Glen Forest Elementary School

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

During the 2010-2011 school year, Glen Forest Elementary initiated the implementation of the fundamental elements of Professional Learning Communities. There was a desire from staff that scheduled collaboration time have structure and guidance to maximize teams’ productivity to ensure students’ success. Drawing on the successes of other schools in Fairfax County with similar demographics, guidance from the Department of Professional Learning and Accountability, and the research of the DuFours, we proposed adopting, modeling, and supporting a common structure for the steps in the PLC cycle (clarifying essential understandings, developing common assessments, sharing lesson plans, analyzing data, and designing intervention plans). All school personnel committed to the vision of PLCs and applied the suggested protocols. Administration, content-area resource teachers, and the instructional coach were strategic in communicating and providing support (including modeling and time to process ideas) for grade-level teams. Grade-level teachers began to actively participate in each step of the Collaborative Team Learning cycle and contributed to making the process successful by giving and accepting feedback.  Over the years, staff has continued their learning by attending DuFours workshops, reading the professional text, Learning by Doing, and utilizing the PLC rubrics to self-assess and ensure consistent and continued growth.

Glen Forest Elementary School is a Title I school located in Falls Church, Virginia. As a Title I institution we have a significant population of low-income students and receive supplemental funds to assist in meeting the needs of students’ educational goals.  77% of our students qualify for the free breakfast and lunch program which is provided for them five days a week. We have a culturally diverse student population of over 1,000 students, representing over 50 countries and 34 different languages; 65% of our students receive English Language services and 90% of our population speak a second language at home. Our impressive school diversity makes working at Glen Forest not only a special place to work but also a unique experience. Our mission is to foster lifelong learners through active and authentic teaching which respects and develops the diverse strengths of both students and staff. We create a safe and nurturing environment which provides the structure and support to motivate our students to become lifelong learners. We ensure that students feel safe through programs like Positivity Project, morning meetings, and Responsive Instruction. Our diversity is a rich resource which provides many opportunities for not only students, but for our families, staff, and the community to learn together.

Connecting with families and the community enhances the academic achievement of all students. We provide English and Early Literacy classes for the community as well as computer classes and parent workshops on a variety of topics. Our family evening events work to build our community spirit and celebrate our rich cultural diversity. Glen Forest offers a variety of after school events which promote and strengthen the relationship between our families and staff. Some of these events include our annual Back to School Picnic, Family Fitness Fun Run, International Night, Literacy Events, Math Night, Science Night, Musical Performances and Family Saturday field trips to a variety of locations. Young Men In Motion (YMIM) and Fit Girls (FG) are offered as before school programs. These programs are coordinated by our energetic teachers and staff who are committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle for our students. YMIM & FG encourages students to train weekly in order to compete in a local 5K that is held biannually. The school has supported the development of The Odyssey of the Mind program by assisting parents in navigating the requirements to establish multiple teams.  For the second year in a row, a Glen Forest team won the regional competition and will be representing not only our school, but all Title I schools, at the state tournament. Glen Forest Elementary also partners with local businesses and organizations to provide educational programs as well as materials to foster student growth. We host a monthly food market offered to our families as well as the community. Fresh protein and a wide variety of produce is offered to families in need. The social worker, counselors and other members of the mental health team work with local agencies to coordinate this successful event.

A variety of after school enrichment opportunities are provided to our students from kindergarten through fifth grade and run by our amazing teachers and staff. The Parent Teacher Organization  (PTO) sponsors our After School Clubs which include; Chess Club, LEGO Robotics, STEM, Art Innovation, Mixed Sports, American Sign Language, Yoga & Mindfulness as well as many other exciting activities. These clubs are designed to offer our students programs which they would otherwise not have access to. Students find love of learning through a variety of programs that spark a passion. The PTO clubs provide an opportunity for students to be challenged and learn the value of perseverance while building social skills which are essential to the development of the 21st Century Learner. After School Clubs are offered three times a year for 8 week sessions each. They are wildly popular with students and are always evolving to meet the needs of our young learners.

Additional enrichment opportunities are provided through our Local Level 4 Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) offered at the third, fourth and fifth grades. The integration of the AAP curriculum into the general education classrooms (PK-5) makes our school a model standout. One way we support this initiative is by having our Advanced Academic Resource Teachers (AART) attend our weekly PLC meetings. General education classroom teachers run a variety of enriching educational experiences which promote challenge and enhance overall rigor for our students. AARTs conduct lessons across all grade level classrooms and provide support for our Young Scholars program as well. All students attend quarterly Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (STEM) Lab as well as weekly Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) Lab. Students have a variety of software applications to access from Pre-K through fifth grade. We support this initiative through the use of our weekly technology lab classes, mobile laptop carts, iPads and interactive Smart Boards which are available in every classroom.

Inclusion of students with special education needs is also an important part of the Glen Forest community environment. Teachers and staff strongly believe that all students can learn no matter their ability level. We believe students should be educated with their age-appropriate peers as often as possible. In our Autism and Non-Categorical Disabilities classrooms, students access curriculum to meet needs that cannot always be addressed in the general education setting. Having individualized educational needs should not prevent any child from participating in age-appropriate activities. This inclusion time provides our learners with the essential social and emotional skills that all students require to thrive. Students with special education needs participate in all levels of inclusion - spending time in classrooms for parts of the day such as Positivity Project, morning meetings, science, specials, field trips, classroom celebrations, and school events.

At Glen Forest we implement the Co-teaching Model to promote optimal teaching strategies. Classroom teachers meet with their cooperatingteacher/co-teacher (ELL, SPED and/or AART)  on a daily basis to develop enriching lesson plans which promote student growth and meet the varying needs of our learners. These triads meet weekly to develop daily learning objectives, plan for enrichment and create intervention strategies to meet students by name and need.  As a Collaborative Team, teachers, co-teachers and specialists work together to communicate and plan twice a week to ensure the social, emotional, and educational needs of all students are met. Collaborative Teams are data driven and student focused with an emphasis on best practices to move students to success. Our AAP teachers attend weekly collaborative team meetings to develop vertical articulation across the grades. These curriculum meetings in addition to the general education Collaborative Teams help to provide enrichment and extension lesson ideas to all teachers and co-teachers. Content coaches, administrators and specialists also attend these grade level meetings to help co-facilitate. Each grade level uses the PLC cycle model to create content agendas which are student centered and standard focused. The facilitators meet bi-weekly to discuss best practices and to review effective leadership strategies across grade levels. Communication and collaboration are key to driving the success we reach in every classroom.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The foundation of our Professional Learning Community is built upon the four essential questions that ensure student learning is at the heart of all that we do.

Each year, we develop a school improvement plan that outlines rigorous school-wide goals for student learning that demonstrate our commitment to student achievement, not only within the walls of our classrooms, but also, to the skills students need to be a Portrait of a Graduate in today’s world.  Our district has outlined these core skills to include:  Communicator, Collaborator, Ethical and Global Citizen, Creative and Critical Thinker, Goal-Directed and Resilient Individual.  We understand the importance of setting our goals high for each and every student. Our grade-level instructional goals are reflected in our School Improvement and Innovation Plan (SIIP). The Leadership Team develops a school-wide assessment plan that delineates how to gather multiple data points as evidence of student learning across the year.

Grade-level collaborative teams meet twice weekly in order to maximize student growth and achievement across content areas.  During this time all stakeholders:

  • Unpack standards and units of study

  • Develop common assessments

  • Analyze pre-assessments and post assessments

  • Determine teaching priorities for whole group, small-group, and one-on-one instruction

  • Analyze levels of student understanding

  • Develop specific instructional next steps for students across a continuum of understanding

  • Analyze levels of learning

  • Celebrate, refine, and preserve

Quarterly, teams engage in a data analysis protocol in order to triangulate high-leverage data points and identify trends in student achievement and growth.  Further, teachers determine specific performance gaps for each individual student. This equips teachers with a strategic action plan that targets students by name and need.

In addition, Glen Forest has a total of nine coaches, four Language Arts and three Math, to ensure teachers have the support and expertise needed to meet students’ needs. At least one coach per grade level is an active member of each collaborative team. Coaches support teachers and students in and out of the classroom.  Glen Forest has two Advanced Academic coaches to support the learning of all children. They provide support to teachers by helping them extend their craft and also provide resources to promote higher level thinking. All of our coaches and facilitators lead research-based activities such as “strategy ladders” that help teachers determine what students already know and what is needed to extend their learning. This allows teachers to differentiate instruction by name and need.

Teachers monitor student learning through routine conferencing. This provides time for authentic talk and also supports a positive student-teacher relationship. Teachers give quick “check ins” to students to compliment what they notice they’re doing well. A teaching point is established either beforehand or during the “check-in.” This is done throughout the day and in all subject areas.  Teachers gather formative data through a variety of assessments using tools such as running records, exit tickets, and anecdotal notes throughout the day. Teachers will collect this formative data during activities such as partner sharing, Socratic Seminars, group work, pair work, and partner games. Additionally, collaborative teams create common assessments derived from unpacked standards and essential understandings.  Collaborative Team’s reflect on this data, and strategically embed content in need of further support within math and reading workshops in upcoming units. Students are held accountable for their learning by having “check-ins” with their peers through writing and math partnerships. Listening to student “talk” is one essential way teachers learn about student progress. Teachers also keep a close eye on student attendance. They notice trends of absences and refer it to administration.

Teachers collaborate with the the Technology Team. Students receive weekly instruction in the tech lab and are provided with classroom computers to further their 21st century skills. Students use a variety of applications such as G-suite for education, Dreambox and Horizon assessments. These apps allow for immediate student feedback and teacher monitoring.  Lastly, students create goals for themselves and track their own progress.

Collaborative Teams also provide opportunities for the creation of common formative assessments. These assessments are analyzed for trends in teaching successes as well as identifying areas that require re-teaching. Reflection on common assessment data occurs at the triad level, during our weekly collaborative team meetings, and comprehensive Quarterly Reviews. Assessment data provides opportunities to group students that need similar re-teaching and extension opportunities. Teachers flexibly group students among triads to meet these unique needs. During collaborative team meetings, teachers who have demonstrated mastery of a specific content standard have the opportunity to share out the strategies which were most successful with their students. These strategies are then scaffolded to meet the needs of our various learners. This level of collaboration during collaborative team meetings supports professional growth of team members while providing opportunities to build strong teacher leaders.

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

At Glen Forest, grade level and departmental collaborative teams meet weekly to ensure supports and extensions are developed and provided to all students.Formative and summative student data is consistently analyzed and reflected upon so teachers can best support students who are struggling and recognize those students demonstrating high levels of growth.Collaborative teams proactively plan units of study, and intentionally build in scaffolds to allow all learners access to curriculum content.  Collaborative Teams discuss Tier 1 supports and scaffolds for all learners.  Each category of support (sensory, graphic, interactive, linguistic, and behavioral) is considered and implemented during instruction.  Through content-area coaching, teachers are exposed to current best practices to provide scaffolds and extensions to implement high-leverage Tier 1 instruction that addresses student needs.  Classroom teachers work collaboratively with resource teachers to schedule Tier 2 interventions in addition to the strong Tier 1 instruction provided for all students. All Tier 2 interventions are scheduled to complement the daily workshop model.  A Responsive Instruction Core Team, composed of stakeholders representing all areas of instruction collaborate to designate Tier 3 interventions for students in need of targeted, intensive support to expedite learning and close achievement gaps. Tier 3 interventions are provided around individual students’ Tier 1 instructional schedules to ensure students receive the essential curriculum.

 

Students receive weekly instruction in a CCT (Critical and Creative Thinking) lab, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) lab, and a technology skills lab. Grade level teams implement elements of the Advanced Academics curriculum and 21st-Century skills through the use of Project Based Learning experiences, Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M2 and M3), Document Based Questioning (DBQ), and many other resources.

 

The Glen Forest Elementary School community is supported by a full-time psychologist and social worker, one part-time and two full-time school counselors, and two full-time Parent Liaisons to address the social and emotional needs of students and families. Social-emotional well-being of our students is addressed through school-wide implementation of Responsive Classroom practices, positive behavior interventions and The Positivity Project, highlighting 24 character traits.  The administration, along with the counseling team, work together to create and implement a systematic, tiered attendance plan.

Glen Forest Elementary School utilizes the following programs to enhance instruction:

  • KLAP Program (Kindergartners Learning about Print) - a Tier 1 approach targeted to promote the letter and language learning of at-risk kindergarteners.

  • Fundations - a multisensory, structured language program that uses research-based materials and strategies essential to a comprehensive reading, spelling, and handwriting program.

  • EIRI - a systematic database intervention targeted to our lowest performing kindergartners.

  • AVMR Math Recovery - professional development to advance students’ numeracy education with meaningful assessment and instruction.

  • Dreambox  - an adaptive digital tool that enhances and expands mathematical instructional opportunities

  • MyOn - a student-centered, personalized literacy platform that offers unlimited access to thousands of enhanced digital books.

  • PebbleGO - an online reading platform designed for K-2 learners, with leveled readers and read-along audio by professional voice over artists.

  • Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) - a research-based literacy intervention to increase literacy achievement for below grade-level students.

  • Additional specialized intervention programs for special education students and struggling readers and mathematicians, matched by name and need.

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

At Glen Forest Elementary School we value learning and collaboration among both teachers and students.  This can be seen with our yearly professional development cohorts, co-teaching model and collaborative teams.  All of these activities help develop community among the Glen Forest school population.

Professional development cohorts are designed and led by qualified staff at Glen Forest Elementary.  The staff leaders have taken courses, practiced theories and have a zest for the cohort they are leading.  Teachers are then presented with options to join a cohort and actively participate throughout the year. The yearly in-house cohorts helps to develop teachers’ craft.  It provides a safe learning environment where teachers can share and dare to try new methods. Some of the cohorts offered at Glen Forest are Literacy Collaborative, Add+Vantage Math Recovery, Teachers as Skilled Observers of Readers and Writers, and Blended Learning.

The co-teaching model is a unique strategy designed to allow teachers the opportunity to work collaboratively every day.  One special education or ESOL teacher is provided per two classrooms, referred to as a “triad”, to support students and teachers.  Common planning time is provided for all “triads” during the week. All students in the class feel they have two teachers and do not see a separation in instruction.   Use of the co-teaching model allows students to receive additional one-to-one differentiated instruction and flexible grouping tailored to meet individual needs. In addition specialists are grouped according to the common classes they serve. These meetings enable them to meet weekly  in order to discuss and address student needs.

Collaborative teams meet twice a week at Glen Forest Elementary School. These meetings  provide opportunity for teachers to focus on student needs in math and literacy. Teachers spend this time analyzing student data, sharing instructional strategies and planning intervention and differentiation as needed during instruction, celebrating and refining strategies.  Teachers and coaches follow the official collaborative team cycle and answer the four questions of “What do we want students to learn?, How will we know if they learned it? What will we do if they didn’t learn it? What will we do if they already know it?”

In addition to collaborative teams, teachers new to Glen Forest take part in a Mentee cohort.  The Mentors are trained and this cohort meets once a month to discuss and refine the nuts and bolts of specific Glen Forest programs and procedures. During these monthly meetings, lead mentors share strategies of reading and math workshop, use of Advanced Academic Program curriculum such as  Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M3), and effective English Language Learner (ELL) strategies. New teachers are also assigned a grade-level colleague to observe and provide feedback on daily instruction. They meet on a weekly basis to help build the craft of their new colleague.

During weekly collaborative team meetings, coaches provide embedded staff development aligned to current curriculum units to build teachers’ craft. These professional development opportunities address misconceptions, ways to incorporate authentic assessment, address the needs of ALL students to ensure that instruction is tailored to the needs of children. An example of this would be Kindergarteners Learning About Print (KLAP) training that is incorporated into the kindergarten Collaborative Teams. Primary teachers are part of Literacy Collaborative which is a two year program that strengthens their knowledge in balanced literacy. This course explores the most effective literacy practices and embeds them into our instruction. Periodic “lab sites” are designed to have teachers create, implement, and refine instructional practices around current research and best practices in the field of literacy.

Our preschool teachers collaborate with the Early Childhood Office, in an effort to build the foundation of the school-home connection, by offering parent education workshops in the area of executive functioning. They also conduct periodic home visits to strengthen parental capacity to address the achievement gaps traditionally attributed to children in poverty.

Achievement Data Files

Top