Instructional Edge

(December 2015 edition)

Coaching Residencies

Coaching residencies are an opportunity for teachers to try out new ideas and techniques. Coaches team teach content in a regular classroom setting to provide a high level of support to a teacher who is experimenting with new content, management structure, differentiation tehcniques, etc. Depending on needs, the residencies can run anywhere from one week to several weeks. The goal is for residencies to be mutually beneficial for both the coach and the classroom teacher. Coaches get an opportunity to experience the content and classroom challenges first hand, allowing them to provide supports that better meet student and teacher needs. The teacher benefits from having an extra set of hands, ears and eyes in the classroom. Collaboratively, the teacher and coach are able to work to meet student needs in real time- not tomorrow, not next week. Right. Now.


Interested in participating in a residency? Contact a coach! In the meantime, check out these residencies that are happening now!

Mystery Calls!

There have been some phenomenal mystery calls taking place at WSR! Most recently, the third grade classes of Jennifer Reiwerts and Stephannie Pierce at Shell Rock Elementary participated in mystery calls with classrooms from Wisconsin and Texas. The calls resemble a giant game of geographical 'Guess Who' with students asking yes or no questions to determine the location of the students in the other 'mystery' classroom. Students each have a role in the experience- mappers, questioners, answerers, and summarizers all step up to make sure the event goes smoothly. Instructional Coach Chuck Buseman has spearheaded the organization of these calls. He's compiled a large list of interested contacts across the country. If you're interested in having your class participate, contact Chuck!

Professional Development

Middle School Hour of Code

"As a member of the Tech Cadre we are focusing on how to get our staff and students to utilize technology as a tool for learning which includes exploring career paths in technology. So with the help of two of our Instructional Coaches, Sarah Lalk and Allison Rasmussen, our team decided to have an Hour of Code for students to get exposed to one aspect in the field of Computer Sciences. Computer science is more than learning to code it's about learning how computers and software are changing everything in our world, which impacts all of us. I believe it’s important for students to learn more how technology works regardless of what career they want to go in. So our coding event was intended for staff and students to be exposed to and participate in coding. Students in my group thought it’d be difficult but found it to be easy and fun!" - Cindy Harper
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SIPPS Success!

Beginning this fall, WSR's K-4 teachers have had access to a new reading intervention program- SIPPS. SIPPS stands for 'Systematic Instruction in Phonics, Phonemic Awareness and Sight Words.' This program is available to struggling readers in an effort to help them reach grade level proficiency. SIPPS also meets the qualifications for intervention under the state's early literacy initiative.


Becca Elsamiller (elementary literacy lead teacher at Southeast Elementary) coordinated with her building colleagues set up a schedule and framework for SIPPS that has shown great early success! 1st and 2nd grade students who were flagged as below benchmark in the fall participate in a 30 minute SIPPS lesson each day. Students who met grade level benchmarks participate in highly structured, independent work or meet with other students for enrichment.


In order to make this a reality, teachers had to be flexible with their schedules, share students, and work collaboratively to analyze student data and progress. After several weeks of running this framework, students are showing promising results. Nearly all students improved in their foundational literacy skills and retained the skills learned in SIPPS lessons. SIPPS is just one way elementary teachers are working to ensure all students have a strong reading foundation.



NCTM Regional Conference

In mid-November, a group of ten teachers, coaches, and administrators from WSR attended the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) conference in Minneapolis. Here's what a few attendees had to say about the experience:


"I attended several sessions using manipulatives which emphasized the importance of hands on, particularly for the struggling student. I also enjoyed a couple of sessions on productive struggle: giving the students a problem with no clear answer and asking them to come up with their own answer and explain it. My favorite session was on using children's books in the math classroom. The thing I enjoy most about any conference in networking with other teachers and visiting the exhibits to see new materials."

-Sue Ramthun


"It was great to interact with teachers who are PASSIONATE about mathematics! It was promising to me that math teachers are invested in engaging students in learning that is practical and purposeful. The sessions that I attended were focused on productive struggle. The concept that we engage students in practices that require students to struggle. Teachers help facilitate the learning with probing questions without providing students the answers. The need for students to work through problems, rather than do problems, is also evident in 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Smith and Stein. They describe ways for students to construct their thinking and explain their reasoning while solving problems."

-Jeremy Langner


"My favorite session of the conference was led by a professor at Johns Hopkins University named Karen Karp. She was one of the best presenters I had ever heard speak and talked about interventions and assessment strategies for students who struggle. It was a powerful session on how teachers are seeking successful ways to assess and build instructional interventions for students struggling to learn mathematics. She has authored an article called "13 Rules That Expire" that is posted on the NCTM website that I highly recommend math instructors take a look at. One other big take away from her presentation were the following quotes she believed strongly in:

1) Telling isn't teaching.

2) Told isn't taught.

3) Explicit instruction isn't telling kids- develop the idea in a heads-on environment and leave them with "mental residue" on a topic that will stick!"

-Sally Kittleson

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Gamified Instruction

“Without the assistance of Instructional Coaches Chuck Buseman and Sarah Lalk, along with Student Tech Team Members Christian Flege and Morgan Brus (former member), our gamified project-based Social Studies concept, “Battle of the Rings,” would not have evolved to be as ‘21st Century’ as it is now. Chuck was such a help walking us through the details of the PBL process and developing our guiding questions. Sarah assisted us with transforming the content into a game, complete with an interactive Zee Map, virtual dice, and spreadsheets to track student progress in the game. Christian saved us a lot of time, and did a fantastic job, creating the website we use to host our game. Morgan joined us via Google Hangout to advise us in which spreadsheet formulas would work best to do the heavy lifting for us, saving us time spent on record keeping. Truly, this was a collaborative effort and the results are evident of that! As we say in our game, ‘Begin an Amateur and leave a CHAMPION!’” - Tina Graven
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Tech Quest on the 4Cs

In response to the technology Clarity Data, the Elementary Tech Cadre (Jess Heying, Danielle Larimer, Sharon Chesnut, Seth McGrane, Melissa Miller, and Heather Obermier) decided to focus on using technology to Create, Collaborate, Communicate, and Think Critically. Based on cadre input, Instructional Coaches Allison Rasmussen and Sarah Lalk created a pirate game, "Tech Quest on the 4 Cs" for classrooms to play while navigating the 4 Cs. The game encourages students to share their critical thinking via webcasting, as well as creating to learn using iMovies, music, and art. While creating and thinking critically, students are encouraged to communicate and collaborate in their classrooms, district, and community. Currently, the cadre members are piloting the game in their classrooms.
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Iowa Technology Education Conference

In October, Instructional Coaches Keith Halverson, Sarah Lalk, and Chuck Buseman accompanied a team of 10 WSR teachers to the ITEC Conference in Des Moines. Teachers included High School Tech Cadre members: Pat Fox, Megan Epley, Kelly Egan, Chuck Stuckelberg, and Justin Little; PBL Lead Teachers: Dave Arns, Tina Graven, and Kim Ross; and Differentiation Lead Teachers: Sara Heitz and Angie Wessel. Conference sessions ranged from connecting your classroom to gamification and harnessing RTI time. Click here to read session notes from the conference.

Student Tech Team

Don't forget to utilize one of our fantastic High School Tech Team members: Sanah Munir, Sophie Vowels, Jacob Staines, Noah Solheim, Ethan Young, Zach Mohling, Christian Flege, Sam Stover, and Makayla Fincher.


Here are some of the projects they have completed already this year: designed the new HS Guidance website; created the 6th Grade Social Studies gamified-PBL website; designed the Masquers website; created posters advertising the HS Code Club; written blog posts; fixed iPads and Chromebooks; created video tutorials; designed logos, taken pictures around the district; maintained social media accounts for the Booster Club and various sports teams; and assisted teachers in the classroom.

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New Staff Spotlight: Q & A with Mike Hagensick

Q: Where did you go to high school? College?

A: Waukon High School & UNI; will finish my M.A. in Special Education from Morningside in the spring of 2017.


Q: Where did you teach before landing at WSR?

A: Cedar Falls as an academic interventionst, and Waterloo as a 5th grade teacher


Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: Reading and taking my dogs for walks


Q: What is one of your most positive experiences so far at WSR?

A: Working with a great staff!


With new staff like Mike, it's a great day to be a Go-Hawk!

Happy holidays!