Coaches' Corner

Working together for student success!

Director's April Notes

It's that time of year again where our students and staff put on display all the hard work they have put into teaching and learning over the past year. Between ILEARN, NWEA, semester exams, field trips, final projects, it is a busy time across our district.

I find it important at this time of year to remember that our students and staff are not defined by these test scores. Yes, we use the data to reflect on our practice, identify areas of strength and growth, and determine appropriate supports for students for next year. However, there is more to our students and staff than just this data. The impact our staff have on each and every one of our students as a person is equally felt and just as, if not more, important.

As we prepare for the final month of the year full of testing and projects, just remember that school is about more than what is taught from a book. School is a place where children grow into the adults we know they can be. Take some time this month to reflect on how you have impacted our students in a way that can't be measured by a score.

Math Stations Increase Engagement

I was so privileged this month to help one of our teachers step outside her comfort zone to try something different. Mrs. Martin has had the desire to try math stations for quite some time. She was curious about how they might impact her students’ engagement levels during math instruction. Prior to Spring Break, Mrs. Martin approached me for support with stations implementation. We talked through her ideas together, and I sent her some resources and ideas to investigate. While on break, she researched and planned how stations would best fit the needs of her students. After the break, we met again to discuss her plans.

Mrs. Martin was very intentional as she designed her stations. She divided her groups based on her most current NWEA data. In doing this, she was able to differentiate both the small group instruction that she provided and one of the stations involving computation practice. Students were working at their appropriate independent levels. One of the most exciting things I noticed was how engaged her students were in conversations about MATH. I think every teacher who implements stations, in the beginning, worries about students being off task, and this is a valid concern. However, because Mrs. Martin had explicitly taught her expectations to her students prior to sending kids to stations, her students had no trouble staying on task.

Through the careful planning and implementation of math stations, Mrs. Martin was able to increase the amount of time her students were productively talking about math. This should be a goal for all of us! How can we decrease teacher talk and increase productive student discussions? Mrs. Martin’s students did not want stations time to end! They had fun, but they were also learning at the same time. Sounds like a perfect combination to me!

Close Reading with Sam Crouch

You may have heard the statement that in elementary school students “learn to read” and in middle and high school students “read to learn.” While this statement holds a good deal of truth, simply decoding a text leaves a lot to be desired when we consider the expectations we have for our students in middle and high school. We don’t just want students to be able to read a text and know what the words are saying. We want them to be able to make inferences, connect their current knowledge with new understandings, and find ways to apply new ideas in new contexts. We want students to be able to make meaning from text because this meaning making is where learning has true impact.

TMS Special Education teacher Sam Crouch sets a great example when it comes to prioritizing and teaching reading strategies to help students make reading come alive. I was excited to observe her working with her students on the Close Reading strategy as they read an informational text about hummingbirds.

The close reading strategy can be applied to any reading context and should be used across the content areas as it is particularly useful for students when they are reading a nonfiction or informational text. Mrs. Crouch’s students have learned to first read or skim the text to orient themselves to the layout. Next, students reread the text – closely this time – and underline the most important ideas as they read. With Mrs. Crouch’s guidance, students mark important ideas, make notes in the margins, and “tag” important topics for future reference. Finally, students return to the text a third time, thinking more deeply about their current knowledge or personal experiences that connect to the text. At this stage, students are able to “make the text their own” and have their own reactions and opinions.

While we certainly don’t have time to guide students through this close reading process every day in our classrooms, it is a valuable strategy to both emphasize the importance of deep reading as well as to demonstrate to students a concrete and accessible way to accomplish that deep reading. On this day, students were able to leave the classroom with greater knowledge about hummingbirds. Even more importantly, they now have greater confidence in themselves as readers and thinkers.

Using Candy in the Classroom

The food science students in Stacey Hartley's class are learning about food safety and food borne illness; among other things. A guest speaker from the Zachary Chocolate company came to speak about candy making and introduced them to the HACCP management system, which analyzes and addresses food safety from raw production to the finished product: consumption.

Students are presenting projects and making sweet treats. They are following recipes, measuring, mixing, crushing candy with hammers, using cold, wet and dry ingredients. They will review and discuss their own food safety protocols compared with the HACCP system. The exploration and learning of food borne illnesses will extend into swabbing, growing and analyzing the bacteria grown from cooked meat, refrigerated meat and meat that has been left out for a few hours.

These kinds of learning experiences that involve so many ties back to the main objective really help solidify student understanding. Great job!

Celebrating our Speech/Language Pathologists

TCSC has two speech/language pathologists who are certified with a Master’s Degree and a Certificate of Clinical Competence. In order to continue practicing, an annual certification from the American Speech and Language Association must also be held. This involves 36 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Carolyn Friend M.A.,CCC-SLP, and Valerie Watson, M.A., CCC-SLP, are servicing Preschool through 12th grade as well as homeschooled students for TCSC.

Assessment and treatment involve the areas of articulation, language, voice, fluency, swallowing, hearing, auditory processing, social pragmatics, and cognition. Each year, the SLPs are responsible for: speech and hearing screenings for 1st grade, and hearing screenings for 4th, 7th, and 10th graders. SLP responsibilities for the entire year include: annual case conferences, progress monitoring every 9 weeks, emailing or calling parents, data collection, ongoing assessments, communicating with teachers, being involved in committees/organizations, as well as ongoing continuing education.

Both SLPs have experience in other settings such as: hospitals, First Steps, nursing homes, and private practice. The best part about being an SLP is seeing the progress and positive outcomes when providing speech/language/communication services. TCSC is thankful for having 2 talented SLPs that have a lot of experience and talent in the field of speech/language pathology.

2021-2022 TCSC Assessment Calendar

Curious what testing windows will look like across the district? Add the 2021-2022 TCSC Assessment Calendar to help plan around these instructional interruptions.