Cordata Weekly Bulletin


Good Monday morning, Cordata!

I have a good news story to share with all of you . . .

Our Behavior Data team has been meeting monthly with Penny Davis this year, learning how to dig into office referral data and find trends for which we can take some action. A month ago, they noted that there had been an increase in physical aggression for our kinders and first graders on the playground. So they came up with an actionable plan! With the help of Minh and our recess supervisors, each kinder and first grade teacher scheduled an extra teaching-recess, once a week for four weeks. They strategically taught the expectations, and modeled and practiced the expected behaviors to have fun, stay safe, and solve small problems on the playground.

One month later, they checked the data again, and saw a dramatic difference. Office referrals for physical aggression during K-1 recess dropped from 25 in the four weeks prior to the intervention, down to 1 in the four weeks following the intervention.

WOW! Well done, team!

We will use what we've learned to adjust our Playground 101 lessons in the fall of next school year, and we will continue to have this team monitor office referral data and plan interventions. Just think of how much more our kiddos will be able to focus on learning and positive behaviors when their recesses are more safe and successful!

Below, a few pics from last week - Check out the kinders showing us what independent reading looks like, and 5th graders sharing their Genius Hour inquiry projects!

Big picture

The week ahead - 5/6 - 5/10

Big picture

The SEL Calendar, from now through the end of the year, focuses on continuing your class meetings, solving problems as they arise. Those of you using Caring School Communities as your key resource should continue to pull from the Topic Weeks to guide your SEL instruction.

Management strategy to consider: Smooth the transition from mini-lesson to independent work.

No matter the content area, we know that elementary aged learners can only sustain attention to direct instruction for so long. Hence, the mini-lesson and workshop model! We connect to past learning, focus in on the learning target, provide modeling, and gradually release by inviting students to have-a-go before they go off to practice independently or explore further in small groups. But in that moment between wrapping up the mini-lesson and starting the independent/small group work, a lot can happen to take attention away from the learning target. Conversations start, kids are distracted by something else in the room, someone can't find their pencil or their notebook, and for some, the link between the mini-lesson and the independent practice gets lost.

A few strategies to try to smooth this transition:

  • Prepare materials before coming to the rug for the mini lesson. When your writing notebook and pencil are already out on your table, and all other materials have been cleared away, it is easier to return to the table and get started quickly. Students who benefit from a specially-chosen work space (some teachers call this a "private office") can have it all set up and ready to go, so they can transition to it quickly. In this way, the transition into the mini lesson may take a few extra minutes, but the transition from mini-lesson to independent work will be quicker.

  • Start the work on the rug. In this case, students will need to bring at least some of their materials to the rug for the mini-lesson. Maybe a pencil and a sticky note, to write down a goal at the close of the mini-lesson. Maybe a mini-whiteboard to practice a math strategy to then take back to the table as a reminder of the learning target.

  • Dismiss students from the rug or whole group learning space a few at a time. Give the verbal feedback to recognize those making the transition smoothly. When your next small group is dismissed, they have a visual reminder of what is expected.

  • Use an audible cue such as quiet music to signal the timing for the transition. When the music ends, all should be settled in and engaged in their independent or small group work.

  • What other strategies work for you to help students maintain their focus as they move from mini-lesson to independent or small group practice?

Teachers build up their bags-of-management-tricks over time. If you have one that works especially well for you and your students, I'd love to have you share it with me!

Upcoming Dates

  • May 13 - DESSA window open through end of May
  • May 16 - 4:00-6:00 pm - Kindergarten Open House
  • May 21 - 2:45-4:00 - Choice Tech Meeting (this can be a choice towards your 2.5 choice hours, cert staff)
  • May 23 - 1:00-2:00 SGC - K and 4th grade meet separately to look at grade level data
    May 23 - 2:00-3:00 SGC - K meets with 1st grade; 4th meets with 5th grade
    May 23 - 2:00-3:00 - SGC - 3rd grade meets to look at grade level data
  • May 24 - Bike Rodeo, grades 3, 4 and 5
  • May 30 - 1:00-2:00 - SGC - 1st and 2nd grade meet separately to look at grade level data
    May 30 - 2:00-3:00 - SGC - 1st meets with 2nd grade; 3rd meets with 4th grade
  • June 7 - 5th grade track meet
  • June 13 - 2:00-3:00 - SGC - 2nd meets with 3rd grade; 5th meets individually to look at grade level data
  • June 14 - Teacher's Theater!
  • June 19 - Field Day - this is tentatively being planned with the support of Cornwall Church volunteers . . . much more info to come. If you have ideas, send them to Analisa.
  • June 20 - last day of school - morning assembly followed by all-school recess and yearbook signing
  • June 20 - Last day of school, and All Staff CELEBRATION at Dan's house! (Thanks, Dan, for hosting our crew for a potluck!)

Other News and Information

  • On Monday afternoon, we will have some visitors in the Cordata Library. Robyn, Analisa, and a district team that includes DT&L and the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation will be presenting to visitors from the United Way. For four years, our after school enrichment clubs have been available to students at no charge thanks to the generous funding of the United Way. We are seeking renewal of this grant and look forward to sharing our successes and our hopes for the future with the visiting team!

  • Teachers, think about where your technology is located for instruction. Currently, your laptop and document camera are probably near one another, perhaps on or near your desk. This may or may not be near the interactive whiteboard, or where you would normally sit for whole group instruction. With our new technology, and wireless connection to projectors, we have an opportunity to change things up a little. I invite you to think about the location of your document camera. Where would be the most efficient place to locate this tool, so that you are still near your students, and near the whiteboard? While you may have a document under the doc camera for instruction, students will be better able to engage with what you are teaching if you draw their attention to the image on whiteboard itself. Does that make sense? If not, check in with Michelle for ideas.
    Before you head off to summer vacation, all teachers will be asked to draw up a map of your classroom, so that it can be reassembled after cleaning. This is a perfect time to make changes, such as where your document camera is located.

  • Elementary PTA leaders from across our school district have been in conversation with the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation over the past year or so about how PTA's are funded. We know that the dollars that PTA's can raise for school support and enrichment vary widely from one school to the next. These PTA leaders, with the support of the foundation, are exploring models to bring some equity to that funding. This is a complex undertaking, and requires lots of learning together, and openness to new ideas. On Tuesday evening, the team will meet again to explore next steps. Analisa has been a part of these ongoing conversations. If you have questions, or want to get involved, please see me! The Cordata PTA relies on partnership from all of you, so we want you to be in the know. Consider coming to an evening PTA meeting here at Cordata to get involved as well!

In closing . . .

Big picture

Cordata family, you are deeply appreciated . . .

The quote above speaks to me, because it calls out the immense importance of the work that you all do every day! Every one of you has an invaluable role to play in creating this learning community. Thank you! Happy Staff Appreciation Week! And enjoy the treats throughout the week in the staff room, and lunch from Cornwall Church on Wednesday.