The "Oskaloosa Syllabus"

May, 2014 - News YOU can Use!

Iowa Assessment Data

The Iowa Assessment Data is in and is being put into easy to read tables and graphs. You more than likely have already distributed information to parents how their child has performed. If you want to see individual students, there is a link to the HEART Database below. The graphs will be shared district-wide once they have been double-checked for accuracy.

If you look on HEART, you will notice when comparing to last year, we made some substantial improvements when comparing Apples/Apples (same students) in terms of one year's growth. You will also notice declines comparing Apples/Oranges which are major areas of concern (different students). How can the work in your PLC be driven, in part, by the data you will see this spring? How did individual students perform from one year to the next? What are the causes of the improvements or declines? And the most critical question: "What will we do as a result? "

PLC's should use this data to determine how the year went for their classrooms and their grade. They should also look at the grade beneath theirs to identify the strengths of the group and the areas of concern.

HEART - a link is also on the Teacher Resource Page:

We will not know how we compared to the AEA or State until our data is uploaded into EdInsight - the state data warehouse.

Spring MAP Data

As soon as testing is complete I will provide growth data based on RIT Norms - look for that sometime in May.

Technology PD for Next Year

Individual Learning Plans will be a part of our professional learning next year. You will be asked to submit your personal goals to Mrs. Barnhart in the fall. She will support your individualized work during the school year any way you need.

Professional Development scheduled next year is specific to 2 topics per building: Infinite Campus, Google or Deeper Learning with Technology. There will be 3 days set aside for this professional development; the individual plans will be part of your own learning and professional growth.

The graphic below - shared by Shari - illustrates how professional development has changed since the days of "sit and get". We know a one-size fits all approach is not effective. PLC's and professional learning allow us to individualize our experiences to meet our individual needs.
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Phonics Resource Purchase Put on Hold

The K-3 Teachers were investigating possible phonics resources this year to address literacy concerns. The resources we looked at this year do not meet our immediate needs so a decision has been made:
  1. Continue to use Fundations next year - use as Primary resource and supplement as needed based on student needs
  2. Bring a literacy "expert" in to observe our phonics instruction and report any disconnects we have using our current method of instruction/resource
  3. Identify the most effective change to make: new resource, additional training, tweak instruction

If you have any questions regarding this decision feel free to contact Dr. Cooksley

Instructional Coach Survey

Elementary and Middle School Teachers will be asked to complete a very short (2-4 Questions) survey about the use of your Instructional Coach this year.

Your answers will help us to know how to best serve and meet your needs next year. Look for the survey the 1st week of May.

Teachers Possibly Needed for Elementary Summer School (Jump Start)

As part of the 3rd Grade Literacy and Retention, schools will be required to have a summer school in place by 2017. We would like to be proactive, so I reached out to Wm. Penn to partner with them on their summer school reading program. Next year the program will be slightly different - we will be planning for that next school year.

We will offer current students/parents in K-2 the opportunity to participate "free of charge" in the summer school. Identified because of academic need, an invitation will go out this spring.

ADDITIONAL TEACHERS MAY BE NEEDED!!! If you are interested in partnering with Wm. Penn and possible lead activities this summer, please let Dr. Cooksley know. We do not know at this time how many teachers might be needed - it depends on enrollment.

Summer school runs from July 14-25 from 8:30-11:50 each day.

High School Piloting Standards-Based Grading!

A small group of teachers at the High School will not provide a letter grade/percentage to students as feedback on how well they performed next year!

Rather, they will use a 0, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4 scale as feedback to students on their performance/evidence of learning. Letter grades will still be reported out on report cards, but they will not be discussed or used in the classroom.

Because this is a big change, an action plan is being created. Communication with parents will be the critical piece of this implementation. Student communication initially and on-going will play a critical role as well.

Teachers are enthusiastic about this improvement - we will keep you up-to-date on progress toward implementation.

4th Grade - Standards-Based in 2014-2015

Part of the plan at the Elementary was to implement SBG incrementally. Starting K-2, 3rd grade no longer gave letter grades as of this year. 4th grade will follow suit next school year and 5th grade in 2015-2016.

PLC to Watch for May is ALL PLC's!!!!!

As we wrap up the school year I want to thank all PLC Facilitators and PLC members for their work this year. This work is not easy - it is challenging for sure - but all of you have dug in to help students achieve the high levels they are capable of reaching. We are not always successful, and we have a ways to go to be where we want to be .... but THANK YOU for all you do!!!!

Remember - everyone in the district is a critical piece of the puzzle - working together we can "Believe, Achieve, and Create with PRIDE"!!!

PLC Work in May

May 7th - PLC with Extended PLC
May 14th - PLC with Extended Vertical - T-shirt and jean day :-)

In May is when we have many PLC tasks to complete.
  • Determine success on SMART Goal and report out - review student assessment data to determine successes for the year
  • Identify struggling students (1's and 2's) and communicate those students to the next grade level
  • Review student assessment data (Iowa Assessments, MAP and other building assessments) to determine possible work for next year

No PLC on May 21st - but it can be used for Building Choice!

Something to Make you Chuckle!

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DLT Update for April

DLT met on April 1st. The following are the decisions made at that meeting:
  1. The HS will begin a pilot with Standards-Based Grading. Meetings will begin soon to make the critical decisions to get started
  2. DLT members participated in an activity around Bloom's and Questioning. Many said they would utilize this in their PLC. As them about it!
  3. Reviewed Characteristics of Effective Instruction!
  4. Discussed how the DLT can bring and keep our new Vision and Mission alive! "Believe, Achieve, and Create with Pride" and "Engaging ALL Students to Embrace the Power of Learning"
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DAC Update - April

The District Advisory Committee met and this is what was completed:
  1. Reviewed our timeline - countdown to the Site Visit
  2. Collective Commitments - the group broke into groups based their roles - Student, Staff, Parents and Admin/School Board. Each group came up with some sample ideas of what they would commit to doing to increase student learning, etc.
  3. The idea is to have the DAC members help facilitate conversations next year with groups to develop these in a collaborative manner. More on this next fall!

Major Change to PLC/Extended Focus for Next Year

There are a couple of changes to the PLC structure/Vertical Team structure for next year
  1. 1st and 3rd Wednesdays are still two-hour PLC's
  2. Vertical/Building Choice/PD extended times are flipped with PLC's on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Wednesdays - this will help accommodate coaches, etc. who typically miss all Vertical Team meetings
  3. The 4th Wednesday will be more flexible in terms of what content will be delivered... Elementary will have 1-hour of PD centered around the Iowa Core while the MS and HS will use the 4th Wednesday for building choice... more PLC, Vertical or PD.

The 2014-2015 Professional Development Plan should be completed before you leave for the summer - look for it in May sometime. It will have all CT meetings, DLT, DAC, PLC Facilitator meetings, etc. for you to put on your calendar :-)

Emphasis on Iowa Core!

Does your classroom instruction match that of a 21st Century Learner?
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Teaching Channel Videos - Continued Professional Learning

Are you looking for great examples of ways to motivate students - creating that community in the classroom? How do you empower students to WANT to learn? Are you looking for instructional ideas that make a difference and help students increase their learning capacity?

These are great examples any classroom could emulate and make successful!!!!!!

Syllabus Challenge for May - Do you Know?

Focus of Question: New District Vision and Mission

Answer me this: What is the new District Vision and Mission?

Hint: They are embedded in the newsletter

Bonus: Which article are they in?

Send Dr. Cooksley both of them and win a prize!!! Are you up to the challenge??

Another Funny!

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