The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

April, 2015 - "News YOU Can USE!"

School End Date Adjusted!

Mr. Reiter sent out a message letting everyone know of this year's adjusted calendar. Because of the number of lost days and hours, we need to catch up on the lost instructional time. In case you didn't see it:

Last day for students: May 27th

Last day for teachers: May 29th

2014-2015 - Annual Needs Assessment Survey

Spring is here and that means we want to get feedback from students, parents, and teachers! You should have received through e-mail, or Infinite Campus, the link to participate in the Needs Assessment survey. Please take the 5-10 minutes it will take to provide us your perception/opinion on a variety of programming across the district. It is embedded below again for your convenience - each computer is limited to one participant to eliminate repeated survey submissions. Be sure to answer each question or the survey will not allow you to proceed to the next set of questions!

The results are analyzed by leadership groups across the district; goals and adjustments are made as a result of this important information, so your participation is critical and appreciated!

Survey Window closes on April 3rd.

Thanks in advance for you participation and support of Osky schools!

PLC/Vertical Team Facilitators and Mentor Applications

Applications are currently being accepted for both PLC and Vertical Team Facilitators. New Mentor applications are also being completed and accepted. Notifications to those who will fill the positions for next year will be done in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks to all who applied or who are considering applying!

Oskaloosa Presenting at Conferences!

Iowa ASCD Curriculum Conference - April 23rd and 24th
We will be presenting on our journey toward Standards-Based and Standards-Referenced Grading. Presenters are: Tim Veiseth (3-5 Principal), Angie Grubb (2nd grade teacher), Denise Morris and Danielle Francois (1st grade teachers), Jayme Braida (5th grade teacher), Kirsten Stek (MS Science), Jeanne Clark (HS Foreign Language), and Mary Cooksley (Dir., Curriculum and Instruction).

Waukee Instructional Coaches - June 9th.

We will be presenting about our journey toward Instructional Leadership (Instructional Coaches). Presenters are: Marian Raum (MS Instructional Coach), Jen Groenenboom and Stephanie Edgren (Elementary Instructional Coaches), and Mary Cooksley (Dir., Curriculum and Instruction).

Congratulations to these teacher leaders - their willingness to share our work will assist other districts on their school improvement journey!

Oskaloosa Vision/Mission Lanyard Cards

Reminder - please remember to wear your vision/mission and Quality Instruction card during the school day!!

If you have lost yours, I have some extras or ask your building Principal or Secretary. Thanks!

High School Exhibition Night "Picture Your SELFIE Here"

Just a few pictures I took during the night. I wasn't able to get to all the students, but those I saw were very impressive; they were intelligent and could answer a multitude of questions from interested parents. The first annual Exhibition Night was a success!

Meet the 2015-2016 Instructional Coaches!!

I am excited to announce the Instructional Coaches for next year:

K-1 Literacy - Stephanie Edgren - current K-5 Coach
2-3 Literacy - Shannon DePenning - current 4th grade teacher
4-5 Literacy - Jen Groenboom - current K-5 Coach
K-5 Math - Jane Bambrook - current 2nd grade teacher

Middle School
Instruction and Technology Integration Coach - Marian Raum - current 6-8 Coach
Instruction and Technology Integration Coach - Polly Ehret - current MS Special Education teacher

High School
Instruction and Technology Integration Coach - Clint Gingerich- current Business teacher
Instruction and Technology Integration Coach - Jeanne Clark - current Spanish teacher

We are thrilled to be adding these positions for next school year!!! The Instructional Coaches will have an extended contract of 10 days. They will attend some training this summer as well as during the school year to continue their professional learning.

We hope everyone takes advantage of them next school year!!!!

LETRS Training Reminder

LETRS - April 16th and 17th

Board Room 8:00-3:00
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New Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

The Iowa Department of Education is looking at all four Core areas: Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies by order of Governor Branstad. The past three years teams of Iowans have been reviewing the Science Standards. Since LA and Math are part of the Common Core and were adopted a couple years ago, they are focusing on Science and Social Studies first.

Why? The Governor wants to increase the focus on STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math across the state. When will the NGSS be put into practice across Iowa? Hopefully the legislature approves them by the end of the school year, but they may not be approved until next school year. When that happens, the Science Curriculum Team will compare our current Grade Level Benchmarks and Components to those Standards. We will rewrite them to be in line with the expectations outlined in the new Standards.

The next core area to be reviewed by the state are the Social Studies Standards. For more information on the NGSS, watch the video below.

PLCs to Watch in April - Art AND Music

Elementary - 75% of 5th grade students will enhance their own digital portfolio by taking/uploading at least one artwork photo and/or writing and entering one artist statement.
Middle School - 80% of students in Art 8 will earn a 3 or higher on Grade Level Benchmark reporting.

High School - We will utilize a portfolio as evidence of learning, and also as a guide to further learning. The evidence contained will be practice sketches, technique explorations, Subject research, and goals and aspirations as determined by the student and their committee.


Our 2014-2015 PLC Norms/Collective Commitments

  1. Have a positive outlook
  2. Be There
  3. Live the District Mission
  4. Participate and Speak Your Mind
  5. Respect Each Other

April PLC Collaboration

April 1st - PLC/PLC
April 8th - Jean and Shirt Day! Vertical/PLC
April 15th - PLC/PLC
April 22nd - PD/Building Choice/PLC
April 29th - Vertical/Building Choice/PLC

Spring MAP Testing

Measures of Academic Progress - or MAP - will take place between March 30th and April 17th.

We will use the Fall and Spring data to determine student growth. The District Advisory Committee (DAC), the Administrative Team, the School Board, along with PLCs will analyze this data.

Other Spring Testing Window Reminders

Fountas and Pinnell Text Leveling (K-5) April 27th - May 8th
Aimsweb Universal Screening - (K-9) May 4th - May 15th

Part 2 - Reading Summit - One-Liners

Part 2 includes the other Keynote speakers and a couple of breakout sessions. This was a great learning experience for both Mr. Veiseth and myself. I hope you enjoy the one-liners! If you are curious about any of the authors or their books, just let us know... we walked away with a lot of free material!

Mike Smith - "Supporting Rigor Through Reading Pleasure"

  • Sarducci Test - What do you want students to remember 5 years from now?
  • Fostering social pleasure by reading TOGETHER!
  • Read a favorite book of students' - even if YOU have never read it!
  • Ask your teachers "how many times did you play this week?"

Enrique Puig "Redefining Text in an Era of Core Standards"

  • "What does your text say in your head?"
  • "Update your language to upgrade your thinking"
  • Intertexuality - looking at print, music and sculptures as a form of text - FASCINATING!!!
  • Close reading should be a strategic action rather than a routine - students need to be able to transfer across content!

Laura Robb "Engagement Defines Meaningful Learning"

  • "Throw out workbooks and packets and let's be engaged and read for the state of flow"
  • State of flow is when you are so engrossed in literature [or any learning] you don't want the activity to end or you do not know where the time just went.
  • Student Quotes: "Do activities instead of packets" & "Don't lecture, let us do the learning"
  • Students must be 20 times more literate than our parents needed to be.

Ruth Culham and Traits Writing

  • According to NAEP 27% of students in the U.S. are proficient in writing in the 8th and 12th grade
  • ACT and SAT scores are down 9 points since 1972
  • ACT - lowest English Scores since 2006

Lindsey Palmier and Karen Hoard - "Guided Reading and Gaining Understanding of Complex Texts

  • Need a common goal and common language
  • What should you see in classrooms during literacy time?
  • Monitoring teachers - "inspect what you expect"

A few pictures below so you can put a face with a name and quote:

Iowa Core Learning, Growing, Stretching YOUR Thinking

Video Learning

These videos are important and relevant to ANY content area. I challenge you to see how your colleagues and yourself can use these videos to reflect on current practice and how you can ensure students are given the skills required to be successful.


The following pictures are taken from a Hello Literacy blog - the author is Jen Jones. I included the link to her latest presentation as well. Click on any of the pictures to see them in a larger format.

PLCs might want to look at her site, her Slideshares, and any other resources you find here.

We ALL need to teach literacy and that is what she does - LITERACY!!
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April Syllabus Challenge

Testing your Iowa Core knowledge:

  1. What are the content areas we have Standards for in the Iowa Core?

April Humor!

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