Wolcott's Weekly "What's Up"

Office of Teaching and Learning 11.3.2014

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Calkins Writing

Staff continue to do an amazing job helping students grow as writers by faithfully implementing the new Calkins Units of Study. We greatly value the passion, dedication and growth of not only our students but our staff during this transitional period. Stretching beyond one's individual comfort zone and taking reasonable risks is to be commended.

To help explain all that is involved during this period of change, I will be sending a letter home to parents before conferences. It is my goal that the letter will help explain the purpose and expectations of the new program.

Math Curriculum Feedback

As staff continue to utilize the new common core math curriculum in the classroom, it is essential that we receive feedback on the implementation process. Please talk with staff and find out how things are going. I would like to know what needs staff still have so that Rachel and I can formulate a plan to provide the support and services to help all through this transition period. Please send me your thoughts and feedback by Monday, November 10 at 8:00 am.

"B" Week Coaching

It recently came to my attention that due to Calkins "Norming" sessions and professional development activities to enhance the knowledge/skills of our Instructional Resource Specialists, that "B" week schools have been slighted in their coaching time. I apologize this has occurred. I will work closely with the IRS to take a closer look at how and when things are scheduled going forward.

ACCESS Testing & DEB

I know this is very early notice, but...Please plan on cancelling DEB block during the week of January 12th in order for us to most effectively administer ACCESS Tests to our ELL students.

ELL Lesson Plans

Last year during ISBE's ELL Compliance Monitoring Visit, we were cited for not having lesson plans written with both academic and language goals by our ELL staff. We were told, ELL resource and Self-Contained Bilingual classroom teachers must, due to grant requirements, have these goals listed. Juan Corona, District ELL Director, will be working closely with ELL staff to ensure lesson plans meet these criteria going forward. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have for staff but this practice is deemed by ISBE as having a huge impact on student success.

#Sig72 and Passion Period

  • Relationship building shouldn't be a first three day of the school year thing only! Please remind staff they have permission to set aside Significant 72 time throughout the year to continue to form those strong caring relationships with and between students. This includes setting aside time monthly to teach a Passion Period.
  • Relationship building is an investment into student's growth not only social emotionally, but academically as well. Setting the content and curriculum aside in order to foster these connections will pay huge dividends!

Chris Weber RTI Coaching

As we continue to implement the District RTI plan as a way of ensuring individual student growth and accomplishing our Academic Transformation Plan, we will continue our work with RTI expert, Chris Weber. Chris will be serving as a coach to assist you and your building teams with RTI implementation.

Chris will be here several times throughout the remainder of the year to meet at individual buildings. His schedule for November is as follows:

November 12

  • 8:30-11:30 @ Edgewood
  • 12:30- 3:30 @Murphy

November 13

  • 8:30-11:30 @ Sipley
  • 12:30- 3:30 @ Goodrich

November 14

  • 8:30-11:30 @ Meadowview
  • 12:30- 3:30 @ Willow Creek

Don't Let PT Conferences Be the First Connection

"There’s an enormous body of research and studies on the positive impact of parent partnerships and student success not just in school but throughout life. We cannot educate our children without reaching out to their parents. When schools and families work together, children have a far better chance of not only being successful in school but being successful in life as well."

Please make sure staff have had positive interactions and communication with parents about students before meeting face-to-face at parent conferences in November. This will help to insure that all parties are working together to move student learning forward and improve student success.

Food for Thought: Nurturing Student Motivation

In this Educational Leadership column, Carol Ann Tomlinson (University of Virginia) says that when a student is unmotivated, something is amiss. “Either we can’t see what motivates the student in question,” she says, “or the student’s life is dangerously off course. In either case, ‘unmotivated’ behavior should register to educators as a call for help.” Teachers are crucial to motivation, and they should tune in to students’ unspoken questions in three concentric circles of their school lives to help build self-motivation:

  • The personal sphereDoes the teacher see me? students wonder. How does the teacher see me? “Some students feel invisible in their classrooms,” says Tomlinson. “Some feel judged and found wanting.” Good teachers combat low expectations and provide all students with visible support and an appropriate amount of voice and autonomy.
  • The social sphereDo I belong here? students wonder. Am I valued? Do I have something meaningful to contribute? Good teachers help connect isolated students to peers and they model and insist on mutual respect.
  • The academic sphereIs this stuff worth my time? students ask. Can I do what’s being asked of me? Good teachers build wonder, imagination, and curiosity into lessons, link the curriculum to students’ lives, challenge students to work beyond their current level, and support all students to listen, ask, find out, reason, disagree, self-correct, and start over.

“Releasing the Will to Learn” by Carol Ann Tomlinson in Educational Leadership, September 2014 (Vol. 72, #1, p. 86-87), http://bit.ly/1rrSwEO; Tomlinson is at cat3y@virginia.edu.


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Principal To Do List

  • Send Greg Math Curriculum Feedback by 11/10
  • Schedule Parent Teacher Conferences
  • Discuss with staff or send out to staff reminders and ideas on how to run effective conferences
  • Share School Report Card information with staff
  • Present the School Report Card information at a regularly scheduled PTO meeting by December 1st.

On the Radar

  • 11/7: School Board Tours
  • 11/10: District Admin Meeting
  • 11/12: Grades entered in Skyward
  • 11/12: RTI Coaching w/Chris Weber (see specifics above)
  • 11/13: RTI Coaching w/Chris Weber (see specifics above)
  • 11/14: RTI Coaching w/Chris Weber (see specifics above)
  • 11/14: Report Cards sent home
  • 11/18: Principals Teaching & Learning Team Meeting
  • 12/2: Principals Teaching & Learning Team Meeting
  • 12/9: District Admin Meeting
  • 12/12: WE 14 School Improvement Day
  • 12/16: Principals Teaching & Learning Team Meeting
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