Nov. 6, 2020
Nov. 6, 2020

Academic Office Newsletter

From the Office of Dr. Paula Knight, Deputy Superintendent of Academics

Got feedback? We want to hear it.
Retention and Promotion Policy: Join the Review Committee!
The Academic Office is working on an addendum to the District’s retention and promotion policy from 2012. The addendum aims to focus on the underlying issues causing low student performance and will include language for the transition to standards-based learning. 
We are seeking approximately five school leaders to review the addendum and provide feedback and suggestions. The committee will meet two times in the month of November for one hour.  
If you are interested, please fill out this survey by Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 5pm.    
Questions? Email
Literacy Grant Opportunity for Schools 
BACKGROUND: The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) was one of 11 states to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for its Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLSD) program. This grant will provide professional development to teachers to support literacy instruction.  
  • Professional development for teachers will be provided by the Missouri Reading Initiative, the Missouri Writing Projects Network, and the Missouri Language and Literacies Center.  
  • In addition, in-classroom coaching will be provided for kindergarten through third grade teachers. 
  • Identify a teacher or reading specialist at each of your schools, K-12, to be the lead for the literacy grant.
  • Complete the application by Nov. 20, 2020.  
  • Each school must complete the short application
  • Claire Crapo will be hosting a session to discuss the grant and provide application tips next Thursday, Nov. 12 from 3-4pm. Please sign up for the session here by Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 5pm. Questions? Email
HBCU College Fair
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Omicron Upsilon Omega Chapter is hosting a free virtual HBCU College Fair TOMORROW, Nov. 7 from 10am to noon. Please share with students. A flyer is available HERE. Register at
ECE Updates
Book Study PD: The ECE Office is offering a book study PD presented by Rachel Kayser, AIC, at Monroe Elementary. Participants are learning about how to thoughtfully challenge students through the book "Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking" by Janis Strasser and Lisa Mufson Bresson. Early Childhood teachers will engage in organized discussion about open-ended questions, classroom meetings, read aloud, classroom displays and centers. Sign up in Frontline. There are only 10 slots left. Mark your calendars for the next virtual session #2 on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 4-5pm. Participants will receive a free copy of the book.
Reminder: It is imperative that neighborhood school sites have updated forms and documents for all P4 returning students sent by pony mail or email to the ECE Office no later than Nov. 20. Secretaries may contact the ECE Office if additional assistance is needed.
Culture and Climate Strategy 
Oftentimes, our students exhibit certain behaviors when they are directly or indirectly experiencing trauma. Some trauma requires immediate intervention and support, while others may be left unaddressed. Here are a few steps that educators can do to mitigate the effects of trauma for individual students.
Establish social and emotional safety in your classroom so that students feel both physically and emotionally safe to learn.
Create a behavior-management plan that focuses on positive reinforcement by fostering compassion for and among your students and praising them for appropriate classroom behavior instead of consistently focusing on punishments.
Increase your self-awareness and trauma competency by learning more about trauma, resources and strategies that can best help you support students experiencing it.
For more information on this strategy and other resources for both in-person and virtual learning environments, please the see the Culture & Climate Resource Toolkit!
Culture & Climate Support: School Leaders, if you need culture and climate support for your school, please reach out to Casetta Brown, 314-345-4434 (o) or 314-532-6582 (c), as she can assist you or connect you with our partners from Mizzou or EducationPlus.
Don't Forget: Open Enrollment Ends Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 7 at Midnight
Be sure to enroll for your benefits for calendar year 2021! Reference your email for instructions. If you have questions, please contact the SLPS Benefits Service Center at 855-952-1728 or email
Kids Guide to Recycling
SaveOnEnergy, a marketplace for energy plans, has put together a recycling guide for students, featuring Nico on his request to help save the planet. A series of fun, interactive activities that can be done on the computer is available at
Photo Feature: Pierre Laclede JCA
Kindergarterners are hard at work in Ms. Robin Jung's guided reading class. 
Focus On: Raising Students Who Want to Read
World-renowned reading expert, the late Phyllis S. Hunter, discussed the importance of motivation in her Scholastic Professional Paper, “Raising Children Who Want to Read.” Hunter stated that one of the main stumbling blocks that prevents students from becoming skilled readers is lack of motivation. The following suggestions for motivating children to read are contained in the paper:
What Teachers Can Do
1. Match students to “just right” texts on their reading level that they can read without difficulty.
2. Provide a wide variety of texts that are interesting and appropriate for students’ age ranges and personally relevant to individual students.
3. Empower students by allowing them to select their own texts.
4. Let students know what to expect. They can get excited about what’s coming.
5. Encourage students to take an interest in monitoring their own reading progress.
6. Talk, talk, talk about books—discuss the characters, settings, and plots of stories and the content of nonfiction books.
7. Support students with immediate, continuous feedback and encouragement.
8. Use technology to excite students’ interest.
9. Set expectations for success
Read the complete paper at THIS LINK.
2020 Academic Office Winter PD Series: Virtual Learning and Beyond: Sustainable Practices for a Reimagined Educational Experience
Lesson Planning for Synchronous and Asynchronous Instruction in the Hybrid & Virtual Classroom: This session is designed to support with planning standards-aligned, rigorous, and engaging virtual instruction utilizing interactive and innovative technology-based tools. There will be an intense focus on aligning synchronous and asynchronous instruction and designing meaningful scaffolds to create a cohesive weekly/bi-weekly unit of study. Sessions are 3:30-4:30pm. Dates: Nov. 10, Nov. 12 
Digital Engagement Tools & Tips for Concurrent and Virtual Teaching: In this session educators will explore technology-based tools and instructional strategies to promote engagement for virtual, hybrid, and in-person learners. There will be an intense focus on reimagining our traditional engagement strategies and leveling up to promote 21st century teaching and learning. Sessions are 3:30-4:30pm. Dates: Nov. 17, Nov. 19
Nearpod 201 (Nearpod Brand Ambassadors): This session will build on the skills learned in Nearpod 101. Nearpod brand ambassadors will be hosting a live PD event designed specifically for SLPS teachers. In this session educators will learn and practice using Nearpod to promote engagement and innovate synchronous and asynchronous instructional delivery. Sessions are 3:30-4:30pm. Date: Nov. 18
Check for Understanding (CFU - formative assessment) During the Synchronous Instructional Cycle: In this session educators will explore digital strategies on how to check for student understanding at key points in the lesson to make instructional decisions based on real time data. There will be an intense focus on how the connection between engagement, total participation, and formative assessment act as a cohesive set of teacher moves designed to actively check for understanding of student learning. Sessions are 3:30-4:30pm. Dates: Dec. 1, Dec. 3
Transforming with Technology – Empowering Student Voice: This session is designed for educators with intermediate to advanced virtual teaching skills that are ready to promote student agency in the classroom by empowering students to leverage technology to take an active role in their own learning. This session will focus on the pedagogical shift of utilizing technology to transform learning rather than substituting traditional content onto a digital platform. There will be an intense focus on the use of interactive and innovative technology software to design authentic 21st century learning experiences and publish student work. Sessions are 3:30-4:30pm. Dates: Dec. 8, Dec. 10
These sessions will be facilitated by Natasha Mitchell, Interim Director of Virtual Learning. Each session is a two-part series – two consecutive, synchronous virtual sessions (one hour each) with one additional hour of asynchronous work. (Nearpod Brand Ambassadors will facilitate Nearpod 201 – Nearpod 201 is one session). Educators must sign-up in My Learning Plan to attend! Click HERE for a one-page flyer with this schedule
Curriculum Specialists:
  • Dr. Esther Palsenberger, Elementary ELA, 314-779-5939
  • Judine Keplar, Secondary ELA, 314-532-6427
  • Zehra Khan, K-12 Math, 314-532-3574
  • J. Carrie Launius, Elementary Science, 314-934-5258
  • Dr. Valentina Bumbu, Secondary Science, 573-544-6835
  • Dr. Glenn Barnes, Social Studies, 314-934-5267
  • John Grapperhaus, Visual Arts, 314-934-5320
  • Kaye Harrelson, Performing Arts, 314-934-5445
Curriculum Corner: Science, Secondary with Dr. Valentina Bumbu
Science Teacher Highlights: NEW!!! We are excited to share ScienceTeacherTalks series for secondary science are becoming a reality. This is where we begin to highlight our very own science rock stars in the district with a 1-3 minute video and brief informational visual on the effective implementation of technique/strategy or use of tool/app. If you would like to feature in upcoming episodes of the series, please reach out to
This week, we will kick off the series with Daniel Bruce, our 8th grade Science Teacher Leader (AESM), on leveraging planning and carrying out investigations with pre-made videos that do not take away from student exploration. See the presentation HERE and feel free to reach out to Mr. Bruce with questions and/or comments. You may also leave comments/questions in the presentation itself. 
Stay tuned for more ScienceTeacherTalks episodes coming every week in this corner of the Academic Newsletter!
Science Assessments: Assessment SMART Goal for 6-12 science: Schools will implement SLPS 6-12 Science Curriculum with fidelity by applying the learnings from professional development and on-going support on planning and pacing, to achieve an average proficiency at the same level or better than the district average or 20% growth as measured by common formative and summative assessment by the end of 2020-21 school year.  
Assessment Reminder: Please wrap up grading CFA1 and CSA 1 and input data in your grade/content specific tracker ASAP. Feel free to reach out to or message me in chat in MS Teams if you need any support with that.  
Curriculum Corner: Social Studies with Dr. Glenn Barnes
SMART Goals For Social Studies: LINK
Assessment Reminders: Be sure to utilize the standards tracker that has been shared with you and submit assessment results to me.
Assessment Prep Tips: Keep the standards as your focus and assess them. Use the exit slips and create questions and opportunities which reflect the requirements of proficiency. Focus on pushing follow up questions with higher DOK levels. Strategies like hexagonal thinking can assist you in building up vocabulary.
PD Reminders
1) K-5 Social Studies Resource Sharing, Monday, Nov. 16, 3:15-4:15pm
2) Authentic Assessments in Secondary Social Studies, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 3:15-4:15pm
3) Secondary Lesson Plan Support, every Thursday morning 7-8am, (2nd session starts at 2:45pm the same day)
4) Elementary Lesson Plan Support, every Friday morning 7-8am, (2nd session starts at 2:45pm the same day)
General Announcements
Almost two weeks ago, I had the privilege of witnessing a debate amongst 3rd graders in Ms. Sweetin’s class at Classical Junior Academy. As a part of a unit on voting and elections, the students were asked to think of candidates who they would want to see as president. They decided on looking at candidates they believe embodied the best possible ideals to be president of the United States. Tyler Toney (of Dude Perfect fame), Bugs Bunny, Billie Eilish, and Stacey Abrams where the candidates. After a spirited debate, students casts their ballots for the winner. Considering the eligibility rules for president in the Constitution, only two could reasonably qualify. Either way, I was thrilled to see our future have a civil debate and work to persuade their classmates to make a choice and have a voice in their mock election. Thank you Ms. Sweetin and the students at CLA for inviting me to the debate!
One thing is certain about the election this year, it has exposed a greater need for civics education and involvement. Early numbers indicate a growing voice among those ages 18-29 who are going to the polls for the election. What does all of this mean? It means that kids are starting to see that their voice matters and that they have an opportunity to be change agents. As folks get older, they see that more of what happens impacts them and they increase in their likelihood of voting. Another trend to watch is that quite a few folks still sat out the election and believe the system does not care for them. Our own students have said this. How might we work to change this?
Teaching Controversial Issues:
Now more than ever, we need citizens able to passionately debate the issues that impact their communities and country. But to participate in the debate calmly and with the ability to see different perspectives – willing to do what’s best, not just what’s best for themselves.
Using these tools and resources can help train your students to become those sorts of citizens.
Resource Share: Thanks to Veronica Rovira of CVPA for sharing another great tool called ClassKick. This tool allows you to set up work for your students and you can monitor them in real time. Teachers provide individualized, real-time feedback and grading with an array of tools–directly on the canvas, in the help center or with pointed stickers. Students can even ask their peers for help anonymously. Teachers can see who needs help and how students are progressing through the assignment. There is a free version which works with up to 20 students at a time. This would be a great tool for synchronous or asynchronous teaching.
Curriculum Corner: Science, Elementary with Carrie Launius
Don't Forget to Allow Students "Talk Time"
In the past, when we had students sitting in front of us, we talked a lot, and kids listened. Research showed that teachers need to talk less and allow students to be engaged in conversation. With the change in the way we teach, the problem has gotten even worse. Teachers are forced to be a talking head and deliver information. But, are they really? Think about a time when you were speaking to a child that did not know you very well. As you probed them, they began to open up. And before you knew it, you could not get a word in.
Our youngest of students often have a lot to share in science. But, there is only one of you so what do you do?
Allow students to talk to each other. Engage them in meaningful conversation about topics. At first, make some rules to ensure all students get the opportunity. Rules like, “three talk before I can talk again.” Raise your hand on your screen but let the last person talking select the next speaker, or maybe, try putting students in rooms and pose a question. Start simple, ask questions students are confident answering. Keep challenging them to talk and recognize the students for taking the risk. Be sure that everyone is listening and accepting of students’ questions.
Building this kind of rapport with students will strengthen their confidence to speak and engage in conversation. It will also support the science and engineering practices of using argumentation and communicating information. Start small, but let them talk!
Here’s the research by Hattie (2002), which states teachers talk 70-80% of the time. The higher the grade, the more the teacher talks. Students are more engaged when teachers talk less; the number is higher with at-risk students. Only 5% of teacher talk actually triggers student conversations.
Furthermore, teacher talk and teacher effectiveness are linked. The more the teacher does academic talk and less general talk, the low student performance is measured. Finally, the more dominant the teacher the more critical it becomes to have students engaged in listening activities.
Weekly Reminders
  • Current SMART Goal: Schools will implement the SLPS Elementary Science Curriculum with fidelity for 30 minutes daily in grades K-2 and 45 minutes daily in 3-5 to increase the number of students scoring above 70% on the District assessments
  • Tuesdays with Carrie, 7-8am every Tuesday for support
Curriculum Corner: Math with Zehra Kahn
Upcoming PD: Problem-solving is not only one of the most important components of the study of mathematics; it permeates all aspects of life, including the professional world. Word problems provide opportunities to use mathematical tools and promote the link between math and real life context. Students struggle with word problems. To get the correct solution, students have to read the problem, figure out what math operation or concept to use, and then do the calculations correctly. Breakdown in any of these skills can lead to difficulty. If you would like to learn more about problem solving strategies please join me in a booster session Problem Solving Strategies in Mathematics on Nov. 12 from 3:30-4:30pm.
Assessment Reminder: Common Formative Assessment for Quarter 2 was completed last week in Scantron. The CFA2 data will guide teachers about what students know prior to learning and will help teachers plan their instruction and intervention. If you need support in analyzing the data, planning and implementing lessons please join me during my open office hours. Weekly open office hours for math lesson planning and curriculum support. If you have any questions or concerns you can always join me from 7am - 8am every Wednesday (K-5), Thursday (6-8) and Friday (9-12)
Current Smart Goal for K-12 Math: Strengthen implementation of Mathematics Curriculum with emphasis on blended learning model, SLPS Grades K-12 students will demonstrate an average proficiency at the same level or better than the district average as measured by CSA assessment by the end of school year 2020-21.
Please reach out for support:, 314-532-3574.
Curriculum Corner: ELA, Elementary with Dr. Esther Palsenberger
CFA/CSA Smart Goal: Schools will implement the SLPS English Language Arts curriculum with on-going assessment using Common Formative Assessments focusing on high priority standards. By the conclusion of the 2020-2021 school year, 70% of students in grades K-5 will meet their performance growth target (established by the teacher) as measured by a comparison of their quarterly scores on the ELA common formative assessments (CFSs) that integrate high priority standards identified within the current curriculum plan.
Assessment Reminders: We had a much better turn out with the CFA#2 compared to the CSA#1. We only had 216 students participate in the CSA#1 compared to 790 students participating in CFA#2. This is great data to make sure your students stay on track when understanding the priority standards. 
If you currently have a building data tracker, please share that link with Esther. If your building needs a data tracker, click HERE for a great example.
2nd Writing Performance: We had 96% of elementary buildings participate in the 1st writing task. That baseline data will help us determine where to start in the writing process so all of our students will be successful writers. I will be extending the deadline on the 2nd performance task from Dec. 2 to the new due date of Dec. 11. You can find the links to the writing prompts in the curriculum plan.  
Upcoming PD: 
  • Understanding the 2nd Writing Task, Nov. 12, 2020, 2:30-3:30pm and 3:30-4:30pm, LINK
Read Aloud: Turkey Trouble read aloud and activities using Nearpod
♦ Congratulations once again to our teachers and students for working diligently in order to complete the writing prompt. It was great to see the variety of writing skills we have in the District! Did I mention 96% of elementary building submitted entries!?!?!?!?
♦ Great in-person desk ideas coming from Laclede. They have desk dividers on every desk for those students that attend in-person instruction. Way to keep the students' health as your No. 1 priority. 
Need to meet with Dr. Palsenberger? Click HERE for her appointment calendar.
Curriculum Corner: Visual Arts with John Grapperhaus
Here is a general good rule of thumb: Each art lesson should directly highlight at least one element of art AND one principle of art.  As students are working on their projects, this would be a great point for group discussion as a check in.  For example, “Let’s look at Bobby’s drawing. Can anyone tell me how this shows an example of VALUE OR SHADING?”
SMART Goals for Visual Art in the 2020-2021 school year: LINK
Weekly Booster: Open Office Hours for Lesson Planning, Content Support and Q/A, Every Wednesday, 3:15-4:15pm: LINK 
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