North District Support Team News

December, 2015

From the Director of School Support

It is full steam ahead as we close out the first semester and finalize observations! As we are gearing up for the 2nd semester, we will continue to update and reference the SIP action planner to focus and guide our work. From the SIP Summit, all schools have identified actionable steps that will help us advance our work. As new data becomes available, we will also be adjusting the school goals for the SIP. For those of you who did not attend Session 3 from the Summit (We’ve CFA’d….Now What?), Jane Mahan and Andrea Kneubuhler, modeled a mock PLC as they are analyzing student data and planning how to respond to instruction. I videoed this and have loaded these clips into google if you would like to use them as a resource with your staff. (3 separate clips that would allow for discussion in-between each clip.) At all sessions, much of our discussions centered around rigor and depth of knowledge. Included below is a quick resource you could use with your staff when referencing depth of knowledge. Thank you all for your leadership and dedication to the students and staff in the North district. Your tireless efforts are admirable and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Click the images below for a larger version.

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Lead Coach News

Common Formative Assessment Review

To support our schools, the North District Support Team has developed a feedback form to review the PLC process and common formative assessments. This form will be shared with each principal since this work can be overwhelming to monitor. This will enlighten our team of needed support.

Balanced Math Workshop for Implementation 2016-2017

Mrs. Johnson has shared this information for the Balanced Math Framework at the principal meeting. I am happy to share any of this information in depth with your math teachers. Number Talks and the Fluency (assessment and games) are definitely part of this framework.

The Balanced Math Framework

Problem Solving

  • Problem solving should be used as a means for learning. There is a difference between teaching through problem solving for conceptual understanding and teaching about problem solving. The emphasis here is on the prior, teaching through problem solving in which students will develop and practice strategies for solving problems in a story context (real-world).
  • Grades K-2: 20-25 minutes daily
  • Grades 3-8: 30-45 minutes daily

Number Work

  • Students should be engaged in number or shape work to help develop number sense. Activities challenge students to focus on numbers and solve problems without a story context.

  • Grades K-2: 15-20 minutes daily
  • Grades 3-8: 10-15 minutes (2-3 times per week – may alternate with Inspecting Equations)

Algebraic Thinking

  • The development of algebraic thinking begins in kindergarten. The work of inspecting equations focuses on equality and how symbols are used to express equality relationships.

  • Grades K-2: About 5 minutes of the hour, less for K.
  • Grades 3-8: 10-15 minutes (2-3 times per week – may alternate with Number Work)

Fluency and Maintenance

  • Work provides practice over time in order to strengthen conceptual understanding and skills, reinforce vocabulary, and build efficiency and accuracy.

  • Kindergarten – as needed
  • Grades 1-2: 15 minutes daily
  • Grades 3-8: 10-15 minutes daily (may be assigned for homework)

I just wanted to reiterate how happy I am to serve and support the North District Schools. Take time to enjoy your families and friends of the upcoming holidays. Have a “Happy Holiday” season!

Data Coach News

As we approach the deadline for determining each building’s capacity to test online for ISTEP Applied Skills, I thought it would be interesting to see what is happening with online testing across the country. The information below has been pulled from Education Week “Paperless Testing: Most Grade 3-8 Students To Be Assessed Online in 2016,” By Michele Molnar. (

If you haven’t already submitted your ISTEP and IREAD choices to the Office of Assessment, please follow this link to the portal and do so as soon as possible;

Finally, if you have any questions related to Acuity please feel free to contact me or access the information provided by Zak Tanner at the following link;

For the first time, most state-required summative assessments in U.S. elementary and middle schools will be administered via technology rather than by paper and pencil in the 2015-16 school year, according to a report released Thursday by EdTech Strategies, LLC, a research and consulting firm.

It's a major milestone that goes well beyond students using a mouse and keyboard to record responses to test questions. "The shift to online testing has done more for the educational technology movement than any other single initiative," said Doug Levin, president of EdTech Strategies, who wrote Pencils Down: The Shift to Online & Computer-Based Testing. That shift has required building "an infrastructure to support digital learning in schools and ensuring that kids have sufficient access," he said, adding that there's still "quite a ways to go" in terms of equity of access so students are learning from educators who effectively integrate technology into their teaching.

Levin identified five reasons online testing offers "compelling advantages" over paper-and-pencil assessments. He wrote that they can better assess what students understand and how they perform; offer better accessibility for students with special needs; be administered more efficiently, and scored faster; and offer improved security and increased student motivation and engagement. By "improved security," Levin explained that there is a decreased chance for cheating on computer-based tests. The Atlanta cheating scandal could not have happened in online assessments, he said.

Four testing companies—the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Educational Testing Service (ETS), Data Recognition Corp. (DRC), and Pearson—will deliver about three-quarters of the summative assessments in elementary and middle schools for the 2015-16 school year, the report said.

eLearning Coach News

itslearning Rollout
Our new Learning Management System - itslearning - is in the final stages of preparation and teacher training can begin at any time. itslearning brings with it a terrific feature set, but the most powerful feature, in my opinion, is the assessment component. It allows for the creation of so-called "tech-enhanced" questions and for sharing assessments, fitting well with our work on CFAs.

In order for teachers to be ready to implement this new LMS in the fall when MyBigCampus goes away it is necessary for us to begin training teachers soon. I will be in touch regarding setting up times for your building. In the meantime, for more information on the benefits of blended learning please see TeachThought: 4 Benefits of Blended Learning.

Math CFA Repository
The eLearning Coaches have been tasked by Kim Johnson with sharing with teachers a new repository for CFAs that exists on the curriculum pages. We would like to make the sharing process as direct as possible - face to face meetings of some sort. I will be in touch with each of you to work on a minimally disruptive and maximally effective strategy for sharing this resource and how to use it.

It has been an absolute pleasure serving each of you and your buildings thus far this year and I am excited about the wonderful opportunities to impact kids that lay ahead. May each of you have the opportunity to re-create over break and find the time to bring your own learning to life. /bill