Sunday, November 7, 2021

Week of November 8th

UAI Staff News

Volume IX
Issue 11
November 8th, 2021

Principal Message

Focusing on the Foundations.  This is the last instructional week of our first marking period.  In speaking with lots of folks the resounding theme of instruction this marking period is that while it is so much better to teach in person with real, live, little humans, those same little humans have significant gaps in their learning.

As a result, units that pre-covid took 3 weeks are now taking 5-6 weeks.  We are all learning to readjust our assumptions on what kids know and shifting our practice to plan from where they actually are vs. where we would expect them to be.

It turns out - that IS the best practice both pre-during-and-quasi-post covid times.

So, our challenge this year is to find the right mix of introducing and developing new content and skills with backfilling and strengthening their foundational skills.  While this has always been the requirement, this year, the scope of foundational skill gaps is much more significant for all students and as such is requiring more space and time in the curriculum.

AND that is OK!

Sal Khan talks this idea in his Ted Talk "Let's Teach for Mastery - Not Test Scores".  In this talk, he describes what many HS math teachers experience as they try to teach more advanced math skills with their students.  He asks, "Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven't always grasped the basics?"

This is the core of our work this year towards Competency (aka Mastery) Based Learning.  The core is not to see how many standards we can get TO, but rather we are aiming to develop high competency in the standards are choosing to teach.  Now, more than ever - less is more.

As you engage your students in summative assessment work this week, do not be surprised if many students do not yet meet proficiency expectations.  We are still fine tuning our capacity to plan and coordinate progress activities, formative assessment, and effective feedback to help students develop mastery.  Our students are still acquiring the core social emotional skills required to ensure academic achievement in class.  As we develop our own skills in supporting students SEL development and planning our own competency-based curricula, we will see outcomes in students performance & improvement, and thus increased outcomes in their grades.

Until we are more developed, we will have some scaffolds to support our work - our PowerUp Week.  The last week of each marking period is designed to have NO new instruction so that you can use data from the final summative assessment to create tailored activities for students (e.g. station work, asynchronous lessons, conferences, small group instruction, etc.). For your students meeting or exceeding standards, they should have activities that deepen their understanding of the standards taught in MP1.  For students not quite there yet, plan small instructional groups during class to remediate and support student learning and preparation for the next unit.

In particular, if you require students to develop the skill of doing work outside of your class, that is an academic behavior that needs to be taught.  You'll need to build out lessons and expectations that connect independent work outside of the classroom to learning and performance on the final summative assessments.  For example, a small group activity might look like
  • Targeting a single skill (multiplication fluency or sight word recognition)
  • Small Group Direct Instruction on the skill in Class
  • Independent Practice on Skill in Class with Teacher Conference & Feedback.  For example 
  • At home "corrections" or retake on related questions on summative assessment with reflection on how the skill work made doing the work again (or correcting their work) improved.
Like almost everything we're doing this year, it's time to rethink our assumption around why kids don't do work outside of our classes.  Take a listen to this podcast from Hidden Brain, The Obstacles You Don't SeeRather than think of what you can do to fuel motivation via a carrot/stick, think about what may be getting in the way of students doing what you need them to do to optimize learning.  These "frictions" are often right out in the open, and many times are easier to address and remove.  If you get stuck on figuring out what is happening in your kids' heads, make time during PowerUp week to simply talk to them.  Create conference time to sit down and talk during class and find out for sure what makes your kids tick!

Important dates this month.  

  • 07NOV21:  Daylight Savings Ends (we all get an hour to sleep in!)
  • 08NOV21:  SPED PD with Phillan & SPED team (3PM in Library)
  • 09NOV21:  Grade Team Meeting & Attendance Review (3PM in Grade Tm Rooms)
  • 10NOV21:  Evening Fall Family Conferences via Zoom at home (5-8PM)  
  • 12NOV21:  Afternoon Fall Family Conferences via Zoom at home (12-2:50PM)
  • 11NOV21:  Veteran's Day - NO SCHOOL
  • 15NOV21 through 19NOV21:  Our first PowerUp week
  • 19NOV21:  MP1 Ends
  • 18NOV21:  Next Consultation Committee Meeting
  • 19NOV21:  End of Marking Period 1. 
  • 21NOV21:  Staff Potluck
  • 22NOV21:  MP1 Grades Due
  • 24NOV21: Rapid Dismissal at 2PM for All Students
  • 25NOV21 & 26NOV21:  Thanksgiving Recess - NO SCHOOL
  • 30NOV21:  PTA Zoom Meeting

Committee Updates

Equity Team.  The Equity Team met Thursday 10/28/21 to co-create a mission for this school year as we start our work identifying the root cause of disproportionately in our discipline policy.

Circles Committee.  No Updates this week.  Our next Staff Circle will be on Monday, 29NOV21

Consultation Committee.  Elena is setting the agenda for the next Consultation Committee meeting which has been moved to November 18th at 3PM.  Please submit any items you'd like on the agenda to her.  We'll be meeting in room 403.


6th & 7th Grade Advisors.  For those kids in your advisories who are 11 and under, we are hosting a Pop-Up Vaccine Clinic on Monday, 08NOV21.  Students who get vaccinated are eligible for a $100 gift card from the city!  Parents can either accompany kids or provide written or verbal (over the phone) consent.   Please connect with your students who are eligible to let them know!

Google Home Can Translate.  Many of you may have already known this, but I accidentally discovered it this weekend when my Google Home device became a Spanish language translator while Dashiel and I were working on his homework.  At least for Spanish, it was fairly accurate, but I am not 100% sure how accurate it is in other languages.  I'm sure it will be able to provide the gist!  I'm sure Alexa and the Amazon Echo do the same thing.  Check it out by clicking here.  You could certainly use this during parent conferences if you are not able to connect with support from the DOE over-the-phone interpretation support (be on the lookout for an email from Laura with details on that!)


To Do This Week

<<REPOST>> It's Shopping Time.  Please use ShopDoe to submit your orders for the Spring Term.  Submit your order requests to THIS folder by 30NOV21.  We are aiming to enter all submitted orders before the winter break so that items arrive by the start of the Spring Term.  I know it seems so far in advance, but everything in the DOE moves slowly, so we have to create a timeline to accommodate for this.  

Upload Grades, Provide Student Feedback.  Marking Period 1 ends after parent conferences.  So students will be using your feedback and posted progress & performance grades in Google Classrooms and Skedula to reflect on their growth and achievement.  If you have not already done so, please make sure you have posted Progress and Performance grades in Skedula and you have an up-to-date Google Classroom by Wednesday 08NOV21.  In addition, please make sure students are receiving regular feedback (verbal and/or in writing) to use to improve their skills and content knowledge. 

Parent Conferences.  Marking Pe

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  • No New Postings This Week


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