Instructional Coaching Newsletter

Westridge Middle School - January 2016: Volume 1 - Issue 5

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Welcome to 2017!

Only a few weeks have passed since we rang in the New Year, but wow has it been busy. Between BIST, BDI, AM PD and our every day responsibilities, the month is almost over.

Along with the new year, comes a lot to celebrate. One semester down and the ability to start a-new with routines, students, and lesson ideas. I can't think of another profession who has the freedom and luxury to have restarts - whether it be over the summer or winter. Along with the restarts are the things that we want to shed.

On New Year's Eve, I went to my yoga studio for a huge SHED 2016 class. During the class, we had to write down three things that we wanted to get rid of and at least one thing that we wanted to start in the new year. We burned the three things we wanted to end and throughout the yoga class we set our intentions to our new goal. I can't tell you how much it helped me to refresh and restart.

Let's face it. This job is hard, and long, and all consuming...I am wishing you the same type of experience as you wrapped up your year.

  • What are three things you would want to stop doing?
  • What is one thing you want to start?

Take care of yourself, have a good balance of your professional and personal life, and live every day to the fullest!

SAMR Ideas in the Classroom

Check out these ideas for tackling student interests while also hitting the target with SAMR! What is one of the foundations of this?

  1. Exchange ideas
  2. Provide positive, constructive, and kind feedback
  3. Provide avenues to connect content with our learners' many different interests

Allowing students to tackle work based on the option that makes the most sense to them is crucial for cognitive connections. Seeing a concept in context of a topic in which the learner has great interest -- and possibly expertise -- can help him or her turn abstract ideas into concrete purpose. For example, a young lady’s vlog series about her visit to a different country or maintaining and marketing a personal gaming channel opens up many possibilities for demonstration of skills in several content areas.

Here are some tools to help focus on student interests:

  • Youtube Playlists: There are many videos that address content from different perspectives, including the one way that a particular student or teacher needs to see it. Create playlists (like this one) to provide that variety.
  • Screencastify, Jing, and Snagit are tools that enable students to capture video of their screen. Video capture software allows students to use their resources such as gaming, coding, or productivity software, and capture it for video uploads. Here's an example using Minecraft: Building a Fusion Reactor from my Minecraft for Learning playlist.
  • Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts are video conferencing tools that include recording. They enable students to connect with field experts on relating content to the world outside of school. Experts are more likely to participate in mentoring and sharing their knowledge when they save time by not having to travel to the school.

Things to consider when you integrate these types of activities into your lessons:

Differentiating with social media is most effective when we plan learning experiences based on content, process, and product (our lesson structure) and incorporate readiness, interests, and learning profiles (student voice). The following guidelines can help any classroom teacher ensure that the tool used will address students' needs:

  1. Be clear about the academic learning outcomes.
  2. Assess what students know and don't know.
  3. Identify related student background connections.
  4. Utilize social networks that can address needs for struggling learners.
  5. Ensure that advanced learners are growing.
  6. Connect content to authentic purposes in the world beyond school.
***Taken from Edutopia.

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Class code is: 449psq

Teaching Shoutouts To...

Do you have an amazing activity I should see?

If you have something you want to share or a lesson that is Quad D, I'd love to feature YOU and your students in my next newsletter! Please let me know and I will be sure to come by your classroom.

Classroom Management Behavior Tip - The Dictator


How do you cope with a child who demands your constant attention?

1. Give this child a special job to show that you care about and have confidence in him/her.

2. Make this child the captain or leader whenever possible.

3. Play games that nourish self-confidence. For example, try the Circle Game: Have children sit in a circle and take turns naming someone in the circle who has done something to help or to make him/her feel good.

4. Use personal evaluation sheets. These can be as simple or as complex as you desire. In this way, you can help children express feelings and recognize their own strengths/weaknesses in a non-threatening atmosphere.

5. Provide a wide variety of classroom experiences. Familiarity breeds self-confidence!

6. Implement a buddy system for this child.

7. Check into the home environment. See what is motivating this dependency.

8. Frequently assign this child simple, easy tasks that allow for success.

9. Provide self-correcting tasks so that the child may see his/her own errors first hand.

Looking for a New Engagement Strategy? Try Talking Chips!

This is one of the strategies I was going to share during our Instructional Fair PD and it is one of my favorites. Need a visual? The video is also listed below.


  • Each student has “chips”

  • The student with the birthday closest to today starts the discussion by placing their first chip/topic/word/idea into the center of the table (This is arbitrary, you can decide who starts. Should just give you an example of how to start.)

  • The rest of the team adds to the conversation/discussion by adding their chip to the center of the table and making a connection to what was said

  • All players must play chips as a part of the discussion.

How could you use this at WMS?

-Reviewing a concept from the day before

-Ending the class with a summary of the lesson

-Summarizing a video clip or class discussion

The biggest tip I could give is building the expectations of the activity. How do you get everyone to "buy-in" to the activity and speak?

-Give them speak time

-Build in whole class share-out afterward, by calling at random

-Make sure to promote that all ideas are welcome and that brainstorming is a part of the collaboration process.

-Start with only one or two chips per person. You can have them share a new idea but then also make a connection to someone else's comment. I always set the expectation that "yes" or "no" comments did not count as talking chip-worthy.

The 411 on MAP Data

Winter MAP data is out! What does the data help us with?

  • It can help us pinpoint and target classroom interventions and strategies for struggling students.
  • It can help us create bellwork activities that target whole-class reteaching activities.
  • It can help with collaboration in our PLCs.

Check out these resources for tiering reading pieces:

  • Newsela: current events topics, good for all classes, tiered reading pieced based on lexile levels)

  • Rewordify: takes a text that you have, created leveled versions of the text to support struggling readers

  • Tween Tribune: a Smithsonian resource with leveled news articles
  • ReadWriteThink: provides strategies and resources at various levels for all content areas

With the KS College and Career Readiness standards, literacy is KEY and these can be applied to any content area. Guess what? Building and implementing literacy skills within lessons are an easy way to achieve the Quad D!

Want to dig deeper into your data? Check out the Student Profile tab in NWEA. Click on this video to find out how to use this great tool as a resource. Below is also a screen shoot of what it looks like.

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Thank you for a great AM PD time!

A shout-out to:








...for all their preparation for today's PD time.

Didn't have a chance to take the Unconference Survey yet? Click HERE to take it. It should take less than 2 minutes.

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Coaching Connections and Support

Let me know if I can help you with...

  • Unit planning
  • Lesson planning
  • Addressing rigor & relevance
  • Data analysis
  • Classroom management strategies
  • Professional learning goals
  • Instructional research

The options and opportunities are endless!

And now, your Moment of Zen...

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