The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

October 2015 - "News YOU Can USE"

Learning Target Reminder

Learning Targets or "I CAN" statements!
  • Communicate to students what the Grade Level Benchmark "big idea" or "essential content/skill" is for a period of instruction
  • Communicate daily what students will know and be able to demonstrate that day and HOW they will be assessed. How will students KNOW if they have met that day's Target?
  • Are to help students focus on the content and/or skill - it provides them with the What and the How
  • Are powerful if you involve students - can students communicate and explain what they are learning and why? How are you involving your students throughout the lesson? Beginning, Middle and End?
  • Should be assessed during and at the end of each instructional period. How will you know which students have "gotten it" and who has not?
  • Should be given a dedicated space in your classroom
  • Are one of the key characteristics expected to be part of your lesson design - see the "Tool for Improvement" for additional information!

October Challenge!!

Last month we had a picture from a classroom - this time I would like you to take a picture of your Learning Target from your dedicated space in your classroom.

Pictures will be shared in the future!

Next Generation Science Standards Approved

The Department of Education has formally signed into legislation updated Science Standards for the Iowa Core.

Previously organized by grade band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12), now the standards will be grade specific K-8 and banded 9-10, 11-12 at the HS level.

What does that mean for Osky? This spring, the Science Curriculum Team will dig into the standards with a Science consultant from the AEA. Next year, as a district, we will unpack and create new GLB's and Components from the standards. We will determine areas of Focus, Foundation, and Introduction K-12 for Science.

Updating of Infinite Campus Reminder

The following are the dates we will be communicating to parents about updates to the Parent Portal. The expectation is everyone will update their grade books every two weeks in the Portal - if there is no grade entered, there should be information about what students are doing in the classroom.

Grades should be direct evidence of learning - not just something to put in the grade book. We need to continue to communicate with parents our grading philosophy.

Below are the dates for 1st Trimester 15-16 school year:

Friday, September, 11th

Friday, September 25th

Friday, October 9th MID-TERM

(Grades will be posted by Tuesday, October 12)


Friday, October 23rd

Friday, November 6th

Thursday, November 19th End of 1st trimester

(Grades will be posted by Tuesday, November 24)

Administrative Team SMART Goal and Action Plan

The Administrative Team met at the end of September to develop our SMART Goal and Action Plan for the school year.

100% of teachers will demonstrate high quality instruction as indicated by the continuum on the “Tool for Improvement” by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.


Action Steps:

  • Complete a minimum of one walk through observation for each teacher each trimester ~ Central office will complete a walk through observation for each teacher throughout the year
  • Provide specific feedback for improvement on each walk through observation
  • Analyze walk through observation data monthly
  • Conduct team walk through observations and have discussions about what was observe
  • Participate in monthly professional learning topics around quality instruction/feedback/questioning/coaching techniques

Walk Through Template for 2015-2016

The walk through observation tool has changed slightly from last year. No longer will you see a 1-4 on the rubric. Instead you will just see the indicators or descriptors for each of the "Tool for Improvement" categories. I will send the template out to all teachers via e-mail and also put it on the staff resource page so you have access to it.

As part of the Administrative goals, we will work to provide quality feedback so instruction continues to improve across all classrooms. If you want to focus personal learning on any of the categories, contact your Instructional Coach, your Principal, or the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for additional support.

Caught in the Classroom!

MTSS Conference Ideas to Share

A team from the Middle and High School went to Fairfield for two days of learning from author Austin Buffman. A Solution Tree consultant was brought in by the AEA for secondary teams to learn more about delivery of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).

Below are pictures of the teams collaborating together to determine the best preventative ways to assist struggling students. The primary message, however, was about the quality of Core/Universal instruction. If you do not have a strong, viable curriculum and high quality core instruction, you will not be able to intervene your way out of learning deficits.

"MTSS is to prevent, not treat"

"Culture EATS Structure" - meaning if you do not have a culture where everyone believes it is their responsibility to help students to learn at high levels, then no matter what structure you have in place, it will certainly fail.
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Mr. Hotek and Mrs. Ehret hang up an example of the inverted pyramid worked on - a gallery walk to learn from other schools

What are your BIG ROCKS? Assessing PLC Collaborative Time...

What are the Big Ideas for your PLC this year? What are your students largest needs? What student behaviors need to be strengthened? What academic needs do your students have?

Once you have identified a student behavior, what is the teacher behavior you need to change? What is the Big Rock you are going to tackle this year in terms of learning? Do you need to learn more about Project Based Learning? Do you need to create more effective rubrics or assessments? Do you need to learn more about Small Group Instruction? What about quality literacy instruction?

PLC's collaborative time is to be used for identifying student behaviors we need to change because of skills gaps or deficits. In addition, PLC's collaborative time should be used to strengthen and refine teacher behaviors. At the heart of being a PLC - or the BIG ROCKS for PLC's - should be a focus on STUDENT LEARNING!

Reflect on the use of time in your individual PLC. Is your time being used to maximize learning for you and your students?
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Common Assessments - a BIG ROCK

Reminder - all course alike teachers MUST have common summative assessments. If you need to complete those, PLC time is a great way to complete those.

Reminder - in order to have useful conversations during PLC collaboration, having a common formative assessment on a regular basis allows for you to discuss student strengths and areas students are struggling.

Summative = Autopsy - too late to assist student misconceptions

Formative = On-going, informing and forming your instruction. Formative assessment should provide quality, specific feedback so students know, "What's Right, What's Wrong, and most importantly, How to Fix IT"!!!

Smarter Balanced Assessments

It is not official yet - and it might not be approved - but a couple of committees have recommended to the state legislature to approve the use of a different assessment in the near future called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. However....

Iowa Assessments is still a possibility as they are creating a new, more aligned, test - and the legislature could approve that new test. When will we know? I hope soon, but we might have to be ready as soon as next year (2016-2017) or the following year (2017-2018).

Whichever is approved, we will be administering a new assessment in the future. Stay tuned for more information!

If you want more information or if you want to see a sample test, click on the link below.

Iowa Core Minute - Text Complexity

We have talked a LOT about text complexity - are you ensuring a high level of rigor in your classrooms around what students are reading? Take a look at what they have to say!

Problems of Practice

This video helps explain how your PLC - or even you as an individual teacher - can use "Problems of Practice" to refine your observation skills when you conduct a peer observation or have discussions as a PLC.

District Leadership Team (DLT) Update

DLT met on September 1st.

  • DLT established the SMART Goal for the year

100% of teachers will understand, plan with, and incorporate the Tool for Improvement into instruction during the 2014-2015 school year as part of Oskaloosa’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports


  • A Google Doc was created to generate Action Steps for DLT.

District Advisory Committee (DAC) Update

DAC met on September 22nd. The following are the minutes from our 1st meeting of the year. If you are interested in being a member of DAC, please contact Dr. Cooksley at cooksleym@oskycsd.org

1. Housekeeping Business:

a. Secretary needed – Karen Hartl volunteered

b. Treat schedule form passed around and filled out by members present

c. Pay forms are available for school staff

d. Meetings are scheduled on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 3:45 p.m.

a. October 20th

b. November 17th

c. December 15th

d. January 19th

e. February 16th

f. March 15th

g. April 19th

h. May 17th

e. Membership – Each member should try to recruit another member for DAC to increase numbers at each meeting


2. Purpose of DAC

+ Roles and Responsibilities of DAC were reviewed and compared to those of District Leadership Team. Norms were listed on the wall.

3. Review Goals for 2015-2016

+ Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) long-range goals and Annual Progress Report (APR) Annual Goals were reviewed, followed by discussion about the role of DAC in updating them and making sure goals are being met


4. Collective Commitments

+ Discussed the Power of Collective Commitments for each stakeholder group (admin., teachers, parents, students), then began process of choosing “We will . . .” collective commitment statements for DAC.

+ We will continue this at next meeting.

Dates to Remember

October 5th - Professional Learning Community (PLC) Facilitator District Meeting

October 6th - District Leadership Team (DLT)

October 14th - Blue PLC Shirt and Jean Day!

October 12th - Building PLC Facilitator Meeting

October 13th - District Technology Meeting

October 15th/16th - Parent/Teacher Conferences

October 19th - Vertical Team Facilitator Building Meeting

October 20th - District Advisory Committee Meeting

Family Reading Night

Thanks to all the families who attended the Elementary Family Reading Night! Thanks to the teachers and administrators for making the night a wonderful success!

Below the 1st Grade Team gets in the spirit!!
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School In Need of Assistance "SINA" Update

The Elementary had an initial planning meeting in September to determine an action plan for this year.

The Elementary is a SINA 4 Building which means we need to develop a plan for restructuring. Many ideas were brainstormed.

Some things already completed are:
  1. A Writing Block was added - so Language Arts will be 2 hours of the day
  2. A 90 Minute Math block was added - this adds an addition 30 minutes over last year
  3. Grades 3-5 teachers were restructured - placing specific skilled teams into place


Other things we will do:

  • Consult with districts who are successful to model and partner with them
  • Create a rubric to observe and analyze Instructional Techniques with AEA specialists to determine areas of need in instruction.

Time to Chuckle....

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