Silas Bartsch

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

Our work began by building a guiding coalition of teacher leaders who represented their grade level or content area.  Together, we dove into the "Learning by Doing" text and engaged in shared learning on how to improve our services to our students and community through the PLC process.  Our guiding coalition would meet monthly and build their knowledge and leadership capacity.  Teacher leaders would take their new learning to their grade level or content area peers and build their understanding of what it means to be a professional learning community. 

Every wednesday, our teams meet during early-release to focus on the core four; What is to be learned?, How will we assess for learning?, How will we respond to the gaps in learning?, What are our next steps when our students demonstrate success?  Early in our journey, we were more concerned about the process of submitting agendas and minutes; "doing it right".  The process was the centerpiece of our conversations.  Needless to say, this did not improve our instructional practices.  It wasn't until we put the product or results of our students first that we realized the impact that common formative assessment and student work analysis could have on our practices and student achievement. 

All on campus truly believe in the power of collective teacher efficacy.  This belief in ourselves, supports us in facilitating a culture of continuous improvement.  We are a results driven school.  Our teachers work together to set and post SMART goals which are relevant to their current PDSA (plan, do, study, act) cycle.  Our students' data is monitored closely by name.  Struggling students are re-taught and re-assessed.  We are committed to no student stagnant and no student losing ground. 

I am in my 6th year as the instructional leader of Silas Bartsch.  It has been truly rewarding to hear how the conversations have changed.  They used to be around questions such as; "What needs to be turned in"?, "What should it look like"?, "What kind of wednesday is it today"?  Today, our conversations reflect committment rather than conformity.  We talk about the most strategic way to use our assessments.  We talk about specific skill deficits that we have discovered in our kids and how we are going to address them.  Most importantly, we celebrate the growth of our students.                   

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

Our school has aligned itself to the District adopted curriculum.  It is standandards-based and quite rigorous. It has been mapped and paced in a way that gives our teachers the greatest opportunity to teach the Common Core standards.  It serves as a great starting point in determining what it is we want our students to learn. However, due to its breadth, it is necessary to determine targets of priority.  This is done through a process of vertical articulation where teachers identify standards which serve as a foundation for success in subsequent grade levels. Additionally, we analyze the Smarter Balanced Assessment Blueprints to greater refine our focus.  In a nutshell, we are not “cover-to-cover”. We aspire to be surgical with our curriculum.

Prior to state assessments, our teachers administer two District common formative assessments. My staff implements several common formative assessments before and after these District benchmarks.  The results of these assessments support my staff in setting SMART goals for the classroom and in turn, support the students in setting their own SMART goals around critical learing targets.  The time we spend setting goals is critical.  It has a tremendous impact on clarity, purpose, and intentionality.  It allows the students to participate in the process of monitoring their learning. 

Teachers use the data to determine students' success on several learning targets throughout the year. Early-release Wednesdays are used to analyze data and student work, determine which students need more learning time, decide on next instructional steps, and build new assessments to measure growth on future learning targets.  Student data is tracked by name. This supports greater specificity regarding small groups and differentiated instruction.     


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

In our K-2 world, we utilize a system of deployment to address foundational literacy skills.  Teachers are able to specialize in addressing a smaller range in abilities during this block. We utilize our instructional aides in such a manner as to ensure that our neediest students are provided multiple opportunities to practice the skills their teacher has taught them under adult supervision in a small-group setting.  Our deployment system supports our teachers in providing greater differentiated experiences for their students.

Allow me to shed a little more light on what this looks like. Students are grouped according to their performance on a common formative assessment which assesses basic phonic skills. Students testing at or beyond grade level are deployed to teacher "A" where stations have been built to practice using language, build vocabulary & reading comprehension.  One instructional aide assists in monitoring the stations while the teacher builds comprehension through guided reading in a small group setting. There is a rotation every 20 minutes. Students see their teacher and participate at every station daily. Teacher "B" will work with the students who are nearly at grade level. Again, stations are built to support the needs of these students. Two instructional aides support the students as they practice the skills they have learned from their teacher.  Teacher "C" will serve our neediest students. Stations are designed to support their learning and build their phonemic awareness. There is an instructional aide at every station. This is done to ensure that students are practicing what their teacher has taught them with accuracy. Again, there is a rotation every 20 minutes. This ensures that students will see their teacher and practice at every station daily.  Progress monitoring occurs often.  This enables the teachers to move students to groups and stations where their needs are being met.      

In grades 3-5, our students benefit from WIN time or “What I Need”.  Students' reading comprehension is monitored throughout the year. Depending on their need, they progress through a 3 tier system of literacy support. Our neediest students receive support in basic foundational literacy skills.  Performance on assessments indicate that this is what they need. They are a small group of students. However, they are most critical to us due to their inability to access the curriculum without a tremendous amount of scaffolding. 

The majority of our students need support in reading comprehension. This is done by providing opportunities for our students to engage in text outside of the daily curriculum. We use “Time for Kids” due to the relevance and high interest of the articles.  Teachers employ a mixture of guided & independent reading, and academic discourse with great emphasis on content and academic vocabulary.

Our students who assess above grade level, are enriched with extended writing opportunities connected to literature pieces they are reading outside the curriculum.  ELA was our first area of choice due to the needs of our students and the expertise of our staff. It has been challenging due to the multiple grade levels and daily lesson schedules. This year, we have begun to employ a system of math support. We are still in the exploring and discovery stage of this journey.      

In our middle school grades, our students attend the "Bengal Power Hour".  This block of time occurs every Wednesday. Students are deployed according to their content area needs.  This is determined by formative assessments generated by their teachers. Students who are performing well on these assessments are enriched with activities such as coding and web design, sewing, leadership, and service learning opportunities.    

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

Although our teachers understand that supporting student learning and making instructional decisions can happen anywhere or anytime on campus, Wednesdays are dedicated to the bulk of this work.  Students are released at 1:30 PM. It is a norm of our community that we are in our teams working by 2:00 PM. Our time is spent considering best practices, data/student work analysis, determining next instructional steps, generating new assessments, and setting SMART goals. 

Our documentation keeps us highly focused and on task.  Tab 1, "Assessment Data", is used to record pre and post-assessment results complete with SMART goals and dates of administration.  The focus standard assessed is also indicated. Tab 2, "Action Plan" contains the results-driven instructional plan to be carried out according to the gaps in the learning demonstrated by the students.  Student data by name is also on this tab. Tab 3, "Baseline Evidence Statements", will be used to define the skills and conceptual understanding the students demonstrated at different levels of mastery; from beginning to excelling.  Finally, tab 4, "Instructional Strategies", will be used to identify and commit to specific instructional strategies which will best serve students at each level of mastery.

This documentation process is our latest revision in our effort to improve our learning community.  This year, we have chosen to master tabs 1 and 2. We will begin our work on tab 3 in May and tab 4 this coming fall.     

We have established a guiding coalition of teacher leaders.  This has greatly supported our process for shared learning, communication, and celebration.  We meet monthly to discuss ways to improve our practices and the best way to serve our teams.   
Our biggest challenge is supporting our singleton teachers in our middle school world.  Through vertical articulation, we have been able to support them in discovering common ground around writing and skills associated with communicating reasoning in mathematics.     



We have not received any formal recognition or awards for our efforts.