Open Thread Friday

Last Friday of the summer vacation.  I'm sure that's a mournful thought for some kids.  But hey, don't your kids get excited about filling up the backpack with new pencils, folders and maybe a new lunchbox?

As was noted earlier in the week, there are no Board community meetings this Saturday.  But, don't forget the Nova High School yard sale tomorrow from 9-3 p.m. at 4833 S. Morgan Street.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Thanks Melissa! Yep, we're hosting a benefit sale in the Hillman City neighborhood (columbia city/seward park) and would love to have some SSS company stop by, even invite their friends. :)

- Clothing, housewares, bikes, skis, kitch, vintage lamps... And hopefully some homemade banana and zucchini bread.

Nova Yard Sale
Saturday, Sept 3
@4833 S. Morgan St; 98118

Eric B said…
I'd like to give a big shout-out to several people:

Pegi McEvoy is great at getting back to me about operational issues. I think I got a response to an email once at 10:30 pm on a Friday.

Gretchen DeDecker at the Self-Help Office and District grounds staff for arranging for and bringing (respectively) tools for the Loyal Heights Elementary garden work party.

LH parents and students for showing up and working at the work party yesterday. We had over 150 person-hours of labor in the morning work party. It was great to see incoming kindergartners pulling weeds and spreading mulch alongside their parents!
Also, Ms McEvoy gave a big shout-out to the many Lowell at Lincoln parents who have been working so hard to prepare the school in her update to Dr. Enfield.

I'm a big fan of Gretchen DeDecker and don't know what would happen if her office didn't exist.
StopTFA said…
Additional interesting documents on SPSLeaks

More TFA discussion at UW COE
lendlees said…
Yes, a HUGE shout-out to the Lowell APP @ Lincoln parents--without them, there is NO WAY 460+ students would have such a nice place to be this coming Wednesday.

Many of the committee chairs were new 1st grade parents who took the ball and ran with it. Beautiful signage is in the halls, a great playground is in the works, and hundreds upon hundreds of books were donated to the reading room. This in addition to helping the 17 teachers (7 of them brand new!) get their classrooms ready.

In addition to Pegi McEvoy and Gretchen DeDecker, much of the move to Lincoln wouldn't have happened without Brandi Fox from facilities. She rocks.
Anonymous said…
Let's run all schools with volunteers! Then a free and appropriate education will indeed be free, and will be worth every dime you paid for it.

Mr. Ed
Syd said…
Does anyone know when the Orca cards for high school students will be active? My son tested his card from last year today when going to orientation - not working.
Dorothy Neville said…
I don't think last year's cards are going to work. The ORCA system is different this year and I was told that kids would be mailed single use bus fare and would receive ORCA card at school. Your student's experience contradicts that though, if he didn't get a bus ticket in the mail. So, take my information with a grain of salt. Or were you told that the same card would be used this year?
Syd said…
We were not told anything. At orientation there was a sign that said "no orca cards." That's it.
Syd said…
How is the Orca system different this year?
Dorothy Neville said…
Syd, they are different from an accounting point of view. From a student's point of view, they should work the same, but perhaps be more reliable.
Syd said…
Thanks Dorothy. I could not find anything specifically addressing this on the SPS site. Is it just me, or does this (somewhat) new site have a lot less information? Maybe I just need to get used to it.
Dorothy Neville said…
Well.... if they were going to send out single tickets to get kids to school next Wednesday, one would think that they'd be in the mail already. Who knows?

Curious though, did parents and/or students have to sign a contract for the orca cards last year? Anything about lost cards, or not letting others use them? And could you add e-purse value yourself for use in the summer or would anyone even think that would be a nice feature? Do they have the SPS logo? They said the new ones will and that should help with kids who look older than 18 getting hassled for not paying adult rate. But I would have expected them already to be branded.
CT said…
Thanks for the link, StopTFA. If they have to formulate "persuasive rhetoric" to sell TFA, then perhaps that is something they should be paying attention to. If there wasn't a problem, they wouldn't need to "sell" it.

My district just hired two brand new UW masters students in the last couple of days. They have been frantically trying to get their rooms together, but in conversations with them, it is clear they have been thinking through curricular goals, opening day/week routines, and they have a pretty good clue what to expect when kids walk in the door. I believe that is because they have spent an adequate amount of time in classrooms prior to getting their own, as well as having all of their background learning theory, content area, and pedagogy classes completed. They will be applying their knowledge and teaching children, not experimenting upon them because the don't have enough preparation to know what has already been proven to work. These two will do well, and are a good addition to their respective buildings.
The sad thing is that there were at least 7 candidates interviewed for each of these two jobs, and ALL of them were qualified - these two just stood out a bit more. THERE IS NO QUALIFIED TEACHER SHORTAGE IN SEATTLE!
dan dempsey said…
Huummm it appears there is a "qualified to do the job" shortage of Superintendents and School Board members in Seattle.
Anonymous said…
Check your transportation letter. Our letter contained a voucher good for one ride to school in the morning. Kids were then instructed to get their ORCA cards at school.
seattle citizen said…
The Seattle Times, ever the champion of management, editorializes today that Washington lawmakers should impose consequences for illegal school strikes.

The Times is happy that Seattle teachers now earn less, that "Seattle Public Schools, teachers and staff agreed to smaller raises and furlough days. That sounds good..." but I guess it's too little too late because "employees in the private sector have been taking furlough days and receiving no raises for several years."
Syd said…
We have not received a transportation letter yet. That's OK since he does not have a 1st period class assignment, we will be driving in to get that fixed on the first day anyway. I wonder how many other kids don't have all their classes?

I am not sure why they need a new card. It seems to me that the plastic card is reusable - the accounting can change without changing the plastic card.
Anonymous said…
What is the deal with PE waivers?

The State PE requirement is for an average of 100 min per school week (grades 1-8), which equates to a minimum of 60 hours per school year. However, different schools have different minimums for a PE waiver request.

Shouldn't this be equal across the District?

Anonymous said…
The related code is RCW 28A.230.040 (not RCW 28A.203.040 as is written on some district forms).

Does anyone know the citation for the 100 minutes/wk?

another anon said…
Teachers should take note of this commentary from the WA K12 Health and Fitness Standards:

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), recess is not viewed as a reward but as a necessary educational support component for all children. Therefore, students should not be denied recess so they can complete class work or as a means of punishment.
Anonymous said…
The district's web page contains a general PE waiver form that references the 100 min/wk avg (60 hrs).

PE Waiver

Eckstein requires 60 hrs, Whitman requires 60 hrs (and specifies grades 7-8), Hamilton requires 90 hours (is it a typo?).

a reader
SP said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
SP said…
Confused- re: PE required hours- is this what you are looking for?

WAC 392-410-135
Physical education — Grade school and high school requirement.

(1) Grades 1-8. Pursuant to RCW 28A.230.040, an average of at least one hundred instructional minutes per week per year in physical education shall be required of all pupils in the common schools in the grade school program (grades 1-8) unless waived pursuant to RCW 28A.230.040.

You also say, "different schools have different minimums for a PE waiver request"---Beware of waivers as they often do not protect the student's best interest as in many cases there is no "minimum" bar set for a waiver, believe it or not- so any waiver application most likely will be approved!

For example, there is no minimum of waiver day limit to the 180 day per year rule, no minimum to the 150 hours per credit rule (still on the books, although the district acts otherwise), and definitely no limit to the number of half day early releases that a district or an individual school has (the district has had 5, plus 2 (?) more for the new budget cuts), plus up to 32 additional early releases in district schools (Hale High School has held the record for several years- altogether its almost one early release each week all year long!).
Anonymous said…
100 minutes of PE per week in elementary school?
Is there any SP school that complies with that requirement?

Anonymous said…
Our K-5 averaged about 50% less than the required time, which is why it's strange that a PE waiver could require 50% more time.

basically said…
I know that Hamilton requires more than the other middle schools. 90 minutes is correct, the woman in the office told me that is the state requirement, and they are the only MS in compliance. I don't know why, I don't know if it is true, I am just repeating what she said. I don't get it, either. But 90 minutes is not that much if you do soccer, or anything more than once a week.
Anonymous said…
At our K-8, elementary kids have PE for 30 minutes every day -- so for 150 minutes per week. Kids and their parents love it! At our open house last year, when our PE teachers explained the program, there was applause in the audience. That told me that our program is different from most other elementary schools in Seattle.

We love PE!
Anonymous said…
The minimum State requirement is for an average of 100 min/week/year of PE.

If you have 180 days/(5 days/wk) = 36 weeks. 36 weeks x 100 min/week = 3600 min per school year, which equates to 60 hrs per school year.

The minimum requirement is for 60 hours per school year, yet Hamilton requires 90 hours per school year for a PE waiver. 90 hours is equivalent to the class time for a 0.5 PE class, but 50% more time than is required to meet the State standard. Yes, Hamilton meets the standard, but it is requiring exceessive time to meet the standard - 90 hours is equivalent to 2.5 hours per week, or 150 min. The State requirement is for 100 min per week (1.7 hr).

Other middle schools seem to stick to the 100 min/wk (60 hr per year) minimum for PE waivers, which is adequate to meet the State PE requirements.

As far as PE in elementary, with the overcrowding at many schools, it simply isn't possible to schedule 100 min of PE time for each class.

a reader
seattle citizen said…
PE should be eliminated so as to allow more time for test prep. Furthermore, TFA does not see the value in PE, as it does not result in a quantifiable value added: What IS "emotional/physical well being," anyway?
PE, music, art and civics are not tested, therefore they are unimportant. Jettison this waste immediately.
observer said…
Students that want to take music and language (and outside sports) are asking for PE waivers. It almost feels like they're getting penalized (or discouraged) by having to meet a higher requirement for the PE waiver.
basically said…
a reader,

Thanks for clarifying, I think I misunderstood what she said about state requirements.

And yes, we only get PE waivers so the kids can do a language and music.
Anonymous said…
interesting article in the NYT about teachers making home visits before school year starts. When my mother was an ESL teacher she used to do this. It was a great help to her to meet the parents as most of them were new immigrants and often did not come to school for meetings. I wonder if SPS still allows this.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
Home vists are still allowed and some schools/teachers still do them. However, without extra pay for home vists it's hard to convince teachers to spend the time visting 25+ student homes in their free time.
anonymous said…
Looks like Eckstein offers plenty of intervention for struggling students. Here is an excerpt from the principal's welcome letter.

"In our professional learning communities using the works of DuFour, DuFour, and Eaker. They define PLCs as “An on-going process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. PLCs operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators.”

There are four essential questions to this work. I am listing the questions with the work we have been doing.

What do we want students to know and be able to do?

Aligned curriculum (Departments continue to update this every year to align with state and common core standards)

Determined “power standards” What are the most important twenty or so skills/content that students need to know by the end of the year? (We continue to evaluate what students need to know at each grade level to take them from where they are in elementary and prepare them for high school. We have the common core standards to consider this year.)

How will we know if they have learned it?
Common Formative Assessments- These are formative assessments for the power standards. They are collaboratively developed and assessed. The results of these guide support and interventions for students. (Year before last our goal was four a semester; last year we worked on eight to ten a semester; this year we are all committed to at least twenty identified power standards for the year).

Common Summative Assessments (Math has common unit exams created by PLC’s. End Of Course Exams are determined at the district level. Each PLC creates their own common summative assessments.)

What do we do when they have not learned it?
Use our common formative assessments to determine students who need extra help and specifically what the skills and standards are that they are struggling with. This information can be given to Cohort teachers, tutors, etc. to provide targeted teaching.

Give them opportunities to relearn and reassess. (These are the kids who “can’t”. Pre-teaching based on common formative assessments; reteaching; test corrections and retakes, guided study hall, mandatory afterschool tutoring and small group instruction)

Give them opportunities to do the work. (These are the kids who “won’t . Catch-Up-Café; teacher directed make-up times, mandatory after school homework center).

Cohort – Targeted intervention for students who are not SPED or ELL and are not meeting standard. (Study-Hall Cohort is for students who need someone to touch base with twice a week for organization and a little help. Cohort Class is for students who need more guided instruction and study hall in a five day a week class.)

Extended Day- Extra time provided by our Community Learning Center partners. (Two sections each of reading, writing, and math taught by teachers.)

Tutors (We have a number of partnerships with the community and parents to provide 1:1 tutoring for students during the day and after school.)

What do we do when they already know it?
Use common formative assessments to determine which students are in need of enrichment.

Provide in class and after school extensions for students who meet and are exceeding standard.
anonymous said…
We had a Hale teacher that asked each student for permission to do a home visit (good to ask permission in high school). Those who said yes, got extra credit, and their parents were visited!
Sahila said…
flowers and rainbows

I'm a Kiwi... and this is what I am fighting for...

If this video doesnt make you sob, then you really dont get it...
Jan said…
Thanks, Sahila. I am not a Kiwi (though it would be nice to be one), but I really liked the video.
Anonymous said…
Hi Melissa, I wanted to write but was not sure where. What are the limits on class sizes? At Lawton Elem, we've had a pretty difficult time since class lists were originally posted. 3 5th grade classes went to 2.5 classes (with a 4/5 split and parents came unglued) so now we are at 2 classes with 32 kids each! How will my kid ever learn anything???

- from concerned in Magnolia

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