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Teaching and Learning News

Decision Day!

posted May 6, 2018, 11:15 AM by Patty Gelbrich

Friday at Castle Rock High School was the first annual DECISION DAY assembly.  This day involved around 70 seniors who have made their plans for higher learning after graduation.  From Lower Columbia College to Perry Tech to University of WA to Washington State to military and many more reaching from California to Montana..  Congratulations seniors for making your decision and having a plan to continue learning!  #reachhigher

It's Testing Time...

posted Apr 27, 2018, 9:33 AM by Patty Gelbrich

Next week our spring statewide testing schedule begins for students in grades 3 and up.  You play an important part in helping students give their best performance on this important test. As you know, we have been busy preparing and reinforcing the skills necessary for students to demonstrate their learning. Even though this assessment is a snapshot—one single perspective on one day in time – it is important that our students have every advantage to do their very best. We don’t want to cause test anxiety, rather we want our students to be as prepared as possible and show what they know. There are many ways in which you can help your child put his/her best foot forward.  They should feel proud and prepared to show their learning!

Throughout the year: 
1. Read to/with your child and make time to discuss what you’ve read. 
2. Encourage reading for pleasure regularly. 
3. Know what kind of homework teachers expect and make sure your child completes it. 
4. Provide a regular, quiet place for your child to read or complete homework. 
5. Set high expectations for grades and attendance. 
6. Take an active interest in what your child is doing in school. What is he or she learning? Parents who communicate daily about what their children are learning build a strong foundation to demonstrate that learning on tests. 
7. During the weeks leading up to the test, begin to talk with your child about doing his or her best. You know your child better than anyone. Emphasize the importance of the test, but remember to build confidence, not anxiety. 

The night before a testing day: 
1. Make sure your child goes to bed on time so he or she is well-rested. 
2. Keep your routine as normal as possible. Upsetting natural routines may make children feel insecure. 
3. Be positive and confident in the fact that you know your child will do his/her best. 
4. Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test. 

The morning of a testing day: 
1. Get up a few minutes early to avoid rushing and make sure your child arrives at school on time. 
2. Have your child eat a nutritious breakfast. There is a strong correlation between eating breakfast and memory and cognitive functioning. 
3. Have your child dress comfortably. 
4. Be positive and communicate that this is your child’s chance to show what he/she knows. The most important thing you can do right before the test is to build confidence about doing his/her very best. 

Instructional Rounds

posted Apr 26, 2018, 10:00 AM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Apr 26, 2018, 10:02 AM ]

Instructional rounds have come to education from the medical model.  You see this on T.V. doctor shows - the young interns shadowing an experienced doctor where they talk about the practice of medicine, different patient conditions and treatments - and everyone learns from doing rounds.  Instructional rounds are much the same.  Teachers and administrators walk through classrooms looking at the task students are doing, the engagement students are showing, and the actions of the teacher to orchestrate all of that.

Yesterday we were at the Intermediate School.  A team of ten educators (teachers and administrators) visited twelve classrooms.  In the afternoon, the Intermediate School staff spent their early release time discussing observations from the team.  They spent most of the time discussing quality instruction and strategies to enhance collaboration and student voice.

I always feel humbled by the dedication of our teachers and administrators!  Way to go Castle Rock Intermediate School.  Enjoy the pictures from the afternoon - lots of brainpower to be sure!



posted Mar 23, 2018, 12:01 PM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Mar 23, 2018, 12:28 PM ]

One of the components in an A.V.I.D. school is writing.  Our A.V.I.D. program manager came to visit the intermediate school yesterday and we looked for evidence of writing.  Boy, did we see some great writing happening!  Way to go Intermediate School!  We saw stories, 2 and 3 column notes, planners, journals and thank you letters.  Great job!


A Day of Learning!

posted Mar 16, 2018, 2:11 PM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Mar 16, 2018, 2:17 PM ]

Inservice Day, a day where teachers are working without students, is a day full of learning here in Castle Rock!  What a fantastic day.  Thanks to our teachers and administrators for taking this day, and the gift of time, so seriously!  We work hard planning and learning with your children's success in mind....  Way to go Castle Rock!

The A.V.I.D. Tutorial...

posted Mar 6, 2018, 2:23 PM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Mar 6, 2018, 2:32 PM ]

Part of the A.V.I.D. system at the middle and high school level are tutorials.  This is a process where students help each other solve their own questions, also known as their "point of confusion."  Watch this two minute video to learn what a tutorial consists of!  Boy, are our Castle Rock Middle School AVID students getting good at this...  Way to go CRMS!

What is A.V.I.D. you ask?

posted Feb 27, 2018, 4:49 PM by Patty Gelbrich

People Like Me!

  Watch this short video to learn more...  

We are excited to announce A.V.I.D. (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is here in Castle Rock School District!  We began this year (2017-2018) with students in grades 3,4 and 5 will benefit from AVID strategies throughout the day in their own classroom.  At the middle school level, an AVID elective class helps support students in rigorous curriculum while they have fun, engaging activities, field trips and motivational speakers.  We started with grades 6 and 7.  Next year, 2018-2019, we will add 8th grade at the middle school, and 9th grade at the high school.  

What does A.V.I.D. do?  It builds confidence.  It provides academic support.  It improves organizational skills.  It builds relationships and friendships.  It provides students with the confidence they need to do anything they desire!

Want to learn more?  Visit avid.org for more information.

What is AVID?


posted Feb 21, 2018, 3:27 PM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Feb 21, 2018, 7:02 PM ]

  It is A.V.I.D. recruitment time!  Our middle school A.V.I.D. students have been talking with fifth graders, sixth graders, seventh graders and eighth graders telling them about the A.V.I.D. system and the benefits they have gained as being a part of A.V.I.D.  These kiddos were amazing!  They shared what A.V.I.D. meant to them, how it has built their confidence and strengthened their academic skills.  They are thinking about colleges, careers and their future.  Way to go middle school A.V.I.D. students!!

So, we need your help locating and recruiting students for the A.V.I.D. classes.  The mission of A.V.I.D. is to ensure that ALL students...
  • will succeed in rigorous curriculum,
  • will complete courses to make sure they are prepared for career and/or college, 
  • will increase post-secondary educational options, and
  • will become educated and responsible citizens.
The A.V.I.D. student does okay in school - mostly B's and C's.  They can do better if they are given support.  They have desire and determination, maybe not all of the time.  They might be the first in the family to attend college.  They might have special circumstances where they need more support.

Students need to know...  A.V.I.D. IS... a group, a family away from home that encourages thinking outside the box and wants to help you learn to be a life-long learner.  A.V.I.D. helps you learn what it takes to be successful in a career or college and push for more.  A.V.I.D. gives you the help you need to not fail, and to reach the highest star possible.  AVID helps build confidence and grit.

A.V.I.D. is NOT...
  • A remedial program
  • A free ride
  • A placement program
  • A behavior correction program.
What does that mean to me?  We are looking for students to join A.V.I.D. next year!  If you are in 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grades and interested in AVID, contact your teacher or principal.  They can help you.


New Teacher Workshop!

posted Feb 2, 2018, 7:39 AM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Feb 2, 2018, 12:12 PM ]

  The past two years, Castle Rock School District has supported it's new teachers through a mentor program.  This year, we expanded our support to professional learning for first, second and third year teachers.  Last night was our February workshop and it was a great success.  Teachers participated in two different learning sessions facilitated and led by our Instructional Leadership Team (teacher leaders and principals).  Mentors supported their mentees as the new teachers learned more about classroom management, student engagement, questioning, writing and pacing of a lesson.  A huge thanks go out to our new teachers, mentors, instructional leadership team and principals for giving up an evening for continued professional learning and growth.  


Washington State Learning Academy

posted Jan 19, 2018, 7:59 AM by Patty Gelbrich

Yesterday our Administrative team worked with the Washington State Learning Academy (WSLA) to continue our work on academic achievement and student success.  This is a two year program with a goal of helping more students be successful.  We created a theory of action - the action plan we follow to help more of our Castle Rock students be successful.  You can see from our chart all the great things happening in our schools - new systems put in place to ensure student success!

In a little over one year we have started the following:
1.  Instructional Rounds/Learning Walks - done monthly, administrators and teachers participate and learn from each other.
2.  Learning Targets - student friendly learning targets are discussed with our students throughout the lesson.  Students knowing the end goal helps in student learning.
3.  Student Growth - teachers are utilizing assessment data in their PLC's and making plans for students that need more support.
4.  Attendance Tracking - we have started monitoring attendance percentages.  If students are not here, they cannot learn.  We will continue our efforts to get our students to be in school.
5.  Graduation Rate - we are tracking graduation rate, and working hard to connect each student to graduation.  We saw improvement in the graduation rate last year.
6.  Professional Learning - in prior years, we had no formal method of professional learning for our staff.  Beginning this fall we implemented an early release schedule on Wednesdays.  This time is valuable for staff to continue learning, to work together, to spend time discussing and planning for student interventions and to look at assessment data creating a plan to move forward.  Successful school systems provide time for this hugely impactful professional learning and collaboration.  To assist with this, we have started an Instructional Leadership Team - teachers from each school who assist with district direction and professional learning for all staff.
7.  Tiered Systems of Support - schools are focusing efforts providing students what they need - be it intervention or enrichment.  We look at both academic and behavioral tiered systems.  At the elementary, they have built in a block of time in their master schedule for intervention/enrichment.  At the middle school, students who need more support in reading and math now have classes designed for that very purpose.
8.  Staff Retention - A part of our strategic plan is to improve staff retention.  Doing all of the things mentioned above, involving our staff every step of the way, and creating an environment that people want to be a part of will improve keeping our staff.  We have seen this area improve in the short year and a half, and will continue monitoring it.

Hand in hand - we all learn!  From our students, to classified staff, to our teachers - it is an expectation.  Lots going on!  Thanks for all the hard work everyone!

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