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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TAG Identification, Vocabulary, Levels of Knowing and How We Share Progress-September 24, 2013


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                                

Yesterday as I was in Mrs. Lucas’s fourth grade classroom, students were reviewing the math terms for the most recent unit.  In addition to knowing the definition of the word, they also were able to answer questions about the application of the word.  Students used dry erase boards to show their thinking then held their boards up so that the teacher could do a quick check.  It was great to see so many kids EXCITED about showing what they know. 

There are many ways and levels of knowing.  In 1956, Dr. Benjamin Bloom defined different levels of knowing in what is now widely known among educators as Bloom’s Taxonomy.    I’ve described the six levels below so that families can be aware and perhaps support the deeper levels of thinking away from school. 
§  Knowledge-Remember previously learned information
§  Comprehension-Demonstrate an understanding of facts
§  Application-Apply knowledge to actual situations
§  Analysis-Break down objects or ideas into simpler parts and find evidence to support generalization
§  Synthesis-Compile components or ideas into a new whole or purpose
§  Evaluation-Make or defend judgments based on evidence or criteria

In my observation in the fourth grade classroom, it was evident that students had indeed learned the definitions of the word (knowledge level) then jumped to the comprehension and application level as they answered questions (draw this ray parallel to that line).  Some students were also called upon to break down their thinking to defend their answer (ie-I know this is parallel to this so this should be…). 

Next door in Ms. Hunt’s room, students were studying spelling words.  Knowing the words, memorizing them, is a task at the knowledge level.  Students were also asked to sort by spelling patterns so they had to analyze patterns in order to make generalizations so this took the activity to a higher level.

The goal if the Beaverton School District is to prepare all students to be ready for a wide range of post-secondary options.  We want our kids to be college and career ready.  In order to be ready they need to know how to THINK critically and creatively, KNOW master content, ACT in a self-directed, collaborative way and navigate locally and globally so they can GO into the world ready for their next steps.

About 85% of our families attended Back to School Night so you learned WHAT kids need to know and be able to do at their grade level.  In November you’ll get to learn more about how they are working toward grade level expectations and together with the teacher, you’ll set goals for your child for the upcoming year.  In December, you will receive a progress report that shows how your child is working toward grade level targets.

The Report Card you receive in December will look different this year and there are some important changes in the way we will communicate your child’s progress. 

The first thing you will notice is that the report card will be broken into different sections, one for each subject taught. Rather than the D, M, and E scale, we will use a 1, 2, 3, and 4. 
                  4 – Highly Proficient
                  3 – Proficient
                  2 – Nearly Proficient
                  1 – Developing

This new scale will indicate your child’s progress towards mastering each of the learning targets taught in the class.  Though we have not yet completed our work in defining the 1-4 levels for each subject, we will soon have a much more consistent and reliable way of assessing and communicating your child’s growth.

Though the new scale will be an obvious change in the report card, the more important shift is the way teachers will communicate your child’s progress in the areas where this new scale has been defined.  In the past, the “D”- Developing, “M”- Meeting, and “E”- Exceeding, were not well defined, so each teacher had to determine the meaning of each for themselves.  With the new 1-4 scale, each level is defined for every learning target. This will mean a significant change for teachers, students, and parents.  For example, one of the learning targets for 3rd grade Writing is “Write opinion pieces on a topic or book, stating an opinion with supporting reasons.”  This is a year-long learning target with the following 1-4 scale and definitions:

4
Highly Proficient
3
Proficient
2
Nearly Proficient
1
Developing
·  Focus and Organizational Structure: introduce a topic or book and state an opinion. Writing in a clear and compelling way. A clear and concise opinion.
·  Elaboration: Reasons that support the opinion. Multiple compelling reasons that support the opinion.
·  Use a variety of effective linking words to connect opinion and reasons.
·  Provides a compelling conclusion.
·  Writing introduces a topic and states an opinion.
·  Writing provides reasons for the opinion.
·  Writing uses linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinions and reasons.
·  Writing provides a conclusion.

·  Writing attempts to tell the topic, however, it may be unclear or confusing.
·  Writing provides a reason for the opinion.
·  Writing ineffectively and/or inconsistently uses linking words to connect opinion and reasons.
·  Writing provides a sense of closure.

·  Writing does not tell the topic and/or it is unrelated.
·  Writing lacks reasons for opinion.
·  Writing does not use linking words to connect opinion and reasons.
·  Writing does not have a conclusion.


With these detailed descriptions of the four levels of mastery, the teacher can assess and report your child’s current level of achievement much more accurately. It is appropriate to expect many, if not most, children will be at a level 1 or 2 at the beginning of the year. With the teacher providing instruction and practice throughout the school year, we would expect a child to produce level 3 and 4 work by the end of the year. We realize this is very different from the days when a student would receive an “M” or even an “E” early in the school year when he/she was still struggling with a concept but was doing as well or even better than the other students in the classroom.  It is our hope that a more accurate mark, based on a common standard, will provide you much better information concerning your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  This information can then help you and your child’s teacher in your efforts to ensure your child succeeds.

I will talk about this new system during upcoming meetings and encourage you to give me a call if you have any questions.  Our first reporting day for 2013-14 is December 2, so between now and then, please let me know your questions. 

As your students read, write or solve math problems at home, know that in class they will be asked to think critically about the content so that they can deepen their understanding as they work towards becoming highly proficient.  Your bedtime stories and family cooking experiences provide a backdrop for rich discussion and modeling as well. 

Great things are happening for kids at Sexton Mountain.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,


Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.
Principal

Calendar Change
§  One of the budget reductions days has been eliminated so we will have school on Monday, April 28. 
§  The Jogathon has been postponed to a later date.  It will not be on October 10.

Fascinating Facts
§  24 hours is the length of time we expect students to be fever free before returning to school
§  45 articles of clothing are currently in our lost and found
§  47 bikes were in our front bike rack and 3 in our back bike rack on a recent sunny day
§  100% of pods had volunteers hard at work on a recent morning at 9:00am
§  0 is the number of safety violations the Fire Marshal noted on a recent safety visit
§  24 hours is a reasonable length of time for teachers to put together the work that was missed AFTER a child is absent.  Sending home work ahead of time doesn’t make sense because it does not take into consideration the flow of teaching during the day, the many mini-assessments teachers use during instruction to scaffold or accelerate learning for students. 

Talented and Gifted Services
Every year students are considered for Talented and Gifted services in Beaverton School District.  These services are provided by your child's classroom teacher(s).  If you think your child might qualify, you may wish to complete the Parent Information Form that is available in our school’s office.  Completing this form gives our school TAG committee more information about your child, but it is not required.  All qualified students will be considered regardless of its completion.

Oregon law and District policy define gifted students as those who score at or above the 97th percentile on a standardized, nationally normed test of mental ability and/or academic achievement.  Behavioral, learning, and/or performance information is also considered before a student is identified for TAG services.

The Parent Information Form must be completed and returned to our school’s TAG facilitator, Michele Cobain-Soto (Sandra_Cobain-Soto@beaverton.k12.or.us), or the school’s office.


THANK YOU-We are so lucky to have an active and involved community, willing to do special things for our kids.  When we work together, our kids benefit.
     Thanks to the Makarenko for volunteering to donate children’s books to our school.

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
       Donations of baby wipes
       A volunteer with a long bed pick up truck to take the old bike rack to Far West Fibers for recycling
       Volunteers willing to correct math pages at home.  We will resume our weekly math fact fluency assessments and need about 30 volunteers.  Materials will be sent home in backpack mail and should be returned the next day.  If you can correct a class set of papers once a week, please let Mrs. CB know.
       Volunteers to serve as part of our Wear a Word Wednesday team.  Let Mrs. CB know if you can do this.  Some work can be done at home but volunteers are needed to serve on Wednesdays from 8:00-8:30am.

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