Oct. 30, 2020
Oct. 30, 2020

Academic Office Newsletter

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

Got feedback? We want to hear it.
Going Green at Froebel
The District has partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the Missouri Department of Conservation and other local stakeholders to convert the current blacktop schoolyard at Froebel Literacy Academy to a green space with park-like features for recreation and STEAM learning. The Green Schoolyard Project, relying on a grant from the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, was approved by the Board of Education of the City of St. Louis at the Sept. 8, 2020 board meeting. Leanne White is serving as the project director for Green Schoolyard and the Healthy Schools Movement. We can't wait to see the finished project! 
ECE Updates, Resources and Highlights
File Audit: 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 Nov. 20. Secretaries may contact the ECE Office if additional assistance is needed. 
Ready Reader Program: The October book selection, "My Tail's Not Tired" is coming to students and teachers soon!  Contactless book deliveries will occur Nov. 4-6. The organization will drop off books and an activity guide to each site at the screening checkpoint desk in the main entrance.
Academic Resources: Don't forget to take advantage of the all-inclusive academic workbook uploaded in the TEAMS page. If you are in need of lesson plan guidance or inspiration, please refer to these example lesson plans from teacher leaders at Gateway and Oak Hill: PLAN 1, PLAN 2.
Teacher Highlight: Kudos to Waltrin Richards at Wilkinson for going over and beyond to connect with all students.  She provided a live Bedtime Story session where students and siblings attended in their pajamas, were read a story and gave each other good night air hugs.
Questions and Feedback: The ECE Office is here to support you; please send inquires to Interim Director Samantha March at samantha.march@slps.org or 314-934-5436.
Dr. Kay Royster will assume the role of Interim Director of Leadership Development, effective Nov. 2nd. Dr. Royster will maintain her current responsibilities of reading and librarian support.
ELL College and Career Fair
On Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, ELL students in middle and high schools will have an opportunity to participate in the virtual ESOL College and Career Fair. During the event, students will be able to view videos from various colleges, universities and technical schools. The ELL College Fair Student Guide will support students as they view the videos and gather information about various post-secondary options. A virtual check in with a counselor will be offered between 6pm and 7pm. Finally, participants will have a chance to provide feedback for a chance to win prizes. Please share this opportunity with your middle and high school ELL students. Click HERE for more information and to participate in this event. 
Virtual STEM Workshop
The team at the USA Science & Engineering Festival will be producing a virtual STEM workshop program for educators, Inspire Educator Workshops – on Nov. 18-19. Each organization will be introducing new and exciting STEM curriculum for teachers, equipping them with multiple resources and training for industry specific STEM topics for the classroom. I am asking if you could please partner with us to invite all interested teachers throughout your community. Click HERE for a link.
Iota Phi Lambda Essay Contest
Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated, Alpha Zeta Chapter invites you to encourage your middle and high school students to compete in its Local and National Essay Contest. Students can win up to $600 cash!
Click HERE for specific guidelines and information. The postmark deadline is Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. The topic and title, on which each student must base his/her essay, is: "How Social Media Affects Teens."
The first place essayist in each category competes at the National level should his/her essay place at the Regional level.
Cooking with STEM!
Do you like to cook? if so, enjoy and share this STEM cookbook of fall recipes, Cooking with Curiosity, courtesy of the National Inventors Hall of Fame!
Public High League (PHL) Updates
  • PHL partnered with Affinia Healthcare to provide COVID-19 testing for winter coaches and student-athletes throughout the 2020-2021 season. The first test date was Saturday, Oct. 24.
  • Winter season starts Monday, Nov. 2 for high school girls’ and boys’ basketball and cheerleading.
  • Athletic events will be closed to the public.
Coach Recognition Day
Did you know that National Coach Appreciation Day is on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020?  
Take this opportunity to show some love to all your school's coaches, including your Academic Instructional Coach!
GOOD NEWS: Social Worker Featured on KMOV for Good Deeds
Tomeka Slaughter, social worker at Nottingham CAJT and Ames VPA, was featured on the news this week for the outstanding job she does in social service.
"She consistently goes out of her way to make sure students have clothing, food, utilities, holiday baskets, and anything else she can think of that our families may need," said Kimberly Long, principal of Nottingham CAJT. "She's dedicated to our student body and we are lucky to have her a part of our family."
Mrs. Slaughter was featured on KMOV after she alerted a family to the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The family had recently lost utilities.
GOOD NEWS: Shaw Student Special Guest of  Symphony Conductor
Denim Browder, a 4th grader at Shaw VPA, is inspired by music. He plays the French horn, participates in band and plans to become a conductor. Denim, his mother, his grandmother and music teacher Carolyn Kramkowski had the opportunity on Oct. 22 to sit in Stéphane's Seats, special seats set aside by Music Director Stéphane Denève. Click HERE for the full story! 
GOOD NEWS: College Success Award
Metro A&C High School has won a 2020 College Success Award from GreatSchools.org! The College Success Award recognizes public high schools that are doing a great job preparing students for college and beyond. Metro is part of a cohort of only 2,158 public high schools (about 21 percent of total eligible schools across 29 states) that won this year's award. College Success Award-winning high schools are identified based on school-level college preparation and postsecondary data which are collected and shared by their states. Metro has won this award two years in a row.
Circulation of Library Books and Materials
SLPS continues to engage in minimal sharing of materials. Until further notice, please do not circulate books or other materials from the libraries. We appreciate your cooperation with ensuring the safety of all students and staff.

Focus On: Adolescent Literacy
Key Literacy Component: Text Comprehension bNational Institute for Literacy
AdLit.org is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital, and is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and by the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation.
Text comprehension allows readers to extract or construct meaning from the written word. Students who misread words or misinterpret their meanings are at a disadvantage. Proper instruction can boost students’ skills in this key area.
Comprehension is the process of extracting or constructing meaning (building new meanings and integrating new with old information) from words once they have been identified [1]. Many struggling adolescent readers do not have difficulty reading words accurately; they have difficulty making sense of the information and ideas conveyed by the text [2, 3]. Comprehension varies depending on the text being read. Even proficient readers may have difficulty comprehending particular texts from time to time. Difficulties with comprehension may result from a reader's unfamiliarity with the content, style, or syntactic structures of the text [1, 4]. Even as adults, many people struggle when reading Shakespeare or the manual for installing a new computer program.
This article addresses the following questions about adolescent readers:
This article also offers research-based strategies that can be used across content areas when comprehension breaks down.  Among those strategies are the following:
  • Asking questions before, during, and after reading the text
  • Reading the text aloud 
  • Thinking aloud to summarize, predict, or raise questions about the text
  • Using the text structure to facilitate comprehension
  • Using graphic organizers to arrange information around key ideas and concepts
You may access the full article at: http://www.adlit.org/article/c1.
Focus On: Teacher Webpage - The "Why" of the Weekly Learning Planner
Here is the expectation: The weekly lesson planner (derived from the SLPS Blended Learning Weekly Planner) must be updated every week and posted under the virtual learning tab on the website. Click HERE for the district template that should be posted every week. Additionally, the lesson planner should be posted using the document app from our Blackboard web design system. This allows users to directly view and access the planner (rather than downloading the document to their device.)
Here is the why: From a parent lens, it is critical that our school and teacher webpages are consistent across our entire organization and provide information and access for families into the “public” space of our classroom. The weekly learning planner provides a family friendly guide for what students are learning, without requiring a parent to login and go through assignments in the Teams classroom. Think about this from a working/busy parent’s perspective... We have never before had this level of connectivity and engagement with our families, so it is so important to capitalize on this momentum and keep parents informed (in an easy and accessible way) of what their students are working on that week. The rationale for using the web design “document” app for uploading our weekly planner is quite simple – ease of use. A parent should be able to directly view the planner (rather than clicking a link to download a file) for “one-click” access to their students’ learning.
Ruth Gregory – A Gifted Resource Teacher said the following regarding her teacher webpage:
“As a gifted resource teacher, I have 2 schools and 2 web pages. Since I began teaching virtually, I've found that keeping up the web pages is very important to my parents as they use them to follow along with our work. I have the same students and their siblings for several years, so my web pages also provide a way for parents and students to access information and ideas from my class across several grade levels.”
Check out Ms. Gregory’s amazing web design strategies and weekly learning planners: Mallinckrodt AGI webpage: https://www.slps.org/Domain/5083; Shaw VPA webpage: https://www.slps.org/Domain/1478
If you have an exemplar webpage to share, please email natasha.mitchell@slps.org.
Hybrid Learning Focus: Share your Interactive Whiteboard Screen during Synchronous Instruction 
Elementary teachers have been truly inspirational these past two weeks as they embark into the unknown journey of hybrid teaching! From technical set-up to instructional strategies, teachers continue to change the landscape of education.
Hybrid Pro-Tip of the week: Share your interactive whiteboard screen during your Teams meetings. Put down those expo markers and chalk! If you were thinking about writing it on the “board”, instead write it (or type it) virtually using one of the many digital annotation tools right at your fingertips:
  • Promethean ActivInspire
  • Smart Notebook 
  • One Note
  • Microsoft Whiteboard (during Teams Meeting) 
Anything on your screen you can share with your in-person and virtual students. Watch this video from the Technology Resources Team (screen share info begins at 3:57) on best practices for sharing your screen during a Microsoft Teams meeting. 
FINAL REMINDER: 1st Letter of Academic Concern
The template for the letter is included HERE.
In addition, document your communication using this form and submit by Nov. 2.
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: 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: Be sure to 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) “Chow and Chat,” AKA Secondary Lesson Plan Support, every Thursday morning 7-8am
4) “Caffeine and Social Studies,” AKA Elementary Lesson Plan Support, every Friday morning 7-8am
General Announcements
I have been hearing lots of exciting things about Kids Voting and the students learning all about the candidates, issues, and importance of voting. Our children have big dreams and part of our role is to prepare them to participate as active and engaged members of society. Thank you to all of the schools who are participating in this exercise. Final results of school based voting will be released on the evening of Nov. 3. I will share results in the next Academic Office Newsletter.
One of the best things social studies teachers can do for live sessions at both elementary and secondary levels is analyze primary sources. The Library of Congress has a tool to help teachers frame questions around primary sources and analyzing them. This is extremely helpful when looking at pictures and written text from a time period. They have other tools available here to analyze other source materials like maps, newspapers, and political cartoons. Source analysis during the synchronous teaching is a help when focusing on literacy skills, especially ones identified last week in this space.
Articles From NCSS For Your Pleasure: “Making Civics and Designing Inquiry, PBL for Pre-K” and “Every Place an Historic Place” are a couple articles from NCSS that are worthy of your time to improve your development as a social studies teacher.
Have you ever been curious about the history of your school? Recently, I learned that the site of Clay School at the corner of 14th and Farrar was the site of Union Army Fort #10 in St. Louis. During the Civil War, this was a strategic location due to its location high up and overlooking the Mississippi River. One other thing that had me curious is that down on the riverfront and slightly north from there was also the location of Mary Meachum and John Barry Meachum’s Freedom School. The freedom school was held on a boat in the middle of the river, on Illinois’ side of the water, due to Blacks being barred from receiving a formal education in Missouri. The Meachums were well known for assisting numerous escaped slaves find their freedom, or buying their freedom. I don’t believe every school has a location as historic as this, because the Clay School originally started in 1859 closer to Hyde Park, but let me know if you would like to know more about your school.
Curriculum Corner: Performing Arts with Kaye Harrelson
SMART Goals for Performing Arts in the 2020-2021 school year: 100% of performing arts teachers will integrate instruction with objectives in the Respond, Create and Connect strands of the Missouri Fine Arts Standards. 
Weekly Breakfast Booster-Open Office Hours for Lesson Planning, Content Support and Q/A: Every Wednesday morning 7-8am: SESSION LINK
  • Performing Arts teachers returning to classrooms are reminded that indoor group singing should be AVOIDED (yes, even with masks), as should any movement that extends beyond the "personal bubble" around each student. Humming is an option. There are no performances planned for SLPS schools this semester. 
  • Teachers and all students should sanitize hands at the beginning and end of every class session.
  • Middle and high school CHOIR teachers should initiate conversations with school leadership so that you are able to hold full choir rehearsals in the auditorium (if possible) when students return to in-person classes. 
  • Contact Kaye Harrelson if more specific guidance is needed, 314-934-5445
♦ Masks are required.
♦ It is strongly recommended that students have a separate mask used exclusively for music / dance / theater classes.  They should return a different mask at the end of the period (prompted by the teacher).
♦ Music classes are best outside, but up to a maximum of 30 minutes of singing time is possible inside IF students follow the safety requirements of a separate, well-fitting mask that is only used for that class.
♦ It is not recommended that teachers be responsible for storing the music / dance / theater masks.
Curriculum Corner: Science, Elementary with Carrie Launius
Attending to Equity in Science: When appropriate and relevant to the science issue at hand, standards documents should explicitly represent the cultural particulars of diverse learning populations throughout the text (e.g., in referenced examples, sample vignettes, literature). Similarly, an effort should be made to include significant contributions of women and of people from diverse cultures and ethnicities.
Here is a list of empowering STEM books that feature famous minority men and women who made a lasting impact.  
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
Wangari’s Tree of Peace by Jeanette Winter
Planting the Tree of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul
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: 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: Now that CFA #2 has been completed, analyze the data to see where additional support and intervention needs to be added. 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.
Assessment Prep Tips:  Explain to your students how assessments help the teachers to drive instruction and that it shouldn't be something students fear.  Assessments provide teachers with information about students so everyone can be successful by the end of the year.
Upcoming PD: 
  • ELA Open Forum, Nov. 4, 2020, 7-8am, LINK
  • ELA Open Forum (new time and session), Nov. 4, 2020, 2:30-3:30pm, LINK
  • Taking a Virtual Running Record, Nov. 5, 2020, 2:30-3:30pm, LINK
  • Carver Elementary was the first school to turn in 100% of the writing performance for October! Way to go, Carver!!!!
  • Ms. Wilson, a 3rd grade teacher from Laclede, seems to be an expert when it comes to pacing even during virtual sessions. When I virtually visited her class, she provided the word for the day, a grade-appropriate video, reviewed the objective for the day, and then flawlessly moved into the core of the lesson all within 5 minutes. The students were engaged and seemed to follow her time expectations.
Read Aloud and Nearpod Activity: It's time to switch holidays so the highlighted read aloud book this week takes a look at Thanksgiving through the lives of monsters. The activities for the book focus on Thanksgiving including mini book report, brain teasers, making a grocery list. I hope you enjoy the story and activities. FangsGiving read aloud and activities
New Book Recommendation: All Because You Matter, a lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to Black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will, from powerhouse rising star author Tami Charles and esteemed, award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier.
Need to meet with Dr. Palsenberger? Click HERE for her appointment calendar.
Curriculum Corner: Visual Arts with John Grapperhaus
Let Your Artist-Scholars Shine!
We want our students to be proud of themselves and their academic and artistic accomplishments. Please encourage visual art teachers to create digital art galleries to show off student work. This can be in Teams, Sway or Artsonia.com.
Teachers can also easily upload student artwork digitally for an exhibition in Jefferson City with the state Senate at THIS LINK. Entries are due Nov. 20.
Lastly, students should have time in classes to share updates of their projects with the class for group critique, feedback, and specific praise from the teacher.
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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