Highlights of 2012-2013
It’s been a remarkable year of growth for our district, and I think it’s important to take a moment to sit with our accomplishments before we move on to our summer lives.
Our work began in August with the Math and ELA shifts of instruction and learning with the Common Core. By the time teachers took our spring survey, 78% of teachers reported that they understand and felt ready for the demands of CCSS. That’s huge growth, considering the level of new learning that CCSS requires.
In October, CHS led the assessment charge by taking on the first ELA Performance Task in our district. Ninth-grade advisors from all content areas helped students through a three-hour reading and writing assessment that required small group discussions and Cornell note-taking. In January, CHS teachers learned the new Smarter Balanced scoring guides and applied the rubrics to students’ writing. In the spring, advisors helped students understand the test results and reflect on what it meant for individual learning.
Not to be outdone, elementary teachers took on the deep work of the Math Studio Project, learning and applying the eight mathematical practices in instruction; students discussed mistakes and “stuck points” as well as articulating their varying pathways to problem-solving and metacognition reflection, which is also a factor in ELA CCSS.
Just last week, K-8 teachers wrapped up their learning from their ELA Performance Tasks. Because of the efforts of our ELL and DLI teachers, CSD students were the first students in the state to take a Spanish Language Arts Performance Task. In both the English and the Spanish tasks, teachers noted student strengths in taking notes with graphic organizers, discussions, and stamina. Grouping student heterogeneously allowed students to learn from each other. Teachers noted that we need a district-wide agreement on what proficiency looks like in citing evidence.
We successfully completed two rounds of math performance tasks for grades 1 through 8. It included our high school algebra teachers and grades K/1 exploring 1 math performance task. The tasks used this year came with suggested strategies and a structure that promoted collaboration on how to teach with the 8 mathematical practices in mind.
We’ve been industrious, to say the least.
Because it’s very difficult to have a year of instructional growth with limited professional development, we weaved training into our Collaborative Team meetings. Our Instructional Leadership Teams met throughout the year to learn reflective-practice with STAR protocol and to analyze their school’s instructional focus. In addition, 34 teachers received PSU credit for our after-school CAFÉ / Daily 5, Mentor Texts, and ELL Studies classes. When we had free moments, we used them toward our learning.
When it rains, it pours, so of course this was the year to build new report cards to reflect proficiency-based grading for the coming years. Elementary teachers from across the district came together to craft a cohesive report card. Secondary teachers will conclude their report card work next year.
Alvin Toffler predicted that learning in the 21st century would require learning, unlearning, and relearning. He didn’t mention anything about the pace at which we’d be doing that or how harried such learning might feel while we strive each day meet our all our students’ needs.
As you lean toward summer, leave your work understanding your accomplishments. Rest, read, do all of your favorite things. You’re going to need to be refreshed because our work demands it. When we see each other again, we’ll be transitioning from learning to implementing the CCSS:
ü We’ll have Synergy, which will help us support our students in their learning.
ü We’ll have a single K-5 math curriculum.
ü We’ll begin developing grading practices that help us determine what students know and are able to do.
ü Content Area teachers will incorporate their content standards with CCSS literacy standards (scroll down for Social Studies and Science Literacy Standards)
ü New English Language Proficiency Standards will begin to be implemented for our ELL students.
ü Science teachers will begin learning (and dabbling in) Next Generation Science Standards,
ü Four of our six elementary schools will be involved in eight mathematical practices through Math Studio Project.
ü Innovation Grants will continue to support CCSS implementation in our classrooms.
I hope you have a wonderful break. As you contemplate your summer reading, know that your Administration Team will be reading Mind Set by Carol Dweck. John and I think it’s a compelling read for our work; please consider reading it, too. We can talk about it when we see each other again.