The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

April, 2014 - News You Can Use!



The District Advisory Committee (DAC) and the School Board approved the new Vision Statement.

Parents, teachers, administrators and especially students, contributed to this statement. We MUST believe all students can achieve - we need to project the positive attitude about learning and Oskaloosa Schools! What does this vision mean to you as an educator?

Mission - "Engaging ALL Students to Embrace the Power of Learning”

Again, parents, teachers, administrators and students created this action statement. This is how we will carry out our new Vision. We need to create classrooms where all students are engaged in learning - students pointed out they WANT to be engaged, but educators need to create the relevant experiences for them to be engaged. We also need to continually help students understand the power of learning and the opportunities available for them if they take pride and ownership in learning!

How will you contribute to realizing the new Mission of the district?

"District Beliefs" about student learning

Rather than having a list of Student Learning Goals, the DAC decided to create a graphic to represent our values and beliefs about student learning. We will create a wordle-type graphic to represent our beliefs. Each classroom will have a poster to hang in their classrooms next fall.

NWEA MAP Assessment

Spring Window: April 7th - April 24th

Once testing is complete, you will be able to access the NWEA Map site to see the growth your students achieved this school year. The link is embedded below or go to the staff resource page. You will need to use your new username (e-mail address) and password to access the web-based information.

In addition, to learn more about why growth indicators are so important, watch the video below.

March DLT Update

The following was decided at that meeting:
  1. The "Tool for Improvement" was edited and placed on the staff resource page. The DLT members should have gone over this tool with your during PLC time in March sometime.
  2. The HS is going to pilot standards-based grading in some volunteer classrooms next fall. No letter grades, points correct, or percentages will be placed on any student work; rather a 1-4 coding system will be used along with specific feedback for improvement. Letter grades will still be calculated for the report card so a GPA can be provided.

The updated "Tool for Improvement can be found on the staff resource page under <Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment>:|Resources


PLC Dates for April

April 2nd - PLC - Extended PLC
April 9th - PLC - Extended Vertical - T-Shirt and Jean Day!! :-)
April 16th - Individual Technology Plan Day
April 23rd - PLC/Vertical
April 30th - PLC/Building

PLC to Watch in April - Kindergarten PLC!

Kindergarten's SMART Goal for 2013-2014:
100% of kindergarten students will show growth on kindergarten Language Arts District assessments (as listed in our action plan) at the end of 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

Kindergarten's Action Plan for 2013-2014:
1. Compile Reader's & Writer's Workshop Units
2. Watch videos on Workshop Models and student conferencing
3. Share and organize mentor text for workshop units

If you see any Kindergarten teachers, ask them about the fabulous collaborative conversations they have during when they have PLC time!

PLC Survey Results

In early February you were asked to complete an important survey about your participation in your PLC. The results were shared with the PLC Facilitators in early March and they were encouraged to analyze them more closely. They reflected on what they, as Facilitators, can do to improve their PLC and the collaborative experiences taking place in their PLC.

As a district, the Administrative Team also analyzed the results. We were very pleased at the amount of growth and progress made over the last four years. We recognize some issues we need to tighten up in the future.

  1. K-12 PLC's need to be provided more assistance. Travel time between buildings is an obstacle at times. Looking for common collaboration needs to be developed
  2. We need to ensure we are providing enough time for tasks to be completed. The Elementary especially has 4 core areas to monitor so their time needs to be honored more effectively.
  3. We still need to work on becoming better at looking at data and student work - though we have seen MUCH progress with this in all PLC's!!!!
  4. Time is a factor - we could always use additional time to collaborate and complete the work being asked of all of us!

If you have not seen the results, log into the PLC Wiki and go to the page on the right called "PLC Survey Results".

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact an administrator.

The picture below was taken during the District PLC Facilitator meeting - MS studies the results for the MS PLC's.

Are you meeting your SMART Goal? Iowa Assessments and GLB Data Will Help Determine

The Iowa Assessments have been completed and the results will be back in a few weeks. We will be able to analyze the results at your last PLC meeting to determine if you met your SMART Goals. We will be looking to see if students have met a year's growth from last year and whether we are increasing the number of students meeting proficiency levels.

In addition you will analyze the number of students who were unsuccessful on GLB's to help you determine if you met your SMART Goals. I will send out shortly the form to complete to send to the next grade to help them determine needs for next year.

Literacy Intervention Grant

Part of the 3rd Grade Literacy Program from the Department of Education is the retention policy for 3rd graders starting in 2017. One thing districts need to have in place are:
  1. Universal Screening tool (be in place by 2014 - done)
  2. Progress Monitoring tool (be in place by 2014 - done)
  3. Research Based Interventions (be in place by 2014 - done)
  4. Summer School (be in place by 2017 - planning)
  5. 3rd Grade Retention (be in place by 2017) This policy starts with this year's Kinder students

Oskaloosa is looking to add a summer reading "camp" at the Elementary this summer. We are having discussions with Wm. Penn who already runs a 2-week camp at the Elementary in July. Research shows you need a minimum of 44 hours of literacy instruction to see an increase in achievement. We would like to have a 60 hour (4-week) program in place this summer.

Through the Department of Education, each district is allocated dollars based on enrollment. Oskaloosa would receive a little over $31,000 to fund a summer school program.

There will be more on this as planning continues.

March DAC Update

DAC met on March 18th. They discussed the following items:
  1. Analyzed the Needs Assessment Results for disconnects - go to the front page of the website to see the survey results
  2. We will begin collaborating with Mr. Kargol and the HS Art program to create a wall for our Vision and Mission
  3. The next meeting will be on April 20th.

Needs Assessment Survey Results

In March all teachers, students (5-12) and parents completed a Needs Assessment Survey. The results can be found on the front page of the district website. Administrators are using the information analyzed to make instructional and program improvements for next year.

April Professional Learning

  1. April 10th - Iowa 1:1 Institute
  2. April 10th and 11th - Iowa ASCD Leadership Academy

Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) Grant Update

Everyone knows we were not one of the fortunate districts to receive the grant dollars to fund additional Instructional Coaches and Teacher Leaders next year. We will submit again next year and we are hopeful we will be awarded the money.

What Does that Mean for Next Year?
  • We will have two Instructional Coaches at the Elementary next year (K-5)
  • We will have a full-time Instructional Coach at the Middle School next year (6-8)
  • PLC Facilitators will continue to be compensated $500 for their work
  • DLT members will continue to be compensated $500 for their work
  • DAC members will continue to be compensated $200 for their work
  • TQ members will continue to be compensated $200 for their work
  • Mentors will continue to be compensated by the state $1000 for their work with New Professionals

Instructional Coaches 2014-2015

Instructional Coaches are critical to Oskaloosa's academic growth and helping to build efficacy and instructional capacity with our staff! Having said that, next year we will see some minor, yet important changes with our Instructional Coaches:

  1. Jen Groenenboom will remain as an Instructional Coach next year. She will serve K-5 in the area of Literacy. She will collaborate with as many teachers as she can to support our critical literacy work.
  2. Stephanie Edgren will be a full-time Instructional Coach next year rather than full-time Intervention Coach. She will also serve K-5 in the area of Literacy. She will continue to monitor and support the Reading Corp volunteers. Together with Jen, they will oversee the Universal Screening and Aimsweb maintenance. Together, they will assist any Elementary teacher in the area of literacy implementation. This is exciting as we will be able to support more teachers next year. MTSS or RtI is about core instruction so it makes sense we focus on building our core instruction so we can reduce the gaps we see in literacy.
  3. Marian Raum will continue as an Instructional Coach at the Middle School next year. She will work in all areas and with as many teachers as possible, but with an emphasis on Literacy. Marian will also continue to help oversee Universal Screening and Aimsweb along with SWAT Team data analysis.

Coaches will work with any teacher wanting additional support and coaching next year. They will utilize a coaching cycle to maximize impact on classroom instruction. The process will be outlined further in the fall.

With luck, we will be awarded the TLC Grant for the 2015-2016 school year and we will not only support literacy, but we will be able to support Math at the Elementary. In addition, we will have additional literacy support at the MS and HS.

Learning Opportunities Available for Teacher Leaders and Instructional Coaches!

If you are a teacher leader (PLC Facilitator, Vertical Team Facilitator, DLT, TQ) then there is a learning opportunity this summer for you!

SAI, the DE, Iowa ASCD and Learning Forward Iowa is offering a one-day workshop to help districts who were awarded the TLC Grant. In addition, schools who are working toward the award are encouraged to take any teacher leader to the workshop.

Who: Anyone who wants to be a better teacher leader or future Instructional Coach
What: Launching Teacher Leadership: An Institute for Teacher Leaders and Administrators
Where: FFA Enrichment Center on the DMACC Campus in Ankeny
When: June 12th - all day
Why: Because you want to increase your leadership capacity and grow in your professional learning
How: Let Dr. Cooksley know you are interested in attending the workshop and you will get registered to attend

Analyzing Current Practice and Adjusting Instruction

These slide shares are fantastic. If you are looking to have a better understanding of the Iowa Core/Common Core standards and what they look like in the classroom, take a close look at this resource. This would be a great thing to review as a PLC as professional development. I would love to have the author come to our Curriculum Teams to help us better understand the standards in action!

Below are two slide shares from Jennifer Jones - once you set up a free account you have access to all of her wonderful resources. Trust me when I say they are WONDERFUL!!! This would be a great resource to look at during PLC time to have discussions about your own current practice and how you are aligned to the Iowa Core shifts and expectations!

Iowa Core Learning Opportunity

Another video learning opportunity if you are looking for ways to put students in collaborative groups.

See below:

Summer LETRS Training

This is required continuing training for ALL SPED teachers and Instructional Strategists K-12. There are alternate dates offered by the AEA.

June 4th and 5th at the Elementary (Module 7 and Review Modules 1-3) AEA - July 15 & 16
July 29th - August 1st at the Elementary (Modules 4, 5, and 6) AEA - June 30 - July 3rd

Iowa Core Challenge Question

Do you remember the Characteristics of Effective Instruction (CEI)? If you do, answer the following and you may win a prize!

1) What is the acronym associated with the CEI?
2) What does each letter in the acronym stand for?