• In 2012, Community Unit School District 201 established the Professional Learning Communities (PLC). Many of the academic changes and successes are a direct result of teachers having the opportunity to meet every week and collaborate. Each of the schools has provided a brief accounting of what teachers have been focused on this year in their PLC’s. Each month, for the remainder of the school year, an update will be posted to provide school community members with a snapshot of what teachers are focused on in their PLC groups. 

    CUSD 201 will periodically provide information on the progress of PLC work in the district.  If you wish to receive updates on Professional Learning Communities at  CUSD 201, please take a moment to subscribe for the PLC e-alert.   Log into the website, choose My Account>Edit Account Settings>Subscriptions>Manage Subscriptions>Other Areas of Interest>Community Unit School District 201>and select Professional Learning Communities.

PLC Blog

  • First Quarter PLC Update - Westmont Junior High

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 11/6/2017

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  • First Quarter PLC Updates

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 11/6/2017

    Manning and Miller

    All elementary teachers started the school year by conducting a benchmark assessment called the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (F&P). The purpose of that assessment is to determine student's independent and instructional reading levels. Teachers are able to observe their students’ reading behavior one-on-one. Students and teachers engage in conversations that provide insight into students’ reading comprehension. The data from this assessment helps teachers make informed decisions about ongoing reading instruction.

    Featured PLC Team - Fourth Grade

    4th Grade Team

    Pictured here: Tara Mazzacano (Manning), Cynthia Caliendo (Manning), Vanessa Afre, Steve Ritz (Miller), and Karen Walsh (Manning) 

    As an example of how this data is used during PLC discussions, our fourth grade team worked together to determine to group students effectively for guided reading. Guided reading is small-group reading instruction that is designed to provide differentiation as teachers help students develop their reading proficiency.  Each teacher breaks his or her class into four instructional groups based on students’ reading level. Two teachers from Manning noticed that for just a few students there was a discrepancy between the reading level as determined by F&P and the MAP score. In this case, those three students were assigned to a small group so they can get some extra support. During PLC, the fourth grade team further discussed the pros and cons of administering such a complex assessment. As a group, they decided that the information they gain about each of their student’s reading behavior is extremely valuable. In addition to locating materials from the book room, the team reviewed research-based instructional strategies to use during small group instruction from the companion materials published by F&P. They discussed the importance of maximizing the 20 minutes of small group instruction with teaching methods that are differentiated and targeted based on students’ readiness levels.

    As the fourth grade team further evaluates the data from benchmark tests, they determine that the vocabulary instruction has been working. The MAP scores reflect students’ success in academic vocabulary. They embed language acquisition students in whole group and independent work that includes frequent writing activities. Students use quick writes and journals to show what they know in during ELA as well as content area (Science and Social Studies) lessons. The next steps for the fourth grade team will focus on summative assessment strategies and data that will provide insight into students reading comprehension skills and abilities.

    Westmont High School

    Featured PLC Team: Interdisciplinary (English/Science/Social Studies/Math) with SAT Focus

    The high school PLCs have been working together to support instruction related to student success on the SAT. At the beginning of the school year, the high school hosted a Universal Testing day, where all students in grades 9-12, completed components of a practice SAT or PSAT. The Universal Testing day provided baseline data for teachers. This data was and continues to be used in PLCs to identify strengths and weaknesses in our practice and curriculum and to hone in on those students that require additional intervention(s) to find success. Specifically, in department PLCs, the teachers have worked together to come up with strategies and additional supports to attack those skills and content areas where they have seen gaps in learning. Also, they have worked to draft and implement additional common formatives and summatives across grade levels, so that they have more data to support instruction.

    Interdisciplinary PLC Team

    Pictured Here: Erika Eckart and Don Kemmerling

    In turn, on our last School Improvement Day (SIP), the teachers worked collaboratively across departments to have interdisciplinary discussions about the Universal Testing data and to do a close analysis of question items on the SAT where it appeared that students fell short across the board. These conversations proved to be fruitful, as the departments were able to share resources and ideas with one another about how to fill in the gaps and strengthen instruction. Teachers went back to their classrooms and started to implement these new ideas. For example, the Science department identified from the data that students struggled with graphs and the interpretations of graphs on the SAT. As such, they then went back to their classrooms and imbedded in their instruction more activities and opportunities for students to review and analyze graphs. In addition, the Science department provided suggestions for other content areas to scaffold instruction related to graphs in their own classrooms as well. Overall, the SIP day provided much collegiate conversation, and really worked to push each department forward in support of their goals toward SAT. Inasmuch, this work has already elicited results - based on several summative assessments given (across disciplines) and an additional testing day data point, we can see as a school marked improvement in student test scores and all over student success.


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  • PLC Begins for the New School Year

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 10/4/2017

    Manning and Miller

    The first couple of weeks of PLC time was dedicated to important professional development activities. The focus for all the work we do is the Growth Mindset. We had time to collaborate on how we support our students to develop the belief that dedication and hard work can help them do better in school. In addition, the elementary schools are beginning their full implementation of the Second Step program. Second Step is a research-based, developmentally appropriate program designed to strengthen the social emotional skills of students. The proper implementation of Second Step is imperative to student success in the classroom. Teachers are learning how the program addresses prosocial skills, empathy, and conduct, using structured, student-friendly lessons. Finally, teachers and administrators worked together to design teachers' student learning objectives (SLO), which they will use for evaluation purposes during the coming school year. The SLO process includes learning objectives, assessment, growth targets, and outcomes. Teachers worked in grade level teams to develop a SLO as well as designing individual plans. Because the SLO is a cycle that lasts almost the entire school year, much work is done to properly design the elements to ensure student success. Once PLC meetings were under way, all teachers focused on the first quarter learning targets and assessments.

    Featured PLC Team - First Grade

    1st Grade PLC Team

    Veronica Sanchez (Miller Dual Language), Kathy Jocewicz (Miller), Amy Rubel (student teacher), Brigid Connor (Manning), Tracy Mullane (Manning), and Mary Ellen Jaspers (Manning)

    Starting with Math, we reviewed the scope and sequence of standards. We verified that the scope and sequence document accurately reflected the standards that our students will learn during the first quarter. We reached a consensus on which standards will be assessed and notated the scope and sequence document. The assessed standards this month include but are not limited to 1.NBT.1 count to 120, 1.MD.1 order three objects by length, 1.MD.3 time to hour, 1.G.1 distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes and 1.MD.4 organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories. We recently assessed the standard 1NBT.1, counting to 100. Almost all the members of the team brought their student work for that assessment. We separated the work based on proficiency and compared class results. We talked about classroom practices including small group instruction to provide “mini-lessons” that support students who are well below proficiency level. For example, those who were unable to write numbers properly will need significantly more reteaching opportunities. After discussion, the team decided that the post test for this standard will be given to the students before report cards. Very soon, we will pre-assess measurement, and standard 1.OA.2, solve for the third unknown position, and attributes of shapes. We reviewed resources and materials to select specific items to pull them together in a bundled assessment. Because we will all will give the same test under the same conditions, this would qualify as a common assessment.

    In the upcoming PLCs, the first grade teachers will work together to solidify the assessments for the remainder of first quarter in ELA.

    WJH - Featured Team: 6th Grade

    These past few weeks, we've been focused on writing assessment and instruction during PLC time. Our team has evaluated our 6th grade students' writing pre-assessments, and we're working to identify focus areas for instruction across all content areas. We're also working to implement Kelly Gallagher's Purposes for Writing into our classrooms, using his lesson templates. 

    Additionally, we’ve been working with colleagues in our departments to implement Action Plans we created based on our work with Kelly Gallagher at the Sept. 11 Institute Day. Some strategies we’re working to implement are providing students time to write every day, working to guide students to read text to identify what’s NOT said, and providing students with several models of text when writing.

    Want to know a little bit more about Kelly Gallagher? Follow this link

    Our first PLC meeting found us responding to questions Mr. Carey always asks--what do we expect students to learn? How will we know they are learning? How will we respond when they don't learn? and How will we respond when they already know it? Mr. Jonak guided us through responding to the questions on our own, then sharing out with our grade level team, then sharing out with all of our other WJHS teams. The questions are a great way for us to think about student learning in our own classrooms, on our grade level teams, and school-wide. Here are some 6th Grade Team members brainstorming before sharing begins.  

    We spent time in the Media Center this afternoon finishing up evaluation of 6th grade writing assessments. It was lovely to take a break to celebrate success; Ms. Ruh (our Media Specialist/Instructional Coach) was recognized for organizing our author visit. She was awarded w/an "I'm Casual Today" sticker she can use any day she chooses for her efforts. We hope your students had great things to say about our author visit w/Chris Rylander. 

    writing assessment   

    For the next two weeks, our PLC time will be devoted to writing! Last Monday, all students completed an argumentative writing pre-assessment during Literacy. The purpose of the pre-assesssment is for teachers to assess students' baseline writing levels. Each member of put team is assigned several papers to evaluate. We evaluate a few as a group as a way to develop consistency, or calibration. After all of the papers are evaluated, we use that data to determine ways to support student growth in writing in all classes. Students will complete the post-assessment in March, and we'll repeat the evaluation/data analysis process.

     team analyzing writing

    Top left to right: Mr. Clarke, Dr. B., Miss Healy, Dr. Sivik. Lower left to right: Mrs. Meyer, Mrs. Roettger, and Ms. Krestel


    We meet in Team daily (except on Wednesdays, those are PLC days) to accomplish work toward WJHS' Mission. In order to be ready to welcome students, we spent time last week making sure we had a plan for the first few days of E-Period (because Intervention Teacher training takes place simultenaoulsy), creating student groups for Standard Day, and making sure we all knew what our team agenda and schedule were. 

    WHS - Featured Team: English Department 

    At the high school, the English department has been spending much of their PLC time combing over the data that was gathered from Universal Testing Day.  The English department has kept their focus on identifying skill deficits and concerns, and strategizing ways to specifically attack those areas in their classrooms. Moreover, they have used the data to identify areas of concern for specific students in order to best differentiate instruction within a specific class or grouping. One specific outcome from the English Department’s data dive is the addition of specific writing activities related to nonfiction.  Now, their instruction will include reading, annotating, summarizing, analyzing, and fostering student ideas and opinions about nonfiction texts.  Students will have more access to non fiction reading and writing in their English classrooms across the board.  This rigorous addition is a collaborative decision made in PLC after reviewing the data related to the practice SAT and PSAT tests students took earlier this year. The English department has done a great job modeling how to best utilize student data and put it into action.  

     English PLC Team

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  • Spring PLC Update

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 5/8/2017

    Elementary teachers have been working with their teams every week to focus on the development of unit plans, establishing learning objectives, and reinforcing the use of various common writing rubrics. Although very few teams have addressed common end-of-a-unit or standards-based assessments for Math skills, reading and writing assessments have been the focus over the past several weeks has been focused on reading and writing assessments. All grade levels have established scope and sequence for reading standards and major writing pieces. There has been effort to integrate Science and Social Studies content into that curriculum to develop unit plans, particularly by the ELL and Dual Language teachers. After working with Kellie Doubek, all teams have an established rubric. These rubrics are important because the skills are in a continuum and the teachers need to articulate the assessment criteria vertically. The elementary teachers have reviewed the results of at least two common assessments and based on those results have made instructional decisions to support their students. Every time teachers administer an assessment, they examine the validity and reliability and make adjustments for next time.

    The junior high teachers also used PLC time to update curriculum maps, confirming that the scope and sequence are aligned. As we work within our curriculum maps, we become more familiar with the standards and ways to make it more accessible to students. Throughout the year, all teachers have been working within their departments to identify learning targets (exactly what students should know and be able to do as a result of having participated in a lesson) for every standard in their curriculum map. Clear learning targets ensure that teachers have a clear focus for lessons and that students have a firm understanding of what they can expect from the day's lesson.

    Teachers work as a team on specific student learning objective (SLO) goals. The 6th grade continues to analyze data and monitors progress made toward our team's Student Learning Objective (SLO). The 6th grade SLO states that 80% of students will increase their ability to organize an argumentative essay, as demonstrated by achieving a score of proficient or above within the organization category on the junior high writing assessment, from pretest to posttest. Each teacher shares a strategy he or she is using in class to achieve the team's goal and reports on how it's working. The 7th-grade team is also working on a writing assessment, specifically working through data and connecting it with their SLO. Using our PLC time to focus on student writing has been valuable to collaborate on teaching methods that impact student achievement. The 8th-grade team has been working hard on preparing students for the Spring testing benchmarks. As we analyze data, teachers collaborate to get a better understanding of where students are at and how we can utilize the MAP learning continuum to maximize classroom instruction. The entire faculty and staff conducted our second Data Carousel of the year to look at the Winter Benchmark through multiple assessments and reflect/problem solve (specific data points include MAP, AIMS+, grade level writing assessments, and PARCC).

    High school teachers worked in their teams for the final preparations for SAT testing. Our teachers implemented their last formative assessments with specifically targeted instruction while preparing our Junior class for the SAT. Teams are also looking at future planning vertically within their departments so that our curriculum and instruction helps to scaffold learning targets with backward design from SAT and AP assessments. As PLCs shifted in recent weeks, teachers focused on administering the end of year common assessments. Departments will use data to plan for next year. Departments analyzed the scope and sequence of skills to ensure that the curriculum is properly scaffolded through the grade levels. Finally, based on the data derived from the SLO process, the common assessment was reviewed and items may have been revised.

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  • January and February PLC Update

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 2/17/2017

    Over the past several weeks, our teachers have accomplished a great deal as collaborative teams. Across all grade levels, teachers focus on the various activities that ensure student success. Early elementary grade level teams analyzed benchmark assessments including AIMSWeb and Fountas & Pinnell. Teachers discussed various classroom practices that support students whose scores on assessments indicate that they are above grade level expectation. For example, second-grade teachers confirmed how the recent data could be used to determine what level books to assign for reading groups. In addition to benchmark assessment data, the teachers all used locally developed common assessments. Each grade level team has collaboratively developed assessments for either ELA or Math to address critical standards that students need to master. These common assessments are also used to analyze student proficiency on the specific standards that are part of team goals associated with teacher evaluation. The instructional coaches have a significant role in the process. For example, the coach from Miller works in close collaboration with the first-grade teachers to develop assessment items and rubrics that adhere to the standards. Over the past several weeks, they have been able to analyze the data from several common assessments, after which time they discuss specific lessons that can effectively fill the gaps for students. The second-grade team’s goal was to improve foundational skill in writing conventions. Teachers determined that students have attained the expected growth targets using the teacher-created common assessment. Now students will use short writing pieces to assess whether they can apply the skills in an authentic opinion writing piece. The teachers collaborated on the mentor text, question type, and success criteria. The third-grade team’s common assessments in reading have revealed valuable information about our students’ readiness to take the PARCC test. To prepare students to compose their writing pieces using technology, the team decided to administer the common assessments using Chromebooks. The fourth-grade team works very hard to gather essential resources that align to the standards. In the past couple of weeks, the students took a common assessment for various reading standards. The teachers scored the responses and collaborated on the most effective methods to provide student feedback. In fifth grade, the team goals include vocabulary and writing. Teachers have been evaluating scores from the common assessments to determine growth over the year. It is important to know that the work of the elementary teachers is being supported by the instructional coaches and the literacy consultant. Teachers engaged in extensive professional development around literacy standards and assessment writing. PLC time is an extension of those growth opportunities. Our students have benefited a great deal from the increased capacity of our teachers.

    WJHS also focused Professional Learning Community (PLC) time on various activities that support students. These include revising curriculum maps, building common assessments, unpacking the Next Generation Science Standards and reviewing benchmark data. Grade level teams have conducted Winter MAP/AIMS Data Review process, led by our Instructional Coach (Laura Riley), Media Specialist (Sheila Ruh), and SASED Educational Consultant (Tiffanie Torrisi). Within this process, students are identified to receive or discontinue intervention in Reading or Math. This process determines the Tier 1, 2 and 3, through Response to Intervention (RtI) or Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). The literacy consultant, Kellie Doubek supports our efforts. She continues to work with the staff on Writing-Across-the-Content-Area and effectively evaluating assessment data to drive instruction.

    At Westmont High School, PLC teams in core content areas are working on analyzing data from targeted focus areas of instruction based on the 12/7 Practice SAT test. Extra core PLCs have worked on analyzing student learning objective goal data to drive their daily instruction. This also includes designing and aligning assessments in Mastery Connect. Students are impacted in a positive way as teachers use PLC time to collaborate on finding ways to provide instruction for students who are not meeting the learning targets.

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  • October and November PLC Updates

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 12/1/2016

    Manning and Miller
    During the months of October, November, and December teachers focused on the development of common assessments for reading. Teachers selected specific standards that have been addressed during the past several weeks. The assessments are designed to be in close alignment with classroom learning. Grade level teams reviewed student results for common assessments. Also, teachers continue to deconstruct the standards into learning targets and align classroom assessments with those targets. Curriculum maps are reviewed and refined. Grade level teams spent a significant amount of time sharing teaching strategies and materials. This collaboration helps maintain consistency across the grade level. In recent weeks, teachers evaluated the progress of their Student Learning Outcome goals, including evaluating student work and next steps for classroom instruction. Interventionists including reading specialists, ELL, and student support teams work on various activities that support students. These include evaluating assessment data, deconstructing standards, designing professional development activities, and the sharing of instructional materials.

    Westmont Junior High School
    In the past couple of months, WJHS focused on having grade levels conduct a Fall MAP/AIMS data review and team goal setting process. This was led by our Instructional Coach (Laura Riley), Media Specialist (Sheila Ruh), and SASED Educational Consultant (Tiffanie Torrisi). Within the data review process, students are identified (through multiple data points), that either need to move into, out of, or stay within, Reading and Math interventions. This process identified the Tier 1, 2 and 3, through Response to Intervention (RtI) or Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Additionally, in an attempt to work towards our school goals of using data to improve student learning AND creating/improving upon innovative teaching and learning practices at WJHS, teachers utilized their innovative minds to choose their own adventures, and report out on how the time they spent will improve student learning. Kellie Doubek (Literacy consultant), also worked with the staff on Writing-Across-the-Content-Area during our PLC/faculty meeting time. Lastly, the faculty met and had discussions based on the book, Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools. The focus of the chapters was on how growth mindsets affect the classroom and practical ways to build growth mindset into a school culture.

    Westmont High School
    All core content area teachers examined the results of the practice SAT assessments. The teams spent a great deal of time aligning the individual questions with content area standards. Teachers used an online tool called Mastery Connect to enter the assessment data so that the students’ test scores can be evaluated in such a way to drive instruction in the coming months. In recent weeks, teachers utilized available assessment materials that align with the SAT to use with students as common assessments. Teachers focused on improving instructional practices, thoroughly preparing students to master the standards, and supporting students as they demonstrate their skills in the future standardized assessments.

    Physical Education
    The PE teachers throughout the district are utilizing a new assessment tracking system called Fitnessgram. This program is useful in analyzing student fitness data and help teachers make adjustments in their instruction. The PE teachers at the HS determined that students were underperforming in the area of aerobic fitness. Although teachers have adjusted their exercises to allow for more time for aerobics, students need to demonstrate motivation and a commitment to improving. The availability of Fitnessgram has enhanced the opportunity for teachers from across the district to collaborate and use student data to set goals and align instruction to meet the needs of the students.

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  • September PLC Update

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 10/6/2016

    Teachers from across the district spent the first PLC meetings developing a grade-level or department level Student Learning Objective (SLO) that they will work on for several months. The process for developing the SLO starts with the selection of standards or Learning Targets that reflect skills students will need for future grades or courses or those students need to be successful across all subject areas. Examples include basic math skills, vocabulary, or writing. As a team, teachers designed the assessment or the performance task and the corresponding scoring rubric that measures the level of proficiency of the Learning Goal. This process is developed collaboratively to ensure that the SLO is attainable but rigorous. After the delivery of the first assessment, teachers looked at baseline data to plan instruction. The teams made decisions about how often they will collect data to monitor student progress. Later in the year, teachers will give an assessment to determine how much growth students attained toward the Learning Goal. Although each classroom of students presents unique challenges, teacher work together to find useful resources, instructional practices, and formative assessment methods. All teachers, including those who work with Special Education students, must participate in an SLO. Interventionists and Library Media Center teachers partner with classroom teachers and meet with them during PLC time.

    After the teams complete their SLO plans, the focus of PLC meetings shifted to address these four questions:

    1.       What do we expect our students to learn (standards, goals, and expectations)?
    2.       How will we know they are learning (assessment methods)?
    3.       How will we respond when they do not learn (intervention and teacher reflection)?
    4.       How will we respond if the student already knows it (enrichment and differentiation)?

    The specific activities depend on grade levels. The following will outline work that was done over the past couple of weeks.

    Manning and Miller

    The K-5 teachers used the time together to review the ELA curriculum map. During the past couple of PLC meetings, teachers worked with their grade level teams to select the set of standards with which they will design a common assessment. Collaborating with colleagues to set proficiency criteria, find resources, and align teaching strategies provided a valuable professional development opportunity for the entire team. After the assessment is given, they will compare the data. Teachers will support their colleagues with the all-important reflection process. Teachers may revise their curriculum maps to reflect new methods of instruction and assessment based on the data. Most importantly, teachers will help each other determine the types of differentiation and interventions for both struggling and high-achieving students. The special education teachers also explored strategies to help students strengthen their executive functioning skills. This process of development, delivery, and reflection, will be the ongoing theme for the 2016-2017 Professional Learning Communities.

    Junior High and High School Core Content Areas

    All of the students from Westmont Junior High School and Westmont High School took a school-wide writing assessment. Teachers used a common rubric to score the writing piece and analyzed trends. From the baseline data, teachers will design instruction and formative assessment methods to support students’ writing proficiency throughout the year. One of the primary focus for PLC’s at WJHS for the month of September had the entire faculty calibrating, grading, and analyzing the results from the writing pre-assessment.  A post-assessment will be given in May of 2017 so we can identify areas of growth.  Additionally, Kellie Doubek (Literacy consultant) has joined WJHS for the second year in a row.  She continues to work with the staff on Writing-Across-the-Content-Areas. Teachers will work with Kellie during PLC and Faculty Meeting time several times this year. During the past couple of weeks, the junior high teachers started a book study on Growth Mindset in the Classroom, by Ricci. This professional literature and the conversations around it are setting the stage for WJHS’s Professional Learning Community.  

    The core content department teams at Westmont High School worked on other types of common assessments. First of all, students took the practice SAT. The ELA and Math teachers aligned the assessment items to Common Core State Standards. The test results were entered into the assessment scoring system used by all high school teachers, called Mastery Connect. The program provided an efficient way for teachers to analyze the data. Also, content area teams worked on department-level common assessments. In most cases, teachers grade the common assessments as a team to guarantee inter-rater reliability. Teachers will move forward with developing instructional strategies to support department goals and the schoolwide SAT preparation goal.

    The student support staff such as school psychologists, social workers, and speech pathologists used PLC for professional development activities related to their roles.

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  • April PLC Update

    Posted by Rima Black on 5/9/2016


    The Kindergarten team prepared for Kindergarten Open House. We put folders together for the parents and designed a common power point to present. We also reviewed the Fountas & Pinnell reading assessment that will be administered in May.

    Grade 1:

    First grade continued to align state standards to math "I can statements." We discussed classroom management strategies and how we handle excessive tattling. We also reviewed ELA curriculum map and discussed what standards we want to reorganize by month.

    Grade 2:

    We reviewed our spelling scope and sequence and our ELA curriculum Map. During our SIP day, we learned about vocabulary strategies and various math resources. We would like to suggest that we meet to articulate across grade levels for math and reading.

    Grade 3:

    We introduced the new third-grade team members to our curriculum work. We also discussed and shared strategies for PARCC practice in the area of constructed responses. We collaborated on ELA standards for modifying our curriculum map in that area, which we hope to work on more extensively in the future.

    Grade 4:

    April's PLCs focused on using Making Meaning, Determining Importance. We created a summative assessment for Point of View and developed a grade 4 summative assessment for 2015-2016 SLO Goal -open ended response with commonly misspelled words.

    Grade 5:

    We met with the entire 6th grade team for articulation about the standards for all subjects. We reviewed our Student Learning Objectives data which was collected in the spring. We continued to work on ELA common assessments.

    Physical Education and Health:

    We discussed the Fitnessgram program and contacted the company to research the software. Fitness testing will be done the same across the district. All physical education teachers would like to be formally trained for this program.


    We reviewed the new WIDA Standards introduced in March. On the SIP Day/PLC we attended the Kelly Doubek meetings and reviewed the Fountas and Pinnell Testing procedures. We had PARCC preparation training. We discussed the BPAC (Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee) and the upcoming International Festival hosted by the BPAC on May 20, 2016 at Miller School.

    Library Media Specialists:

    The Elementary Media Specialists worked on the K-5 grade research curriculum "I can" statements. We also prepared for the annual library board presentation. The CUSD 201 Media Specialists spoke at the 4/26/16 Board Meeting. The topic presented was titled "School Libraries Transform Learning."

    Instructional Coaches/Math Interventionist:

    The math interventionists shared more strategies with each other to use with our students in interventions. We also discussed how we were going to implement spiraling different math skills for each grade level. We discussed AIMSweb TEN and how we were going to test the students for the spring benchmark. Once the testing is complete, we will look at the data to determine where our next focus will be.

    Special Education:

    We discussed the PARCC assessment and how it will impact our student population. Additionally, the PLC team analyzed scheduling the PARCC assessment sessions for students in grades 3-5 to be most successful.

    Speech Pathologists:

    The speech team collaborated with the South preschool teachers and staff to prepare a parent presentation on summer activities and skills that will maintain/increase speech and language skills of preschool students over the summer. We also viewed a webinar on how to better evaluate our ELL students when they are referred for a speech and language evaluation using formal and informal measures.


    The school psychologists discussed specific caseloads that were concerning as well as plan out future PLC meetings. In the next month we plan to discuss tests that we will need for next year, narrowing down which documents we would like to fill out for a smoother domain process, and learning the new Power IEP program. 

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  • February and March PLC Update

    Posted by Rima Black on 3/24/2016

    Manning and Miller Elementary Schools


    The kindergarten team looked through documents and filtered out any activities that did not align with Common Core State Standards in the area of literacy. We put the digital files of the instructional materials in a location where all teachers would have access to them. We worked with the reading specialists to develop phonics scope and sequence.

    Grade 1:

    The first grade team created third and fourth quarter Math assessments. They revised the second quarter assessments to align to the report card. The team met with reading specialists and coaches to discuss and gather instructional materials for the new Phonics scope and sequence.

    Grade 2:

    The Second Grade team developed agendas for our grade level math meeting and our meeting with the reading consultant. We developed common assessments for our third quarter report card.

    Grade 3:

    We developed common assessments aligned to the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards. Assessments included comparing and contrasting biographical texts. Rubrics were created to use as assessment tools to measure student growth.

    Grade 4:

    Grade 4 worked on reading formative assessments. Students will write about what they are reading. In order to help students meet the Common Core standards in reading, students should be practicing how to support their answers with text evidence. We will be using the data from these assessments to help drive grade 4 reading curriculum for the future.

    Grade 5:

    We discussed future educational opportunities for the remainder of the school year. Math word problems were discussed for our new SMART goal. We need to help students understand the problems by breaking down each one, looking closely at the meaning of key words, visualizing the problem, and writing a number model.

    Special Education:

    The Special Education department  focused on writing instruction. The team collaborated on incorporating a linear graphic organizer into writing instruction to assist students with organizing their thoughts and completing a quick write on what they have read. These two interventions are based on the Kellie Doubek model for writing a cohesive text.


    The ELL team worked on our SLO (Student Learning Objective). We previously gave a pre and a post test assessing the new NGSS standards for third grade. We computed the percentiles for student progress based on the student goals and expectations set at the beginning of the year. We modified current lessons and assessments to determine changes that need to be made and concepts that might need to be retaught.  We examined the new WIDA "CAN DO" descriptors. The Can Do Descriptors highlight what language learners can do at various stages of language development as they engage in teaching and learning in academic contexts. We started to align the new descriptors to current curriculum and outlined areas that need to be adapted to them.

    Fine Arts:

    The Fine Arts team planned the Fine Arts Night in March. The Jr High worked on the flyers and posters for the event. The whole team created student lists for the show.

    Sue Ellen Jacobs and Julie Graham have been planning the HS/Elementary school social justice collaboration project, assigning groups and countries. The date for our Empty Bowls fundraiser and details for the event are in the works.

    We our broke into smaller groups during meetings, due to our various stages of progress in curriculum development. In elementary music we completed updating exit goals, and are currently developing rubrics.

    Library Media Specialists:

    The Elementary Library Media Specialists completed the learner statements and components for grades two and three research curriculum maps. We also continued to work on maintaining the iPads.

    Instructional Coaches/Math Interventionist:

    The math interventionists used the report cards as a guide to create a scope and sequence for math interventions. We discussed different strategies that we are using with our students and shared resources with each other. We are in the process of creating pre and post assessments of basic math skills for each grade level.


    We discussed social skills training and how they can be integrated into lesson plans. We discussed individual cases in order to provide insight on certain testing instruments that were used. Lastly, we discussed scheduling difficulties for the end of the year and plans to complete testing in an efficient way.

    Social Workers:

    During this month's Professional Learning Community time, I worked on the presentations for Erin's Law, collaborating with staff to schedule when the lessons may be taught, and consulting with the special education team about students on our caseloads. I worked with the junior high social worker and collaborated about specific situations and students.

    Speech Pathologists:

    The Speech Team began an outline and started planning the Parent presentation we are going to give at South School on April 21st. We viewed a seminar from ASHA titled, "Turning Problem Behavior Into Effective Communication". The seminar discussed students who demonstrate problem behavior and the idea that this behavior stems from having difficulty communicating their thoughts.

    Physical Education and Health:

    The Elementary Physical Education teachers discussed using FitnessGram and recording our scores for the state with the Junior High and High School teachers. This time and discussion was extremely valuable.

    Reading Specialists:

    The reading specialists at Manning and Miller used Professional Learning Community time to support K-2 teachers. We used the time to identify resources and materials to teach phonics. We matched the resources to the list of research based instructional strategies. Currently we are aligning resources and instructional strategies to support developmental spelling.  


    Westmont Junior High School:

    In the month of  February, WJHS focused one Professional Learning Community day on  departmental time (revising curriculum maps, building common assessments, unpacking the Next Generation Science Standards and C3, among other things).  One Professional Learning Community had the grade levels conducting a Winter MAP/AIMS Data Review process, led by our Instructional Coach (Laura Riley), Media Specialist (Sheila Ruh), and SASED Educational Consultant (Tiffanie Torrisi).  Within this process, students are identified (through multiple data points), that either need to move into, out of, or stay within, Reading and Math interventions.  This process identifies the Tier 1, 2 and 3, through Response to Intervention (RtI) or Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS).  Our school also completed its first, school-wide Data Carousel, in which we look for major trends over time and break down root causes for any negative trends.  This was documented on our WJHS Facebook Page as well (pictures for process).  Kellie Doubek also worked with the staff on Writing-Across-the-Content-Area during our School Improvement Process Day.  


    Westmont High School


    Data from objective tests in Honors Accounting were studied. This led to researching why 30 percent of students have been incorrectly answering 5 questions out of 15. An intervention activity was created in which the students re-wrote the questions including the distractors, on the questions they answered incorrectly.


    The Guidance Department reviewed the ongoing individual course selection process with current WHS students as well as incoming 9th graders. Each student appointment was documented and course request data was compiled in Skyward. Data reports were then prepared for school and district administrators to review.


    We focused on scope and sequence for AP since we will not be offering AP Language and Composition next year. (We are moving Lang & Comp to Senior year which requires one year of all students taking Lit & Comp--this is a significant change and process.) We also looked at our maps with Lindsay’s guidance in order to bring more unity to the mapping process. Additionally, we assisted one another with interpreting MAP data.


    We reexamined or course placements and discussed solutions for students who are misplaced or struggling.

    Special Education:

    We met with our building administrator to review the data that had been collected from the administration of our Executive Functioning Rubric. We discussed the need to develop tools to use in developing the skills our students are lacking. We also discussed methods for teaching executive functioning skills and additional ways to collect data for progress monitoring the skills. We will use our time on Institute day developing the tools for the EF portfolios.


    We administered the Data Analysis Post-Test to all 9th grade science students. We analyzed results and were pleased to find that a vast majority (at least 80%) of students improved their overall score by several points. We are now working to develop interventions that will address remaining gaps.

    World Language:

    We looked at student data from our midpoint SLO assessment. Level 1 teachers refined assessments and looked at technology tools to help remediate students who are not making sufficient progress. Spanish 2 teacher has been working on rewriting a novel to maintain the literacy goal for the department and differentiate the text to several reading levels.  


    We worked on the Fine Arts Night with all the Fine Arts teachers in the district. Time was also spent developing the Theatre Stagecraft class for content and sequence.

    Social Science:  

    We looked at our finalized Department Exam and discussed when and how to begin implementing it in the coming months.  The department drew up a list of formative assessments that we find most useful in each level so we can begin to coordinate and scaffold their use from one grade level to another.  We began to develop a plan to address two critical issues for our students,  a lack of notetaking skills and writing for Document-based questions and Free Response Questions on AP Exams.

    PE/Driver’s Ed:  

    We discussed the current status of the student groups currently participating in the behind the wheel portion of Driver Education; upcoming group selection and possible summer driving schedules were also addressed.  The health website and several social health activities have been restructured due to lower than expected social health test scores (in Health).  Physical Education continued to work on improving students’ cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility to help the students perform better on their FitnessGram assessments.

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  • December and January PLC Update

    Posted by Nadine Norris on 2/19/2016

    Manning and Miller


    For the past month, the kindergarten team has worked on modifying the literacy portion of the report card. We gathered and reviewed samples of report cards from surrounding districts. We also reviewed the Common Core State Standards for literacy. Using this information, we edited and added to our current report card assessment. This will be an ongoing process. We also reviewed the new science standards and discussed ways to incorporate them into our curriculum. We reviewed and edited the new scope and sequence for phonics as well.

    1st Grade

    During our first grade PLC time, we have updated our grading scale to correlate with the new report card. We reviewed quarter 2 math assessments and results, as well as, discussed subsequent modifications of set assessments. The first-grade team also collaborated about math and writing workshop. The shared instructional materials, strategies, and student work examples.

    2nd Grade

    During our PLC time in December and January, the second-grade team continued to collaborate about our new standards-based report card and the new phonics curriculum. Our new report card sets expectations for all students to achieve by the end of 2nd grade. It also requires our students to show they understand what they’ve learned. We have also been designing assessments aligned with the standards. We are excited to see a scope and sequence of phonics instruction! We discussed how to incorporate spelling, sight words and vocabulary. We will continue to discuss whether to have a formal spelling list.

    3rd Grade

    The 3rd-grade team reviewed data from our common assessments in math.  We also created new common assessments for upcoming units. We collaborated with the intervention specialists to discuss differentiation strategies for our students.

    4th Grade

    For the month of December and January, the 4th-grade team continued to work on our Student Learning Objective (SLO) goal. We administered an assessment we created, and evaluated the results. Through reflection, we refined our assessment and planned to re-administer in the spring. We also looked at our MAP scores and researched different reading websites that can be used in the classroom during Readers Workshop.

    5th Grade

    The 5th-grade team reviewed their midterm results from their SLO goal and met their goal. They will need to give a final assessment in February to determine if they reached their final SLO goal. In addition, the team reviewed winter MAP reading scores and have met their SMART goals in the area of reading. They are currently reviewing new data and creating a new goal.

    Special Education

    We collaboratively refined our curriculum, specifically addressing reading comprehension and writing strategies. Our goal is to close the achievement gap for our students and their peers. Mrs. Alt and Mrs. Hinman shared information from a professional development seminar about writing effective present levels of performance and IEP goals for students that have deficits in reading comprehension. Lastly, we collaborated on ways to create effective portfolios for our upcoming summative evaluations.


    At PLCs in January, the ELL team worked on completing an ACCESS testing growth chart. This chart helps us effectively analyze student test scores from Kindergarten through 4th grade. We also discussed future goals for the PLC time.

    Fine Arts

    We finalized the timeline for the collaborative service field trip to Feed My Starving Children on February 3, 2016. Our next goal is to determine the projects students will be working on after the experience at FMSC leading up to the Empty Bowls fundraiser in the spring. Our plan is to tie it all together during the Fine Arts Night in March. The choral musical department continues to align curriculum vertically, in hopes of providing young singers a smooth transition from building to building. In December and January, our focus has been on the WHS choral learning outcomes and re-writing them to better reflect Mr. Urlaub's instructional priorities.

    Library Media Specialists

    The library media specialists have focused their efforts on planning and preparing for the MAP and ACCESS testing. They also spent time designing learning activities that integrate technology, specifically iPads.

    Math Interventionist

    The Math Interventionists are developing a scope and sequence to implement with Math students. We are in the process of gathering resources to use during Math intervention time.

    Instructional Coaches/Math Interventionist

    One focus for the elementary instructional coaches has been to help the Reading Specialists on creating a Phonics Scope and Sequence for grades Kindergarten through Second Grade. The coaches have also been working on scheduling and preparing for upcoming curriculum literacy work. They also met with the math interventionists and grade level teachers regarding math curriculum planning.

    Psychologists/Social Workers

    The school psychology team met with a variety of special education personnel and staff during the month of January. These meetings included getting together with the Junior High staff to discuss the Elementary and Special Education Act (ESSA). We talked about how the Every Student Succeeds Act will be replacing the No Child Left Behind Act in 2017 and the difference between the two. On two other occasions, Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIPs) were created for students with behavior and academic difficulties. Lastly, we met with the special education teams at our respective schools to discuss students that were having difficulty both behaviorally and academically and what interventions or plans could be put in place to help these students.  We met with the consultant from SASED and the Director of Special Ed. to review and discuss the RTI procedures for the individual schools in the district, Procedures such as how interventions are coordinated (when, how, how often, and what kind of grouping), how progress is evaluated, how that information is documented and shared, and how school teams are addressing fidelity in implementing interventions were discussed. The school psychologist and school social worker for South school met to review various evidence-based social skills programs for preschoolers and select programs appropriate for the First Start and Early Childhood programs. They collaborated with the teachers at South to coordinate schedules for implementing the social skills groups. They reviewed procedures and materials for implementing the social skills programs. This is an ongoing process that will continue with the teachers and aides as the social skills curriculum is implemented.

    Speech Pathologists

    We continue our exploration of appropriate vocabulary goals for students who need assistance in this area. Specifically, we are examining the literature regarding increasing the oral and literate language skills of children in poverty.

    Physical Education (across the district)

    The PE department discussed various assessments. The team discussed the transition to the use of FITNESSGRAM to deliver a standardized fitness test (mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education) for the next school year. Teachers are beginning to use the flipped classroom model to prepare students for skill assessments. A YouTube video will be put into Google Classroom the week before with an exit slip.  

    Westmont Junior High School

    Out of the four PLC's that we had in the month of January, one was focused on departmental time (revising curriculum maps, building common assessments, unpacking the Next Generation Science Standards and C3, among other things).  Two PLC's were based on grade level meetings (which can be reviewed from the month of December).  During the additional grade level meeting, teachers continued to focus on the goals they set while working with Kellie Doubek, the CUSD 201 writing consultant.  Each grade level team worked with Kellie for a day at some point in January.  Additionally, the 8th-grade team and high school 9th-grade team determined the outgoing 8th-grade student placements for next year, while the 6-12th grade Fine Arts and Physical Education Departments continued aligning their curriculum.  Lastly, the fourth PLC time was utilized introducing the Data Wall and Data Carousel process, in which student assessment data is physically posted and analyzed for the entire faculty to see.  WJHS will be going through the Data Carousel process in early February after we get the NWEA Winter MAP scores.

    Westmont High School


    Honors Accounting II Data:  Created a Learning Objective/Vocab/Review Question resource for Honors Accounting II as an intervention based on data from first-semester summative assessment data.  After reviewing the assessment data post-intervention, student proficiency increased  by 10%.


    During PLC meetings, our Guidance Department continued planning for a successful course selection process for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. These plans included classroom presentations and activities that heavily relied on technology. Once these presentations were complete, data was reviewed and utilized to prepare for individual course selection appointments.


    In January, we focused on the skills necessary to prepare students for the AP Literature and Composition class that all juniors and seniors who are enrolled in AP will be taking. Erika and Ron presented the skills that are measured on the Lit & Comp test. We continued our discussion with a focus on our planning and making sure we incorporate elements that are addressed, in particular, curriculum. Our discussion revealed that we need to incorporate more poetry--much more poetry. The result was that Jane and Judi agreed to incorporate a poetry unit, as well as, adjunct texts that include poetry. We will measure our progress with periodic assessments modeled on the poetry analysis questions on the Lit & Comp test.


    The math department is working on the implementation of FALs and looking at the data wall of incoming freshmen. Eighth-grade placement is critical to high school success. We also worked on placement of high school students.

    Special Education

    Rubrics were completed by all students enrolled in resource during the last week of November. Resource teachers and/or teaching assistants also completed the rubric for each student.  Following this task, we discussed some confusing statements and made adjustments accordingly. We also developed a list of activities to teach skill deficits in executive functioning. Finally, a data form was created to tally results.


    Science has been developing final interventions to address our data analysis learning objectives. We will be giving the post-test to all freshmen on 2/16 in order to meet the SLO deadline for non-tenured teachers. Finally, we are discussing a possible revision to science course offerings.

    World Language

    The department continues to work on processing data for Student Learning Outcomes and analyzing the mid-point assessment data to improve areas of instruction and individual remediation needs.

    Spanish 2 continues to work on lessons for the Modern Teacher platform to create flipped student-centered instruction.


    Lately, I have worked with Zach from the Junior High to develop eighth grade exit outcomes and what I was expecting for entering freshmen. We talked about language to be used and what was reasonable to be taught before entering high school.

    Since Theatre Stagecraft is new this year, I have spent time working on developing a semester-long course that will be documented in detail for future use. I have contacted two other colleagues outside of Westmont who teach Stagecraft to help me develop a sequential course.


    We discussed the benefits of scale testing and how it aligns throughout the curriculum; which exercises best prepare our students to meet the state/national standards, while simultaneously working toward a more mature sound in the ensembles; and the levels of performance expected and how rhythmic accuracy pertains to each level.

    Social Science

    The Social Studies Department used PLC time to meet with our administrators to implement our SLOs.  Time was also used to coordinate with the Junior High social studies team to discuss incoming freshmen and their proper course placement for 2016-17.  The department entrance and exit exam was also finalized.

    PE/Driver’s Ed

    The PE Department has been using the PLC time to work on their SLO documents.  We have also collected fitness data in our classes and have discussed ways to improve student effort in regards to improving their fitness levels.  We have also discussed classroom management techniques and the need to work with difficult students in a more effective way so they can remain in class and complete the class requirements with minimal disruptions to the rest of the class.  In Health class, I have been working to incorporate short writing activities into my homework assignments, as well as, updating lessons in preparation of next year's 1 to 1 computer situation for my students.

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