Spring/Summer 2015 Newsletter

CCS Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Updates

note from kim...

Dear Staff,

I cannot believe that it is already June! This is our third newsletter this school year. Please review the information contained in this newsletter to learn about the happenings and celebrations in departments across the district. Thanks for everything you do to support learning for all of the children and adults in our schools. As always, please let me know of any questions, thoughts, concerns or suggestions. Have a wonderful summer!


Kim Fletcher

Administrator of Curriculum, Assessment, Professional Learning & Grants

2014-15 subject area coordinators

Daryl Biallas, K-12 World Language

Kevin Emmons, CTE

Jessica Hall, K-12 Fine Arts

Barb Huey, K-5 Math

Radhika Issac, K-5 Social Studies & District ASL

Mike Lewis, K-12 Performing Arts

Laura Mahler, 6-12 Literacy

Phyllis Ness, K-5 Literacy

Brian Pierce, 6-12 Social Studies

Noah Sharrow, 6-12 Math

Heather Smith, K-5 Science

Janet Thomas, K-12 PE & Health

Nichole Trzasko, 6-12 Science
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studies & pilots - update

In order to continue to provide a high quality K-12 program for all of our learners, it is critical that we continuously monitor and update our texts and resources. While budget reductions have certainly impeded these efforts, we can no longer ignore our outdated resources. Slowly but surely we will evaluate available instructional resources. We recognize that the most important factor in improving student achievement is quality instruction. While this does not mean that new/updated textbooks will solve all of our problems, we believe it will help to better support our teachers, learners and parents. The art of teaching can never be replaced with a textbook. At the same time, teachers and learners deserve high quality and up-to-date resources. We will continue to monitor our programs with fidelity. Updates related to curriculum materials/resources will be communicated through these newsletters as well as through updates to the board and TLC. The following purchases were approved by the board this Spring:

Middle School Math (Big Ideas)

Elementary Word Study (Words Their Way)

AP US History (The American Pageant)

Spanish IV (variety of books and DVDs)

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feedback & assessment

As we continue to grow ourselves, our classrooms, our buildings and our district as Cultures of Thinking, we must also reflect on our assessment and feedback practices. We are moving forward in our journey to better align our feedback/reporting system with our values and beliefs. We are currently engaged in a study of our elementary feedback system. How do we communicate with parents and students about student learning/growth? What is the purpose of grading? These are the questions we are beginning to tackle as we move forward in refining and re-aligning our reporting and feedback system. Click here to read more about this journey. We call it SOAR, System of Assessment and Reporting. We have recently met with all elementary teachers to roll forward with this work. Click here to read feedback from the time we've spent together so far talking about how and why we celebrate the growth of each and every child.


Academic Service Learning has connected curriculum to the real world through service for over 4000 students through a total of 47 projects facilitated by 102 teachers connecting with 50 local, national and international community partners. Bailey Lake Elementary, Clarkston Elementary, Independence Elementary and Pine Knob Elementary staff and students participated in school-wide projects along with on-going classroom projects. We will be celebrating our Clarkston educators and students who have passionately committed their time, energy and enthusiasm for service learning at our end of year celebration. Please join us in congratulating our ASL practitioners on Wednesday, May 27th, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. at Clarkston Junior High School Cafeteria.

k-12 literacy

A focus for K-12 Literacy this year has been to grow our understanding of formative assessment and the importance of feedback to ensure learning. We will continue to learn about these important topics in the future and work to ensure K-12 vertical alignment in learning progressions as we move forward. A wonderful video by Dylan Wiliam on the importance of feedback and how it accelerates learning is linked here.

One result of all of the formative assessment learning has been evidenced by the creation of a new System Of Assessment and Reporting (S.O.A.R.) for our elementary school students. A revised “report card”, appropriately renamed a “feedback document” has been created that better aligns our assessment, instruction and reporting to learners and parents. Stay tuned for information on how this new system may also lead to changes at the secondary level.

A highlight of our K-12 literacy alignment work occurred this year when we brought together all 5th and 6th grade teachers for Route 5/6 Learning Labs. Fifth grade teachers got a real taste of middle school ELA classrooms, while 6th grade teachers were interested to find out how things work in 5th grade workshop settings. Thank you to our host teachers, Monica Phillips and Jen Eichhorn (SMS, 6th grade) and Kelly Mertz and Beth Rogers, (PKE and SPE, 5th grade). We hope to continue to provide professional learning to grow this vertical alignment across multiple grades and buildings next year.

An exciting initiative that will occur next year in our elementary schools will be the implementation of a district-wide Word Study endeavor. This initiative is part of our efforts to continue to grow understanding of all components of balanced literacy. Our K-5 teachers will use both teaching and student resources from Words Their Way as one aspect of a reader and writer’s understanding of how words work. Helping all teachers and learners K-12 grow their knowledge of word study and the impact across content areas will be a goal for next year. Please take a moment and read the following article “Under Common Core, Students Learn Words by Learning About the World.”

As you look forward to authentic writing publication options for next year, consider a new local publication for student writing and artwork. The magazine is called Kids Standard and is open for entries from students from preschool through high school. The magazine is very polished and professional-looking, even in full color. Keep it in mind as a publication option for your students. For more informations click on this link to explore the magazine’s website.

k-12 world language

Teachers of all languages in grades 7-12 have been engaged in shifting their classroom practices and assessment techniques as we have transitioned to a skills-based grading system this year in all of our classes. While there has been a "learning curve" with this new grading practice we do believe that we have a more accurate picture of our students' abilities in the four skill areas (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). This shift has opened up great dialogue amongst colleagues regarding our practices and fostering language proficiency on our students. This will continue to be our focus as we move into next year. In addition, we will be focusing on updating our curriculum maps, incorporating national and state standards, as well as "I Can" statements from ACTFL.

k-12 cte

This year our focus was on outreach from the high school down to the younger grades. Our elementary coding clubs are growing by leaps and bounds. We're very amazed at the learning and inspiration happening there.

If you didn't get a chance to attend the Maker Girl Mania hosted by the Women in Engineering Club, look for it next year. Hundreds of girls from SE Michigan got to spend two hours exploring, tinkering, designing, and creating all manner of cool activities.

We made updating and streamlining our K-12 Computers curriculum a priority this year. The primary focus will be to update the technology and curriculum focused on the 21 Things for Students curriculum. The 21 Things for Students is a project-based curriculum in learning and effectively using digital tools provided at no-cost in Michigan from a REMC grant. We've finished our plan for SMS with the development of two technology quarter-long courses: Computer Essentials for grades 6 and 7 and Computer Tech Tools for grade 7. We also revamped our Career Awareness and Exploration curriculum for grades 6 and 7.

As we look to 2015 and beyond, we hope to continue our outreach to the younger students and hope to enrich the K-5 experiences by supporting STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Math) activities. We are looking for a couple of Kindergarten teachers who would be willing to try some engineering and computer science based enrichment activities next year. Any takers?

k-12 pe & health

Strong emphasis has been placed on the development of strategies that encourage deeper thinking and understanding of students K-12. In conjunction with this, the Elementary has developed a program where Mindfulness techniques are used to stimulate student’s learning and classroom behavior. Sashabaw Middle School has reconfigured their curriculum to conform to the move to semesters. Elective physical education classes were created to meet the interest and registration demands of the students. The Junior High and High School have been continuing their alignment of the curriculum to national and state standards.

K-12 Performing Arts

The high school chamber orchestra was selected to perform at the 2016 Michigan Music Conference. The ensemble auditioned and was selected as one of 8 ensemble for next year's conference.

K-12 Visual Arts

7th Annual Imagine That! Teen Art Show

@ Independence Library

Thursday, June 18th 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Voting from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM

Join us for the 7th Annual Imagine That! Teen Art Show, sponsored by the Friends of the Library. The goal of this event is to give teens in grades 6 through 12 the opportunity to showcase their artwork, gain recognition, and empower them as valued members of our community. Each year, approximately 15 prizes are awarded to students for artwork submitted in various categories and every artist who participates in the show receives a certificate of participation and a special treat!


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k-12 science

The state board of education has not yet adopted the NGSS, but the MDE is working on a draft of the Michigan K-12 Science Standards set to be released for review in the fall of 2015. In an effort to continue moving forward we plan to get a team of teachers together to examine our science program, best practices, and determine next steps in our programming.

k-5 math

Improving student understanding of math through the structure of Math Workshop, in conjunction with Common Core Practices and Standards, has been our focus this year. We have had many professional development experiences which have helped us grow our thinking and practice. Thanks to all of our lab classroom host teachers! Next year brings us opportunities to think about assessment, with an emphasis on formative assessment, feedback, and grading as well as continue our learning on improving student understanding.

6-12 math

Curriculum: We are now aligned (or very close) to full alignment to common core standards, and are analyzing our instructional resources. At SMS next year, we will have fresh resources in the form of Big

Ideas textbooks and the accompanying online resources.

Instruction: We continue to focus on inquiry, deeper thinking, and problem solving as our primary goals, because this empowers students for long term success both in and out of the math classroom. We try to share instructional best practices and engage every student in quality mathematics everyday.

Assessment: Our focus for 2015/2016 school year will be assessment, with emphasis on formative assessment to give students and teachers nearly daily feedback about progress. Part of this discussion will be a fresh look at our grading and summative assessment processes.

k-5 social studies

With the SOAR work under way, K-5 Social Studies Leadership has developed a document that lists current practices that may be used for evidence of student learning. We have created a K-2 and 3-5 packet that was shared at our grade level SOAR meetings. Both of these documents along with teacher examples are available on our website - bit.ly/k5ss. As our journey toward naming and noticing evidence of learning grows, we will continue to add documents and examples of formative assessments to our website.

6-12 social studies

CHS teachers focused on expanding the use of cultures of thinking routines; developed overarching questions and focus questions to drive instruction and assessment; and edited the scope and sequence of courses due to the transition back to semesters. Junior high teachers created outstanding extracurricular activities and opportunities for students. They produced a War War II themed play, called "Rosie the Riveter", which was shown to the entire student body. They did that in conjunction with having World War II speakers come to the school to speak about the war. There was a veterans ceremony to honor a Clarkston graduate serving in the military. They made a mosaic stone for the graduate and dedicated it in the courtyard. They had a Memorial Day service in which they invited community members to attend. Students gave speeches about the importance of Memorial Day. They also had a fundraiser for a Habitat for Humanity house to raise money to buy a flagpole for the veteran living in the house. Lastly, the teachers administered a Geography Bee.

Sashabaw teachers developed performance understandings for units; examined formative assessment options; added additional pre/post assessments to gauge student understanding; and varied the kinds and types of assessments.