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Staff Newsletter for 02/20/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar items:
We have an exciting STEAM Night for Friday Night Live this Friday. Please let Bryan know what times you will be able to volunteer there!
School Climate and Connectedness Survey
Grades 3 – 12
Feb 27 – Mar 10 Please take this survey with your second period class sometime between February 27 and March 10. I will send out the link when it is sent to me.

Performance Evaluation for Alaska Schools
Math, English/Language Arts Grades 3 – 10
Science Grades 4, 8, 10
March 28 - Apr 28.
We are planning to take this assessment the first and second week in April.

If you haven’t already, please be sure to take the survey for District Inservice this last week.


Station Rotation Model - This article talks about getting students to lead stations and create their own lessons.



Staff Newsletter for 02/13/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar items:

We have inservice this week. Sign up for your schedule here:

The NAEP for 8th graders is coming up next week.

This month’s Friday Night Live is coming up on February 24th. Please connect with Bryan to help out with this STEAM night.

The Apollo School: What 21st Century Learning Looks Like: If you are interested in making your classroom more modern, read this blog post (also a podcast, if you prefer to listen). It has some great ideas in it.

Practical Tips for Pre-Assessments This article talks about giving pre-assessments and dividing your kids into small groups.

The Rudolph Effect Essentially, we find kids deficits, and teach them what they’re missing. What if we taught them based on their strengths, and what they can do?

CoTeaching: how to Make it Work We have had a fair amount of training on coteaching. This is a small refresher. Take a minute to review it and see how you’re doing with it. Remember, paraprofessionals can be coteachers, too!

Creating a Championship Team - This podcast talks about creating an amazing team. There is really good information here.

Turn Key Thursday: A Homework Alternative by my friend Tony Sinanis, talks about a different, interesting way to do homework.

A little bit of self-promotion: I interviewed the author of The Gift of Failure on my podcast, and it was amazing!



Staff Newsletter for 02/06/2017

Hi Team,

Our Edcamp was pretty great last week. Here are the notes from the sessions:

MAP Assessment Data: The OOOO and AAAHHH moment was finding the “Student Profile” which shows current growth.
Greehouse: Still waiting for notes
Flexible Scheduling: Still waiting for notes
Collaboration when there is no time: focusing on the use of technology since we can’t all be available at the same time. This is an issue that was just lightly touched on in our scheduling discussion.

This Friday is grade level collaboration time. We will start with celebrations in the library, and then go from there to our grade level teams. Please post your agendas and notes in Basecamp.

Upcoming Calendar items:
Parent teacher conferences this week. Dinner will be provided by the PTA on Wednesday (Thai food) and by the office on Thursdays (soup and french bread).
District Inservice is coming up next week, Thursday and Friday. If you did not receive an email invite to pre-register for our Feb. 16th–17th inservice, please use this link to create your account and build your schedule.

Battle of the Books is happening on Thursday.

Here are some links for a MAP Webinar about the Student Profile Report: 10-minute recorded webinar by a fellow MAP user: Recorded 1/23/17 webinar: Webinar: Student Profile Report: Instructional Module 1–23–2017

Let’s Stop Calling Them Soft Skills Here is a great article about “soft skills” that is beneficial for us as adults and for what we are teaching our kids. We have done amazing work with social emotional learning at our school, and we can continue to do better.

Starting a movement of Kindness: This podcast talks about kindness. We could all use more, especially our students.

What Works for Outside the Box Thinkers: We have students that don’t do school the same way as everyone else. This might help us reach them.



Staff Newsletter for 01/30/2017

Hi Team,

The RTI conference was really great. We are doing a lot of really great things at Kodiak Middle School, but we still have room to improve.

One of the big topics at the conference was the power of PLCs and looking at data. It is powerful and helps our kids be successful.

Another big point of emphasis was the power of peer observation and reflection. For those who are coteaching, you see the power of having someone else to learn from and share ideas with. A major shoutout to our Math department for their peer observations, as that is one of the things that is shown to have a great impact on student learning. We can arrange for more peer observation, if you are interested.

Progress Monitoring and Intervention: Please fill out this form as you start an intervention with a student who is struggling. This will trigger an alert to Mike and Meagan to progress monitor the student so that we can track the effectiveness of an intervention.

Here is the data for the progress monitoring that Mike and Meagan will start this week. This is the beginning and the students on this list are the ones that will be getting progress monitoring first. IF you are progress monitoring a student on here, you may add your name to “Team Member” column and then Mike and Meagan won’t progress monitor them. :) If you need someone to be progress monitored then fill out this form.

We started an intervention for Tardies. Here is the Data.

Upcoming Calendar items: The assembly is today, not tomorrow. Sorry about my miscommunication last week! We will be on a special schedule, with the assembly at 10:30. Please go to the assembly with your 3rd period classes. Schedule here

The School Climate and Connectedness Survey window is February 20-March 3. This survey is given every year and helps us know our student and staff perceptions of the school. For the last three years, we have been trending up in most areas. Here is the data from last year specifically. Piktograph and more detailed data and the item-by-item analysis. Note: “Significant improvement in staff perceptions in respectful climate, school safety, parent and community involvement, and school leadership.” These views really validate the great work that we are doing at KMS. This last year also had higher than usual participation from staff at the middle school, so it really is reflective of more staff.

Friday for our early release time, we will be doing an edcamp, which is where you come ready to talk about what you want to talk about. We will make the sessions there, and break off into 4 or 5 groups.

Resources: An interesting article about appropriately touching students by Jessica Lahey, author of “The Gift of Failure“. As we continue to learn about trauma sensitive strategies for our students, this is an idea to put in the back of your mind.

This article by Ian Byrd speaks about fear and nervousness and how getting excited is the best response! Very interesting!



Staff newsletter for 01/23/2017

Hi Team,

Happy Monday, and I hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend in the snow! We went sledding and the kids played for hours outside. It was a lot of fun.

Tutorials With the new mindfulness detention for tardies, we have a need to clarify sizes for tutorial choices. Here is the FAQ again, and the part that has been updated:

  1. What is the minimum number of seats I can request for my tutorial? Intervention tutorials need to offer at least 15 seats. Enrichment tutorials need to offer at least 25 seats. Tutorials offering less than these seats need to be approved by administration. This makes the flow of signing up 461 students at KMS much easier!

The reality is that if every teacher is doing a tutorial, we only need 17 seats in teacher’s class. When we offer tutorials that have more than 17 seats, like a basketball tutorial that has 40 seats, it relieves pressure on everyone else.

Here are some ideas for tutorials to offer.

Here are tutorial ideas from the students. You might want to zoom in! 

Upcoming Calendar items: Dance this Friday 7-9 pm. Assembly next Tuesday at 10:30 (I’ll resend the schedule next Monday.)

Resources: Here is a post from KQED’s Mind/Shift about mindful pauses that can help student engagement.

In Australia, they just started a new school year, because their school years go based on the calendar year. Here are 10 things you should know before your first day of school, and it is a helpful reminder in the middle of the year, too.



P.S. Just a reminder that I will be out Thursday and Friday as I am attending the RTI conference in Anchorage.

Staff newsletter for 01/02/2017

Hi Team,

I hope you had a relaxing and enjoyable break. I hope that your time was well spent and you are rejuvenated and ready for a new year.

There is a lot here today, so let’s get going.

During tutorial these next two weeks, you will be with the groups that are in powerschool. Please take attendance in powerschool.

Thanks to the great work of the behavior committee we will be making a few changes to some of school rules and processes:

On Tuesday, there will be a behavior assembly in the gym during A and B tutorials. Please come with your students when you have students. We will review some updated expectations for students.

On the following days review specific guidelines for students according to the following schedule:

  • Wednesday-Behavior Flowchart( Made into kid friendly tree-chart) and school dress and grooming matrix.

  • Thursday- Hallway Behavior

  • Friday- Recess Behavior (playground equipment) Student Contest for Creating Videos/Posters/Public Service Announcements.

Next Week, from Monday to Thursday, Students will work on creating videos, posters, and PSAs for following school rules.

  • Monday- Teachers review all KMS Behavior Expectations and divide areas of behavior expectations to tutorial students (Students create product to share with class and school.

  • Tuesday- Work on projects

  • Wednesday-Work on projects

  • Thursday- Work on Projects

  • Friday-Present projects

The behavior committee will be sending more information about these PSAs and other things as well.

For Tutorials starting January 16th, we will have one teacher assigned to mindfulness (as a result of tardies, and other misbehavior (see this article for more background on mindfulness)) and lunch duty for Tutorial A and Tutorial B. If you are interested in volunteering for that, please let me know. We will need two teachers each tutorial cycle, and everyone else will continue as usual. The teachers will do mindfulness on Tuesday and Thursday and will do lunch duty during Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Students will come to mindfulness during their lunch. Teachers will still have their duty-free lunch during the other tutorial cycle.

Thank you again to our behavior committee for their leadership in this area.

Upcoming Calendar items:
If you haven’t subscribed to the school-wide calendar, yet, please do.
Grades are due on the work day on January 14th. Drop/add for electives opens up the week after Christmas break. Just a heads up that you may have to navigate to “dropped students” to input final S1 grades on students who were dropped for the class or moved to a different period if they use 1/14 for grading.

This sort podcast is about engaging in a power struggle with a student. It’s never worth it.
Why Teenagers cut, and how to help This article is a refresher on how to help struggling students. This is something that we certainly deal with in our school, and we have fantastic counselors to take the brunt of this work. You do not need to be a counselor. Help the students by getting them to someone who is trained to help them deal with this.
As we continue to help our students be more in charge of their learning, this article reminds us to “Encourage Interests”, not expect passions.



Staff newsletter for 12/05/2016

Does it ever feel like time flies? There is a lot going on these next two weeks, but we are still going to fit in some awesome resources at the bottom of this newsletter to my staff:

Hi Team,

We are coming into the busy time of year. I hope that you’ve got your seat belts on!

Upcoming Calendar items:
Orchestra Concert Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 pm Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium
Choir Concert Thursday, December 8 at 7:00 pm Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium
Committee Meetings Friday December 9, 2:30–3:30 (Practice Staff Line dance at 3:30 pm in the gym.)
Band Concert Tuesday, December 13 at 7:00 pm Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium.
MAP Testing December 12, 13, 14 (8:30–10:10 am, daily)
PTSA Meeting Wednesday, December 14 at 5:30 pm
Line Dancing (Friday Schedule) - December 15
Cultures of Kodiak Activity Day - December 16 (Details in Calendar invite for that day)
End of Semester 1 - December 16.
Contractual Day to do grading - January 14.
Semester 1 report cards printed - January 16.

We all received an email this week about the state choosing a new company for our state-wide test. Here is the video they posted along with it: I’m calling your attention to this because it is does a good job of explaining why we have state-wide assessments. Please take a few minutes to watch it.

9 Simple Solutions for Common Teaching Problems: Here is a list of ways to make things easier for you as teachers. #4 is something that we did as an ad council before parent teacher conferences to help us have a consistent message K–12 about standards based grading.

Action Research: This interview discusses how to use action research in your classroom. You all pretty much do this already, so here are some great ideas to help give a name to what you’re doing.

GTD for Teachers: This is a three part series on the Out of School podcast about GTD. GTD is a methodology for “Getting things done” and something that we (in the KMS Committee) have talked about doing for our school. This episodes are “What is GTD?”, “GTD for Teachers”, and “GTD for Students” and the one for students was just released this morning, so I haven’t listened to it, yet.



My Staff Newsletter

I do a newsletter for my staff each week. For some reason, it is really difficult to write. Some people enjoy it. Some probably trash it right away. ;) That's ok, one person suggested I share it more broadly. So here it is:

Hi Team,

I hope that you had a wonderful break and took some much-needed rest and relaxation. I know I did. I am very grateful to work here and to work with you. Last week I challenged you to thank a student who motivates you and keeps you going at work. I heard a couple neat stories and I did it too. When I saw my student’s eyes light up when he realized what I was saying it was pretty special. We were in the gym, and balls were flying all around us, but it was still special. If you didn’t get to it last week for some reason, today’s a great day to tell someone you are grateful for them. Here is a neat little video of another school doing this.

Upcoming Calendar items:
Assessment Calendar - Please note the following windows for assessments

  • K–8: AIMS: Dec. 5–16th (done in ELA and Math Classes)
  • K–12: MAP (include writing!): Dec. 1–16 (We will do ours next week. More details to follow.)
  • 2–12: SRI: Nov. 28-Dec. 9th (Done in ELA or Social Studies classes)

This Friday will be our grade-level team meetings. Next Friday will be our committee meetings, and the following Friday will be a party by the sunshine committee.

Creating a Welcoming Classroom for Special Ed Students - This podcast talks about how to make sure kids feel welcome in your classroom.
This three minute podcast talks about using gardens as a maker space. We’ve got some great gardens going on, but what I liked about this teacher’s short example is that he talks about how he didn’t just give an answer but made sure he went through a rather long and lengthy process to show an answer.



The 25' Airstream at the Coast Guard Campground

Last week we did one of my favorite things at school. We visited the homes of our students.

I learned about this from Rob Carroll and I just loved the idea.

It's got to be hard not having a home, especially in middle school.

I went back to work last week, but all my teachers came back this week. We also did something really cool: Home visits. I'd like to share the video we made with you. Click HERE to watch it. We visited 460 students' homes and even a couple that we didn't know about that were around.

We broke up into pairs of dedicated teachers and visited the home of every student that we had an address for (and even some new move-ins we hadn't met yet)!

There was even a student who had an address of "25' Airstream at the Coast Guard campground"!

The best part of the visits I did that day was visiting the student who was at the Coast Guard campground, who didn't have a home to live in yet.

Being a middle schooler, and living in a camper trailer that your family just towed across the country would be difficult in the best circumstances.

We made sure that this kid who didn't have a home knew that he had a home at the Middle School. We are excited he made it here and we can't wait for him to be a part of our school.

What a fantastic day.

Press Release: Transformative Leadership Summit to Offer College Credit to Summit Attendees

Contact Information:
Jethro Jones
Transformative Leadership Summit
(801) 753-8476

Transformative Leadership Summit Announces College Credit Option


Kodiak, Alaska – August 6, 2016 – The Transformative Leadership Summit today announced it has teamed up with University of Alaska, Anchorage to offer College Credit, for attendees of the Summit. It will be available for registration on August 6, 2016. The course is EDL 591: Transformative Leadership for Educators.

College credit gives participants credit for attending the Summit and learning from over 40 experts in education.

By obtaining college credit, educators can receive hours to move forward in their pay, earn credits towards a Master’s degree, and get credit for relicensure.

“It was a team effort and we are excited to partner with the Transformative Leadership Summit to bring credit opportunities to educators who are attending the Summit from anywhere,” said Jennifer Harty, Coordinator of Professional Programs at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Jethro Jones, founder of the Transformative Leadership Summit is excited for what this means for the future of online professional development. He said, “Offering credit recognizes the valuable way this Summit is being offered. We’ve had online classes for a while, and this gives credibility to the idea of an online conference. I’m honored that the University of Alaska, Anchorage is on the cutting edge of this opportunity to give college credit to educators in a way that works for them.”

The Transformative Leadership Summit is the #1 online educational leadership conference focused on helping school leaders from across the globe improve their schools. Bringing together over 40 experts makes this unique conference the only venue for the inspiring speakers. Learn more at

The speakers for the Summit include the following: Will Parker, Brad Gustafson,
Kimberly Miles, Jeff Zoul, Daniel Bauer, Kendra Washington-Bass, Kyle Palmer, Robert Dillon, Jennifer Abrams, Jonathon Wennstrom, Amy Fast, Jethro Jones, Glenn Robbins, Geri Parscale, Anne Beninghof, Mike Kelly, Bill Ziegler, Clayton Reedie, Vicki Davis, Mary McMahon, Doug Timm, Mark Modesti, Justin Baeder, Neil Gupta, Mike Anderson, Don Wettrick, Emily Drake, Damon Hargraves, Jennifer Gonzalez, Eric Connor, Paul Erickson, Rob Carroll, Stacey Keown, Erika Mortensen, Christina Lufrano, LaVonna Roth, Marlena Gross-Taylor, John Linney