18 March 2015

CM Revisited

Sitting in on a technology smackdown @ FHS this morning.  Authentic Intellectual Work gives a seriously rigorous framework through which teachers can select technology to use.  Instead of going to the infinite pool of 2.0 tools, teachers may consider their weakest, most current scoring event, find an area that they would like to improve upon instructionally, and then figure out a piece of technology that will enhance student learning within that realm of AIW.

03 January 2012

Is There Anything the Iowa Core Can't Do??

Ask anyone.  I believe in the Iowa Core.  Margaret Kelly, the District's former curriculum director, has heard this question very often.  "How did you do this job without the Core?"

I believe that the Iowa Core will increase student achievement, deepen teacher content knowledge, and make learning institutions more accountable for struggling learners.  There are several facets of the Core, just as there are within any curriculum.  First, there are the essential concepts and skills in social sciences, science, financial literacy, health literacy, technological literacy, employability, and civic literacy.  Secondly, there are the grade level Common Core objectives, the national curriculum that has been absorbed into the Iowa Core for Reading, Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Mathematics.  These two aspects encompass the "WHAT" of the Iowa Core.

The "HOW" of the Iowa Core is detailed within the Characteristics of Effective Instruction (CEI).  For a brief overview of each characteristic, please visit: http://www.k12connections.iptv.org/documents/teacherLib_character_11mar09.pdf

Finally, the Iowa Core consists of the Universal Constructs.  I like to think of these constructs as the very broad, very large umbrella that covers everything-the essential concepts and skills, grade level objectives, characteristics of effective instruction, and even the overall philosophy of the Iowa Core.  The five constructs are: flexibility/adaptability, productivity/accountability, creativity, complex communication, and collaboration.  Whether thinking about ourselves as employees, employers, or learners, the Constructs speak to what it takes to be successful in 2012 and beyond.  Students can also be evaluated based on these constructs.  A phrase often heard in education is "lifelong learner".  The Constructs address the "WHY" of the Iowa Core.  In order for adults and students alike to live as lifelong learners, they must strive to be all things indicated in the Constructs.  Please check out what Route 21 has to say about Iowa's 21st Century work relating to the Constructs: http://route21.p21.org/?option=com_content&view=article&id=148&Itemid=237

So, some may think that I am too optimistic about the potential of the Core.  This I know-regardless of what educational and legislative changes may occur in the near and distant future, the knowledge gained due to our work with the Core will not waiver.  Teachers know more about their students because of our work.  Teachers know more about their content areas because of our work.  For those that say this too shall pass, consider Pocahontas Area Community School:

What is RTI?

As I prepare for helping administrators and teachers move forward with their Response to Intervention (RTI) work for students, I wanted to write a quick entry to help all stakeholders further their knowledge.  However, I think it might be more prudent if I share some sites with readers to ensure that all are getting information first hand.  Please find the link below to a website dedicated to RTI.

What is RTI?

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Middle school concept, response to intervention, professional learning community, instructional decision making...sigh.  When do we start focusing on the work instead of on trying to keep up with the most current name for doing the right thing for students?  As our state moves closer to systemically embracing response to intervention (RTI), I think more and more about what that means for students and teachers in Fairfield, IA, specifically, for our middle school students and teachers. 

What I have concluded is simple.  All terms have basked in the educational spotlight in recent years for a reason.  They all focus on the right work...doing what is necessary to ensure that all students are achieving at high levels.  Richard DuFour, author of Whatever it Takes, lays out a system of reaching all students in three questions:  1) What is it we want students to learn? 2) How are we going to know when they have or have not learned it? 3) What are we going to do once we know they have not learned it?  This basic framework defines the purpose of middle school teams and their work.  

So, as you continue to slog through educational jargon, please do not get frustrated with the changing terms and new structures.  Authors continue to process, innovate, re-structure, and re-package in order to keep schools focused on the right work.  Remember, there is not vocabulary quiz, but rather the measure of our success is that of our students. 

If you are interested in reading the article that prompted my reflection, please go to: http://www.amle.org/Publications/MiddleSchoolJournal/Articles/September2007/Article1/tabid/1496/Default.aspx

19 December 2011


...from the Iowa Department of Education Website:

What is it?
Efforts are underway to streamline the collection process of reports, data and progress for districts and schools. This streamlining process will be titled the Consolidated Plan or C-plan for short. The hope is that the C-Plan will be an ongoing or living document for districts/schools to use locally and not just for reporting and compliance to the DE.

Why is it needed?
Currently, LEAs are required to complete 10-15 reporting plans and there is much overlap in the requested information between these plans. Consolidation of these plans will reduce the burden, costs and time for LEA, AEA, DE and others.  In addition, the DE is responding to requests from AEAs and LEAs for several years for simpler or consolidated plans.

What plans are included?
The five plans that have been identified for inclusion:
·       The Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP)
·       Annual Progress Report (APR)
·       Iowa Core Implementation Plan
·       District Developed Service Delivery Plan (DDSDP)
·       Schools In Need of Assistance/Districts in need of Assistance (SINA/DINA) Plan

Additional plans will be considered for inclusion at a future date.

Who’s involved at the DE? 
This project enjoys the support and involvement of many people at the DE.  In addition a C-plan project team has been created to facilitate the organization of the project they include:
·       Del Hoover (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Karla Day (Teaching and Learning Services)
·       Janell Brandhorst (Student and Family Support Services)
·       Isaiah McGee (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Holly Barnes (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Lisa Albers (Media and Communications Services)
·       Jaci Bodensteiner (Information and Analysis Services)
·       Ciji Alias (Information and Analysis Services)
·       Judy Russell (Early Childhood Services)
·       Thomas Cooley (Adult, Career, and Community College Education)
·       Ellen McGinnis-Smith (Student and Family Support Services)
·       Cindy Butler (Accreditation and Improvement Services)
·       Sharon Hawthorne (Student and Family Support Services)

When will it be completed?
The team has been working an aggressive timeline for project completion. Initial work has included defining the cycle of plans, reviewing existing systems, and determining key stakeholders. A mock up will be shared with various stakeholders (DE, AEAs, LEAs, etc.) for feedback at the end of the year.  The C-plan will be ready for use in the summer of 2012 and will be required for schools and districts to use for the 2012-2013 school year.


Iowa Tests Form E

The 2011-12 school year marks the first time Iowa School districts will administer Form E of the Iowa Tests to students in grades 2-11.  For many, that fact raises several questions.  Can we still compare district progress from year to year?  What are the implications for NCLB? How will I continue to track my student's growth over time?  What are we losing in this switch?  Why on earth did "they" make such drastic revisions? Here are a few talking points that will help people manage the change:
  • student reports will contain the same metrics-national percentile rank and national standard score; we will retain our historical trend data
  • because this is the first year of form E test administration, there will be no Iowa percentile rank or Iowa standard score
  • student growth from "old" forms to form E have been accounted for; growth analysis from last year to this year can still occur
  • form E is aligned to the Iowa Core, our state-mandated curriculum in the areas of mathematics, social sciences, science, and reading, writing, and language arts
  • the newly revised Iowa tests will provide one data point within a balanced assessment system that shows how FCSD students are performing in relation to essential grade level concepts and skills
  • proficiency will remain the term that describes students who score at or above the 41st percentile

16 December 2011

Secondary Science Alternative Assessment Revision

K-12 Science Benchmarks were approved by the FCSD Board of Directors in June of 2011.  So, now what?  In order to ensure that the written (benchmarks) and the measured (assessments) are aligned and assist the delivery our enacted (instruction) curriculum, it is essential that the District alternate assessments be revised to align with the new written curriculum.  On December 13-14th, middle and high school science departments gathered to revise the alternate assessments, administered in district since 2001. Revision work consisted of item construction, benchmark alignment, prioritized content learning, and construction of a data analysis protocol that ensures student data generated will be used to inform future programming enhancements and daily instruction. Resources from the Iowa Core and National Council for Teachers of Science were utilized.