Funding Education in Iowa

We are in an interesting predicament in the state of Iowa. A 2013 education bill (HF 215) has made several changes to education in Iowa, many of which I detailed in a post for my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core Word. One of the changes from HF215 that I did not detail in the post is how education is funded within our state. After the break is a detailed explanation of the new funding formula. To cut to the chase early, the Governor and the House have proposed a 1.25% rate of state supplemental aid. This is an inadequate amount of funding for our students. The Iowa Association of School Boards is advocating for 6%. The Senate has put forth a bill authorizing a rate of 4%.

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An Update on Iowa's New Start Date

The Iowa Department of Education and their Director, Brad Buck, released the criteria necessary for receiving a waiver under Iowa Law requiring a start date no earlier than the week where September 1st falls. On December 12, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad director Mr. Buck to no longer automatically grant waivers of the school start date, a common practice in Iowa after the governor originally signed the law in 1983. I have previously blogged about this decision to begin enforcing the law more than 30 years later.To briefly recap, the governor wrote a letter to Director Buck requesting the IDOE stop automatically granting waivers to school districts applying to start school earlier than September 1st.

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2014 in Review

I know that I am 3-4 days late, but the stomach flu will do that to you. 2014 was a big year for me. I began blogging about my teaching experiences in October of 2013. The spring of 2014 is where that began to pick up as our professional learning community looked into curriculum and assessment and I began my Masters of Music Education program at VanderCook College of Music. Here is a review of all I posted over this past year: Vertical Teaching - October 10, 2013 While I know this isn't part of 2014, it is the only post on this blog that occurred before 2014, and it is a pretty critical part of several of the posts that followed! I discussed the vertical nature of our professional learning community: 5 teachers that teach lessons and rehearse instrumental music groups in grades 6-12 across three secondary schools.

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Reflecting on the 2014 Midwest Clinic

This past week, our school district sent 9 of the 14 instrumental music teachers to the Midwest Clinicin Chicago. Much or our trip was paid for by a Teacher Quality grant for which each of us applied. We were there Wednesday through Saturday and attended several outstanding clinics, heard some amazing performances, bought quite a bit of literature, and ate a lot of great food! As part of the Teacher Quality grant, we are asked to reflect on the clinics we attended and what we learned while at the conference. Below is a rough sketch of the different things I learned while at Midwest this year.

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Reflecting on Standards-Based Grading

For our final assignment in my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, we were asked to look reflect on the work we did for our choice assignment earlier this week. I chose to look at standards-based learning, grading, and reporting. PromptComplete a comprehensive reflection paper. Include a recap of the concepts and strategies learned from the assignment that you created and completed over the last week. Please explain why this project was important to you and how it helped deepen your understanding on the topic you chose.

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Standards-Based Grading and the Common Core

For the final week of our class, we were given the opportunity to choose a topic of our choice to research based on the work we have done in this class. Below is the prompt we were given:

For this assignment, you have the "choice" of creating a project of your own from any of the educational initiatives that we have covered in this course or choose a new educational topic you would like to learn more about.

Now, it is your turn to create your own project based on your interests. The goal is to give you time to continue learning about a topic you feel that you want or need to learn about.

I chose to do my project on the implementation of standards-based grading in my classroom.

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Reflecting on Implementing the Common Core in My Classroom

For the past three weeks, my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in the Common Core World, has been looking at how to implement the Common Core State Standardsin the music classroom. We were provided a wealth of resourcesto begin our study in the first week. The second week focused on the specific implementation of the English Language Arts CCSS. This week focused on the implementation of the CCSS of Mathematical Practice. At the end of each unit, we are asked to reflect on what we learned.

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Implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in my Classroom

This week marks the end of a three week unit of looking at how to implement the Common Core State Standardsinto our music classrooms. Last week, we focused on the implementation of the English Language Artsstandards. This week, we are focusing on the implementation of the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

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Iowa's New Start Date

Yesterday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad sent a letter to Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck requesting that they "no longer automatically grant waivers to the 1983 state law that says school shall begin no sooner than a day in the calendar week in which the first day of September falls." In response to his letter, Director Buck issued a letter to Iowa school leaders saying "Effective immediately, the Department will no longer automatically grant waivers of the school start date..."

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Implementing the English Language Arts CCSS in My Classroom

We are in the midst of the second of a three week look at implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into the music classroom. Last week, we looked at Unpacking the Common Coreand their relation to the habits and skills developed in the music classroom. This week, we are focusing specifically on the English Language Arts CCSS.

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Unpacking the Common Core

In our first of a three week focus on implementing the Common Core State Standards, we were asked to look at a document released by The College Board for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. The document, entitled The Arts and the Common Core: A Comparison of the National Core Arts Standards and the Common Core State Standards, looked at language in the National Core Arts Standards and the Common Core State Standards for alignment between the two sets of standards.

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Initial Thoughts on the Common Core State Standards

We are now in the a three week until on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World. We have been provided with a wealth of resources to get us started:

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Reflecting on Student Growth

The template for Student Learning Objectivesprovided by the Illinois State Board of Educationis very similar to the Individual Teacher Professional Development Plansthat our school district uses for teacher evaluations. For our ITPDPs, we must identify a PLC Team Goal, an Individual Teacher Academic Goal, and an Individual Teacher Behavior Goal. Each of these goals are required to be SMART goals (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-specific) aligned to student achievement. The PLC Team Goal can be the same as either the Academic or Behavior Goal. Within each of these goals, we identify learning goals and action steps for ourselves towards student achievement. We must demonstrate how these goals align with the Iowa Teaching Standardsand the Danielson Components. We must also identify indicators of progress towards the goals.

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Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and Measuring Student Growth Part 2

We are currently in the final week of a three week unit looking at measuring student growth in my VanderCook MECA class entitled Teaching Music in a Common Core World. Our assignment over the past two weeks has been to develop two Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as a means of measuring student growth as part of our teacher evaluation. This post contains the second of my two SLOs as well as a comparison between Illinois' requirements for an SLO and my district's (Ankeny, Iowa) requirements for our Individual Teacher Professional Development Plan (ITPDP).

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Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and Measuring Student Growth Part 1

We are currently in the second week of a three week unit looking at measuring student growth in my VanderCook MECA class entitled Teaching Music in a Common Core World. Several of my most recent posts detail the work I have been doing in that class in regards to teacher evaluation, measuring student growth, and the new National Core Music Standards. This week and next we are developing two Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) according to the Illinois State Board of Education's (ISBE) template. To begin our learning around ISBE's expectations around SLOs, our instructor provided us with a PowerPoint presentation entitled Measuring Student Growth for the Illinois Music Educator's Association (ILMEA) by Dr. Diana Zaleski, an educational psychologist and statistician for ISBE, in July 2014. The presentation provided a background of vocabulary and understanding for what measuring student growth looks like as part of Illinois' educator evaluations. We were also provided with a wealth of resources to help with the development of our two SLOs. The vast majority of these resources come from the ISBE website, specifically the pages on Balanced Assessment and the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. The Balanced Assessment page contains training modules to help with understanding Illinois' requirements for measuring student growth, sample SLOs, assessment inventories and supports, and many other resources. The PEAC page includes more resources for teachers, administrators, joint committees, and and school boards as Illinois moves to implement the 2010 Performance Evaluation Reform Act.

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Reflecting on Teacher Evaluation

Over the past five weeks in my VanderCook class, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, we have been working through the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) Workbook, Building and Evaluating Effective Music Educators in the School Ensemble, as well as the new National Core Music Standards. The workbook and the process tie the NAfME expectations to the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. As a conclusion to this part of the course, we were asked to reflect on the process with the following prompt:

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Responding as an Artistic Process

My course, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, through VanderCook College of Music, is continuing to progress through the National Core Music Standards. The past two weeks, we looked at Creating and Performing as Artistic Processes. Those blog posts detail a lot about what NAfME and other organizations have crafted in the new Core Arts Standards. This post is a continuation along that line focusing on Responding. This week, we were delivered the following prompt:

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Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

For this week, we focused on the final domain. We were asked to complete the Relevant Information portion of the NAfME Workbook for all the components in Domain 4:

  • 4a: Reflecting on Teaching
  • 4b: Maintaining Accurate Records
  • 4c: Communicating with Families
  • 4d: Participating in a Professional Community
  • 4e: Growing and Developing Professionally
  • 4f: Showing Professionalism

We were also asked to select one of the components for more in-depth study. The result of our in-depth study was to develop a narrative proving we know how to accomplish the proficient or distinguished criteria for our selected component. I chose to focus on Component 4e: Growing and Developing Professionally. The bolded statements below are the bullet points from the Distinguished portion of the rubric followed by my narrative describing how I accomplish these bullet points.

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Performing as an Artistic Process

My course, Teaching Music in a Common Core World, through VanderCook College of Music, is continuing to progress through the National Core Music Standards. Last week, we were looking at Creating as an Artistic Process. That blog post details a lot about what NAfME and other organizations have crafted in the new Core Arts Standards. This post is a continuation along that line focusing on Performance. This week, we were delivered the following prompt:

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