Instructional Edge

What's happening with the WSR TLC program

Looking through a different lens

Last year professional development was implemented through strands. K-4 was working through new Math and Reading processes. 5-12 teachers were involved in three strands: Project Based Learning, Structures for Differentiation and Student Engagement, Resilience and Grit (SERG).


Using that background knowledge and continuing that learning, the PD focus for this year will be driven at a grade level implementation. Each will have a driving question.

Elementary Questions:

K-2 - How can we build a system of early literacy instruction that meets the needs of all kids?


3-4 and K-4 Music and PE - How can we ensure high-quality instruction and implementation of curriculum?

MS and HS Questions

5-8 - How do we create a culture focused on student learning with an authentic audience? How do we create a culture focused on student learning that has value beyond school?


9-12 - How can Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) increase the depth of our conversations about teaching and learning? What professional learning can I design for myself in order to impact the learning of my students?

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Special Education and Lied Campus Questions

Lied Campus - How can collaboration with other WSR teachers strengthen our programs?


Special Education - How can we move from vision to action as a PK-12 special education team? How can we use assistive technology to meet the needs of our students?

Those are our driving questions. That's our "why."

We're looking forward to a great year of teaching and learning through the Professional Development process.

So you want to work with a Coach?

Coaching Residency

Definition: A coaching residency is providing support to a teacher that has requested assistance for a specific issue or activity that is new to that teacher. This may involve lesson planning, co-teaching, and other various forms of assistance. The focus with this is to encourage teachers to try new and creative strategies with an extra set of eyes and hands to help. This is an opportunity for both the teacher and the instructional coach to engage in professional development. The time frame for this type of learning is shorter in nature and may last a few days to a week or two.


Why do we do instructional coach residencies? They provide opportunities for teachers and coaches:

  • To try new things

  • To be creative in teaching strategies and activities

  • To have teachers and instructional coaches engage in collaboration and reflection

  • To develop, implement and refine promising teaching practices.

Coaching Cycle

Definition: A coaching cycle is the use of data to identify an area of need and then a collaboration between the teacher and the instructional coach in a process that identifies possible strategies or activities that may help improve the situation. The focus with this is to help students reach a specific goal or achieve a specific standard. The time frame is flexible and may last a few days or cover a few weeks, but may not be in consecutive days.


Why do we do coaching cycles?

They provide opportunities for teachers and coaches:

  • To identify specific areas of growth in our students

  • To use data to gauge growth

  • To identify new teaching strategies that can be incorporated on a continuing basis

Not sure where to engage in collaboration with a coach?

Check out this link to find out ways into the work. Coaching Opportunities

New to the Team

We've got three new coaches on the instructional Coaching Team. Crystal Betts, Tina Graven and Jeff Orvis will be taking on coaching activities. Look for them to do some new and exciting things!!
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Crystal Betts

Crystal's primary focus will be Kindergarten, first and second grades.

As I have started a new role as an Instructional Coach in the district, I have spent a lot of time in kindergarten, first and second grade classrooms. When visiting the classrooms, I have tried to visit multiple times. This frequency was intentional because I wanted to be a common face. I am focused on building relationships with teachers first. These visits have developed a comfort level for teachers with me coming into their classrooms. Along with that I personally feel more comfortable in the classrooms, and I hope the students feel comfortable with someone in their room. It has been great to just see teachers doing what they do best with their students. We have amazing talent in our district.

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Tina Graven

The first month spent as a rookie instructional coach has been filled with joy, sadness, and trepidation. I am overjoyed to be in this role and look forward to working with our teachers and administrators. Sadness, however, came on day one when I saw all my students from last year and new students heading into their classrooms and realized in a few years there would be no "Hello, Mrs. Graven" or high-fives coming from my former students! Lastly, of course, the trepidation setting in as I, a "veteran" teacher, ventured into something new and unknown!! It has been an extremely busy but exhilarating start to the 2016-2017 school year!


I have spent the past month acquainting myself with the new curriculums being taught at the third and fourth-grade levels in our district. Viewing such high-quality teachers implementing Everyday Math, Being a Writer, and Making Meaning has been a learning experience. Our professional development this year will be based upon the teachings for Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). The lead teachers will be facilitating our work in this area, and we have spent time preparing our PD. Additionally, a challenge for our 5/6 teachers has been the implementation of the Iowa Tier in their classrooms and routines. I have been assisting in making this process as smooth as possible for the teachers by sharing data charts, inputting interventions and progress monitoring into the system, and helping to troubleshoot. Teachers will be testing students, providing interventions, and progress monitoring in hopes of helping every individual student achieve in the area of literacy. At this time, we are up, running, and dealing with the kinks!


Every day is different and challenging with tasks coming from a variety of avenues. I look forward to our work for the rest of the school year!

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Jeff Orvis

While much of what I am doing this year hasn't changed, my transition into Instructional Coach (half-time) has given me more flexibility to visit classrooms throughout the district. I still am managing Infinite Campus, updating the website, and providing other tech support so please ask for help when you see me in the area. I will also be teaching a class or two at the high school every day. The beginning of the year is always chaotic for the tech team, but as that need wanes, I am finding more time to dedicate to the other parts of my job. I am beginning to visit with special education teachers, with a focus on assistive technology. I hope to bring what I learn from our special ed teachers to help the larger population of students and staff. I also want to help staff implement accommodations for students who have recognized needs. Of course, I hope to continue to help teachers infuse tech wherever it will improve learning.

K-4 Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessments

On Wednesday, September 7th, the elementary staff was trained on Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. This literacy assessment allows for teachers to observe students' reading behaviors in a one-on-one setting. Our K-4 students have had universal screening assessments and progress monitoring assessments, but the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System allows for more diagnostic information. Teachers will learn more about students' strengths and weaknesses and identify when a student's learning is breaking down. This information will allow teachers to better plan, modify and differentiate instruction and interventions tailored to students' needs. It is a great opportunity to learn more about students so we can better serve them.

Genius Hour at W-SR Middle School

W-SR Middle School is in the process of implementing their own version of student enrichment dubbed Genius Hour. Also referred to as 20% time, Genius Hour piggy-backs off of the idea first pursued by Google that allowed employees to pursue passion-projects for up to 20% of their contract day. From this initiative was born Google Mail and Google News, among others.


Below: Student flies a kite engineered and constructed during Genius Hour.

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The vast majority of 7th and 8th grade students at W-SR Middle School spend anywhere from four to six class periods per 6-day cycle identifying and pursuing learning that is interesting and meaningful to them, without restriction on content. Some of the learning that takes place may result in the creation of an end product, but the minimum expectation is that students will be able to convey the learning that has taken place at the end of their Genius Hour time.


Below: Genius Hour project - time lapse filming and illustrations

Dragon Drawing (Final Parts) Part 3

What Teachers and Students are saying about genius hour:

“I like it when students say ‘It's hard!!’ Good. It should be hard.” ~Teacher Quote


“It’s nice to have choice in what I am learning.” ~Student Quote


“Providing the time for kids to really think, and direct their own learning and struggles, is great for their problem-solving skills.” ~Teacher Quote


“It’s almost like it’s not learning because I like it and it’s meaningful to me.” ~Student Quote