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Archive for February, 2016

Informaline Feb. 29, 2016

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en español

Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Kindergarten Registration and Roundup Information

School Board Continues Study of Grading Practices, Annual Achievement Report
The WDMCS Board of Education discussed district grading practices and the annual student achievement report at two recent meetings.

The school board will meet again at 5:30 p.m. tonight, Feb. 29, to continue its research and discussion on grading practices.

Read more about the Board’s work on our district website at www.wdmcs.org/category/school-board-news/.

The Board meets for workshops and regular business meetings the second and fourth Monday of each month. These meetings are open to the public. The district Twitter, @WDMCS, also live-tweets the meetings for those who cannot attend in person.

Spring Break March 14-18
Spring Break is almost here! There will be no school March 14-18 this year. There is also no school on March 11, the Friday before Spring Break. Classes will resume on Monday, March 21.

See the Calendar at a Glance on the district website at bit.ly/1516-at-a-glance.

Fruit Smoothies, Freshly Baked Muffins, and Prizes Served Up March 7-10
WDMCS students can enjoy fruit smoothies and freshly baked muffins, win prizes, and celebrate the most important meal of the day at breakfast parties March 7-10. Learn more about the contests, special menus, and prizes like signed NFL memorabilia offered as part of National School Breakfast Week at bit.ly/SBW_2016 or by calling 515-633-5094.

Join us for breakfast! Come to your school’s cafeteria 30 minutes before the start of school.

New Payment System Online Today!
The new WDMCS Online Payment system is available today for families. The new online system is designed to provide a safe, convenient way to pay school fees, transportation fees, and add money to your child’s nutrition account.

To use the new system, please make sure you have an Infinite Campus account. If you don’t have an account or are unsure, please contact your child’s school and the office staff will be happy to help you.

The WDMCS Online Payment system is available at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments. If you need assistance, please call 515-633-5000.

WDMCS Reads Author to Visit March 31
The West Des Moines Community Schools invites our community to a presentation and book signing by “The Crossover” author, Kwame Alexander, at 7 p.m, Thursday, March 31, in the Staplin Performing Arts Center, Valley High School, 3650 Woodland Ave., West Des Moines. This event is free and open to the public.

With one more month to read “The Crossover” before Alexander’s visit, pick up at the book at:

  • West Des Moines Public Library, 4000 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines;
  • Clive Public Library, 1900 NW 114th St., in Clive;
  • Urbandale Public Library, 3520 86th St., in Urbandale; or
  • Barnes & Noble, 4550 University Ave., in West Des Moines.

Find out more at www.wdmcs.org/wdmcs-reads/.

Tips for Connecting with the Teenage Brain
The first part of our “Understanding the Teenage Brain” series emphasized the importance of connecting with your teenage child. As all parents and guardians know, building and maintaining a relationship with a teenager can be easier said than done. We came up with 10 tips for connecting with your teenager, helped by Valley High School counselor Karla Hardy; district teacher-leader Carrie Jacobs; and two representatives from the Youth Justice Initiative’s Resiliency Project, Ashlee Swinton and Clarice Wireman. The first tip is:

Believe in your family.
Our sources encouraged parents to be confident in their own parenting. Hardy reminds parents that they are not defined by their children, and children are not defined by their actions. No one parents perfectly, and no one does it the exact same way. You have to find the right style for you and your family.

For more resources and nine more great tips, visit bit.ly/TeenBrainII.

Topics: Informaline

Fruit Smoothies, Freshly Baked Muffins, and Prizes Served Up March 7-10

breakfast_programWDMCS students can enjoy fruit smoothies and freshly baked muffins, win prizes, and celebrate the most important meal of the day at breakfast parties March 7-10.

On Tuesday, March 8, the WDMCS Nutrition Services Department will whip up fruit smoothies and fresh blueberry-banana muffins for students as part of National School Breakfast Week.

Elementary students can also enter a coloring contest to win prizes in different grade groups. Junior high students are invited to play games, answer trivia questions, and sample breakfast foods at a special School Breakfast Week Party on one day of the week. Valley Southwoods students will have the chance to win signed NFL memorabilia during breakfast.

Nutrition Services will also be giving away small prizes throughout the week to students who eat breakfast at school.

Join us for breakfast! Come to your school’s cafeteria 30 minutes before the start of school.

For more information, please call 515-633-5094.

Coloring Contest Sheets
Print your coloring sheets here, or pick them up at your school. Your contest entries are due back to school by lunch time on Friday, March 10.

For Grades K-3

For Grades 4-6

 

Topics: Nutrition

WDMCS Releases Annual Student Achievement Report

The West Des Moines Community Schools recently released its annual student achievement report, which shows more students proficient in reading even as the number of students learning the English language for the first time increases.

The number of English learners attending the West Des Moines School District has increased by approximately 100 students each year. There are currently 884 students attending the district who are learning the English language, while there were only 414 in 2010.

Last year, 80.6 percent of students in grades 3-5 were proficient in reading, according to the Iowa Assessments taken this fall in the district. Of those same students, now in grades 4-6, 81 percent are proficient. Growth was seen at other grade levels, except in grades 7-11, which dipped slightly.

“We are spending more time focusing on reading and the reading data,” said Associate Superintendent Dr. Laurene Lanich during a presentation to the school board on Monday, Feb. 22. “We are honing in on what students need to know and be able to do.”

However, she cautioned that the Iowa Assessments do not provide a complete picture of what our students learn, because it is not fully aligned with the Iowa Core. A new state assessment for Iowa students is being proposed this legislative session. The district uses other tests to garner a broader, more accurate picture of student achievement. For example, the ELDA test shows the percentage of English learners in the district exceeds the state target. The FAST assessment shows students outperform the state in all grade levels on both CBMreading and aReading.

The full student achievement report is available at www.wdmcs.org/academics/reports.

Topics: School Board News

Board Continues Study of Grading Practices

On Monday, Feb. 15, the West Des Moines Community Board of Education held the first of two workshops to examine the district’s current grading practices and determine if a new approach is needed.

“The goal is to know if the Board is interested in moving forward with changing our current grading practices,” said Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy. The district’s strategic plan includes researching effective methods.

Book CoverBoard members are reading “Rethinking Grading” by Dr. Cathy Vatterott, which examines traditional grading practices and presents effective methods for standards-based learning and assessment.

Several metro-area districts have changed how teachers assess students, adopting practices that require students to meet specific academic standards and exclude factors like class participation.

The school board will meet again at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29 to continue its research and discussion.

 

Topics: School Board News

Informaline Feb. 15, 2016

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en español

Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

New Last Day of School
Due to the recent snow day on Tuesday, Feb. 2, the last day of the 2015-16 school year will now be Thursday, June 2. As noted in the 2015-16 calendar, school days canceled due to inclement weather are to be made up starting June 2.

See the updated Calendar at a Glance at http://bit.ly/1516-at-a-glance.

School Board Meeting Feb. 22
The next WDMCS Board of Education meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22, at the Learning Resource Center.

There will also be a School Board workshop at 5:15 p.m.

High Schools Offer Online Courses
Next year, Valley High School, Valley Southwoods, and Walnut Creek Campus will expand their
online course offerings for students.

Valley will offer at least seven online courses, and Valley Southwoods and Walnut Creek Campus will offer one or more courses each. Additional courses may become available.

For some courses, the instruction is fully online, while others are “blended” courses, which includes online and in-person class instruction. The courses offered range from Business Law I to Lifeguarding.

Valley also offers the Evolution of American Popular Music, which was first offered last year. A video about the blended course is available here: http://bit.ly/VHSEvolutionofPopMusic.

The district has an Online Learning Advisory Committee, which has been working for two years to expand online learning opportunities for students. Its work is part of the district’s strategic plan. For more information on the district’s strategic plan, visit http://bit.ly/WDMCSMissionVisionGoalsPlan.

To learn more about some of these online courses, please see page 164 of the Valley curriculum catalog at www.wdmcs.org/schools/valley/academics/curriculum/catalog/. Information about registering for these courses will be available soon.

Coming Soon! See and Pay Fees Through One Online System
The WDMCS will soon offer one online system where families can see account balances for book fees, transportation fees, and nutrition and also make payments.

By the end of February, the district will switch vendors to provide a more streamlined WDMCS Online Payment system.

More information, including log-in instructions and answers to frequently asked questions, will be provided through the Informaline and on the district’s fee payment Web page at www.wdmcs.org/online-payments/.

Please make sure you have an Infinite Campus account. If you don’t have an account or are unsure, please contact your child’s school, and the main office will be happy to assist you.

WDMCS Community Education’s Heart Connection Collection
WDMCS staff, families, and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection to help restock the Booster Pak personal care pantries.

The most needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and ​lip balm.Please bring your items to school the week of Feb. 22-25 and place in the Heart Connection ​donation ​box. ​

Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program. Thank you for your support for this very worthy cause!​

Understanding the Teenage Brain
Parents, adolescents, and everyone in between can find the teenage years puzzling. Even Classical Greek philosopher Aristotle and famed playwright William Shakespeare penned questions about adolescence.

Many teenage behaviors can be explained by changes happening in the brain during the specific period of brain development. Look for the first entry in our two-part series about understanding the teenage brain and connecting with your teenager on the district website at http://bit.ly/TeenBrainI.

How to Achieve Effective, Impactful Conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to partner with your child’s teacher or teachers to work on a plan to help your child learn and succeed. We have compiled seven tips to help you have a successful parent-teacher conference experience at www.wdmcs.org/news/2016conferences/.

Watch for messages from your school that explain the conference procedure, and note if you need to schedule any conferences in advance. If you have questions, email one of your student’s teachers.

New Tech Schools Update School Board on Implementation
If someone asked Indian Hills’ seventh grader Jenna Herting if her team’s switch to the New Tech learning model this year has been a success, she might say yes.

“New Tech really encourages us to work with others and meet new people,” she said during a presentation before the School Board on Monday, Feb. 8. “And… we have the work ethic to continue our work.”

Read more about progress with the New Tech learning model on the district website at http://bit.ly/NewTechUpdate2016.

For more information about WDMCS New Tech schools, visit www.wdmcs.org/academics/new-tech/.

Winter Weather and Bus Safety
Winter weather means extra caution is needed on the road, especially when it comes to transporting children. The WDMCS transportation department wants to remind all district families of the safety procedures it follows to make sure students remain safe while riding and getting on and off the bus. Read about the transportation procedures at www.wdmcs.org/news/winter-weather-bus-safety-2016/. If you have any questions or concerns about winter weather procedures, please contact the transportation department at 515-633-4902.

Topics: Informaline

New Tech Schools Update School Board on Implementation

If someone asked Indian Hills’ seventh grader Jenna Herting if her team’s switch to the New Tech learning model this year has been a success, she might say yes.

“New Tech really encourages us to work with others and meet new people,” she said during a presentation before the School Board on Monday, Feb. 8. “And… we have the work ethic to continue our work.”

Teachers and students from Indian Hills Junior High, Crestview School of Inquiry, and Clive Learning Academy reflected on the first few months of their implementation of the New Tech learning model and shared projects and instructional processes. Stilwell teachers and students shared information during the Board’s Jan. 25 visit to the junior high.

Teachers and administrators said students have ownership of their learning, and they are able to articulate what they are learning and why.  Several administrators said discipline incidents have gone down and attendance has improved for the New Tech schools or teams. They also said it is still too early to tell if New Tech is the reason for the improvement. Administrators also said a few students have found the model is not the right fit for them and, at the junior high, have moved to teams that provide traditional instruction.

Teachers said they are collaborating more and connecting the Iowa Core standards to projects, which are the basis for student learning.

An advisory team of parents, business leaders, city officials, school board members, teachers, and administrators is meeting to develop a recommendation for implementation of the New Tech model at the high school level in future years.

For more information about WDMCS New Tech schools, visit www.wdmcs.org/academics/new-tech/.

Topics: New Tech, School Board News

Informaline Feb. 1, 2016

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Virtual Backpack/La Mochila Virtual

Your School to Host Caucuses Feb. 1
The Iowa caucuses are being held today, Monday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. The district is proud to support this democratic process and our community by hosting caucus sites for both political parties at nearly every building. For more information about the caucus process or to find your caucus location, please contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 515-281-5204 or https://sos.iowa.gov/.

WDMCS Board of Education Studies “Rethinking Grading”
The West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education will be holding a book study of Dr. Cathy Vatterott’s “Rethinking Grading” during two special workshop meetings on Feb. 15 and 29. The book examines traditional grading practices and offers a new paradigm for grading that focuses on student mastery of content and authentically reflecting student progress and learning.

Researching and studying effective grading practices is part of the district’s strategic plan. For more information about the plan, visit www.wdmcs.org/district/mission-vision-goals-actions-plans/.

New Family Social Media Resources
Social media is always changing, but there are resources that can help families navigate it successfully. The district has compiled tips, app cheat sheets and screenshots, and other resources on the district website at www.wdmcs.org/news/social-media-tips-for-families/.

Resources the Youth Justice Initiative presented at a Valley/Southwoods Parent Teacher Organization meeting have been added to the page, along with other new tips. Keep an eye on the page to see the latest social media resources for families.

A Brand New Look Coming Soon!
In August, the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education approved a new logo and tagline for the district and schools. Work is currently underway to prepare for the launch of the new “look” next school year.

The School/Community Relations Office is developing new materials, from letterhead to marketing brochures, to unveil next school year as resources allow. You may see the new logo and elements yet this year, and throughout the summer, as part of our “soft launch,” so be on the lookout for a “sneak peek” of the new look.

Sweetheart Show to Feature Original Student Compositions
More than 140 Valley High School musicians will perform at the annual Sweetheart Show, at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 and Feb. 11, in the Staplin Performing Arts Center. The Valley show choirs, men’s group A Cappella Reign, and selected soloists will perform original compositions by Valley students, as well as covers of songs by Elvis Presley, Sara Bareilles, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Mendes, Chance the Rapper, and more.

Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults and can be purchased at the door or online at valleyvocalmusic.revtrak.net. There will also be a silent auction and raffle, starting at 6 p.m. both nights. For a preview performance, tune in to Channel 5 at noon on Feb. 3.

Kickstarter Campaign Promotes Classroom Leadership
Jordan Creek Elementary teacher Aaron Witt had the chance to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for C.H.I.P., the world’s first nine-dollar computer. Now, the tiny computer is just one of the many technology projects his sixth-grade students are exploring. They are learning computer coding, having fun with Google Cardboard, and inventing with Makey-Makey, an interactive keyboard kit. Some students have taken on roles as “technology leaders.” They are responsible for classroom technology and recently led Hour of Code programming sessions with younger students. Read more about these budding computer whizzes in our upcoming article about their exploration of technology at www.wdmcs.org.

Heart Connection Collection
WDMCS staff, families, and students are invited again this year to participate in the Heart Connection to help restock the Booster Pak personal care pantries.

The most needed items are regular-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and ​lip balm. Please bring your items to school the week of Feb. 22-25 and place in the Heart Connection ​donation ​box. ​Items will be collected and then distributed to WDMCS students through the Booster Pak Program.

Thank you for your support for this very worthy cause!​ ​​The Heart Connection is coordinated by WDMCS Community Education’s Service Learning Program.

WDMCS Reads: Bookplates and Discussion Questions Now Available
Join the Valley High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, as well as other district students and staff, in reading “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander, the inaugural book choice for WDMCS Reads: One district, many communities, one book.

You can start a “pass it forward” community by purchasing and reading “The Crossover,” then using the special WDMCS Reads bookplates.

  1. Write your name on the first line of the bookplate.
  2. After you read the book, write your name on the next line of the bookplate, and pass the book to someone else to enjoy.
  3. If you are the last person to write your name on the bookplate, consider donating the book to a local public or school library.

The free bookplates are now available at the Learning Resource Center and Barnes & Noble on University Ave. in West Des Moines. Discussion questions for “The Crossover” are now available on the WDMCS Reads website.

WDMCS Reads also invites district students, families, and staff to enter an upcoming poetry contest, planned in partnership with the West Des Moines Public Library. Watch for more information coming soon!

Find out more about WDMCS Reads at www.wdmcs.org/wdmcs-reads/.

Print the discussion questions at bit.ly/WDMCSReads-questions.

Is Your Child Ready for Life’s Big Adventures?

Let us help them explore and excel. Register for kindergarten at WDMCS today!

Step 1. Fill out the Kindergarten Registration Form

Step 2. Provide Proof of Residency

Step 3. Provide Proof of Child’s Age

Step 4. Take the Language Survey

Step 5. Turn in the documents to the Learning Resource Center

Visit www.wdmcs.org or the Learning Resource Center, 3550 Mills Civic Parkway, in West Des Moines, for the required forms and registration details.

A child must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 15, 2016, to be eligible for the 2016-17 kindergarten program. Our school district serves parts of West Des Moines, Urbandale, Clive, Des Moines, and Windsor Heights.

Topics: Informaline