The meeting was devoted to an update on Student Learning and Technology, followed by a short review of the work of the Middle School Review Committee.
"Responsive teaching" has the most significant impact on student learning
Now entering the fourth year of the 2020 Vision Strategic Plan, District 64 reported on the plan's continuous improvement mindset and progress in the first four (of six) objectives that address the rigor of our educational program. The report focused on the instructional practice that has the most significant impact on student learning, called "responsive teaching."
Effective teachers use feedback from students to monitor student learning and provide targeted instruction in three key areas: student learning, student engagement, and student connectedness. A deeper view was then offered of the work underway in each:
- Student Learning - D64 reported that teachers address a range of academic needs in the classroom. To support achievement, teachers use a variety of tools to diagnose student needs and design instruction, including: formative assessment (which happens during a unit of study and is designed to shape the instruction taking place); the Workshop Model currently being implemented in reading and piloted in writing; and common assessments, along with the related technology tools that help teachers access student learning in real-time and organize data for differentiation.
- Student Engagement - Research shows that students who are actively engaged in their learning are more likely to excel. Today's teacher makes the distinction between passive compliance and active engagement. Advances in technology offer opportunities for students and teachers to experience learning in ways that were not possible in the past. D64 reported on the high-impact instruction underway through inquiry-based learning, a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios for students to solve. Virtual reality experiences offered through Google's Learning Expeditions also were explored, as Board members themselves (see TWITTER PHOTO) were invited to use the mobile app to view 360-degree scans of locations -- like coral reefs, Antarctica, or the human anatomy -- that place students in the middle to explore, inquire and make connections.
- Student Connectedness - When students feel a deep sense of connectedness to their classmates, teachers and other adults, they are more engaged, more persistent and demonstrate fewer disruptive behaviors. D64 is developing a comprehensive program to promote this positive school culture. D64 reported on a number of tools to support social emotional learning (SEL) and the four components of the District-wide effort: explicit skill instruction guided by the District-wide Second Step program; environmental structures, such as expectations for positive behavior that each school embeds in an acronym, such as Emerson Eagle SOARS or Roosevelt School's 5 Bees; community-building practices, such as the introduction this year of "restorative practices" like communication circles; and data collection for the purpose of progress monitoring, like the Safe and Civil Schools Climate & Safety Surveyconducted recently to collect baseline data across the District.
Middle School Review enters second year focused on schedule options
Following this report, the District updated the Board on the ongoing work of the Middle School Review Committee, which was convened in September 2017. Last year's work focused on creating a middle school mission; reviewing feedback from student focus groups and a ThoughtExchange interactive online forum; reviewing various types of middle school schedules; and establishing a scheduling subcommittee to work with consultant Dr. Michael Rettig.
This year's activities are focused on reviewing the options outlined by the subcommittee (see TWITTER PHOTO); proposing possible resolutions for any challenges or opportunities created by the schedule options from Dr. Rettig; seeking feedback from stakeholders on viable options; and making a recommendation to the administration regarding scheduling. Further, the committee is expected to review student feedback and the ThoughtExchange results regarding exploratory/elective offerings in further depth