Celebrating, Reflecting, and Sharing the Story of Riverside Elementary

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Continuing our Learning about Mindset

This past November, I blogged about Mindset and how we, both staff and students, are learning about the ideas and implications associated with mindset. I also announced that we are attempting to establish a growth mindset throughout Riverside Elementary School. In her book, Mindsets in the Classroom, Mary Cay Ricci defines growth mindset as a belief system that suggests that one's intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning.

In our efforts to establish a growth mindset, certain staff have volunteered to participate in a book study. Beginning in 2015, teachers (including myself) have been reading and reflecting about Mary Cay Ricci's book. Our book study is set-up to allow our reflections to take place via a blog that I've created. 

A screenshot from my computer of our blog to give you a better idea of how we use it and what it looks like

Worth mentioning is that once I set-up our book study blog, I reached-out to Mary Cay Ricci via Twitter to tell her about what we are doing. She has been very kind in connecting with some of our teachers, and contributing by commenting on our blog. In fact, Riverside Elementary School and our book study blog is going to be featured in chapter five of her follow-up book Ready-to-Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom: Everything Teachers Need for Classroom Success scheduled to be released July 2015.

I could not be more pleased with the learning that has and continues to take place through our book study blog.

As a result, we have continued this learning for all teachers and students. Last week, Ms. DeLacy, our school counselor, and myself delivered additional mindset professional development for our teachers. At the end of our session, we solicited feedback from teachers regarding their input for next steps of our mindset learning. Some of the really great ideas that we will now plan include:

  • creating and sharing a common mindset vocabulary and definitions for staff, students, and parents to use
  • creating and sharing a shared mindset resources page containing titles and links to books, articles, video clips, websites, etc.
  • and gauging interest in the possibility of a setting-up a book study of Carol Dweck's Mindset via blog for parents, and/or hosting a mindset night for families at Riverside Elementary School

If you looked closely at my screenshot, above, you'll notice that it referenced Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player that's ever lived. He wasn't perfect, however. In fact, like he says, he's failed over and over again. But Michael Jordan uses his failures to his advantage. He learns from his failures and is motivated by his failures to succeed the next time. That is why Michael Jordan is symbolic of the growth mindset.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wacky Wednesday Penny Drive on March 11th

Recently, our school community lost a friend. At the start of the school year, Steve Harland, our former custodian, discovered that he had terminal cancer. This tragic news resulted in Steve taking a leave of absence from his duties at Riverside Elementary School. Last month, Steve passed away...


When the make-up of our K-2 Student Advisory Team was reconfigured to start the third quarter, I asked them the same question that I ask every student advisory team during our first meeting. I asked them if they were able to change something about our school, what change would they make. After spending some time brainstorming two ideas began surfacing to the top. The K-2 Student Advisory Team wanted to 1) upgrade our playground and 2) do some sort of a fundraiser.

Through conversation facilitated by our school counselor, Ms. DeLacy, and myself, we discussed multiple things. We discussed how our Elementary Support Organization wrote (thank you!) and was awarded a $45K grant from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (thank you!) to upgrade a majority our playground this upcoming spring. We discussed fundraisers, and how if that was the avenue that we went down we would need to be raising money specifically for someone or something. One of the students in our group, knowing that Steve had been gone from work for an extended amount of time and that he was really sick, recommended that our fundraiser benefit Steve.

Along the way our thinking shifted from doing a fundraiser for Steve, to doing a fundraiser to add a buddy bench to our playground. A buddy bench is a bench that will promote friendship on our playground at our school. We also decided that we could inscribe the back of our buddy bench with some sort of tribute to Steve that would help us remember him.

...I was fortunate enough to speak with Steve just days before he passed away. I was able to inform him of our idea for how we planned to remember him at school; he was honored to be a part of the work that we are planning.

Parents of students at Riverside Elementary School - look for a note to come home this Friday, March 6th via Friday folders that will outline our Wacky Wednesday penny drive that we are planning for March 11th to raise money for a buddy bench that will help us to remember our lost friend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Every Mile is an Accomplishment


At Riverside Elementary School students have completed Math, Reading, and Writing universal screeners in the fall (end-of-August) and winter (early-to-mid-January). We will have one final round of universal screening in these three areas towards the end-of-April/beginning-of-May. The following slides are visual representations of how many of our students are scoring proficient on the fall tests, compared to how many of our students are scoring proficient on the winter tests.

This information helps us in determining how students are responding to instruction so that we can make necessary changes. Our students use their individualized information to set goals based off of these results, and then monitor the progress towards those goals by graphing their progress monitoring scores. 

What follows is a lot to be proud of and celebrate for and with our students, as well as the staff and family members that have assisted in these accomplishments!

The FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) is our universal screener in the area of reading. This kindergarten composite score takes into account all four FAST scores that kindergarten students receive from the four different tests that they take during each testing period.

Correct words refers to how many correct words students can read in the one-minute FAST passages.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph increases from fall to winter.
Correct words, again, refers to how many correct words students can read in the one-minute FAST passages.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant from fall to winter to spring.

Accuracy refers to the amount of errors that students make when reading the one-minute FAST passages.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant (95%) for all grades and all testing periods.

The math computation probe consists of 25 problems representing year-long, grade-level math computation curriculum. Depending on the grade-level, students get three to four minutes to answer as many of the problems as they are able.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant from fall to winter to spring.

The math application probe consists of 18 to 25 problems representing the year-long, grade-level math concepts and applications curriculum. Each test is three pages long. Depending on the grade-level, students get six to eight minutes to answer as many of the problems as they are able.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant from fall to winter to spring.

Students are given a writing probe; they have one-minute to think of a response, and then three-minutes to write a response. Total words written is a count of how many words students were able to write within the three-minutes.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant from fall to winter to spring.

The same writing probe that was used to score total words written is used to score correct word sequence. To receive credit for correct word sequence, writing must be spelled correct and grammatically correct.
The score needed for students to meet proficiency on this graph remains constant from fall to winter to spring.
Runner's World magazine's Twitter account, +Runner's World Magazine, recently tweeted the following advice - 'Stop running comparathons. Every mile is an accomplishment.'

I love this statement. And I think that it definitely has implications for us as educators, as well as our students. Yes, we are pushing our students towards setting goals and then charting their progress towards those goals. However, we need to remember that all learning that takes place for our students is an achievement worth celebrating. It is my hope that our students won’t feel pressure to compare and/or compete ‘head-to-head’ with their classmates when tracking their progress compared to their goals. Instead, our students will be competing against themselves while pursuing their academic goals, they will come to the realization that progress and success are not linear achievements, and that all growth is an accomplishment. Each piece of learning that takes place is an accomplishment.

This same data is posted on display inside the glass case across the hall from the office at Riverside Elementary School. Also, be aware that individual child/student fall and winter data, as well as grade-level expectations for throughout the year, was sent home via Friday folders prior to conferences. If you did not receive these scores, please contact your child's classroom teacher.