Friday, October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013 Shirley Sovereign

PK-1 Principal/Director of Teaching & Learning
Shirley Sovereign
Twitter:  ssovprincipal
Skype:  shirley.sovereign

English Language Learner (ELL) Program
School districts are required to have an ELL Plan, a teacher on staff to work with students who qualify for services and an administrator to coordinate the program. Howard-Winn has recently hired Sue Mahoney to fill a vacancy in the ELL teaching position. Ms. Mahoney will be working on a part-time basis to provide instruction for students in the ELL Program. School districts were notified this fall that a new plan (Lau) is required and needs to be in place by the fall of 2014. Ms. Mahoney and I attended the Lau Plan development workshop at Keystone AEA in Elkader this week. We received information on the requirements of the Howard-Winn Lau Plan. The State planning template will be used to devise the new plan. The purpose of the Lau Plan, and other program implementation plans within the district, is to better serve the needs of all H-W students.   

Response-to-Intervention (RTI)
The teachers at Crestwood Elementary have been working to further implement the RTI processes in literacy. This is a challenging and exciting time as restructuring of schedules is accomplished to both serve students with special needs and deliver the core curriculum with fidelity. It has been a long-standing practice in schools to have students leave the classroom for Title I, Special Education, Speech and Gifted and Talented. With RTI processes, core instruction is to be protected from interruptions and extra help for students comes out of a separate intervention time. Teachers are collaborating to make schedules as seamless as possible to get the most out of the instructional time in the core subjects of reading and math. RTI is a key component of the Crestwood Elementary School Improvement Plan for reading achievement.

Iowa Core Investigations in Math
Michelle Timp (kindergarten), Joellyn Berg (2nd grade), Becky Halverson (5th grade) and I attended the first of three workshops on the core standards in Mathematics. The State of Iowa became one of 46 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010. We received an in-depth look at the standards in math. Main attributes of the Common Core Standards:
  • Provide learning standards for every grade level (not just for grade spans)
  • Provide a common language for teachers
  • State assessments (2015-2016) will be based on CCSS.
  • Expectations are consistent (within the state and from state-to-state).
  • College and career focus
  • Rigorous K-12
Another team of elementary teachers from H-W will be trained in the Iowa Core Investigations in Literacy in November. The math and literacy teams will be sharing their insight and learning with all H-W teachers during an upcoming inservice meeting. The AEA will be holding future meetings on the CCSS for grades 7-12. The district will be required to report implementation of the CCSS in the next District C-Plan which is due in September 2014.

News from the Preschool Classrooms
  • Mrs. Vsetecka's students have been busy studying the letters of the alphabet and the sounds that the letters make. This week, students learned the letters "C" and "K." They have completed their study of apples and are now ready to learn about the fall season and the cooler weather that comes with it. Students have been using iPads to help them with number and letter recognition.
  • Mrs. Holthaus and her preschoolers have also had a busy week. They were able to put their football puzzle together from all of the "purple cards" they earned. Purple cards are earned by following the classroom rules and being "super friends." They celebrated by having some fun centers outdoors and having popcorn for a snack. For fire safety, they had three firemen from the Cresco Fire Department come and talk about safety and they brought the fire truck! The preschoolers are observing the changes that come with fall. During the next few weeks, they will be observing and experimenting with fall objects (leaves, acorns, scarecrows and pumpkins).

Character Counts Week
Mrs. Tiffany McCabe, Elementary Guidance Counselor, has organized excellent learning activities for the week of October 21-25 to recognize Character Counts Week. Mrs. McCabe sent a letter to parents this week with the following message: "We value good character at Howard-Winneshiek Schools! To celebrate this, we will be having color themed dress-up days. We encourage you to get excited along with your children and have conversations about what it means to be a person of character. Thanks for all your continued support!" 

The dress-up days next week will be:

  • Monday - Respect ourselves and others, be drug free! Wear yellow to celebrate being drug free and respecting ourselves.
  • Tuesday - We care about each other! Wear red to celebrate the pillar of "Caring" and being kind.
  • Wednesday - Responsibility Rocks! Wear green to show how responsible we are at H-W Schools!
  • Thursday - Citizens Unite! Wear purple to show we are global learners and active citizens in our world!
  • Friday - Give me a "T" for Trustworthy and an "F" for Fairness! Show school spirit by wearing Cadet gear to show good sportsmanship and trustworthiness. 

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