December eNewletter

Highlights and Happenings in the month of December:

Walk throughs in many classrooms at both Lower Lake Elementary, Burns Valley and Lower Lake High School: My goal is to visit every classroom before the end of the school year. Why? It helps me get a good pulse on the teaching and learning here in Konocti as the director of curriculum and instruction. It helps me learn more about each teacher and the students. It informs our next steps in the way of support and progress with instruction and curriculum. I look to refine my skills as an observer to be able to provide valuable feedback to support adult performance and student learning.
The highlight: the high level of student learning through quality teach; the positive and caring relationships between students and teachers.

Literacy Foundation Skills Professional Development by Tracy Wilson for staff grades K - 2: We had a very expert and experienced reading specialist visit a sampling of primary classrooms (along with me) and then tailor the professional development to the needs of Konocti. Thank you to all who could attend, despite the busy season of work and holiday preparations.The information was powerful. The next steps to support foundation reading and writing skills in the primary levels were all manageable. Individual teachers, specific school sites and the district  are taking those steps. Stay tuned.

District collaboration day on December 3 around student results and/or student work. It is always powerful to come together for meaningful collaboration with our peers and colleagues. It was a big step to share student results and/or student work. The rich conversations begin with this analysis. Colleagues can share what worked and why they think it worked. Grade level teams moved into ways to "norm" the administration of test for additional consistency with the common unit assessment. Grade level teams shared ideas around re-testing and how best to re teach, re test and record the students newest learning. Grade level teams made arrangements to re align and revise the common unit assessments to move forward in their alignment and in their quality.

District Engaged Teaching and Learning Committee Meeting (ETLC): This committee is comprised of the instructional coaches, the grade level district teacher facilitators, high school department chairs (principals are welcome) and myself. It was a highlight just to have the opportunity to meet again. We get to share each grade level's progress with teaching and learning. We get to steal or borrow best practices from each other. We get to stay abreast to the continued steps or new steps being developed or implemented to support the district's instructional direction and vision. Time permitting, we get to coordinate a draft agenda for the next district wide collaboration time. The information and progress; ideas and insights, then, get shared to staff at staff meetings, site collaborations and district collaborations.

Lower Lake High School Writing Project: Lower Lake High School is well underway with the implementation of their literacy scope and sequence plan. The students wrote an information response during ELA classes. All staff learned what quality proficient grade level writing looked like by reviewing the writing rubric and by reading student exemplars. All staff proceeded to calibrate and score their students informational writing responses. The students, in the New Year, will receive this feedback to their writing. Staff will continue to support quality informational writing in their classes. Rock on!!

Forward progress with the Math Pilot Process: December was our second meeting. Here we evaluated various supplemental math materials. Grades 1st - 5th and grades 6th -7th came to consensus on which supplemental math material to pilot with their students in their classroom starting this January.
Some of the optional math materials evaluated in December are now on display at each staff room so other math teachers can view the different materials. All grade levels elected to try GoMath. The agreements are that we are driven and follow the common core math unit and common unit assessment. (either can be revised). We use GoMath to support the instruction of these clusters of standards. We also should look to use additional resources to thoroughly and comprehensively cover the cluster of standards to the appropriate depth, making it accessible and challenging for all students. We also commit to checking in each month, both on the piloted materials, and to revise/enhance the common core units and assessments.

This week inside Marshall's memo, you will find articles on these featured topics:

- Are we surrendering too easiy to digital distractions?

- The qualities of a good teacher

- The art of designing lessons with desirable difficulties

- A five-step model for leading classroom math discussions

- Negative relationships and how they affect a district's performance

- Teaching students to do Google searches that go beneath the surface

- How much autonomy should teachers have in their classrooms?

- Myths about adult bullying in schools and sports teams

- Recommended graphic novels

If you want an HTML version of this week's Memo, please click here: