LIMITING TRANSITIONS: A COMMITMENT TO INCLUSION

In the book Qualities of Effective Teachers by James H. Stronge, he states, “Research has demonstrated that student achievement is higher in classes where instructional time is maximized (see, for example, Taylor et al., 1999; Walberg, 1984). The effective teacher prioritizes instruction, a process that is accomplished partially through allocation of time. One illustration of how effective teachers best use the scarce commodity of time is in smoothly orchestrated classroom transitions; they remain involved with the students during the entire class period from start to finish, allowing for no idle or down time.”

When looking at student instruction at Crestline Elementary, limiting transitions is a key to their success. For a population with over 66% of students receiving free or reduced lunch, 11.7% receiving special education services, and over 26% receiving ELL services, Crestline’s Principal, Bobbi Hite, sums this up pretty clearly when she shared with me her thoughts about supporting all students. By providing support services in the general education classroom, transitions for students are limited, students learn their skills in a consistent setting; making it easier to generalize their learning, and teachers go to students to support the student’s learning; not the other way around.

Of course, change to providing all services in the classroom doesn’t just happen overnight. For the past 9 years, Bobbi has been putting a team of folks together who are committed to inclusive services for students. In building a commitment to inclusion, Crestline staff have weekly meetings to discuss ongoing work that is being done to support students in the general education setting.

One of the staff members who is a crucial part of this team and process is Crestline’s Learning Support Teacher, Melissa Wilson. When you look to find Melissa Wilson or Kelsey Wyre, also a Learning Support Teacher, at Crestline Elementary, you will need a schedule. If you go to find these Learning Support teachers’ classrooms, you have to go to general education classrooms. Melissa and Kelsey share a small office inside the media center. The reason they don’t need a lot of space? They spend the majority of their day supporting students’ access to core curriculum in general education classrooms.

The office is only a small piece of evidence to what Bobbi Hite and staff members at Crestline Elementary have accomplished in a nine-year period. Supporting student access to core curriculum by starting with what the general education teacher has planned goes for any support services within Crestline. The school’s commitment to inclusion continues in the daily practice of all staff members at Crestline and the Inclusion team meets once a week to discuss students, which includes staff members from ELL, Special Education, Title, and Bobbi.

“In a true best practices classroom, we don’t need (or want) to label, track or level anyone. Instead, teachers provide individual work, materials and choices for everyone.” (Best Practice, Bringing Standards to Life in America’s Classroom, Zemelman, Daniels, Hyde 2012)

The Zemelman quote hangs at the top of the Commitment to Inclusion at Crestline. Teachers share a belief that all students have an area where they can be independent. They can be a leader when in the classroom and are working on their strengths in the classroom. Melissa shared with me that in order to embrace these beliefs, knowing the students is key to success in maximizing student learning. In fact, she stated that building relationships and knowing the student is just as important as providing the service.

When Bobbi was starting at the new Crestline building, she wanted to name what inclusion looked like at Crestline so that teams could define how services would look. It all starts with a general belief. Every student should be given access to the general education curriculum in their general education classroom; regardless of a disability.

Bobbi went on to share that with inclusion, all students will have life outside of school. We are short changing students if we don’t give them opportunities to be with their peers. We need to give them opportunities to interact and be in the classroom with their peers. There is no “special education” Safeway.

In the past, all services for students meant that students were pulled out of their general education classroom based on a block schedule and transitioning to different parts of the school. If a student received ELL and Special Education services, they would have to make at least two additional transitions to different parts of the building in their day on top of recess, lunch, and any specialists they had in their schedule. That doesn’t even include if the student also received speech services and/or reading support through Title.

Inclusion services at Crestline started with reading specialists in the classroom, for the daily 5 (structure for reading; read to self, etc. building independence with reading, reading the pictures, words, or retelling the story) and café model (strategies, fluency or comprehension with all the tools within that) created by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. With support services, reading is all about kids and their individual goals with 1:1 conferring between students and adults for the students to go over their goals.

From the inclusion team focusing on reading services, inclusion was able to grow. Other reasons drove a need for a centralized focus on inclusion. General education teachers need to speak about their own student’s growth during IEP meetings. Staff members agreed that the most qualified educator needed to be teaching the students. In delivering all services are delivered in the classroom, students were no longer leveled or moving based on tracking systems as they had occurred in the past. Parents shared a sense of relief when hearing that their child isn’t being pull from their peer group, identified by labels, or leaving the classroom to get support.

Making the leap to inclusion wasn’t easy. Over the nine years, Crestline has worked through a lot of situations in order to get where they are today, and they will continue to work on their commitment. For students with behaviors it can be difficult. Teachers following through with interventions, being committed to keeping the student in the classroom, being on the same page with support services, and collaboration is key to keeping the student in the class. So, again, collaboration and careful planning with follow through is leading to success for students.

Part of that success comes from building schedules. Teachers work on providing input to Melissa and Bobbi ahead of time in order to set up success for students the following year. Teachers from each grade level sort students for the following year based on criteria (i.e. no more than 3 students with IEPs in a classroom). In June, Bobbi looks over the placements of students, and sees how many classrooms have students with IEPs in order to collaborate with Melissa about meeting student needs.

One need that is noted as ongoing change to support students in their learning as a result of what they have done is making reading and writing services concurrent when teachers can in order to support student growth in both of these areas at that same time. Melissa shared that moving toward literacy blocks with reading and writing can support growth in these skills.

Through collaboration with general education teachers, services for students are driven by what the teacher is doing in the classroom. Math is more defined in providing support services in the general education classroom. Fourth grade currently has the best model for “co-teaching” or inclusion for students during math. Kids are matched up in different learning teams. Teachers are targeting skills with intervention groups during that time while the rest of the class is working in their learning teams. Students ask to work with the teachers during this time. The special education teacher is scaffolding and preloading skills during the targeted groups with some brief planning prior to entering the class. Students join the targeted group based on needs, and the needs might change depending on the skill/concept that is being delivered at the time. In one class the students are working on multi-digit subtraction, while another class is working on fractions. This set up is believed to have the information move from short-term memory into long-term memory.

In speaking of long-term, Melissa’s work is to support teachers who don’t have experience with inclusive practices opportunities see success from the model. By planning, collaborating, delivering services, monitoring progress, and providing feedback on the model, teachers build their understanding of the vision for inclusion that Bobbi set out to create years ago.

There is a Teacher Support team that focuses on students. The team discusses interventions for students who are struggling in their learning. Melissa will pull in students discussed in these meetings during tier 2 interventions when she is working with students with IEPs in classroom. An example of this is seen during a math group where Melissa is instructing five students about the math concept they are focusing on that day. In the group, two students have IEPs, one student has a 504, and two other students have shown a need for this support through data collection and team discussion.

Having other adults in the classroom is not strange to students. When asked, students state that they feel supported. The person in the class is just another adult.

Of course, providing students support in classrooms isn’t easy either. The support staff puts in a lot of work in order to help support the instruction that is occurring in the classroom. Melissa and Kelsey shared that services have to be fluid. Sometimes this means meeting with a student to provide targeted instruction, and other times having them join a targeted group. When entering a classroom, the teacher might be showing CNN news during math. Supporting the student changes. Time for targeted instruction can always be made up. Melissa and Kelsey work to provide access to the instruction. Changing the focus from math to writing, and don’t get too worried about serving math only at the time that it states on a schedule. Access to core curriculum is being there to support the student’s learning by providing instruction, necessary accommodations, making modifications when needed, and continuing to focus on student success. This goes back to Melissa’s statement about building relationships and knowing the student is just as important as providing the service.

Support staff at Crestline are part of the community. By delivering interventions through general education structure to support students, students are feeling that success. When subs are in the building, Melissa has prepared binders for staff to know which students they are working with when they go into classrooms. That way education can be seamless, and the work is sustainable. Staff growth from the support with paras is huge due to teacher modelling and being included in the general education setting. Seeing the general education teacher in action with the students and the content is ongoing job-embedded professional development.

People had to believe in the approach; otherwise Crestline would not be where they are today with inclusion. Not only does a leader have to embrace a belief and share that belief with others, the staff has to create systems that align with that belief. Staff has to develop their understanding of the work that needs to be done in order to carry out that commitment. There has to be time to collaborate and provide feedback on what is occurring through the implementation of that commitment. Overall, everything needs to be student-centered in order to make a change for all students. By maximizing instructional time, limiting transitions, and having support services go to the student, Crestline is defining inclusion.

Brand New One by One Sessions Involve Kids!

Watch Kids in Action as they Interact and Learn with Seesaw, BeeBot Coding and Scratch!

K-2 Seesaw Classroom Observation & 3-5 Seesaw Classroom Observation

Come and see what Seesaw looks like in action!  See how students are able to use Seesaw when given choice in demonstrating their understanding.  

K-2 BeeBot Coding Classroom Observation 

Bee-Bot is an exciting new robot designed for use by young children. This colorful, easy-to-operate, and friendly little robot is a perfect tool for teaching sequencing, estimation, problem-solving, and just having fun!  During this session participants will be able to observe students learning to code and problem solve.  

3-5 Ozobot Coding Classroom Observation

Ozobots are miniature smart robots that can follow lines or roam around freely, detect colors, and can also be programmed. During this session we will be able to see students engage in programming to solve a problem using the Ozobots.  

K-2 Scratch Jr. Coding Classroom Observation & 3-5 Scratch Coding Classroom Observation

Watch kids create their own interactive stories, games and animations using Scratch.

Listen to Students’ Honest Stories of Their School Experiences

Uncovering Hidden Bias

During this session, a panel of high school students will share their stories and experiences living and learning as an EL in Evergreen Public Schools.

Some worthy (but maybe not beach-worthy) summer read suggestions for teachers of social studies

Looking for something to fill all the time you have left over after fixing up the yard and resealing the deck? Here are some summer read suggestions for teachers of social studies:

  • The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework. It’s available online for free.
    The state has adopted this as an “instructional framework”  for social studies that is informing the revision of the state SS standards. It’s definitely not a “beach read” but it is free and informative. It’s focus is on the inquiry arc of learning.

 

  • For teachers of US History who feel the need to brush up on content knowledge, Don’t Know Much About American History by Kenneth Davis is pretty good (and a light and entertaining read more appropriate for the beach but still probably less so than a Dan Brown novel.

 

  • Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts by Sam Wineburg or Why Don’t You Just Tell Me the Answer: Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12 by Bruce Lesh skew to teachers of older students (which I know is obvious by the subtitle of the second one) but I think they could still be relevant to intermediate teachers who want to explore the important skills beneath the learning of historical content.

 

  • Lastly, here are three books that are very relevant to teaching social studies but are not written with social studies specifically in mind so if you have teachers who don’t want to commit summer reading time to something that is exclusive to the content of social studies, try these:
    • Dive Into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice by Trevor Mackenzie
    • Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana
    • 17,000 Classrooms Can’t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement

 

Fort Vancouver Regional Library Summer Reading Program

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Check out this opportunity for reading fun through the Fort Vancouver Regional Library!

Read, earn prizes, and visit the library for amazing performances and activities June 15 – August 15, 2017.

How it works:

  • Summer Reading is open to all ages.
  • Register online or at your library, then start logging time on June 15.
  • Make reading a daily habit. Set your own daily reading goal.
    • Log the days you meet your reading goal.
    • Log a day of reading if you attend a library program.
  • Youth aged 0-18 years, earn a prize when you reach 15, 30 and 45 days read — visit your library by August 15 to choose your prizes.
  • Everyone, when you reach 15, 30 and 45 days read you get an entry in the Grand Prize Drawing for one of these great prizes:
    • $200 Amazon gift card for each age group: 0-5 years old, 6-11 years old, and 12-18 years old
    • Two (2) nights at Skamania Lodge for adults

You can also:

  • Write and read reviews online.
  • Tell us a little about what you like to read and receive book recommendations via email.

Google Summit Coming to Union High in August

Want to learn everything Google from the those in the know? The Digital Bug Washington Google Summit will be held at our own Union High School this summer!

ESD112 describes the event like this:  It’s a day of learning, sharing, and fun that will focus on skills, strategies, and products that make a meaningful difference in classroom instruction. From Google Classroom to Chrome, from Google Docs to Google Sheets, you’ll hear skilled presenters and knowledgeable colleagues discuss ways to make the most of Google’s free products. With a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level topics, you’re sure to find sessions that fit your interests. Session topics will be posted on the summit website as they become available.

Participants should bring a charged wireless device to the summit.

Early registration of $135 ends July 9th, 2017.  Regular registration, after July 10th, 2017, is $150 and will close on August 2nd, 2017. Register here.

Covington’s Math Teachers: Meeting Their Students Right Where They Are in Their Learning Journey

 Covington’s 7th grade PLC decided to tackle a common problem by collaborating and ultimately creating a “just-in-time” learning experience for their students.  This team of math teachers wanted to figure out how they could support their students in filling in knowledge gaps while still moving forward with the 7th grade math standards.

We all know firsthand that if we aren’t using a subject or chunk of knowledge, we are apt to forget it. With this acknowledgement in mind, the teachers decided to use their PD time to create a data base of videos, notes and practice that students can access any time via ItsLearning and OneNote.

The goal is for students to access this digital resource twice a week for 20 minutes while the teachers meet individually with five-eight students during this work time. While the rest of the class is accessing this “just-in-time” content, the teachers are conferring with students on an individual basis and learning more about each student’s learning journey.

Join us in the Tech Sandbox!

Just the right mix of support and exploration.

When it comes to integrating tech into the classroom, most people need time to explore and someone in the wings who can be available to answer questions. 

Your EdTech Team will be hosting a Tech Sandbox for teachers of all grade levels at Frontier Middle School on June 26, 27, and 28th. 

Drop into the sandbox at anytime to explore these tech tools: Hapara, OneNote, Google Classroom, It’s Learning, and Seesaw.  The entire EdTech Team will be available to answer questions and support you right where you are with the tools that you need.

  • If you’d like a short introductory face-to-face launch, check out the schedule here.
  • Miss the launch? No worries! Anytime video launches are available for Hapara, Seesaw & Google Classroom.  The EdTech Team will also be available to help you get started on OneNote and It’sLearning as needed.

The Sandbox is open to teachers and staff of ALL grade levels.  Come and play with us!