Friday, January 28, 2011

Come Read with Us!

We are planning a reading night, Come Read with Us, at Davis Elementary.  As part of the event we are planning for a free meal for Davis students and their immediate family members who are attending the event. We are sending home RSVP notes today (Friday, January 28) and we must have those RSVPs back by February 7.  Parents and students must have reservations in order to eat the meal with us that evening.  We must know how many to plan for.  It should be a fun evening, with classroom activities, Drake Library information, a free book for each Davis student, and other prizes.  Parents will learn about ways to support their child's reading at home.
Parents, plan to attend!  
Nancy Beck, Davis Elementary Principal

Monday, January 24, 2011

Davis Elementary Newsletter

Davis Elementary Newsletter

Nancy Beck, Principal

January, 2011


Teachers and students have been very busy at Davis Elementary.  Students are working hard on reading skills in their reading classes and using the SuccessMaker reading software program.   Students took the Measures of Progress (MAP) test in the fall and have just completed the MAP testing again.  Results will be available soon and teachers will then discuss the results with the students and inform parents of the results.  Knowledge of the results by students and parents is very important.  Students set goals based on their strengths and weaknesses, teachers use targeted instruction to help students improve their skills, and parents need to provide support to the students and teachers.

                                                       Education City Software

We have recently purchased and had students begin using a math software program, Education City.   This math program provides additional practice in math skills for students and we’re hoping the additional practice helps students improve their math skills.

                                                    Iowa Tests of Basic Skills

Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) are set for February 8 and 9.  We encourage all students to get a good night’s rest before the tests, eat a good breakfast, and come to school with the attitude of doing their very best work on the tests.  Please do what you can to make sure your children are at school for the tests – it’s very difficult to make up the tests and we must have all students take the tests.  The results of the ITBS tests are used to determine the School in Need of Assistance (SINA) status for schools.  We have worked very hard this year to make changes and want to see those changes pay off so we will no longer be labeled a SINA school.   We know there are many good things occurring at Davis and we want all to know that students are receiving an excellent education at Davis.

 Third Grade Reading Promotion

The third grade team is continuing their promotion of reading through their Readers’ Annual Book Read Across Iowa (RABRAI) program.  Students are expected to read at home, report their minutes of reading, and move across Iowa with their reading minutes.  Marcus McIntosh from KCCI first came to Davis to read to our students as part of this program.  Grinnell College basketball players have also come to Davis to read to third grade students and more special events are planned.  Students become better reading by practice, practice.  Please keep encouraging your child to read!

                                                 Fourth Grade Mystery Unit

Fourth graders are participating in a mystery unit at this time.  Students are learning about the process of analyzing a mock crime scene.  Students are reading mystery books as well as discussing clues and forensics of the crime scene.  Fourth graders are encouraged to share information with their parents as they work to solve the crime!  Who committed the crime?


Upcoming Events


February 2            Early dismissal for teacher professional development

February 16   Early dismissal for teacher professional development

February 21            President’s Day, NO School unless used for snow make up day

February, 2011    4th Grade Field trip to Neal Smith Preserve, date to be determined – fourth grade parents will be receiving more information in the near future

March 2            Early dismissal for teacher professional development

March 16,17,18            Parent-Teacher Conferences

March 28-April 1            Spring Break, no school


Watch for more information on READING NIGHT --- planning is currently under way!







Thursday, January 20, 2011

4th Grade Mystery Festival

                          Will the fourth graders determine the guilty party?


                                Fourth Grade Mystery Festival at Davis

Davis Fourth Graders were surprised when they arrived at school recently to find the third floor hallway had apparently been the scene of a crime!  Students later learned that the “staged” crime scene is part of their science unit, known as Mystery Festival.  During this unit students are writing “Guess Who?” paragraphs about themselves and reading mystery books as well as taking notes, making detailed drawings of the crime scene, and analyzing suspects and clues.  Students use their observation skills, deductive reasoning and logic skills and learn about forensic science as they solve the mystery.  Students are also learning that good detectives do not jump to conclusions and things are not always as they appear.   

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Preparing for ITBS tests

Teachers, counselors, and students at Davis Elementary are busy preparing for our ITBS tests that are set for February 8-9.  Teachers are continuing to provide excellent instruction in academic skills.  Students are practicing math and reading skills in class, at home, and by using the SuccessMaker reading software program and Education City math software.  Students are completing winter MAP testing and then will know their targeted areas for improvement.  We are seeing many students making good gains in the MAP scores from the fall tests to the current tests. 
The two elementary counselors, David Ford and Nikki Tews, are providing guidance lessons focused on test taking skills. Ninety five students are meeting 3 or 4 additional times in small groups to continue their  learning of test taking strategies.  
We are encouraging all students to get a good night's sleep the night before the tests and eat a good breakfast the day of the tests.  Please continue to talk with your child about the importance of working hard and showing their best effort of the ITBS tests and all school work.
Also, make every effort to have your child at school for the ITBS tests.  All students are required to take the tests and it can be difficult to make up the test

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Davis Elementary Makes Progress on Goals

The included chart shows progress Davis Elementary has made on school improvement goals. The cells that are marked with an "x" are goals that have been met. Goals highlighted in yellow show the months in which goals are to be met.  If a highlighted goal also has an "x" it means the goal has been met, typically before we thought it would be met.  Davis staff will continue to work on our goals during this school year and into the 2011-12 school year.

Align Center

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events:
January 19   Early dismissal, professional development for teachers
       Special School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm
January 26   School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm
February 2   Early dismissal, professional development for teachers
February 9   School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm
February 16 Early dismissal, professional development for teachers
February 21  No School unless needed for snow make up day
February 23 School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm
March 2        Registration for 2011-12 Kindergarten students
       Early dismissal, professional development for teachers
March 9        School Board Meeting, 5:30 pm
March 16      School Board Meeting   
March 16,17,18   Parent-Teacher conferences, early dismissals each day
March 28-April 1  Spring Break

Elementary Principal's Report to School Board, Jan. 12, 2011

                Elementary Principal’s Report to Grinnell-Newburg School Board    

                       January 12, 2011             Nancy Beck, Head Elementary Principal

2010 – 2011 District Annual Improvement Goals:

1.     Decrease the percentage by 50% of nonproficient students in grades 4, 8, and 11 as compared to their matched cohort FAY percentile scores in grades 3, 7 and 10 in reading comprehension and mathematics, and in grades 8 and 11 as compared to their matched cohort FAY percentile scores in grades 7 and 10 in science, as measured by the appropriate ITBS and ITED subtests.

2.     Increase the percentage of students whose reading NSS are above the typical NSS increase for grades 4, 8, and 11 as compared to their matched cohort FAY NSS scores in grades 3, 7 and 10 in reading comprehension and  mathematics, and in grades 8 and 11 as compared to their matched cohort FAY NSS scores in grades 7 and 10 in science, as measured by the appropriate ITBS and ITED subtests

2010 – 2011 Building Goal:  Use the IDM process to implement research-based strategies and interventions to meet the needs of all students.


12/15/10  Professional Development

Iowa Core Outcome 5.b.1     Educators engage in professional development that contains all elements of effective professional development for student achievement (IPDM).

Bailey Park:


Teachers collaborated to build lessons and activities focused around the Smart Board.  They learned more about the Education City software and also the math and reading curriculum's on-line support and applications.  



New technology was introduced at the beginning of the professional development session.  Survey results were put into a Wordle Document and the Website Xtra Normal and the video we created at the RTI conference in Des Moines were shared, followed by watching a YouTube Video on RTI (IDM). We collaboratively put our work into Google Docs after teachers created log ins. Our Google Doc contained an outline of the tiers of instruction and what percentage of students should fall in each tier, we discussed common assessments, what our frequency of progress monitoring would be per tier and who would do the progress monitoring.


Teachers collaborated on the use of instructional technology (SuccessMaker, Education City, math and reading on-line support and applications) as well as review and discussion of the 90/90/90 study.   The 90/90/90 study details schools that have 90% minority students, 90% students in poverty, and 90% proficiency. Teachers learned what is occurring in those schools and discussed how we can incorporate some of those characteristics in our school.  


1/5/11  Professional Development

Iowa Core Outcome 5.b.1     Educators engage in professional development that contains all elements of effective professional development for student achievement (IPDM).

Comprehension/fluency group, facilitated by Matt Marietta


Discussion of the six types of struggling readers continued and teachers shared out a lesson for each type of reader.  Teachers defined and analyzed the 5 skills needed to be a successful reader and then looked at the assessments we are currently using to diagnose these skill areas, cut points/benchmarks are and interventions we can use.  Reading intervention websites that tie interventions to specific scores on assessments were introduced.


Daily 5, facilitated by Sarah Seney


Professional development focused on the Daily 5 continued.  Teachers briefly reflected on the first Daily 5 component, Read to Self, and how it was going in classrooms.  The staff was introduced to two more components of the Daily 5, Read to Someone and Listen to Reading, and watched a clip of Read to Someone being introduced to a first grade class.  Discussion followed about implementation of the component in classrooms and what barriers might present as implementation occurs. 


Teachers read the article The Art of Grouping Students and then discussed flexible grouping and its connection to the Daily 5.  Once the Daily 5 components are fully implemented and the students are independent at them, the teachers can start pulling skill level groups and teaching mini lessons based on student needs.  The staff used current data to group their students according to need and developed differentiated lessons to support skills needed by students.  


Davis Elementary, facilitated by Nancy Beck  

Formative assessment research, the power of formative assessment and specific characteristics of formative assessment were discussed.  Teachers, in grade level teams, then discussed current status and next steps for use learning targets, one foundational formative assessment strategy. 

Teachers planned for MAP and ITBS testing, including testing schedules, communication with parents, a student assembly for promotion of ITBS testing, and the small groups to be led by the elementary counselors focused on testing skills.

Teachers shared formative assessment ideas as grade level teams and also developed prioritized lists of needs for their grade levels/building.

Progress on Davis Elementary School Improvement Plan – Charting the Actions (see included chart)  The next meeting in Marshalltown is January 21 and we will share our progress with other schools at that time.

Grinnell Welcomes New teachers!

   Levi Fritz and Sarah Skinner, new math interventionist at Davis Elementary, work on math.

Nicole Tews has joined the elementary counseling staff. 

                     Robin Brierly, new reading interventionist, listens to Chase Williams read.

Grinnell Welcomes New Teachers!

Robin Brierly has joined the Davis and Middle School staffs to provide remedial reading instruction to individual or small groups of students.  Mrs. Brierly has thirteen years of previous teaching experience.  She will work with students who need extra instruction in developing reading skills.

Sarah Skinner has been teaching half-time at the Middle School this school year and she has recently joined the staff at Davis as well.  Ms. Skinner provides math instruction to individual students or small groups of students who are struggling with math concepts.

Our new elementary counselor, Nikki Tews, is a certified teacher and counselor and  has taught kindergarten previously and coordinated a before and after school program.  She will work in all three elementary buildings and share the counseling work with our current elementary counselor, David Ford.  The addition of Ms. Tews will allow increased access to a counselor at the elementary buildings. 

All three positions are funded through federal education jobs funding for the remainder of this school year and the 2011-12 school year.  

Students receive "tickets" at Davis

Kary Kinmouth, Grinnell police office,  gave out "tickets" to students at Davis School -- on Walk to School Day earlier this school year.  Tickets could be redeemed for a treat. 

Grinnell College Students Read to Students

The students came to read Davis 3rd graders earlier in the school year.


Ryan LeRoy demonstrates letters of the alphabet as Liz Phelan reads their alphabet book to Davis third graders.  Micah Nelson was the third Grinnell College student who authored the alphabet book.

                Grinnell College Students Read to Davis Third Graders

Grinnell College students from Carmen Valentine’s tutorial, Children’s Literature, read stories and led related activities for third grade students at Davis Elementary. Several Grinnell College students worked together to write a children’s book as part of their class work and four different groups came to Davis Elementary to read their books to the students.  Songs related to each book’s theme followed the reading of the book.  Students listened intently as they heard about Rock ‘ Roll Maria, princesses, stars, and letters of the alphabet.   

Insects Galore!

This article and picture are from earlier in the school year -- I wanted to post them even though they are from a couple of months ago. 

                Insects galore!

Students in Mr. Abarr’s fourth grade science classes have spent a great deal of time learning about insects.  After learning about the structure of insects, students created their own insects to demonstrate their knowledge.  Creatively crafted insects are now flying around the ceiling of the third floor at Davis Elementary. 

Next in science, students will explore social insects through a more in-depth study of the honeybee.  Students will explore the division of labor within the colony, the many helpful things the honeybee does for humankind, and why we should be concerned about the “colony collapse” phenomenon.  In the near future, students will be studying fireflies and their ability to create light and  students will be making fireflies that actually light up.