The Instructional Edge

What's up with WSR TLC program

Mentoring & Induction #WhyITeach

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Sarah Cooper & Lindy Mick

Sarah: because it's my calling

Lindy: I teach because I believe in the value of education

Spheros with 4th Grade

Jeannie Coughlin and Instructional Coach Sarah Lalk help students acquire the skills to program the robotic ball, Sphero, to navigate student-created mazes. These problem solving and programming skills will be used later on in science during a unit on waves. (listen to the dialogue at :52 seconds)

Listen to the dialogue

Food Anyone? Gamifiying Science Issues

Teacher Renee Borglum says:

"I had always kind of looked down my nose at gamification. I thought I taught interesting enough material and had enough tools up my sleeve that I didn't need to bribe kids to learn. Then I got my 8th-hour Science Issues class. All of my excitement, great lessons, and tools for engagement fell on deaf ears. I hit a wall and didn't know what else to try.

Allison met with me and suggested turning my last unit into a game. At this point, I was willing to try anything so we came up with a game for my food unit. It was modeled after the show Cutthroat Kitchen so that every assignment helped or sabotaged their cookies they would bake during finals. I had a lot of fun watching them react to their standings on the leaderboard and reminding them that each assignment could be the difference between a mixer or a spoon, chocolate chips or none and so on.

While I can't say it miraculously made my class awesome, I did have most kids turn in every assignment and some of my typically not engaged students made more of an effort.

Trevor Byram was adamant that his cookies were going to be the best and redid several assignments to get the ingredients he wanted. He was thrilled when he won! Allison really helped me to think outside the box and try something I never would have done on my own.


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Megan Slessor & Kelsey Bies

Megan: for the light bulb "I got it"

Kelsey: to make a POSITIVE difference in the life of a child who needs it

Professional Development Showcase 1/16

5-8 teachers, K-8 specialists and Instructional Coaches gave pictures of the great work going on around the district. If any of them look interesting to you, fill out the form at the bottom of this update and let us know.

Elementary Coding

Sarah Lalk and Sharon Chesnut collaborated to team team angles and computational thinking through coding in Mrs. Chesnut's 2nd grade classroom.
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Mindfulness in Students

Teachers in the SERG PD group spent time learning about the connection between mindfulness and Grit and how one supports the other. The benefits of using mindfulness, along with sample mindfulness strategies were shared. A large part of the learning came from watching and discussing AnneMarie Rossi's video on Why Aren't We Teaching You Mindfulness.
Why Aren't We Teaching You Mindfulness | AnneMarie Rossi | TEDxYouth@MileHigh

WSR Teachers Takeaways from the mindfulness SERG session.

  • "Mindfulness is therapeutic. It can help a person reduce stress, deal with negative thoughts. Developing mindfulness can help a person achieve their goals."
  • "Grit is not JUST resilience. Its like resilience plus passion plus effort over the long term."
  • "We all have pain, we choose to suffer."
  • "I thought the video on mindfulness was awesome. I would love to investigate into lessons to give my students to learn this. I see with the students in Residential that they struggle with so much negativity. To have some ideas to help them realize they have it in them to go far would be great. I am going to start with the close your eyes and take a breath right away."
  • "We need to help kids become more conscious of mindfulness."
  • "I had a great "aha" moment during the PD. I realized that in working with students with behavioral disorders that I have always included Mindfulness into my daily skills lessons and "teachable moments" with my students throughout my whole career. I was given a term for what I had already been doing and feel excited to move forward now that I have research, data, and a term to enrich my teaching strategies for my students' progress."
  • "Be in the present moment."


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Jennifer Reiter & Deb Wadding

Jennifer: to help my students realize their potential

Deb: to help all the students learn they CAN LEARN

K-12 Special Ed Meeting Jan. 18th

On the morning of January 18, W-SR special education teachers K-12 met to have a meaningful discussion on the best practices in special education. The morning was facilitated by Amy Peterson, Assoc. Professor of Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. The theme for the day was sharing our beliefs on who we are as a district and what do we want to be as a district in the future. This was an opportunity for teachers at all levels to dialogue with each other and develop a common set of core values that we want to drive our instruction every day, at every level. Teachers left with a desire to continue these conversations moving forward and a desire to engage the entire district in a productive discussion on enhancing instruction for all students in the district.


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Jason Milke & Kelly Egan

Jason: because i get to share my passion with kids and make a difference in the kids life

Kelly: because I love learning and to be a part of something bigger

More January 18th PD


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Nick Willenborg & Clayton Werkman

Nick: to be a role model

Clayton: to be a positive role model

High School Tech Cadre takes a look at Authentic Intellectual Work

High School Tech Cadre members analyzed classroom video footage and engaged in rich discussions surrounding classroom instruction and technology integration.
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Mystery Skype with Third Grades

A few classrooms in the W-SR District have started participating in Mystery Hangouts. A Mystery Hangout is a process of using technology (Google Hangout) to connect two classrooms together, who have no prior knowledge as to the location of the other class. Students utilize mapping, geography and analytical skills to ask YES/NO questions in order to narrow down the other classrooms location. Once each class has determined the location of their partner classroom, students are able to spend time exchanging information and engaging in interaction with students from another area of the United States (or world). Interested? Contact Keith Halverson or Chuck Buseman

Coaching Residency

Looking to try something new? Check out a Coaching Residency.

What is it? Click HERE!

Planning Calendar for Residency

High School Spanish PBL

Summary: As part of a 5 week unit of study that was based on service and civic-oriented Spanish vocabulary, students were asked to create a product to help Spanish Speaking families and community organizations communicate better. Students were required to locate and engage a community partner (business, school, service, etc..) who was in need of their final product.

Project Driving Question: How do we help Spanish-speaking families transition to an English speaking community? How do we as a class provide informational services (school, community, businesses, etc....) to the largely Spanish-speaking populations (students, families) within the W-SR school district, in order to ease the transition into English-speaking culture.?

Student Feedback from Spanish PBL

“We actually got to use our learning in the real world. This not only puts a true purpose behind our learning, but we are giving back to the community and I love the idea of that. None of that would really come from a traditional learning environment.”

~Jacob Norton, 11th grade

Final Project:

Want to know more? Let us know!

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