Office of Curriculum & Instruction

Mandy's Message

Hello all. Welcome to the 3rd quarter. I don't know about you, but for me, this is one of the toughest times of the year. I really don't like driving to work in the dark and home as it is getting dark. Spring break seems so far away, and the stress-inducing testing season is rapidly approaching. And, this year, the only real reason for winter excitement - the SNOW DAY - seems elusive. Even though these late winter days can be tough, we get through it for our kids. We bring our best every day because it is the best thing for our kids. We get out of bed and put a smile on our face because we love our kids. We even pretend not to look forward to snow days because "if we have a snow day, we won't be here to learn" or "I will miss you too much if we have a day off" (we've all told our students these things even as we were checking the forecast every five minutes ourselves...lol). The point is that even during the toughest times of the year, our hearts remind us that we have one of the most important jobs in the world because we get to work with kids every day.

Wishing all of you warm thoughts. Thank you for all you do for our kids and the community each day.


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Fostering Curiosity and Learning in Science Through Talk

Learning happens through talking and writing. Yet, student talk typically makes up less than 20% of the time spent in science class; and of that small amount of time, there is very little focus on student-sensemaking. Using specific instructional "talk activity" approaches can intertwine our content, literacy, and nature of science goals. These activities can be used to get students to critique science models, explain and/or revise their thinking, or reach consensus. All of these are important science (and 21st century) skills that cross the science cognitive demands.

STEMteachingtools.org has several briefs with strategies to help. One is a Talk Activities Flowchart (pictured below) to help you decide which talk activities to use for which purposes. Check out these resources and more at STEMteachingtools.org!

Brief #35: Fostering Curiosity and Learning Through Talk

Brief #6: Productive Science Talk

Brief #17: Beyond the Written C-E-R

Brief #25: Cultural Argumentation

Timely Tech:

With the shift in our standards to more emphasis on science as a way of thinking, a helpful resource is Data Nuggets from Michigan State University. Data Nuggets offers free classroom activities, co-designed by scientists and teachers. Data Nuggets provides students with the details of authentic science research projects. The students then get to work through an activity that gives them practice looking for patterns and developing explanations about natural phenomena using scientific data from the study. Goals of the Data Nuggets project include (1) helping scientists increase the broader impacts of their research by sharing their “science story” and data with the public, and (2) engaging students in the practices of science through an innovative approach that combines scientific content from authentic research with key concepts in quantitative reasoning.

Data Nuggets, highly ranked for ease of use, works with all grade levels. Level 1 is appropriate for elementary students, Level 2 = middle school and above, Level 3 = high school and above, and Level 4 = advanced high school and college undergrads. This tool can be useful as you work to sharpen your students' logical thinking and data analysis skills, while covering standards found in NGSS Science and Engineering practice, NGSS Crosscutting Concepts, ACT College Readiness, AP Biology Science Practices, plus Ohio Nature of Science and Cognitive Demands for Science.

Check it out at http://datanuggets.org !

Opportunities for Students!

Check out these opportunities for your students to engage in science!

Opportunities for Teachers!

Check out these opportunities for professional learning!

ESL (Excellent Students Learning)

Our English Learners continue to seek the excellence that Fairfield City School District provides to the ELL population. ELLs currently comprise about 11% of our population. In the last ten years, FCSD has experienced an ELL population growth of more than 150%. We must be doing lots of things right! We have also been fortunate to hire three new tutors: Julie Paton at Central, E. Judith Jones at Freshman and Olivia Faraci at the High School.

The OELPA testing window is quickly approaching. The testing window is from February 3rd through March 27th. As with all other testing, please encourage our ELLs to get plenty of rest, eat a good breakfast, RELAX and do their very best. Our ELA teachers and tutors do a fantastic job of testing our students, but any encouragement received from their other teachers is beneficial.

Just a reminder that you can find SO MUCH information regarding your EL students in the FCSD ESL Procedures Manual, which can be found on the SharePoint under the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. If you need any further information or assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Found below are some upcoming Opportunities for ESL professional development. If you are interested, please send an email to me and cc your building administrator so that we can get you signed up!


Instructional Strategies (SIOP)

Feb 25 and March 10, 8:30 - 3:30

June 18 and 19, 8:30 - 3:30


March 5, 8:30 - 3:30

May 5, 8:30 - 3:30

June 4, 8:30 - 3:30

Strategies for Newcomer EL and SLIFE students

March 31, 8:30 - 3:30

June 8, 8:30 - 3:30

Dawn Warren Hildreth

Instructional Specialist for ESL

Take a look at this fascinating video which shows US Immigrant Group changes over time

100 Years of Immigration to The U.S., 1919 to 2019

LISTICLES: A Writing Structure for ALL Content Areas

So, I learned a new term, listicle (List + Article). I am a list fanatic. Of course, this caught my attention! Listicles are all over the internet. Some are serious, but most are just fun. They have been around for hundreds of years, but the term listicle is fairly current. Think of them like "The Top 10" with a bit more.

During a recent OWP session, a presenter taught students how to organize their ideas around a topic into a listicle. In typical OWP format, a couple of models were given to the students to peruse. Students discussed what was similar in both mentor texts, while the teacher wrote down their findings on chart paper. Students then began writing their own listicle, in some case even two or three. Throughout the lesson, the teacher directed the "writers" back to the chart to remind them of the format.

The format of a listicle can be used for multiple teaching purposes in any classroom. Can't almost anything be turned into a list?

Having students do this type of low-stakes writing, centered around their choice of topic, will usually result in students writing more. Looking at the student work also gives teachers insight as to the needed mini-lessons, which can be small group opportunities to work with a select group of students who may need to practice particular grammar skills, elaboration, topic choice, evidence, etc.

Below are a few links I found that are informative or just enjoyable. Happy listing!

~Laura Griffin







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Gifted Film Fest Series: 2019-2020

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Don't forget ... fun and unique PD opportunities are just a few clicks away!

The Fairfield City School District Gifted Services Proudly Presents:

Gifted Film Fest Series 2019-2020

Coming Attractions:

Good Will Hunting

Finding Forrester


August Rush

Akeelah and the Bee

Earn up to 15 clock hours of gifted professional development (3 clock hours per movie) –

60 clock hours of gifted professional development are required over the course of 4 years

(15 clock hours per year).

Whether you need more CEUs to renew your license and/or you are providing services to gifted students and need additional clock hours to fulfill the 60 clock hour requirement, this PD opportunity is for you!

Over 100 spots have been filled for this PD experience. However, more are welcome to join. Simply register through PDExpress, today!

~ Rob Beidelman, Instructional Specialist - Gifted Services (513) 858-7130

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What is Fact Fluency?

There has been a lot of discussion recently about fact fluency and what that means for Fairfield. To define it, we need to look at Ohio’s Standards for Mathematics. The glossary states that fluency is the ability to use efficient, accurate, and flexible methods for computing. Fluency does not imply timed tests. That definition is repeated often throughout the Model Curriculum. Notice that the word automaticity is missing. With reading, automaticity is expected. Yet, the words have meaning and are experienced in context. The same is not true for basic facts. The brain works differently when processing numbers.

How do we build fluency? How do students know basic facts from memory? Fluency work needs to be done each day. Fairfield’s Curriculum Expectation document states that elementary grades should include computation and fluency (grades 1 – 5) instruction for students daily. The key words are instruction (not timed testing) and daily. Our Math in Focus curriculum is very strong in building fluency/computation. Most teachers have the fluency books that came with our original adoption of the program. In addition, early this school year I distributed the current MIF Fact Fluency book to all of the elementary core math teachers. This work can be done during core instruction time or during the enrichment/intervention period.

Jo Boaler, graduate professor at Stanford University, recommends that students build fluency by interacting with numbers and having a strong foundation in number sense. The website she co-founded, YouCubed, is full of articles, activities, and suggestions for building number sense. I would direct you to her article, Fluency without Fear. One of her suggestions is the use of Math Cards. She includes an example of them in the article. I am currently creating a complete set for all multiplication facts for products 1 – 100. They will be located in SharePoint in the Math folder that I have titled Fluency Resources. Other fluency resources are already in there (Addition Bump Games, String Math, Steve Wyborney Activities, Turtle Math), and I will be adding to it as our library grows.

Eureka Math, a free program, has 10 – 15 minute fluency activities at the beginning of each lesson for grades K - 5. These can be used for the whole class or those that need extra instruction and practice. In addition, I created fluency intervention binders for teachers to use. Each of your building math coaches has a set that you are free to copy. These lessons were pulled directly from Eureka Math. If any of you are using the free online program Zearn for grades K - 5 with your students, fluency is built into the program. If anyone would like help to set up Zearn for your classroom, I am happy to help.

Let’s work together to build fluency by giving students ample work time with the numbers in a more engaging context.

Eureka Math https://greatminds.org/math

Zearn https://www.zearn.org/

YouCubed https://www.youcubed.org/

Fluency without Fear https://www.youcubed.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Fluency-Without-Fear-1.28.15.pdf

Debi Freimuth, Instructional Specialist Math (858-7120)

MAP Minute - Why do multiple percentiles sometimes have the same RIT score?

Recently, a few members of the FCSD teaching staff asked the question, "How is it possible that two or more students with the same RIT score and who tested in the same testing window, possess different percentile rankings?" Here is NWEA's response to this question.

The following information comes directly from the June 6, 2017 NWEA Community blog created by Community User.

On the RIT to Percentile conversion chart in Appendix C of the Norms study, some RIT scores apply to multiple percentiles. For example, the fall math kindergarten RIT score of 145 is listed for the percentiles 62, 63, and 64.

Looking at this example, more than 1% of testers received the specified RIT score in the norms study. As there are only 99 possible percentile scores, but RIT scores in the percentile charts range from 110-285, some percentiles will have more than one RIT score assigned to them.

How does this affect which percentile shows on reports?

Students will be placed in the appropriate percentile based on the unrounded RIT score. For example, if a particular RIT score corresponds to the 50th, 51st, and 52nd percentile, a student in the 50th percentile would have a lower unrounded RIT score than a student in the 52nd percentile.

Thank you to members of the FCSD teaching staff who posed this question. Please contact Rob Beidelman if you need support in MAP.

~ Rob Beidelman, MAP Coordinator (513) 858-7130

Tech Tip: It's not in there...or is it?: Searching Outlook Mail

Are you having trouble finding that elusive email that they told you was sent but didn't show up in your inbox, or at least you don't remember it? Outlook has a fantastic search feature that will search all parts of the email. But sometimes, we don't give it the right direction.

When clicking inside the search bar at the top of your inbox, you activate several search features.

  • If you think the email may be in your Junk folder, make sure you click the drop down on the right (default is 'Current Mailbox') and select 'All Mailboxes'. This will check your Junk mail too.
  • If you know who the email is from, click the 'From' icon at the top and start typing the name.
  • If you remember words in the subject, click 'Subject' and type the keyword(s).

Happy searching! And as always, don't hesitate to reach out with questions!

Encouragement Corner

I think this speech by Dr. Rick Rigsby is a must-see. There are so many great tidbits of great life lessons that he shares in just ten minutes.



The Most Inspiring Speech: The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout Will Change Your Life | Rick Rigsby