Wolcott's What's Up

Office of Teaching and Learning 2.10.2016

Learning to Drive

Looking back on when I learned to drive I have many fond memories. I remember those early morning hours spent entering and exiting the highway, countless times attempting to parallel parking, the endless hours reviewing traffic safety rules in the classroom and being so lucky as to sit next to Charity Lisle, my secret crush. From all those experiences one key message has stayed with me - one I think of every time I take the wheel; the rule of ten and two. Coach Karl, my driver's education instructor and the school's tennis coach, would beat into our heads that we needed to keep our hands at ten and two on the steering wheel if we wanted to have maximum control of the car. I can still hear his voice to this day when my hands aren't in the proper position.

I think his message of ten and two is a message that is equally applicable in teaching as it is in driving. We, as educators, can use the ten and two rule to enhance our control of student learning. Here is how it works:

  • Every ten minutes of instruction, students need at least two opportunities to process that information - either independently through writing or better yet, by processing the information with a partner, using a Kagan structure or other form of cooperative learning strategy. This opportunity to process information is crucial to learning. Unfortunately, too often as educators we don't allow students time to digest information.

As I work with educators around the United States, I hear teacher's default to thinking about instruction from a pure engagement perspective only. They often talk about the idea that students can be engaged for their age in minutes. But engagement is not enough! We must remember engagement is great - but learning is the final destination!

Give it a try, I dare you...make that a double-dog dare. Design your next lesson using the rule of ten and two and see how much more student's learn!

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New Math Resource: TenMarks

When we began writing our math curriculum several years ago we were challenged with finding a resource that truly matched our needs and one that was truly aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Well, the day is finally here when such a resource exists!

We have recently purchased TenMarks Math as a resource for staff looking for a one-stop place to find materials to meet our student and staff needs. TenMarks will help staff prepare for and deliver engaging lessons as well as provide reinforcement and differentiation to reach every student.

As we finalize plans for training and implementing, interested staff can learn a little more about this resource at the links below:

TenMarks is NOT a new math curriculum, but a very thorough resource aligned to OUR curriculum to decrease the lesson planning demands our teachers currently face.

For more information, contact Rachel Manjarres, District 68 Math Specialist.

Teacher Feedback Needed...Please

One of the challenges of leadership is communication. Trying to properly share information in order to ensure all 400 staff are on the same page is tricky. I rely heavily on feedback from others but realize I don't always provide opportunities for such feedback to occur.

As we attempt to have committees sharing out at faculty meetings to improve understanding of why we do what we do, we have found that questions still linger.

To continue to provide staff avenues to ask questions and receive answers, we have set up a couple of new Padlets for staff to post questions. I will then answer the questions here in my Smore Updates.

You can find links to these Padlets below each of the Committee updates below or by visiting the D68 Curriculum Weebly.

Assessment and Grading Task Force

The purpose of the Assessment and Grading Task Force is to develop a common understanding of assessment and how assessment can be used effectively to enhance instruction and learning. The Task Force, run by Meadowview Principal Reg Leeberg, Jefferson Principal Bill Schmidt and myself, will spend this spring building this understanding and developing a plan to systematically help all staff better understand the crucial role assessment plays in all we do. It our belief once this understanding is clear amongst all staff many of the grading questions, concerns and misconceptions apparent right now will be answered.

If you have specific questions you would like answered regarding the Task Force or Assessment/Grading, please post to the Padlet below:

Next Generation Science Committee

The purpose of the Next Generation Science Committee is to learn more about the new standards and develop a plan to build staff knowledge over the course of next year.

The Committee, which will meet monthly this spring and throughout next year, is chaired by the following:

  • Tanya Hughes, Edgewood Principal
  • Rachel Manjarres, District Math Specialist
  • Kelly Neylon, District Gifted Coordinator
  • Kelly Chapman, Willow Creek Gifted Specialist, and
  • Melissa Barron, Science Department Chair, Jefferson Junior High

Those who have questions or comments for the group , please consider posting those on the NextGen Science Padlet that can be accessed from the District 68 Curriculum Weebly or the link below.

Internal University

The Professional Growth Group, a joint group of District 68 Administrators and staff, meets quarterly to discuss how effective the Internal University program is running. We are developing a separate Smore to specifically address certain questions that have arisen about Internal University. That Smore will go out next week. In the meantime, those who have questions or comments, please considering posting those on the Internal University Padlet that can be accessed from the District 68 Curriculum Weebly or the link below.


I am hearing a lot of talk about DEB going away next year at the elementary schools. This is not true. A couple of facts to help straighten out the confusion:

  1. DEB is a key time for student intervention and differentiation.
  2. Data indicates DEB is more effective in grades 1-3 than in grades 4-6.
  3. The majority of students needing intervention in grades 4-6 are special education students or move-ins.
  4. Research suggests that 30 minutes of intervention in 2nd grade is worth 3 hours of intervention at 4th grade. The key is catching and helping students early in their school career. It is difficult to close a gap for students after third grade.
  5. Gifted instruction is provided 45-minutes a day during DEB.
  6. Our new Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop provide more opportunities for differentiation within those subjects than we have had in previous curriculums.

With that said, I have asked principals to look closely at the DEB blocks and student success in grades 4-6. It is quite possible, given the new instructional approaches, that a formalized DEB block in grades 4-6 is holding more kids back than helping. If that is the case, we MAY CONSIDER, eliminating DEB in grades 4-6 and turning to other methods of providing interventions for our struggling students. Please know that the elimination of DEB at grades 4-6 would not impact Gifted instruction. Students would continue to receive their 45-minute gifted instruction either way.

March 4th County-wide Institute Day

March 4th is a county-wide institute day. Several departments will be attending out of district activities, others working within district.

Kindergarten Teachers:

  • The kindergarten team will be working together to implement the common core reading and math standards.

First through Sixth Grade Teachers:

  • Elementary grade level teachers, led by District Instructional Specialists, will be diving into the English Language Arts Standards and discussing how to develop clear learning intentions and success criteria for students.

District Reading Specialists & Title I Teaching Assistants:

  • Title I staff will be diving into the English Language Arts Standards with the first grade teachers and discuss how to develop clear learning intentions and success criteria for students.

Special Education Teaching Assistants

  • Anne Bowers has scheduled breakout learning opportunities for TAs at Jefferson. A specific schedule will be coming out later this month.

Jefferson Staff:

  • Dr. Schmidt has developed a schedule for Jefferson staff to deepen their understanding of the Common Core State Standards and the Gradual Release of Responsibility model of instruction.

Staff Attending County or Department Specific Activities:

  • Art
  • Bilingual/ESL
  • Gifted
  • LRCDs
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Special Education

Putting the "U" in FOCUS!

NEA's Lily Eskelsen García on What Teachers Do

NEA's Lily Eskelsen García on What Teachers Do

Principal To Do List

  • Send Greg a list of staff who need Wilson Fundations Phonics Training by February 22
  • Make sure all staff have used their Pearson PARCC logins to access resources by March 1st
  • Send Greg PARCC testing schedule by March 15
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