Huntsville ISD - Gibbs Pre-K

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

When Gibbs Pre-K began working together four years ago, the staff did not have a thorough  understanding of the meaning of a Professional Learning Community. Our first step toward building a shared understanding of the PLC process involved learning that this time set aside would be used to improve student learning, with the four PLC questions being the outline we would follow as we transitioned into a new way of doing things. The questions really helped us to keep the task at hand simple and focused. 

In the beginning the Instructional Coach and the administrators lead the work by modeling the use of agendas and strategies for facilitation within teacher team meeting times. Teams developed norms, used questioning, and determined next steps. The message was made clear that this was sacred time that was to be used to discuss and share ideas that work, to view and analyze data across teams and the campus, and to build leadership skills.

A challenge that we faced in the beginning of our journey was that we did not have a history of quality assessment methods that provided useful data for supporting three and four year olds. To begin facing this challenge, we looked first at the state required assessments and revised our district requirements so that they matched the state requirements, cutting out anything that was not aligned to our PK Guidelines. Next we formed a guiding coalition to learn how to lead our campus in developing academic protocols to improve our practices and to ensure student achievement. This group collaborated to develop essential standards and aligned those standards with student self-assessment binders that served as a means for formative assessment and a way to bridge the gap between school and home learning.

From there, we worked as a campus to revamp the Pre-K report card, so that it became parent friendly, aligned with the essential standards and vertically aligned to Kinder expectations. This document was designed to show the progression of skills from beginning to end of year. We set goals that were short and long term, and measured our progress along the way. Our teams learned how to develop rubrics and CFAs at the PK level, proving that this work is valuable regardless of what you teach. 

Teachers learned the value of collaboration in order to become better. Before long, teachers were excited to meet during our collaborative time in order to share ideas and to talk about the work of their students. The real growth came when teachers began to see the changes in the data, realizing that the PLC process does indeed work if you give it a chance.

Gibbs has committed to the PLC process and it is a norm within our school to meet, collaborate, and work toward shared goals.  This has allowed all of our teachers to have a mutual understanding of the expectations on our campus.  We have established a common language regarding student learning and data collection, as well as established what expectations are loose versus tight.  We have been improving on establishing common goals that we want both our students and teachers to meet and we have created effective action plans along the way. 

Lastly, our collaborative team discussions are dedicated to answering the 4 critical questions, which allows us to remain focused on improving student learning.

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

The deeper we get into the work at Gibbs PreK, the more the teachers want to improve their instructional skills and the use of collaboration time. We have witnessed amazing results in student learning over the past three years as a result in this shift in mindsets. As a team, our desire is to continue to improve all instructional skills for our staff so that our students will continue to be successful in learning at high levels.

In the beginning, the mindset was that pre-kindergarten students were limited in what they could learn.  There were minimal expectations for academic learning and instead, there was a heavy focus on behavior and social emotional learning.  However, a few teachers who had set the bar high for their students, began reaping consistent growth results and shared their outcomes with all. Others then wanted to know more.  As time went on, the instructional staff began to witness the benefits of collaborative sessions through improved students' academic performances.  The collaborative sessions are now utilized to review student work and discuss student learning outcomes by name and by need.  In addition to the scheduled daily teacher conference periods and two scheduled collaboration sessions per week, several teachers  pair up  after school to prepare more learning resources and talk about more ways to improve students' learning at high levels. The campus holds two intervention/extension periods daily. One period is held in the a.m. which is listed in the Campus Master Schedule.  The second learning intervention period is held in the afternoons and does not begin until the second semester.  We are able to add the second intervention/extension period as the students outgrow certain activities that were needed until they reached a certain maturity level.  Once that level is reached, that time is quickly converted into an intervention period.

To monitor student learning the instructional staff conducts interventions and extension through small group instruction.  In addition, support is provided through lesson sequence, transitions, formal and informal assessments, and guided practice.  To track student learning the instructional staff uses the Student Learning Binders which were created by the teachers at Gibbs PreK Center to track student performance on the essential standards required for mastery of content in the essential standards.  The instructional staff also utilizes data checklists, learning target sheets, report cards, writing benchmarks, and the collaborative session agenda for reflection on the plans that the staff has agreed to for monitoring student learning.

As the academic achievement has risen, the negative mindsets have declined. The fog has been lifted and enthusiasm is the norm. Our new culture is commitment to high levels of student learning.   We are sending students to Kindergarten prepared in ways that have never been witnessed in Huntsville ISD.  People want to know more about what we are doing and we love inviting them to come in and see for themselves.

 

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

Gibbs Pre-K has two intervention/extension periods.  During the Fall semester, one period is dedicated to interventions and extensions.  This period is utilized throughout the school at the same time.  During the spring semester the second intervention period is integrated. The interventions and groups are determined by the data which informs about the students that have not learned the curriculum targets and about those that have. Since our instructional staff knows our students by name and by need, we collaborate over the next steps and resources needed for students who don't learn the curriculum; or for students who have learned it and must move on to deeper learning.   

In addition to re-teaching wherever and whenever needed, Gibbs implements small group instruction daily.  We use interventions and extensions geared towards emergent literacy and math skills such as letter mastery, language stories, basic writing skills, reading & listening development, and comprehension strategies. 

Gibbs is also highly collaborative with parents.  A report on student academic updates is sent home in student Learning Binders multiple times each week.  The binders are a shared effort between home and school where parents receive the opportunity to provide tutorials to the students alongside the teachers.

 

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

Gibbs PreK is a stand alone single grade level campus with a highly collaborative culture that is focused on student learning. Our teachers  are divided into five teams, each represented by a different color,  to facilitate more detailed collaboration, data talks, and professional learning.  Each team meets twice weekly.  Both meetings are built in the Master Schedule. On Tuesdays each team meets to plan lessons, interventions/ extensions and instructional resources.  The instructional team meets as a campus on the first and Third Wednesday of each month with the guiding coalition team as the leaders with support from the campus administrative team.  In the campus meetings the teams share team data; engage in data talks with the other teams; exchange information about intervention and extension goals and outcomes; receive training from the guiding coalition; and share plans for going forward with walkthrough data shared by the administrative team.

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

Gibbs Data Story

In the state of Texas, Pre-Kindergarten is not a required grade level.  Gibbs PreK Center has been a stand alone one grade level Pre-Kindergarten Center for almost 15 years and serves approximately 300 students each year.  Pre-K state accountability and learning assessments are conducted through the Children's Learning Institute (CLI) which is a part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.  Testing data is stored in the Institute's data base for each current academic year.  Data is not shared among the districts for comparison.  Pre-K Centers have no way of comparing their data to other district's. The Children's Learning Institute coordinates with the Education Service Centers in each educational region of the state to assist districts with any needs that might arise including assessment training and archiving annual data.  The attached files will show increased and sustained learning levels in each academic area assessed for the Gibbs Pre-Kindergarten students over the past 3 years.  The CLI Emergent Literacy score is the average score between Rapid Letter Naming and Overall Rapid Vocabulary. 

Prior to 2019,  the CLI data was the only data source used by Gibbs PreK Center to determine student growth and areas to target for interventions and extensions.   In 2019,  the campus decided to create more data sources to utilize alongside the CLI data.  Our PLC decided to integrate  Student Learning Binders which contained the essential standards for Kindergarten Readiness.   The campus began with the use of only a few standards to assess but has gradually increased in those number over the past three years.  Data for those learning targets has been uploaded in Step 8. 

As the campus's coaching and knowledge increases, so does our student's readiness for Kindergarten increase. All stakeholders (students, staff and parents) have grown in utilizing the data for next step decisions such as appropriate interventions and extensions. 

The growth of the students at Gibbs PreK has been amazing and the learning bar continues to be raised.  That bar is definitely higher than ever before due to the increased amount of data sources which helps Gibbs do so much more with and for the early childhood learners of our community. 

 

 

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