Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Team Planning

Today, we kicked off the first of our New Team Planning Meetings with the incoming 3rd grade team. We believe, the meetings, unique to the way we prepare for the upcoming school year, are vital for team cohesiveness. It is not uncommon at The Creek for teachers to transition between grade levels, therefore teams always have new members. We believe, as the quote on our agenda stated that “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” The pre-planning allows everyone to get to know each other, obtain a clear vision for the expectations and demands of that particular grade level, and ask questions and receive immediate answers. This one day gets everyone off on the right foot and brings a sense of calm.

Our morning began with a team building activity designed for teachers to learn more about one another and get the day started with a few hearty laughs. Then, the first topic of business was selecting a Team Leader to represent the interests of the grade level teachers at the shared decision making table and provide leadership to the grade level throughout the year. In third grade, the team nominated and appointed Vicky Cole to this position. After that, the team discussed Committee Chairs for positions like Target Team observers, Spirit, Technology, Play, etc. The third grade team was eager to volunteer and it was evident to me that many teachers were willing to fulfill leadership positions on the team. Always a good thing to ensure team cohesiveness!

Our next order of business was reviewing and clarifying the grade level's non-negotiables list as outlined by the America's Choice School Design and our CCE School Improvement Plan. I will post this complete list at the end of this blog post, if you wish to review the items this team has agreed to follow.

Third Grade teachers are departmentalized by subject area, therefore for the next part of our agenda we broke into two groups, the ELA department & Math/Science/Social Studies department. In each group, we conferred about the New Generation Standards, talked about inventories, common assessments, homework, grading, and diagnostics. In addition, in ELA, we spent much of our time on looking closely at our ELA Pacing Guide and revised it based on consensus for the 2010-2011 school year. This part of the agenda certainly brought clarity to each of the team members.
The professionals then went out to lunch together. This well spent time brings a lot of opportunity for conversation and collegiality, and is an important part of the day that should not be overlooked.

Afternoon dialogue focused on penning a grade level Supply List, and then on our digital resources. Led by Cheryl Chascin, teachers updated their On Course Teacher WebPages, and then logged in and explored Discovery Education.

The end of the agenda reminded teachers, “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” And, I think they would agree that today, they planted many seeds they will reap the harvest of next school year.


--One hour Readers’ Workshop
--One hour Writers’ Workshop
--15-20 minute Interactive ELA Skills Block
--One hour Math Workshop
--15-20 minute Interactive Math Skills Block
--45 minutes of Science / Social Studies

--No more than 45 minutes nightly (Monday through Thursday), no homework on weekends.
--Coordinate the assignment of projects with members of the team. Revisit and align projects to New Generation Standards. Project assignments may go home on weekends, but only to provide students and parents additional time to secure materials. Project work counts in the 45 minute homework time limit. Research may count as reading time.
--Students are encouraged to be actively involved in extracurricular activities, spending a limited time on homework while building rituals and routines around study skills.
Million Word Standard
--Each student is responsible for reading a million words a year.
--Evidence will be logged through a book log. (Book logs can be paper/pencil, digital, school based or home based)

--Standards, for the daily lesson, should be displayed and printed large enough to be read by students from their seats.
--Book of the Month attractively displayed and accessible.
--Data Notebooks (Diagnostic Profiles, DRA’s, PMP)
--Portfolios in Writing, Mathematics, and Science
--Word Walls
--ELA: mini-lesson charts (teacher made), writing rubrics, Reading Response Journals or Notebooks, and Writing Notebooks or Seed Journals--Math: teacher made charts, 100’s chart, number lines with negative and positive numbers, manipulatives, and strategy charts
--Science: teacher made charts; Scientific Method posted; evidence of an inquiry based laboratory; and Science journals, notebooks or portfolios--Student work posted (on the walls in the classroom, preferred, but if space is limited hallway display is acceptable)

Standards- Based Bulletin Boards
--SBBB will be displayed by the deadline date and should include: Standards, Task, Circumstances of Performance, 4 pieces of student work, and teacher commentary. Student commentary is optional.
--No SBBB are due in August, December, March, or May. April's board should be work over time.
--Co-teachers in departmentalized grade levels will alternate between ELA and Math/Science/Social Studies.
--Teachers are encouraged to produce a variety (subject area and work product) of different SBBBs across the grade level. Each should be original and creative.

Standard Snapshots
--Go home with report cards on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd nine weeks.
--Should be created collaboratively with an emphasis on discussing student work.
--Each student’s piece of work will be attached to the snapshot to be sent home on the specified date.
--ELA team will produce three Snapshots (reading or writing); Math/Science team will produce three Snapshots (math or science).
Pacing Guides
--District Learning Schedule in Mathematics
--District Learning Schedule in Science
--ELA CCE Pacing Guides, prepared using the Scope and Sequence in our district adopted Houghton-Mifflin Text and the Sunshine State Standards
--Author Studies, as outlined in our SIP, will be delivered following the pacing guide schedule.

On Course Grade Book
--Homework grades are for habits and process, not accuracy or content.
--Projects will not be graded if they are completed at home.
--5 or more grades in each subject area, every grading period.
--Subject area teachers MUST agree on what is being graded and how the grade is derived. Parents must be informed.
--Grades should be posted to the grade book within one week.
Communication with Parents
--Weekly newsletters
--Written notes in planners or email
--Blogs are highly recommended but optional.