Aspen Early Learning Center

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

Aspen Early Learning Center (AELC) is a unique school that serves the birth to Kindergarten population of Riverton, Wyoming.  The school district and community came together to reconfigure the structure of our schools K-5. The reconfiguration created the new Aspen Early Learning Center.  Through this process, AELC was given the challenge of merging staff members from more than four campuses and growing our foundation of support for the community. As our campus was formed, we found that more than 60% of our incoming Kindergarteners did not attend preschool.  This is where the real work of developing our Professional Learning Community began.

In the first year of AELC mixed campus staff was apprehensive about working with teachers from other campus’.  Sharing students for intervention was not acceptable and trust with “my kids” was a definite concern. Teachers had not shared their data openly, and did not want to be “called out” for the students that they had been assigned in their rooms.  Curriculum frameworks had been started at the district level, but had been carried out differently at each previous campus. This information was often shared in statements such as: “at my old school, we….”

AELC’s  guiding coalition noticed the need for building a collective vision for our newly structured campus, building forward, not looking back.  We sought training in the PLC process, RtI at Work, Data Teams, and Rigorous Curriculum Design. Various staff had attended Solution Tree training opportunities and book studies, however most had not.  The staff spoke very highly of the training they had received. AELC’s guiding coalition discussed this opportunity and decided that collective knowledge was the first step in bringing our campus together.  The last two years we have had a Solution Tree trainer on campus as well as virtually to support our growth. AELC staff has used the information gained from these to develop our Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), as well as a shared mission and vision for our school and outreach potential.  

The process included teachers learning and growing in collective efficacy to include academics and behavioral outcomes.  Teachers began to work collaboratively to design units of study, identify proficiency scales, and develop common formative and summative assessments as well as setting standards for social/emotional growth in our students.  Teachers also started the process of digging into data and openly discussing how they were doing as a campus through the Data Teams process. With this growth mindset, AELC was able to build a collaborative culture and collective responsibility aligned to our students success goals.

Moving into the fourth year as a campus, a relatively short time, we have grown in knowledge, teamwork and student success.  It is now an open discussion on data, student needs, strategies to support students success, teacher and paraprofessional training needs, and trust.  Weekly and monthly collaborative meetings are part of our collective commitments. Trust has been built through discussions and trainings to allow for open sharing of students between 10 classrooms and all paraprofessionals to meet their individual needs.  AELC staff holds to the commitment that it is “about ALL the kids!” 

With the new school focus on ALL the kids, we began WIN (What I need) groups to target the splinter skills the students were showing through data that they were missing.  This 30 minute WIN time involved ALL teachers and ALL paraprofessionals working with ALL students in the school.  

Now, beginning our 6th year, we have continued to work together as a team to meet the needs of students, while also navigating the COVID requirements.  In our district, we were online from March 13, 2020 through August, 2020.  We taught our 4 & 5 year olds the best we could online with Zoom meetings, individual meetings and online programming.  As we all know, not the best for our littles as they need the social aspect of school to be more successful.  Our district opened the 2020-21 school year in person with COVID 19 restrictions and strict protocols.  We were very happy to be back in person with our students.  

Through the pandemic and looking at our current data, a need for more support in social emotional programming and intensive foundational skills for our students has emerged more than ever before.  Our school has refocused on these areas of school readiness to help support our students in being successful in their current and future school careers.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Fremont County School District #25 (FCSD25) created a guaranteed and viable curriculum over the past 7 years.  Teachers K-12 chose priority standards, supporting standards, unwrapped the standards, designed units of study, rubrics, common formative and summative assessments.  The development was done through weekly grade level meetings with the knowledge obtained through Marzano Research Labs. Once the initial curriculum was designed, schools followed a cycle of implementation and review on a weekly basis during their collaborative meetings to adjust as necessary. Data was used in these meetings to identify areas that need adjustment whether that be additional time in one concept, a new strategy, a different resource, or a new concept altogether.  Daily instruction has been enhanced by continued Professional Development as well as research based resources selected for each subject area. Teachers work together to align resources to priority standards and adjust the district units of study to support the needs of the students and grade level outcomes, based on collected data. This process is ongoing today, as we strive to meet the needs of our ever changing student population along with the new standards released from our State Department of Education.  

Data teaming is used to monitor student learning weekly.  Common formative assessments were created for each priority standard.  Rubrics and cut points were decided by the team to give teachers a guideline for monitoring progress on the identified priority skills and concepts.  Teachers meet throughout the year to review the progress monitors in their data team cycles celebrating their success and identifying what strategies and actions to take to continue the progress of their students.  In addition to the ongoing progress monitoring during the collaborative meeting times, Aspen Early Learning Center meets three times each year to review the universal screener we give to each of our students. This data helps teachers assess the needs of all students and how our common formatives are supporting the growth of the students at Aspen Early Learning Center.

Through these training opportunities and our PLC work, we have deepened our focus on the Tier I foundations of our reading and math instruction.  The focus on AELC as an Early Learning Center included thinking outside the box of the traditional school in Wyoming and adding additional programs to support the needs that were identified for our community.  The results of this collaborative effort created a two-year Kindergarten program for students who need the gift of time called Boost. Other programs formed were a public preschool that takes 15 students, next year we are expanding to 30 students.  We offer a Learning with Littles class for 1 ½ hours per week that supports daycare, preschool, homeschool, Department of Family Services, grandparents and guardians in learning how to work and play with your 0-5 year old. AELC has also partnered with Central Wyoming College to support college students giving them their first look at working with young children.  This partnership includes work study, practicum, and volunteer efforts within our school. To further our community reach, AELC began hosting Facebook live community connection highlights on services for families called Aspen ConnectIONS (information on needed services).  These included local doctors, dentists, food banks, museums, health screenings, and fire safety.

Our journey as a campus has been guided by the PLC process.  We have learned to collaborate, be transparent, and take responsibility for the success of not only our students but our community.  This journey helped us create the flagship Early Learning Center in Wyoming and led us to our new AELC vision. Aspen Early Learning Center’s vision is:  To work together to develop productive citizens by building strong foundations and encouraging positive community involvement.

 

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

As a Kindergarten campus, we have made time in our shared schedule for “What I Need” or WIN time for reading skills.  During this time, students from 10 Kindergarten classrooms are separated into smaller groups and shared with 18 professionals including teachers, paraprofessionals, Instructional Facilitators and Speech teachers for targeted instruction on focused needs.  Some students are in extension groups at this time and some are retaught skills that they need to move forward on the reading continuum.

For Math interventions and extension activities, teachers and paraprofessionals take small groups between 2 or 3 classrooms.  They also target student needs, just on a smaller scale than our WIN time for reading.  

Data for both instructional focus’ is shared with all teachers in one document.  Students are moved every 3 weeks depending on skills need and growth. When a student is not making progress on a certain skill, a small team of teachers, Instructional Facilitator and principal discuss options to adjust time, skill, teacher and support. Professional Development is provided to teachers and paraprofessionals in the areas that they are needing in order to be successful in their small group teaching.  This is provided by trained teachers in district or bringing in a trainer if needed.  

 

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

Our high-performing, collaborative teams focus on student learning by seeking to further their knowledge in specific skills or concepts needed by our students.  These trainings have been in the PLC process, RtI at Work, Data Teams, and Rigorous Curriculum Design. Various staff had attended Solution Tree training opportunities and shared the information back with the staff.  Within the last two years we have had a Solution Tree trainer on campus and we have met with the Solution Tree trainer virtually to support our staff growth and student growth. 

New teachers to Aspen Early Learning Center are assigned a Mentor teacher for two years to help them to navigate the curriculum, formative and summative assessments, reports, classroom management and school and district expectations.  Mentors meet with the new teachers weekly to provide this support and be a sounding board for the new teachers as they learn the ropes of being a teacher and being a part of Aspen Early Learning Center. These Mentor/Mentee relationships often turn into lifelong friendships and have shown over the years to support student growth.  

Our weekly collaborative team meetings are held every Wednesday afternoon.  Aspen Early Learning Center teachers meet to continue their learning, make decisions on curriculum design, common formative and summative assessments and share data on the growth of students. In past years, we have used this meeting time to develop a mission, vision, collective commitments and norms for our work.  We revisit the collective commitments and norms every meeting to remind ourselves of our focus.  Additionally, twice a year we revisit our mission and vision to ensure our path is focused around learning for all students and that we are taking the steps necessary to meet the collective goals.

Using the data team process, each week the teachers answer the four essential questions of:  What do we expect our students to learn? How will we know they are learning? How will we respond when the don't learn? How will we respond if they already kow it?  Through this process a common formative assessment is discussed.  Teachers use this data to identify students in need of intervention or extension, common instructional strategies and activities are identified to meet the needs of the students.  Teachers model and explain different strategies and activities to one another to assist in strengthening teacher knowledge and skills for student needs.

Art, music, computer education, library, and physical education teachers work together with similar teachers across the district to disaggregate data, create and align curriculum and assessments, and collaborate together on instruction.  Professional development opportunities for these specials teachers coincide with both the individual needs of the subject areas as well as the overall needs of a school.  Specials teachers additionally work with the classroom teachers to incorporate the needs of students and team up to provide interventions, activities, and instructional strategies that support the identified interventions.  An example of this is when the physcial education teacher has students bear walk across the room to help build core and gross motor strength.  This translates to improved fine motor skills that increases learning progress in reading and writing for our Kindergarten students.

Weekly Guiding Coalition meetings with the Principal, Social Worker, Title I Specialist, Special Education Case Manager, Intervention teacher and  District Behavioral Analyst, continue the growth of teachers by planning trainings for academics and behavioral support as well as giving following MTSS frameworks for student referrals for Tier II and Tier III academic and behavioral concerns.  Weekly time is set aside for teachers to come and work with the Guiding Coalition to build behavior plans, sign up students for Check In/Check out services that support their behavior throughout the day, or sign up their students for our check and connect services - connecting a staff member to the student for extra attention and support throughout the day.  Additionally we discuss attendance, growth in intervention groups, and students that need to move forward for Special Education testing.  

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

In our attached document you will notice that we do not have comparative data to other schools in the state of Wyoming.  This is due to changes of testing and test management systems at the state level during these three years.  The state test is being normed for all grade levels K-12, but is not a requirement for Kindergarteners.  Kindergarteners do not need to take the state test as often as the other grade levels, and does not produce a score at the school level, only at the State Department of Education level until next year.  Additionally, we do not have school to school comparison data, as we are the only Kindergarten campus in the district.

August 20, 2019 Aspen Early Learning Center received recognition for becoming a certified Energy Bus school.  This has set us on a path of positive regard and support for our staff and students.  

On February 6, 2020 Aspen Early Learning Center was the focus of a statewide Early Childhood Expo.  Showcasing all of the programming and supports that are given to our community Birth - Kindergarten.  Other public schools around the state of Wyoming as well as preschools and daycares attended and were able to observe our teachers and students in all aspects of our day.  

On February 17, 2020 Aspen Early Learning Center was named a Model PLC School.  A Great Day!

 

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