Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've been working on wikis lately, and I really like them. I am facilitating a district course, all organized on the getreal wiki. This is the beginning of the second week of class, so it's too early to tell how effective it will be, but here are the aspects that make it worthwhile for me:

  • all participants in the class can add and co-create content

  • the collaborative work we've done can be shared both within and outside our district

  • teachers can access this information at any point in the future

Many other teachers in our district are using wikis this year, including science departments at middle and high school level. I'm including links to one of their sites.

buffalokayceeschools - this is one I'm working on for the district as a whole

ccmsscience7 - this is Marcia Gaines's 7th grade science wiki - this is the wiki for the course I'm facilitating

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I spent last week at a PAWS range-finding event at the Pearson testing company's site in San Antonio. I worked with two other Wyoming teachers and two Pearson scorers to select the range of scores in 8th grade expressive and expository writing.
Here is the process we used:
1. We read and discussed the idea development portion of the expressive rubric.
2. We read somewhere around 15 papers aloud, scored them individually only on idea development, and then discussed the scores and came to consensus.
3. We read 13-15 more individually, then shared scores and came to consensus on each.
4. We followed this pattern for the traits of organization, voice, and conventions.
5. In the last step of this process, we scored roughly 30 more papers for all of the traits, using some specific papers from the initial scoring sets to help us maintain consistent levels of proficiency that we had set thoughout the first phases of the process.
6. We shifted to expository writing and followed each of the same steps through that process.

Yes, it was grueling, but I did gain a much clearer understanding of the bigger picture of this assessment, and I understand what happens once the papers are shipped off to Pearson. The two scoring room leaders who worked with my group were incredibly astute and conscientious in helping us work through this process. Without their knowledge, we probably wouldn't have maintained any sort of consistency.
I left feeling that the testing company does its job well; it scores accurately according to the criteria that is set before it. The problems come with all of the other variables - from the state department to the students. I hope we don't forget that this is only one small indicator of a student's ability to write.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Wow - I can't believe how quickly the first few weeks of school have gone. The media specialists and the IFs are getting ready to offer a class on the Big 6. I hope there will be a lot of interest in our district. It's one of those initiatives that could have a huge impact on the quality of student work if the implementation were widespread. I think two of the biggest benefits would be that we would have a systematic way of teaching information problem-solving, and that we would have a common language in grades K-12. Here are the stages of this process:
1. Task Definition
2. Information Seeking Strategies
3. Location and Access
4. Use of Information
5. Synthesis
6. Evaluation
Within each of the stages are two additional stages that more clearly define what happens at each level. The classes will begin in October - hope to see a room full of teachers that first night!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not Just Another Class

This fall I will be hosting a class in which we pull together many previous JCSD1 courses and initiatives. Some of the content of this class will include Backward Design, Working on the Work, Multiple Intelligences, Visual Literacy, Integrating Technology, and Assessment. My plan is for us to review these and shares our successes in applying them in our daily teaching and overall plans.
Working in collaboration with trusted colleagues is one of the most rejuvenating and energizing ways to improve teaching. Pulling this into the mix will be another aspect of this class.
This class will also be a way to get your appraisal model work done. If you can take this class, you'll have time set aside specifically to get this work done.
I haven't worked out all of the details, but here is plan so far:
- 2 recertification hours
- class will be held twice per month for 3 hours
- we will meet for a total 30 hours
We've been kicking around a few names but haven't chosen a final one yet. I believe names are important, so I want this to be a good one - not boring and not cheesy. Keep your eye out for this class, and if you have an idea for a name let me know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Write Stuff

This year Kaycee School is implementing a writing intervention dubbed "The Write Stuff." The intervention sets a standard for all work that will be passed into a teacher's basket, as well as that of teachers and other staff members. Here are the 10 Write Stuff expectations:

1. Writing has main idea.
2. Writing answers the question.
3. Writing has details, examples, evidence, etc.
4. Writing is organized.
5. Writing has been reviewed.
6. Writing has neat penmanship and is easily read.
7. Sentences are complete and make sense.
8. Writing includes transition words or phrases.
9. Effort is demonstrated to correct spelling errors.
10. Writing has been edited.

Teachers at every grade and in every content area will expect the same level of quality from students, according to what can be expected developmentally, of course. Details of how to maintain quality and gather data throughout the year are being worked out in these weeks before school starts. I think this is a great step for this school - it's manageable here, where in bigger schools it could be really difficult to implement. The common language and expectations will only help students when it comes to taking pride in what they create.