Freedom 7 Elementary School

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

Freedom 7 is characterized as a collaborative and reflective school. Essential Agreements, our team norms and protocols, are established by all members of each collaborative team and are posted both in hard copy and electronically and are referred to on a regular basis. These are created each year, as group members change.  Also, Essential Agreements, which  guide our Primary Years Programme implementation, assessment and student work portfolios are developed collaboratively with all teachers and administrators and are revised annually based on our reflection of the processes.

 

The school’s master schedule has been designed to allow for 80 uninterrupted minutes, every five days, for teachers to collaborate and reflect on the development of our curriculum, with the focus on four essential questions; What should the student know and be able to do? How will we know that the students are not learning? How do we respond when students do not learn? How do we respond when students learn more?

 

In addition, the master schedule provides at minimum, two additional 40 minute common planning times across a grade level for continued collaboration and reflection.  These PLC collaborative times are within the student school day and have a shared vision of  planning for student success using standards and student evidence from teacher created summative and formative assessments. Continuous reflective practice by teachers, students and administrators,  guides the teaching and learning.  New this year, the district has scheduled one half day per month to allow teachers more time to collaboratively plan and reflect, in which the teachers at Freedom 7 use to meet in their PLCs.

 

Working in their grade level teams, teachers map the standards into the units of inquiry. The documents reflecting this are stored digitally and are accessible for all. After mapping the standards, teachers have created our school’s scope and sequence along with a weekly plan aligned with the units of inquiry for each grade level. These are living documents which are revised each year by the teachers in each grade level. The weekly plan is easily transferred into lesson plans for the teachers as they utilize a school wide, teacher designed lesson plan template.

 

Technology is an integral component of our professional learning community. The wiki platform, PBWorks, is a collaborative learning space is used for all our professional development sessions. Collaborative team notes and minutes are shared via Google Drive. A common drive on our school server contains all our curriculum documents all teachers have access to them. The past three years the school has been able to offer teachers the opportunity to apply for a school based technology grant. Based on the submission of proposal which are standards based and provide for differentiation, teachers have asked for and received Ipads and tablets. Students are now have greater access. Three years ago, the a BYOD policy was implemented where students are able to bring their device to school with a agreement for use signed by both the parent and the student. This has resulted in an increase in access, enabling students to complete research and work collaboratively.

 

Another factor impacting student teaching and learning is the transformation of the Media Center to a Center for Inquiry which occurred in 2010 and continues today. The teachers may schedule time to use the space in part or in whole which allows for an extension of the classroom. Students can use a variety of media including the computer lab located in the Center for Inquiry as they work on projects, complete assignments and explore new ideas. The Media Specialist works collaboratively with the classroom teachers to support the learning in a variety of ways. As part of the media inventory, text sets have been added to the circulation. Teachers can request the purchase of books and videos to support the learning for each unit of inquiry as part of the text set for each unit.  

 

The breadth and depth of the collaborative nature of the school is evident in the learning as students are continuously collaborating with each other and the teacher in their learning. Summatives are often completed with partners in the same class. Learning Partners are established between grade levels. Sixth Graders spend half the school year with their Exhibition group members exploring a global issue. They present their learning at a school wide celebration: Exhibition, at the end of the school year. Each group of students learn about each other’s learning styles, create essential agreements for working together, assign roles and responsibilities within their group and continuously reflect on their process and learning with each other. The collaboration is supported by the use of Google drive by each group member.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Monitoring student learning is progressive from year to year. At the beginning of the year, teacher leaders compile and lead the faculty through data disaggregation based on their students’ performance performance the prior year, and current incoming students to determine growth, and areas of improvement for both teacher instruction and student learning. This process is continued and evident throughout the year in the teachers’ professional growth plans and through structured MTSS, (multi-tiered system of support). These collaborative  teams  include the grade level teachers, special area teachers, both administrators, a curriculum coordinator, guidance counselor and resource teachers . Once a classroom teacher has identified a student who is not meeting either academic or behavioral expectations, the team works through the problem solving process to identify the student’s learning needs and develops a set of interventions based on the areas of need. Weekly progress monitoring assessments are administered to determine whether or not academic growth occurs or behaviors change based on the prescribed interventions.

 

MTSS meetings are scheduled once a month during each grade level’s uninterrupted 80 minute PLC. As the year progresses, each team reviews the data to date, along with input from the school’s psychologist, staffing specialist and ESE teachers to determine the next step for the student. The process is fluid so a student may move between the tiers as determined by the data and agreed upon by the collaborative team members.  

Students, who are performing above grade level, are also discussed at these meetings and suggestions for differentiation of the curriculum along with sharing of resources is offered to the classroom teacher.

 

The use of multiple electronic reporting tools is essential to tracking student growth data. These tools allow both instructional and administrative staff to review student performance in reading, mathematics, science, and writing throughout the year. At the end of each semester, teachers and administrators discuss student progression of learning.


In addition, during the weekly 80 minute PLCs, teachers, an IB coordinator and an administrator discuss pre- and formative assessments to guide curriculum development within the units of inquiry.  Learning engagements are amended to meet the needs of the students and are further articulated to meet the needs of students’ inquires.  

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

Through monthly MTSS meetings, resources are evaluated and distributed to assist individual student growth plans. Resources include human resources, electronic, text and program supports that allow for a multitude of opportunities for students to achieve growth.  As students’ needs are identified, staff resources are utilized to provide one-on–one or small group tutoring by special area teachers, parent volunteers and exceptional education teachers. Substitute teachers are also used in this manner during their planning time.

The online resources Lexia Suite and Accelerated Reading (reading), and IXL Math are used to monitor student growth in reading and mathematics for students who are performing below grade level.

A myriad of assessments are used to determine student academic growth and development. These include the SAT 10 achievement test, OLSAT ability test, Scholastic Reading Inventory,, and Standardized Tests for Achievement in Reading (STAR), Lexia Reading, and district benchmark assessments.

 

Additionally, student understanding is discussed in the weekly 80 minute PLCs, whereby discourse surrounds four essential questions; What do we expect our students to learn?  How will we know they are learning?  How will we respond when they don’t learn?  How will we respond if they already know it?  Pre-assessments and formative assessments help to identify concepts in need of remediation and enrichment.

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

Grade level teams working with the curriculum coordinator (IB Coordinator) design six units of inquiry which are taught during the year. Using Understanding by Design, the teachers map the state standards into the units, develop the summative and formative assessments and the learning engagements for each unit.  Based on unit design, the teachers have created the school’s scope and sequence, which includes the state standards for each subject, and is aligned with the district’s requirements that structure each grade level’s content so that the developmental level, abilities and purposeful assessments can maximize student achievement. Special Area teachers collaborate in the process of unit design to incorporate their standards into the unit. Reflection of the teaching and learning, once the unit is complete, is recorded by all teachers.

 

Vertical articulation occurs two times per year to ensure there is continuity of content, student expectations and assessments. In order to improve the writing across the school, the teams have collaborated both horizontally and vertically to determine the outcomes expected for each grade level.  Writing samples are scored by the grade level above to further this collaboration across the school.

 

While inquiry based instructional strategies are the primary focus; direct instruction, systematic instruction, shared inquiry discussions, cooperative learning activities, flexible grouping and one-on-one tutoring are all used within the classrooms. Teachers have the flexibility to use different forms of instructional strategies based on student needs, learning styles, concepts to be learned, content and resources. Through differentiation of instruction, teachers use pre-assessments to ascertain needs to students. They then plan for instruction based on students’ needs. Common formative and summative assessments have been developed within each grade level PLC with accompanying rubrics. Using these assessments, students’ reading, writing and mathematics levels are determined and conceptual knowledge assessed. Students are then grouped on their zone of proximal development in the area of reading, or in clusters of students with similar academic needs in the area of mathematics or writing.

 

Support for all teachers is imbedded in all PLC meetings with the  participation of  an administrator and a curriculum coordinator. All participants are members of the collaborative team, with the coordinator facilitating the time when units of inquiry are created or revised based on reflections of all involved.  In addition, building level contacts for all subject areas have been identified and attend district PLCs. These individuals then communicate through grade level PLCs, information regarding their specific discipline.

 

A large number of resources have been obtained for teaching and learning with input from all faculty.  Of significance is the addition of text sets for each unit of inquiry. Teachers have requested books be purchased and added to the text sets, which are then used in the teaching of the content. Electronic resources acquired  to support the teaching and learning includes IXL Math, Accelerated Reading, Spelling City, and Newsela, Brain Pop, and Mobi Max. Web based applications used by students throughout the grade levels includes Easy CBM, Discovery Education, Book Flix, Readworks, Google Aps, and district adopted curriculum digital resources.

 

A school-wide mentor program is also in place, whereby new teachers are paired with experienced teachers in order to provide assistance with a transition to a new school and understandings of the collaborative culture that exists within the school. In addition, a new teacher PLC has been established, which meets monthly, in order to fully facilitate all efforts to improve teaching and learning. Finally, the administrators meets regularly with new teachers to continue to establish a positive, collaborative model that aims to improve student achievement.

 

Teachers regularly participate and are invited to facilitate school-wide, district, state, national and international professional development; sharing new knowledge with the collaborative teams. Individuals and teams are provided time to implement new knowledge and present to the staff during faculty meetings and professional development days. Peer observations are supported by administration and initiated by teachers to continue to grow best teaching and learning practices. The district has provided support through a mentor council, whereby three representatives from Freedom 7 Elementary participate; sharing new knowledge and peer observation strategies with faculty.  The district has also supported the training of Peer Coaching teams, which in turn train the teachers at Freedom 7 in peer coaching practices and support the peer observation process.

 

The implementation of the Common Core State Standards has been led by teams of teachers from across different grade levels as well as a core team of administrators and two teacher leaders. The process has allowed for an uncovering of knowledge and discussion within collaborative teams in relation to student achievement. The rich discourse coupled with examination of student evidence has lead to instructional shifts supported by collaborative teams at each grade level.

Teachers are also asked to be work together on various committees during the year. They collaborate to plan, implement and  make decisions about the school’s Science Fair, Literacy Week, Red Ribbon Week, International Festival, and other events at Freedom 7 that support student growth.  

Please find Freedom 7's student achievement data here.

  • In 2008 and 2014, Freedom 7 was recognized as a National  Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the United States Department of Education.

  • Freedom 7 has been recognized as an “A School” by the Governor of the State of Florida since its inception in 2000.

  • Freedom 7 Elementary has consistently ranked in the top ten elementary schools in the state of Florida over the past 15 years.

  • Freedom 7 has had the distinction of being an All Things PLC School.

  • Freedom 7 is recognized as an “IB World School” by the International Baccalaureate Organization and is authorized to implement the IB’s “Primary Years Programme” for students ages 5 through 12.

  • Parenting magazine featured Freedom 7 Elementary in an article titled “The Best School in America” in September, 2012.

  • In 2009 and 2011, Freedom 7 Elementary was ranked #1 elementary school in the Southeastern United States by neighborhoodscout.com.

  • Freedom 7 Elementary consistently has district winners in Future Problem Solving year after year; State winners in 2010, 2011, and 2014; Competed at the International Future Problem Solving competition in 2010, 2011, and 2014.

  • Odyssey of the Mind teams have placed at the district level in 2012, 2013, and 2015, going on to represent Freedom 7 at the State Competition level.

  • The Assistant Principal, Mary Helen King and the IB Coordinator, Dr. Lucy Haddock presented at the IB Annual Regional Conference: 2010 Transforming a media center into a Center for Inquiry; and What is ICT in the PYP 2011.

  • PYP Coordinators, Dr. Lucy Haddock and Lisa Enrique presented at the IB Annual Regional Conference 2015: Reflection, Relationships and Resources: Sustaining the PYP.

  • Principal Dorine Zimmerman and Dr. Haddock presented Relationships, Reflection, Resources, The Three Rs to Growing and Sustaining Professional Communities at the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence National Conference, 2015.

  • Assistant Principal, Mary Helen King and PYP Coordinator, Lisa Enrique presented Planning for High Quality in the Unit Design at both the district and state ECET2 conference.

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