GV BOCES School Improvement
November 2021 Newsletter
Upcoming Featured Speaker
Description: As more teachers look to add high-yield tasks to their repertoire, the struggle to make it all work becomes real. Let's examine how problem-based lessons can be used throughout the scope of a unit and how we can harness their power to move student thinking forward. We will identify strategies and explore some tasks that help us find a healthy balance between application, conceptual understanding, and procedural fluency.
Date: Friday, November 19, 2021
Location: Monroe 2 BOCES, 3599 Big Ridge Road, Spencerport, NY 14559
Time: 8:30am - 3:00pm
News You Can Use
Save the Date: SS Virtual Conference
NYSED Considers Changing the Classification of “Emotional Disturbance”
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is seeking stakeholder input on suggestions for replacement terminology for the disability classification “emotional disturbance.” At their January 2, 2020 meeting, the New York State Board of Regents began initial discussions as to whether the Board should consider replacing the term “emotional disturbance” in NYS Regulations. States are not required to use the federal classification “emotional disturbance” and may adopt their own terminology and establish criteria for eligibility, provided it is consistent with the federal definition. There is a range in the terminology used in the 50 states to designate the federal disability classification ”emotional disturbance,” including the following seven terms: “emotional disturbance” or “serious emotional disturbance” (27 states); “emotional disability” or “serious emotional disability” (12 states); variation of “emotional/behavioral disability or disorder” (8 states); “emotional impairment” (two states); and “behavior disorder” (one state). NYSED also put out a survey to statewide stakeholders to get feedback before making any decisions. The survey closed on October 29, 2021.
Continue Your Professional Learning
The Writing Revolution - An Overview
“Help - My students can’t write!” Although this is an American sentiment expressed all too frequently, there has been little to address the decades of statistics that support the perspective. Possibly, until now… Introduce: The Writing Revolution (TWR).
What is TWR?
TWR, also known as the Hochman Method (when implemented school-wide), presents a self-contained ecosystem of sentence-level strategies, single and multiple paragraph outlines (SPO & MPO) and structures, as well as note-taking and syntax altering techniques. TWR is not a program or resource; it is, however, a fundamental method poised to address the longstanding deficiency of writing skills still plaguing schools today. TWR is built upon six guiding principles that must be at the core of instructional delivery. They are...
The Six (6) Principles of TWR:
Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.
Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.
When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.
The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.
Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.
The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.
How does TWR work?
TWR presents a variety of sentence-level techniques to explicitly teach common-written language structures that students will encounter when they read and comprehend text but also need to know in order to replicate and produce grammatically correct, clear, and varied (i.e. simple, compound, and complex) sentences.
Moreover, TWR is an instructional shift, not a curricular resource. In other words, “TWR is as much a method of teaching content as it is a method of teaching writing. There’s no separate writing block and no separate writing curriculum. Instead, teachers of all subjects adapt TWR’s strategies and activities to their preexisting curriculum and weave it into their content instruction” (Hochman & Wexler, 2017, pp. 6-7).
Once the sentence-level strategies have begun, teachers will ultimately see a reflection of their usage in corresponding single and multiple paragraph outlines (SPO & MPO). Here is where TWR really shines-- as a clear and consistent method to provide scaffolds for students to vary their writing in extended pieces, based upon the sentence-level fundamentals they have already learned.
Another important consideration is that, “much of what students hear, read, and write in their everyday lives is couched in simple language and structures. But much of what they’re expected to read in school, especially at higher grade levels, is linguistically complex.” Therefore, when students are explicitly taught the complex written-language structures they are expected to consume, then they can better decode the overall meaning of text, by knowing how it is written.
How do we start?
As, alluded to above-- the best onboarding method is to analyze student work and collectively decide what sentence-level deficiencies exist. Assuming Sadler’s (2012) perspective that “sentences are literally mini-compositions,” then it is not a far stretch to rationalize that: “if students haven’t learned how to write an effective sentence, that is where instruction needs to begin-- no matter what the student’s age or grade level” (Hochman & Wexler, 2017, p. 39). From there, educators may select a variety of techniques to infuse with their everyday content to: explicitly teach, use as formative assessment measures, and condition students for improved writing usage.
The twofold benefit of employing TWR can be summed up in this way: “When confronted with complexity in literature, expository text, and original documents, students often have difficulty extracting the text’s meaning. Conjunction activities enable students to craft more complex sentences themselves. As they do so, they also develop the ability to understand such sentences when they encounter them in their reading” (Hochman & Wexler, 2017, p. 40).
What can we expect?
When implemented with the highest level of fidelity, the package of TWR strategies and techniques enhances several aspects of student learning. Those include...
Intentions of the Hochman Method:
Greater clarity of written & oral language
Enhanced complexity & coherence
Improved reading comprehension (i.e. reciprocality)
Improved analytical thinking
Better study skills
TWR is the first source that finally addresses the common language, background information, teaching approach/pedagogy, and linguistic knowledge teachers need to understand, in order to implement the instructional opportunities students need to improve as writers. Generally speaking, teachers are thankful for such a comprehensive source of information that can literally be implemented into their day-to-day teaching, the very next day.
Are there any recommendations for use?
Yes, keep in mind when implementing the strategies and techniques, there is an element of conditioning. Therefore, when designing thinksheets and worked examples, it is extremely important to abide by the recommendations of design, considering sentence stems, kernel sentences, and even embedded prompts as described in TWR.
Next, teachers must have a proficient knowledge of direct instruction, such as the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983), in order for implementation. TWR is not assigning work or passing out worksheets. Its integration is contingent on providing students with as many opportunities as possible to see, hear, and say constructed sentences within an I do, we do, you do together, you do alone framework.
In closing, building and instructional leaders need to only ask themselves one more question: Are we ready for a (writing) revolution?
Is Your Dress Code Equitable?
In 2016, Edwards and Marshall critically analyzed 122 dress code documents from 110 of 115 North Carolina School Districts. Across all of the dress codes, the authors found that 56 districts specifically referenced “hair” within their dress code documents-- totalling 82 references. Although the authors acknowledge that “dress codes are justified as being a part of school discipline for the safety, health, and equality of students” (Edwards & Marshall, 2020, p. 733), they also argue that “understanding how they work can provide valuable insight into the school climate and the lived school experiences of students” (p. 733). It is under this premise, in 2019, that the New York State Senate (NYSS) and the New York State Education Department amended the DASA legislation and Commissioner’s Regulations to include language indicative of the CROWN Act.
The CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act adds protections for “‘traits historically associated with race’” (Griffith, 2019 as cited in Edwards, 2020, p. 54). New York State’s Education Law 11 includes in its definition of race “hair texture and protective hairstyles [such as] braids, locks, and twists” (NYSS, N.D.). NYSED cites in their October 2021 memo “Understanding the CROWN Act” this amendment is particularly important to girls of color, as they are “more likely to be disciplined in school for how they wear their hair and expressing themselves through culturally rooted hairstyles or hair coverings” (p. 2).
It is important to consider the CROWN Act when revising and implementing local dress codes and/or conduct policies. Policies that potentially advantage or disadvantage any particular cultural group cannot continue to be implemented when state-level legislation looks to ensure equality. The CROWN Act provides an important cultural lens through which to evaluate local dress code and discipline policies. As multiple researchers have argued (i.e. Marzano, 2003; Marzano, Warrick, & Simms, 2014), a safe and orderly school is a top priority for any school or district; implementation of the CROWN Act is another lever for ensuring that all students can see school as a safe, orderly, and supportive environment committed to each student’s healthy development.
School Improvement Spotlights
Oakfield-Alabama MHS Continues Unit Planning
A (Writing) Revolution in Pavilion
Are you ready for a revolution? Pavilion Central School district is! This past October, “PCS” brimmed with excitement as they initiated a systematic rollout of the Hochman Method, or perhaps better known as... The Writing Revolution (TWR).
Within their annual department meetings, English teachers learned and identified instructional positions to apply the “ecosystem” of sentence, paragraph, and extended response content and strategies to enhance the direct instruction of writing from grades five (5) through 12. The district’s plan includes the notion to build internal capacity. To do this, they embraced the excitement and skill of the current ELA department to act as grade-level liaisons. Now, each grade-level possesses a resident expert who can assist in both turn-keying TWR content and support the acquisition of TWR techniques to the horizontal disciplines. Diligent teachers started by allocating curriculum writing opportunities to initially investigate the materials. Then, they built and dispersed introductory units of study that developed a school-wide implementation language. From there, the district’s partnership with Genesee Valley BOCES enhanced teachers’ understanding of the interconnectedness of the methods, as well as variations of TWR techniques and appropriate ways to scaffold them. Instructional coordinators also facilitated conversations to identify opportunities, within the instructional cycle and/or current curricular units, to infuse the techniques into disciplinary content and instruction.
The collaboration warranted teachers the opportunity to develop explicit sequences that will not only enhance the rigor for students, but also provide teachers with deeper formative assessment methods - all while teaching kids the common-language structures they need to write well!
Mt. Morris CSD High School Staff Continues To Strive For Equity for ALL Students
As required under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), all Students with Disabilities (SWDs) must be included in all general state and district-wide assessment programs, including assessments required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments where necessary and as indicated in their respective individualized education programs (IEPs). In addition to the IDEA federal requirement, the NYSED also addresses the rights and responsibilities relating to test access and accommodations for SWDs in the Part 100 Regulations and the Part 200 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
On October 8, 2021, high school teaching staff and administrators from the Mt. Morris Central School District participated in a School Improvement Department synchronous webinar regarding testing accommodations and modifications. The session began by making connections to the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. Supporting teachers in providing test access and accommodations ensures high expectations and rigorous instruction, as well as, an inclusive assessment system for a subgroup of students.
Mt. Morris teaching staff also had exposure and discussion around the 30 years of research that support an inclusive model within our school systems. That research includes positive outcomes for both students with high incidence disabilities (LD or other mild disabilities) and those with low incidence disabilities (intellectual disabilities or more severe disabilities) when included with other non-disabled students. One way schools can ensure inclusion is to provide the accommodations and modifications that students need to maintain inclusion within their general education classrooms.
Mt. Morris high school teaching staff left the session with this clarity, accommodations are adaptations that provide access to the general curriculum but do not fundamentally alter the learning goal or grade-level standard. These supports “level the playing field” (Freedman, 2005, p. 47). Modifications are changes to curriculum and assessment that fundamentally alter the learning goal or grade-level expectation. With this in mind, teachers would most likely be providing accommodations to the majority of our students with disabilities, and modifications to a small population of students.
2021-2022 Regional Professional Learning Opportunities
Registration for upcoming regional professional learning opportunities can be accessed through the links below. Check out the various opportunities the School Improvement Team is offering during the 2021-2022 school year. We look forward to seeing you in the upcoming months!