Learning and Leading
Improving Achievement at Jefferson Elementary

Our students deserve nothing but our best.  Through this blog I hope to share information that will help you increase student achievement and build your classroom community.

What's the big deal with Learning Targets, anyway?

posted Dec 19, 2017, 10:36 AM by Patricia Fitzgerald

We are well into our third year of being an EL school and that means we are into the hard work of creating case studies that one day will become Learning Expeditions!  When we move into these more complex tasks, it's easy to lose sight of the foundational pieces that we learned about in the early days of our EL experience.  One of those pieces is Learning Targets.

"Teachers use learning targets to articulate specific learning outcomes for students.  Learning targets are shared in instruction to promote student ownership of learning and are referred to continually by teachers and students." (Core Practice 20d)

Often times we think about learning targets as we're planning for instruction, which is a great first step, but we forget to refer to them continually.  If we don't post the learning target, spend time to unpack it, refer to it continually throughout the lesson, and debrief with it at the end of the lesson, students won't take ownership of the learning.  Work to make your learning target the center of your instruction and watch your student's engagement improve!


posted Feb 8, 2015, 2:29 PM by Patricia Fitzgerald   [ updated Feb 8, 2015, 2:33 PM ]

geek noun \ˈgēk\ : a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity

Yep, that's me.  For better or for worse, I'm an education geek.  Nothing is more exciting to me than an educational conference, especially when said conference is being led by some of the biggest names in education: Andy Hargeaves, Ellin Keene, Debbie Miller, Samantha Bennett.  I spent Thursday and Friday in Milwaukee with Carrie at the Wisconsin State Reading Association's 2015 Convention titled, "Who We Are: Recognizing the People,  Research, and Events That Shape Us."  I geeked-out for two days, and it was glorious!  Here was the highlight of the convention for me:
Yes, that's right folks!  I met Sam Bennett, the author of That Workshop Book, and she signed my book!  Carrie and I are excited to share everything we learned at this convention, but especially what Sam had to say about helping kids develop grit.  If you haven't dug into this book yet, grab a copy and get started!  It is well worth your time!

Domain Four of the Danielson Model is Professional Responsibilities.  4d is Participating in the Professional Community, and 4e is Growing and Developing Professionally.  My membership in WSRA is one way that I am addressing these elements. (Bonus: I get to "fangirl" over Sam Bennett!)  I am also a member of ASCD, Learning Forward, and Education Week.  If you aren't yet participating in an organization beyond KUSD, you should consider it as an option to address Domain Four.  If you have suggestions for how you have met the expectations for this domain, let me know in the comments.  Let's share the organizations we are a part of to expand our collective knowledge!


posted Jan 19, 2015, 5:52 PM by Patricia Fitzgerald

Your hard work is paying off!  The preliminary results from MAP testing are encouraging. We still have two classes who need to take one more test each, and plenty of make-ups, but here are some bright spots:
  • In Mr. Dutton's class, 22 out of 23 students who have finished their math test have met their growth projection!  WOW!
  • In Mrs. Labatore's class, the average growth for the 14 out of 17 students who made gains on the math test was 16 points!   Five students made more than 20 points of growth, and one student grew 28 points! 
  • There are numerous stories of individual students who previously have made no effort to do well on MAPS and are now showing 15+ points growth!
I could go on and on, and I'm looking forward to going over results with each individual teacher when all testing is complete.  I just wanted you all to get a taste of the success we are having.  I know MAP testing is stressful for both students and teachers.  I know they are inconveniently timed and frustrating to administer.   But the effort you are putting in is evident in the progress of your students.  We still have work to do to get all of our students where they need to be; we cannot rest on our laurels.  But I hope that you will take a moment to feel proud of how far we have come.  I certainly am proud not only of our students for showing such determination, but of YOU for showing determination as well!

Calling all Jeffersonians!

posted Jan 9, 2015, 2:55 PM by Patricia Fitzgerald

Three unexpected days off of school are such a mixed blessing!  On one hand, a few extra days puttering around my house and spending quality time with my boys was a welcome diversion!  On the other hand, I was just getting back in the swing of things at school and we have so much to accomplish! 

Next week we will be MAP testing in second through fifth grades.  It may seem like this doesn't effect Early Ed, Kindergarten or first grade, special area classes, or support staff, but that couldn't be further from the truth.  MAP testing is incredibly important for us.  This is our chance to show that the work we are doing is paying off, that our school is in fact making progress.  But students aren't always the most motivated, and individual classroom teachers can't do this alone.  We need every single member of our staff supporting our students, encouraging them to try their very best on these tests.  I am calling on you, whether you are supervising students in the morning, passing them in the hallway, or teaching them in library; I'm calling on you to talk to our students about showing what they know, about demonstrating determination, about being invested in their own education.  You have all worked incredibly hard this year, and with the full support of the Jefferson team, our students can demonstrate it on these tests.  MAP tests are not the be-all, end-all of Jefferson.  But our students are, and they deserve the full support of every one of us in the upcoming weeks.

Here we go!

posted Jan 3, 2015, 8:16 PM by Patricia Fitzgerald

There is something special about January.  There is the chance for a fresh start for both teachers and students.  It's a chance to try something new, to attempt a new instructional strategy, to reteach behavior expectations.  We are well rested and full of good ideas and good intentions.  You may have even made a resolution to improve some aspect of your teaching practice.  I know I did.

I spent most of my winter break puttering around my house.  I cleaned my basement, organized my old classroom materials, got caught up on laundry.  I did everything I could to reset for the new year.  The whole time I had school floating around in my mind, but before I could focus on planning for January, I needed to get my house in order.  I needed to set myself up to successfully head back to work.

So often as teachers, we take on too much.  In our effort to be the very best for our students, we spread ourselves too thin and don't set ourselves up for success.  As you return to school this week, full of plans and good intentions, think about what you are doing to help yourself.  Are you getting enough sleep, drinking enough water?  Are you staying in contact with people who inspire you and who make you feel good about the work you are doing?  Are you collaborating with your grade-level teammate, as well as the special education  and ESL teams?  Have you considered enrolling in a coaching cycle with me?

The best thing about teaching is that you have an impact on students every day.  The hardest thing about teaching is that you have an impact on students every day!  As we enter the new year, make sure you are doing everything you can to take good care of yourself and to set yourself up for a successful second half of the year.  Your students are counting on you!

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