOOC one hour a day as an independent study elective. We are very excited about expanding the educational world to our students as they begin to transition to post-secondary careers and trainings.
Classroom Closure Activities
Many of you know Ned Miller. He summarized some research this week on closure activities. He sent me the following 22 strategies that I thought you might find valuable:
What Is Closure?
Closure is the activity that ends a lesson and creates a lasting impression, a phenomenon that Colorado State University professor Rod Lucero calls the recency effect.
Teachers use closure to:
- Check for understanding and inform subsequent instruction
- Emphasize key information
- Tie up loose ends
- Correct misunderstandings
Students find closure helpful for:
- Summarizing, reviewing, and demonstrating their understanding of major points
- Consolidating and internalizing key information
- Linking lesson ideas to a conceptual framework and/or previously-learned knowledge
- Transferring ideas to new situations
Like contracting your bicep at the top of a dumbbell curl, closure squeezes an extra oomph into a lesson. See my favorite closure strategies below!
Creative Closure Activities
Students write down what they learned on a piece of scratch paper and wad it up. Given a signal, they throw their paper snowballs in the air. Then each learner picks up a nearby response and reads it aloud.
2. High-Five Hustle
Ask students to stand up, raise their hands and high-five a peer -- their short-term hustle buddy. When there are no hands left, ask a question for them to discuss. Solicit answers. Then play "Do the Hustle" as a signal for them to raise their hands and high-five a different partner for the next question. (Source: Gretchen Bridgers)
3. Parent Hotline
Give students an interesting question about the lesson without further discussion. Email their guardians the answer so that the topic can be discussed over dinner.
4. Two-Dollar Summary
Kids write a two-dollar (or more) summary of the lesson. Each word is worth ten cents. For extra scaffolding, ask students to include specific words in their statement. (Source (PDF): Ann Lewis and Aleta Thompson)
5. Paper Slide
On paper, small groups sketch and write what they learned. Then team representatives line up and, one and a time, slide their work under a video camera while quickly summarizing what was learned. The camera doesn't stop recording until each representative has completed his or her summary.
6. DJ Summary
Learners write what they learned in the form of a favorite song. Offer extra praise if they sing.
7. Gallery Walk
On chart paper, small groups of students write and draw what they learned. After the completed works are attached to the classroom walls, others students affix Stickies to the posters to extend on the ideas, add questions, or offer praise.
8. Sequence It
Students can quickly create timelines with Timetoast to represent the sequence of a plot or historical events.
9. Low-Stakes Quizzes
Give a short quiz using technologies like Socrative, BubbleSheet, GoSoapBox, or Google Forms. Alternatively, have students write down three quiz questions (to ask at the beginning of the next class).
10. Cover It
Have kids sketch a book cover. The title is the class topic. The author is the student. A short celebrity endorsement or blurb should summarize and articulate the lesson's benefits.
11. Question Stems
Have students write questions about the lesson on cards, using question stems framed around Bloom's Taxonomy. Have students exchange cards and answer the question they have acquired.
12. So What?
Kids answer the following prompts:
What takeaways from the lesson will be important to know three years from now?
13. Dramatize It
Have students dramatize a real-life application of a skill.
14. Beat the Clock
Ask a question. Give students ten seconds to confer with peers before you call on a random student to answer. Repeat.
15. Find a First-Grade Student
Have kids orally describe a concept, procedure, or skill in terms so simple that a child in first grade would get it.
16. Review It
Direct kids to raise their hands if they can answer your questions. Classmates agree (thumbs up) or disagree (thumbs down) with the response.
17. CliffsNotes, Jr.
Have kids create a cheat sheet of information that would be useful for a quiz on the day's topic. (Source (PDF): Ann Sipe, "40 Ways to Leave a Lesson")
18. Students I Learned From the Most
Kids write notes to peers describing what they learned from them during class discussions.
19. Elevator Pitch
Ask students to summarize the main idea in under 60 seconds to another student acting as a well-known personality who works in your discipline. After summarizing, students should identify why the famous person might find the idea significant.
20. Simile Me
Have students complete the following sentence: "The [concept, skill, word] is like _______ because _______."
21. Exit Ticket Folder
Ask students to write their name, what they learned, and any lingering questions on a blank card or "ticket." Before they leave class, direct them to deposit their exit tickets in a folder or bin labeled either "Got It," "More Practice, Please," or "I Need Some Help!" -- whichever label best represents their relationship to the day's content. (Source: Erika Savage)
22. Out-the-Door Activity
After writing down the learning outcome, ask students to take a card, circle one of the following options, and return the card to you before they leave:
Stop (I'm totally confused.)
Go (I'm ready to move on.)
Proceed with caution (I could use some clarification on . . .)
These 22 strategies can be effectively altered or blended. And they are great opportunities to correct, clarify, and celebrate.
Thank you to Ned!
Thank you to the many foundation grant applications. The Foundation Board meets on February 3rd to review the applications. The applications total $9,799.97. The foundation has just over $6,000.
The foundation will co-sponsor a chili dinner fundraiser on the evening of Friday, February 5th at the High School. There is a home basketball game that night. I believe the time will be 4-8 p.m. I will update you on that date. The proceeds go toward grants for Wright City R-II. Please help support the fundraiser while enjoying the beautiful bowls created by our own art club!
Blue and Gold
Each year, our community comes together to raise money for student scholarships for Wright City High School seniors. This is a silent and live auction night with an amazing meal and quite a bit of humor. Tickets will go on sale soon and covers the meal and drinks. It is held at the Lion's Club here in town. Our staff and students work the event.
The date was set this week. April 2nd! I'd love to see many of you there to support our seniors as they transition to a very expensive next step! Our kids are competing against all Missouri kids. We would love to remove the barrier of money that other students just don't have. I was talking to a friend in Webster Groves recently. She asked what her Free / Reduced Lunch rate was, which is DESE's measure of economically disadvantaged. I looked it up. They were at 17%. We were at 54%. Yet, all kids are competing for the same jobs and careers. I'm excited about this community event to help them receive the education they need to compete with all Missouri students with as little debt as possible.
If you are interested in helping plan the event, please let Jackie Nierman know of your interest. That will start up in earnest very soon.
Recently, we had 2 teachers pilot the free benchmark assessment that the state has unveiled. It is called CDT and it is created by the same company that is creating the 3-8 ELA and Math MAP tests. A committee met to go over the process, questions, and data generated. They were very impressed, and felt that it might be able to replace Discovery Assessment. West Elementary and Middle School are now going to give a CDT assessment later this semester instead of the last Discovery benchmark.
If the assessment goes well, the data proves to be more valuable, and DESE doesn't discontinue it, we will perhaps move away from Discovery to CDT. That is what the committee is studying. Viability.
The cost will still be similar, even though CDT is free. CDT requires a TSM server. We will utilize the TSM server that is currently hosting our old website for this spring's testing to see if it can handle the testing requirements. It is an older server that we were not going to maintain once we switched our website later this month. A server cost about what we spend on Discovery.
For those that will participate with CDT later this semester, we are excited to hear your feedback!
Valentines for Veterans
I received the following earlier this week, and thought it worthy enough to pass along to you. Thank you to all of you who have served or supported a family member or friend while they served.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) is calling for all constituents in Missouri’s 3rdCongressional District to participate in his first ever “Valentines for Veterans” program.
“I am extremely excited to implement the “Valentines for Veterans” program. It is my hope the 3rd District takes a moment and creates a valentine to be sent throughout the district to the men and women who so bravely fought for the safety of our nation. This is a simple way for school classes, youth groups, families, and friends to help brighten a veterans day.”
The Valentines for Veterans can be dropped off or mailed to Luetkemeyer’s district offices until Friday, February 5. The following week, the valentines will be distributed to various VA hospitals and veterans service organizations.
The addresses to each of Luetkemeyer’s district offices are:
- 2117 Missouri Boulevard, Jefferson City, 65109
- 113 East Pearce Boulevard, Wentzville, 63385
- 516 Jefferson St., Washington, Mo., 63090
In addition, please be sure to follow these few rules:
- Do not address the valentine to a specific person.
- Do not sign your last name or include your address.
- Do not seal the valentines in individual envelopes.
- Please note that all valentines are reviewed by staff for appropriateness prior to distribution. We encourage you to write a kind note thanking the veteran for their service.
Why We Teach Survey
Published in October of 2015, this survey is of 1009 teacher's responses on how important various factors were in them choosing to become a teacher. So...not before they were a teacher, but why they chose the profession. This is not to say they are not all personally important...most people need a job and want to make a good wage and make a difference in lives. The following are the % of Very and Fairly Important marks on a variety of reasons they initially chose the profession:
- Making a difference to public lives: 60% Very important + 33% Fairly Important = 93%
- Thought I'd be good at it: 48%+45% = 93%
- Subject Interest: 57%+34% = 91%
- Opportunity to make difference to society: 45%+42% = 87%
- Desire to work with children / young people: 51%+35% = 86%
- Well qualified to: 32%+50%
- Need for a job: 25%+41% = 66%
- Culture of schools: 16%+43% = 59%
- Career progression opportunities: 10%+44% = 54%
- Holidays/time off: 17%+35% = 52%
- Pay: 9%+39% = 48%
- Quality of leadership and management: 6%+23% = 29%
What about the same areas, but with the question of why the 1,009 teachers stay in the teaching field?
- Being good at it: 55%+39% = 94%
- Making a difference to pupils' lives: 58%+34% = 92%
- Well qualified to do: 51%+40% = 91%
- Subject interest: 50%+37% = 87%
- Making a difference to society: 42%+44% = 86%
- Desire to work with children & young people: 51%+35% = 86%
- Need for a job: 40%+41% = 81%
- Holidays/time off: 24%+40% = 64%
- Pay: 16%+44% = 60%
- Culture of schools: 16%+40% = 56%
- Career progressions opportunities: 12%+34% = 46%
- Quality of leadership and management: 8%+25% = 33%
Missouri New Teacher Certifications
In 2015, DESE issued 4,661 initial certificates to teachers. Here are the areas those were in:
- Elementary = 40%
- Early Childhood = 9%
- Social Science 9-12 = 6%
- Mild Mod. (Special Education) = 6%
- English 9-12 = 5%
- P.E. K-12 = 5%
- Mathematics 9-12 (4%)
- General Science 5-9 (2%)
- The other 34 areas comprised the remaining 23%
Missouri Teaching Assignments
How does that flow from college match the teaching assignments in the state?
Here are the % breakdown of the 67,815 teaching positions in Missouri for the 2014-15 school year:
- Elementary = 48%
- High School = 30%
- Middle School = 14%
- Junior High = 3%
- Early Childhood = 2%
More Demographic Fun
Out of the 67,000+ teachers, 78% are female and 22% are male. 93.5% are white and 4.9% are black in ethnicity. The largest age group is 30-39, with 40-49 coming in a close second and 50-59 a close 3rd. 20-29 is the 4th largest age span.
When we look at a 10 state area on teacher shortage (defined by 1 in 5 students in an area/county of being taught by an unqualified teacher in that class), Spanish leads the charge at 35 counties. Health K-12 is 2nd.
With all of that fun macro data, I want you to know that we appreciate you taking the time and dedication needed to make real impacts on young lives. Last week, I had a new year's hope that you would be a Mr. Kotter to a student or three. Later that day (Friday, January 7th), I learned that one of my own Mr. Kotters had passed away Friday morning.
Mic Hart was 72...far too young to leave. He had the highest expectations in our high school. Bar none. He connected with kids in his own unique way, but also exuded passion in the subject area and our learning. He was a Biology, Botany, Zoology, Anatomy teacher. My siblings and I all had different interactions with him. All of us learned a ton from him. I spoke with a good friend about Mic this week. He is a very successful business man. He said Mic had higher expectations than any college professor he ever had. And, while he didn't go into the science field, that level of expectation of growth and learning still sits with him today.
How about that. Nearly 30 years after we sat in his class, and a business guy in the finance world is raving about the incredibly profound impact a Biology teacher had on him. Love. Expectations. Relationships. We can look at all the numbers in the world, but seeing my Facebook feed blow up with Mic Hart testimonials is why this is not just a job, but a calling with great responsibility and rewards. Mic made a huge difference.
So, I reiterate...I hope you are someone's Mr. Kotter this year. Or their Mic Hart.
Q and A
Calendar next week
Monday, November 18th
- No school
Tuesday, November 19th
- Sophomore parent ring order (2:28 p.m.)
- JV/V Boys Basketball away (North County Christian)
Wednesday, November 20th
- Sophomore parent ring order (10:25 a.m.)
- JV/V Girls Basketball home (Trinity)
Thursday, November 21st
- JV/V Boys Basketball home (Montgomery)
- Board Meeting
Friday, November 22nd
- Themed Basket Raffle starts at East Elementary
- JV/V Girls Basketball away (Winfield)
Article of the Week
www.edweek.org - This January 6th, 2016 Education Week issue has a very good article on RtI by a large group of authors. I know the secondary folks are about to unveil an RtI plan, so this may be of interest to you.
Book of the Week
This one was given to me by Jennifer Hecktor. Matt Mooney, Dawn Day, Matt Brooks and myself read it as a book study this week. Hanging In: Strategies for Teaching the Students Who Challenge Us Most by Jeffrey Benson is a fascinating read. He gives 13 different short stories of vary unique and challenging students. With each, he delves into what the issues are, what the teacher can try and try not to do, and what the building administrator can try and try not to do. The book is very accessible and has some ready to use tactics that are very much individual student need driven. While it is no magic bullet, it is worth your time if you are struggling with a student or two behavior wise. I'm glad I read it!
That being said, one of the things I've been thinking of doing for years now is having a book club on educational topics. With our staggered report and release times, I've never found the perfect time to do so. Perhaps it is a breakfast club once a month, with a MS/HS meeting and a WCEE/WCWE meeting. If you are interested in such a think, please email Jennifer Hecktor and myself. If we have enough interest, we might try a WCR2 book club!
A little note hanging in our elementary hallway
A Day in the Life of a Student
- Who wrote the 2014 novel Gone Girl? Gillian Flynn
- The Bengal Tiger is the national animal of India. True or False? True
- Who played Houlihan on TV's M*A*S*H? Loretta Swit
- Who said: "I'm a rock star because I couldn't be a soccer star"? Rod Stewart
- The smallest muscle in your body is called stapedius. Where is it located? The Ear