The "Osky Syllabus"

January 2016 ~ "News YOU Can Use"

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Smarter Balanced Assessments?

We have not heard if Smarter Balanced Assessments will take the place of Iowa Assessments as of yet, but we need to be prepared.

Here is the link to the site if you want to look at the practice tests to determine whether your assessments and instruction have the same level of rigor as the questions on the test.


Learning Target Reminder

I CAN....

I CAN post my learning target and I CAN have students self-assess around their Learning Target

All classrooms need to have I CAN statements visible and you should involve students in discussion, self-assessment, or even creating them!!! I have heard great conversations, goal setting, and self-assessment while visiting classrooms, so those of you doing this - KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK! Your students will see the benefit.

Those of you not posting or discussing need to do this - it is critical to student success! Remember, the student performance evidence - if 90% of teachers do a quality job with Learning Targets 90% of the time - we will see an effect size of .75 - .90. That translates into almost two years of growth.

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Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment - a check for understanding done routinely during a lesson. Informal or formal, they help a teacher to determine next steps in the instruction process. Formative Assessment is not a Noun, but a verb - assessments should be a seamless part of instructional practice. Formative assessments MUST align to and measure student success on the established Learning Target!

Looking for a formative assessment you might use with your students? Tired of the same approach every day? Mix it up!

Here are 2 you could use if you don't already use them.

  1. Draw It - Draw what you do understand.

    Example of Student Response: A drawing of what an adjective thinks about a noun, or a how much smaller in size the thousandth’s place is compared to the ten’s place.

  2. Keep the Question Going - With this formative assessment technique, the teacher asks one student a question and then asks another student if that answer seems reasonable or correct. Then, he asks a third student for an explanation of why there is an agreement or not. This helps keep all the students engaged because they must be prepared to either agree or disagree with the answers given and provide explanations


Common Language

Last month I asked if you are using the writing process language consistently in your classroom.... I am reminding you again of the importance of consistency with students.

The graphic below illustrates the language being used in Wonders and Traits. We need to use the same language so not to confuse students!!!
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Balanced Literacy - Writing

The video above is a great example of a twist on Guided Writing and Independent Writing. It combines the writing process, Iowa Core expectations of text evidence and analytical writing.

This would work in any core area when you want students to think critically and collaborate. As she says at the end... "students will have more confidence" because they have collaborated together to address the question(s) posed.

January Challenge Question

Look at the Balanced Literacy Document - all you have to do is click on the graphic above.......which is one of the techniques you have used in the past and how?

Winner will get a little treat!!!


District Leadership Team (DLT)

DLT met on December 1st. Here is a summary of what took place:

  • 6th Grade moving to no letter grades next year was tabled until more MS representation is present - see below for the survey given to 6th grade teachers (7/8 responded)
  • A video will be made by the Video Production class at the HS about Standards-Based Grading.
  • The group reviewed Hattie's research and looked at a graphic showing the effect size versus the expenditure of each initiative. Formative Assessment, Learning Targets, and Self Assessment are all low cost and high impact.
  • Learning Targets - the group read a couple articles and participated in a jigsaw activity to learn more about the importance of Learning Targets
  • "Tool for Improvement" - groups refined its language. Final revision will take place in January when it will be rolled out to staff.

Standards-Based Grading - 6th Grade Survey

The survey below illustrates the willingness to move to SBG next year at the 6th grade. As you can see, there is work to complete before they feel they are ready. Summer work time is going to be provided at district office this summer to accomplish the tasks needed to be successful.
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New Report Card Look for Next Year

I have been working with Infinite Campus on a new look for the report card. The new look would reflect the "Purpose for Grading" and be more aesthetically pleasing. While only a summary of student progress, the report card should be easy to read and "look nice". The new look would be for next school year (2016-2017). We will use categorical funds and not general fund dollars to pay for the upgrade.

What will be different?
  1. The orientation would be landscape and not portrait
  2. The "Purpose of Grading" would be included
  3. The teacher's picture would be next to the course name

The report card is being modeled after Thomas Guskey's examples seen a couple years ago at a Standards-Based Grading conference. I have been working for a few years to update and refine the look. I will present an example to DLT and DAC in January.


Grade Book Update means to either:
  1. Have evidence of student learning aligned to Grade Level Benchmarks AND/OR
  2. Describe what is happening in your classroom so parents have an idea of what students are learning - especially if you have not taken a summative grade during that update period.

  • January 8th - 2nd Trimester Midterm!
  • January 22nd
  • February 5th
  • February 19th
  • February 26th - 2nd Trimester Final Grades!
  • March 11th
  • March 25th
  • April 5th - 3rd Trimester Midterm!
  • April 8th
  • April 22nd
  • May 6th
  • May 20th - Last Day of School (Tentative)

Grading should be used to provide essential feedback to students. We know students don't learn at the same pace and they certainly don't master a concept the first, second, or even third exposure to it. This is why you might not see as many grades in the grade book as you did previously. Once we are certain students' learning is ready to be assessed, THEN teachers will give an assessment OF learning and THEN a grade will appear in the grade book.

As partners in your child's education, please ask your teacher what is happening in the classroom if you do not see any updates. Let's work together to help your child succeed!

Standards-Based Grading Video

Kim Gile's Video Production class has taken on a project to help us more effectively communicate to parents and prospective parents about Standards-Based Grading.

They are putting together a story-board or plan for the video and will present this plan to the District Advisory Committee in January. It will be a 4-6 minute video featuring teachers, parents, and possibly students as well.

The goal is to have this completed by the end of the school year.

Standards-Based Grading Conference Presentation

Oskaloosa was asked to present at a SBG conference in Cedar Rapids in March. The keynote speaker is Thomas Guskey, renowned author and educator.

We were asked to do a presentation for both the Elementary and Secondary journey.

Presenters will be: (Elementary) Tim Veiseth, Jayme Braida, Mindy Archer, Angie Grubb, Denise Morris and (Secondary) Mary Cooksley, Jeanne Clark, Kirsten Stek, Paige Pierson, and Beverly Jenkinson

Elementary SINA Team to Visit Clinton CSD

The Elementary is partnering with Clinton Schools to learn what they are doing to help students succeed at high levels.

Clinton has over a 70% Low Socio Economic Status (SES) population, but have and average of over 90% of students proficient across their elementary buildings. We want to know more about them!

Two teams will visit in the new year - currently we are in the process of setting up visits. We will debrief and determine next steps after these visits.

Math Resource Presentations Set

Several companies will present to the Elementary and Secondary Math teams about their products. Scheduled to present are:

  1. Houghton Mifflin - Go Math! (currently used K-5), Math Expressions, and Big Ideas
  2. McGraw Hill - Everyday Math
  3. Pearson - Envision Math and Pearson Math (HS Only)

Presentations will be on February 8th at Central Office.

January 22nd - DATA Day

January 22nd is a non student day and a Data Day or PD for staff.

Wonders training, Small Group Instruction and Collective Commitments are some of the topics being addressed that day.


Compentancy-Based Education - What is it?

What is Competency Education? (CBE)

Frequently, competency education is described as simply flexibility in awarding credit or defined as an alternative to the Carnegie unit.

Competency education also hold promise as districts explore new ways to expand and enrich support to students, challenging the assumption that learning takes place within the classroom. Competency-based approaches are being used at all ages from elementary school to graduate school level, focusing the attention of teachers, students, parents, and the broader community on students mastering measurable learning topics.

In 2011, 100 innovators in competency education came together for the first time. At that meeting, participants fine-tuned a working definition of high quality competency education:

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

Taken from:

A long range goal of the High School is to explore CBE. If you are interested in learning more, check out the link below for additional information.

FAST versus Aimsweb

With the Early Literacy Initiative (ELI) and the Summer School requirement looming at the end of next year we had to have serious discussion about the continuation of using the Aimsweb reading assessments at the Elementary.

K-5 will use FAST next school year for Reading. We need to find training opportunities for teachers so they are ready to administer the assessments and learn the Tier system housing the data. We are currently investigating our options.

K-5 will still use Aimsweb Math assessments. 6-12 will still use Aimsweb for both Reading and Math since FAST is only a K-5 product. This should save us some dollars for next year as well as align to ELI requirements where previously 1st grade did not meet requirements for Fall testing.

Instructional Coaches Can Help You Grow As a Professional and Increase Student Learning!!!

Have you asked a coach to do any of the following:
  • Model a Lesson or technique you want to learn more about?
  • Teach a lesson so you can observe your students?
  • Co-Teach a lesson or technique to refine your skills?
  • Videotape a lesson so you can watch and assess your teaching?
  • Look at instruction and/or assessment plans to refine and improve?
  • Observe your students for engagement?
  • Help you to create I CAN statements aligned to your instruction?

These are just a few of the things Instructional Coaches can do for you TODAY!!!!!!

The pictures below were given to me by Stephanie Edgren - K-1 Coach - this shows the impact a Coach can have with your students!!!

Stephanie has been working with teachers to help students in the area of writing. Together, the teacher and the Coach work to refine instruction and assessment - modeling and co-teaching lessons to help students increase learning!!!

PLC to Watch for January - Middle School PBIS Team

The PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) Team has been attending training for the last couple years to increase positive behaviors with all students through this education and incentive program. The program helps teachers to be able to support positive behavior and respond to unwanted behaviors.

The PBIS Team is a Vertical Team at the Middle School - teachers from across content areas create the structure and present ideas learned at training. Together they make decisions and ALL teachers are expected to follow established procedures. PBIS is in place to create a positive culture in the building.

Part of PBIS is a ticket system - students get tickets for positive behavior, given to them by teachers. The tickets recognize positive actions in the classroom, in the hallway, and in the lunch room. Tickets are turned in for prizes.

Members of the PBIS Team are: Dana Hols (Facilitator), Jake Jenkins, Polly Ehret, Kyle Braundmeier, Susan Knox, Mollie Roach, Kelly Luck, Jason Maddy, Denise Morgan, and Amanda Hoffman.

If you want more information on PBIS (both at the Elementary and the Middle School) check out the link below. They will be presenting to the Board of Education in January.

PLC Learning

Solution Tree has a Video Library available to anyone for free - the link is below.

In addition, all PLC Facilitators have been given access to Solution Tree's Global PD Video Library. Several hundred videos are available with this subscription. They will be watching specific videos, commenting on them, and even showing them to PLC's in the future.

Take a look at the library of free selections - you may see one that could assist your PLC collaboration in the future.
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PLC Shirt and Jeans Day - January 13th!!!

Don't forget, Nicole!!!! This is your personal reminder :-)


District PLC Facilitator Meeting

Monday, Jan. 4th 2016 at 3:45pm

1800 North 3rd Street

Oskaloosa, IA

Watch for an agenda during the holiday break!

DLT Meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 5th 2016 at 4pm

1800 North 3rd Street

Oskaloosa, IA

Watch for an agenda during holiday break!

Year 2 New Professionals AND Mentor Meeting

Thursday, Jan. 7th 2016 at 3:45pm

1800 North 3rd Street

Oskaloosa, IA

Mentor Meeting

Tuesday, Jan. 12th 2016 at 3:45pm

1800 North 3rd Street

Oskaloosa, IA

Mentors Only Meeting

Year 1 New Professional AND Mentor Meeting

Thursday, Jan. 14th 2016 at 3:45pm

1800 North 3rd Street

Oskaloosa, IA

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