Friday, September 25, 2015

Connected with Families and our PTO

The support teachers receive from parents at Benton Community is second to none.  Our parents have a great connection with helping out at our school through active Parent/Teacher Organizations, or PTOs.  This year our three PTOs in the district combined into one amazing PTO.  We decided that with the great deal of restructuring that took place in our district it would be a great idea for all of us to work together toward a common goal of student support as one stronger team.  We joined together the Atkins PTA, Keystone/Van Horne PTO, and the Norway PTO and are now joined forces as Benton Community PTO.  

Each year our PTO at Keystone Elementary has put on a Bobcat Dash.  This is an event promoting fitness and family fun! This is always our primary fundraising activity for the year. This fundraiser is put on solely due to generous donations and support of local businesses, our school parents, teachers, and our hard working students.

This fundraiser is comprised of several obstacles, in which families will complete together. **Think WIPEOUT without the commentating and concussions!**  They will do this all while getting dirty, laughing, and having fun!

We're so excited for the 228 participants and the 45 teams we have signed up! Visit this links below to see some of our previous years of fun!  

2013 Bobcat Dash Highlights

2014 Bobcat Dash Highlights

This year's obstacles! 

Our AWESOME Platinum sponsors!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Connecting Results With Goals

Benton Community Schools has done a lot of compiling of data the last few years to ensure we are making data-driven decisions for our students.  When compiling all of the district assessments, we found that this visual puts it into perspective just how much data we are collecting, the variety of assessments, and the timeframes of each testing period.  

We make it a point to never make decisions by looking at just one piece of data.  We gather many assessments over time and piece them together to look for patterns and then problem solve as a team.  These come together to form a big picture to help us make decisions in the best interest of our students. 

Benton Community Assessment Responsibilities
Grade LevelAssess-mentData Assessment Title# Times GivenTesting Window
FALL -- Concepts of Print, Letter Names, Onset Sounds, Letter Sounds1Fall: September 7th- October 2nd
WINTER - Word Segmenting, Nonsense Words, Onset Sounds, Letter Sounds1Winter: January 18th through February 12th
SPRING - Word Segmenting, Nonsense Words, Site Words (50), Letter Sounds1Spring: April 18th through May 13th (next year's students)
FALL -- Sight Words-150, Word Segmenting, Nonsense Words, Sentence Reading, aReading 1Fall: September 7th- October 2nd
WINTER - Sight Words-150, Word Segmenting, Nonsense Words, CBM Reading, aReading1Winter: January 18th through February 12th
SPRING - Word Segmenting, Nonsense Words, Site Words (50), Letter Sounds1Spring: April 18th through May 13th (next year's students)
2 - 6
FALL -- CBMReading, aReading 1Fall: September 7th- October 2nd
WINTER - CBMReading, aReading 1Winter: January 18th through February 12th
SPRING - CBMReading, aReading 1Spring: April 18th through May 13th (next year's students)
Fountas- Pinnell
Comprehension, Accuracy Rate, Self Corrections, Fluency Score, Reading Rate
Spring - Assess students who are below proficiency on spring FAST aReading assessment within classroom time
K-6Guided reading levelProvide Fountas-Pinnell guided reading level1Using running records or guided reading data
Math Priority Assessments
Beginning of the year diagnostic / standards assessments1Use data for classroom groupings
Standards Assessments1Use data for classroom groupings
End the of year diagnostic1Use data for classroom groupings
Benchmark Literacy
Beginning of Year Skills Assessment1Enter Online
Mid Year Skills Assessment1Enter Online
End of Year Skills Assessment1Enter Online
Student Profiles
Fall - Meet with all students to fill out goal sheet1Enter Online
Winter - Meet with all students to fill out goal sheet1Enter Online
Spring - Meet with all students to summarize goals1Enter Online & Pass along to next year
3-11Iowa AssessmentMath, Science & Reading1November 1-21
STAR Reader
Fall 1Enter Online
Winter1Enter Online
Spring1Enter Online
4-12Accelerated ReaderWithin ELA classrooms during entire school yearAssessed Online
10-12ACTOptional Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer
Math Computation Test
Fall 1Enter Online
Winter1Enter Online
Spring1Enter Online
8 & 11District Designed Science AssessmentSpring1Enter Online
Skills Iowa
Fall 1Enter Online
Winter1Enter Online
Spring1Enter Online

When the assessment data is compiled, our teachers meet with each of their students independently to set goals three times per year.  These conversations allow students to take a closer look at where they scored, what the expectation is for grade-level, and then also allows them to set goals to work toward before the next goal setting meeting.  A conversation also takes place to have students problem-solve with the teacher to figure out how students will reach these goals.  This lets the students take charge of their learning and it also lets them see the assessments they've taken in a new light.  These goal setting meetings brings the data alive and allows students to really see themselves progressing throughout the year. If you'd like to know more about our student goal setting, let me know, as we'd be happy to share!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Connected at Keystone Elementary

Keystone Elementary is a place to connect.  Connecting with teachers, parents, community members, colleagues, and students is our main goal.  Below please find a link to an updated document with educator blogs and other ways to connect in and outside of the classroom!  Connected Educators at Keystone Elementary is a link to a document we shared at our annual Parent Partnership Night this week.  We were excited with how this night turned out and we got great feedback on our new format!  Check out our schedule of events here

Teachers Connecting at Keystone
Mrs. Benton -
#KFkinders and @Mrs_KFisher (twitter)
@SamanthaHappel and #happelfirsties (twitter)
@AnnaUpah (twitter) and @BCFirst (instagram)
Mrs. Bridgewater -
Mrs. Bonewitz and Mrs. Kimm -  

Other BC Educator Blogs
Mrs. Townsley -  @townsleyaj (twitter)
Benton Community Teacher Leadership -
Mr. Junge -

Keystone Elementary - Instagram @KeystoneElementary #KeyRocks
BCSD Twitter - @BentonCSD #BentonCSD #beaboBCat #bentonpride

Connecting through a PLN

The past several months have been a whirlwind for me as I have taken an active leap into the world of Twitter.  I have had an account for several years, but I mostly used it to document and share during conferences I attended.  Over Christmas break, I made the decision to step outside of my comfort zone and start being an active participant in the Twitter world on a regular basis.  My husband,  @EricTownsley, has used Twitter as an educational learning and sharing platform for several years.  He continues to shake his head at my new obsession, but he has yet to utter the phrase, "I told you so!"

A PLN is a Professional Learning Network.  My PLN includes people in education from all over the world.  I already work next door to some of the most forward-thinking and progressive teachers I have ever encountered.  The PLN I have via Twitter allows me to connect with teachers in and outside of @BentonCSD.  My most favorite way to connect is through Education chats.  Ed Chat is just that... chatting about everything in education.  It's a form of professional development for teachers; there are even some states who give re-certification credit for Ed Chat participation.  I call it PD in my PJs because I really do feel like I am growing as a professional by actively participating. There are several chats which happen weekly and have a variety of topics.  I have several of these scheduled into my calendar, and if it works out, I can tune into Twitter and follow along and participate.  

I know jumping into Twitter can seem overwhelming, and I will admit when I first took the plunge, I was quite reluctant.  Now, looking back, I know I didn't take enough initiative to make it work for me. With a few hints, I hope to help your plunge be much less overwhelming than mine was, and I hope you find value in the potential of a PLN much quicker than I did.

1.) If you haven't already, sign up for Twitter.  Search your current contacts and follow, follow, follow.  If this is an educational PLN, you may want to consider keeping a separate Twitter account for personal tweets. Find some people who are already in your network of colleagues and search their followers.  This is how you will expand your PLN.  The hardest part about Twitter is the character limit.  You have to get your thought across in 140 characters or less!

2.) Visit, sign in with your Twitter credentials, and add it as a favorite or bookmark.  Tweetdeck is a way to organize a hashtag (#) you would like to follow.  It makes following along with an #edchat much easier and more organized.

3.) Pick one Ed Chat to follow along with during one specific evening for the hour.  A comprehensive and updated list can be found at this Education Chat link.  Might I recommend #iaedchat (Iowa Ed Chat) on Sunday nights at 8:00 CST, #arkedchat (Arkansas Ed Chat) on Thursday nights at 8:00 CST, #moedchat (Missouri Ed Chat) on Thurdsay nights at 9:00 CST, #sblchat (Standards Based Learning Chat) on Wednesdays at 8:00 PM CST, or #g2great (Good to Great Teaching) on Thursdays at 7:30 PM CST.  From this Google Site, you can also add the #edchat to your calendar to learn more about the chat and to set reminders.  **One thing to remember when you're participating in an Ed Chat, put the hashtag (#iaedchat, #moedchat) into your tweet so it shows up to all of the other followers of the chat.**

4.) The second week, stop back at the Ed chat from the week before, and choose one additional chat to follow for a night.  You will continue to build your network and find people who you feel are helping contribute to your professional growth.

5.) Don't be afraid to scroll up, skip, or favorite!  I often get caught up and feel overwhelmed when I can't look at all of the tweets I have missed during an Ed Chat.  One way I have found to manage this is to use the "favorite" button.  This is a place where I can go back to tweets I have favorited at a later time.  That way I can breeze over tweets without feeling like I am missing something.  The profound tweets always get a re-tweet (RT) or are modified and then re-tweeted (MT).  It will come back around from someone else, so you will probably see it again if you skipped it!

I am fortunate that several of my core Twitter connections are teachers who keep me going every day. @AnnaUpah@Mrs_KFisher, and @JenBange remind me when there is a great Ed Chat going on, they inspire me with positive support at the exact moment when I'm in need.  They press my thinking and help me continue to recognize not only the great things that are currently happening around me every day, but also help me recognize where we could be as our district continues to move forward.  Good enough is never good enough for these ladies, and I am fortunate to have such a supportive, forward-thinking group of colleagues to help me be a better educator and move me forward every day.

I hope you are able to find value in this type of professional development.  I am constantly seeking out opportunities to learn and grow through powerful PLN connections.  I look forward to connecting with you and adding you to my professional network.  Happy tweeting!  - @TownsleyAJ

Here's a list for our BC Connections so far.  We will continue to add to the list.  Please contact me if you have one to add.

#BCTLT - Teacher Leader Hashtag

Benton Community School District - Official BCSD Twitter

HS Robotics

This post was originally posted by Andrea to our Teacher Leadership Blog -