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Staff Newsletter for 03/20/2017

Hi Team,

I hope you had a relaxing and restful spring break and enjoyed your time off work. I hope you actually took time off and got in some much needed rest and relaxation and rejuvenation.

As we discussed in our celebrations last Friday, we are going to have students choose tutorials today for a shortened tutorial cycle that will start on Wednesday. So, students will be in your homeroom classes to review expectations from this behavior matrix, dress and grooming standards and this behavior flowchart and this lunchtime flowchart.

Upcoming Calendar Events:

PEAKS window opens on March 28th.
We have a Friday Schedule this Thursday as we participate in games with our students during the last hour of the day. Please let Jen or Bryan know if you are interested in playing those games, and if you have any minute-to-win-it game ideas, please be sure to let them know about those as well.

This Friday will be department collaboration time! We will meet in the library for celebrations first, and then to our department meetings.

It may seem far away, but the end of the year will creep up before we can believe it!


“That Kid” - A reminder about the importance of respecting each of our students.

The Limitations of Teaching ‘Grit’ in the Classroom - “We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them.”

Some thoughts about personalizing learning by AJ Juliani.

And a word of caution about personalized learning by Dan Meyer



Staff Newsletter for 03/06/2017

Hi Team,

Welcome to our last week before spring break! It’s going to be a great week.

Upcoming Calendar Events
Today, we will have an assembly in the Gym during Tutorials. We are going to kick off our spring fundraiser and it is all about Mady. Read about her story here. She is a great student at our school who is really experiencing a heartbreaking situation: her arm will be amputated on Wednesday. Up until last week, she was going to get a new implant, but the FDA didn’t approve it, so we are going to raise our money to help her family with the bills.

We are going to kick it off with an assembly today. Please take attendance in tutorials and then bring your students down to the gym.

Tonight, there is an opportunity to meet the Superintendent candidates from 3:45 to 5:00 pm in the choral pods.

Choir concert tomorrow at 7 pm.

There is a PTSA meeting on Wednesday night at 5:30 in room 104.

Here are the shared resources from our Proficiency Scales Training last Friday.

Our Tardy Data that I mentioned last week has been updated for the full month of February, and I included grade level data as well. You will see that 6th grade is remarkably consistent in their tardies.

This graphic below came from the weekly newsletter that Randy Sprick (of CHAMPS fame) puts out. It teaches how to deal with misbehavior that is considered chronic:

Staff Newsletter for 02/27/2017

Hi Team,

Upcoming Calendar Items
Please take the School Climate and Connectedness Survey with your second period class some time during the next two weeks. It should take about 15 minutes to complete. The link will come from Melissa in a separate email.

This Friday’s early release will be a training about proficiency scales with the Department of Instruction.

Good news, our subs are asking for more information before they get to our school to fill positions. Please put your lessons in Aesop when you are requesting substitutes. It is helpful for the subs to know what they are getting. Sandy is happy to print them off for the subs, especially if they are in Aesop. Don’t let this request stop you from requesting subs early if you can’t get the lesson plans in right when you request it!

Some Data
The month is not over, yet, but here is our tardy data for the month. We had 299 tardies in February so far, compared to 454 last month. Our average tardies per student is 2.34 compared to 2.86 last month.

This article explains one reason why we don’t have bells: Squeezing the last minute out of a session.

Here’s a great article from Harvard Business Review about taking on new challenges.

And, a big thanks to our Student Events committee for putting on a great Engineering Night on Friday. I spent most of my time at the paper airplane station! Be sure to check out our Facebook page for some pictures!



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.