Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Brand New School Year

This school year has brought many new beginnings. We are a new building. We are implementing different assessments and we are beginning a different way of instructing.
To begin with, we are a new building. Last year our building contained kindergarten through 6th grade students. This year we have changed to having only kindergarten through 2nd grade students. In addition we now house ALL kindergarten through 2nd grade students in the city. That means we have 400 ~ 5-8 year old's. This new configuration brought challenges. Now we are concentrated and one very challenging student per class in a K-6 school has become one challenging student in 15 classrooms. It was a shock at first. We are building the plane as we are flying it, so to speak. It took time to figure it out, but things have mellowed and students are progressing! Another challenge is the results of our assessments. We did not feel very good about the results of our Fountas and Pinnell reading scores when we completed our benchmark assessments in September. We have a big hill to climb to get the scores to where we want them to be. Along with the challenges, came some positives. We now have FULL DAY Kindergarten! This is so exciting. I love having those little guys around all day. They are so excited to be in school and they have happy smiles all day. 

Next, we are implementing different assessments this year. We administered the annual Fountas & Pinnell benchmark assessment in September to first and second grade teachers. I trained and calibrated first and second grade teachers so our scores would mean the same thing. We will include kindergarten in the Fountas & Pinnell  benchmark assessment in January. We are also field testing P.A.S.T (Phonological Assessment Skills Test). This assessment helps define which skills students are missing to help them be successful conventional readers. We are field testing it with certain teachers because it was given to staff as an optional assessment. I would like us to test all students in K-2 and use it as a baseline for instruction. Phonological skills are really important foundation skills to conventional reading and the targeted instruction in the missing skills will help our students sore. We are using the P.A.S.T one teacher at a time.

Finally, we are implementing a different way of instructing and running core reading time. This year we are implementing Daily 5 and CAFE with fidelity. I have spent the first several months coaching teachers through setting up Daily 5. I've been in classrooms modeling the Daily 5 lessons, holding mini workshops and a book study to help teachers gain the knowledge they need to successfully implement Daily 5.

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