Follow by Email

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Collaboratory Access

The Collaboratory provides eCourses for use by individual teachers or groupsof teachers. Click Courses on the Collaboratory home page to get moreinformation about course schedules, prerequisites and registering for thecourses. There is NO COST for the course. To register, you must have aCollaboratory login and password. The Collaboratory Project offers theeCourses as online professional development. Participating Illinois teacherswill earn between 5-15 CPDUs for each eCourse. eCourse participants havethe opportunity to create a project-based learning unit for their studentsin the Collaboratory by taking the "Creating a Project in the Collaboratory"eCourse. For more information and schedules, please see URL=

Friday, July 4, 2008

ISBE Link regarding Assessment
Sherwood Elementary: Partnership Prospectus
Samuel P. Whalen, UIC College of Education
January 2008

Source: Interactive Illinois Report Card. Northern Illinois University.
Sherwood Elementary is a neighborhood “K-8” school located at 245 W 57th St. in the Englewood section of Chicago. The school has been associated with Family Focus Inc. as a 21st Century Community Learning Center since 2003, and is now entering its fifth year of after school program funding. The student and family population is almost entirely African-American (99% in 2006), although a small number of Latino and White students have entered the student body in the last two years. Several statistics in 2006 suggest some daunting challenges. Like many schools in near-Loop African-American neighborhoods, Sherwood exhibits exceptionally high levels of family mobility (44%), and struggles to keep student attendance rates above 90%. Since 2005 numbers of students listed as chronically truant has increased noticeably (to 30 in 2006, or over 7% of students). In 2007 total enrollments fell below 400 students, in contrast to 536 students in 2003. Rates of parent engagement (roughly 86% in 2006) suggest that a significant sub-group of parents can not or do not attend basic school functions such as report card pick up sessions.

Yet despite these obstacles and challenges, Sherwood’s leaders and faculty have realized substantial progress in raising the academic performance of students. The accompanying chart presents the overall ISAT performance of Sherwood Elementary from 2001 through 2007, specifically representing the percentage of students meeting or exceeding Illinois grade level standards in reading, math, and science. From 1999 through 2003 roughly three-quarters of Sherwood students struggled to meet Illinois state standards in reading and mathematics. Failing to meet NCLB AYP targets beginning in 2001, the school was placed on the state’s Academic Watch list and faced possible restructuring by CPS. Performance shifted significantly in 2005, however, and the school has succeeded in meeting the AYP performance targets in both math and reading for three successive years. Preliminary 2007 ISAT results show Sherwood continuing its advance, with a school-wide composite of 52.8%. In both math and reading, 10% more students are meeting state standards than was true in 2005.

Sherwood’s 2006 School Improvement Plan suggests a number of factors that account for this recent improvement in academic performance, despite mounting demographic and neighborhood challenges. The 2006 SIPAAA committee included strong representation among parents, and the school is aware of the need to create a welcoming environment for parents if the school is maintain a viable enrollment level. The faculty is organized as a professional, collaborative learning community at several levels, with responsibilities for curricular alignment delegated to grade level teams. The school has made a commitment to implement the America’s Choice School Design, signaling a determination to organize teaching at all grades around a common core of practices. The principal and leadership team are entrepreneurial regarding the enlistment of assets from within CPS and from the broader community to support student learning. [1] There is a particularly strong emphasis on professional development that helps teachers effectively mainstream the instruction of special education students, especially through differentiated and individualized instructional practices.
In the case of Sherwood Elementary, three questions stand out:

How can Family Focus elevate and clarify its contribution to strong after school programs in the eyes of school leaders and faculty?

What internal resources could Family Focus Englewood contribute to addressing the developmental needs of behavior disruptive students from the dual perspectives of Family Support and Youth Development?

How can Family Focus Englewood leaders and staff connect with Sherwood’s leadership team to build such a strategy around asset-based and Family Support principles?

The 2006 SIPAAA does not acknowledge Family Focus Inc. as an important school partner. Yet there are at least three clear ways that Sherwood’s needs should be well aligned with the expertise of Family Focus staff. First, the SIPAAA explicitly acknowledges the vital role that after school tutoring currently plays in supporting improved academic performance among students, particularly at ISAT testing time. OST programs also are seen as a potential venue for reaching students with behavior issues and building their positive attachment to the school community. This implicitly acknowledges value added to OST quality by Family Focus. This raises a question: How can Family Focus elevate and clarify its contribution to strong after school programs in the eyes of school leaders and faculty?

Second, to deal with persistent classroom behavior problems, the school in 2006 proposed the idea of in-school suspension strategies to keep disruptive students in school and learning. It is not clear whether or how this proposal was implemented in 2007, but a broader question is raised: What internal resources could Family Focus Englewood contribute to addressing the developmental needs of behavior disruptive students from the dual perspectives of Family Support and Youth Development?

Third, and critically, Sherwood’s 2006 SIPAAA clearly acknowledges a vital stake in staunching high levels of family mobility through creating a more welcoming environment for parents and families. At the same time, the SIPAAA writers expressed frustration with the resistance of local parents to conforming to the daily behavioral and procedural policies of CPS. While Sherwood has initiated several events and programs to link parents to curriculum and literacy, it appears that a more concerted and coherent initiative is needed (and desired) to build trust between parents and faculty and recruit parents in supporting behavioral norms in the school. This raises a third question: How can Family Focus Englewood leaders and staff connect with Sherwood’s leadership team to build such a strategy around asset-based and Family Support principles?
[1] From the website of America’s Choice ( “The America's Choice® School Design is the result of our extensive study of the best educational practices in the U.S. and abroad. The aim of the design is to ensure that every student is successful on state and local assessments and prepared for college. The design complies in every respect with the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. We focus on five key tasks in readying students for success in today's economy: Standards and Assessments…Aligned Instructional Systems…High-Performance Management, Leadership and Organization…Professional Learning Communities…Parent/Guardian and Community Involvement….”

IMPACT Training

Follow the site below for IMPACT training online...



Students: Please use all resources available to answer the questions below about the college you have been assigned. Be creative and bring in pictures or any other extra information that you find about your college or university!

1. What is the name of the college or university?
2. Where is the campus located?
3. When was the college founded and by whom?
4. How many students currently attend this school?
5. Who is President of the college/university?
6. What is the average tuition cost per year?
7. Name 5 different types of degree programs that the offer.
8. What kinds of graduate degree programs do they offer?
9. What sports teams do they have?
10. What is the school mascot?
11. What fraternities and sororities do they have on campus?
12. Who are some famous people that graduated from there?
13. What types of scholarships do they offer?
14. What is the minimum GPA (grade point average) that you must have to be accepted?
15. What is the minimum ACT or SAT score that you must have to be accepted?
16. What is one thing that the school is famous for (ex. The band, the football team, etc.)?
17. What is the climate like in the area that the university is located?
18. What are the school colors?
19. What is the average class size at this university?
20. Name and describe one dormitory that the students live in.


Hi there:

What a great day! Here is what we did....

“Seeding the Goal of College Early”

Ø Objective: To expose students to various colleges and universities and plant the seed in their minds that college is possible and attainable. This aligns with AVID’s mission which is to open access to the curricula that will ensure four-year college eligibility for students. The ultimate district goal of the Department of Postsecondary Education and Student Development in OHSP is to increase the percentage of students that graduate from CPS and go on to attend a four-year college. Currently, we have 47% of our students that go on to college. This is well below the national rate of 64%. It is the sincere belief of our CEO Arne Duncan and his team that the AVID strategies should be started as early as possible if we want to see this percentage increase. Below, is a model for a successful College Day that is recommended to all AVID elementary schools as we prepare our students to reach their highest levels.

· Each class will be assigned either individual colleges or a class-wide college to research. You could have a theme such as historically black colleges, Illinois colleges, Big 10 colleges, etc. Each college would be represented by a poster-sized information sheet about their college. It would include location, enrollment, when it was founded, majors and degree programs, sororities and fraternities, something it’s famous for, famous alumni/ae, etc. Encourage the students to find out and include as much information as they can about their college.
· On College Day display the research posters in the halls under banners for each school. The banners are available for purchase online at the school website or other sites that sell college paraphernalia. The students could also make the banners for their college.
· Invite guest speakers to come speak to each class.
Ø If your school has developed any partnerships with external partners this could be a great way for them to volunteer at the school.
Ø Former students also make great guest speakers.
Ø Teachers could go to different classes or grade levels and talk about their alma mater.
Ø Contact college representatives here in Chicago and see if someone would be available to come out to your school.
Ø The AVID team would be happy to come and share our college experiences with your students.
· Contact schools about complimentary mementos to pass out to the kids like key chains, mugs, folders, pens, etc.
· Have teachers, administration, and other staff members wear a sweatshirt from their alma Mater or any college. Encourage students to wear college sweatshirts or t-shirts that day as well.
· A great culminating activity would be to show a movie concerning the college experience such as Drum Line.
· Incorporate journal writing about why it’s important to go to college or other topics regarding future college goals.
· You might also consider other ideas such as having students make College Day buttons, giving students college posters, or awarding students who participate their own college diploma with their name on it.

If there are any other ideas you have please feel free to add them as well. College Day can become an annual event at your school as a way to plant the college seed early in your students!

Interactive Illinois Report Card

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Excellent Website...please check it out! ( offers 55,000 educational and literacy resources for educators and students at no cost. The companion professional development program for K-12 educators is aligned to ISTE’s NETS for Teachers. Resources are developed through partnerships with the nation’s most authoritative educational and literacy organizations and rollout is through a network of select state and national education partners., which includes the former MarcoPolo and Thinkfinity Literacy Network, records 3 million monthly user sessions and has been named the “best site to download free lessons” for two consecutive years by readers of Edutopia, a George Lucas Educational Foundation publication.