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This teacher at Jordan Hills Elementary is encouraging her students to "Get Outside and Play" along with participating in LUNCH DOODLES with author/illustrator, Mo Willems. She selects the perfect read-aloud and records herself reading to her students. She then assigns her students to participate in at least one of the LUNCH DOODLES and has them take a picture to show her. What a great way to integrate reading with art and moving our bodies!

Visit The Kennedy Center's webpage where you will find the link to Mo Willems LUNCH DOODLES videos and a downloadable activity page for each day.

1. Stick to a few good tools rather than lots of tools. It makes it easier for the kids and parents to focus on content instead of learning a new medium.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are lots of good resources out there. If something is already done well, use it rather than recreating it.
3. Plan times to meet with students. At my school we post daily office hours so our students know when they can video chat with us. I know my son loves when he gets to see his teacher and peers.
4. Plan times to be unavailable. I love how quickly my son's teacher has been responding — but working from home can turn into working nonstop. There’s at least another month and change of this to go. Teachers will burn out if they don’t set limits on availability.

On Monday, Teammates Angie Drope and Sarah Chugg from Columbia Elementary spent three hours driving around together to their collective 50 students' homes to put signs in their front yards, front steps, on bikes, and on porches. They have been flooded with grateful, teary-eyed parent messages. They tried to be sneaky, but got busted a few times. It was time well spent for them and the kids. They sure miss them terribly. These signs lifted the spirits of the parents and kids at home. What are some ways you're finding to keep your students' spirits high especially with the news of longer dismissal?


Quotes from parents:

"We LOVED the sign in front of our home!!! That was the sweetest thing and really lifted our spirits: Thank you! My daughter is missing you and her classmates and working diligently right now! She wanted to put it next to her desk right away! Your sign made us misty eyed! Thank you again sooo much! That was just above and beyond."

"We appreciate you so much! I swear! We are so blessed to have you in our lives".

"My daughter was so excited! She wished she were home to give you a big hug!!"

"Que hermosa atencion para sus alumnos lo recordaran por siempre"

"As all of you know, I have championed American Teachers as some of the finest people that walk this earth. These individuals care deeply about children that are not their own. While at the same time they are mothers and fathers to their own families and most certainly must be as concerned as all of us, where their next paycheck is coming from, where their next meal is coming from and if they get sick will there be a hospital with space to treat them and all the bills that are piling up when there appears to be no solution as to how we are going to continue to live. In the face of all of this they are offering to their students the greatest gift that God bestows on we humans…the gift of Hope. So, thank you my dears and know this…that you are the stalwart heroes that are standing between us and the collapse of our society. Thank you for your belief in humanity and thank you for being a shining example to your students of what hope and optimism are about". ~ Patricia Pollacco

Check out this 4th grade teacher from Golden Fields Elementary and how she's using online journaling to stay connected to her students. She created an assignment in her Google Classroom where she attached a Google Doc for each student. From there she listed out the days she knew we would be out of school and a prompt for each day. The kids then type in their journal response for each day.

"I have set up an online planner, my students are used to writing in their planners to inform their family what they learned, and how their day was, it is their chance to journal. Instead of writing to their parents online, their job is to write to me. put up some prompts, but mostly, I want them to have a place to ask questions, update me on their progress (accountability) and a reminder that there is someone outside of their home that cares about them. I have been responding throughout each day. I will be contacting parents tonight, for any students that haven't made an entry by the end of the school day today." ~Tammy Schaetz, 4th Grade teacher

Did you know that you have a district YouTube account where you can post videos, that are unsearchable to the public, for your students to watch at home? What a great way to be able to connect to your students while you're social distancing! First of all, thank you to all teachers for all of the hard work and care you're putting into making sure your students continue learning! In times like this, it's extra important that we continue to make an effort to be personable and show our kids our happy faces. We have seen several teachers across the district using video to connect to their students. Some ideas include morning messages, a daily schedule overview, learning from home-tips and tricks, Heggerty or MSRC, read-alouds, etc. You can share the YouTube link directly into your Google Classroom or embed it into your Canvas!

Check out this video of a kindergarten teacher in our district. She worked collaboratively with her team to create different videos they could share with all of the kindergarteners at their school.

If you would like to create you own YouTube video, click here to find instructions on how to create and upload one using your iPhone or iPad.

Quotes from parents who have already seen their teacher using video:

"Thank you for sending the online learning this morning.  After the excitement of the earthquake, it calmed down my child with having the consistency of what you promised would start today."

"Awesome, I'm glad you guys are doing all of this and videos!! It's so weird for these littles and even harder to explain to home what is going on."

"I'm seriously so impressed at how well she just knows what to do. You guys have done such a great job at instilling things in their heads!!" -in reference to a Heggerty video

Benchmark 2 has been postponed due to school closures.

Please see the revised pacing guides and year at a glance sheets.

"Assessments are not the end of the teaching and learning process, they're the starting point".

Planning a Road Trip: The Need for Interim (Benchmark) AssessmentsImage result for road map
To use a simple analogy, imagine a road trip. When you check to make sure you have enough gasoline, your tires have enough air, and nothing is going wrong with the motor while you’re driving, you’re doing in-the-moment assessments.
If you do not do these things, you’ll never make it to your destination, so in-the moment assessments are critical! 
However, if you don’t have a road map, it doesn’t matter how well your car is running: you could be headed to the wrong destination! Interim assessments provide the road map. (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2010)

Some Advantages of Benchmark Assessments:


  • Road map for instruction
  • Improvement in teaching
  • Targeted Focus
  • Accountability


  • Checking for understanding without teacher support
  • Preparing students for high-stakes assessment

Writing the Right Benchmark
Did you know that we have our own team of teacher specialists who have been working diligently to rewrite and revise district ELA benchmarks in grades K-6 over the past year?  The first priority in this process was to analyze the quality of the benchmark assessments in relation to our state test. A key step was to line up test items from both assessments, and determine if the benchmark assessments were meeting the rigor of the state assessment. Did the benchmarks have the right content and the right college-ready expectations? Did the questions mirror the rigor, format, design, and question types of the end-goal test?

Here's what they came up with: take a look at page 3 of your grade level’s benchmark 1 teacher pages, found here.

With the benchmark assessment clearly defined, you now have a road map for all the skills and degree of rigor that you need to teach to ensure that your students reach proficiency. Keep referring back to the actual assessment questions while you plan to make sure that every activity sets the students up to succeed at that level of rigor. This isn’t to say that we teach the test itself, but rather, use the elements of the test to prepare learners.

Recommended Deadline for Benchmark 1 is November 1, 2019
Contact the coach at your school before then if you would like to talk about ways to increase rigor, use depth of knowledge, or plan for assessments using backwards design. Your coach is also a useful tool in providing tips and tricks for administering the benchmark.