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November 25, 2014

CCSS: Writing to Sources, Session Two

Tuesday evening Washoe County teachers participated in the second of a two session in-service class, ‘Writing to Sources’ (information on the first session is in a previous post here). The focus for this final session was on supporting writing with exemplar lessons and the use of formative assessment. Throughout the evening, teachers collaborated around writing lesson exemplars, explored writing rubrics from the Nevada Department of Education and SBAC, and reviewed literature on formative assessment from the Carnegie Corporation and Kelly Gallagher. Resources for this second session are linked below. The next ‘Writing to Sources’ in-service will be held in the Spring of 2015.



November 24, 2014

Exploring the Yearly Practice Guides at North Star School

As part of their ongoing professional learning learning effort, 'Aligning Instruction to the Core', North Start teachers and administrators gathered Monday to engage in sessions focused on using the Yearly Instructional Practice Guides for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics

Educators began the afternoon by working in content area groups analyzing student work and classroom observation data to better understand how they might increase support for students engaging in complex text during a Live Lesson. Teachers then studied resources for yearly planning aligned to Core Action 1. ELA and Literacy teachers engaged with the Common Core Standards and Publisher's Criteria while Mathematics teachers worked through print and video resources from Student Achievement Partners, Smith & Stein, the Common Core Standards, standard authors Daro, McCallum, and Zimba, as well as Ryan Debry Talbot. Both groups finished their sessions by spending time collaboratively planning with vetted resources from WCSD Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Louisiana Believes, Student Achievement Partners, EQuIP, and Washoe County teacher groups. Resources used during this session are linked below. 

November 22, 2014

Innovations High School Saturday PD: Blended Learning Boot Camp

In order to better help educators at Innovations High School use instructional technology, Tony Filicchia facilitated a 'Blended Learning Boot Camp' today at the Innovations HS Second Street campus. Educators worked through 'The Basics of Blended Learning' to determine what models of blended learning might work best for them and sessions throughout the morning were based on a flex model as teachers moved at their own pace through tutorials on Mac Basics and using Keynote.


November 19, 2014

Shifting Instruction to the Core: Introduction to Core Action Two

Educators at Inspire Academy and Turning Point gathered again today for the next professional learning session in 'Shifting Instruction to the Core'. The focus of this session was 'Core Action 2' and supported teachers to better understand how to use text specific questions and tasks in their instruction. Teachers worked through Core Action Two of the Instructional Practice Guide with resources developed by WCSD History-Social Studies department  and Student Achievement Partners and they applied these resources to an Atlantic article, "The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math" . Teachers will gather again on December 3rd to continue their exploration of Core Action 2. Resources from today's session include:

November 18, 2014

CCSS: Writing to Sources - Session One

Washoe County School District teachers gathered Tuesday evening for the first of a two session in-service class, ‘Writing to Sources’. In this first session, teachers explored print resources from the ELA/Literacy Common Core State Standards and the Aspen Institute, video content from EngageNY, Teaching Channel, and Fisher & Frey, and a variety of reading strategies. Teachers will spend this week between sessions exploring potential reading and writing lessons to use in their own classrooms. Resources for this first session are:


November 17, 2014

Preparing Students for the New Tests

A recent post at Core Task Project details what teachers can do to better prepare their students for the new accountability tests rolling-out this Spring. Titled, 'How to and How Not to Prepare Students for the New Tests', the post cautions against skill-based test prep measures that interrupt instruction, instead offering research and resources to support learning aligned to the Common Core Instructional Shifts. For those of you interested in what you might do in anticipation of the next generation assessments, the post is linked here and is featured in full below. 

‘How and How Not to Prepare Students for the New Tests’Posted on by  
A popular question, since Nevada officially adopted the SBAC Test for the 2014-2015, is how to best prepare students for the coming assessments. I certainly have an opinion and have consistently noted that if you take full advantage of well-vetted resources, including the Basal Alignment Project, Close Read Exemplars, Core Knowledge, We the People curriculum, Document Based Questions, and the resources at www.63000resources andwww.projecttahoe.org, you can feel confident that you are headed in the right direction. Yet, some vendors and national consultants outline a different strategy in which you diagnose skill deficits and remediate. Dr. Timothy Shanahan, the former President of the International Reading Association and work team member on the Common Core State Standards, challenges this strategy in a piece for The Reading Teacher. He writes:
Already, new test prep materials are starting to appear on the Internet, and teachers ask me all the time how they can best prepare students to respond to these new items. Many educators assume that, since these tests will be aligned to the CCSS, they will detect which standards the students are meeting: Johnny meets Reading Standard 4 but is still not getting Standard 7.
The problem is that it doesn’t work that way. It hasn’t in the past, and it won’t with these new tests, either.
Dr. Shanahan follows this claim with the research to buttress his assertion and suggestions for how best to prepare for the coming assessments. You can gain access to the full article here.

November 12, 2014

Core Task Project featured on National Public Radio

Earlier this year, American RadioWorks produced a documentary titled ‘Greater Expectations’ that told the story of the Core Task Project in Reno, Nevada. This week, smaller segments of that documentary are featured on National Public Radio shows ‘All Things Considered’ and 'Morning Edition'. These shorter segments, ‘Common Core Reading: ‘The New Colossus’’ and 'Common Core Reading: The High Achievers'  are well worth a listen, as is the original American RadioWorks episode Greater Expectations: The Challenge of the Common Core'  are well worth a listen.

November 10, 2014

#TeachNV

Colleagues in Washoe County School District have started an effort to highlight the excellent work of local educators. At the Twitter #TeachNV, you will find teacher and student artifacts with links to pictures, videos, and blogs. A number of posts have already been made and you do not need a Twitter account to see what has been posted. Simply click on this link to take a look! Please consider adding a Tweet!

November 7, 2014

Professional Learning: EQuIP Session II for WCSD Implementation Specialists

In order to help build the capacity of educators to better recognize and use highly Common Core-aligned materials, the Implementation Specialists and Instructional Coaches in Washoe County School District are engaging in ongoing professional learning around the EQuIP Rubric for Lessons & Units: ELA/Literacy (Grades 3-5) and ELA (Grades 6-12). This week the second of six sessions was held during the IS Institute, during which participants reviewed a training lesson, independently applied the criteria in Dimension I: Alignment to the Depth of the CCSS, and calibrated their feedback. Later sessions in the winter and spring of 2015 will use the same training lesson to explore remaining rubric dimensions: II: Key Shifts in the CCSS, III: Instructional Supports, and IV: Assessment. 

Materials for today's session include:

November 4, 2014

Site-based Professional Learning Day: Exploring the Yearly Instructional Practice Guides

As part of the site-based professional learning on November 4th Inspire, ATC, and Turning Point schools all gathered to engage in sessions focused on using the Yearly Instructional Practice Guides for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics. These sessions are part of ongoing professional learning for educators designed to deepen understanding of the instructional shifts, identify and use resources to align teaching and learning to the Common Core, and engage teachers in collaborative inquiry.

Throughout the day educators worked in content area groups to explore the Yearly IPGs and supporting resources that might inform their instruction. ELA and Literacy teachers studied print and video resources from Student Achievement Partners, the Common Core Standards, and Robert Pondiscio. Mathematics teachers worked through print and video resources from Student Achievement Partners, Smith & Stein, the Common Core Standards, standard authors Daro, McCallum, and Zimba, as well as Ryan Debry Talbot.  Both groups spent time collaboratively planning with vetted resources from WCSD Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Louisiana Believes, Student Achievement Partners, EQuIP, and Washoe County teacher groups.