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 Julie Doyle
The challenges and restrictions that arose and changed during the last two years made it difficult -- if not impossible -- for international exchange students to live in the U.S. and be a part of our wonderful Jeffco communities. We are celebrating that international exchange students are back! For the 2022-2023 school year, Jeffco will host up to 100 international exchange students. International exchange is a great way for the youth of today to meet the global challenges of tomorrow by building bridges of cross-cultural understanding.
So far, we have students coming from Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Puerto Rico, Sweden, France, Norway, Brazil, Switzerland, Thailand, Belgium, and Ukraine. We have expedited the application process for our students from Ukraine in the hopes of getting them to safety as soon as possible, and we are looking forward to welcoming them into our communities. We have so much to learn from them.
International students certainly get to enjoy the opportunities of participating in the academic, athletic, and social lives of their schools. However, American students also benefit when their peers are from very different cultural backgrounds. American students do not hesitate to ask questions and learn from their new classmates. Teachers also enjoy having international students in their classrooms and the new learning and connections that are made.
If you are interested in hosting an international exchange student, please reach out to Julie Doyle, International Exchange Coordinator, at Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Jamie Grimm
Sex ed. It's a popular topic in our society with strong opinions on what, where, and when it should be taught to young people. Most of the voices in these conversations are from adults. Rarely do we hear from the population that is most impacted by the decisions we make. In the fall of 2021, we decided to change this problem and develop a class for high school students to help us revise their sexual health education curriculum. This post will share the successes and challenges of utilizing students to help lead the work of revising curriculum at a district level.
With the help of counselors, SELS, schedulers, and science teachers, we recruited thirteen students from five high schools to participate in the Healthy Decision Making Leadership course. The course was run through Jeffco Virtual Academy as a .5 Leadership elective. Students met every other week in the evening with the Health Science Coordinator (the subsequent author of the unit), and Jaime Brenner, a social and emotional learning specialist from Alameda International Jr/Sr High School. The students had work outside of class that they had to complete each week as well.
Representation of student voices is incredibly meaningful. However, in order for students to have an impactful presence, they first needed to understand that curriculum is developed through the use of state standards, and in our case, state law. Having this background information and understanding helped students to better create validity to their revision suggestions.
Once students had a better understanding of what needed to be taught within sexual health education, their next hurdle was to develop student-centered activities to address the content. Through the use of student and teacher surveys, focus groups, and their own lived experiences, the students created and or revised existing activities that were relevant to their lives. Each of the ten lessons within the curriculum has a student-centered activity that was either created or revised by the students. This was the major focus of the course and took the most amount of time.
As most can imagine, bringing together students from different high schools, backgrounds, and experiences to revise a sexual health education curriculum can be, initially, really awkward! During the first couple of group meetings there was a lot of silence from the students and probing from the instructors. However, through team building exercises, laughter, and small group discussions, the students really emerged from their shells. The result was a group of students that knew their classmates were respectful, trustworthy, kind, and fierce advocates for the work.
Not only did we have a group of students that became leaders in the work, but we now have a curriculum that is incredibly student-centered, culturally relevant, and meaningful for the population that we seek to educate.
With any new endeavor there will be unanticipated setbacks. As most educators, we envision a lesson or training to go exactly how we have planned, only to realize that the best laid plans often go awry. The two biggest challenges I had was holding students accountable for their work outside of class, and being okay with changing my original expectations about what I wanted to accomplish during the course. If I was to host this course again, I would develop a better system for students to check-in with me about their progress. I think this would hold them more accountable, but also allow me to build better relationships with the students on an individual basis. Some of our students were not always comfortable sharing their opinions during whole group discussions, but when they were in a small group or one-on-one situation, they had a lot more to say.
I quickly learned that students in this class were way more involved in the work if it was through whole group or small group discussions. This was not what I had planned for each of my lessons! Therefore, in the future I would definitely build in more time for collaboration and group discussions. After a couple years of quiet students on a Zoom screen, the in-person group discussions were a very welcomed change!
Young people are incredibly knowledgeable and motivated to become agents of change. We must not use them merely as an act of tokenism, but rather a group of individuals with the foresight to recognize the challenges they will face in their present and future lives.
My last piece of advice for anyone who chooses to involve students in curriculum revisions/developments is to “feed them”. Feed them food each time you meet (quite literally…they’re always hungry) and feed them opportunities to be impactful within their community!
By Toni Bower
The philosophy of disciplinary literacy has been around for many years. The idea and practices might not have been elevated as much as they could have been. Have you heard, “Every teacher teaches reading and writing?” This is NOT disciplinary literacy. Let’s shift this thinking to “Every teacher teaches literacy skills essential to their discipline.” Our students deserve the reinforcement of the literacy skills and instructional practices that support their access to discipline-specific content and ability to be successful in learning across their day. We know that literacy happens in each and every content, but how are students accessing the information? How are they communicating it? How are they “thinking” in the various content classrooms? We want our students to participate alongside their teachers and with their peers, and not as observers.
There are some content literacy skills that classrooms use but there are also discipline-specific literacies too. This chart from Lent & Voigt separates some literacy skills illustrating the differences.
Disciplinary literacy lifts the discipline/content first and then incorporates the literacy skills through the lens of the discipline. Content literacies/ interdisciplinary literacy uses the literacy skills (taught in ELA classrooms) and brings them across all classrooms. For the most part, the skill looks the same across the disciplines (with very minor tweaks).
Currently there are several middle schools learning together through a leader group and taking the work back to their classrooms and teams. Professional development opportunities were provided for secondary instructional coaches around using MAP data in all content areas to better build understanding on students' proficiency levels in literacy and how to adapt classroom instructional practices to support all students. Additional professional development was shared with our new secondary teachers around using “Talk Moves” in all content areas to help students engage and use deeper thinking in the disciplines.
If you have any questions, want more information, or want to collaborate on professional learning or other opportunities for you, your teachers, or your students, please contact Toni Bower. email@example.com.
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.
By Jenn Edgar
“Postsecondary Opportunities” in Jeffco are any opportunities for high school students to earn college credit while still in high school. This encompasses Concurrent Enrollment (CE), Dual Enrollment (DE), Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB). Although these are similar, they each have their own specifics and some lend themselves to more equitable access than others.
To help staff, students, and families in Jeffco understand what each of these opportunities are, we have created the Jeffco Postsecondary Options grid that compares and contrasts each of these items side by side.
Additionally, we have a searchable database for both our district high schools and charter high schools, where anyone can look up which college credit opportunities exist at each school.
How many Postsecondary Opportunities are in Jeffco?
Over the past 5 years, Jeffco has increased its percentage of credits earned from 6% to 18%. Currently Warren Tech offers the most credits across their 3 campuses (North, Central, and South). In addition, for traditional high schools, Chatfield High School offers the most concurrent enrollment with 119 credits.
In the past two years, neighborhood high schools have been working to increase their concurrent enrollment opportunities through surveying current teachers to see who has qualifying credentials, identifying other concurrent enrollment opportunities from existing approved teachers, and having strategic conversations with reluctant schools and staff. Additionally, Jeffco has been able to grow opportunities utilizing 5A dollars and grants.
During Spring 2021, we piloted a synchronous remote concurrent enrollment course using 5A dollars. In partnership with Red Rocks Community College, we hired an English faculty member to offer one section of English Composition in a synchronous remote format. We worked with two of our Alternative Education Campuses--Brady Exploration and Jeffco County Open School to identify a group of 20 students who would benefit from this opportunity, and had an 85% success rate. Based on this pilot, the PWR Coordinator applied for and was awarded the Concurrent Enrollment Expansion & Innovation grant in the amount of $50,000 to replicate and expand upon the pilot. This expanded model launches Spring 2022 with seven Guaranteed Transfer course options with participants from across the district. Our hopes are that we can continue replicating this model, using Jeffco HLC-qualified teachers to continue bringing opportunities to our students.
Jeffco was also invited to participate in the Colorado Education Initiative Jumpstart program, which started this fall. The goal of CEI Jumpstart is to increase and diversify CE participation and success for the 2022-23 school year, and we identified Bear Creek High School and the Jeffco Remote Learning Program as our two target schools. Through research, data digging, and student voice, the goal is to create equitable and strategic growth in access to Concurrent Enrollment courses at these two schools, and hopefully applying our learning to other schools in the district.
If you’re interested in learning more about Postsecondary Opportunities, feel free to contact Jenn.Edgar@jeffco.k12.co.us or 303.982.7842. Additionally, you can access the Postsecondary Opportunities monthly newsletter here--feel free to bookmark it so you have it easily accessible.
By Sarah Hurd and Natalie Schaefer
“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others” - Michelle Obama
February may be the shortest month of the year in terms of number of days, but anyone who has taught through the month of February knows that it is a mighty month. We have Groundhog Day (although, there’s something about the past year that feels a little like a continual version of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day!), President’s Day, and, of course, the month-long celebration of Black History Month. Black History Month is an opportunity to focus on highlighting courageous leaders such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks. It is also a month to celebrate Black voices and perspectives through the sharing of stories, poetry, oration, and narratives that demonstrate the experiences and contributions of foundational Americans. It is 28 days to affirm cultural traits and contributions and reframe thinking. In Jeffco, we not only want to make sure we take the time to celebrate Black History Month, but also to honor that these stories should not only be taught this month, but all throughout the curriculum.
As Learning for Justice reports, students throughout the country often encounter curriculum that does not fully address the history of Black Americans. “What students often get instead is a condensed version of factoids, a February full of “holidays and heroes,” when they can explore sanitized experiences of Black people without any context.”1 The Social Studies curriculum team is currently adjusting unit-specific materials to push teaching beyond chronicles of “famous firsts”, exceptional Black people, and trauma spotlights in relation to marginalized populations in the United States. Honoring Black history is inextricably connected with the broader objectives of racial justice and racial healing for people from all communities, and pushing ourselves to think intersectionally about other marginalized social identities that can lead to compounding struggles. As Audre Lorde states “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”.
We encourage teachers and students to think critically about key figures in history. Learning for Justice explains it this way:
Too often we present historical events and figures as one dimensional—all good or all bad. But we know people are more complex. For example, the Smithsonian’s Paradox of Liberty exhibit tells the complex story of Monticello, the home of founding father Thomas Jefferson, as a place of innovation and excellence through craftsmanship as well as a place of oppression and the brutality of slavery.
This process of examining the complexity of a person or event helps students practice four thinking dispositions that Dr. Cabrera, author of Thinking at Every Desk, calls critical in order for a student to take on more rigorous content in the classroom: distinction (how are things different), relationship (how are things the same), system (how are things connected), and perspective (what are the possible ways to understand this thing).
The social studies team, through the strong partnership with the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion team, are collaborating in the work of allyship and are working to move Jeffco beyond the bite sized pieces of Black history to infuse our curriculum with the rich history of our country that is Black History, Indigenous History, Womens’ History, and also continues to elevate the history of the United States. We are also working with other content areas such as English/ Language Arts, to create strong connections across content areas and through disciplinary literacy to expand opportunities for students to engage in these topics.
To conclude, we are excited to see the lessons of Black history, and ways the teachers and schools will honor the resilience, creativity, and vitality of Black people in the face of inequity and violence, past and present. And just how we encourage the use of other commemorative months such as American Indian Heritage Month (November), Asian Pacific Heritage Month (May), and Women's History Month (March) to highlight stories and contributions of various American groups, we also strive to do the same within the curriculum and resources available to teachers and students in Jeffco. Below you will find a list of resources to support learning, discovery, and lesson planning this month from several trusted sources. Jeffco teachers can find various resources across grade levels in Bridge to Curriculum that support examples mentioned above.
Sarah.Hurd@jeffco.k12.co.us and Natalie.Schaefer@jeffco.k12.co.us - Curriculum & Instruction TOSAs/ Social Studies
Dillard, C. (2019, January 11). Why We Need Black History Month. Retrieved February 02, 2021, from https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/why-we-need-black-history-month
Curriculum & Instruction