The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

May, 2013 - News You Can Use

Oskaloosa Elementary Receives Award!

The Oskaloosa Elementary staff was awarded the Iowa ASCD Whole Child Award at the Iowa Curriculum Leadership Academy conference on April 10th and 11th in Johnston. Representing the Elementary that day were Elementary DLT members: Jen Groenenboom, Maggie VanZee, Dawn Deffenbaugh, Alexis Shipman, Amy Blythe, Tim Milledge, Jayme Braida, and Denise Morris.

The categories requiring evidence of educating the whole child included:

  • Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle
  • Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  • Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
  • Each graduate is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.

A plaque was awarded along with a complimentary Iowa ASCD membership for the entire teaching staff at the Elementary. Please congratulate them when you have a chance! If you would like to have additional information about the award, please contact Dr. Cooksley.

DLT Members Attend the Curriculum Leadership Academy to Learn about RtI

DLT members attended the RtI conference in Johnston on April 10th and 11th. Pictured from the MS and HS below is Brett Doud, Jeanne Clark, and Laura Brummel as they participate in an activity assessing where we are as a district on several elements related to school improvement around RtI. The Elementary team is pictured on the right.

Elementary Students Perform on the Square!

Group Attends Standards-Based Grading Workshop

Several DLT members attended a collaborative workshop in Cedar Rapids on April 24th. Jeanne Clark, Alexis Shipman, Cory Sheeley, Mike Comfort, Kirsten Stek, Andy Hotek, and Mary Cooksley had the opportunity to go to break-out sessions where many aspects of grading were discussed. Below are some main points taken from that workshop.

  • We have students who believe they are either good or bad at school! This is no OK! Are you designing a classroom idea that kills that idea? It starts with grading (this is a community problem) - why? because every time we give a message about school it is about grading.
  • Coding system for daily work, homework, etc. that is not graded: C=Complete, MC=Mostly Complete, PC=Partially Complete, NO=Not Observed (This record keeping was used consistently in their science department)
  • Reassessments: must complete a protocol in order to reassess - it is more work to reassess so I mine as well work my hardest to get it the first time!
  • "It's an instructional issue, not a grading issue" and "Point and credit chasers are not innovators"
  • To help parents better understand the grading system, we need to give them different questions to ask. Instead of "what are you getting in Language Arts?" you should ask "Which GLB are you meeting expectations?"
  • In SBG, the process students use becomes much more important than the product" Much like PBL - if we want evidence of "learning" than it can't be just a worksheet that measures recall
  • Students will not make the connection we do as adults about the correlation between homework and learning. WE must make that connection for them. They might have to fail in order to see the connection (speaker's thought)
  • Extra Credit has NO place in SBG

PLC to Watch for May - MS Language Arts!!

The last PLC for the year to be featured is the MS Language Arts PLC.

Our 2012-2013 Norms

1. Start and end on time
2. Listen respectfully
3. Honor diverse perspectives
4. Respect confidentiality
5. Stay on task
6. Agree to disagree
7. Be supportive of each other

The MS team continues to use data to inform their instruction - their Data wall tracks students success with their GLB's and the CARS assessment. Much discussion around student intervention time and RtI. Ask them about their work when you have a chance!!!

April DLT Update

The DLT met on April 2nd from 4:00-6:00. The items discussed or decisions made are listed below:

  1. Looked at "Resources for Interventions" on a RtI website.

  2. Kiosk activity around the Characteristics of Effective Instruction - What would that CEI sound like when using questioning? What level of Bloom's would that question ask students to think at?
  3. Grading Code 1-4 - What is our current reality and our desired state - Assignment is to come to May meeting with a building action plan and steps for next school year to move toward our desired state.
  4. Chad Farner presented to the BOE on April 9th

Do you use Wiki's with your Students?

Introducing Wikispaces Classroom - this might interest some of you....

Wiki Spaces is pleased to announce Wikispaces Classroom, a brand new product designed exclusively for teachers and students.

Over the years, we've distilled what we do and why we do it down to the one simple thing: help teachers help students. Wikispaces Classroom takes this to a new level by focusing on simplicity, engagement, and student outcomes. Read more about our exciting new product for educators.

Updates of HIgh Interest

  • Monsanto Grant for a High Tunnel Greenhouse has been submitted - wish them luck!
  • Community Garden Grant for the High School has been submitted - good luck!
  • Professional Development Plan for next year will be sent out very soon!
  • A MS and Elementary team will visit Waukee on Tuesday to learn about their RtI schedules
  • A HS team will visit Fort Dodge to see how their schedule assists with interventions
  • DLT meets next Tuesday!
  • DAC meets in May to write APR Goals for next year
  • MAP Data should be ready to view - log on to NWEA.ORG to see your students' growth
  • Iowa Assessment results are in and will be shared very soon.
  • The Curriculum Team schedule for next year will be embedded in the PD Plan so watch for that very soon!

Common Core - Important Considerations!!

From Common Core Standards to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas

A common misconception about the Common Core State Standards is that they dictate to teachers how to teach (teaching methods) and what to teach (curriculum). In a white paper written by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins entitled, "From Common Core Standards to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas", the authors argue "that these standards are in some ways obvious but may also be counter-intuitive and prone to misunderstanding." McTighe and Wiggins go on to offer their five big ideas as:

Big Idea #1- The Common Core Standards have new emphases and require a careful reading

Big Idea #2- Standards are not curriculum

Big Idea #3- Standards need to be "unpacked"

Big Idea #4- A coherent curriculum is mapped backwards from desired performances

Big Idea #5- The Standards come to life through the assessments

Watch the 6 Minute video below to hear the major changes to Literacy as outlined in the Iowa Core/Common Core: The Curriculum Teams who have met this year learned and discussed these changes this year during out work. Next year we will continue to pursue these critical ideas as our work progresses!!

  1. Text Complexity - challenge students when reading as a group
  2. More use of non-fiction - Back of claims using text evidence
  3. Writing to Sources - read and put thoughts from text in writing
  4. Research - more small research projects than one large one
  5. Provide arguments orally and in writing
  6. Academic Vocabulary - Language of Power across disciplines

Leadership in Oskaloosa!

I would like to thank the following leadership groups in Oskaloosa for their dedication and commitment to students in the district. "You are an important piece of the puzzle" in Oskaloosa and are greatly appreciated. Without you, we could not sustain continuous school improvement!!

  1. PLC Facilitators
  2. District Leadership Team members (DLT)
  3. District Advisory Team members (DAC)
  4. SINA Team members
  5. Vertical Team members at each building
  6. District Special Education Team
  7. Curriculum Team representatives
  8. Building level teams who attended workshops or trainings this year!
  9. Mentors for Year 1 and Year 2 New Professionals
  10. Administrative Team members
  11. PPAC members
  12. PTO members
  13. Student Assistance Team members at each building

Shared leadership is a district goal - distributing leadership will help us improve and sustain the positive work we have in this district - Thank you for all you do! I apologize if I forgot anyone - it was not intentional!

Mentoring for 2013-2014

Do you want to help prepare a new teacher for a successful journey into teaching? If so, please contact your building administrator!

Technology Planning for Next Year - 2013-2014

In order to make the Technology Professional Development meaningful to teachers next year an Individual Learning Plan for Technology (ILP for Tech) will be used.

The ILP isn't about learning COOL, NEW TECH TOYS - I want to stress that this is about SKILLS - HIGHER ORDER THINKING!! Said differently - Do you need a tool to enhance writing in your classroom? That is what your goal will be - not to learn how to do a Wiki. If you want to increase collaboration, your goal would not be to learn how to use Google Docs. While they are GREAT tools, your goal should be centered around student learning and enhancing instruction using technology.

While there will be a few hours built in to the professional development calendar for collaborative projects or conversation, how you choose to arrive at your goal will be determined mostly by you! What does that mean? You may team with other teachers, or work independently - depending on your learning style - during the scheduled PD time set aside. You might schedule some collaborative time during your PLC's as wel..

The Technology Vertical Teams will help organize the learning around what each ILP is requesting. If collaborative sessions need to be organized, the Vertical Teams will arrange them. Teams will monitor the goals and determine success at the end of the year. Start thinking of what you would like to learn next year.

If you have questions, direct them to Dr. Cooksley or Mrs. Barnhart