Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013 Greg.Adams

                                             Greg Adams
Grade 2-6 Principal (Crestwood, Elma, Lime Springs/Chester)
Twitter  @GregAAdams7     #2020HowardWinn

Procedure for Picking up your Child at School

The following procedures are ways in which you can help with the safety and security of all children within our building.  Recall that door locks and a camera system were installed in the entry way at the beginning of the school year. We ask parents and visitors to report to the office upon arriving at school. Your child will either be waiting for you in the office based upon a prior note or phone call informing the school of an appointment, or secretaries will call your child's teacher asking them to send your child to the office to meet you. Please report to the office rather than reporting directly to the classroom.
After school, the best option is waiting outside to meet your child.  The exception would be that kindergarten students are often met by parents or siblings.  Parents and siblings that are picking up students older than kindergarten are being asked to wait in the cafeteria, allowing teachers to get students ready for dismissal, and then students will walk to the cafeteria to meet you.  Thank you in advance for your help.

Cadets for a Cause
Hello Everyone,

We just wanted to start the holiday season off right by letting you know that we will be having jean week again this year.  The cost will be 10$ and you may wear jeans the week of Monday, the 16th of December until Friday, the 20th of December.  Remember, all proceeds will go to support Howard-Winn families this holiday season.

In addition to this tradition, you will notice "Cadets for a Clause" notes placed in your mailbox this week or the beginning of next week.  The note is a collaboration district-wide to collect monetary donations to assist families in our school district this year too.  This collection will be from the students and will be added to what is collected from jean week. The addition of student involvement will promote a climate of caring between students, staff, and our communities.  There will be a collection bucket at each elementary building, but at Elma and Lime Springs I will be bringing a bucket out to collect money.

Any questions please contact the Guidance Dept. or Paula Galvin (Paula and Riley are helping with collections at the Elementary, Jr. High, and High School).

Happy Holidays,
Tiffany McCabe 

From the School Nurse...

Please remember that due to students having severe allergies in our school that Crestwood Elementary/JH are NUT-FREE SCHOOLS.  This means no products that contain nuts of any kind are permitted to be sent to school. 
Cold and flu season are upon us and in full swing.  Please remember to use good handwashing, get flu shots, and stay home if you are sick.  School policy states that students must be vomit and fever free for at least 24 hours before returning to school (without using medication to lower fever).  
Thank you for keeping our kids healthy!

Giving Thanks...

  • I am thankful to live in a nation that is committed to educating every child.  In some countries, education is only for children with defined abilities or the money to pay for the education.  We live in a country that believes that everyone should have access to education, which opens the doors to success and opportunity.  
  • It is exciting to serve the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District's educational community, working with dedicated staff and students on a daily basis to provide daily opportunities for children in the district.
  • May everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Take a moment to relax with those in your lives and refresh a bit during the extended weekend.


November 27, 2013

District Perspective

Superintendent John Carver
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver

Happy Thanksgiving
As we move into the Holiday Season, it is important to stop and "take stock" of all the blessings and opportunities we have in NE Iowa. It is important to also note the hardships and challenges ahead. What will separate Howard-Winn from the rest in getting through the hard times will be our ability to "think outside the box" and harness positive energy. When we get to the point of supporting and celebrate accomplishments of all, throughout the District, an infectious excitement will occur and others will want to "come and join the Howard-Winn party". Happy Thanksgiving. Blessings to you and your love ones!

Waterline Break

Sunday night Cresco Police discovered and reported a waterline break in front of Crestwood High School. What a mess! Because of the break, Monday classes at Crestwood High School were canceled. This closing did not affect the Cresco K-8 campus, Lime Springs or Elma. It did not affect NICC classes either. The break was fixed and the water turned on around lunchtime Monday. High School students will not have to make up the day. A BIG THANK YOU to the students, teachers and staff for your cooperation and flexibility. Also a BIG THANKS to Cresco Public Works for fixing the break in challenging weather conditions.  

Reflections from the 2013 Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Convention
The IASB convention last week was outstanding. Keynote speaker Kevin Honeycutt's presentation was excellent. His remarks centered on one of the foundational 21st century learning design essentials...RELATIONSHIPS.
His life lessons help to shape and mold him to not only be an Art teacher, but to be an important advocate and champion of youth. His message is inspirational!

2020 Howard-Winneshiek: Focus on Instruction

We have before us to two scenarios: 
1.     The population of the region continues to decline which means that the Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools will fold back into Cresco (Howard County Seat).
2.     There is an economic transformation in the region that causes population growth, which results in an increase in enrollment.
Both are very possible. Going forward, thinking and actions of the District must be flexible so as to be able to respond to both scenarios.  The focus MUST be on instruction and learning. 

That all being said, four options are emerging:
Option #1 Keep the attendance centers as they are currently configured in Lime Springs, Elma an Cresco. On the upside, for now the District, does have a 19% solvency ratio and could operate all three campuses for one more year. Staying as is does not address elementary class size, instruction and the combination classrooms. Elementary class sizes across the District range from a class of 14 in Elma (combination classroom of 5 2nd graders and 9 3rd graders) to a class of 26 3rd graders in Cresco. This configuration makes planning and instruction challenging for both the teacher in the combination room and the the single section classroom. Staying the same also impacts financial resources. The following information is the cost per student by attendance center for the 2012-2013 school year. As of October 28, 2013 K-3 attendance in Elma is 32 students and at Lime Springs 73.
Option #2 Elma: maintain 4 year old preschool and move K-3 to Lime Springs or Cresco. Combined classrooms in Lime Springs could continue. This option does not address the question of consistency of instruction and programs. Having duplicate grade levels at Lime Springs and Cresco maintains a perceived division. If we are to attract families to the District we must be one District and not separate schools.

Option #3 Maintain 4 year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and fold everything back onto the K-8 Cresco campus. The challenge here is that there is not capacity on the K-8 campus to receive all the students from Elma and Lime Springs. It could happen if the District continued to shrink and the Crestwood High School campus was reconfigured to receive 7th and 8th grade students.

Option #4 Maintain 4 year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and assign complete grade(s) level to Lime Springs. This structure is not unusual and can be found in several District across the state. The thinking is that each campus would serve a complete grade(s) level and end duplication. This would address the combination classroom question, class size and facilitate the coordination of instruction, services and programing. This would mean bussing of students from Cresco and throughout the District to Lime Springs. 

Additional Thoughts......

If the District enrollment is to stabilize and grow, thinking must change. Old thinking is that schools were built in regions that had the population to support the schools. For the last 40 years there has been an ongoing shift in populations (information presented in 11/22/13 Admin Update) and now we must shift our thinking. We have opportunities before us if we are able to let go of the past and work to future. Harnessing positive energy, Rural County, Ridgeway, Lime Springs, Elma, Cresco, Chester, all working and pulling together can do great and wonderful things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2013

Academics ~ Activities ~ Arts ~ Athletics
Crestwood Secondary Schools (7-12)
Tim Felderman
Twitter: tfelderman78

Special Events for the Week of December 2 - December 6, 2013
Tuesday:        Friends of Howard Winneshiek Schools Meeting - 7:30 a.m. 
                       7-12 Academic BLT Meeting - 3:30 p.m.
Junior High Science Fair
The science fair will be held in the High School Student Center on December 9th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. The displays will be available for public viewing during this time. There will be around 100 displays. Each display will be judged by two different judges from the community. Community members are encouraged to visit displays and ask students about their work. The top three projects from each grade will move on to the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa in March located in Ames, Iowa.

Junior High Parent/Teacher Conferences
Recommendations for the Spring 2014 P/T Conferences from the Junior High Building Leadership Team:
  • Conference Scheduler will now be utilized to help parents plan their visits with teachers.
  • 6-12 grade teachers will now be in a common Conference Scheduler. This will help decrease any confusion between buildings.
  • Teachers will now be located in their classrooms.

Grant through
Kirstin Kerian received a $415 grant through this week. The white boards and markers will be used in her reading class for vocabulary, quick check summaries, and to participate in engaging activities. To better comprehend stories, the students need to increase vocabulary by working on it daily. White boards are a great quick check to use in a short class period. CONGRATULATIONS Ms. Kerian!

Universal Constructs - Competency Based Education
Six themes that will be embedded in CBE are the Universal Constructs. These concepts will provide further definition of 21st Century Learning. 

Critical Thinking

  • thoughtful questioning that challenges assumptions, promotes higher order thinking, leads to new insights, and validates perceptions
  • metacognition that supports reflective practice
  • processes that analyze, select, use, and evaluate various approaches to develop solutions
  • frame critical issues to develop innovative responses
  • analysis and synthesis of multiple sources and points of information
  • intentional use of disciplinary frameworks to analyze complex issues and information
  • suspension of judgment while collecting evidence to make determinations

Complex Communication

  • negotiation processes that generate mutually satisfactory solutions
  • managing and resolving conflicts
  • interacting effectively with people of different cultures
  • selection and integration of various communication processes
  • integration of appropriate forms of information communication technology
  • understanding the interactions among modes of communication
  • meaningful and engaging interactions
  • focus, energy, and passion around the key message
  • navigation through nuances of effective communication


  • a disciplined process that includes skill, knowledge, imagination, inspiration, and evaluation
  • capturing or collecting new ideas for current or future use
  • combination of seemingly unrelated ideas into something new
  • respectful exchange of ideas
  • engagement in formal and informal learning experiences
  • divergent thinking
  • entrepreneurial thinking that encourages unique thoughts and applications
  • a comfort level with open-ended challenges that reflect multiple approaches and results
  • reconfiguration of current thought within a new context
  • pattern recognition across disciplines resulting in an innovative outcome


  • non-hierarchal leadership based on individual skill sets
  • respect for a complex process that requires individuals to contribute and participate in meaningful interactions
  • the belief that group synergy enhances productivity
  • understanding and application of effective group processes to solve problems
  • productive group interactions
  • respectful disagreement

Flexibility and Adaptability

  • engagement in innovation and creativity
  • intellectual agility
  • embracing change
  • expecting and accepting the emotions inherent in change while supporting those involved
  • respect for unique qualities of others and self
  • purposeful and thoughtful response to disruptions
  • acknowledging and responding to dissonance in productive ways
  • reflecting on positive and negative outcomes of risk-taking
  • proactive and reactive approaches to change
  • acknowledging ambiguity inherent in a changing environment

Productivity and Accountability
  • ability to acquire new learning on one’s own  
  • application of appropriate processes and tools to facilitate task completion  
  • self-sufficiency as required in a complex environment  
  • identification of available opportunities 
  • motivation and commitment to achieve  
  • assuming leadership roles building on prior learning and experience to apply knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts  
  • self-confidence and self-respect 

November 27, 2013 Shirley Sovereign

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

Happy Thanksgiving!
I would like to wish everyone in the district a happy holiday filled with family time and thankfulness for all that is good in our lives. 
 I am pleased to have the news that my foot is healing well, and I am able to return to school.  I have missed seeing the students and staff and am ready to return!  Thanks to kindergarten students for sending me Get Well cards in the mail.

Mrs. Einck's students generated QR codes with Get Well wishes.
Mrs. Timp's students used their hands to create Thanksgiving & Get Well greetings.

December Events
This month is filled with academic, musical and athletic events.  Please check the school calendar.  These are just a few of the events coming up:
Dec. 2     Gr. 7-9 Vocal Concert
Dec. 9     Gr. 7-8  Science Fair
                JH-HS Band Concert
Dec. 10   Teacher Leadership Team to Des Moines "3 C's of Teacher Leadership"
Dec. 12   Cresco K-1 Vocal Music Program
Dec. 14-15  Madrigal
Dec. 17   Investigations in Iowa Core Math Team meets in Calmar
Dec. 18  Competency-Based Education Collaborative meets in Des Moines 

Kessel Kids Outdoor Playground Project
Kessel Kids has set the goal of raising money to build a Natural Outdoor Playground at the Cresco Early Childhood Center.  Kessel Kids serves the Cresco community and its low-income families with affordable day care.  The proposed playground will include native plants, rolling hills, trees and raised gardens.  Kessel Kids Director, Melissa Vobr, and the Natural Playground Committee recently provided an update of their funding successes.  Great job working toward the goal!  Kessel Kids is a non-profit organization and would welcome donations for the playground.
  • Received the McElroy grant in the amount of $6,000
  • Received $5,000 from the Ed and Betty Squires Trust
  • Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, all proceeds from this year's auction at the CIDC banquet was donated to the project totaling $5,485!  Amazing community support!
  • Have also raised around $1,500 from small fundraising opportunities such as Scrip Sales as well as the Moo Mobile.  Currently, Kessel is doing a small Pampered Chef fundraiser which ended this week.

Classroom Happenings:
  • Mrs. Foster's 3rd grade Title I students created Animoto videos to work on their reading comprehension and writing skills.  The videos are "All About Astronauts."  Check out the link to one of the 3rd gr. videos:
  • Mrs. Kuhn shared updates this week on her "First Grade Fun" blog for 1C.  In literacy, the 1st graders are learning about, "How Our World Changes."  They are learning how plants and animals grow and change, how things move and change and how nature affects changes.  Students are learning comprehension skills, accuracy and vocabulary strategies.  They are learning summarizing and identifying details and facts.  Mrs. Kuhn also shared about writing and math skills.  Classroom blogs are used by many teachers to communicate and involve parents in what is going on at school.  Sharing reading strategies with parents is one of the SINA Action Plans to encourage parent involvement in reading instruction.  The link to the 1C blog:
  • Mrs. Rausch updated her 1B Blog this week as well.  She described the upcoming inquiry project in literacy and the topics in social studies and math.  1st graders have been working on family turkey projects, and these will be displayed in the hallway.  Mrs. Rausch posted many 1st gr. level reading strategies.  Again, these efforts are toward school-to-home connections.  Mrs. Rausch's blog may be found at:
  • 5th grade teachers, Kelly Sorenson and Becky Halverson, use their blogs to communicate with students and parents on a daily or weekly basis.  Mrs. McCarville communicates in like fashion with her 3rd graders and their parents.  Teachers put a great deal of time into their blogging, and parents enjoy keeping up with their students at school.  These blogs may be found at:
  • Mrs. Marr's preschoolers in Lime Springs/Chester use the iPads to practice their learning about making patterns.
  •  Mrs. Vsetecka's pre-kindergarten students at Cresco learned about healthy foods this week.  They read the story Growing Vegetable Soup, and made their own soup in a crock pot.  Students are also learning about germs and why it's important to wash hands.  In Jolly Phonics, there are learning the sound the letter "d" makes.



Athletic Director Jim Obermann

Twitter:  jobermann

The calm before the is a short week with the Thanksgiving break, but athletics will get rockin' next week as all winter teams will be in action.

  • Crestwood Girls Basketball - The JV & Varsity girls did get their season underway on Monday as they traveled to Guttenberg for their season openers.  The girls played very well and both squads were victorious.  Look for details in the TPD!
  • Crestwood Boys Basketball - The 9th, JV, and Varsity open at Dike - New Hartford on Tuesday!
  • Crestwood Wrestling - The wrestlers open at home next Friday!
All high school teams will be practicing or scrimmaging over the holiday break as well.

Shout-out to Matthew Cuvelier on his selection as a 2nd team all-state defender in football!

**It was great to see a nice crowd at the Winter Meet the Team Night!  We look forward to seeing more big crowds at home events next week!

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

District Perspective
Superintendent John Carver
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver

School Board Convention 2013
This past week the Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools, Board of Education participated in the Iowa Association of School Board (IASB) state convention, held in Des Moines. Howard-Winn was one of few Iowa School Districts in which the entire Board attended. This is outstanding and illustrates Board President Scott Fortune, Vice President Duane Bodermann, and Directors James Kitchen, Doug Berg, Karlos McClure's commitment to grow and learn. In addition to connected and networking with Board members from across the state, Howard-Winn Directors, along with Board Secretary and Business Manager Clint Farlinger toured Des Moines North High School, Woodside Middle School-Saydel Community Schools, Urbandale High School, Des Moines Christian School, Waukee High School and Des Moines Area Community College-West Campus. The Board also spent time in the Dallas Center-Grimes School District. In that there are many "take aways" emerging themes include: 

  • Instructional practices happening at Howard-Winn are second to none. In many ways, with what we are doing with technology, embedding STEM, empower kids and connecting them to their passion, Howard-Winn is way ahead.
  • Our physical pants and students activity programs need to continued to be examined. This is a crucial "piece of the pie" as we look to invite families to be a part of the Howard-Winneshiek Community.
  • Many across the state are excited and support the direction Howard-Winn is going! We are moving forward.

Early Retirement
I was approached by several staff members about the possibility of Early Retirement. Currently Howard-Winn does not have an early retirement policy. I took the inquiry to the Board and they directed me to explore further interest. To date 12 employees have indicated an interest. Components of a possible early retirement policy:

  • 10 years of uninterrupted service  
  • Age 55
  • cash payment connect to 2014 wages, spread out over two years.
  • Strict timelines and expectations will be established. 
It is strongly suggested that interested staff members review their current financial condition
Any action on Early Retirement is subject to approval by the Board of Education. More information will follow.

Possible Campus Configurations
At the December Board meeting I will be making recommendation on the configuration of the District. In that there are many contributing factors, my first focus is on the kids and their instruction. The past District configuration had elementary grade levels being taught in Elma. Lime Springs and Cresco. Over the past 40 years, the steady decline in residents has translated into the decline in the enrollment of students at Howard-Winn.
Over the years, as enrollment shrank, grade levels in the outlying areas were combined so as to keep the buildings open. The concern today is that with limited financial resources and continual population decline, instruction is not what it could be. This is NOT because of the teachers, but because of the structure. In Elma, there is one K-1 teacher teaching 18 students and one grades 2-3 teacher teaching 14 students. In Lime Springs one full time and a part time teacher teaches a combination class of 24 1st and 2nd graders. also there is one teacher that teaches a combination 4th and 5th grade class of 18 students. For the combination classroom teachers the challenge is to prepare, plan and deliver instruction that meets the needs of such a wide student academic ability. The teachers in these combination assignments are professional, committed educators and I am impressed with their effort. Again this is a structure problem.

Going forward, one of the proposals worth considering is consolidating grade level instruction. The thinking is to end the practice of duplication of services and designate a particular grade level (or levels) to a particular campus. This would facilitate teachers to support and work together, providing continuity of instruction.  Yes this would mean students from Cresco would be transported to a different campus.

Your thoughts and reflections are valued and appreciated. Please contact me at to share your thinking.

Shout Outs:
  • National Honor Society: Congratulation to the new inductees!
  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: Fantastic performance. We are blessed with so many talented young people and a committed Director!
  • Fall sports season begins: Excited for the "tip offs" and the "take downs" to begin!
  • Winter Weather Season: Twitter, Facebook, Iowa Alerts and local TV and Radio. Snow is coming!

November 22, 2013

Academics ~ Activities ~ Arts ~ Athletics
Crestwood Secondary Schools (7-12)
Tim Felderman
Twitter: tfelderman78

Special Events for the Week of November 25 - November 29, 2013
Tuesday:        High School Climate/Culture BLT - 3:30 pm
Wednesday:   1 Hour Early Out Schedule
Thursday:       Thanksgiving Day
Friday:            No School

Competency Based Education - Here We Go!
This week was the start of formal, state level meetings regarding CBE. Key learnings from the meeting:

Working Definition of Competency Education:
1. Students advance upon demonstrated mastery.
2. Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
3. Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
4. Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. (If a student doesn’t hit mastery, there must be an intervention.)
5. Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions. 

TIME MATTERS! The end point of the goal should be reasonable and within teacher expectation.

Competency: A competency is an enduring understanding that requires the transfer of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to complex situations in and/or across content areas and/or beyond the classroom.
Proficiency: Demonstrated skill or knowledge required to advance to and be successful in higher levels of learning in that content area or using that content.

What Will the Howard-Winn CBE Team Do?
  • Develop and begin to use a common definition of competency.  
  • Develop a continuum of transformation from traditional to competency-based that districts can use to self-assess and plan.
  • Develop a Competency Validation Rubric and model competencies aligned to the Iowa Core and universal constructs. 
  • Develop an Assessment Validation Rubric and model assessments aligned to the competencies.  
  • Develop effective and efficient ways to record and report student progress on competencies. 
  • Connect with post-secondary institutions to provide smooth transitions for students. 
  • Work toward pre-service teacher and aspiring administrator training. 
  • Develop appropriate professional development for in-service educators. 
  • Work toward parent and community understanding and support.

Great Video of CBE in Oklahoma Math Class  
This video takes you inside the classroom of the 2013 Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year 2013, Elaine Hutchinson, as she uses the approaches of CBE to teach students to apply mathematical equations to real-life situations. It also shows Ms. Hutchinson sitting down with her building's principal and a new teacher to talk through teaching skills. It's a great view into how the tenets of CBE support real world learning.

Please click the link below:
Spanish Collaborative
Spanish teacher Libby Schwade worked with Angie Holzer, Spanish teacher at  Charles City High School, this week on unit competencies and their outcomes in Spanish levels I through IV. They chose to focus on the competencies of speaking, reading/listening, and writing within each unit of study and the grading of the competences and outcomes. Schwade and Holzer also discussed the use of formative and summative assessments in the Spanish classroom. In their study, they researched practices from other districts and states. Schwade stressed to Holzer that flipped learning was determined to be a powerful tool for guiding students through the practice and completion of the competencies.  

Math League
Twenty CHS students participated in the Math League Competition on Saturday, November 2 at the Waverly-Shell Rock High School. The competition included four rounds of questions, two of which were individual events and two of which were three-person team events. Four of the students placed in the top three for their grade level in individual events: Skye Meinecke - 3rd place for 10th grade in the Target round; Shane Trautsch - 3rd place for 11th grade in the Target Round; Corey Gossman and Hunter Praska tied for 2nd place in 12th grade in the Target Round; and Hunter Praska also got a 3rd place in the Sprint Round for 12th grade.

Fillmore Central Visit
Administrators from Howard-Winn visited the Fillmore Central High School this week to learn more about their 1:1 MacBook Air Project that incorporates Schoology as a learning management tool. The parallels between the two school districts are amazing. The agenda for the day included:
  • History of 1:1 Initiative at Fillmore Central
  • Use of Schoology
  • Tour of Technology Integration in Classrooms
Node Chairs are Here
Mrs. Nance's classroom now has node chairs! This style of seating allows for collaboration and flexible learning spaces while still allowing individualized learning to occur.