The Counseling Department designed college application workshops to assist seniors in the process of completing their applications. The workshops are being implemented during STEP periods starting September 21st and ending November 3rd. The topics covered are finding the right fit, Naviance tasks, essay/personal insight questions writing support, UC/CSU and Common Application tips, financial aid and scholarship information. The team also discussed roles in the two upcoming evening events titled “Highly Selective College Night” and “Financial Aid.” The Counselors also reviewed both the Student Study Team process and 504 forms to aid in student intervention programs. A Google Doc Survey was created by the counseling team in an effort to receive feedback from the classroom teachers in preparation for any SST and 504 meeting. The Counselors reviewed and amended the current graduation status check form and process of sending out letters to parents of any senior at risk of not meeting graduation requirements by May 2017. A brief discussion was held on managing the recent D and F list provided to each counselor as the end of the first quarter approaches. Finally, the team discussed the rubric used for completing the Counselor Secondary School Report in the college application process.
Career Technical Education
Karen Stattler and Gayle Nicholls-Ali represent the CTE (Career Technical Education) in Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation and Arts, Media and Entertainment, respectively. Karen and Gayle have been reviewing the CTE Eleven Elements of a Quality CTE program and looking for entry points in their curriculum for improvement and program enhancement. This includes review of classroom equipment, industry certifications, reviewing business and industry standards, review of curriculum standards and student learning and leadership opportunities. Karen and Gayle have applied for CTE learning opportunities to align their curriculum with the new CTE standards in their industry sectors and industry. In an attempt to develop high quality curriculum instruction, they will be attending the California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards and Framework workshop is scheduled for October 4, 2016. This is a merging of career pathways, anchor standard and industry standards. Next up is the Transforming Career Technical Education Fall Conference , November 16-18 in Rancho Mirage.
The English 1 PLC has hit the ground running this year as collaboration has occurred on various levels. In addition to assessments that have been shared in the past (“My Name” analytical paragraph diagnostic exam, multiple choice reading diagnostic exam), a creative component for “My Name” has been instituted through a grade-wide vignette writing assignment which then organically oriented the activities and assessments involved as a performance task. Common goals for the short story unit were also set, which includes teaching students how to identify the way an author uses a variety of literary devices in order to express a theme in literature. This led to other common assessments for the unit including a “Theme Slideshow Project” that involves students collaborating with each other on Chromebooks and presenting a finished product with the whole class. Furthermore, a common prompt for the first literary analysis essay of the year was discussed and finalized. This led to a discussion of the vision plan for Common Assessment #1, which involves an in-class, on-demand analysis of a short story -- a fitting culminating assessment for the short story unit. Finally, English 1, 2, and 2H teachers met to discuss abridging The Odyssey keeping in mind any prerequisites that need to be met. This meeting revealed a pressing need for PD days for the entire English department in order to open the dialogue of department-wide goals for curriculum, student engagement, and student achievement.
The Junior PLC has successfully established a diagnostic exam on What It Means To Be American - a multiparagraph essay. They have aligned curriculum and pacing to include 1st Portfolio (Patterns of Development), nonfiction selections, writing prompts, and their 2nd Portfolio on (Morality).
The English 4 PLC members have been collaborating on the Senior Project (also called 20time). The first common assessment (and performance task) was the proposal that all students were required to make to gain approval for their projects. Much PLC time has been devoted to discussion on how the senior project should be introduced, coming up with lessons and assignments relating to the project. All English 4 students recently studied The Kite Runner, and PLC time was also devoted to how to best teach that novel and what we want the students to get out of it. Finally, English 4 students and AP Literature students (essentially, all seniors) have all been studying the Personal Narrative, with the aim of coming up with a piece of writing that they can use for their college application. This is also a performance task that all seniors will be completing. Time in PLC meetings has been given to the creation of lessons/assignments and expectations for this performance task.
LC Math 1
This month, the PLC for LC Math I began by outlining the sequence of topics for the first two units of study. The group met with members of the Special Education team to discuss strategies for supporting students. They designed lessons for Unit 0. They continued by outlining objectives and designing assessment items for Unit 0. Finally, they met with science teachers to discuss changes in the math and science pathways that may have cross-disciplinary implications.
LC Math 2
In September, the LC Math 2 Team focused on aligning their pacing and practices for the course, including the creation of practice geometric proofs that should be completed by all students in the course. They also created the first benchmark (common assessment) to administer to students in the first week of October which focuses on relationships created by parallel lines and a transversal, interior and exterior angles of polygons and deductive reasoning and proof. The LC Math 2 Advanced Team also focused on pacing and practices for the course through the creation of a curricular outline. They created and administered common assessments for the first several units and discussed the standards that are necessary to introduce the transformational definition of congruence in the next two units.
LC Math 3
The Math 3 team used the month of September to review their common assessment for Algebra 2/Trig and Precalculus. For each question item they verified the standards and DOK level as well as discuss the purpose of the assessment and method for grading.
The team also collaborated with the Special Ed and Science Departments. Time was used to meet with the case carriers to discuss strategies and accommodations for students in their classes. A joint math and science collaboration was helpful in understanding the NGSS and how the science course sequence will look like for the future. The Math 3 team shared with the science teachers the standards/concepts that will be taught in LC Math 3/Math 3 Advanced and the expected pacing guide for those courses.
Project Lead The Way
The PLTW Engineering PLC team meets weekly. This month the team aligned the pacing of lessons for the next month so that both classes were proceeding through the curriculum at the same pace. After teaching, they debriefed lessons several of the lessons with each other and reflected on how to improve student learning. Grading practices between the two teachers were compared for consistency. The team created a common assessment for the quarter, and agreed on when it would be administered and graded.
The PE department reviewed course material and standards. This allowed them to have independent pictures in our mind's-eye of what each of us wanted to accomplish and how it might mesh with the department as a whole. They left off last year with uncompleted Unit Assessments. They made assignments on specific assessments and gave them priorities. In their last meeting they turned our attention to the P.E./Athletics issue and “Data-Driven Dialogue” was introduced and chapter headings were reviewed.
September and August was a very productive time for our PLC time with biology. In August we basically discussed how our field was changing. Ryan Hainey gave the rest of some insight on the most recent developments in NGSS. We also plotted out some of the areas of focus we would like to concentrate for the month of September. After some discussion of a common assessment, we decided to focus on supplies. We made a list of need and wanted supplies for our department. Unfortunately, we did not go as far as deciding who would purchase which supplies, so that is still up in the air. On September 20th, after a department meeting about the possibility of freshman taking physics, the entire department met with the entire math department. It was enlightening to see the process in which math went through a curriculum change as we are the process of doing. It was also interesting to see just what concepts were being taught at what time. This information was especially helpful for the Chemistry and Physics teachers, but as Biology Teachers, we were also able to see where our freshman were mathematically as they entered our classes. Finally the month concluded with the NGSS West Ed. workshop that was extremely informative and helpful.
There are two new members of the Chemistry PLC this year, Steve Zimmerman and Karl Geckle. To bring everyone up to speed, the chemistry teachers discussed and finalized the first quarter common assessment, reviewed and made revisions to the pacing guides, conferred on grading policies, and reviewed upcoming lesson plans and laboratory activities. In addition, the science department met with math teachers to articulate how student skills at each math level correspond to the math needs of the science department.
Government and Economics
Over the course of this month, Sarah and Brent worked to finalize their first common assessment, a school wide presidential election (October 5ht-6th), a social science (7th-12th) wide presidential election (Nov 8th) and a Gov class election project (September 28th-November 8th). The School wide presidential election will be held during step for two days in October, results will be counted and sent to the Secretary of States office in Sacramento to be added to the State Totals. Our Social science wide election will take place on Nov 8th, and will have each class period serving as one of the 50 states. We will then use the electoral college method to determine how our students voted. In each Gov class students will be working in small groups to run for President of the United States, each group member will have a role, and students will create a speech, commercial, Logo/Yard sign, platform etc…
Honors Social Science
The H.S.S. PLC Analyzed data from last year’s chapter 1 test compared to this year’s chapter 1 test. Planned and created DBQ’s on the Columbian Exchange and prepared common DBQ to assign to the class from various sources citing eight documents for students to analyze, created uniform study guides for both classes, and discussed significance and expectations for “current event scrapbook” and expectations for student write ups. Further, they analyzed the students first written essays and chapter 1 test results and shared various homework and in class graphic organizers and cloze reading strategies to assist with the material in the textbook.
US History teachers this year have decided to shift from teaching American History from a chronological to a thematic approach. The focus of their PLC meetings has largely been on setting up a broad scope and sequence establishing the general themes for the year and then within that context establishing a common list of specific topics that represent that theme. For example their first theme of the year is “The Struggle for Power” and this will be exemplified by a deeper look at topics such as: The establishment of the federal system under the US Constitution, the addition of the Bill of Rights, The concept of Nullification as seen in the Kentucky Resolution and The South Carolina tariff issue during Andrew Jackson’s presidency. The investigation will continue through the concept of Judicial Review and how different presidents have dealt with that over the years (Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal, FDR and Packing the Supreme Court). The focus will then shift to states’ rights as seen in the years building up to the Civil War and how those issues continue into the Reconstruction Era. The Unit will wrap up with a look at modern issues that exemplify the struggle between state and federal power as seen with issues surrounding gay marriage and recreational marijuana.
AP U.S. History
Our AP US History team has been focusing on establishing their standards based grading system for the writing component of their class. This has involved establishing which common core aligned standards will be center stage in their common assessments. As there are several approaches to the standards based grading system in terms of calculations and degrading grade scales, and the Illuminate gradebook supports several of them, much of the discussion has centered around the best practices in terms of setting up the standards based grade book in such a way that it will yield the most accurate reflection of the student performance.
Members of the Special Education Department 7/8 through 9 -12 met for collaboration over the past four weeks. Discussion centered around differential teaching and grading, creation of a common core goals bank, case management, special education program supports & needs, and appointments of department members to the Director of Special Education’s Directors Counsel on Best Practices in Special Education. The collaborative team discussed the creation of essential standards based on common core standards to support students with special needs in the classroom in regard to differential teaching and grading as tools to support inclusion at La Canada High School. The “Challenge Success’”program was explored through an examination of Charrette Protocols utilized in educational reform initiatives. Brainstorming about changes through “Challenge Success” upon special education programs at LCHS was briefly shared among team members.
Visual and Performing Arts
In the past month, the Visual and Performing Arts PLC has had a dual focus on sharing of best practices with regards to assessment as well as the ongoing integration of technology into the arts. Because the arts classes are primarily singleton in nature, we have chosen to focus on identifying common strategies for assessment. Each week, we take turns demonstrating how we assess student performances in our respective fields. Additionally, we have devoted PLC time to discussing how best to continue the integration of technology into our instructional practice. With the addition of LCTV to our department, the importance of technology has taken on new meaning and we have made significant strides towards better utilization of the different technology-based learning aids available through the district – particularly Google Classroom and online assessments.
During the month of September, teachers have discussed attending the California Arts Education Association Conference in November. The conference will provide information on best practices, projects ideas along with new materials. They also provided new teacher support to help improve instructional strategies along with advice on classroom instruction, management and curricular pacing.
During the I Quarter, we worked on warm-up activities to promote oral and written skills for the levels 2 and 3. We also used time to learn about Weebly to create students’ portfolios where they can display their most relevant work. Finally, we revised the Common assessment 1 for all levels including the multiple choice test, oral prompts, short essay.
French, German, Korean
The Mixed Language PLC (German, French & Korean) has been busy working on updating their common assessments for the new school year. Since Korean 4 Honors has been accepted, Ms. Lee has been working on creating up to date, rigorous exams as well as complex projects that are required of a honors class. In German, Ms. Sos revised her honors program requirements to be more collaborative and include real-world interactions and worked on streamlining assessments for German 3 and 4. In the realm of French, Ms. Sadler & Mrs. Kanner has updated level 2 French projects and common quarter benchmarks. The French team has also begun to evaluate different textbooks for adoption.