Staff Bi-Weekly Newsletter: October 14th, 2016

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(Originally titled “Pursuing the Depths of Knowledge”)

“Good teachers resist the idea of ‘teaching to the test,’” says Nancy Boyles (Southern Connecticut State University) in this article in Educational Leadership. “But aligning literacy instruction with assessment isn’t teaching to the test if that assessment is a valid measure of our students’ performance. If the test is rigorous – if it demands deep levels of knowledge – then alignment means asking ourselves, ‘How can we plan for this rigor in our instruction?’”

Teachers’ challenge is preparing students for the kind of rigor in Common Core-era assessments. Looking at the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create – is unhelpful, says Boyles. That approach has even resulted in creative but decidedly non-rigorous projects like “Draw a map of your ideal bedroom.” A better approach, says Boyles, is using Webb’s depth-of-knowledge levels, all four of which are important to rigorous comprehension:

Level 1: Recall and reproduction – Recalling facts and locating information in the text to answer questions about who, what, when, where, why, and how. Answers at this level are either right or wrong. Some sample PARCC and Smarter Balanced test items:

  • - What is the meaning of trudged as it is used in paragraph 10 of this folk tale?
  • - Which sentence from the folk tale helps the reader understanding the meaning of trudged?

What most commonly goes wrong at this level is students not going back to the text and finding the exact information. Rigor at this level, says Boyles, is “in maintaining high expectations for all learners and in providing honest, specific, and immediate feedback.”

Level 2: Skills and concepts – Students need to make some decisions about how to approach the problem or activity, for example:

  • - What is the meaning of the quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”?
  • - Which words best describe the character _________?

The rigor here is teachers explaining, modeling, and practicing. For students, the rigor is achieving independence, which involves the teacher gradually releasing responsibility.

Level 3: Strategic thinking and reasoning – This involves using logic and evidence to think more abstractly about a text. Sample questions:

  • - What is the theme (or main idea) of the passage? Use details from the text to support your answer.
  • - What effect does the author create by using the phrase ________?
  • - What is the most likely reason the author included a map of _______?
  • - Which details from the text are irrelevant to the author’s claim?

Many students need practice at inferring – zeroing in on the main idea as they start reading, thinking about the author’s intent, understanding the external and internal structure of texts, and thinking critically about what they’re reading.

Level 4: Extended thinking – Integrating information from multiple sources. Some sample items:

  • - A central idea of these articles is _____. Provide two pieces of evidence from different sources that support this idea and explain how each example supports it.
  • - Which source most likely has the most useful information about _____? Explain why this source is likely to be more helpful.
  • - Compare and contrast the way the author develops the central idea of ____ in the two texts we read. Use details from both sources to support your explanation.

To prepare students for questions like these, teachers need to plan lessons that ask students to make connections between two or more sources – including video, audio recordings, illustrations, and more. “But just including text-to-text lessons is not enough,” says Boyles. “A good text connection lesson will ask students to tap into a key similarity or difference between the sources, raising a question that brings students to a deeper knowledge of both texts through that connection point.”

“Pursuing the Depths of Knowledge” by Nancy Boyles in Educational Leadership, October 2016 (Vol. 74, #2, p. 46-50), available for purchase at http://bit.ly/2dVtRsI; Boyles can be reached at nancyboyles@comcast.net.


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Casual for a Cause Continues Every Thursday Through December

Donate $5 and wear jeans every Thursday through the end of December! Stop by the office to make your donation to the Waukesha Education Foundation. Wear your Casual for a Cause sticker to show you're making a difference right here in our school district. Pay as you go or consider donating $40 next week for all eight Thursdays remaining in the fund drive.

Total Raised To Date: $7,101.00!


Hadfield with $570

Butler with $535

West with $465

It is still anyone's game! Let's win that Bagel & Donut Breakfast!

United Way Pledge Drive: Oct 17-21

Why Give? Top Ten Reasons Here

The School District of Waukesha's annual pledge drive to donate to the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County for one week only starting Monday, October 17th. Pledge forms to make a donation will be in your mailbox next week. Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so by cash, check, credit card or by payroll deduction in one of two ways:

  1. One time payment
  2. 24 semi-monthly payments (Jan 2017-Dec 2017)

Returning the pledge form is voluntary. Only staff who make a donation are asked to return the pledge form by Friday, October 21st. Your generous donation not only directly impacts our community, but it may also qualify you to be entered to win one of the many giveaways and prizes:

United Way Give & Win Drawing

To be eligible, give a new or increased gift of $25, $50 or $75 to United Way's Community Fund

Impact Coupons

Anyone who gives $100 to the Community Fund will receive a book of impact coupons (mailed by UW in March or April)

Superintendent's Incentive

Anyone giving $52 or more (does not have to be new or increased) will be automatically entered in a drawing for a $250 Amazon Gift Card!!!

Bagel/Donut Rewards Breakfast!

As always, awarded to any building that exceeds last year's total by 10%!

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Great job this week Marisa! You are going to be a great teacher!! Keep up the hard work. -Tomchek

Thanks for your positive energy in class Mrs. Prokopy! -Tomchek

You have an amazing connection with our students Ms. Brusa! -Tomchek

A BIG THANKS to the 6th grade team! Our week of camp was a big success. All of you rock! The kids came back with many good stories and memories. -Jim

Katie Chapman. You keep 6th grade science going. Thanks! -Jim

Thank you Amber for all the 'drop everything' you are doing to help us out with MAP testing glitches and more! -Cindy

Thank you Chris for observing and great tips to move my workshop forward. -Cindy

Welcome Beth North to the LMC. Your are a welcome addition to our Butler family.

I love having you here! -Amber

My next door neighbor Rochelle has a great attitude! When do you teach the kids to cheer when you enter the classroom? -M

Lisa Zimmer has spent many extra hours preparing & organizing our students' medical records for the many field trips that have occurred so early in the school year. Your efforts are recognized and greatly appreciated. Thank you! ~ QUEST

Nicole Hosni and Kim Harrington can be dealt some really stinky subjects, but they handle these subjects with much grace:-) THANKS for your expertise!! ~ QUEST

A huge shout out to Lynn Gaworski who, quite literally, went the extra mile for one of her students when she walked all the way home with him to make sure he got there safely. Thank you Lynn!!!

Great work, Tracy and Michelle, for running our vertical PLC! It was very productive, and we were able to have some purposeful and very helpful dialogue to get all us Literacy teachers on the same page. Much appreciated! - Joanna

Thank you to Lalo for translating my Introduction Letter for Parents! I appreciate you going above and beyond for Butler families! Deb

Thank you to Mike for always being willing to lend a hand, find information and help us transform our classroom into a workable space! Deb, Mary Jo and Lori

I appreciate Rob, continuing to make changes to the setting of his classroom to accommodate for all students needs! Deb

Any year teaching with and PLCing with Brian Lehr is a great year. Thanks for being an A+ colleague! -JN

Welcome Liz Wallrath! Thank you for your expertise and bringing an aura of peace and calm to my sixth hour. -JN

Special Education Assistants - Thank you for being flexible, kid centered and professional as we work through each day! -Marianne

Katherine, Jake and Patrick - Thank you for always being amazing and understanding as we get to know students and their needs! -Marianne

Thank you to Lisa Zimmer! Not only are you a great nurse, but your knowledge of where students are and when and what they're up to, your ability to weed through their "stories", and seeing to it that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing is impressive. We're lucky to have you. -JN

Thank you Lynn Hall for being you! We are really blessed by your genuine and understanding nature and willingness to go above and beyond in helping us out. -JN

Thank you Jenny Robarge for signing for all of my lunch food deliveries lately. Your warm smile and cheerful greetings are the icing on the cake! -JN

Thanks to Mallonen and Tracy for leading a very well-planned, productive Literacy vertical team meeting. You created a safe place where all ideas were valued. Butler's literacy future is in a better place because of your leadership, and this will ultimately have a positive impact on Butler's students. Thank you for fostering growth.

Jim Jastrow thank you for being the official 6th grade camp organizer. You worked hard behind the scenes to support all the 6th grade teachers as we prepped for camp. That organization made it a little easier on the rest of us during the daunting task of organizing a field trip. Your professionalism and hard work helped students have a great camp experience. Thank you.

Our library staff are AWESOME!! They help problem all kinds of tech issues. You have saved me more than once.

Huge thank you to Katy Tomchek! I appreciate you being so flexible and accommodating, especially with some of the more challenging students! You rock! -Jess

Joe and Stephanie - Thank you so much for a great cross country season! I couldn't have asked for better partners in coaching! -Marianne

Katie Chapman - Thank you for working together with staff to help kids succeed. -Marianne

Karly - Thank you for working with kids in Science and other classes. Your patience and concern for students is always appreciated. -Marianne

Thank you Jeffrey for braving the weather and help at the Waukesha Invite! You rock. -Marianne

Thank you Abby for bringing your dog out in that wet and wonderful weather. The runners were happy to see you. -Marianne

Jake and Marianne were awesome chaperone buddies at camp! Thank you Jake for all the prep work you did for our camp day. -Joey

Welcome to Butler Beth North! Thank you for being so helpful from day 1! -Joey

Thank you Kim and Nicole for all the work you have done with the ByStander Revolution Month! Your enthusiasm to participate in the daily challenges shows! -Joey

Thank you Lynn Hall for covering my Step Up when I was out for jury duty -Joey

Thank you Caroline for being an extra helping hand when getting the students setup on the first Step Up assignment -Joey

I am very fortunate to work with an amazing Team and PLC. We respect each other, value opinions, and consistently work together to solve problems. -Mallonen

Caroline has been incredibly helpful with the RtI process and with AIMSweb! Thanks for finding answers to questions, teaching me how to input data and set goals, and working through all the kinks together! You are an invaluable addition to Butler and to the RtI team! Chris

Thanks to Jason and Jeffrey for encouraging us to take risks and for trusting us!

A big shout out to Michelle and Tracy for facilitating our vertical calibration of students' argument benchmark writing! What a great learning opportunity! #seektounderstand

Sabrina, Erin, Cindy, Sara, Bette, Jeannine, Jake, Tracy, and Joanna are doing a fabulous job with our new intervention framework! Thanks for your open-mindedness and positivity as we learn a new process! It's exciting to see what the students are doing in Core Plus after just a few short weeks! Chris

Michelle and Christine ~ Way to differentiate to meet the needs of your students! Priceless!

Jeffrey, you are a great addition to the Butler family. Your positivity and smile are contagious!

Jeannine is proof that one can take a bit of a hiatus from the classroom, jump right back in the saddle, and make it look effortless!

Kim and Nicole are so enthusiastic and dedicated to building community and making Butler BEST! #ButlerUnited

Cindy has an amazing sense of humor and is so authentic!

Jason is a great leader and coach who makes time for everyone! That's impressive with the size of our staff!

I love being a part of a team of professionals who wrap around students and always put students first.

Thanks Lalo for an awesome crock-pot this week! -Ben

Thanks Mallonen for being such an insightful, productive and effective coordinator of the SLO process. You rock. -Ben

Thank you Michelle and Tracy for leading our discussion on argument writing! Great leadership ladies! -Erin

Thank you Sabrina Rolli for being the best core plus teaching partner! We are rocking this! And thank you Chris Romasko for leading the way! -Erin Romenesko

Lynn Hall - Thanks for always being willing to brainstorm ideas and swiftly following through with plans.

Katelynn Cutts - Thanks for taking the lead on all of our social media activity and making sure that all of the great things happening at Butler are shared with the world.

Jeffrey - I appreciate your energy and new ideas!

Mary Jo - I admire your dedication to students and willingness to go the extra mile.

Shout out to Alex Scott for his insightfulness, dedication, and compassion. How lucky are our students to work with you?

Shout out to Nicole Hosni for always brightening your day :)

​*High fives* to Lehr, Natter, Tomchek, and Cesarz for collaborating on the SLO process with us again. Benchmarking papers with all of you has been a tasty treat. We are so grateful for the effort you put into shaping stronger writers. - Mallonen, Prokopy, and Bagnall

Sabrina Rolli is fabulous and bossy (in the cool way.) Your energy, positivity, and quick thinking make you the perfect Drama partner. Thank you for making the hours spent in the auditorium every week fly by. - C.B.

Michelle Mallonen leads by example, works with a purpose, and shares with everyone. For this, I am grateful. - C.B.

Jess Prokopy has a PhD in patience. It is inspiring to watch you roll with the unexpected and hold all students accountable. - C.B.