School Improvement News March 2013

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Common Core Standards Resources

The Best CC Resources are Free!

Please be reminded that the familiar gold sticker stating “Common Core Aligned” is NOT an indicator of truth. Frankly, the best resources I know are the ones that are free. The state of New York has created many high-quality resources. One site that is loaded and free is: A substantial amount of top-notch work has been done through Expeditionary Learning as they partner in school transformation. This video is one they’ve produced entitled “Close Reading Strategies with Informational Text by Expeditionary Learning.” I found the lesson complex, yet simple. It was exciting to see various scaffolding options demonstrated in the context of the lesson.


Video: The Principal's Role in Implementing Common Core State Standards at teh Secondary School Level - April 12, 2012

PDF Debrief: The Secondary Principal's Role in Implementing the Common Core

PDF Debrief: The Elementary Principal's Role in Implementing the Common Core

10 Keys to Successful Implementation of the Common Core

The Best of Principal Leadership for New Principals: 2012

PDF January 2013: Common Core State Standards Implementation Tools and Resources

Up and Running:

The WVDE Support for Improving Professional Practice

A new page is here: The West Virginia Department of Education Support for Improving Professional Practice. Take a look! (WVSIPP). At the conclusion of the 2012 Legislative Session, Governor Early Ray Tomblin signed House Bill (HB) 4236 regarding Educator Evaluation. The purpose of the legislation is to create a comprehensive infrastructure that routinely supports a continuous process for improving teaching and learning.

Contact for more information.


Say the Same Thing Using New Vocabulary

If you’ve recently attended trainings focused on the Common Core (Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives), you know the critical role that appropriate and aggressive vocabulary instruction must play. A fun, quick, and easy to duplicate resource is this one-minute clip addressing vocabulary. We know nearly all of our students are deficient in vocabulary—which is an indicator of a lack of background knowledge—which impacts fluency and ultimately comprehension. The most effective methods require few materials and no money. This video, College Talk: Improving Students’ Vocabulary, will provide you with some food for thought and possibly a new strategy for vocabulary instruction in your class.

Additional Common Core Sites


Kansas Common Core Lessons

Office of Early Learning's Facebook Page

Support for Personalized Learning (SPL)

The West Virginia Support for Personalized Learning (SPL) framework is a statewide initiative that suggests flexible use of resources to provide relevant academic, social/emotional and/or behavioral support to enhance learning for all students. SPL is characterized by a seamless system of high quality instructional practices allowing all students to sustain significant progress, whether they are considered at-risk, exceeding grade-level expectations or at any point along the continuum.

Principal's Toolkit

Have you visited the Principal's Toolkit? It is updated every week. There are school improvement resources for data collection and analysis, scheduling, articles, books, videos, forms and much more. No need to reinvent the wheel, find it here or contact us if you can't find what you are looking for.


Online Resources for Teachers and Administrators

Geometry Playground

These hands-on activities will help spark students’ interest in geometry. They're designed for classroom use but can also be done by families or other groups.

Common Core Math Lesson Demonstrations (classroom videos)

These video give examples of teaching the Common Core Math Standards at various grade levels.

Math Chimp

This site over a series of Math activities and games aligned to the Common Core. 

Core Planner

Free online lesson planner for the Common Core.  This site will also help teachers align their classroom goals with the Common Core.

World Book – Common Core Lesson Plans

Lesson plans developed by World Book that align to the ELA standards.  (Not a lot of lessons located here, but you may find something helpful)

Educational Technology Tips

A collection of Common Core apps, lesson templates, rubrics, etc.

Library of Congress – Common Core Lesson Resources

This site is a collection of free resources for teachers covering the Common Core.

Lexile Levels for Reading

Get Lexile levels of books and texts here. The Common Core Standards stress the importance of text complexity in assessing college and career readiness. They offer Lexile bands by grades to guide students to increasingly complex texts as they prepare for postsecondary reading demands. Text analyzer: Go here to measure your text. The Lexile map provides examples of popular books and sample text at various points on the Lexile scale, from 200L for early reading books to 1600L for more advanced texts. It's a quick reference guide for what a Lexile measure means.

Common Core Action Briefs

Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Secondary School Leader Action Brief

Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the Elementary School Leader Action Brief

Common Core Implementation Checklist for Principals

This checklist has been put together by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  This checklist can be used at all levels.

Common Core Upcoming Webinars for Principals

This site provides upcoming and archived Common Core training webinars presented by ASCD.

Common Core State Standards -Implementation tools and resources

These resources have been compiled by the CCSSO.

The Principal’s Role – College and Careers Preparedness

This resource can be used at all levels.

Common Core Video Collection

Great site to get educators and principals views on the Common Core implementation.

Common Core State Standards for English Langusae Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Research Supporting Key Elements of the Standards

Glossary of Key Terms


Contact our the Office of School Improvement for technical assistance in implementing the Next Gen Common Core Standards.

If you have resources you know others will find helpful, please share them with us.



Common Core Lesson Videos

America Achieves-

PD360 On-Demand Common Core Training -

Engage -

The Teaching Channel -

Hunt Institute -

Southeast Comprehensive Center -

Where to find the Office of School Improvement in Cyberspace

  • TWITTER:  @WVSchoolImprove

The Office of School Improvement has expanded into cyberspace to assist schools more effectively and efficiently.  The SI website offers an array of online resources to assist schools in the development of their school improvement blueprint.  As new items are added to the site, they are also tweeted for immediate use. 

On the School Improvement website, Principals, Leadership Teams, and Districts can access the High Quality Standards and Data Collection Tool, Principal’s Toolkit, Culture Survey, IPI, Conference resources and materials, and other resources for instant integration. 

Send us tools, materials, strategies, books, and articles that have helped your school improve. We will feature it on the Office of School Improvement website. 


Online Training Offered by the Office of Early Learning to Assist School Improvement

The newly established Office of Learning is dedicated to transforming and supporting the state’s early childhood classrooms.  As defined by the WVDE and the WVBE, early childhood education in the state of West Virginia will include Pre-K – 5th grade.  As part of the support, reflections and feedback provided to the Office of Early Learning from past TLI participants assisted in the preparation of a year-long agenda to support those who participated in TLI, as well as support the state early childhood field (Pre-K-5th Grade) as a whole.

The Office of Early Learning has prepared a series of webinars titled – “Transforming Elementary Classrooms—Extending the Work of Teacher Leadership Institutes.” This series of webinars is designed to support teachers in early childhood.  The content of these webinars will extend the work from the Teacher Leadership Institutes. All teachers and administrators are invited to participate. Topics for these webinars will be designed for the identified audience and are identified within the registration information. These webinars are voluntary. Due to the limited slots, teachers are encouraged to come together and participate in groups. It is necessary for only one person from each group to register. Below is a list of schedule webinars. **Additional resources can be found at the Office of Early Learning website – - Continue to check the website frequently, as well as joining the Office of Early Learning’s Twitter page to receive ongoing tweets throughout the year.

Webinars Schedule 2012-2013

Registration Information for the following webinars will be available in January 2013.

  • January 10, 2013/ 3:30-4:30
    • K-5 (Topic—TBD)
  • January 22, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • Fourth/Fifth Grade Teachers (Extending the work of Teacher Leadership Institute 2012)
  • January 23, 2013/ 3:30-4:30
    • Kindergarten Teachers(Extending the work of Teacher Leadership Institute 2012)
  • January 24, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • First Grade Teachers (Extending the work of Teacher Leadership Institute 2012)
  • February 19, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • Second & Third Grade (Introduction to the Next Generation CSOs)
  • March 14, 2013/ 3:30-4:30
    • Designed for Office of School Improvement (Making a claim and supporting with evidence)
  • March 21, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • Second & Third Grade (Introduction to the Next Generation CSOs)
  • April 9, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • K-2 (Topic: TBD)
  • May 7, 2013 / 3:30-4:30
    • Second/Third Grades


Instructional Practices Inventory in West Virginia Schools

Why use IPI?

  • For overall school improvement in learning and teaching
  • To increase student engagement with the curriculum and their own learning
  • To use data collaboratively to help your school continue to grow

The West Virginia Department of Education's involvement in the IPI process has given teachers the ability to reflect upon their collective teaching practices, thus raising the bar of expectations toward higher level and deeper thinking, in addition to developing a more active and engaged student learning environment.  WVDE’s continued focus on student engagement has expanded into 50 counties and the WVSDB.  This expansion has allowed for more than 2,075 IPI coders to be trained and certified statewide.  For additional information about the IPI process and development, please visit Dr. Jerry Valentine’s website at *(Please note this site is still being developed, but will give you an idea of what type of IPI resources can be accessed).

**IMPORTANT** For those currently using IPI, data should be uploaded when completing an IPI coding.  This data is used for research and continued development of the IPI process.  To upload your data, visit the IPI site at  To upload a WebTop login and password are required.  Each coding should be uploaded once.

Courtesy: Glenna Heinlein, State School Improvement Specialist at


A Must Watch Video

This is how we transform learning. A whirlwind of energy and ideas, Stephen Ritz is a teacher in New York's tough South Bronx, where he and his kids grow lush gardens for food, greenery -- and jobs. Just try to keep up with this New York treasure as he spins through the many, many ways there are to grow hope in a neighborhood many have written off, or in your own.

(Filmed at TEDxManhattan.)

Stephen Ritz teaches at-risk kids in the South Bronx.

Here is the link.



January's Feature

Apps for the Classroom

Think Map Visual Thesaurus

The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. You'll understand language in a powerful new way.

Say you have a meaning in mind, like "happy." The VT helps you find related words, from "cheerful" to "euphoric." The best part is the VT works like your brain, not a paper-bound book. You'll want to explore just to see what might happen. You'll discover -- and learn -- naturally and intuitively. You'll find the right word, write more descriptively, free associate -- and gain a more precise understanding of the English language. There is a cost for this app.


Are your kids having problems getting organized? 4KidCal can help. It is a simple app that allows your students to enter their own events by sumply selecting an icon, a date...And record their own voice. An original calendar app especially designed for younger studetns. Students can use this for homework, projects, practices and other activities via a cool interactive and audio interface.

4kidcal is the first voice interactive personalized calendar created for parents and child. This child friendly app teaches organization and time management, a skill needed to survive in today's society. Lovable, funny icons guide the child in creating a


TED Talks

Riveting talks by remarkable people. Free to the world.

TED Ideas worth spreading

It is free! TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It strated out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. More than1400 TED talks are available with more added every week. All are subtitled in English and other languages.


Once you have used any of these apps, please contact us so that we can share your experiences with other teachers.


Archived Pages

January 2013

February 2013