Monday, April 27, 2015

Terese Jurgensen; Elementary Principal 2-6; Director of Special Education

Looking Forward to an Iowa Assessment Celebration!
Iowa Assessment Scores Have Arrived!
You may remember that a few months ago Grades 3 - 6th, in partnership with our teaching/administration team set an elementary goal to increase our Iowa Assessment Reading Scores for the 2014 - 15 school year. When all of our students' scores were tallied (this includes SES/Special Education subgroups) our average was 57% proficient. Our goal was to increase our scores to 62% as an elementary.  Hold onto your hats!  Our students averaged an amazing 72% proficiency!  That is an increase of 15% of the average scores for all of our students in the area of reading. Our students shot over their goal by 10%!  What does that mean for our SINA status?  At this point, we do not have this information. It is my hope that within the next few weeks, we will be able to report this news to our public along with our Math and Science Scores which were equally as impressive! 

Iowa Assessment Celebration!

We are so excited about our students' accomplishments and our teaching staffs' hard work over the years, that the Howard Winneshiek Community School District wants to take some well-deserved time to celebrate! When I first arrived at Crestwood Elementary, I was so surprised that our students struggled in their reading scores. I walked through classrooms, met the teaching staff, and knew there was a disconnect between what the mandated Iowa Assessments were showing and what our students knew and were doing in their classrooms. Over the last few years,  Crestwood Elementary has undergone some critical changes and the  "hard work," our teaching staff  has done, must be outlined here for the parents and stakeholders of our community. The changes were and are researched based and as we like to say, "If its good for kids, let's do it!" Here is a brief outline of the changes:
  1. Students experience a daily protected 90 minute literacy block.
  2. Students experience a daily 30 minute literacy intervention complete with daily direct instruction in areas of the core that they may struggle in. These small group interventions are based on formative assessments and change with the child's needs. 
  3. Students experience additional Iowa Core literacy materials outside of the Lead 21 Curriculum - supplementing the curriculum with the core. 
  4. Students experience the critical change in their direct instruction based upon their teachers collaborating 3 - 4 times weekly, looking at student data and designing interventions based on their needs. 
Because of our students' outstanding efforts, we are going to set aside a day of Celebration! 

The date set is for Friday, May 15th!  We are planning some great surprises for this event ~ Stay tuned for the outline in next week's update!

Mr. Bieber brings Broadway Musical to our Community with our 5th & 6th Grade Choir Students on Thursday, 4/23!

5th & 6th Grade Students had an amazing Choir Concert last
Thursday evening!  Here are some students that were
very excited before they are about to perform!

This 6th grade student brought down the
house with his amazing solo!


ST Math (STEM) Grant Awarded for Grades K - 6 for the 2015 - 2016 School Year!

In the fall of 2015, elementary students at Crestwood will begin using new blended learning software for math ~ Thanks to a STEM Scale-Up grant that will save the school district an estimated $21,500. 

Crestwood Elementary is  excited to accept a STEM grant that has been awarded for the upcoming school year - Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math. The program, geared toward helping students enhance their math capabilities at the elementary level (grades K-6), will begin implementation at Crestwood starting with the 2015-16 school year. 

“ST Math is a uniquely visual, non-language based approach to teaching math,” according to the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “The game-based instructional software is a whole class instructional supplement designed to boost math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning. The software games help students make connections between visual representations from ST Math and symbolic representations found in the Iowa Core math classroom instruction making it an effective blended learning math solution for classrooms.”

The  ST Math program is not based on students’ abilities to read; making the program effective for all students, including those who might struggle with reading, younger students (e.g. kindergartners) who might not be reading yet, or for students who might be English Language Learners (ELL).

Sue Runyon, of Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA), informed us of the grant, and Crestwood was one of 16 school districts throughout the state of Iowa who received this opportunity to increase student achievement in the area of math.  Melissa Adams, one of our 3rd grade teachers who had learned of ST Math a few years ago, was also very intrigued by the program and urged us to apply. 

ST Math would normally cost each building $1,500, a one-time start-up cost, and $29 per student per year. What does that mean for Crestwood Elementary School for 2015-16?
 • K-6 students: (584 students) x $29 = $16,936 + $1,500, resulting in a total cost savings of $18,436.

Additionally, because of the implementation of ST Math, there are also programs the district will no longer need to purchase:
• First in Math: at $5 per student for grades 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, the approximate cost for the 2015-16 school year would be 512 students x $5 = $2,560.
• ALEKS: Online Math Tutor: to purchase eight licenses per grades 4 and 5 for the 2015-16 school year, cost would be 16 licenses x $31.50 = $504.

This is a total cost savings to our district of $21,500 for the upcoming school year! You may read more about ST Math in the Cresco Newspaper this week. I would like to extend a huge "Thank You!" to Keri Schatz who wrote the news article and from which I took some of the information for this weekly update. 


April is Autism Awareness Month

Schuyler Bieber, Rachelle Branum and myself attended an amazing Autism and the Arts Symposium together this week at University of Northern Iowa.  It was a day to learn about techniques using Artistic Expression, the World of Music and the Theatrical Arts to teach students with social thinking and social skill struggles how to thrive in their lives.  Alyson Beytien, who works for Hills and Dales Hospital in Dubuque, gave key points to remember when working with students or raising children who are on the spectrum.

  • 1 in 55 children born is somewhere on the Autism Spectrum (The number 15 years ago was 1 in 10,000).

  • Assume Competency - We must believe in our students!
  • Understand the Sensory Needs of our students.
  • Communication is more than just words.
  • Teach Social Skills - they are more than just academics - they are relationship skills.
  • Explore the Creative Options - Art; Dance; Theater; Music
  • Advocate ~ teach our students to advocate!
Fourth Grade Students Co-Writing a Story!

Ms. Soukup and some smart girls!
Flowers of Spring I stole this week!

Have a great week!  Please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns!


Mrs. Jurgensen

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