As part of my school's professional learning this year, we have been looking at integrating a Work Habits tool into our instruction. As part of our district's transition to standards-referenced grading, we have removed behavior from the academic grade. The Work Habits tool is a means of assessing behavior. Our staff's learning around the science of behavior, collecting and analyzing behavior data, and responding to behaviors has been fascinating to me. Specifically, we have been looking at how our academic AND behavior standards fit into the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) framework.Read More
This past week, I attended the PLC at Work Institute in St. Charles, Missouri with many Ankeny teachers. This is the same institute that I attended in June 2014. That post has a lot of the background on professional learning communities, the structure of the conference, and how our vertical PLC was implementing practices at the time. I wanted to spend some time reflecting to better ingrain what I learned this past week. I feel like the previous institute I attended was much more focused on the fundamentals of PLC work, but that may have just been where I was in my learning at the time. This year's conference, I was able to better target my learning with the breakout sessions I attended, and have some great ideas for moving forward in our work. Throughout I took notes and tweeted pictures of slides and quotes I heard throughout.Read More
As I have been working on blog posts and a website for our 2017 IBA presentation, How-To: A Standards-Referenced Instrumental Music Program, I realized a lot has changed in the how of our vertical teaching program. I wrote about it a long time ago (April 11, 2014), so lets revisit. As of the 2016-2017 school year, Ankeny has two high schools, each with its own 6-7 middle school, 8-9 middle school, and five K-5 elementary schools:Read More
Our Vertical PLC is doing things a bit differently for this coming school year (16-17). I've written about what we did in Year 1 (13-14), Year 2 (14-15), and Year 3 (15-16) as well as a presentation at the 2016 Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference. Part of our decision to change in the coming year was out of a desire to better communicate student progress in Infinite Campus to students and parents. Our district has also set the following goal for high schools:
By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.By September 2017, 100% of staff will have aligned their work with academic standards for the course as measured by standards/skills-referenced organization in course gradebooks.
Can you believe we are still in school? Large Group was four weeks ago! Our PLC decided a few years ago that our 9-12th graders last assessment during the school year would be an ensemble project of their choosing. This was the second year of doing it, and we think we have finally started to get some things figured out! Here are the details:Read More
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.Read More
This past week, we had several guests from Summit Middle School in Johnston and Lenox Community Schools to discuss our implementation of standards-based learning practices, our use of vertical teaching, and our beginning integration of Chromebooks into our curriculum. We pointed our visitors to our work-in-progress website that provides detailed information about all of the above pieces of our program, and then provided opportunities to observe it in action at our 8th and 9th grade building, as well as with our 6th & 7th grade counterparts across town. It was a great time for us to both celebrate and reflect on how we do what we do with our students, and I wanted to write a little bit about that process. My three biggest take-aways were:Read More
If you are a follower of this blog, you know that we teach in a vertical team across three buildings for 6-12th grade band. Over the past three years, that vertical team has put together a system of assessments that aligns to our power standards. We currently use Google Apps for Education to collect our data, but things have changed a bit for this year.Read More
This past week, our Vertical PLC chose to use Teacher Quality funds to spend some time developing standards for our 7-12th grade jazz bands.
Much of the time we spent worked backwards from the top high school group (Jazz Collective) to our first groups (7th Grade). As team, we identified the skills we wanted students in Jazz Collective to be able to do. We then worked backwards from these skill sets through our different ensembles (Jazz Studio, 9th Grade, 8th Grade, 7th Grade) to identify what was going to be taught when.Read More
I typed this post shortly after the conference ended on May 16th, and then forgot about it with all the business leading up to graduation and the end of the school year. Over the past two days, hundreds of Iowa band directors descended on the Marriott Hotel in Des Moines for the Iowa Bandmasters Association 2015 Conference. This is the tenth conference I have attended, and it was the best overall. There wasn’t a single hour in either day that there wasn’t a clinic or performance I didn’t want to attend. Let’s try that sentence without all the negatives: There was something I wanted to attend every single hour of both days of the conference. IBA President Jacqui Meunier hosted outstanding clinicians and performances throughout. I wanted to get my thoughts out on “paper” quickly, so I could begin to implement them in my classroom.Read More
I am currently working on a post that traces the history of funding public education in Iowa. I am curious just how the funding formula has changed since the 1950s. This is taking a lot of research and as a "break" (HA!), I thought I would respond to a post my friend and colleague, Pat Kearney, wrote last week entitled A Community of Educators. Pat wrote an outstanding post about his thinking around the challenges facing educators today. I can't encourage you enough to go and check out his writing.Read More
Spurred by part of a PLC discussion, I have been reading through our district’s document, Best Practices for Using Rubrics to Determine Grades. We currently formatively and summatively assess student performance using our Wind and Percussion Rubrics. Each criterion (tone quality, technique, etc.) has four different levels of performance (currently: exceeds standard, meets standard, making progress, not making progress). Our PLC discussion sprung from the completion of our 6-Week Assessment, transitioning into our 12-Week Assessment, and some professional development occurring at one of our middle schools. The big question for us is: does the rubric accurately portray what a student knows/is able to do?Read More
This weekend, students at my school performed at the Perry Band Olympics, a solo and ensemble festival in Central Iowa. We have a write-up of how they did over on the Ankeny Bands website. During this six-week grading period, our vertical team of teachers selects a solo for each student from a database of graded literature (below grade level, at grade level, above grade level) we developed over the course of several years. We help the students prepare this solo for a summatively assessed performance around the time of the Perry Band Olympics. All students prepare for this assessment, regardless of their attendance at the festival.We are now beginning this process for our sixth through eighth grade students and their middle school solo festival in mid-April. As a professional-learning community (PLC), we are reflecting on better ways to help these students prepare. One of the results of this reflection process has been the development of a "checklist" for the students to complete before their 12-week assessment, approximately 2 weeks before their performance at the festival.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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:Read More
I am in the midst of a bunch of different things grabbing my attention on which I would like to share my learning: I am currently spending a week at the Vandercook College of Music taking a MECA course entitled Developing the Successful Jazz Ensemble with Mike Steinel, professor of jazz studies at the University of North Texas and author of Essential Elements for Jazz Ensemble.Read More