Woodstation Elementary School

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

Woodstation Elementary is a Pre-K through 5th-grade school located in the shadow of John’s Mountain in the North Georgia Mountains. The school is a community school for the residents of Catoosa County. WES was opened due to the expanding population of Catoosa County and the increased enrollment of Ringgold Elementary. Woodstation Elementary will be beginning year 17 for the 2020/2021 school term. The demographics consist of 94% white with a 48% economically disadvantaged population.

Our journey towards transforming into a PLC (Professional Learning Community) began during the 2017/2018 school year. At the beginning of the year, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction along with her team of teacher leaders shared their vision for school improvement. Our summer PLC team agreed with the vision and moved forward with introducing the overall goal of, “All Means All” to Woodstation Elementary. The first steps implemented were designing a school schedule that met the expectations of a PLC, identifying essential standards in reading and mathematics, and execution of Student Intervention Teams (SIT). The schedule revisions began by carving out a Tier 3 time for each grade level in reading and mathematics along with common planning time for grade-level teachers. As a school, we had a time built into the schedule for Tier 3 interventions but we were still piecing materials together to offer support to struggling students. The times for the interventions were consistent among the grade levels, but the extra support often included special education teachers. This process led to special education students not receiving a true co-teaching segment and a loss of the additional Tier 3 intervention time. This new understanding led to rearranging schedules to ensure the protection of co-teaching time and the opportunity for special education students to receive a Tier 3 intervention time. Common planning was already built into the schedules but this time was used to discuss students, lesson plans, and grade-level activities. The first step for PLC was identifying norms and reviewing student data. A master list was created based on student data, using the results to identify Tier 3 groups. Next, teachers working in conjunction with district counterparts, identified reading and mathematics essential standards.  In addition, an academic SIT process was initiated. This process generated a more clear understanding of each student’s specific needs. During this first year, teachers were able to target struggling students immediately following the fall benchmark. Upon identifying these students, intervention groups were organized across the grade levels. Teachers were able to provide Tier 3 instruction using research-based programs for reading and math interventions. SIT met every nine weeks to look at progress monitoring data, determine if students needed additional support, or if the intervention needed to be changed. Tier 3 also became fluid, thanks to the data that supported student growth.  

As year two began, Woodstation’s PLC journey continued to progress as our school created a new mission and vision statement. The school administration and our guiding coalition attended Jasmine Kuhlar's Leadership Conference through Solution Tree. One of the action items from this conference was revisiting our Mission, Vision, and Collective Commitments as a school. Jasmine shared about branding for your school and the idea that excellence should be expected every day without exception. We agreed and wanted to use excellence in describing what we do each day at Woodstation Elementary. Our conversation with our leadership team centered around “what does excellence look like” for our teachers, students, and parents. Our immediate goal as a  school was teachers, students, and parents being excellent would result in high levels of learning for all students. Another part of Dr. Kuhlar's Leadership Conference was branding your school in a memorable way. We want our Mission Statement to be easily remembered by students, teachers, and parents. If you ask our student body our mission and vision statements they know them. We want everyone to hold the belief that excellence begins at Woodstation. While exploring our vision our guiding coalition reviewed Chapter 3 in the book, School Improvement for All.  The authors Kramer and Schuhl described the skills students need to be successful in careers and into the future. Those skills were listed as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. As a school, we felt our vision must include those things if we were committed to building the foundation needed for all children. Our leadership team identified several critical areas for students to be successful. We want to build students who have strong, positive relationships (communication and collaboration-21st Century skills),  are able to work in a rigorous environment (critical thinking- 21st Century skills), and are resilient in their pursuits. As a school, we feel that preparation for a 21st Century learner involves relationship skills. Are students able to work cooperatively to accomplish a goal? Do they have interpersonal skills? 21st Century Learners can also think at high levels to solve problems ( rigor). Last, 21st Century Learners are resilient. They persevere in problem-solving. Our collective commitments support the areas mentioned in our vision statement. Our leadership team discussed becoming a  school that develops relationships, rigor, and resilience in all of our students. How do we prepare them to be 21st Century Learners?  We then wrote commitments to promote practices that lead to excellence for students, teachers, and parents in each area of relationships, rigor, and resilience. We included many of the things that are “tight” at our school regarding the PLC process in our collective commitments. We are focused on the things that we are “tight” about in PLC. Our collective commitments include providing a guaranteed and viable curriculum, teaching to a standard of proficiency, providing learning targets and success criteria for students, using common assessments to determine mastery of essentials and provide intervention and extension groups, using research-based practices for tier 1, 2 and 3 instruction and growing our teachers, and being collectively responsible for all students in our building. Woodstation Elementary School is, “Where Excellence Starts,” because rigor, relationships, and resilience are the cornerstones to our school. This belief became real as teachers began to work collaboratively planning and developing common formative assessments focusing on aligning the assessment to the essential standards being taught. Discussions were held on how to guarantee the success of all students. “I can” learning targets were created so students could identify where they were individually on skills being taught. Woodstation focused on developing Mathematics units, common formative assessments, and pacing guides needed to monitor student progress. The school’s guiding coalition dug into the book, Learning by Doing, establishing a better understanding of the four questions that were guiding the work being done by the school.

  • 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?

Adjustments in the decision-making process were made in alignment with the Academic SIT’s school-wide data investigations.  In this setting, our Academic SIT became highly skilled at reviewing student data related to TIER 3 interventions. Through meticulous data investigation, the team either helped teachers make adjustments to the intervention instruction and presentation or assisted teachers with the steps needed to refer a student for additional testing. 

During the third year, 2019/2020, teachers began collaboratively planning in the area of reading as well as mathematics. This included common formative assessments and common summative assessments being developed but with a much stronger understanding of alignment and rigor. Teachers also revisited mathematics units and CFAs to adjust any needs from the previous year. The data from 2018-2019 generated an opportunity to revisit areas that needed strengthening. Science and Social Studies CFAs and CSAs were developed for the fifth-grade population. Teachers worked collaboratively to create lessons that generated student engagement and focused on learning targets. Academic SIT increased meets monthly to review student progress, but in year three, a separate student intervention team to review the behavioral needs of students was implemented. The behavior student intervention team (B SIT) began to assist students who struggled with Tier 1 behavior. Woodstation began addressing student needs with a Tier 2 behavior intervention called Check-In/Check-Out. This allowed students who needed extra support to meet behavior goals with the help of an adult mentor. The mentor provided encouragement and strategies that the student could use when facing situations that impacted their performance towards mastering targeted goals. 

The third-year was showing a lot of progress, and we were all anxiously moving toward the goal where students could show what they had learned on the state-mandated tests. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the close of face to face instruction, Woodstation, like many schools, had to step away from the procedures that had been put into place. Within a three day window, the school that eagerly opened its doors at 7:00 a.m. to greet the early arrivals had to move towards a new method of educating children, and a digital learning environment was established. Woodstation was very blessed to be able to provide students with one-to-one devices, yet teachers were nervous continuing the learning process in such a new and different way. “Pleasantly surprised” would be the best description of what everyone felt a few weeks into the digital learning process. Students sent teachers daily messages about how much they missed them, and teachers did the same for the students. Students worked from their homes to continue their learning, and teachers who may not have been technology savvy quickly became experts on setting up google meets with their classrooms.

 

Identifying prerequisite skills for the 2020-2021 school year has already begun with our faculty. Our Academic Coach and Principal attended the Solution Tree, Mind the Gaps webinars to determine the best way to proceed for the upcoming school year. We had vertical teacher team meetings using Google Meet and collectively completed a document to determine the essential standards that students were not exposed to or had not mastered during the last months of school. We also determined those areas where teachers teams felt students would be strong coming into the next school year. During Digital Learning our school also maintained a weekly concerns list of students that were not completing Digital Learning lessons. These students will be provided tier3 support when school starts in the fall. Teacher teams are creating prerequisite tests to be given on previous essentials from the grade level before them. These tests will be given the first week of school. The results will be reflected upon using our Data Reflection protocol and tier 2 groups will begin the second week of school. In addition, all of our teacher teams collaborative work is in Google Drive. These drives are shared among all grade levels so that previous grade-level CFAs can be used to check on mastery of essentials.

The learning curve has been steep for everyone but Woodstation students and staff have weathered the storm admirably.  Collaborative learning times have continued on a weekly basis, and Woodstation’s path along the professional learning journey has continued moving forward just at a safe distance apart.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At Woodstation Elementary, administration and teachers are committed to collaborative work to ensure high levels of learning for all students. Collaborative Teacher Teams meet twice weekly to answer the PLC model's four guiding questions. This work begins with answering question 1, "What do we want students to know?" In collaboration with the other elementary teachers from Catoosa County schools, essential standards in each subject area were identified using a vetting process. This process involved a debate on whether a standard had endurance, leverage, and readiness. The teachers came to a consensus on essential standards to create a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students in Catoosa County. The essential standards chart was then used in our building to create a pacing guide driven by the essential standards and learning targets. Learning targets are the daily "I can" statements used to guide classroom instruction and assessment. In order to complete the chart accurately, teachers had to collectively determine how students would demonstrate proficiency on each standard.

Once teachers had clarity on what students needed to know, then the focus shifted to PLC question 2, "How will we know when they have learned it?" Monitoring students' learning became the engine that drove collaborative learning teams. Teachers created common formative assessments to measure if a student was proficient on each learning target. Teachers monitor student learning using the results of a CFA. Once the CFA was developed, the team agreed on the proficiency level a student must demonstrate to have mastered the learning target. The results of the CFA were then reviewed by our Collaborative Teams, then reteach, and extension groups were formed. 

Teachers are collectively responsible for the learning of all students and share students across the grade level. The CFA results are also shared with the students for celebration and reflection. We have gained so many inspiring ideas from PLC at Work conferences, and one tool that transformed our work is the use of Student Learning Target Goal Cards. Our students are given their CFA tests back and are able to mark which learning targets they mastered on their goal card. This process is empowering to students when they see they have mastered 3 out of 5 learning targets and only have two more to learn. 

This step solidifies complete mastery of the standard rather than partial understanding. This process creates hope and a sense of self-efficacy for the student learners. CSAs at the end of the unit then become celebrations and opportunities for students to show what they know.

A universal screener is given three times a year to monitor student learning. Our school uses Star Reading, Star Math, EasyCBM reading, and EasyCBM math to provide teachers with baseline student data and identify students for Tier 3 intervention support. Teachers and students complete Data talk sheets based on these assessments and set goals for each administration of the test. The master schedule allows students to receive Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 support.

 

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

At Woodstation, believing that ALL students can learn at high levels is the driving force behind all that we do, including systems of intervention and extensions. We strive to provide students systematic interventions that ensure success at a high level. To best create and implement these systems, we follow a unit cycle in which standards-based CFAs are developed, followed by the delivery of research-based Tier 1 instruction.  

Next, we analyze the impact of instruction by having meaningful conversations about the data from CFAs using a reflection protocol. This protocol identifies students who have or have not mastered standards by learning targets. The reflection piece also provides data by teacher by learning targets. The conversation from this protocol allows teachers to identify effective strategies for teaching the content. This process strengthens not only our students, but our teachers as well. Using this data, we create Tier 2 reteaching and extension time. Based on the newly acquired knowledge regarding effective instructional strategies, our teachers then provide the reteaching or extension needed for students using the best method. Intervention and extension is a priority. Therefore, we have purposefully planned and embedded tiered instruction within our school schedule. Each student receives quality Tier 1 instruction daily. As students' needs are determined, students receive Tier 2 supportive instruction and extension opportunities weekly. Tier 3 instruction is also provided to students as needed daily. 

Being proactive and developing a schedule that prioritizes interventions and extensions guarantees that we are on target addressing guiding PLC questions 3 and 4. Tier 2 instruction occurs for 60 minutes one day a week. During this time, students attend an intervention group according to the data from the CFA.

In order to improve student learning, collaborative teams have narrowed state standards into essential standards for each grade level and subject area. Then the team breaks the essential standards down even further into specific learning targets that can be assessed and retaught if necessary. This ensures students in that particular grade level are proficient in those standards. Essential standards allow collaborative teams to create unit plans, CFAs, and CSAs. Before and after these assessments, the team meets to decide how to reteach students who did not master a learning target and extend students that are proficient and ready to delve deeper into the standard.

Reflection and revision have been impactful on improving student learning. During and after each unit, the team meets to reflect on lessons, assessments, and student achievement. The team will make revisions at that time so that the next year's students will benefit from the experience gained. This also allows the team to group the students and create the best possible plans for additional reteaching. 

 

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

As teachers and administrators, we have learned to work as Collaborative Teams. We have transitioned from teachers who looked at data as something we received, through our benchmarks, to a staff who uses data as a tool to improve learning. Functioning as a Collaborative Team means we do not take for granted that students may have learned what a teacher presented. 

First, we learned to look at the data from benchmarks and CFA's as a guide for what each student needs to learn to master the essential standards.

Before PLC, we taught, assessed, and continued to the next unit, focusing only on TEACHING. Now we teach, assess, review the data, reteach core instruction to meet the Tier 2 student's needs, and then assess again. With this change, the focus became LEARNING rather than TEACHING!  

By returning to the first two Critical Questions: 

  1. What do we want students to learn?

  2. How do we know the students learned it?

We were able to keep this new focus on learning, using DATA to guide us.  One example where data was incorporated into our activity period times was when a deficit was noticed in the area of Social Studies. Our 5th-grade team in collaboration with our Specials teachers/singletons (Music, P.E., Media, and STEAM) reviewed standards that were determined as weaknesses to align learning opportunities where standards could be taught within the activity time. Our Music teacher began teaching the Jazz Era and the Harlem Renaissance. In P.E. our teacher taught students about famous athletes such as Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson. During Media time, our Media Specialist taught the government and the stock market. In addition, our school worked collaboratively to vertically align our Social Studies standards as a means to support the needs of our 5th-grade students.

With the change in our school culture, introducing our parents to FAST (Family And School Team) meetings became a new way to expose them to their child's academic data. These meetings included sharing student data and growth while providing individualized ways for family members to support student learning at home. Through our FAST program, collaborative teams looked at student data and decided which foundational grade-level skills were crucial. They determined how the skills could be taught to parents and practiced at home to obtain higher student success. The teams invited parents into the classroom four times a year and presented these skills, modeled learning strategies, and provided materials for at-home use. We had over 500 individual parent conferences at Woodstation last school year, even with a shorter school year. This openness to a multifaceted approach to student learning has resulted in a strong home-school partnership. Our teams have built a truly collaborative culture that shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to improve student achievement.

 
 

 

 

Title 1 Top 10% Highest Progress School 2015-2016

Title 1 Top 10% Highest Progress School 2016-2017

PBIS 5 Star Climate Rating 2017-2018

PBIS 5 Star Climate Rating 2018- 2019

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