First published on 02 May 2013 Posted in District Spring Newsletter
Since 2011, The Monsanto Fund has provided school districts in several states the opportunity to compete for either a $10,000 or $25,000 grant award through their America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education (AFGRE) program. The focus of this initiative is to strengthen math and science education in rural America. The program allows farmers to nominate their local public schools to compete for this grant, and the School District of Chilton was nominated in the spring of 2012.
A team of Chilton math, science, and agriculture teachers collaborated to determine which grant award and project would best meet the AFGRE initiative, as well as match the needs of District initiatives and student learning. Over the past eight years, the District has made significant improvements to our outdoor educational resources to include establishing a native prairie, managing and developing the existing school forest, and planting over 2,200 trees between 2010 and 2011. Enhancing School Forest Utilization was decided as our project, and the writing team applied for the $25,000 award. The grant proposal writing team consisted of: Stephanie Bartels, high school science teacher, Amy Thielman, high school agriculture teacher, and Jeff Horn, middle school math teacher. The proposal was submitted in April, 2012, and the District was awarded the grant in August, 2012. An award recognition ceremony was held in November during the FFA Donkey Basketball game, to present the District with the $25,000 check, and to honor and thank the local farmers for their nomination.
The major goal of the project is to promote more educational use of the natural areas by clearing a gathering area within the school forest, building two bridges to connect the current trails across the stream, creating an Outdoor Educational Center (OEC), and providing professional development for K-12 teachers by Learning Experiences and Activities in Forestry (LEAF) through UW-Stevens Point.
Student, teacher, and community member volunteers began clearing brush for the gathering area and the OEC site in early September. Once the site was prepped for construction, 9 high school students in Mr. Robert Boenisch’s Residential Agriculture Construction class began the construction process by setting the support posts, pouring the concrete slab, hand-building the trusses, and erecting the OEC. In addition, electricity was supplied to the OEC for future installation of outlets for use of technology. The majority of the OEC construction was completed in early November, with the remaining construction to be completed in the spring of 2013. During the winter, the cleared brush was chipped by the City of Chilton and was spread around the OEC. Wood chips from future brush clearing, and from the city, will be used to enhance the landscaping around the OEC, the gathering area, and the new trails. Fourteen students in Mr. Derrick Jaeger’s Advanced Woods class designed and constructed the two bridges that are currently being installed by the Construction class. This spring, the OEC will be completed with electrical wiring and outlets, a partial wall for storage, a whiteboard for instructional purposes, and wireless internet access. Mr. Jeff Horn will lead 6th grade student volunteers in collaborating with the Construction students to build and install the tables/benches for the OEC, and the gathering area. All construction work is expected to be completed by the end of the school year, with the official end of the grant project window being July 1st.
The professional development portion of the grant is well underway. Sixteen K-12 math, science, and agriculture teachers participated in the LEAF school forest training in December, 2012. They braved the cold and wind to be students while participating in forest-related activities that they can incorporate into their classroom instruction. In April, the same teachers will complete the training by continuing to increase their expertise in forest activities, while also collaborating to implement the new school forest enhancements into the district curricula.
The District’s goal is to not only increase the utilization of the school forest and other natural areas by staff and students, but to encourage community members to take advantage of and enjoy the natural setting the school forest provides. The Chilton Public Schools are an integral part of the community, and we would like the community to be an integral part of the schools. Please feel free to take a walk through the school forest. We welcome any questions, comments, suggestions, and assistance with future enhancements to the forest area.
Article written by Mr. Tracy Bartels. Mr. Bartels is the project manager of this project and coordinates activities involving the school forest. Please feel free to direct any questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published on 18 April 2013 Posted in District Spring Newsletter
The College Board's Advanced Placement Program© (AP) provides eager and academically prepared students the opportunity to pursue college-level studies, develop critical thinking skills, and earn advanced placement and/or college credit while in high school. Research indicates that when students score 3 or higher on an AP exam, they perform better in college, are more likely to earn a college degree, and are likely to be better prepared to take on jobs in the new digital marketplace. Recently, Chilton High School has expanded the options for students to enroll in AP courses.
The AP program allows participating high schools to teach AP courses based on the academic quality of college preparatory courses. Prior to the 2013/2014 school year, Chilton High School has offered AP English Literature and Composition and AP United States History/Government. In December 2013, the Chilton Board of Education approved adding AP Psychology and AP Language and Composition to the options available for students. The School District of Chilton values offering students opportunities to prepare themselves for education and training after graduation, and AP offerings assist in that goal.
Why take an AP course? Some of the best reasons for students to take Advanced Placement courses include: development of college-level academic skills, impress college admission counselors, save money on tuition, provide more choices in college course selections, and attain success in post-secondary educational settings.
The Chilton High School staff has been in discussions with various post-secondary admissions counselors about what makes prospective applicants attractive. Feedback has been overwhelmingly in support for academic rigor in course selection. AP courses are among the most rigorous because the curriculum is consistently developed at the post-secondary level.
Students that have access to college credit in high school have the potential to save on college tuition. At the time of this writing, an AP course can be taken for the price of registering for the final exam, which is less than $100. That price is hard to beat when looking for a deal on college credit. Given the cost of credits, success on AP exams can save a good deal of money-potentially an entire semester's worth of tuition.
AP courses are a preview of college-level work, taught with college textbooks and exams. Students that participate in AP courses develop the reading, writing, critical thinking, and assessment skills necessary to be successful in post-secondary educational and career settings. In fact, the Department of Education found that students participating in rigorous, college level courses in high school are much more likely (46%) to complete college. In the largest study ever of the impact of AP on college success the article entitled "Current Issues and Answers in Education," Dr. Ronald Holmes gives his analysis of 222,289 students from all backgrounds attending a wide range of Texas universities. The researchers found "strong evidence of benefits to students who participate in both AP courses and exams in terms of higher GPAs, credit hours earned, and four-year graduation rates."
A separate University of Texas study of 24,941 students said those who used their AP credits to take more advanced courses in college had better grades in those courses than similar students who first took college introductory courses instead of AP courses in 10 subjects.
AP can help with post-secondary education in two ways. First, each course provides an in-depth introduction to a specific subject area. Second, a high score on an AP exam often fulfills one of a college's general education requirements. This means a student will have more room in their schedule to explore different academic fields. Plus, college registration is often based upon credits accumulated, which means a student with six college credits upon college enrollment will be able to register for preferred classes, times, and/or instructors prior to students entering without any college credits.
College credit equivalency courses, such as AP, provide students with practice for post-secondary success, and open avenues to post-secondary institutions. Benefits of these courses are easy to see, but as with everything there must be a balance for students. Depending upon interest, ability level and time, the student needs to find balance between rigorous college preparatory courses, general high school courses, extra-curricular participation and employment responsibilities, when applicable.
If you are interested in learning more about Advanced Placement, please contact Mr. Breitlow at email@example.com or at 849-2358.
Written by Mr. Ty Breitlow, Principal, Chilton High School
First published on 30 April 2012 Posted in District Spring Newsletter
A state mandated initiative called Response To Intervention is required of all Wisconsin School Districts by December of 2013. What is this and what are the Chilton Schools doing to get ready?
Tiger Values, Tiger Way, Tiger Time, Half-time…if you have or know a child attending Chilton Public Schools, you may have heard them talk about these “newer” additions to their school experience. They have been incorporated into the school day as first steps in the implementation of “Response to Intervention,” or RtI, in our Elementary, Middle and High Schools. According to the Wisconsin Response to Intervention Guiding document, RtI is defined as a process for achieving higher levels of academic and behavioral success for all students by combining high quality instructional practice, balanced assessment, and collaboration all fused together in culturally responsive practices. It is a systematic process that is based on providing support to all students to ensure their long term success. RtI applies to both academics and behavior.
Under the academic umbrella of RtI, students are given a universal screener (which in Chilton is the Measure of Academic Progress Test). The results of this screener, along with 2 other data points, (depending on the grade level) are used to determine if a child does not meet, meets, or exceeds the expected benchmark scores. If a child is not meeting benchmarks in a particular area, an instructional intervention occurs in the area of need(s). Additional challenges are provided for the students who are exceeding the benchmarks. The intensity of the intervention or challenge is determined in a collaborative process that examines the data and determines the specific area to be targeted. The RtI model is often visualized as a tiered triangle with the bottom of the triangle (Tier 1) having all students in universal instruction, the second tier of students being provided targeted interventions/challenges, and the third tier provides intensive interventions/challenges. In Tier 1, all students receive high-quality, scientifically based instruction, differentiated to meet their needs, and are screened on a periodic basis to identify struggling learners who need additional support. In Tier 2, students not making adequate progress in the core curriculum are provided with increasingly intensive instruction matched to their needs on the basis of levels of performance and rates of progress. At Tier 3, students receive individualized, intensive interventions that target the students' skill deficits for the remediation of existing problems and the prevention of more severe problems .The interventions are to be researched and determined to be “best practice” so that students receive the full benefits of the instruction.
1-5% of students: Tier 3
5-15% of students: Tier 2
80-90% of students: Tier 1
Progress monitoring is used to assess a student’s academic or behavioral progress and their response to specific interventions. Further intervention and instruction is based on the progress monitoring results and the continuing need of students. If a student is still not successful after being provided intensive interventions in Tier 3, they may be referred for a special education evaluation. To qualify for special education under a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) an Individual Learning Plan (IEP) team must document the student, after intensive intervention, demonstrates inadequate achievement and insufficient progress.
This year “Tiger Time” and “Half-time” were put into place at the Middle School and Elementary School respectively to address the need for time to provide these intervention/challenge times. This is a 30 minute block of time that occurs every day in grades 1-8 for the specific purpose of providing interventions/challenges to groups of students. These groups are fluid and change as data is updated and student need changes. This year our focus for this time was in the area of reading; math will be added for next year. At the High School, a math intervention pilot took place and for next year there will be a 30 minute intervention time in the High School daily schedule.
The behavior component of RtI is termed Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports or PBIS. The district’s first steps in the implementation of PBIS consist of the identification of Tiger Values at the High School. These values have been posted around the school and are addressed in the school’s daily bulletin. There is documentation of behavior referrals along with the interventions that have been put in place. Behavior coaches and peer mentors assist as needed. At the Middle School, the Tiger Way has been developed to reinforce respect and behavior. 100% of the Middle School teachers have been trained in the TRIBES philosophy of building community and peer interactions. On Fridays, all of the Middle School students participate in a TRIBES activity during their Tiger Time. The Middle School will also be piloting a BETA test of a Bullying Intervention Response Tracking System software beginning in the fall of 2012. At the Elementary School, specific behaviors have been taught and modeled and are being practiced by the students. Behavior expectations are reviewed and are posted in the halls and other common areas. Student behavior referrals are documented and interventions are put into place as needed. Students and classrooms are acknowledged and celebrated for their respectful behaviors.
The RtI process promises higher levels of student success in academics and behavior. Students and staff in the Chilton Public Schools are hard at work implementing RtI processes!
Article Prepared by: Mrs. Pam Schuster, Elementary School Principal
First published on 05 March 2012 Posted in District Spring Newsletter
by Timothy J. Schaid, Ph.D., Principal – Chilton High School
Let’s face it, technology is all around us. Online banking, online bill-pay, online flight booking, online flight check-in, GPS devices in place of maps, iPads, iPods, Smartphones, Kindles, Nooks, iBooks, texting, instant messaging, Skype, FaceTime; I could go on and on. It doesn’t seem all that long ago when our school district began using e-mail; a communication venue that is now widely considered archaic. Yes, our world is drastically different than it was just a few short years ago in so many ways, but especially with respect to our use of and dependence upon technology.
While those of us who may be considered Baby-Boomers (or those who have edged just into or out of that generation) have gotten pretty good at transcending ourselves into this technological world, our kids have always lived in such a world. We (Baby-Boomers and the like) have justifiably been labeled as technological immigrants when compared to today’s youth who have been affectionately labeled as technological natives. They have grown up with the technology; they know of no other world without the technology nor can they fathom existence without the technology.
While the world has drastically changed and while our kids know of no other world than one that is highly dependent upon technology, I would argue that schools have not done as good of a job keeping pace with a technological world nor with the 21st century technologically-dependent student. Many students make reference to school as power-down time because we have traditionally asked them to leave their mobile devices and laptops at home; technological devices that they depend upon for communication, for information, and for fun. Because they have traditionally been asked to power-down at school, they have not yet made the connection that their technological toys are also technological learning tools.
Chilton High School has been a leader among high schools in pushing for instructional practices that utilize technology for learning. Many will recall when the new high school was built, state-of-the-art technological opportunities were a part of the over-all design of the project, to include several computer labs, a wireless infrastructure, and the capability to expand and grow our technologies. Since that time, our knowledge and use of available technology has sharply increased because we know our students need to seize all available technological resources at their hand if they are to become life-long learners who can contribute to and compete with a technologically-based world-wide community and economy.
Teachers have worked exceedingly hard to incorporate the use of educational learning management systems, educational computer applications, online research tools, and educational social networking sites to create opportunities for student learning to occur not just when the schoolhouse is open and in session, but on a 24/7 basis. Nevertheless, as cutting-edge as we have been, there is an important component that has been missing: the opportunity for students to bring in their own mobile, lap-top, or tablet devices and have World Wide Web connectivity at school at any time and in any place (a.k.a., 1:1 Computing). We have been addressing this void throughout the year, reconfiguring our technological infrastructure and adding additional wireless access points. Beginning 2nd Semester of this current school year, we have five teachers “piloting” a 1:1 Computing initiative in their classrooms. Those teachers are Mr. Bartels in Science; and Mrs. Hyska, Ms. Neumueller, Mr. Platner, and Ms. Porter in English.
While the 1:1 Computing pilot program is only in its 5th week, students and the piloting teachers are pleased with the initiative. Teachers have indicated how effective it is to meet their students on their technological playing field using a digital, 1:1 platform by integrating technology into the teaching and learning process on a daily basis. According to Mr. Platner, “… the biggest advantage has been making my lessons more interactive, … online discussions [for example, have made it] easier to engage quiet students and reluctant learners, … [we are] challenging students to learn [technological] skills that will be needed in their post-secondary education and workplace pursuits, … it is about students being ready to learn new skills quickly and independently.” Ms. Porter concurs, saying that with her online discussion boards to which kids are expected to contribute both in and outside of school, she is “… able to have real time conversations, ask probing questions and require more depth and evidence [of learning] efficiently.” Porter says the 1:1 Computing initiative has put her “… in the role of ‘facilitator’ and ‘assessor’ more than ‘teacher.’” Porter has students do the “… research and [then] create on-line presentations to ‘teach’ their classmates difficult concepts …” Porter says this has been a very effective approach because students really have to understand a concept very well before they can teach it to their peers and, oftentimes, when peers learn from peers they understand the concepts much more readily. Mr. Bartels says the 1:1 initiative has given students the opportunity to “… personalize their learning and work at their pace.” Bartels believes the use online discussion forums has afforded students the opportunity “… to visit and complete [assignments or research] either at school or at home.”
One of my roles as Principal of our high school is to frequent myself in our classrooms in an effort to observe the teaching and learning process firsthand, and provide feedback to teachers regarding their work. Talking with and observing the teachers involved with the 1:1 Computing pilot program has been enlightening for me. I believe the 1:1 Computing initiative has made it easier for our teachers to tailor instruction directly to the learning styles and educational needs of our students regardless of student ability. Giving students the ability to have World Wide Web connectivity at their fingertips while engaged in class has helped them to build their critical thinking skills. They are able to seek out information instantaneously to help them solve problems, create new ideas and concepts, and engage in scholarly collaboration with their peers and teachers. Technology is now and will continue to be an integral part of everyone’s personal, working, and educational lives and I am seeing the 1:1 Computing initiative at CHS as affording students the ability to learn and work in those same real-world ways at school.
We have much work to do. Our teachers need to continue to examine ways they will alter their curricula and their teaching strategies in ways that engage students in technological resources to achieve unprecedented student success. Our technological infrastructure is also in need of continuous monitoring and improvement so as to be equipped to effectively handle the potential of all students having technological connectivity at school. Our students will need to feel comfortable bringing in their own mobile, lap-top, or tablet devices and will need to have well-established parameters and expectations for use of such at school. We are eager to accept the challenges that lie before us with this exciting initiative. The School District of Chilton has always been on the cutting edge of educational opportunity and excellence for our students. The 1:1 Computing initiative is yet another step toward assuring our students are well prepared for the challenges they will face in the 21st century.
Note: We invite parents and community members to contact us at 920-849-2358 if they have any questions regarding the 1:1 Computing Initiative and/or if they would like to arrange for a visit to our school to see the pilot program in action.