Friday, October 30, 2015

GRANTS AVAILABLE!


I want to remind you of a wonderful grant opportunity for teachers! The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 5pm.

Fund for Teachers provides educators, possessing a broad vision of what it means to teach and learn, the resources needed to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences.” These grants are used for a variety of projects to assist teachers in enhancing the learning opportunities they wish to provide their students and communities.

Individuals may apply for up to $5,000 and teams for up to $10,000. Team members can be from different schools, districts or states. Fund for Teachers will not provide monies for student travel, the completion of post baccalaureate degrees, university/college credit hours, teacher certifications, courses for graduate credit, onsite professional development at your school or district, compensation for substitutes or stipends.

The eligibility criteria is as follows:
  1. Employed full-time as a PreK-12th grade teacher and spends at least 50% of their work week in direct instruction with students in a classroom;
  2. Intends to continue teaching in the consecutive school year; and
  3. Has at least three years teaching experience as a PreK-12th grade teacher.

Please consider applying as a number of teachers across the district have benefited from this wonderful opportunity. Your school no longer has to be a school of promise to apply. Visit http://www.fundforteachers.org/ for more information.

Jennifer Schrab, Teacher at Jefferson Elementary School and recipient of a Fund for Teachers grant in 2014, has this to say about her experience: "Through my Fund for Teachers fellowship to South Africa, students at Jefferson learned about different cultures and varied economic perspectives.  Relationships formed with a nonprofit in South Africa (SizaBantwana) has empowered students to act as global citizens to help children in need.  Although my Fund for Teachers fellowship was in 2014, Jefferson continues to learn from and partner with our friends in South Africa.  I am going back to SizaBantwana in 2016 to strengthen and enhance connections made in 2014."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Congratulations Mr. Speaker!

Today marks an historical event for our community and the School District of Janesville.  We congratulate Janesville Alumni and Congressman, Mr. Paul Ryan, on his recent election as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the United States of America. We wish to thank Mr. Speaker for his commitment to our local schools and our community throughout his political career. This nomination evidences the positive contributions he has made to our country and the respect he achieved among his constituents and his peers.

His success is also evidence that excellence can be obtained through hard work, determination and unwavering focus on what is most important.  The School District of Janesville is proud to be an influence in Paul's life.  The School District of Janesville has adopted the philosophy of achieving excellence across our schools and continues to remain committed to achieving our goal of excellence in education for every student.

Our teachers and our students continue to impact the direction of history through their endeavors.  We are proud to have one of our local teachers actively witnessing and documenting this momentous occasion. Craig High School History Teacher Ryan Masterson is attending the swearing in ceremony for Speaker of the House and will be sharing this occasion with our students across the District through video and photo presentations that will become an informative narrative for posterity.




We are excited to have such wonderful representation of our local community making such a tremendous impact on our nation's history and the School District of Janesville wishes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan all the best in his new role!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Digital Citizenship Week

GUEST BLOGGER:  Nicole Andresen
Innovative Learning Specialist


Nothing is more important than being safe and secure. This includes online safety. Understanding how to be digitally active in a way that is safe and secure is what Digital Citizenship Week is all about. Digital Citizenship is an important topic, yet we often don’t have the background or knowledge to talk with our kids when they go online. In recognition of  Digital Citizenship Week, and with the help of Common Sense Media and NetSmartz, there are tips and advice to share to protect yourself while online.


Be Safe

The Internet brings great opportunity, but also a great challenge to be safe while online.  It’s no different than walking in a strange city; not only do we have to make sure we are aware of our surroundings and those around us when we walk, but when we surf the web too. 

It’s the same for kids. Sometimes they run into traffic or dart across a street without looking. In the same way, children don't always understand the importance of internet safety. Just as you would coach your children to cross a street safely, coach them about being online. For example: talk with them about keeping private things private, and that once something is on the web, it’s permanent. It is easy to take a few pieces of shared information that may not seem like much and track down the person on the other end of the screen.

  • Younger kids: Get kids to think about safety without scaring them. Don’t share your name, address, school, age, etc. Ask: Why don’t we want strangers to know certain things about us or our family?
  • Older kids: Don’t broadcast your location, send photos to strangers, or share passwords with friends. Ask: What kind of information can be unsafe to share, and what’s fair game?


Be Kind

Instill a sense of empathy into your children. We should always act online the way we are to act with others face to face - and it’s important to teach that to our kids.  

  • Younger kids: Treat others like you want to be treated - and always follow a website’s rules for behavior. Ask: How do you see other kids behaving online? What are some nice things you’ve seen other kids do?
  • Older kids: Post constructive comments, and avoid getting into flame wars with trolls. Ask:What kind of positive behavior do you see online?


Be Responsible

Don’t believe everything you see. Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true and not everybody is who they say they are. Not only do we need to be information literate or competent, but our students do as well. 
  • Younger kids: Teach kids to be detectives. Ask: How can you tell whether something is true online? What are some signs that something might not be true?
  • Older kids: Use reputable sources. Learn to recognize red flags. Ask: How can you tell what’s a reliable source of information? What are some signs something’s a scam?

Think Before You Share

  1. Don’t overshare.
  2. Think before you post.
  3. Make sure you use privacy settings.

Most social media outlets have ways to set your privacy to a safe level. Facebook, for example, will let you set your profile to such a private level that only people you accept as friends are able to see anything that may be posted on your wall.  

  • Younger kids: Help kids understand what sharing something online means. Ask: Who can see what you’re doing or saying online?
  • Older kids: Encourage kids to pause before they act. Ask: What are some questions you can ask yourself before you share something online? Have you ever regretted something you’ve posted or said online?

Digital Reputation and Digital Footprint


This is also the time you should think about your Digital Reputation or Digital Footprint. The information that we all put online leaves a digital trail - and it’s important to teach our children that this trail can be big or small, helpful or hurtful, depending on how we manage it. Your digital reputation is defined by your behaviors in the online environment and by the content you post about yourself and others. Tagged photos, blog posts and social networking interactions will all shape how you are perceived by others online and offline, both now and in the future.  A poor digital reputation can affect your friendships, relationships and even your job prospects, so it is very important that you are aware of what picture you are painting of yourself online and protect your digital reputation today.” -Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner

Be Respectful

Just like bullying situations in a face-to-face setting, bullying also takes place online.  The problem that cyberbullying presents is that sense of anonymity and an opportunity for more participants to join in on the bullying.  What makes cyberbullying different:

  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.                                                           -stopbullying.gov

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, embarrassing pictures and videos that are shared, and creation of websites, or fake profiles.  

If someone’s getting bullied or picked on: speak up, report it, or reach out.

  • Younger kids: Make sure kids know they can come to you for help. Teach them how to flag misbehavior. Ask: What would you do if you saw someone being mean online or in a game?
  • Older kids: Give kids tools to use in a crisis. Ask: If someone was being mean to you online, what would you want your friends to do? Do you know how to flag or report bullying on a social network or in a multiplayer game?

Conclusion: 

These tips are just a small part of what we as adults and our children need to understand when it comes to navigating the web. Be an informed and wise a digital citizen.  Use technology to your advantage, and work with your children and family members to be safe while online.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Model for Educational Leadership


GUEST BLOGGER:  Kevin Miller
Supervisor of the Janesville International Education Program

On Thursday, September 23, Dr. Carolyn Kelley, Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, along with five Chinese students in the Masters program visited with members of the Janesville International Education Program (JIEP). They met with Kevin Miller, Dr. Karen Schulte, Dr. Robert Smiley, Mr. Kevin Leavy, and Stephanie Ulloa, a new volunteer with JIEP and recent graduate of UW- Madison specializing in Asian studies.

The goal of their visit was to learn from the School District of Janesville about our international education and the recruitment models for the JIEP program and to discuss how international students benefit the SDJ students. They have also requested workshops in the future to analyze our model program that they are hearing so much of.
  
The Masters students are from Shanghai, Fujian, Henan, and Dalian.  Their mission is to create, evaluate, educate, and apply knowledge about leadership, learning, and organizational performance to prepare scholars and scholar practitioners who cultivate equity and educational opportunity in the diverse and changing world.

Kevin Miller, Supervisor for JIEP, stated “It is exciting to see how the School District of Janesville is growing its reputation as a leader in global education and understanding.  Having a Tier 1 School like UW-Madison visit us is a clear example of how we are providing our students a competitive edge in international education providing greater student achievement and college and career readiness in a competitive global market.”

The Masters students were excited about SDJ and returned on October 6 to visit Lincoln Elementary school to observe personalized learning, Marshall Middle School to observe SDJ students learning Chinese, and Craig High School to see telepresence technology in action.

Also JIEP welcomes their newest volunteer, Stephanie Ulloa.  Stephanie is a recent graduate (2014) of UW-Madison with a double major in Japanese and East Asian Studies, and has earned a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching Adults) from the prestigious Cambridge University. She studied at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan during her senior year at UW-Madison. Stephanie wanted to get involved with JIEP to offer her expertise helping broaden the F-1 student population to include Japan.

Stephanie enjoys working with international program students to help student achievement at SDJ, promote global understanding, and help our Janesville students with college and career readiness.In her spare time Stephanie enjoys reading and translating Japanese novels and in the future plans on becoming an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Japan.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Janesville Moves to STAR Assessments


GUEST BLOGGER:  Amy Sheridan
Coordinator for Talented and Gifted, Assessment, Elementary Math


In an effort to support instruction in Reading and Math, the School District of Janesville has moved to the STAR Assessment by Renaissance Learning.  Beginning this fall, all students in kindergarten through tenth grade will be assessed three times per year in Early Literacy/Reading and Math.  Using the same assessment system across all levels will allow schools to use comparable data to monitor student progress from elementary through high school.  This will be especially helpful during transition years when students move from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school.


The STAR Assessment serves as a universal screening and progress monitoring tool, which means that teachers can set goals for students, and continue to monitor student progress between screening windows. The STAR Assessment also connects teachers to a library of lessons and activities that are Common Core aligned, and also connected to student’s suggested skills determined by individual results. This is a great asset to teachers who are differentiating and personalizing student learning.

By screening students three times per year, the program will generate a Student Growth Percentile (SGP) for each student.  The SGP helps teachers and schools determine if students are growing at adequate rates by comparing the growth in achievement of students across the United States.  For example, if a student receives a SGP of 70, that means the student grew more than 70% of students in the United States that started at the same grade and skill level as the student.  The School District of Janesville has also incorporated the SGP into the student achievement goals.

STAR assessments are computer adaptive, allowing for the assessment to adjust to each student’s unique responses, meaning the computer program adjusts the difficulty of questions throughout the assessment.  Computer adaptive assessments provide an individually tailored experience for students, quickly identifying skills the students have mastered. Computer adaptive assessments are also extremely efficient; students spend less time testing, allowing for more time to be devoted to learning in the classroom.

The first screening window has been smooth sailing, and we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact STAR will have toward documenting our students' achievement.