Ardena School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

For many years, the staff at Ardena School engaged in collaborative teams developed by grade-level teachers along with various specialists, to meet and discuss grade-specific content.  After taking a step back, we realized that what was once seen as “best practice” for collaborative groups was no longer effective.  We adjusted our mindset and norms realizing that in order to create a true culture of community and collaboration, we needed to involve stakeholders throughout the building to best support the needs of our students, staff, and building as a whole.  Now, our teams are fluid and comprised of staff members who each bring a unique lens to the topic at hand.  

Determining how we were going to better utilize collaborative teams was a journey. Our administration formed a guiding coalition made up of representatives from each department - administration, classroom teachers, instructional coaches, special area teachers, special education, English Language Learner teachers, and pupil services.  By including stakeholders from each department, our PLC addresses what knowledge and skills meet standards, student evidence of learning goals, how do we respond when students are not meeting expectations, how can we support our at or above grade level students, as well as our identified building-wide needs.  Additionally, surveys were sent out to staff and students to identify any other needs that the school community would like to have addressed.  These needs ranged from professional development opportunities for staff, school culture and climate, student data, best-practices used to improve student learning, and more.  Once these needs were identified, individual committees and action teams were created to develop solutions.  

Each of the action teams work tirelessly on their focus area which varies depending on the group of people gathered.  For example, one group may focus on content-specific curriculum while another may convene to develop behavioral strategies for student engagement.  The progress made by each team is shared with members of the PLC so that there is a constant ebb and flow of information.  Our PLC  then meets monthly throughout the year to analyze the work done within our different teams and reassess the effectiveness of our collective work.  This fluid process helps ensure that our work in collaborative groups is happening throughout the building, as well as being utilized to the highest potential to promote staff and student growth.  

Since reinventing our collaborative team framework,  the progress that we have seen in our building is irrefutable.  Learning goals and scales are examined through student work several times within a unit to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to successfully meet unit goals. Additionally, formative assessments are analyzed and the data collected informs how teachers place students within strategy groups to meet the needs of all students. Experts such as our coaches, ESL teachers, special educators along with our interventionists are called upon to collaborate on developing a student improvement plan (SIP). Through our collaboration, our students requiring basic skills support has decreased and students are growing enough academically to exit the program.  Referrals to our Intervention & Referral Services and Child Study Team have gone down over the past three years.  Truancy among our students has been reduced, allowing students to be more readily available for learning.  Standardized assessments such as PARCC and STAR Renaissance show steadily increasing scores for each grade level and building as a whole.  For those students who are meeting unit goals above grade level standards, a SIP is created for them where personalized learning is optimized. We’ve created an inviting school community and culture consisting of open communication and sharing to provide whatever is best for our students.  Our priority is no longer focused on the on-goings within the four walls of our individual classrooms, but the day to day lives of every student and colleague in the building.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Ardena, we believe that monitoring student learning on a timely basis is an essential practice to ensure student growth.  Over the past several years, our staff has worked collaboratively to develop a system for tracking student progress and meeting the needs of all learners.  

At the onset of each school year, our PLC meets with staff members to articulate grade-level trends and individual student data collected the previous year.  This information is gathered from assessment tools including but not limited to STAR Renaissance, PARCC, standard-based report cards, Fountas & Pinnell benchmarking, Pearson-Realize, and district-created student intervention workbooks. These meetings include classroom teachers, instructional coaches, instructional interventionists, special education teachers, ESL (English as a second language) teachers, guidance counselors, administration, and any other relevant specialists.  Staff then meet in collaborative teams to develop grade-level and student specific learning goals to begin the tracking process.  These  teams have developed common formative assessments that they utilize to monitor student progress.  For reading grade level collaborative team creates quick checks and responses to reading to assess students knowledge of skills and progress.  Teachers base these assessments off of learning continuums and rubrics provided by the language arts department for reading and writing. Teachers also utilize district unit assessments at the close of each reading and writing units that were developed by a task force. Our math teachers have used the New Jersey Student Learning Standards along with the Pearson Realize program to develop exit tickets at close of each lesson to assess their students' learning.  A task force developed math fluency assessments that teachers administer three times a year to monitor grade level expectations for math fluency.   Once these goals are created, involved staff members continue to communicate with one another to monitor these goals.

In order to ensure student growth, consistent check-ins are necessary throughout the year. During these check-ins the common formative assessments are used to monitor student growth.  Each day, classroom teachers work with students during a scheduled Response to Intervention (RTI) block.  This allows teachers to work with students of concern and monitor their growth on a daily basis.  If the common formative assessments are showing students need additional support a task force will meet to generate student specific assessments based off of the goals that students are trying to achieve. Teachers also have the opportunity to check in with students working on personalized-learning projects to support their higher-level students.  Each month, grade-level teachers are provided with uninterrupted collaborative team time to discuss student progress and analyze common formative assessments.  This time together is also spent updating strategy groups, revising student goals, and identifying any movement of a student within the RTI tiered system.  Those students identified as needing the most intensive amount of intervention receive additional RTI support from specialists such as instructional coaches and instructional interventionists.  In addition to these collaborative team times, a bi-monthly Data Collaborative Team meets to take a closer look at students of concern.  During these meetings, classroom teachers are invited to collaborate with specialists to analyze student data collected through our electronic student intervention workbooks and identify appropriate goals and intervention time lines.  These monthly meetings create an environment where staff can monitor student learning on a timely basis.  

Not only are our staff members responsible for monitoring student learning, but our students and parents are also included in this process.  Students have the opportunity to track their individual learning through our electronic leadership data notebooks on a weekly basis.  Additionally, classroom and grade level data boards are displayed throughout the building to motivate students and help them take ownership of their learning.  Parents receive progress reports mid-way through each trimester and standards-based report cards at the end of each trimester so that they too are involved in monitoring their student’s growth.  

By creating a school culture that involves every stakeholder in the school community, Ardena is able to successfully monitor student learning on a timely basis.

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Through the PLC process at Ardena School, we have created systems of intervention that provide additional support and time for learning, which is crucial for achieving optimal student growth.  Grade level teams create avenues that will provide personalized learning opportunities for our students, allowing students to take a leadership role in their own learning and ensuring all students’ needs are met. Each grade level is given a different block of time within the daily schedule to implement the systems of intervention.  During this block of time, various interventionists are present to meet the needs of all struggling learners.  These interventionists include: the classroom teacher, academic specialists, special education teachers, and paraprofessionals. During this intervention time, students remain in their homeroom classroom, however, in order to meet their specific needs, such as math or language arts, students can be shared across the grade level.

For struggling learners, teams have specific meetings dedicated to Response to Intervention (RTI) to identify specific goals through analyzing data such as STAR assessments, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarks, ACCESS for English Language Learners, and Pearson Math Assessments. In these collaborative team meetings we develop strategies to support students’ in achieving their goals. These strategies are later implemented through the following: Academic Support Instruction;  paraprofessionals within the classroom; Book Buzz program, which is an after school remedial program; sheltered English instruction; small-group instruction through the workshop model in both language arts and math.

At Ardena, one period a day is dedicated for Response to Intervention.  This time is utilized for implementation of strategies to help students meet the goals that were identified through data analysis.

To enrich students and allow students choice and voice we provide Excite Engage and Enrich days (E3) and Genius Hours time each week which allows students to choose their own pathway for learning. After meeting, we develop enrichment sessions based on student need and interest. During Genius Hour, students are given time to pursue their own passion projects devising their own plan for learning, carrying out their plan, and teaching others about their learning.  Additionally, we support students’ individualized learning through the use of Schoology, technology program and home learning. Schoology allows teachers to provide individual assignments aligned to their specific academic and language goals that can be accessed in school and through home learning.

As part of personalized learning, students are provided with opportunities to lead their own learning through student-led activities. Research shows that students learn best from their peers. At Ardena, we maximize this opportunity through student-led conferences and student-led seminars which are developed during collaborative team meetings.

 

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

In order to structure a high functioning PLC, Ardena School utilizes a panel which is comprised of teacher representatives, Administration, Instructional Interventionists, Instructional Coaches, Data Collaborative Team members and a School Guidance Counselor. The PLC analyzes student data and develops a school focus for future grade level team meetings.

The above mentioned staff members meet regularly with teachers to review student data, best practices supporting students' mastery of learning targets, techniques for assessment of student learning, and collaborate on instruction. Our coaching model provides teams and teachers with opportunities for co-teaching, observation and collaboration around best practices.

Teaching teams participate in learning walks where a certain focus is identified. Data was collected during these learning walks and shared with staff to best meet the needs of all students. Teachers were able to observe teacher strengths and then during grade level meetings, staff discusses how they will use the observations to meet the needs of all students.  Most recently teams focused on how to best collaborate utilizing our Learning Management System (Schoology) to meet the needs of student learning.

During our collaborative meetings, teachers are utilizing our Learning Management System, Schoology, to participate in book clubs, to access faculty and grade level meeting materials, access RTI resources, share exemplar co-teaching examples, and plan. Teachers are afforded common prep times within their schedule to meet with grade level colleagues or with other specialists to discuss student progress and instructional techniques.  Staff members also participate in breakout sessions during staff meetings and professional day in-services.  From electronic surveys collected throughout the year, professional development is created to help staff grow as educators and collaborators.  Our staff has had development on RTI training and SIP goal writing for students of concern, co-teaching, Sheltered English Instruction, and Marzano best practices. Staff members can create or attend continuing education units (CEU) throughout the year to grow as learners in their field.  Last year there was need to assist teachers with the collaboration of planning with our paraprofessionals during PLC time.  This was important because these professionals can be used during instructional time, as well as during their scheduled RTI block.  

This year our staff is being given an opportunity to learn from one another by having a Staff Expo on their passion project that is our Professional Growth Plan.  Staff members will be able to learn from another on a variety of instructional practices that they can use with their students.  

Twice a year vertical articulation meetings take place between our 3-5 elementary school and our partnering primary elementary and middle school teachers.  We find importance in this to ensure that the conversations about improving student learning between staff members continue throughout each student’s educational experience.

2016-2017

ARDENA SCHOOL

NEW JERSEY

HOWELL TWP

GRADE 3

 

 

 

LA

60.6%

50.4%

65.2%

MATH

58.2%

52.5%

64.0%

GRADE 4

 

 

 

LA

69.4%

55.9%

67.1%

MATH

62.8%

47.3%

61.4%

GRADE 5

 

 

 

LA

67.8%

59.0%

71.2%

MATH

49.1%

42.6%

60.3%

 

2015-2016

ARDENA SCHOOL

NEW JERSEY

HOWELL TWP

GRADE 3

 

 

 

LA

59.0%

47.0%

56.0%

MATH

63.0%

52.0%

60.0%

GRADE 4

 

 

 

LA

59.0%

54.0%

62.0%

MATH

51.0%

46.0%

55.0%

GRADE 5

 

 

 

LA

62.0%

53.0%

60.0%

MATH

53.0%

47.0%

49.0%

 

2014-2015

ARDENA SCHOOL

NEW JERSEY

HOWELL TWP

GRADE 3

 

 

 

LA

 37.0%

 44.0%

 56.0%

MATH

 37.0%

 45.0%

 59.0%

GRADE 4

 

 

 

LA

 57.0%

 51.0%

 58.0%

MATH

 29.0%

 40.0%

 40.0%

GRADE 5

 

 

 

LA

 59.0%

 51.0%

 61.0%

MATH

 36.0%

 41.0%

 42.0%

Grants:

  • Girls Can Code - Oz-Bots
  • STEM BASED Digital Indoor Planetarium
  • STEM Based Circuitry – A Maker Discovery Unit
  • Prodigy Math Membership
  • Learning Through Gardening 3 year grant
  • Cross Text Analysis
  • Interpretation in a Fantasy Series
  • Flexible Seating awarded through Donors Choose
  • Community Service Awards:
  • Students Change Hunger - division winner for multiple years
  • SPCA Wall of Fame for collecting dog toys
  • Future Ready - recognized for preparing students for the 21st century
  • Leader in Me Lighthouse School - Ardena is a recognized leadership school that focuses on creating a leadership environment that other schools can model.
  • Leader in Me Book Tour - Educators were chosen to speak with an internationally known author to promote the Leader in Me in New Jersey.
  • Rider University’s TALL Program - Teachers participated in the state’s innovating teacher leadership program.
  • Apple Educator Awards
  • Tai Pei ESL visit
  • Multi-Cultural Night District recognition
  • Internationally Recognized model program for our ESL program

 

 

Student Recognition

  • District Student Leaders - Students were chosen through an essay contest to shadow the district superintendent and board members for a day.
  • Ram Choice Leaders - Students are recognized at the classroom and grade levels for outstanding choices and behavior.
  • Leader in Me Book Tour Speakers - Students were chosen to speak with an internationally known author to promote the Leader in Me in New Jersey.
  • Tai Pei ESL visitation
  • Student achievements outside of school are recognized school wide, from world dance championships to local soccer championships.

 

 

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