While the Pulse blog loves all things teaching and learning, we would rather shine the spotlight on the talented and passionate folks at C&I who share their passion through their content-specific newsletters. Therefore, the Pulse will take an indefinite hiatus from publication in the hope that you will tune in to the news you can most use. Whatever your role, there is support for you!
Here are samples of the great work happening out there:
Career Links Choice Link Newsletter
Computer Science Updates
DTL Weekly Update
Ed Tech Blog
Secondary ELA news: ELA Café
The Elementary Element
The ESL Memo
Visual Arts Newsletter
World Language Newsletter
From the Math Curriculum Specialist Team
Have you heard? In connection with Jeffco Thrives Priority #1: Our Learners, Our Future, some of our Jeffco schools will be implementing a new Math resource during the 2022-2023 school year!
Illustrative Mathematics (IM) is a K–12® core curriculum designed to give all students equity and access to grade-level mathematics — ensuring students are active participants in their learning. Teachers and students will be able to access the resource digitally through the Imagine Learning (formerly known as Learn Zillion) platform. Imagine Learning is an IM-Certified Partner, and the digital platform provides an interactive experience where students thrive through inclusive instructional routines, collaborative math discourse, and digital tools that promote thinking and reasoning.
Starting in the Fall of 2022, Cohort 1 schools will be diving into this problem-based curriculum. This curriculum aligns closely with ideas outlined in the Jeffco K-12 Mathematics Instructional Framework by engaging students through embedded differentiation, instructional routines, and math discourse that promote modeling and reasoning.
Want to learn more? Click here!
By Adrienne Rossi-Genova
“Engagement is more about what you can do for your students. Empowerment is about helping students to figure out what they can do for themselves.”
- G. Couros
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge (PBLWorks). PBLs can range in duration, from a week to a full unit’s length of time. The culmination of learning is to create a project or presentation to deliver to a real audience.
There are many high-leverage teaching practices used in PBL which translate to any classroom’s work. One of these wrap-around practices is culture building, which is a Gold-Standard PBL teaching practice from PBLWorks. “Teachers explicitly and implicitly promote student independence and growth, open-ended inquiry, team spirit, and attention to quality” (WHAT: Gold-Standard PBL).
This view of culture reflects real-world skills that anyone might do as part of their job. From task organization to research to developing public products, teachers who routinely use these practices as a part of the way they do business in the classroom are promoting the deepening of Essential or 21st Century Skills. In addition, developing the classroom’s culture improves learning because students know their work and feel empowered to carry out tasks independently.
“Classroom environment is one of the most important factors affecting student learning. A positive environment is one in which students feel a sense of belonging, trusting others, and feel encouraged to tackle challenges, take risks, and ask questions”.
Joan Young, Encouragement in the Classroom (2014)
Culture is defined as ‘the set of shared attitudes, beliefs, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institute or organization’” (PBLWorks, 2021). In Candice Steinke’s and Erika Lee’s classrooms at Foothills Elementary, their Smart Doll PBL exemplified a positive classroom culture. They promoted student independence through student voice and choice-- students made decisions about who they would research and which major life events to include in their timeline and essay. Students developed an attention to quality when creating their own Smart Doll-- from choosing a design to cutting to sewing; students themselves did the work.
Many teachers engage in culture-building activities at the beginning of the school year or semester. Dedication to the development of culture in the classroom not only builds relationships but strengthens students’ convictions about themselves as learners and their ability to create excellent independent work.
PBLWorks. (n.d.). What is PBL? https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl
PBLWorks. (n.d.). WHAT: Gold standard PBL: Project based teaching practices. https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl/gold-standard-teaching-practices
PBLWorks. (2021). Project based learning handbook for elementary school.
Young, J. (2014). Encouragement in the classroom: How do I help students stay positive and focused? (ASCD Arias). ASCD.
By Kristina Harris, Apryl Thompson, and Anne Folsom
Within a reading workshop how many minutes are students reading? This year has brought a return to consistent, in-person learning environments for most students. Teachers have worked hard to create these learning environments through consistent routines that leverage learning to build independence. The last few years have brought a need to adjust instruction to meet the needs of an even wider range of students. As you examine the needs of your classroom and the promise of grade level learning, we encourage you to consider the balance you are creating. “Children need time to read — a lot of time. Time spent reading contributes to reading achievement in ways that simply doing worksheets or other activities does not” (Allington, 2002; Foorman et al., 2006). Look at the categories below from your students eyes. How are your readers building stamina in their texts? Consider ways for them to read, take a little break, and jump back into a book.
Structure and Environment- Consider how students access books. A robust classroom library builds excitement and interest in books. Students will have the option to read books that meet their needs, interest and purpose. Book boxes contain a variety of text, some for fluency, some for print work, some for student interest and choice. Students have more device access than ever before and you will want to consider how ebooks are assigned or accessible to students. One caution: ensure students are actually reading, not just listening to books.
Books- Can students find books on topics that they think are interesting?
Are the books student access “just right” for them? I’m thinking of the wide range of readers you probably see in your classroom right now. Students will want to spend time in a variety of text types. Decodable texts allow students to apply the foundational skills they have learned. They are using the spelling rules to decode within a controlled environment. Predictable texts enable students to move from that controlled print work to a text that will have more engaging comprehension work. Level readers typically have richer story lines, better characters or exciting information. And lastly, think about choice or library books. Students want to read, and even just look at, texts on topics that interest them, that come in a variety of formats, that they can share with friends, and that they can learn from.
Proficiency Scales to Drive Purpose- As students head off to independent reading you may want to engage them in a purpose for reading. For years schools have used close reading as a lens for readers to examine text through. These practices can guide students' thinking about a text. Think "Notice & Note." Students engage in book clubs or collaboration that allows them to be accountable to their group as they have conversation and dig into books. Some independent reading with sticky notes or opportunities to write about reading can also be a purpose. And sometimes, kids deserve a chance to read and enjoy something they’ve picked on their own just for the sheer joy of reading.
Goals, Logs, Journals- Get to know your students' reading habits through interest surveys either for students or families. Reading logs can be a great visual way for kids to track what they have read and get them reading more. Student Friendly Proficiency Scales can help students evaluate their own progress in reading skills.
skills, collaborating and co-teaching to promote authentic technology integration and providing access to information. This has evolved with our needs, from remote learning and the need for 1:1 access for all students and staff to being in schools and supporting technology integration as teachers and students return to classrooms. DTLs continue to support technology integration, as we roll out of this pandemic and beyond the 21st century. And although technology use is strong, promoting a love of reading is still one of the core values of all libraries, providing avenues for students to explore new ideas, dream and create and get lost in books. As students return to school, library book check out has soared and our DTLs are working diligently to curate a collection that ensures students find their “just right” fit.
Cultivating Equitable Libraries with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Through focused professional learning, Digital Teacher Librarians have embarked on a path to Cultivating Equitable Libraries. Jeffco Library Services, in collaboration with Jeffco’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team, have partnered over the past few years to create a rich and meaningful plan to curate collections that have the “just right” books for each student.
Title I: Promoting Belonging Through Literature
Jeffco Library partnerships expanded into the Title I team as they learned about our library work with Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. This school year, the Title I team has been able to support Title I school libraries financially, taking our work into action and providing $5000 for each school library to Promote Belonging through Literature. Title I, Jeffco Libraries, along with Social Emotional Learning Specialists (SELS) and FELS (Family Engagement Liaisons) have strived to bring this work to fruition. This is an amazing opportunity for so many of our schools that will have lasting impacts on many of our students and staff, far beyond this school year.
Jeffco Public Libraries
This work was supported by another community partner, Jefferson County Public Libraries. The Title I DTLs requested time to research and evaluate books, thinking critically about each of their communities and collections. JCPL provided the space and hundreds of titles for DTLs to read and review. Our partners at JCPL provided the books we requested and offered us so many more. DTLs who participated said that this was a game changer, that they filled their buckets professionally and were able to use their expertise to knowledgeably curate their schools collection.
Follett Library Solutions
As Covid was on the rise, our plans to meet in person were put on hold. Jeffco’s library book vendor, Follett, stepped in and provided full preview access to books on our purchasing platform. Follett spent countless hours in coordination with various publishers to provide DTLs with full access to preview titles digitally. This increased access allowed DTLs to continue their work. Follett has also partnered closely in the work the Title I DTLs have done, working to ensure the books ordred will arrive before the end of the school year.
Example of success
A recent post on the Jeffco Ed Tech blog , An Accidental Love Letter, highlighted a few examples of how this work is directly impacting students. There are many more untold stories that reflect the impact of the work that DTLs are doing. Our students face a variety of seen and unseen challenges; the need to have mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors is essential for all learners. These stories share glimpses into the heart of our work.
Where do we go next?
As we begin to wrap up this year’s professional learning, we are far from finished. DTLs will continuously seek opportunities to promote belonging through literature; including building lists of books to add to library collections, finding ways to build a budget that can sustain equity in our school library collections and as equity leaders in our buildings. DTLs will also continue to create shared and collaborative opportunities for students to thrive as learners, readers and thinkers using technology, information, and literature. We are committed to being the hub of our learning community, serving all learners.
By Dave Yonkie
“Intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of capacity when the body is healthy and strong.”
~ John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Physical education is an important educational component in grades K-12. Research shows a strong correlation between physical fitness and improved academic success. Plus, healthy students have fewer absences and behavioral issues which also contribute to academic achievement. P.E. teachers strive to teach physical literacy. A physically literate student has the “motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value, and take responsibility for a lifetime of physical activity.” (Whitehead, 2014)
For good health, SHAPE America and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend school age children spend at least sixty minutes per day engaged in some form of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). P.E. teachers play an important role not only in helping students achieve these MVPA goals, but also in shaping the habits and attitudes that set them on a lifelong path of health enhancing physical activity.
Transforming the Learning Experience
JeffCo P.E. teachers are turning to wireless heart rate (HR) technology in their relentless quest to improve health and physical fitness outcomes for students. The use of wireless HR monitors is transforming the learning experience by giving students a voice in their own health and wellness journeys. HR monitors allow students to privately view “in-the-moment” biometric feedback to help them understand what is happening inside their body during exercise. The tracking and reporting capabilities of the system helps motivate them to take ownership of their physical activity time and intensity as they work toward realizing their personal goals for health and wellness.
The Student Experience
Wireless HR technology has been deployed in all JeffCo middle and high schools, and in a few elementary buildings. Students find the technology engaging and easy to understand; their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive! Said one 7th grade student, “I like wearing the heart rate monitors, because they motivate me to work toward a higher heart rate, so I don’t slack off.” In one survey of middle school teachers who are actively using the tool, teachers report 91% showed moderate-to-high levels of increases in the amount of time students spend in health enhancing heart rate zones.
Implications for Teaching & Learning
Beyond promoting increases in MVPA time, heart rate monitors provide a pathway for P.E. teachers to teach important curricular outcomes, including; goal driven fitness planning, and training principles such as resting, recovery and training heart rates, rates of perceived exertion, specificity, progression, overload, resistance and tedium to name a few.
HR technology is the most accurate and objective tool for measuring exercise intensity. Some teachers are using the technology to measure their effectiveness in helping students realize their fitness goals. System feedback and reporting capabilities can help teachers understand if they’re on the right path, or if adjustments in their planning and instruction are necessary. The level of detail in the reporting gives teachers the information they need to offer students a higher level of personalized support, regardless of their fitness level. The data generated through HR systems can help support a well crafted teacher growth goal.
School & Family Connections
Health and physical fitness outcomes are enhanced when schools, students and families work together. The reporting capabilities of HR systems allows teachers to share personalized, daily reports with students and parents that are simple and easy to understand. With just one “click” of a button each family can receive a student report containing information about the amount of time and level of intensity spent in health enhancing activity. These reports can provide a nice segue into conversations at the dinner table, or during school conferences!
The pandemic of the last two years has complicated the successful implementation of this amazing technology. Remote learning, initiative fatigue, teacher hesitancy and fear of spreading the Covid virus by sharing HR monitors have presented some challenges that will need to be overcome with some creative thinking, in order for this work to realize it’s full potential. Teachers continue to receive professional learning using small group, and direct one-to-one support. Teachers have access to District “in-house” expert trainers and dedicated vendor support. A semester-long MVPA Challenge has been started to incentivize more teachers to use their monitors. This contest recognizes teachers on a weekly basis for the number of sessions they post using the monitors, and for the highest average time their students spend in MVPA time.
P.E. teachers strive not only to give students the knowledge and competency, but the habits and attitudes to live a healthy, physically active lifestyle. HR Technology is a tool that can help teachers reach these goals. HR technology puts ownership of physical activity in the hands of students and provides opportunities for teachers to address important curricular outcomes. Working together, P.E. teachers, students and parents can help reach health & fitness outcomes that last a lifetime!
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) Customer Support
Heart Tech Plus (HTP) YouTube Channel
Dedicated HTP Contact - Brad Hull at: 877-456-3198, or email at: brad@HeartTechPlus.com
Interactive Health Technologies (IHT) Vimeo Tutorials
Interactive Health Technologies Website
Dedicated IHT Contact - Lois Mach at: 701-799-8432, or email at: Lois@ihtusa.com
P.E. Internal Website: The MVPA Challenge
SHAPE America Physical Activity Guidelines
Centers for Disease Control Physical Activity Guidelines for School Age Children
David.Yonkie@jeffco.k12.co.us - Curriculum & Instruction, K-12 P.E. Coordinator
Whitehead, M. (Ed.) (2010). Physical Literacy: Throughout the Lifecourse. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Native American Heritage Month
By Sarah Hurd
I have been a part of Jeffco Schools since my family moved here in the mid 1980s from eastern Kansas. Third grade brought local history to me, which was so new to me as I had only been living in Colorado for a couple of years. We had Day in Denver and I remember taking photos and using the prints to make a scrapbook for my project of architecture in Denver. And we also had Day on the Prairie. We were divided into Native American tribes and spent the day at a nearby park. At the time it seemed fun. We got to make necklaces made out of wood rings, built teepees, and tried bison burgers. I remember learning the different names of tribes. All in all, it was a fun field trip. We were outside, I was with friends, and my mom got to come along. Fast forward 20 plus years and in my current role I found a meeting placed on my calendar with Jeffco’s Indian Education Liaison. A whole new world was waiting for me. In the last seven years I have learned so much about not only Colorado’s First Peoples, but where our Native Nations are positioned in our past, present and future. It has become a highlight to share about native peoples and to thread their stories throughout the K-12 curriculum. I am now able to reflect upon my experience from Day on the Prairie and realize that while no harm was intended, approaching learning about a culture, its peoples, and traditions in that way is disrespectful and is harmful. As we approach November, I wanted to take a few minutes and elevate my personal growth and understanding to include native perspectives and heritage. I hope this coming month provides a space for you to reflect and learn as well.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Today, it is often referred to as Native American Heritage Month. Throughout the Jeffco curriculum, the Social Studies Team, in partnership with our Jeffco Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team, has worked to incorporate a wide variety of resources that highlight the history and accomplishments of Native Americans within the United States, as well as internationally. We are working to include native voices and perspectives, influential Native historical figures, current prominent Native leaders, and cultural influences throughout the Jeffco social studies curriculum.
Here are some resource links that we love for this month:
Native American Heritage Month website - contains links for multiple resources including the Library of Congress materials, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian with lesson materials such as primary sources and teaching suggestions.
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) Native Knowledge 360° Essential Understandings about American Indians. It is a framework that offers new possibilities for creating student learning experiences. This site also provides guidance about teaching about Thanksgiving in an inclusive and accurate way.
K-5 Sample Literacy Lessons
Curriculum & Instruction