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Our focus is on serving you!


A Message From Dr. Bell

Connector December 2013

Yes. You are correct. I did say, “Hi. How are you?” I’ve been working on my Thai language skills this month as Rebecca decided I needed another chapter in my global learning skills and set up an educational field trip to Thailand. It will be an interesting Christmas. I’ve researched to find out how safe the Tiger Temple, or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, a Theravada Buddhist temple in western Thailand is as I will be walking among about 100 free roaming tigers. I’ve learned how to exchange dollars into Thai bahts and have accessed my Internet skills to use that knowledge to rent an elephant for a day. I am more cognizant of weather patterns, typhoons, and where they are headed in Southeast Asia. Lastly, I have been watching world events so as to understand and keep an eye on current protests going on in Bangkok. I have a feeling that Santa or snow may have a difficult time finding me this year. Before we go, I still need to schedule visits with all ESU 10 school district leadership teams to better define used, needed, and wanted ESU 10 services and share information about the newest procedures to access the BrightBytes Clarity Program assessment tool. It’s just another typical month in the wonderful world of ESU 10 where we “partner with our customers to meet changing needs through professional expertise, training, and support.” Besides, one never knows when Dan Scherer, the innovating vocational agriculture instructor in Gothenburg, may want to initiate an elephant breeding program for the district. ESU 10 will stand at the ready to provide support for that endeavor. We could handle this project with my soon to be learned knowledge and John Stritt’s distance learning system. I love it when a plan comes together.


Please accept my best wishes for a relaxing and blessed Christmas holiday. All of you are such gifts to the staff and students that you serve. You never know when you will be rewarded for your faithful service. I got a call from a teacher that worked for me years ago when I was a school district administrator just last week inviting me to a final concert he is directing prior to his retirement. What an honor. Of course I will find a way to get there. One doesn’t normally get monetarily rich from a career in education, but the value of moments like this is hard to quantify. Merry Christmas to all. I may even make it back to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Kearney if the winds blow in the right direction and the planes stay on schedule! We’ll work to make 2014 the best year ever for the students that we serve. 76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

ESU 10 Workshops

December 17 Using iPads in the Fine Arts Classroom


08 Ag, Food, & Natural Resources Collaboration 08 Skilled & Technical Sciences Collaboration 09 Family & Consumer Sciences Collaboration 09 Business, Marketing, & Information Technology Collaboration


13 Physical Education Teachers Network

13 Reading with TLC - Lively Letters & Sight Words You Can See 14 Explicit Instruction (8 days) 15 High Ability Learner Programs 27 Simply Music - Musical Accompaniment 29 LAN Manager Meeting 30 Science Teachers Network

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Feed Teachers with Feedback!

by Peg Coover, Technology Integration Coordinator

When I was a high school science teacher, I participated in the Adolescent Literacy Project at ESU 10. While I learned some effective strategies for teaching reading comprehension and vocabulary that year, the most valuable part of the project was the opportunity to go into other teachers’ classrooms (Learning Walk) and observe them practice the art of teaching. It was so much fun and I learned so much by seeing my colleagues in action! I benefited even more by having those same teachers watch me teach a lesson, acknowledge my skills and offer suggestions for polishing my craft.


My position as an Instructional Coach last year provided me with another opportunity to observe teachers in action. Three other coaches and I worked with 47 teachers who had received training on guided scientific inquiry. We were there to encourage the teachers by providing resources and feedback so that they would be successful when they implemented their new lessons. Recently I was lucky enough to join ESU 10’s Emily Jameson and the Ansley Public Schools staff in their fall Learning Walks for the Adolescent Literacy Project. While I wasn’t the one to benefit from the feedback this time, I was witness to the positive experience that this was for those teachers! I saw the pride in their faces when someone on the Learning Walk team noticed the great things that were happening in their lesson. And I saw the serious consideration when a suggestion was made that could help the teacher be even more successful. It is apparent to me that good teachers always want to get better! The Adolescent Literacy Project is no different than any other instructional initiative that a school may have. Nor is it different than an isolated teacher who attends a workshop or conference and learns a new strategy or technology skill. In both cases there are teachers who are learning something new and wish to successfully implement that new thing. In fact, in my position I see teachers trying out new technology ideas every day. The key to successful implementation regardless of the strategy is to have a safety net of sorts in place. Oprah Winfrey said, “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Learning Walk teams, Technology Integration Specialists and Instructional Coaches all provide that support for teachers who are striving to be the best they can be, and when that happens, the real winners are our students! 76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Internet Safety & Digital Citizenship

Nebraska Internet Safety & Digital Citizenship Poster & PSA Contest Guidelines Sponsored by the

Nebraska Attorney General and Educational Service Units of Nebraska The ESUs of Nebraska in partnership with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office are sponsoring the Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship Poster and Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest for students in Nebraska K-12 Schools. 1. Eligibility Any public or private school/district within an ESU may participate. 2. Categories Each school or district may submit one entry in each category from each grade grouping: K-4, 5-8, 9-12, i.e. three entries per school for each of the five categories. 3. Entry Formats Poster high quality computer generated (CG) (pdf, tiff, jpg, or png); Poster hand drawn (HD) Audio PSA submit on labeled CD (mp3, aiff, or wav format). Video PSA submit on labeled VHS, DVD, or CD (QT, WMV, or RM format). Open


a submission which does not fit a poster or PSA category above—could be a brochure, video documentary, etc.

4. Rules • No real names used on posters or in audio or video PSAs. • Copyright laws must be followed, i.e. images, sound, etc. • 29 second target time on PSAs (audio and video). • Label CDs and DVDs with ESU Internet Safety Entry Form info. (See next page.) • Put ESU Contest Entry Form on back of posters • Poster Size: minimum – 8.5” X 11”, maximum – 16” X 22” (recommended delivery in protected mailer, such as tube or flat box. Do not bend.) 5. Deadline Entries must be submitted to your local ESU by January 31, 2014 in care of: Graci Gillming ESU 10 PO Box 850, 76 Plaza Blvd Kearney, NE 68848 6. Award One entry in each grade grouping from each ESU will be selected and given state ESU recognition. Winning posters and PSAs, audio and video, will then be eligible for awards and/or use by the ESUs and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. A winning entry in each category will be selected and sent on to the Attorney General’s office for special recognition. Winners will be invited to attend the Governor’s Declaration of Internet Safety Month at the State Capitol building. 76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

2014 AG & ESU Internet Safety and Digital Citizenship Contest Entry Form Attach the following completed form on the back side of each poster entry and submit it along with each audio and video entry. Label CDs and DVDs with District/School Name and Project Name. Category (please check): Poster ( __HD or __CG), PSA ( __Audio or __Video), __Open Project Name: ______________________________________________________________ Student(s) Name(s): Student(s) Age(s):


School Name: School Address: School City, State, Zip:

School Phone:

Teacher Name: Teacher email address:


5 All images and music are original, are royalty free, or copyright permissions have been granted for broadcast and display. I hereby grant permission to use this entry for positive recognition, display, publication, or broadcast by the Nebraska Educational Service Units and/or the Attorney General’s Office of Nebraska. __________________________________________________ Student Signature

_____________________ Date

__________________________________________________ Student Signature

_____________________ Date

__________________________________________________ Student Signature

_____________________ Date

__________________________________________________ Student Signature

_____________________ Date

__________________________________________________ Teacher Signature

_____________________ Date

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Continuous Improvement I recently was invited to serve as an External Team member in an ESU 11 school district as part of their Continuous Improvement process. As a professional development coordinator, I believe this is a great opportunity to further expand my knowledge of the process and witness the collaborative efforts of schools in providing a sound, educational experience for ALL students. Schools come together as communities to determine their school-wide goals, together with the accompanying values and standards. They determine what assessments they will use to provide evidence of the desired student outcomes. Then, they examine the gap between their goals and the evidence of student outcomes and identify priority objectives for school improvement. Next, the school community examines pertinent evidence and reflects on what problems or issues are contributing to the differences between goals for student

by Dallas Lewandowski, Prof. Dev. Coordinator

learning and assessed outcomes. Once they have determined the nature of the problem(s), they search for best practices that might improve the results and that would be needed to implement the most promising options.

school board or superintendent about where their greatest challenges lie and what steps need to be taken to ensure the district is providing the highest quality education for their students.

Needed resources are developed, or plans for their development are initiated. Finally, members of the school community select and implement those practices that they believe will result in improvements and test their efficacy, modifying the practices as implementation proceeds. Then, the cycle continues.

Our department has been working collaboratively with schools to assist them through each year of the continuous cycle. We have received positive feedback about our efforts to provide them with support through our technical assistance days. Districts appreciate the opportunity to get away from the building to focus their attention and seek assistance when needed. The experience to serve as a team member not only allows me 6 personally to acquire more knowledge, but also will impact my ability to support schools within ESU 10 as they proceed through the continuous improvement process.

As an external team member participating in the internal review, one has the opportunity to ask administrators, faculty, and staff to “account” for their practice and its impact on student achievement. The cycle of inquiry and action are a crucial part of the response to growing accountability requirements. The conclusions can inform both the school community and external audiences such as the

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Opening Doors to Student Understanding

by Emily Jameson, Prof. Development Coordinator

I have recently read Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding, the latest book from curriculum gurus Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. I chose to read this book because one of my goals is to improve the curriculum design and curriculum alignment processes used by teachers in ESU 10, and writing high-quality essential questions should be a key part of that process. Through reading this book, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of essential questions, the role they play in curriculum design, and how to help teachers in crafting effective essential questions. As McTighe and Wiggins so eloquently point out, “the whole idea of essential questions is to signal that the question, not the answer, is what matters” (p. 86). Defi ning Characteristics of Essential Questions: • Open-ended - no single, final, correct answer • Thought-provoking & intellectually engaging - sparks discussion & debate • Require higher-order thinking - analysis, inference, evaluation, prediction • Point toward important, transferable ideas - within & across disciplines • Raise additional questions • Require support and justification • Recur over time There was also a chapter in the book devoted to how school leaders can implement the use of essential questions with all staff and use them as tools for school reform. The following are some of the quotes that particularly resonated with me: “No initiative, practice or policy is guaranteed to succeed. As with any seed to be planted, the soil must be ready and conducive to growth. The seedbed of education involves the beliefs, values, structures, routines, protocols, and climate that influence actions, shape attitudes, and affect learning. A healthy culture is one in which everyone shares aims and acts in concert to advance them.” (p. 42)


“...numerous ... school- and district- level reforms failed to take root or endure because leaders assumed that teachers would embrace them on face value. Indeed, it is often the failure to make a case for the reform that dooms the initiative. ... Unless staff and other constituents understand the need for a change and it’s implications for their work, it is less likely to be embraced and enacted with fidelity.” (pp. 102-103) “...examining an issue in intellectually honest ways using essential questions will take longer than simply mandating actions. Certainly, leaders can simply issue directives ... but mandates rarely engender understanding and commitment among professionals, and sometimes they have the opposite effect.” (p. 105) Any effort made by a leader to initiate change is going to require a significant amount of time and work to create buy-in and foster support among the staff. I need to keep this in mind as I work with administrators and teachers in ESU 10 as I work to support them in implementing changes. McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2013). Essential Questions: Opening Doors to Student Understanding. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Child Language Development New research by Stanford psychologists just published in Developmental Science shows that 2-year-old children of lower-income families may already be six months behind in language development. This does not come as a surprise since over 50 years of research has shown that the children of lower-income, less-educated parents typically enter school with poorer language skills than more privileged children. Some of these studies have shown that five-year old children of lower socioeconomic status score more than two years behind on language tests by the time they enter school. This study shows that the discrepancy starts much earlier than shown previously. The new research by Stanford now shows that these differences begin as early as 18 months with disadvantaged children are already several months behind. Anne Fernald of Stanford tested children from each group at 18 months and then again when they were two years old. The test measured toddlers’ language processing speed by measuring the length of time in milliseconds that it took for children to look at a target object. At 24 months the lower SES toddlers had barely reached the level of processing efficiency that the higher SES children had achieved at 18 months.

by Rosemary Cervantes, Prof. Dev. Coordinator

A critical factor in explaining these differences among children is the different amounts of language stimulation that parents provide to their infants. There is generally less child-directed talk in families living in poverty. However, low SES children whose parents engaged in more talk with their babies got faster in processing speed and learned language more quickly. Fernald said, “The good news is that regardless of economic circumstances, parents who use more and richer language with their infants can help their child to learn more quickly.” Further research will aim at devising intervention methods. Parent education programs might help. Sharing books with infants, talking to children, and describing the world around them may help. Catherine Snow from Harvard University says that although parent intervention may be useful, we also need to change the conditions of growing economic inequality. Low income families often work several jobs, come home exhausted, have house work to do, and just want to keep their kids quiet. Derrick Jackson reporting on the work of Fernald and Snow for the Boston Globe says, “It now seems more critical than ever to change conditions before today’s language gap creates an even greater divide.” Sources: Derrick Jackson’s Boston Globe article Child language gap seen at younger ages than ever appeared in the Omaha World Herald, Oct. 29, 2013.


“By two years of age, these disparities are equivalent to a six-month gap between infants from rich and poor families in both processing skills and vocabulary knowledge,” Fernald said. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a developmental cascade, a growing disparity between kids that has enormous implications for their later educational success and career opportunities.”

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Common Core State Standards

by Susan Evans, Prof. Development Coordinator

November 7 and 8, I was afforded the opportunity to attend a workshop sponsored by the Marzano Research Laboratory. This workshop entitled “Common Core State Standards” gave the participants the confidence for implementing the standards effectively and efficiently. Dr. Marzano and two members of his leadership team led us through a four module training series that will help schools transition to the Common Core State Standards. The learning objectives were to: • discover the purpose, organization, and content of CCSS • learn the three facets of text complexity and how these relate to CCSS for Language Arts • understand instructional and assessment practices that support CCSS • learn about proficiency scales and how they support CCSS implementation • study CCSS assessment process, specifically in relation to potential item types Each of the four modules address these questions: What are the Common Core State Standards? How do proficiency scales support CCSS implementation? What instructional practices support CCSS implementation? What assessment practices support CCSS implementation? Although Nebraska may not formally adopt the CCSS, our districts can learn the effective instructional strategies included in this training to address the six instructional shifts that the CCSS require. These six shifts are: 1. increase reading of informational text 2. text complexity 3. academic vocabulary 4. text-based answers 5. writing from sources 6. literacy instruction in all content areas


I am anxious to discuss my learning with my colleagues at ESU 10 and brainstorm some ways that we can support our teachers in implementing good instructional strategies and supporting our districts in making the structural changes necessary to improve our instructional and assessment practices.

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

On the Road The ESU 10 Adolescent Literacy Project began its third year the week of November 11, 2013, and continues through March, 2014. In between trainings, ESU 10 Professional Development Coordinators have the opportunity to visit teacher’s classrooms to facilitate Learning Walks. Through this observation process, teachers, administrators, and ESU 10 staff have conversations to enhance student engagement in classrooms. We have seen growth in classrooms throughout Central Nebraska for the past two years and are excited for our third year to begin. We have 210 new participants that began the project on November 13. The Adolescent Literacy Project continues to open doors for ESU 10 Professional Development Coordinators to collaborate with administrators and teachers. Throughout October and early November, I have had the opportunity to venture away from the office and into ESU 10 schools.

by Denise O’Brien, Prof. Development.Coordinator

I have visited 44 classrooms in eight different ESU 10 school buildings. I look forward to the possibility of visiting 88 additional teacher classrooms from the end of November through early January. I have also been on the road assisting school districts with the implementation and analysis of NWEA MAP data. I have worked with six ESU 10 school districts this fall on analyzing their students’ test scores. After analyzing the data, teachers are being taught how to apply the data to meet all students’ instructional needs. ESU 10 continues to grow in the number of schools that are administering the NWEA MAP assessment. Kelly Clapp and I find ourselves busy meeting the needs of the 19 ESU 10 NWEA Consortia member schools. The ESU 10 vans will continue to rack up the miles as the Professional Development Department members and I hop in the vans and hit the road to assist schools in implementing quality instruction and data practices. 10

76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Change By Design

by Kelly Clapp, Professional Development.Coordinator

As we all know, change can be difficult and incredibly complex. In continuing my professional reading in the area of leading educational change, I just completed the book, Change By Design, written by Tim Brown. Although this book is geared primarily toward business, there were several “take-aways” that apply to education as well. In his book, Brown offers many strategies that can set any organization up for building and encouraging change through innovation. In the following paragraphs I have provided some highlights of two key leadership applications from the book. Leadership Application: Using observation and empathy to gain insight into actual needs and develop a better design. Humans are so skilled at adapting to inconvenient situations it is sometimes difficult to determine needs. In order to meet this challenge, a design thinker must find out what needs people may not even know they have. Author, Tim Brown suggests three essential, human elements for any successful design project. Insight • Learning from the experiences of others • Watching their behavior for clues • This can reveal more insight into a problem than crunching hard data Observation • It is about being keen in seeing the whole picture • Watching what people don’t do, or listening to what they don’t say • Tim Brown - “Good design thinkers observe. Great design thinkers observe the ordinary.” • Questioning everyday occurrences or situations with “why?” will help you to discover what may be hidden Empathy • Walking in the shoes of others and experiencing for ourselves, we can better understand what others are experiencing and feeling • To understand a design is to understand how the people act and feel in relationship to the design Leadership Learning: The divergent process of creating choices is futile if we do not move to the convergent phase of making choices.


76 Plaza Blvd • PO Box 850 • Kearney, NE 68848-0850 • Ph: 308.237.5927 • Fax: 308.237.5920 •

Connector Newsletter Dec 2013  
Connector Newsletter Dec 2013