We are all very saddened by the
terrible events of the school shootings in Connecticut on December 14th.I want you to know that in the past five
years the Sioux Center Community School District has taken steps to ensure the
safety of our children.
·Security systems have been installed
·Security cameras have been installed
·Through construction, moving the offices in Kinsey
Elementary School and the high school from the interior of each building to the
exterior so that visitor must physically go through the office to enter the
The problem is that Sandy Hook
Elementary School did everything right. The shooter shot his way into the
building.The doors were locked, they
had practiced lock down drills, and the staff followed the procedures.The shooter was determined to get in the
In my opinion, the way to prevent
these tragedies is for each child to have a meaningful relationship with school
personnel. This validates their dignity and worth, not because of academics,
athletics, or fine arts, but because they are a child of God. If these children
have mental health issues then we need to get them assistance.
In the Sioux Center Community School
District we treat the safety of our children as our number one priority. I
believe that we are naive if we think that we are immune to tragedy and evil
but we do not want to have to ask the question, "Could we have done
more?" should we have a terrible situation.
As we move forward through the
Christmas season please pray for the people that are dealing with this tragedy.
There is so much damage may never be repaired. The children that survived and
now bear the mental scars, the Emergency Responders and police that witnessed
and dealt with the horrible scene, and the parents and victim's siblings whose
lives without their beautiful little child must go on without them. This time
of the season, which should be joyous celebration of our Savior's birth, will
now be a painful reminder of this day.
There is staff of the school that
must live with the loss of young lives under their watch and the loss of
colleagues who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their students. Their acts of
bravery and unselfishness demonstrate the love that teachers have for their
students. They did what we all hope we would have the courage to do when faced
with a life or death situation.
The news shows have had many
interviews with church personnel and the question arises, "Why would a
loving God allow this to happen?" I do not know the answer as I do not
know God's master plan but I do know this, I trust in God and his grand design
for his people. We live in a broken world where evil exits for evil's sake and I believe that the goodness of
God will triumph.
Here is an article I shared with the Sioux Center Community Schools staff this morning.
Students in some Algebra and Geometry classes at
Sioux City West High School were asked to bring M&Ms, Skittles and Tootsie
Rolls to class last year. Students thought that "homework" assignment
was really sweet, to say the least. Little did they know that their skillful
teachers were using these manipulatives as a differentiated instruction strategy.
Actually, as transparent as these teachers are, the students likely did know.
to standards-based grading and instruction. While this may not seem like your
classroom experiences of the past, take note because the results Jamie Bratvold
(pictured left) and Arynn Rasmussen (pictured right) found teaching this way
are worth sharing.
Bratvold and Rasmussen, who recently relocated to Texas, explained the
difference between their past practice of norm-based grading versus
standards-based grading this way: The standards-based method equalizes the
grading process in that only a student's summative assessments are used for his
or her grade. Homework assignments, participation, attendance and attitude have
a weight of zero in grading. However, those formative assessments provide
guidance for day-to-day differentiated instruction.
Bratvold and Rasmussen like to use this analogy to further clarify, "With
any sport, an athlete has to practice their skill. There are scrimmages and
there are games. Homework is their practice, quizzes are the scrimmages and
summative tests are the games—the only things that really 'count.' If you don't
practice and do well in the scrimmages, you won't make it in the real
Because the areas of student progress can be easily identified, conversations
become richer among peers and teachers, and engaged learning happens through
differentiated instruction. These are added benefits to standards-based
teaching, according to Bratvold.
The West High teachers established their teaching methods on the work of Rick
Wormeli and Robert J. Marzano. These education gurus believe in testing and
re-testing. However, a student will only have an opportunity to re-test if he
or she has put in the practice, or, in other words, the students have submitted
all of their homework assignments.
When asked why they switched from norm- to standards-based grading, Bratvold
said they noticed that students weren't remembering what they learned in the
first quarter later in the fourth quarter.
"In our norm-based grading, students typically received higher grades on
their report cards than the results from state standard testing," Bratvold
explained. "We knew something needed to change."
In the summer of 2011, a professional development cadre at West High got together
to "unwrap the standards." By defining what it meant to "employ
the properties of equality," for example, the cadre listed a comprehensive
list of properties they felt needed to be mastered for that standard. The
standards also had to fit within the Iowa Core expectations. Once they knew how
to define each standard, grading for each one became more balanced and
"As opposed to looking at norm-based grades that can factor in attendance,
attitudes, participation and other intangibles, standards-based grading
identifies what a student does or does not struggle with," said Bratvold.
Knowing which concepts a student hasn't yet mastered is half the battle. The
flip-side for teachers is how to change, or differentiate, their teaching so
that kids can engage with concepts in a way that makes learning easier.
Enter M&Ms, Skittles and Tootsie Rolls. Students were able to create and
solve their own math problems by using these yummy manipulatives.
Critics may say, "That's great to incorporate chocolate into classrooms,
but are they learning anything?"
Bratvold and Rasmussen can tell you that not only are students more engaged in
the classroom, but that, yes, test scores in one class increased from 55
percent passing in 2010 with norm-based grading to 74 percent in 2011 with
Millie Olsen, an instructional coach at Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA),
provided resources for the West High pair two years ago, as they began their
"I am excited for them and their trailblazing efforts," exclaimed
Olsen. "I believe the power of this works in their formative assessment
framework that, in turn, guides the instruction."
One of Bratvold's favorite testimonies came from a student who was asked if
standards-based grading was working for her. The student admitted, "You
never let me forget what I've learned!"
Standards-based grading isn't for the faint-of-heart. It takes extra effort to
differentiate. It means a teacher has to be flexible and willing to change. And
the teaching is very transparent because students know each day, week and
semester what will be taught and what they will be responsible to learn—making
them more accountable.
But are the results worth it? Absolutely say these two teachers, who recently
earned their master's degrees from Southwest Minnesota State University.
As Bratvold summed up with one of her favorite quotes, "Growth happens
outside of your comfort zone."
It sounds as though these teachers grew professionally just as much as their
students did academically. In the "game" of teaching, that would be
called a win-win.
Recently the staff of the Sioux Center Schools has been reflecting upon feedback and the current grading practices. Here is a Q and A regarding feedback. What is feedback?
“Feedback is an objective description of a student’s
performance intended to guide future performance.Unlike evaluation, which judges performance,
feedback is the process of helping our students assess their performance,
identify areas where they are right on target and provide them tips on what
they can do in the future to improve in areas that need correcting.”
W. Fred Miser
“Research has shown that effective feedback is not a discrete
practice, but an integral part of an instructional dialogue between teacher and
student, (or between students, or between the student and him/herself).”
From “Providing Students with Effective Feedback
“Feedback is not about praise or blame, approval or
disapproval.That’s what evaluation is –
placing value.Feedback is
value-neutral.It describes what you did
and did not do.”
What is the Criteria for Effective Feedback?
What does the Criteria for Effective Feedback mean?
Teacher evaluates the student’s work compared to a standard
Grade is objective and directly related to the standard, not to subjective considerations or to matters unrelated to the standard.
of the same work is not distorted by the gender, ethnicity, home language, or
economic status of the student.
The same work by the same student should receive the same
grade, even if the teachers are different
Students and parents understand exactly how grades are earned
They see a clear relationship between student actions and the grades on
the report card
Students receive the feedback in a timely enough manner
Students can associate the feedback with the work that generated the
«To JoAnn Gotto on an excellent District Audit report
«To Joe'l VanderWaal and Kelli Langel who facilitated a
project based learning experience for the 8th graders by putting
"Christopher Columbus on trial". After visiting the Sioux County
courthouse last week, the 8th graders put that knowledge to work as well as information
gathered from primary sources to analyze whether or not Christopher Columbus
really deserves his own holiday.
«To the following volleyball players who received post
Bakker- 1st Team
Estes- 3rd Team
Team- Amber Bakker (unanimous), Jillian Estes
educators alike talk about all students having to be “college-ready,” and many
business leaders believe that America’s economic future depends on more
students taking courses in science, technology, engineering and math. However,
it is clear to me that the more important goal is for all students to graduate
from high school or college “innovation-ready,” and merely requiring students
to take more of the same kinds of classes will not be adequate preparation. To
meet this ambitious goal, both parents and teachers must work to develop
children’s curiosity and imagination, teaching them the skills and dispositions
that matter most.
For my latest book, Creating Innovators: The Making
of Young People Who Will Change the World, I interviewed scores of
highly creative and entrepreneurial young people to understand the most
important influences that enable someone to become an innovator. I also talked
with their parents and the teachers and mentors whom they told me had made the greatest
difference in their lives. Finally, I interviewed younger children’s parents
who also had successful careers as innovators and entrepreneurs. Shifting
through all of this data, I discovered some fascinating patterns of parenting
and teaching associated with “creating” a young innovator.
parents” indulge their children’s every whim, while hovering and protecting
them from adversity. By contrast, “tiger moms” – derived from the title of Amy
Chua’s 2011 best-seller – demand perfection and threaten to give away their
children’s most precious toys when they cannot play a piano piece perfectly.
These two seemingly different approaches to parenting have a common goal: Both
are trying to manage their children for “success”– conventionally defined.
Yet merely sending your
child to the “right” schools and ensuring that they get good grades are no
longer guarantees of success. More than a third of all recent college graduates
are living at home today – either unemployed or underemployed. It is
increasingly clear that young people who have developed a capacity to be
innovative and entrepreneurial – who have the interest in and capability to
create their own jobs – will have the most satisfying lives and rewarding
careers in the future. Innovation is the skill in greatest demand in the
workplace today and is the one least likely to be outsourced or automated.
innovation-minded parents whom I interviewed, developing their children’s
intrinsic motivation was their most important goal. And they did so by
encouraging their children’s play, passion and purpose.
The kinds of childhood
play that these parents encouraged was often unstructured and self-initiated.
They brought their children fewer toys – and only ones that encouraged more
creative play, such as Legos, versus video games and took them to fewer
after-school lessons. These parents also limited screen time – often watching
only a few hours a week of TV together as a family and keeping a close eye on
computers that were strategically placed in a family area rather than in their
While not overly
structuring their time, nevertheless parents of young innovators created a
buffet of opportunities for their children, allowing them to explore different
sports and musical instruments as well as other activities such as scouting.
Love of learning and developing genuine interests were more highly valued by
these parents than becoming an excellent athlete or musician. Parents of young
innovators understand that the wellspring of perseverance and self-discipline
essential for mastery is best developed through the pursuit of a passion, but
that children’s passions often evolve, and that children should not be pushed
to continue to pursue activities that no longer interest them.
All of the parents whom
I interviewed talked with their children about “giving back” and modeled this
behavior as well. As a result, every one of the young innovators whom I spoke
to was pursuing more than just a passion – but rather a deeper sense of purpose
in their work: Creating better and more affordable Third World technologies;
exploring green energy sources and manufacturing processes; preserving
endangered wildlife; igniting children’s passion for science; organizing new
community-based learning opportunities; mentoring disadvantaged adolescents –
these were just a few of the projects the young innovators whom I talked to
The schooling of these
young innovators was often more problematic. Most learned to innovate in spite
of their schooling – not because of it – including those who went to some of
the “best” colleges.
However, the majority of
the young people whom I interviewed could name at least one teacher who had
made a critical difference in their development. In interviews with these
remarkable teachers, I discovered that they, too, reinforced the intrinsic
motivations of play, passion and purpose, while teaching students to work in
teams, take risks and learn from failure.
Kirk Phelps, who became
a product developer for Apple’s first iPhone, said that he learned the skills
he needed most in classes taught by an outlier at Stanford, Ed Carryer, who
requires his students to solve problems in teams through interdisciplinary
projects. Carryer’s goals as a teacher, he told me, are to “empower” his
students to be able use what they know – not merely regurgitate it on a test –
and to motivate them with assignments that have a strong element of “whimsy.”
Amy Smith, another
outlier teacher, takes a similar hands-on approach to her sequence of courses
on Third World sustainable development at MIT, where, for homework, students
grind corn three different ways or make charcoal. One of her graduates whom I
profiled in the book, 23-year-old Jodie Wu, is now CEO of her own company,
Global Cycle Solutions, inTanzania.
Not every young person
will become another Steve Jobs, but the majority of our young people can learn
the skills required to bring more innovative approaches to whatever they do.
How parents and educators raise and teach the next generation could make all
«To Gretchen Bruhn and the drama department on an
excellent production of the musical Annie
«The volleyball team on a great season
«Kelli Langel on setting up a wonderful experience with
a presiding judge and the county attorney as part of her social studies program.
The comments from the judge and the county attorney were extremely
complimentary of the students
«To Lori Brandt (Ferreira) and her staff.This week I witnessed some of the work they
have to do.
«To Haile Duden, who finished 21st, and Josh
Olvera, who finished 34th, at the state cross country meet.
«To the Warrior volleyball team on qualifying for the
state volleyball tournament.
«To the Kinsey kids (staff too) and their awesome
costumes on Halloween.
«To Ken Dokter for another excellent bus inspection
«To Denice Boote for the completing the Certified Enrollment
Report (CER) and being recognized as a Platinum Performer by the State of Iowa.The top ninety seven schools out of over
three hundred were recognized as Platinum Performer.
Sioux Center High School Volleyball team qualified for the Iowa State
Volleyball Tournament last night by defeating East Sac County in three
No School Thursday
Warriors will play Union High School of La Porte City at 1:30 pm on Thursday
will be no school on November 8th.That day will be made up on President’s Day February 18, 2013.
Tournament Venue *
Due to extended renovations of the US Cellular
Center, the 2012 State Volleyball Tournament will be held at the Cedar Rapids
Ice Arena located at 1100 Rockford Rd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA. The State
Tournament is November 7th through the 10th.
price for each of the seven sessions is $8.00 per student and adult. There is
no admission charge for children who are not yet in kindergarten.
Advance Ticket Sales
Tickets for Thursday’s
match with Union High School will be on sale in the Sioux Center High School
Office starting at 8:30 am on Monday November 5th.Tickets are $8.00.
All seating is
Conferences Moved to Thursday November 15.
7th and 8th grade boys basketball games with Hinton
scheduled for November 15th have been cancelled due to Parent
High School Musical
the Warriors lose on Thursday, the musical goes as scheduled.
the Warriors win on Thursday they will play in the semi-finals Friday, November
9th at 3:30 pm.Friday, November
9th was already scheduled as a day with no school. The Musical
performance scheduled for Friday Night will be rescheduled for Monday night the
12th of November.
the Warriors lose on Friday the Saturday Matinee and Saturday evening performances
will proceed as originally
the Warriors win on Friday they would play in the state championship on
Saturday November 10th at 2:00 pm.
Saturday Matinee will be moved to Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm and Saturday
Night will move to Tuesday Night.
Middle School Vocal
If the musical is moved to November 13th,
the MS concert on the November 13th will be moved to November 19 same time and
the Warriors play in the state championship, there will be a welcome home
Sunday win or lose.
have taught like I was taught; I am seeing the
is not telling; repeating is not learning!"
much as we might dislike the implications, research is showing that didactic
exposition of abstract ideas and lines of reasoning (however engaging and lucid
we might try to make them) to passive listeners yields pathetically thin
results in learning and understanding - except in the very small percentage of
students who are specially gifted in the field.