A Clearinghouse for Martensdale-St. Marys Community Schools Professional Development

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reading about Assessment and Using Technology

I found some good articles worth reading, especially as we are preparing to align curriculum, look at common assessments, and discuss the changing use of technology in our classrooms.

1) Article about how PLC teams use assessments:

2) This article was tweeted by Jason Glass, the Director of the IA Dept. of Ed. (Twitter ID @jasonglassIA). Some good points about using technology in the classroom: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Share comments and feedback!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Professional Development: Growth through Reflection

Professional development is an opportunity for us to grow in our profession. This year, a majority of the time spent during early dismissal days will be collaboration between teachers. We will begin most sessions with a short introductory activity (technology, team-building, instructional strategies) and then spend the rest of the time working with student data in PLCs.

All teachers (regardless of LRC status) will compile a notebook (hard copy or digital) of collaborative experiences. These can be simple summaries of the day's discussions written individually or as a group. You may want to include artifacts used as well. The more complete the entry, the more useful it will be in the future. Check out this document about the purpose and process of reflective writing. Plan to dedicate the last 15-20 minutes of the day to reflection and writing. By the end of the year, you will have a tangible and (more importantly) meaningful record of your progress, interactions, data, and growth.

Notebooks should be submitted no later than check out with your building principal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Insightful Videos

This is a short film by Scott McLeod called "Did You Know?" It premiered at this year's SAI (School Administrators of Iowa) conference. It explains the current state of education in Iowa as well as some startling facts about everything from online presence to economic factors.

"A Vision of K-12 Students Today" was created with the same intent as McLeod's film above. It puts the reality of school-aged learners into perspective.

Take the time to watch these short films, and then share your thoughts, questions, or other feedback with others!

Teachnology Web Site

I'm not sure if any of you receive this monthly e-newsletter or not, but I thought this looked like a promising site:

It is full of free printable worksheets for all content areas (which are found on the left side of the page). It seems to be geared more toward elementary grades, but they could be used for remediation in upper grades as well. Take a look through the site and post any feedback.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Technology Integration Survey

To help guide the technology integration component of our PD this year, please complete this survey. This should be completed before the first day of school. It should only take a few minutes and your honest feedback is appreciated. Be sure to answer all questions. Please contact me if you experience any problems with the survey. Thanks in advance for your input!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Digital Resource Page

This is a link to a very user-friendly page of digital resources - some of which we have already been exposed to in PD over the last few years. Take some time to explore these pages and applications for use in your instruction. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peer Observation Schedules

Now that we have completed our initial study of professional learning communities, it's time to get back into the classrooms and see each other in action. You are to work with your PLC team to devise a schedule and a form for use in your observations. The reason why a form isn't being provided for you is so you and your team members can tailor the document to your needs. Engage in discussion about specific elements of your curriculum, instruction, and/or assessment for which you are most interested in receiving feedback. After devising a means of recording your data, decide on a schedule for your team's observations. As stated in the agenda for today's in-service, plan to have your observations done by Friday, April 29th. Use the comment function to post the schedule on this blog. Enjoy your time in the classrooms!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Whatever It Takes, Chapter 10

We have reached the final chapter of Whatever It Takes, and I cannot thank you enough for your insight and commitment to our study of this book. I hope it has been enlightening, challenged your thinking, and raised some questions. As we conclude professional development for the 2010-2011 school year, take some time to reflect on what it means for the students in your classroom and the district as a whole. We will revisit your ideas from the February 16th in-service before the year is out in an effort to put our collective learning and thinking into systemic action.

1. What is the primary message the authors are attempting to convey with this chapter?

2. The authors cite research that concludes a climate of “high expectations for student achievement” is a critical element of effective schools, but then suggest that the term has been widely misunderstood and misapplied. Clarify the nature of “high expectations” in a PLC.

3. If you were called upon to build a system of interventions to assist students with their learning, what is a short-term win you would plan to achieve in the first 3 months and how would you celebrate that win?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whatever It Takes, Chapter 9

Only two more chapters in our study of DuFour's Whatever It Takes. As I have said many times before, your work during professional development this year has been exceptional in terms of how you have approached the material and given it some deep thought and consideration.

Chapter nine addresses the challenges and barriers of adopting the kinds of programs, practices, and ideas outlined in the previous chapter in the book. A lot of your work during Wednesday's in-service focused on these very ideas, so this will be a nice addendum to it. I look forward to your insight!

1. This chapter explores several challenges that might be raised against the proposal to build a system of interventions for students when they are not learning. What other philosophical challenges might be presented?

2. Most of the challenges to the system of interventions will focus on implementation problems rather than on philosophical concerns. Objections are likely to take the form of “we don’t have enough ‘fill in the blank’ (time, money, resources, space, consensus, kids who will comply).” What are some strategies for addressing these concerns?

3. The authors believe that “the benefits of PLC concepts will speak for themselves if educators demonstrate good faith toward one another as they honestly assess both best practices for helping all students achieve at high levels and the current reality of their own schools.” If they are correct, one of the challenges leaders will face is how to help staff build shared knowledge regarding best practices and current reality. How would you propose to meet this challenge?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whatever It Takes, Chapter 8

As we approach the completion of our study, chapter eight asks us to identify "common threads." A significant portion of the study guide questions focus on the nebulous concept of leadership. It is important to remember that leadership is isn't a quality relegated only to building principals, district administrators, department heads, or other titles commonly associated with "leaders." Your thinking and focus on our study of this book clearly illustrates a strong leadership in our staff as well. You are leaders in your classrooms, and it is the one place where you know you can make small but significant changes to ensure students are learning. Take some time to meditate on the concept of leadership with your cohort using the questions below.

1. This chapter describes principals who used “simultaneous loose-tight leadership” in implementing improvement processes in their schools. What are the things leaders must be “tight” about if they hope to create PLCs?

2. Provide examples of how principals empowered their staffs (were “loose”) by giving them significant authority and autonomy in the improvement process.

3. Consider how you might apply the concept of simultaneous loose-tight leadership in your school.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Whatever It Takes, Chapter Seven

We begin the spring semester with a look at chapter seven in Whatever It Takes. In this chapter, the focus is on another elementary school, Los Penasquitos, located in San Diego, California. While there are a great number of differences between Los Pen and MstM (ethnicity, SES, size, etc.), there are a lot of lessons to learn from this school's systemic and systematic approach to engaging all learners.

1. How did Los Penasquitos Elementary School . . .
a. Identify students who needed additional time and support for learning?
b. Provide that additional time and support?

2. Compare and contrast the Boones Mill plan for intervention with the Los Penasquitos plan for intervention.

3. How are the commitments presented in the Los Pen Pledge different from the belief statements included in most strategic planning and visioning processes being used by schools?

4. Contrast the use of the Los Pen Student Success Team with the typical use of Child Study Teams in traditional schools.

5. Los Pen operates under the assumption that student achievement data should be easily accessible to and openly shared among teachers. Is student achievement data easily accessible and openly shared in your school? What steps might be taken to make this happen in your school?