Common Core State Standards: English/Language Arts (CCSS: ELA)
We have used the last few years adjusting our pacing guide to be completely aligned with CCSS: ELA. It is with excitement that we can say we are successful in our efforts. This year, within CCSS: ELA we will be working on perfecting our student friendly ‘I Can’ statements that will be incorporated into all parent and student interactions.
Common Core State Standards: Mathematics (CCSS: M)
We are working at a similar pace with the CCSS: M as we are for Language Arts. Our goal for this year is to adopt student friendly ‘I Can’ statements that will be incorporated into all parent and student interactions. We are also looking at assessments that better align with the CCSS: M for better analysis of students and their deficit/strength areas.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
Within our 6-year curriculum rotation schedule, Science is up for review during the 2013/14 school year. This fits perfectly with our analysis of the new standards (NGSS). We will be taking time to dissect and understand the new standards, create a pacing guide aligned to these standards, and look to purchase/adopt resources and materials that will help our teachers instruct our students using these new standards.
English Language Development Standards (ELD)
As we continue to evolve within our ELL programming, we have been training ALL staff members on the ELD standards. We believe strongly that although all of us may not be ELL teachers, we are ALL teachers of ELLs. We continue to educate our staff members about how to incorporate these standards into their lesson planning and will ultimately require the incorporation of ELD connections into all lesson planning.
English Language Learner Program (ELL)
We are in the second year of offering true self-contained bilingual services in our district. This is the first year for the transitional classrooms (as the students transition from a bilingual environment with native language support to a mainstream English classroom). We are working with our ELL teachers to better define our programming and have implemented an ELL pacing guide to correlate with our grade level pacing guides. We have also worked to create English benchmark assessments that will help inform our instruction in between ACCESS testing days.
Social Emotional Learning Standards (SEL)
As we continue to see the rise in bullying and harassment across the nation, #109 has chosen to take an active focus in the SEL standards to support the “Whole Child”. No longer is it the role of the Social Worker to work with our students needing emotional support – All of our children are ALL of our responsibilities. We will be focusing on the SEL standards through Professional Development opportunities as well as alignment collaboration meetings with classroom teachers and social workers from the district.
Positive Behavior Support Systems (PBSS)
Throughout the past two years, we have been working within the district to align to a district standard of high expectations and teaching of behaviors. We have created a district level matrix aligned with expectations and continue to craft ‘cool tools’ that help teach our students appropriate behaviors.
We are excited to start a new program that was created specifically to target the social-emotional needs of our students. We have trained pockets of staff in all of our elementary buildings in the area of youth mentoring and will be pairing these staff members with selected students to enforce the idea of positive adult-child relationships. The primary focus of this partnership will be to support the child in areas outside of academics – which will ultimately impact their academic success.
Rising Star School & District Improvement Process
We are in our third year of utilizing the Rising Star platform for our Improvement efforts. We were highlighted at a state conference for our level of involvement as a district and continue to utilize the platform to direct our efforts. Since starting the process at the district level, we have expanded to all schools using the platform as well. We have become more focused through the explicit questioning and directed initiatives and continue to improve through the system.
Title I Services – Parent Liaison
We have added another component of our Title I programming this year. Within our Curriculum Department, we have identified a staff member as the Parent Liaison for Title I. This role supports parents through the entire educational experience by providing information in newsletters, facilitating evening parent events, and organizing functions for collaboration efforts.
As we continue working as a team in educating our children, we continue to look for methods of teaching that allow us to use the tremendous skills found in our district. One such method is co-teaching. Through co-teaching, teachers pair up to provide support, coaching, and modeling opportunities for one another. Our Title I staff and Team Leaders in all of the buildings are focused on this approach and will be piloting our efforts this school year.
As society becomes more technically advanced, we have to keep up with the most current trends and skills. We are able to do this through a group of staff members that meet on a regular basis to discuss our alignment strategies to technology initiatives as well as what is needed to advance our district in the area of technology. Our goal for this year is to identify specific programs and software for every grade level to become ‘experts’ within.
Student Achievement Collaborative Council (SACC)
SACC meets on a regular basis at each of our schools. The Curriculum Department meets at each school with the building administration and staff members to discuss students and their needs. The time together as a team serves as a collaborative atmosphere to provide support from a district level to the building level. Rotating members of the Curriculum Department join the meetings and those students selected tend to ‘fit’ into the attending Curriculum Members’ specialty area.
New Teacher Mentoring Program
We have an approved two-year mentoring program that is very successful in preparing our staff for a long and prosperous career within ISD #109. For the first time, this year, we have mandated that all mentors support the training process by being co-facilitators during the mentee meetings. This will encourage our tenured staff to support the newer teachers while also showing the new teachers that their mentors truly are ‘experts’ within our staff. We have also implemented a new component of the 2nd year program – sharing of their projects. We did this for the first time last year and it was tremendously successful. The sharing of learning and reflection is the best possible collaboration!
We have implemented a committee this year that will be working on the process of creating Standards-Based Report Cards. The first step is understanding the process and benefits of such a grading and reporting system. We will then seek to answer the following questions: How will we help teachers utilize this system to better meet the needs of our students? How will we help parents understand how this system better communicates a child’s progress? How will we help students understand how they can support themselves in the process of learning on a continuum?
6+1 Traits Writing Program
We adopted 6+1 as our writing program foundation last year and will be creating a formalized plan with assessments and rubrics this year. Our goal this year is to support our teachers in grading student samples and ensuring that our staff have ideas for teaching practices. 6+1 is a wonderful program that supports the process of writing while offering many opportunities that align with current practices within CCSS: ELA.
21st Century Skills focus on students being able to be competitive in today’s world. Many of these components focus on real-world problem-solving skills. In order to better meet our student needs, we turned to project-based learning last year. This philosophy to student-directed learning has provided a spark to our educational system in the intermediate grades and we have continued in this direction expanding to more classrooms this year.
In order to meet the needs of our gifted learners, we have multiple structures in place. We identify the top 5% of our students in grades 3-8 for our formal ‘gifted’ program. These students are placed in a cluster group among classrooms at all of our buildings. The classroom teachers that are given the responsibility of serving our gifted students attend additional professional development opportunities and are also given a half day every quarter to collaborate with and/or shadow fellow gifted teachers. A gifted liaison has also been identified at every building to provide additional support as well as a Curriculum Department member that works specifically with our gifted programming.
We have the opportunity to provide multi-age classrooms in many of our buildings. In order to support the teacher in teaching two grade levels (and corresponding curriculum), we have identified a Curriculum Department member that co-teaches with each multi-age teacher on a regular basis. This opportunity allows for more direct grade-level time.
Along with many other school districts in Illinois, we have been working on creating the new teacher evaluation tool. In addition to creating the new tool, we are taking time to educate all certified staff members on the new process of evaluation (using the Danielson framework). By the end of the 13/14 school year, we will have a sample evaluation plan drafted. During the 14/15 school year, we will be piloting this tool and plan to fully implement during the 15/16 school year.
We have created a new Teacher Leader role this year and are very excited for the work that will be accomplished within this team. One person from every grade level and every building was chosen as a Team Leader. In addition to classroom teachers, interventionists (Special Education, Title I, and/or ELL) were also included in this role. The teams work for three half days throughout the year on pacing guide alignment, scope and sequence work, and providing an opportunity for collaboration among district schools.
Data Team Facilitators
This team of teachers (one per grade level per building) focus on the logistics of making the team run efficiently. The Data Team Facilitators and Team Leaders form a strong partnership in leading the grade level team in professional learning communities. This team meets every other month after school to discuss any district issues and to collaborate with fellow grade level colleagues across the district.
We are excited to announce the incorporation of GoogleDocs into our working environment. We have created district documents that everyone has access to. This has not only provided a greater opportunity for communication (multiple people manipulating a document at once), but it has decreased waste and paper usage – ultimately saving money and the environment.