2015 in Review

A look at all of the blog posts I made in 2015. Not as much as 2014, perhaps a resolution for 2016… Looking back at the posts, it looks like 2015 was a year frustrated by the conversation around educational funding. It was also a year of learning for myself and my PLC in our work to become better teachers for our students. Take a look:

An Update on Iowa’s New Start Date – February 14
The Iowa Department of Education and then Director, Brad Buck (now Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Schools), released new criteria for receiving a waiver under Iowa Law requiring a start date no earlier than the week where September 1st falls. This is my analysis of the document.

Funding Education in Iowa – February 14
I did some research into how education is funded in Iowa. In the posts about funding that followed this year, I frequently referenced the research in this post.

Solo and Ensemble – February 22
In reflecting on our high school students’ performances at the Perry Band Olympics, our PLC developed a checklist for our middle school students as they prepared for their solo festival.

Best Practices for Using Rubrics – March 13
In our transition to standards-based grading, our district created a document entitled Best Practices for Using Rubrics to Determine Grades. This post is my reflection on the document and the potential changes we could make.

An Update on Educational Funding and Start Dates in Iowa – April 6
This post digs deeper into the ramifications of setting State Supplemental Aid (SSA) at 1.25%. Specifically, it looks at the effect on the Ankeny Community School District.

What We Do Matters – April 21
As the educational funding debate continued several weeks past the deadline for setting SSA, I wrote a bit about the work that the teachers in Ankeny are doing.

Reflection: Sound Reinforcement and Recording Techniques – April 27
I took a MECA course through VanderCook on sound design. Our final assignment was a reflection on what we learned during the course and how we could use it.

Reflection: 2015 IBA Conference – June 4
The took a lot home from the Iowa Bandmasters Association conference, a great deal of which changed my teaching this year.

Standards for Jazz Band: TQ Project – June 4
Our PLC used Teacher Quality money to develop standards for our 7-12th grade jazz bands. Much of our work reflected things I have learned at VanderCook as well as work that is now going into my Masters Project.

Iowa’s 2015 Education Budget – June 7
On June 5, the Iowa Legistature finally passed SSA at 1.25% with a one-time funding of $55.7 million, 113 days later than required by law.

Changing the Conversation – June 11
As the bill for funding Iowa education continued to sit on the Governor’s desk, several of us began looking at the rhetoric being used as we discussed educational funding.

First Residency Summer at VanderCook – June 23
A first look at my first full summer at VanderCook. I ended up choosing neither of the two options I looked at for Masters Projects in this post.

Math on Educational Funding – July 2
Governor Branstad, 27 days after the legislature passed a bill setting SSA at 1.25% with a one-time funding of $55.7M, signed the funding bill while vetoing the one-time funds.

VanderSummer 1 is Done! – July 27
Reflecting on my first full summer at VanderCook. Look at all of the different courses I took and what I learned in each.

Shots Fired in Branstad’s War on Education – August 10
Governor Branstad came out in the Des Moines Register attempting to defend his veto of the $55.7M. This is my response.

Collecting Data in 2015-2016 – September 28
Our PLC changed the way we used Google Forms & Sheets to collect data on assessments. This post is a how-to for what we are doing.

Data-Driven Professional Learning Communities in Instrumental Music – October 19
In response to requests from other teachers within our school, as well as band directors across the region, we have begun creating a Google Site detailing the work we are doing with our students.

Reflecting on What We Do – November 3
At the end of October, we had some teachers from Summit Middle School and Lenox Community Schools about the work we are doing with our students. I did some reflecting on our discussions with them.

GOP Math on Education Funding Doesn’t Add Up – December 21
As we head into a new year, we are looking at (hopefully new) conversations about educational funding in the new legislative session. It is important that we know and understand where Iowa is in the grand scheme of funding across the country.

Looking Forward to 2016
I know there is a great deal of learning I need (and want!) to do this next year. I’m going to finish my Masters of Music Education at VanderCook, which involves completing my Masters Project: Tuesday Night Club – Incorporating Small Combos into the Large Jazz Ensemble Rehearsal (more on that in a future post). I want to look more at developing my concert and jazz bands. I’m looking at resources from Scott Rush, Chris Grifa, and my own district. It is looking to be a fun year!

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