To the Point

Prairie Point Staff Newsletter

Issue 10: Monday, October 6, 2014

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Differentiation...a belief system.

The quote above is one of my favorites. I came across it after my first exposure to the concept of differentiated instruction in 2001. I remember very clearly a department meeting in which our assistant principal was sharing several strategies to use in order to differentiate our curriculum. There's a rumbling sound that was very distinctive to that particular room full of teachers, a sound that signaled several things were happening. What ensued became a very heated and passionate debate between teachers who felt strongly about what was being presented. As a new teacher, I knew that it was important for me to differentiate for student needs, and I was uncomfortable with the atmosphere in the room.

To summarize, I heard some of the following:

"Why shouldn't all students be held to the same standards?" "What happens when a child's parents think they are doing great because their grades are good, but they get to high school and fail?" "Isn't it unfair for some students to be provided with different work than other students?" "If those kids would just work harder and focus more, they would be able to do the same work as everyone else." "The curriculum is the curriculum - I can't change it." "If a student can't learn the regular curriculum, shouldn't they be in the special education class?"

Since that day I've often reflected back to what was really being said in that room. What I've come to realize is that we all believed in the importance of student learning - and we all wanted students to be successful. We just had very different beliefs about the nature of that learning, students, and the definition of success.

At the heart of it, differentiated instruction is based on the belief that ALL STUDENTS CAN LEARN, but need different levels of time and support in order to do so. Differentiating my instruction did not mean lowering expectations, but adjusting what I did to make it possible for some students to reach them. Differentiating my instruction did not mean making things easier or providing a "crutch" to students, rather, making it possible for them to do the work and be successful with it. After all, if they weren't working harder than I was, they weren't learning.

Differentiation is first and foremost a belief. If I believe that all students can learn and meet high expectations, and I believe that it's my responsibility to support that learning, I must ultimately believe that differentiation of curriculum and instruction is not only nice to do, but it is absolutely necessary.

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News & Info

Wednesday Morning Meetings

Next Meeting - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Topic: Danielson Framework for Teaching


All of the agendas and information for Wednesday morning meetings will now come in this newsletter. :-) Provided below is a link to the schedule, as well as a link to the agenda.

Please review the agenda prior to each meeting. Wednesday meetings will be held in the Community Room. We will begin promptly at 7:35 a.m.

If you are unable to make it to a meeting, please let us know in advance, if possible. Please see Heidi or Jen as soon as you can after the meeting to find out what you missed.

NEW: Teacher Appraisal Support Module #2

The link below is a video created by Teaching & Learning. EvaluWise is the online system b being utilized for teacher appraisal. This video shows teachers the process for accessing EvaluWise and the forms needed for evaluation. The video lasts about 11 minutes, and I encourage you to watch it prior to your first formal observation.
Teacher Appraisal Module 2

We have a NEW Prairie Point TEAM Website!!!

Our TEAM website has been moved to a new format! Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the format of the new site. It can be found at the link below. For reference, the address is:

The website has the TEAM calendar, referral process and paperwork, as well as archived student paperwork (still being uploaded). There is a form for you to use to submit paperwork as well. Please see any member of TEAM if you have any questions as to how use the website or refer a student.

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Coming Events!

Teacher Workshop - How to Design a Writing Workshop for Early Elementary Students

Wednesday, Oct. 8th, 6:30-8:30pm

1111 Reading Dr

Montgomery, IL

Oswego Public Library is hosting a workshop on Writing Workshop for teachers in Grades 1-5. I will cover the $5 cost if you are interested in attending. Please RSVP by the end of the school day on Wednesday, September 10th. I will register us at that time.

Please see the flyer below for more information about this, and other educational programs offered by the Oswego Public Library.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Writer's Workshop

Tuesday, Oct. 14th, 7:30am

Prairie Point Community Room

Please read Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions - Chapter 1 in advance of the meeting.

RSVPs are enabled for this event.