Sunday, October 26, 2014

Learning at BC

We are so fortunate...

BC Staff have the opportunity to learn from several different avenues -- all which align with our Action Plan.

Two of these learning opportunities our #BCTLT learned about this week and we want to share with you the opportunity for you to participate and learn for FREE -- that's right -- we said FREE.  Benton Community is part of the i3 Consortium with GWAEA and because of that relationship, we have the opportunity to be part of their learning community.  
  • The first course is entitled:  No-Nonsense Nurturer. This course is designed to advance understanding of the strategies that can be employed to increase student engagement, build constructive relationships with students, and establis the routines, procedures and structures need to improve student learning. To register for the course -- click here.  
  • The second learning opportunity is for educators to learn how to incorporate math and literacy standards into any content area. We just learned last week that NTC has partnered with Coursera to offer two new MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for  free to any teacher anywhere.  
    • Common Core in Action: Literacy in the Content Areas - Exploring Literacy Design Collaborative Template Tasks
    • Common Core in Action: Math Classroom Challenges - Using Formative Assessment to Guide Instruction
These two courses are two of the five that will be offered this year through NTC and they start today (Oct. 20).    Here is the link in case you would like to check them out. As soon as we get more info about about the other three classes -- we'll let you know.

Common Formative Assessment (CFA)
Another advantage we have of being part of Grant Wood AEA is they are partnering with eight local school districts in offering CFA (Common Formative Assessment) workshops during the 2014-15 school year.

The purpose of the CFA workshops series are to provide teachers with similar content areas to work together to design evidence based common formative assessments and develop scoring guides, implement the assessment, review student evidence from the assessments, and consider instructional changes.  Below are some pictures from our work on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.  Over 200 educators came together to work collaboratively on this process.

Iowa Core
Not only do we get the advantage of being in the GWAEA -- our state is also doing a great job of keeping us abreast of new developments.  The Iowa Core Website has been updated by the Iowa Department of Education.  This resource will be something we review in a future blog post.  But if you'd like to check it out -- there are great tools and resources for all content areas on this new site, as well as parent and community information.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

@BentonCSD with #BCTLT

I'm incredibly fortunate.  I work in the school district I grew up in which affords me the opportunity to see many of my former teachers.  I remember how special they made me feel as a student as a elementary, middle or high school student -- but what is even more amazing to me is how they make me feel as a 51 year old.  In the last few weeks I've had the opportunity to interact with two of my former teachers.  

Jim VanEtten (my junior high school physical education teacher and high school track coach), sent me an email telling me how sorry he was that my Minnesota Vikings are kinda having a rough season.  I think he meant those sarcastic comments in the nicest way.   Jan Logan (my second grade teacher) saw my husband and I at the Crooked Antler and told me "Happy Birthday".  She still remembers when my birthday is after 43 years.  Both of these role models made my day when they chose to acknowledge me and let me know they still care.  Thank you Jim and Jan for remembering, but more importantly acknowledging.

What might you remember about a special educator? What do special educators remember about you?

Other news & update information:

  • The #BCTLT is fortunate to be able to see the entire district from a new perspective this year and we are basking in the learning and energy of our teachers and students.  Thanks for letting us be a part of such a great system and helping in anyway we can.   Here's our  schedule for the week of 10/13 - 10/17.
  • Friday, October 17, 2014 is a 1:00 Dismiss with the end of Term 1 for the MS/HS.   Our tentative plan is that MS/HS staff will be working on grading and the elementary will be working on their own staff defined plan -- but we want all of you to know, we'd be more than happy to help in anyway on this day.  We have heard that some elementary grade levels are planning on meeting and working together.  Each of the CL/DT's will determine the plan of action for their work on 10/17/14.  We've created a quick survey for you to let us know where you will be and if you would like our support.  Please find 10 seconds to complete this survey to guide our planning to provide the most support to the District.  Thanks so much!   
  • Common Formative Assessment (CFA) 
    • We are pleased our district has enrolled in the CFA work sessions scheduled for October 20, January 19 and February 16. Each of the sessions will be at Grant Wood AEA at 6th Street in Cedar Rapids.  The sessions will last from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.  Registration will be from 8:00 - 8:25 a.m.  (Please refer to an email sent from Jo on 10/9/14 for more information.)  The intent of these sessions is for teachers to work collectively with peers in similar content areas.  Each of our CL/DT's are in a different places on the CL/DT cycle.  One way to move forward is to determine where we are on the work cycle for teams and where to go next (as defined by Chris Jakicic in her book "Common Formative Assessment").  Let us know if you need or want help in working through this process.
    • During our three days of learning each group will be requested to:
      •  Identify key student learning targets
      • Design a Common Formative Assessment (CFA) aligned to the learning target(s)
      • Administer the assessment
      • Analyze and organize student data from the assessment
      • Design instruction that aligns with the assessment evidence

Lastly, a huge thanks to Mrs. Upah and Mrs. Happel as the #BCTLT were able to be part of Van Horne Elementary Socktober Event in the Scale-Up Room at GWAEA.  Below are some pictures from our time.  Also, here is the classroom blog that shares more information.