Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Board Report 12-16-09


As we work our way through the school year I am seeing good progress, albeit slow, by our teachers with the Curriculum Manager entry. By the end of the year many of our teachers will have their courses entered allowing for evaluation of the infusion of the Iowa Core Curriculum throughout all subject areas. Our schedule got tossed off a bit with the recent weather and I hope that this does not halt what progress has been made.

Shortly after the start of the school year teachers in Year 2 will begin to select materials for evaluation. We will use January and February to select and March and April to evaluate. During the evaluation process we will be referring to our established standards and benchmarks to see how closely aligned materials might be and find the best fit for our classrooms.

On a School Improvement note, the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) has met 3 times this fall, each time discussing a portion of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP). After Christmas we will be discussing the Annual Progress Report (APR). This report is our mechanism for reporting out the progress of the school toward our CSIP goals. If you have an interest in being part of this group, you are welcome to attend. We will be meeting next, February 1 at 6:30 p.m.


Shortly after school starts back up in January we will be taking our Mid Year MAP assessments at the Elementary school. Teachers will use the data from this assessment to readjust their instruction, student placement, and any interventions that might be taking place. The more instructional data that we have the better! February brings ITBS/ITED testing. Our scheduled testing dates are the week of February 8.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Curriculum Work Progresses - 11/13/09

Standards Work and Curriculum Mapping

It probably seems for teachers that their Curriculum work is never done, and in reality to be done correctly that is a fact. Social Studies, Art, and Library teachers across the Earlham Schools are working hard to identify the "Must Haves" for their programs, in education we refer to these types of items as "Standards". Standards are the guiding principles for the program, those things that once a student has completed the coursework they will have the skills to perform the tasks. These tasks look different for different grade levels - Kindergarten, Third grade, Middle School, and High School classes all may teach students about their community, but the expectations for students to reach the skills of a standard are very different. These are called "Benchmarks".

Why is this relevant to the Curriculum work being done in Earlham? Each year a different group of instructional areas go through Curriculum Review, reviewing their purpose statement, the standards for the core area, and their benchmarks. For this year Social Studies, Art, and Library are in the midst of this process. The groups meet once a month (first Monday) to discuss their "homework" for the month and answer any questions about procedures and the expected outcomes. Our next meeting will be Monday, December 7 at 3:25.

Teachers in the second year of the review cycle (Year 2) are inputting their curriculum content into a curriculum mapping software. This software allows us to analyze the content of classes and we can identify areas of need within our standards and benchmarks. The software is not new to our district, but we have not utilized it to the full extent possible. As teachers cycle through the 6 year Curriculum process they will be utilizing this tool as a historical document. Because of the amount of turnover our district typically experiences having historical records of what has been taught and when it was taught is a very important step. We will now have data for new teachers to our district, to show the way things have been taught ( the order of the year) and allow them to focus on instruction, and not curriculum development.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Board Report 10-29-09


As we did last year, we have started another group through the Curriculum cycle. Year 1 consists o f Social Studies, Library Sciences, and Art. Currently these folks are working on a program "Philosophy" - trying to make sure we can answer the question, "Why do we teach Social Studies?" Then we will begin discussion of the important parts of their subject area, or Grade Level Expectations. To do this process we will rely heavily on the written Standards and Benchmarks that MISIC has established for us, while comparing them to the Iowa Core Curriculum.
Year 2 folks have been trained in the use of the Curriculum Manager ( a benefit of being a part of the MISIC group) in fact all teachers in the district have been trained somewhat in the use of the tool, and we are working with all groups toward having Unit Maps on the software, so rather than an anecdotal history, we have a written history. History in the sense of having a plan for a new teacher to come in and use to guide them through the first year they are with Earlham.


MAP Testing went smoothly this fall, in the sense that our technology worked for us and scheduling changes went smoothly. Hard to believe that almost a month has passed since we did our final testing! During our full day in-service in September Elementary teachers had the time to do some data review and begin planning for ways they would use the data for their classrooms. High School teachers worked to become familiar with the goal setting worksheet so that they could use it when talking with their advisory groups. They have been working to meet individually with each of their advisees to talk about the results and set goals for this year. I am optimistic that this will be another way the students see the importance of taking assessments seriously. As I mentioned at the September meeting we set some "test out" cutoffs, and as a result of this saw some changes in testing from many of the students. At the present time we have 9 Students that met the Reading test out cut point, and 18 that met the Language cutoff. Look for district data to come to you soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Board Report 05-20-09


Year 1 folks have completed the activities and requirements for the year and I am now working on plans to move the group to the Year 2 phase. We have accellerated the K - 2 group and will be looking to purchase materials to augment literacy for the fall, rather than waiting until the 10-11 school year. This will get some much needed supports in the hands of our teachers sooner, as well as take a little strain off the budget as we look at text/material adoptions for 10-11. The focus of the Iowa Core has allowed for powerful discussions.

Year 2 folks are selecting materials for adoption at this point, with the orders needing to be submitted before they leave on Friday. FCS/Health, Industrial Tech, Business Ed, Spanish, and Information Tech are due on our schedule and have worked with me setting up their selections.


The standardized testing season is now officially complete. We learn a little more each time we administer MAP and I think the things we learn are showing in performance at the different grade levels, as is evidenced in Jason's report. What great gains many of our students have made throughout the year! What is nice about this is as one of our measures of success it reflects the teachers impressions of their classrooms and what they have observed throughout the year as students have worked on different skill areas. As we experience this success with increasing numbers it will be the charge of the different leadership teams in the buildings to readjust goals and targets to continue to challenge our students.

Due to user error (mine:)) we have not been able to take a look at the ITBS/ITED data this spring, but will do so this fall as part of our back to school professional development. I have sent the data to Marian Godwin to do her yearly work and update of our progress, and hope to have information to share with the board by the June meeting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Board Report 04-08-09


Year 1 worked on the second Literacy portion of the Iowa Core. This month the discussion/decisions focus on writing. For those groups that know their standards and benchmarks this is a pretty quick process. For those that don’t it tends to take a little longer. I met with 2 different groups last month between meetings to help them complete the task and anticipate the same need this time.
Year 2 folks are working on gathering materials for review. When we get back from break we will begin the process of evaluating materials. We will spend a day after school practicing, then I will turn them loose to find the best matches curriculum wise. Before ordering texts/materials the teacher must support their decision based on facts brought out from the process and a match to their standards and benchmarks.


MAP testing is coming up in 3 weeks. I’m looking forward to the testing season to see how we have improved as a district this year. Testing begins for all grades April 20th, with 9-12 taking the weekend “off” (Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday) due to prom and other activities. We should have everything wrapped up by May 8.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Board Report 3-19-09

Year 1 has begun the review of the Literacy portion of the Iowa Core. Each grade level span identifies Essential Concepts (Standards) and Skills (benchmarks) for students in the given span. Grades K‐2 concepts look different than 3‐5 concepts and so on. Literacy is broken into 5 different sub sections: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Viewing. Over the course of the remainder of the year we are reviewing each section and identifying where skills and concepts are taught, as well as where things need to be added to our curriculum.

Year 2 folks are working on gathering materials for review, so when we evaluate materials later this spring we will have samples to view. Curriculum mapping is progressing, and we are targeting work for curriculum review to be done mid April, for orders to be placed this summer for an 09‐10 adoption.


MAP testing is rapidly approaching. I've been working with the teachers on some schedule adjustments that I think will be good for all involved. Testing begins the week of April 20.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scholastic Reading Counts
The Reading Counts system has been loaded with teacher and student information, now I am in the process of asking for some volunteers from the staff to work through some of the implementation steps. We should be online shortly.
Mr. Driskell, Ms. LaFrenz and myselfattended a presentation February 9th for MAP, Promethian products (whiteboards and student response items) and CompasLearning. I’ll let them fill you in on what they observed.1 to 1 computer initiative. I will be presenting for you at the meeting about this. Mike and I have talked extensively about the possibility, how we might fund it, and what we are trying to accomplish with a 1 to 1 program.

Year 1 folks have met for the first of several meetings this spring to discuss vertical alignment. We review vertical alignment to make sure that our curriculum spirals rather than pancakes. In a spiraling model we come back to concepts previously addressed, but at a higher level of rigor for the student. If our curriculum pancakes, we revisit topics again and again, without any extension, leaving gaps between grade levels and content areas. The literacy group is working on this process, while the TAG, Vocal/Instrumental Music, and Guidance folks are working on writing standards and benchmarks. As I mentioned last month, I have differentiated the groups and now we meet on consecutive Mondays each month. By the end of the year we will have defined Grade Level Expectations for Literacy, and standards and benchmarks for TAG, Vocal/Instrumental Music, and Guidance
Year 2 folks are working on gathering materials for review, so when we evaluate materials later this spring we will have samples to view.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Board Report 1/21/09

Scholastic Reading Counts

After our last meeting I spent some time installing and trying to run the program on one of our current servers. I found out it wasn’t up to specs, so we have purchased a “new to us” server at a reasonable price and I am in the process of getting this online. I see this server primarily as the “Reading Counts” server as well as filling other roles in our domain. It will take the place of one of our current servers that is 8 years old.

Building Improvements

During the Christmas Break I added 3 more wireless access points to our complex, enabling the Band and Vocal rooms, as well as the commons area. These APs are not tied in to our management software, but are more of an experiment, to see if wired, how much use that end of the building would receive.


Year 1 folks have not met yet, but our first meetings are coming up the first two weeks of February. In the meantime I have met with all grade level teams to discuss 3 questions; “What do students do well when they come to you?”, “What are some of their weaknesses?”, and “How is Grammar part of your daily instruction?”. I also tasked each group to come to their meeting in February with an ideal example of a student for their grade level at the beginning of the year – and at the end of the year. We will use all this information to tighten up our vertical alignment of curriculum.

Year 2 folks are working on gathering materials for review, so when we evaluate materials later this spring we will have samples to view.