Morton Elementary

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

We have worked hard to create a PLC by maintaining a shared commitment to the learning of all students, the development of a collaborative culture, and the use of assessment results to improve student learning and our own professional practice. 

Our district has provided us with common planning time on a weekly basis by increasing student contact throughout the week in order to provide a one-hour early dismissal of students every Wednesday.  The building is divided into grade level Similiar Reponsibility Teams (SRT) that include a specialist in each area (Art, Music and PE.) to help cross-curricular teaching.  We believe that all educators can bring something to the table and that by working together we will improve student learning outcomes and our own practice.  In addition to the SRTs, we have grade-level only teams that meet twice per week that do not include Art, Music and PE.  Those involved in that meeting include the Principal, the Instructional Facilitator (coach), grade-level instructors, and a Special Education teacher.  

All of our teams focus on looking at results from common formative assessments to change instruction. From the data and the teaching strategies that have been used in the classroom, our teachers identify what methods have been successful and what strategies have not been as successful.  We also discuss specific students in need of additional intervention or enrichment based on gaining proficiency or better of our identified curricular essentials.

Students and teachers track data on a weekly basis for Reading and Math and on a monthly basis for Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBiS) Behaviors.  Data is based on SMART goals set by grade-level teams that are aligned to school and district goals.  We track data by school, classroom, and student.  All staff members and students assist with the data tracking and graphs are displayed throughout our school to show our collective and individual growth.  Growth towards individual, class and school goals are celebrated and recognized on a regular basis.

As indicated earlier, the district provides release time on every Wednesday by having an early-out for students. We have designated one of these Wednesdays each  month as a staff development time to focus on improving our instructional practices.  We use Marzano's Instructional Framework to create a common instructional language within our building and to improve our instructional practices.  We did this because we knew for our students to learn more, we needed to improve our instructional practices.  We have taken some of the elements to focus on each year and have different SRTs train staff on what those instructional strategies look like and how they can be implemented into the classroom.  During these trainings we have the teachers not only focus on the element, but also use different engagement strategies teachers should use in the classroom.  This not only gives them practice but also enhances the level of interest in the Framework.  Finally, both administrative and peer classroom walkthroughs look for implementation of these strategies in the classroom, and create an opportunity for staff to provide feedback to each other on effective practices.

Teachers take the lead in breaking down one element at a time, modeling it, and then having time to discuss it with the follow-up month having staff bring results from the implementation of that element. Time is then provided for staff to discuss, share results, and learn from each other.

In 2016 - 17, the students of Morton Elementary will transition to attendance at Watson Elementary due to a multi-million dollar bond election to improve facilities and to reduce the number of elementary buildings in our District. The Principals at Morton and Watson have engaged staff members from both buildings in collective professional learning to ease this transition. The co-planning and co-usage of Wednesday PLC time and the merging of School Improvement Teams and other activities have been a part of this effort. Morton looks forward to continuing to provide leadership in collaborative practices as they merge with Watson--a school that has previously been a one-section building.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

We use a number of tools to monitor the progress of student learning.  Some of these are developed by other organizations, but most are created by our classroom teachers (L to J, Benchmark assessments, Math to Know, etc). Our assessments include:

  • DAZE monthly/weekly fluency tests are completed by the classroom teacher and used to guide small group instruction. (Reading)
  • L to J tests (weekly) are common formative assessments aligned to the state standards and used to inform whole group and individual student performance.  (Math, Reading and Science)
  • Pre and Post District Benchmark assessments are entered into Edoctrina (our electronic curriculum and assessment management system) to evaluate areas needing further instruction/follow-up. These tests are given periodically throughout the school year to guide instruction and learning goals.  (Math, Reading and Science)
  • Students individually track their progress.  (Math, Reading and Science)

Throughout this process students are involved in assessing there own learning. The assessments provide feedback of skills that need to be taught/learned and/or skills that are mastered. Specifically, teachers facilitate more direct instruction towards those learning needs and targets identified in the data. The assessments also help students understand the Key Concepts that they know or don't know: they assist students with self-assessment, tracking learning, and communicating about their learning:

We communicate growth using L-J Math Assessments, Math to Know checklists for students to use and check their progress, Written Assessment Checklists and textbook-based Assessments given weekly between the Benchmark assessments.

 

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

At Morton Elementary, we have worked hard to create a daily forty-minute block of time for interventions for each grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade.  This block of time does not interfere with core instruction or specials, such as art, physical education or music.   Also, since no new information is presented at this time students can be pulled out of their classroom for English Language Learning, Special Education, differentiation of instruction or research-based interventions.  For those students not yet at benchmark, they work with either certified or classified staff in small groups of no more than four students to one teacher meeting five times a week.  Students who do not leave the classroom during this time are provided extension activities of learning in the areas of reading, writing or math.

Homework club is offered after school three days a week from 3:20 pm to 4:00 pm in three consecutive rooms in the building:  the library, the computer lab and the Title 1 Reading room.  Para-educators assist in each of these rooms.  A certified staff member circulates throughout these three rooms providing assistance, too.

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

As part of our efforts to improve the efforts for student learning the District re-organized the schedule of PLCs on the weekly Wednesday early-outs. One time per month is dedicated to building-level staff development focused on the implementation of the School Improvement Plan. As specific examples, one month utilized a specialist from an intermediate service agency, another focused on engagement strategies with data from the building on student on-task analysis.

We have developed a culture of being transparent in what we do, and to admit when something isn’t working so we can move on and find something that does work. A key component of work in this area is looking at student scores from common assessments and targeting areas of deficiencies. We use ITBS/CogAT scores and state test results, as well as common assessments based on our Essentials. The SMART goals that Learning Teams generate further break down what we want students to know or be able to do and give us a way to measure success. All staff members do academic goals as well as goals tied into strategies included in Marzano's Instructional Framework. Our staff has been able to put aside their egos and get to the core of what is working with students and what is not.

In an effort to share good teaching strategies, Learning Walks for all teachers are being implemented. Teachers visit other teachers’ classrooms and learn from each other at a minimum of once per month. After the visits, teachers share strategies they observed and discuss their effectiveness. This is not an evaluative tool but rather a tool used to learn from peers and discuss the observations during PLC time. Teachers who need ideas or a fresh perspective on how to reach students are able to pick up new ideas.

The District supports paid positions to be liaisons between the District Curriculum Department and the Building Learning Teams. The liaisons meet at least monthly and up to twice per month, and this creates dialogue about what is happening in Learning Teams throughout the District. This is a great way to bring up questions and share celebrations.

The core teams also recognize students each week at a celebration in their hallway. Every teacher recognizes at least one student who had a personal best score or who did an outstanding job on an assessment. Once a semester, the entire District gets together and individual Learning Teams are recognized for going above and beyond what is expected.

The driving force behind all decisions at Morton is always, “How will it benefit students?” Our Learning Teams have adopted the mindset of the book Whatever it Takes (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Karhanek) that says the best way to solve problems in a school is to harness the power of collective intelligence that already resides there.

Morton Elementary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of students meeting End of Year benchmark: Morton/District Scores

 

 

DIBELS Kinder

DIBELS 1st

DIBELS 2nd

 

Year  11 – 12

 64/66

 44/58

 59/58

 

Year  12 – 13

 73/74

 55/65

 58/62

 

Year  13 – 14

 80/79

 38*/65

 67/73

 

Year  14 – 15

 77/85

 65/74

 44*/72

 

Year  15 – 16

59/84

 64/75

63/73

 

 

Percentage of students passing: MO Scores/State Scores

 

 

Grade:  3                 

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other                 (DIBELS compared to District)

Year 10 – 11

 55/67

 52/71

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 48/56

Year 11 – 12

 86/72

 74/77

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 68/62

Year 12 – 13

 62/74

 82/78

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 69/70

Year 13 – 14

 88/76

 82/79

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 69/65

Year 14 – 15

 89/78

 98/82

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 79/78

Year 15 – 16

 72*/78

 88*/84

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 60*/73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of students passing: MO Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   4      

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other            

Year 10 – 11

 47/68

 68/75

Old Test

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 11 – 12

 57/72

 63/77

Old Test

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 12 – 13

 97/73

 89/79

81/68

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 13 – 14

 94/78

 89/78

77/69

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 14 – 15

 93/77

 91/81

93/69

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 15 – 16

 96/78

 96/85

Changed Test

 No Test

 No Test

 

 

Percentage of students passing: MO Scores/State Scores

 

Grade:   5      

Math

Reading

Writing

Science

Social Studies

Other            

Year 10 – 11

 75/66

 63/70

 No Test

 No Test

 No Test

 

Year 11 – 12

 81/75

 69/76

 No Test

 76/66

 No Test

 

Year 12 – 13

 67/75

 63/78

 No Test

 65/68

 No Test

 

Year 13 – 14

 89/77

 89/76

 No Test

 86/72

 No Test

 

Year 14 – 15

 80/76

 86/83

 No Test

 80/73

 No Test

 

Year 14 – 15

 91/77

 94/85

 No Test

 91/73

 No Test

 

*This is an unusually small class with only 25 students and large numbers of high needs. 

 DIBELS scores overall have steadily increased over the past four years. For example, Kindergarten has gone from around 60% to almost 80%, first grade

Keep in mind that, with classes that have roughly 50 students in a grade-level and a mobility rate of 25%, swings of 5 - 10% occur very easily. 

None—we have not been a high performing school in the past. The high-quality implementation of PLCs has made us above average and en route to high performing.

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