Monday Memo

Curriculum Focus

Wonders Discussion with Washington County Teachers.... Thank you Laura Lay for getting this information to us:)


  • Washington County teachers stated that their student demographic was very similar to that of Bay County.
  • They feel very positive about using Wonders as a resource for ELA instruction.
  • Over the two years of their implementation, they have shared, rearranged, adapted.
  • Collaboration with colleagues has been, they feel, the key to their successful implementation.
  • Two positive results they have seen from the implementation:

1. Students have more stamina for testing

2. In the second year of implementation students really were more prepared for the complexity of the texts and the rigor of instruction and assessment.

  • The digital resources are like a buffet, teachers must pick and choose what works well for students
  • Teachers use online assignments very successfully for students to access on computer during station time.


  • They experimented with a 10 day cycle and a 7 day cycle for the “Week” of lessons and discovered that they needed to complete all lessons through the middle of Unit 5 prior to the test in order for all standards to be taught. This discovery caused them to return to a 5 day cycle.
  • They have a document called “Order of Instruction” that is similar to our pacing guide that gives teachers a year-long look at instruction of standards. They also used curriculum mapping and teacher input to adjust the document as needed. It continues to be a document in progress.
  • They cautioned us not to skip lesson 6 in each unit, which is a temptation. There are several standards that are only addressed in Week 6 due to the imbedded research projects that are in those units. Teachers have used the lesson 6 week to pull in instruction from weeks 1-5 that was unfinished or needed review.


  • It is cheaper to buy the assessment workbooks than it is to copy all of the assessments.
  • The second year of implementation, they ordered the assessment workbooks. They noted that the answer key is on the back of test item # 21. Their teachers tear this page out and do not give it to students at the time they do the multiple response items.
  • On level assessments are used for all students except for ESOL students and some ESE students.
  • The assessments are available online and when teachers utilize this digital feature, the test is graded for them and then useful reports can be generated as data to help with instructional decisions.
  • The information from the reports of digital assessments and progress monitoring are the data used to drive small group instruction.
  • To get students familiar with the online format of the test, they have them complete a paper-pencil test first and transfer their answers to the computer for a few weeks until they are comfortable with the testing format.
  • One anomaly noted is that students tend to have a better score when they take the assessment online as opposed to paper/pencil. They could not explain why this was the case.
  • Wonders Countdown to Common Core is available through the resources tab. It has items that are similar to the item specs we have been given for the FSA. They cautioned us that they use these only for instruction. They do not grade these at all. It is preferable to download the document to the desktop and then print it from there instead of trying to print from the website.
  • Before teachers begin to plan the instruction, they should take the test, study the test questions and write notes about their own thinking. These notes help them to see what students are really being asked by each test item.
  • Scaffolding students on the assessment begins with teachers taking the test themselves and then looking at the answer key and noting which skills/standards from the week are more prevalent on the test. Teachers make notes on the assessment about their own thinking so that they will be able to gear the instruction to prepare students.
  • There are some questions that are just bad questions. Grade groups have used their judgment to throw out such items. (This has been a relatively rare occurrence.)
  • Item #21 is an extended response item. It is not meant to be an essay even though students are given a page full of lines. Most of these items can be answered in 2-3 sentences just stating the facts. The prompt does not ask for student analysis or elaboration, just facts from the text. They advise to score this item like the rubric says in the book. There is not enough in the prompt to develop the response into an essay that could be graded using the FSA rubric.
  • Some grade levels have decided to give item #21 more weight than the other test items because of the way it demonstrates their comprehension.
  • One way Washington County teachers scaffolded students throughout the week to prepare them for item #21 is to use questions stems similar to those on the assessment in both oral and written activities.
  • In order for students to improve in their answers on #21, teachers have had to be very intentional to provide feedback. Improvement is contingent upon feedback.

90 Minute Reading Block

  • K-1 use phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension whole group lessons daily.
  • 2-5 have a 45 minute to 1 hour whole group lesson daily. The first year they tried to gauge their time the way it is shown in the book and it just didn’t work. They have had to combine the lessons (particularly those in the “green” pages, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary)
  • They have supplemented the small group instruction time with other things because the one leveled reader per week was not enough. They have a lab full of leveled readers that teachers can pull from. K-2 uses Tyner (Beverly Tyner) for small group instruction. (Personal note: I was unfamiliar with the Tyner method of small group instruction, but their description seemed very similar to Reading Recovery strategies and Linda Pitts agreed with this observation.)
  • They use The Daily 5 classroom management method for managing students in independent work during small group instruction.
  • They use the assessment within the Tyner small groups to drive instruction; they use DRAS to assess for placement in groups.
  • They recommend Wonders intervention materials (Personal note: I assumed that they meant the ones that have the three lessons for each skill with each lesson gradually releasing more responsibility to the student. We have a hard copy of this resource for grades 3-5 in the conference room.) They report seeing improvement in student progress as a result of using these resources.
  • Tyner is used in grades 3 and 4 as intervention because word recognition and vocabulary are addressed in both reading and writing that is more thorough that Wonders intervention.


  • While they do use Wonders for some writing instruction, they use the dedicated 30 minutes per day of writing process instruction to having students read passages and respond to prompts.
  • They model heavily in these process writing sessions and work in 10 day cycles with instruction and modeling, student response, and teacher feedback with conferencing.
  • They use a lot of ReadWorks passages for the text for the prompts.
  • Charla from the DOE has worked with them to develop the prompts to go with the passages.
  • Linda Pitts felt that morphology word study (prefixes, suffixes, etc.) was well done in Wonders and the team from Washington County concurred. However, the team felt that the word work of blending and spelling individual words was better addressed in Tyner and was a weakness of Wonders.

Preparation for FSA

  • Resources they use in addition to Wonders Countdown to Common Core:

1. Florida Ready for LAFS – this runs about $11 per book and it is not recommended that this resource be used chronologically, but that lessons be presented by standard. Others in the room who have used this resource before say that it is great for establishing instructional routines.

2. Florida Test Prep – Available from Amazon $16 each – We do not have as much information on the effectiveness of this resource, but several teachers in the district have purchased a copy to look at. (I believe someone on third grade level has looked at this and may have bought a copy.)

Important Information

PLUS2 Visit - #7 - Discipline PBS.....If your Habit High Fives are not visible, we will be asking students where they track them....hopefully they will say, "In my tracking form that is located in my Leadership Notebook."

Attendance - Team Beach....we need help with attendance. We went from 41 absences per day in Sept. to 67 absences per day in Dec. What can we do to help with this issue? How should we celebrate those who are here everyday? Do I need to celebrate more with the SPLASH bracelets? do your Exit Tickets. I still have a lot of teachers who have not completed the Flipped Faculty Exit Ticket nor the Jan. 19th Exit Ticket. Please make sure these are completed before Monday, Jan. 25th.

Some Exit Ticket responses  from the question regarding math talk....

One benefit to Math Talk is that it can most definitely increase student learning. Student-to-student discussion really motivates and engages them throughout the lesson. During Math Talk students have the right to ask questions and they also have the right to make a contribution. This makes them feel like they are a part of the lesson, therefore motivating them to learn

It allows vocabulary to be reiterated. Math talk also allow students to have the time for discussion in a specific area or problem which can help correct careless mistakes. It also allows students to show or say their way which another student may better understand

Students are engaged and are able to express how they solved problems collaboratively. Students learn different strategies from their classmates and are able to build confidence in sharing how they did it themselves. Students are not only listening but actively participating in discussing, and feel like they are part of the math lesson.

This Week....

Monday: 3rd-5th Dance Team;Chorus; Fire Drill

Tuesday: PLUS2 Visit


Thursday: Leader Landing; Leader of the Month (1st, 2nd & 3rd)

Friday: Leader Landing; Leader of the Month (K, 4th & 5th)

Coming Up...

Monday, Feb. 2nd:  Kdg-2nd Dance Team; Chorus

Tuesday, Feb. 3rd: Admin. Walk-Through; MTSS; Tutoring

Wednesday, Feb. 4th: 6-Traits Training (4th-5th)

Thursday, Feb. 5th: PLC

Friday, Feb 6th:

Happy Birthday

1/26 Cindy Brost; 1/26 Debbie Gilder


How are you teaching the 7 Habits?

Wall Wisher Link