Instructional Edge

What's happening with the TLC program

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Mentoring and Induction

Above: Mentoring Year 1 meeting

Below: Mentoring Year 2 teachers

Our mentoring program has meetings for both levels coming up discussing being part of the school community outside the doors of the school and teaching with a sense of purpose. The books they are studying are listed below. If you're interested in checking one out, email Allison.

The Well Balanced Teacher -


Allison Rasmussen

Keith Halverson

Interventions and Data

This title does not sound too engaging, but our teachers realize that this is important work to help support our students. During K-2 professional development this month the teachers have been focusing on using the data collected this fall to plan instruction and effective interventions.

Interventions in our elementary classrooms involves specific support for our students beyond the core instruction. As we deepen our knowledge of interventions, we are working on understanding how to make our interventions effective for students. There is a part of our understanding that must match the Early Literacy Intervention laws from the Iowa Department of Education. There is also part of our understanding that focuses on providing what is best for our students. As part of our intervention work, we have been starting to evaluate interventions and working to find the best fit for our classrooms.

At the basis of our interventions is the data that helps drive our decision making. Our teachers worked as building teams to look at this data and collaborate about specific interventions. We know that our students will benefit from our collaborative work.

Submitted by Crystal Betts

Mental Health Professional Development

On October 3rd, Kate Haberman from Monarch Therapy delivered the first of six learning lab on supporting mental health in our students.

Kate's focus from October was Mood Disorders including Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Bi-Polar disorder and Mindfulness for Children. The notes for this session are linked on Mental Health tab on the TLC website.

Upcoming Learning Lab Dates and topics:

November 7: Loss and Grieving
December 5: Emotional Dis-regulation
January 9: Attachment and Trauma
February 6: Self harm and Suicide prevention
​April 3: Sexual and Gender Identity

Click here for the link to the TLC website Mental Health page

You are not alone

- submitted by Crystal Betts

I remember my first year teaching full-time. There was so much to learn about everything, and I felt so alone. I had a mentor, but she was busy too. I missed having a cooperating teacher whom I could easily talk to after each lesson. I am confident that at W-SR we are providing a more supportive experience.

Wartburg left Nicole Eick well-prepared for her first teaching position in a second grade classroom at Southeast Elementary. Waverly-Shell Rock has provided Nicole with a supportive mentor in fellow second grade teacher, Mae Cousin. The mentoring and induction classes have been valuable for our new staff, as well as for our veteran staff! I am so glad that I have been able to be another level of support for Nicole these past few weeks.

Our K-2 elementary teachers have been focusing on implementing new small group instruction. Although elementary teachers have worked with small groups in the past it can be a challenge to set up a system that engages all students in meaningful work while the teacher instructs a small group. Working with Nicole has been refreshing for both of us, as we have productive, reflective conversations about new ideas to try. Then Nicole eagerly implements the new learning the next day, and we watch the positive changes. Hopefully it is these collective efforts of our W-SR staff and Nicole’s learning mindset that will help make her first year a successful experience.

Above: Students in Ms. Eick's classroom pictures

Below: Ms. Eick and her students

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Working Together in 3-6

What do you do to challenge your higher-level leaders? This is a concept Emilee Metcalf and I will be working on during the month of November. We will be participating in a residency creating an independent curriculum for the literacy students who need to higher-level, challenging literacy connections. We would like to develop a self-sustaining program, utilizing SeeSaw, in which readers are able to work in collaborative groups addressing higher-order literacy skills during IDR time. The residency will begin the second week of November.

Word work is another topic some of our teachers are discussing. Words Their Way is a possible way of looking at word work and spelling strategies that veer from the traditional weekly spelling list. A blog that I read recently promoted this program as a viable option for teachers who are still currently interested in some tool for students to work with words. There will be a group of us who are going to look into Words Their Way more deeply to see if there is a value of using the program into our district.

FAST Assessments are completed and "in the books" so to speak! Now we will begin reevaluating our students and making sure our interventions are appropriately based on the needs of individual students. It is very difficult to find appropriate interventions in comprehension for 3rd-6th grade readers who are in need of improvement. After attending PRESS training, we have some tools that look promising. We hope to incorporate quality interventions that allow our students to grow in their literary development.

Being a Writer with Mrs. C

The third and fourth grade teachers have been implementing Being a Writer this year. This is part a nonprofit educational organization, Center for Collaborative Classroom. We have implemented additional curriculum from this organization. One part was Making Meaning with an emphasis on comprehension and vocabulary development. Our K-2 teachers are implementing Being a Reader from this organization this year. Being a Writer fits a need from teachers for a cohesive writing curriculum.

This month I have been able to help Stacy Carignan’s fourth grade class work on their personal narrative unit. Teaching writing is difficult, and Stacy and I would both admit that we have not been the strongest writing instructors in the past. However, we trust and value the research and expertise of the Center for Collaborative Classroom. The goal of our experience together has been to become more confident in our ability to teach writing.

Being a Writer provides meaningful writing experiences for students. Many students are writing more than before, because they are given meaningful and engaging prompts. Students are engaged with great mentor text that model quality writing. Students collaborate with each other and the teacher to develop their writing. Teachers are shifting their conferencing style with students to focus more on revising student work. It has been exciting to watch the students’ pieces of writing improve to writing they are proud to share.

The best part of this experience with fourth graders will be the sharing process. Both fourth grade classrooms at West Cedar are going to visit residents at Bartels Nursing Home in November. Students will get a chance to share their stories, have a treat, and possibly hear a personal narrative from the Bartels resident. The kids and teachers are excited to have an authentic audience and make connections with the community!

- Submitted by Crystal Betts

Wednesday Work with 3-4

The third-fourth grade teachers continue to delve into Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) during our PD time. AIW is a tool, framework, protocol, or process that allows teachers to work collaboratively and give and receive feedback from each other for improving student conversations and gaining a deeper knowledge of instruction and tasks. The AIW framework is as follows

  • Teacher selects an item for scoring and brings to the team
  • Team members independently score item utilizing AIW-generated rubrics
  • Team members share scoring and rationale for scoring and gaining consensus
  • Group discussion with the team and teacher giving feedback enhancing student conversations and depth of knowledge

In the upcoming weeks, we will also be doing mini-sessions learning about quality literacy interventions and conferencing strategies associated with our core curriculum of Being a Writer and Making Meaning. After visiting a number of classrooms and participating in webinars from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom, teachers, coaches, and students will be working together to enhance the current conferencing routine that is effective and give effective strategies to promote increased literacy understanding.

Tina Graven

High School Teachers Learning With Personalized PD

Website ( LINK )

This year the high school has charted a new path for teacher professional development. Teachers have started the year building a foundation of knowledge through a book study. Teachers read one of the following books to begin our year: Mindset, by Carol Dweck, Learning to Choose - Choosing to Learn, by Mike Anderson, Creating Innovators, by Tony Wagner, and Grit, by Angela Duckworth. Teachers created reading schedules and held weekly discussions focused on the concepts of the book and how they relate to the classroom.

Once the book study is complete, teachers will partner in looking further into an area of growth that they choose. Teachers will develop knowledge and take this to their classrooms. At the end of the year, teachers will share out their learning and discuss ways to potentially carry this into the next year. They will look for strategies and lessons that can improve their practice. Teachers may choose to partner in implementation or may choose to apply their learning in unique ways specific to their classroom. The goal of teacher learning is to improve teaching practice and benefit student learning.

Kari Staack

Keith Halverson

Power Teaching Math Curriculum

Power Teaching Math

Last spring, W-SR applied for and was awarded a grant through the Iowa STEM program to receive and implement a new math curriculum. This curriculum, Power Teaching Math (LINK), has provided a structure and new way to approach instruction. This grant was applicable for grades 6 - 8, and was given to a total of 7 Iowa school districts. We continue to look at the curriculum and find ways to make it benefit our students.

Our teachers are supported by a member of the Success For All Foundation, (LINK) who will make seven site visits to our school. This coach will offer support as we modify and integrate the program into our teaching. Teachers are also collaborating before and after school to make the structure of the program as consistent as possible for all kids. We hope this process will improve math understanding all of our students.

Keith Halverson

Special Education Happenings

Website ( LINK )

Waverly-Shell Rock Special Education has taken the initiative of increasing student success by providing reliable and functional tools and methods for all students in order to make their learning grow. Our lead teachers were able to attend a conference in Minneapolis where they found many new tools and ideas to use in the classrooms. We will be meeting and putting together plans on how to share them with all of the special education program and with general education teachers also. A primary focus of the conference was Universal Design Learning, the concept of using methods that can benefit all students. More information will be coming your way.

Jeff Orvis

Keith Halverson

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