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- Schools in Motion
Sharing Lessons Learned - Timber Lake High School
Data Teams - Robbinsdale Elementary
Summer Reading Program – Aberdeen School District
- ESEA South Dakota Support and Planning Guide
- 7 Turnaround Principles
- Four Lenses of Data





Schools in Motion

Articles in this section highlight ideas shared by South Dakota Educators. Thank you to the teachers and administrators who are willing to share great ideas from their classrooms and schools!

Sharing Lessons Learned: Timber Lake High School – National Title I Distinguished School, National Blue Ribbon Nominated High School

We have a variety of avenues in which we can share the resources of our school. One of our top resources is obviously our staff. Teachers Watching Teachers is a new program that has been implemented this past school year. Each teacher was required to choose two of their colleagues, one within their content area and one outside their area, and schedule a time to observe a lesson taught by another teacher. The goal of this assignment was for teachers to see different instructional styles and strategies to use in their own classrooms. We have many top notch teachers, including the South Dakota Teacher of the Year. It is vital to tap the valuable teacher resources that we have at our fingertips.

In-service time has also been used to share within the district this year. Teachers work in Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) and are broken into groups based upon content area and grade level. Within these groups, teachers can share effective instructional strategies with each other as well as have vertical teaming discussions to alleviate gaps between grade levels.

Other districts have also been able to benefit from the resources within our district. We have hosted teachers from neighboring districts and offered to allow them to come in and shadow our teachers. Our high school science teacher has presented to a variety of groups throughout South Dakota and the entire United States and shared her expertise in a curriculum called NMSI (National Math and Science Initiative). In the special education department, our resource room teacher will present at our state conference on Student Led IEPs and how they can impact the education of students with disabilities. Our superintendent has presented information on several of the programs that our school and district utilizes on both a state-wide and national stage including the Lakota Education Conference and National Indian Impacted Schools Associations National Conference.

Our district is remotely located in north central South Dakota and we have to often think outside the box to discover ways to bring in expert speakers and resources through videoconferencing and internet resources. We are fortunate to have a school board that supports and understands the need to share successes and proven strategies with other educators and districts to improve the education of all children.

- Julie Marshall, Principal





Robbinsdale Elementary School Data Teams

In July of 2010, Robbinsdale Elementary sent 9 teachers and 1 administrator to the Douglas Reeves Data Team conference in Littleton, Colorado. Data Teams at all 6 grade levels were enthusiastically established upon the return of this cadre of leaders. Three years later, we are going strong and are continuously improving our process.

The most important work that we have recently completed was thoroughly unpacking all of the CCSS in math and literacy as they related to specific grade levels. (Question 1: What do you want students to learn?) You really cannot start data team cycle work until you have answered this question. Pacing guides were set up and followed according to the RCAS district literacy and math departments. Robbinsdale data teams then designed and implemented roadmaps for each trimester in literacy and math. This GVC (guaranteed and viable curriculum) is now the cornerstone of our data teamwork.

We have been creating effective and efficient CFA’s (Common Formative Assessments) after attending another Doug Reeves conference on writing these important assessments in the summer of 2011. Now every week, we follow the data team process:
1. Collect and chart/display the data (See attached photo of Robbinsdale Dashboard)
2. Analyze data and prioritize needs
3. Set review and revise incremental SMART goals
4. Select common instructional strategies to be employed to address the learning challenges discovered in Step Two
5. Determine results indicators. These serve as a monitoring tool for the team.

The focus of the grade level data teams is extraordinary! An agenda is set forth and followed with fidelity at every collaborative meeting. You can sense the professionalism of our teams and you can sense the camaraderie of staff as they exchange ideas and challenge one another.

This continuous improvement cycle, in which we use data to improve our teaching and student learning, has been instrumental in our continued success of staying out of school improvement and continuously raising our state test scores. (At one time, Robbinsdale was at a level 3 in DSTEP and listed as a school in need of improvement.)

We now know that we are finally working SMARTER not HARDER!

- Patricia Hamm, RCAS District Principal



Summer Reading Program

Reading over the summer is beneficial, isn’t it? There’s research out there to prove it. I had the opportunity to attend the IRA conference in Chicago in the spring of 2010 and listened to two ladies who had research on the summer reading loss that happens during June, July and August. Deborah Carlberg and Patty Sullivan presented their research and had a solution titled, Reversing the Summer Reading Loss. They were gracious enough to share all their ideas and handouts with me. I took their idea and implemented it last summer for 26 struggling readers at May Overby Elementary in Aberdeen.

The premise of the program is that before the students left school in May, they choose eight books (at their reading level) which I mailed to them (one at a time) throughout the summer. I was fortunate enough to have the financial backing of my district to be able to order the books to make this happen. Once books were ordered, the process began.

Students were chosen based on observations and reading scores. They were the struggling readers. Once identified, parent permission slips were sent home, signed and returned to me. Students then got to choose the eight books they wished to read. Books were a mixture of fiction and non-fiction and were at the students’ reading levels. The day school let out, I put their first package in the mail.

In each student’s package along with their book, was a postcard with specific family participation guidelines and strategies. Once students completed their book they had to fill out the postcard and drop it in the mail (it was pre-stamped). I was the recipient of that postcard. Once I received it, I knew to send them their next package. The process continued for up to eight books. This accountability process was essential to keeping communication between the students and me.

The students were thrilled to be able to pick out the books before school let out last spring. I gave them time to look them over and put them in the order they wished to receive them. Once received, the books were the student’s to keep. When it was all said and done, I put books into students’ hands that may not have had the chance to get them otherwise.

- Kelli Helms, Reading teacher, Aberdeen, SD








ESEA SD Support and Planning Guide

This is a self-help guide to required documentation and certain program requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.








Seven Turnaround Principles /Four Lenses of Data








Spring 2014
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