Sheridan Elementary School (2023)
- School District: Sheridan School District
- School Address: 707 Ridge Road , SHERIDAN, AR 72150, US
- School Phone: 870-942-3131
- Principal: Lindsey R Bohler
- Contact E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Number of Students: 564
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 49%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 10%
- Percent of Special Education: 10%
- White: 98%
- Black: 1%
- Hispanic: 1%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 0%
- Multiracial: 0%
- Other: 0%
Prior to the start of our true PLC journey, grade level teams had collaborative time built into the day to meet with one another, but the conversations were about lesson plans and curriculum, not learning or results that focused on providing interventions or extensions for students. Our true journey to becoming a PLC School began when the leadership team worked with the Arkansas Leadership Academy in 2017-2018 to create a mission, vision, and set of core values that would drive our commitment to the process.
The next big step on our journey happened in the spring of 2018, when our leadership team attended a common formative assessment (CFA) workshop led by Cassandra Erkens. During that training, we learned how to identify an essential standard, unpack that standard, and develop a common assessment tied to that standard. After returning from the training, the members of the leadership team led each grade level through this process: identifying one essential standard, unpacking the standard for a common understanding, and creating a common formative assessment. This chance to experiment with the instructional cycle of inquiry was a life changing experience for our collaborative teams. For the first time, veteran teachers were asking questions about the process of studying the instructional cycle and wondering why they had not been looking at learning targets in each individual essential standard. While we were not yet talking about systematic interventions and extensions for ALL students across the grade level, individual teachers began to experiment with interventions/extensions for students in their classrooms. That changed everything!
During the 18-19 school year, teachers began identifying essential standards and unpacking each standard along with creating common formative assessments throughout the school year. Teachers were also beginning to input their data on classroom data walls. While we may not have known it at the time, this work was our first real attempt at studying our instructional strengths and weaknesses as well as tracking progress by student and standard. This work was a step forward, but it was inconsistent across grade levels and classroom teachers.
The following school year (19-20) teams began to transform individual data walls into grade level data walls with charts of students who did not meet the essential standard and/or learning target. The focus shifted to these are “my” students, to these are “our” students when seeing the students on charts from the entire grade level. At this time, we implemented Jacket Time where we provided interventions/extensions for ALL students across ALL grade levels by focusing on what individual students needed to master the essential standards. This created a sense of urgency and established a sense of trust among all staff members to support student learning.
Today, our teams continue this work. We have applied for and been accepted to the PLC Network with the Arkansas Department of Education. We are learning more about what the “true” work of professional learning communities looks like in action. We use this new information to constantly reflect on where we are and where we would like to be. We spend our collaborative time answering the four critical questions of learning with the intent of helping all students to master all of our grade level essential standards. We also know that through cycles of inquiry, we can improve our professional practice.
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Each grade level at our school has a list of essential standards for reading and mathematics. Those standards were identified through a collaborative process with another elementary school in our district. Members of each grade level at both schools worked independently to select between 7-10 essential outcomes in both literacy and math. We used the notion of “heart standards” -- which we learned from Dr. Luis Cruz at an PLC Network training with the Arkansas Department of Education --- to determine which standards were “need to know” versus which standards were “nice to know.”
Once each school had their individual lists of essential standards; members from both grade level campuses met with one another in a collaborative meeting to determine shared essentials for the entire district and to unpack those standards into learning targets. Those essential standards and learning targets eventually became the K-2 report card.
Teachers at Sheridan Elementary use these essential standards to guide their regular cycles of inquiry. We monitor progress on the essential standards, we provide interventions around the essential standards, and we extend learning around the essential standards. Additional Resource: Kindergarten PLT- Agendas October 27 and November 10. The team members assessed all kindergarten students on identifying upper and lower case letters (essential standard). They identifed students who did not meet the expectation, so teachers discussed instructional strategies and grouped students according to their needs for interventionist.
Once grade level teams had developed a list of standards that are considered essential, looked at how those standards aligned across grade levels, and unpacked the essentials, they worked to develop common formative assessments and a shared knowledge of what is considered proficient. Each of those assessments are designed around progressions of learning. They include questions that cover previously taught skills and concepts as well as skills and concepts that we are currently working on in the classroom. We do this deliberately for two reasons. First, it allows us to continue to monitor the mastery of students who did not master grade level essentials during initial instruction. Second, it allows us to build repeated practice with grade level essentials into our classroom instruction.
The results of these assessments are then used to create charts for question 3: What do we do when they don’t learn it and question 4: What do we do when they do learn it or already know it, our extensions groups. These charts list the names of individual students who haven’t mastered the grade level essential, sorted by individual teacher. We use these charts to plan interventions and to set SMART goals for improving our collaborative results. After delivering interventions, we reassess, rechart our results, and determine whether our efforts are helping more students to learn at higher levels. This process continues in cycles of inquiry, standard-by-standard through our curriculum. Students with smiley faces indicate they have mastered the essential standard and being provided an intervention. *See additional Resources- 1st Grade March PLT Agenda; 2nd Grade PLT Agendas, and Charts of Students
This year, students will have these assessments in a folder so they can track their own progress and set individual goals for themselves. At any given time and day, students will be aware of what they have mastered and what they need to continue to work on. Allowing students to self-monitor their progress will increase their motivation, feelings of responsibility, which in turn will increase their confidence. Students will use these self-assessments to direct them to individual learning during center time. Students will be taking ownership of their learning.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
The year before Covid we were incorporating a daily intervention period known as Jacket Time into our daily schedule. Jacket Time lasts for 30 minutes, 4 times a week and is designed to provide teachers with time to respond to the student data collected from common assessments. To determine the right placement for students during Jacket Time, we refer to charts listing our essential standards and the students who have not yet mastered them. The collaborative teacher team then provides an initial intervention. Sometimes, that intervention is delivered by teachers in their own classrooms. Other times, that intervention is provided across the grade level. Students with the greatest need are assigned to a teacher who has the greatest skill in that particular area of need. After an intervention is provided, we reassess for student mastery and update our charts.
If a student continues to struggle after our initial attempts for intervention, we call in our specialists. Our specialists include our librarian, speech therapist, interventionist, and special education teacher. These specialists are a part of our collaborative teams, and attend all of our team meetings. This provides our specialists with early information about students who may eventually end up on their caseloads; but more importantly, it provides our teachers with early access to their expertise. Teachers can ask for strategies and suggestions that might be worth trying to prevent students from falling further behind to begin with.
Our specialists and paraprofessionals also support teams during Jacket Time and are deliberately paired with teams based on the needs identified within our building and their own areas of professional expertise. For example, our speech therapists work with first and second grade level teams during Jacket Time to support students who are struggling with dyslexia. Paraprofessionals, with specific training in unique areas like the Science of Reading or dyslexia, are assigned to the grade levels with the most unique needs in those areas.
We also provide students with extensions during Jacket Time. These extensions are pulled from our curriculum materials and are always focused at moving students beyond grade level expectations with current grade level essential standards. At the kindergarten level, one teacher takes all students in need of extension for the entire grade level. Extension at the first grade level is provided by our media specialist, who is a former first grade teacher. At the second grade level, extension is provided by our assistant principal who is a former fourth grade teacher.
The driving force behind our efforts to intervene is our shared commitment to all students. We want to be deliberate about making sure that any student who is struggling to master a grade level essential standard has access to reteaching and to professionals who can support their continued efforts to learn. It is truly an “all hands on deck” effort.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
The support of collaborative teams in our building is the primary responsibility of the members of our guiding coalition. These members participate in regular two-day professional development opportunities with the PLC Network with the Arkansas Department of Education. These sessions are delivered by experts in the Professional Learning Community process and are designed to provide participants with skills in facilitating the work of collaborative teams. Members of our guiding coalition also attend other professional development workshops offered in specialty areas such as common formative assessment or Response to Intervention.
After returning from these sessions, the members of our guiding coalition bring the new skills and ideas that they have learned back to their collaborative teams. For example, at one of our sessions, we learned about the idea of “heart” standards from Dr. Luis Cruz and then used that metaphor to coach our teams through the process of identifying essential standards. This process of using our guiding coalition as the professional developers of our collaborative teams ensures that every collaborative team has the support that they need to move forward.
We also have identified curriculum point people at each grade level, who attend district trainings on our new math and language arts curricula. These members then bring back their expertise and share it with their collaborative teams. We see this as a way to share leadership opportunities across our building, but more importantly, as a way to develop leadership capacity in the members of our faculty. Our expectation is that our curriculum point people will eventually become the new members of our guiding coalition.
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
See attached file: becoming-a-model-plc-school-1.pdf
Arkansas Leadership Academy TEAM Institute Graduate
Arkansas Leadership Academy Master Principal Graduate, Lindsey Bohler
Top Ten RISE School of Arkansas, 2019
Arkansas Arts Administrator of the Year, 2018, Lindsey Bohler
Arkansas Arts Educator of the Year, 2019, Jeri Newberry
2021 Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year
2022 Champion of School Garden Sustainability in the Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year
Arkansas Imagination Library Partnership
National Board Teachers, Angel Hollinger, Jordan Robson, Billie Corley, and Lindsey Bohler
Special Education Academy Participants: Billie Corley, Megan Hale, Raegan Cheatham, Sydnee Clark, Taylor Thomas
Presented at Arkansas Department of Education Summitt on Tracking Student Data, Lindsey Bohler and Cindy Whitaker
Shade Trees on the Playground Grant, 2018
Arkansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers "Life is Better on the Farm" Teacher Grant, Cindy Whitaker, 2019