Monday, April 13, 2015

Terese Jurgensen - April 9, 2015

Mrs. Jurgensen reflecting on Cadet Pride!
Iowa Assessments 2014 - 2015

During the beginning weeks of March, as was noted here in my weekly update, the elementary students worked very hard at preparing for the Iowa Assessments. What did they do to prepare?  Our elementary SINA team met and put together a plan to take the fear out of the testing as well as to create a positive peer culture of learning. Our focus this year was to prepare with practice bubble sheets directly from Iowa Assessments, have the students make classroom videos on strategies to take a multiple choice test and practice positive self talk..."This is a test....this is only a test...." Our students set personal goals and together we set an elementary goal. The students and staff determined that as an elementary, we wanted to raise our reading proficiency rate by 5%. It is important to note, that our teachers also worked very hard this year aligning and teaching  the Iowa Core during their 90 minute Literacy Block as well as daily interventions in reading during our students' Cadet Time.  We did not do this to "pass a test," but to provide the very best education for our students.

The Iowa Assessments were returned to our school this week, and although the final number "crunching" has not been done yet, we can say with assurance they look good.  As the data is analyzed and is segregated out, we will be sure to share the data with our community.  The bottom line is this...our students were committed to doing "their very best work," and it is evident they did! What is even more important is they did it because of Cadet Pride! Bottom line is...whatever the data reveals, we are working with a phenomenal group of students and teachers who love learning and love their school! 

Special Education Service Delivery Plan
2015 - 2016
Every school district in the State of Iowa has an individual Special Education Service Delivery Plan. As we look forward to the 2015 - 2016 school year, we are in the process of revisiting our plan and including our goal areas for our students. One goal area that we have seen phenomenal changes for student achievement has been in the area of reading. Several students have met their reading goals by ensuring that they are in the general education classroom and then receiving specialized direct instruction in small groups.  We will continue to implement the Core + More at Howard Winneshiek to provide F.A.P.E. for our students. The second area of our Service Delivery Plan that we are working on and would like to grow in is in the area of the Co-Teaching Model.  Co-Teaching or a Team Taught Classroom model has a general and a special education teacher in the same classroom and teaching together. To do this effectively, takes planning time and effective scheduling of our special education teachers. To support this goal, we are planning now with the special education staff and partnering with our guidance counselors for the new school year. It has been an exciting year for me, as the special education director, to work with such an outstanding, passionate general and special education staff across our district, to support the needs of our students. The service delivery plan must be adapted with community support including parents, general and special education staff, AEA personnel, and administration support. If you would be interested in joining this committee, please call me, Terese Jurgensen at (563) 929-6344 or email me at

Great Things Happening!

Kelly Sorenson's 5th Grade Class has been partnering with Luther College Students in the world of writing.  Throughout the year, different groups of future teachers from Luther, have been working on writing projects (even writing books!) with our 5th grade students.  What happens is the fifth grade students write on Google Docs and share it with their mentoring student and Mrs. Sorenson and work on the writing process. The Luther College student then gives editing feedback and helps the student with ideas and/or suggestions.  In the picture, Mrs. Sorenson is answering questions from the Luther Students.  I also had a few moments to talk to the students about the importance and the privilege of preparing to become a teacher.  I have seen great things from the project and would like to give a Shout Out to the Luther Students! 

The picture below shows a creative way Mr. Bieber has implemented reading skills and learning how to play the piano during music class with the support of the IPAD. There is nothing more powerful than partnering curriculum - in this case music and English to impact student achievement.  Every day I am amazed at school how innovative and creative our teachers are!   
3rd Graders learning about contractions, building fluency and
playing piano all at the same time!  Thank you, Mr. Bieber!

Pictured above and below are some great photos of an author who visited Crestwood Elementary on Friday, April 10th.  The author is Marybeth Boelts.  The students loved hearing her stories and also working on the writing process and how to learn to become an author themselves.   I love the pictures of the students in 4th grade (below) where they are expressing their emotions!  

Iowa's Statewide Alternative Education Conference
I presented at the state-wide alternative education conference on Thursday, April 9th. As many people know, my passion and love is to reach out and support all students whose learning needs are unique. The key is to  focus on the gifts and strengths of these students. The topic I presented on was on "Executive Functioning - A Skills-Based Approach to Challenging Behaviors."  What amazed me (and the reason I share this here) is to emphasize that at Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools we are on the right path. The break out session was supposed to have 40 attendees, but there were several more who attended. In reading the comment cards afterwards, there were comments such as "I have never heard of this before," "I now have strategies I can use - not just hope for a better day." "I am going to buy the books you suggested and learn more."  The take away from this for me is to continue on the path to look at Challenging Behaviors as brain-based skills, much like learning to read is a skill, and teach our students the strategies and the skills necessary to be successful in school. It is equally important to teach and support our teachers in these areas for student success. On my journey, I have been so blessed to have learned and grown in these areas from my mentors and learning opportunities afforded to me.   It is my hope that I will be a blessing here at Howard-Winneshiek for years to come!

If you would like to learn more about Executive Functioning Skills - please watch this video:

Have a wonderful week! Let's hope for sunshine & warm weather!

Please don't hesitate to call or email 

if you have any questions or comments!

                                                      Terese Jurgensen

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this informative blog. Your plans are really good and we have been following such delivery plans in our special education programs in nyc and are committed to continue with them in coming years too.