Instruction and Curriculum Advisory Committee
March 16, 2017, Meeting Minutes
Members Present: Rebecca Guest, Missy Eidsness, Sadie Anderson, Mary Flesberg, Josh Haag, Cassidy Bjorklund, Chizuko Shastri, Teresa Shume, Karen Jacowitz and Pam Gibb.
Guests: Jeremy Larson, Horizon Middle School principal, Lauri Winterfeldt, Community Education director, Kris Thompson, Community Education youth services and service-learning coordinator, and Tammy Schatz, Adult Basic Education program manager.
1. Approval of Feb. 9, 2017, Minutes
Teresa Shume moved, Mary Flesberg seconded, to approve the minutes. Motion carried.
2. Community Education Update
Lauri Winterfeldt, Community Education director, provided an update on Community Education in Moorhead. Community Education is supported by the state to make use of the schools by the community. Community Education includes adult enrichment classes, Early Childhood Family Education, School Readiness, Adult Basic Education, early childhood screening, youth service, youth enrichment (after school and summer camps), classes for adults with disabilities, and work with outside agencies, organizations and businesses to provide sponsorships, classes, promotion and service opportunities to bring their expertise into the school district. Next year Community Education will be working with the district’s Human Resources department to develop a volunteer recruitment program.
Winterfeldt shared examples of current collaborative efforts with community partners. The absent narrative program with MCAM included interviews with five people who came to the country in the last 10 years. One is a former Adult Basic Education student who is now a college graduate. Community Education is partnering with Rourke Art Gallery on the Rourke Art Academy classes in the catalog, which are being offered through a grant received by the Rourke. Other classes are being held at community locations like health clubs, Center for Mindful Compassion and Inspire Lab. Winterfeldt said the district and business/nonprofit community working together strengthens the community. Other partnerships are with River Keepers, which offers rain barrel and compost tumbler workshops through Community Education, and Growing Together, which is a new program that received a grant to teach people, including New Americans, to learn to grow food through farming or urban farming.
Community Education continues to publish KIDsource each month. KIDsource began 30 years ago to reduce teacher time in distributing brochures to students, save costs for organizations that purchase ads, and be a one-stop shop for parents to find activities for their children.
Kris Thompson, youth services and service-learning coordinator, said the number of community partnerships has increased. A new partnership is with Dakota Audubon. There continue to be after-school offerings such as art classes at Hopkins and Spanish Club at Horizon.
Missy Eidsness, assistant superintendent of learning and accountability, said they are looking at the grades 5-6 school and being more consistent in offering opportunities for grades 5-6 students, using Community Education’s systems for registration and communication with families.
3. Horizon Middle School Update
Jeremy Larson, Horizon Middle School principal, provided committee members with an update on the 2016-17 instructional plan for Horizon. They try to keep it to a one-page document that is reviewed with staff so it doesn’t become too much. With the implementation of 1-to-1 computing devices, nothing new was added to this year’s plan, Larson said.
The overall goal is all students will receive college, career and life ready preparation. This includes three non-negotiables for the year: adding more literacy-infused instruction with reading 60 minutes and writing 40 minutes every day; high engagement, including use of high levels of questioning in each lesson/activity to build rigor using Costa’s Levels; and high accountability to create a culture of self-discipline for students, staff and administration. Larson said they continue to use WICOR (writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading). Teachers are being trained on writing, and students are working on three levels of writing: writing for self, writing for peers, writing for publication. The emphasis has been on writing for self.
To meet the building goal, the Horizon instructional plan for 2016-17 focused on seven action steps for teachers. First is to continue to implement AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) school wide and AVID elect, which targets students with academic ability and motivation, but who may not have all the skills (study skills, supports, etc.) to be college ready. This is the fourth year of AVID at Horizon. Second is the efficient use of notes building wide. They have moved away from the same type of note structure and are trying to focus on students using the notes (analyzing and interacting). They are using the 10-2-2 note-taking model, where after 10 minutes of taking notes, students interact with the notes for two minutes and then talk to a partner for two minutes, and the 10-24-7 model for note retention, which has students review notes after 10 minutes, review after 24 hours and review again after seven days. They are also using Task, Text, Talk (what is the task, find a text that pertains, how will students talk about it) for critical reading and writing in all content areas.
Other action steps were to implement binders and establish common expectations for all sixth-grade students. A transition will be made to e-binder portfolios for grades 7-8 at Horizon East next year. Binders may still be used for Horizon West sixth-grade students. Professional learning communities were to use common assessments to drive students comprehension. Larson noted that Naiku was not linking to PowerSchool so common assessments were delayed and will remain the same on next year’s plan. Each year PLCs/departments review their big ideas/power standards to ensure they align to current standards and benchmarks and review/edit common assessments/unit exams checking for rigor using Costa’s levels of questioning. All departments choose one WICOR component to focus on for the school year with the understanding that WICOR is the umbrella for the overall school improvement plan, and ensure critical reading is done twice quarterly for core content areas and one a quarter for fifth core classes. The collection of the critical reading is done as part of AVID for documentation as the school works toward becoming an AVID demo school in 2018-19. The final action step is to implement department chair, AVID and literacy learning walks. The department chair conducts learning walks twice a year to observe their departments. These are designed to help the departments recognize best practices and learn what professional development might be needed. AVID learning walks look at how note taking is going, and the literacy walk is actually an analysis of student work and 60/40 plans that is used to plan professional development.
Larson provided an update on the Middle School Task Force. The grades 5-8 task force met in the spring of 2015, with the grades 5-6 task force meeting in 2016. The grades 7-8 task force met in the fall of 2016 to plan for growth in the number of students and what can be done to enhance what they are currently doing. Recommendations include moving the healthy lifestyles course to grade 7 because the classroom for the course is located in Horizon East; this will adjust the STEM course offerings. As recommended by the task force, grades 7-8 students at Horizon Middle School East Campus will follow a modified schedule to better meet student needs during the school day. Three days a week will be a six-period day; Tuesday and Thursday will be eight-period days. Team time for teachers and Response to Intervention (RtI) time for students are being added to the eight-period day schedule. Every student will have a class period for enrichment or support interventions, character education or career development. Additionally two innovation pilots are planned. To reduce the house size and class size, a combination house with both seventh- and eighth-grade students will be added for the 2017-18 school year. Students will loop from grade 7 to grade 8 within the same house. The house will look at teaching a little differently and implement an Innovation Academy, Larson said. The other innovation pilot is to teach language arts and social studies as a cross-curricular literacy offering for one eighth-grade house. Students will have two classes on their schedule, but the social studies and language arts teachers will co-teach the classes.
There was discussion about use of the current sixth-grade houses in the future. Nothing has been finalized except that one will become the grades 7-8 house. Two will remain open for grade 6 in case construction isn’t complete for the start of the 2017-18 school year. After that further discussion will be needed before decisions are made on use of the space.
4. Adult Basic Education Update
Tammy Schatz, program manager for Adult Basic Education, a Community Education program in the district, provided an update to the committee. She said the summer move to Vista Center for Education was successful and has shortened the waiting time for learners to enter the program. ABE serves students age 17 and older, but they discuss Moorhead High School and Red River Area Learning Center as options before accepting students under age 21. Preference is for students under age 21 to enroll in the K-12 system first. Because ABE is now co-located with Red River ALC, Schatz and the ALC counselor can meet with students to present options. If students will age out without earning a diploma, then they work with students to build a strong transcript. The adult diploma may be an option for individuals who are 19 and over.
Schatz said it is a misnomer to think it is easier to dropout and earn a GED. In 2014 the assessments were moved online; all students test at NDSU, taking one test at a time on a computer as they are ready for them. The GED passing scores have been adjusted as initially they were set too high.
ABE uses a national reporting system with assessments to determine what English functioning level or what grade level students are at, and they must assess students after every 40 hours of instruction after the baseline test. Students attending ABE may be those who weren’t able to be successful in K-12, English learners, individuals transitioning to post-secondary or to workforce. Others are mandated to attend the program, such as if they are receiving assistance from Clay County or are required through workman’s comp to gain skills to return to a different line of work.
The state requires three core content areas: common core or college and career readiness standards, academic career and employability skills, and digital literacy component. English learners are the largest population at about 42-43 percent. They also study citizenship preparation. Eidsness noted that in 2016 legislation passed requiring ninth-grade students to take a 50-question citizenship test.
ABE participates in training through the Minnesota Department of Education and works with regional ABE programs. Moorhead’s program has sites in Moorhead, Hawley, Barnesville, Breckenridge and Wheaton that last year served just over 500 students. The ECFE, School Readiness and ABE programs all have licensed teachers like the K-12 schools. ABE also uses volunteers to work with students.
Missy Eidsness shared with the committee that the district received a grant on March 14 as part of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee’s 52 Weeks of Giving. Moorhead Area Public Schools received $10,000 worth of equipment and infrastructure needed to provide an enhanced breakfast program for students at Red River Area Learning Center, and the district received $38,409 to provide creative play equipment for grades K-6 students through the purchase of Imagination Playground sets.
Committee members were reminded that the community survey was open until March 31 for the Designing Moorhead High School’s 21st Century Academic/Instructional Program. As part of the high school task force, visits will be made to schools in Alexandria, Burnsville and Chanhassen. The high school task force will continue to meet through next school year.
On March 23, an all-city grade 4 concert will be held at Moorhead High. The elementary music teachers have volunteered their time. There was discussion about the need for transportation for some students.