Battle Ground Sch. Dist.
BG Education Foundation Receives $1,600 in Donations from Local Businesses (Photo)
Left to right: Sean Chavez, Scott Campbell, Mark Hottowe, Linda Gellings, Chris Burt, MaryBeth Lynn, Jeanine Brigham and Russell Brent
The Battle Ground Education Foundation received $1,600 in donations this week from the Mill Creek Pub restaurant in Battle Ground and Waste Connections. Mill Creek Pub owner Russell Brent donated $800 to the Battle Ground Education Foundation this week during its annual pulling of the coins event. Brent removes the coins once each year on the restaurant's anniversary from its waterwheel fountain and donates the money plus a personal donation to a local charity. Waste Connection matched the donation to support local schools. Battle Ground Education Foundation is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting teachers and students in Battle Ground Public Schools for lifelong success. Also part of the event, local resident Jeanine Brigham had the closest guess ($777) to the total amount of the coinage removed ($780.51) and won a $100 gift card to Mill Creek Pub.
Columbia University Training Immerses BGPS Teachers in Writing Curriculum (Photo)
Battle Ground Public Schools K-8 teachers are trained on the best methods for teaching the district's new writing curriculum.
Writing is a fundamental part of learning, and Battle Ground Public Schools is taking steps to make sure its writing education will prepare students for careers and college. More than 80 K-8 teachers were trained last week by Lauren Kolbeck, a consultant from the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University Teachers College, on how to teach the district's new writing curriculum to students. The consultant, who is one of the authors of the curriculum, spoke about the writing materials, the philosophy behind them, and the teaching practices that will enable BGPS teachers to effectively incorporate the curriculum into their lessons.
"I now have a much clearer idea of how to implement this curriculum," said Kristie Glock, a Pleasant Valley Primary third grade teacher who took the training. "It was valuable to see all the resources that are available. The training fueled my passion for teaching writing."
Each of the BGPS teacher leaders took a full day of training on the district's new K-8 writing curriculum, called Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing. This training is the first stage in a two-year, K-12 implementation plan that will result in a consistent curriculum and teaching method across all grade levels that is focused on 21st century writing skills and meets new Washington State Learning Standards.
The Units of Study writing curriculum builds on the writing skills that students learn at each grade level to create a consistent continuum of writing education. "This will enable our students to build on the skills they learn in each grade level and give them a common vocabulary that is consistent from year to year," said Paula Koehler-Martin, Battle Ground Public Schools' executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development. In BGPS' high schools, the new curriculum is called Come to Class: Lessons for High School Writers and provides a continuation of the skills found in the K-8 Units of Study curriculum.
A consistent, skills-building curriculum also will give district teachers the ability to monitor student progress as they advance to the next grade level. "The new curriculum will enable teachers to analyze student work and share results through collaboration in professional learning communities," Koehler-Martin continued. "Teachers will benefit by knowing what is expected of their students each year and in knowing which writing skills their students would have learned before they get to their classrooms."
BGPS is taking a phased approach to rolling out the new curriculum. This year, a representative teacher at every grade level from each school attended the Reading and Writing Project training, and will be able to answer questions from other teachers within their professional learning communities as they familiarize themselves with the new material.
Next year, teachers will use the entire writing curriculum; but not just in English classes. 21st century career and college readiness guidelines emphasize the need for students to be able to write well in all subjects and in all situations. The district is exploring options for providing training to teachers across the district, not just those specifically focused on English language arts subjects. "Everyone is a writing teacher," Koehler-Martin said. "In the new learning standards, more emphasis is put on writing for career and college readiness."
Options for district-wide training on the new K-8 writing curriculum materials include after-school workshops and summer classes. The possibility also exists to collaborate on training with Evergreen Public Schools, which also has selected the writing curriculum.
The BGPS Board of Directors approved the Units of Study and Come to Class curricula at its July 2014 meeting based on a committee recommendation. The committee used research on writing instruction to create a rubric that identified the components of an effective writing curriculum. Then the committee evaluated various writing curricula against the rubric and made a recommendation to the BGPS Board of Directors.
Information, writing samples and rubrics for K-8 from the curriculum: Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing are online at
Help Battle Ground Public Schools Get F.I.T. - 11/19/14
Battle Ground Public Schools is inviting community members to participate on a Facilities Improvement Team (FIT) and be a part of a community-driven process that will provide the district with a long-term facilities management plan for current and new buildings. FIT members will contribute to the district's long-term educational goals by making recommendations for facilities that meet the academic needs of students and keep pace with community growth. The ongoing committee will meet on a regular basis, and members are expected to serve at least a one-year term. Applications are due by Friday, Dec. 12. Go online to watch a video and fill out an application form on the district's FIT web page.
We will include updates about the Facilities Improvement Team's progress in our weekly electronic newsletter, the BGPS Bulletin. The newsletter highlights the great things happening in Battle Ground Public Schools. You can read previous issues of the Bulletin and subscribe online.
BGPS Aspire Program Benefits Highly Capable Students (Photo)
Students in BGPS' Aspire Program practice a Reader's Theater project
aspire verb ?(TM)-?^sp?(-?(TM))r
: to want to have or achieve something
Three third grade boys focused on the monitor of the Chromebook computer in front of them. One boy placed his hands on the keyboard and deftly typed a few words. Together, the third graders worked to revise "The Animal Defense Convention," a script jointly written by third and fourth graders in Captain Strong Primary's Aspire magnet program for highly capable students. Upon the script's completion, the students would present it as part of a Readers Theater project to their parents and other students.
The BGPS Aspire Program provides accelerated learning opportunities in an intellectually stimulating environment that strives to explore academic subjects at an advanced level to meet students' learning needs. Highly capable students are identified as the top 3 to 5 percent of the student population based on testing that looks for kids who intuitively jump to the correct answer with very little instruction.
Battle Ground Public Schools offers Aspire Program testing to students once each year. For the first time, the testing will be available to all grades (K-12). This year's deadline to nominate students for the testing is approaching: Nov. 18 for kindergartners and Dec. 5 for first through 12th graders. The testing takes place in December for kindergartners and January and February for other grades. Parents can nominate their children for testing, and teachers can recommend students for testing; however, parents must give their permission to have their children tested.
The BGPS Aspire Program is critical to the well-being of highly capable students. "The myth is that the gifted students can take care of themselves because they are smart," said Jill Smith, Battle Ground Public Schools' executive director of federal programs and instructional support services. "They have needs. They can get bored and frustrated. Most of them come into class already knowing 40 percent of the content at their grade level." Some students can be gifted and still have learning or other disabilities. Many have alternative learning styles that are not met in a regular classroom experience.
State law requires districts to provide highly capable services, and BGPS receives state funding to provide some of these services to the top 2.78 percent of students. Other funds that pay for highly capable services come from levy dollars, grants, and state-provided basic education funds. BGPS currently has 617 students enrolled in its Aspire Program.
BGPS has two Aspire Program options. The magnet option for third through eighth graders brings Aspire students from all over the district to Captain Strong Primary and Chief Umtuch Middle schools, where the students are in classes comprised of highly capable students at the same grade level and with teachers who specialize in the education of gifted students. The cluster option is available for kindergarten through 12th grade at every school, where groups of highly capable students are placed in regular classrooms, also with trained teachers.
About half of the students who test into Aspire choose the magnet option, and the other half stay in the cluster option at their home school. It's also possible for a student to be gifted in one area of learning, such as math, but not another. These students usually choose the cluster option where it is easier for the teacher to provide learning opportunities specific to students' needs in one subject area.
The benefits of the Aspire Program are many. Not only are students grouped with like-minded peers, but their learning is accelerated and individualized. The acceleration often occurs because teachers can eliminate concepts the students already know and avoid unnecessary repetition, providing more time to introduce other concepts and add levels of complexity to what students are taught.
More information, including the Aspire assessment process, program options, and nomination materials, are on the district website at http://www.battlegroundps.org/district/aspire-advanced-placement.
Aspire Testing Nomination Deadline Approaches
Parents must nominate students to be tested for the Aspire Program in Battle Ground Public Schools. A nomination packet is available online or from school offices. Parents must turn in nomination packets by Nov. 18 for kindergartners and by Dec. 5 for first through 12th graders. All nominated students are tested, and students can be tested the next year if they don't initially test into the program. Testing begins Dec. 1 for kindergartners, in January for first and second graders, and in February for third through 12th graders. Testing is administered over two mornings. The CogAT cognitive abilities test assesses verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills. The IOWA Assessment evaluates students' reading and math skills.
BGPS Classified Staff Support Student Learning (Photo)
Battle Ground Public Schools classified employees Tom Hasart and Bree Loyd check in a supplies delivery at Prairie High School. Hasart works in the BGPS warehouse and Loyd is Prairie's assistant secretary.
Tom Hasart sorted the boxes stacked waist-deep in the Prairie High School office. He had just brought in the last of a few loads from the delivery van parked outside, and then checked in the packages with Prairie's assistant secretary Bree Loyd.
Hasart delivers boxes of supplies (consumable goods like paper and batteries), equipment orders, and mail that Battle Ground Public Schools (BGPS) receives in its warehouse near Battle Ground High School to schools around the district. "I love the mail run," Hasart says. "I love helping our students by bringing them the supplies they need to learn."
Hasart is one of about 600 classified employees who work throughout the district to support student learning and keep the district running. Some classified staff, such as school secretaries, security, and education assistants, work directly with students, while others work at a keyboard, in buildings, or behind a wheel to provide services. Many classified positions require college degrees or certification in a specialized field such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) repair or technology.
Most of BGPS' classified staff belong to the Public School Employee union. The district office has about 40 classified positions that are not in the union. The 600 classified staff, together with 830 teachers and 60 administrators, make up all of BGPS' 1,490 employees. "It takes a large collaborative effort to provide a quality education for our students" said Mark Hottowe, BGPS superintendent. "Our classified staff play an important role in our district and work alongside our teachers and administrators to provide the support needed for overall success."
BGPS classified positions are divided into major job classifications that describe the role of the position in the school district. Many job descriptions for specific positions are on the school district's website. The different areas in which classified employees support student learning include
Administrative support: Most of these jobs are located in the district office and support the entire district. Positions include human resources staff; payroll, accounting, and benefits staff; paralegal; and department secretaries in teaching and learning and special education.
Basic education assistants: Crossing guards, teaching assistants, student store operators, preschool assistants, and school health assistants usually work directly with students throughout schools.
Campus security: Campus security, stadium techs, and trackers work to maintain the safety and welfare of our students in school and at school-sponsored events and sports competitions.
Custodial: The people in these positions work to maintain attractive, sanitary, and safe facilities for students, staff, and public. They provide equipment and furniture arrangements for meetings, classroom activities, and events and make small repairs on equipment.
Maintenance: HVAC technicians, telecommunications technicians, maintenance assistants, and grounds operators make repairs to equipment and maintain the property, landscaping, and buildings that the district owns.
Media tech: Print shop operators prepare printed materials from creation to print. Media technicians maintain library, media center, and computer equipment for school libraries and the district's Title I and Learning Assistance (LAP) programs, while science resource technicians prepare experiment kits and maintain an inventory of supplies, organisms, and critters for school science labs.
Professional tech: This is one of the two largest categories of classified employees. It includes many positions, for example, career guidance technicians who assist students in exploring career opportunities; network support technicians who maintain the district's server and computer networks; and braillists who assist blind and visually impaired students and interpreters who assist students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Special education assistants: The people in these positions often work in the classroom either one-on-one or with small groups of students who receive special education services.
Secretarial: This is one of the two largest categories of classified employees. It includes many positions, for example, community education staff members who plan, coordinate, and support the district's Community Education program; secretaries across the district who are often the first point of contact with people who visit school buildings and other programs; and registrars who maintain student records.
Paraeducator: The people in these positions provide one-on-one and small group tutoring in math and reading to students in the district's Title I and LAP and English as a Second Language programs.
Warehouse: These positions are based in the BGPS Warehouse near Battle Ground High School and include staff who transport orders of equipment, materials and supplies to buildings across the district and stock and maintain inventory.
PHS Forensics Team Hones Critical Thinking, Speaking Skills (Photo)
PHS Forensics Team students toss a coin to determine whether they'll argue the affirmative or negative of a topic.
Prairie High School's Forensics Team is beating back glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking. Team members are putting their reasoning and communication skills to the test this weekend during the T-Wolf Invitational at Heritage High School, their first District IV Tournament of the year. Students will speak and argue their points in a variety of competitions ranging from impromptu and expository speaking to public forum and Lincoln-Douglas style debates.
PHS students can select from several events in which to participate. Impromptu speaking, for example, requires students to prepare and deliver a speech on a surprise topic within a 6-minute time limit. Among debate events, teams of two argue opposing sides of a topic in a public forum style debate, while Lincoln-Douglas debates challenge student's debate skills in a one-on-one format. Debate participants must be prepared with both affirmative and negative arguments on assigned topics. A coin toss lets the winner choose either which side they want to argue or to go first or second.
Speech and debate is a Washington Interscholastic Activities Association competitive team, and students who participate can earn points toward a letter in the same way that athletes can letter in sports. Students also take the skills they learn with them beyond high school. "Speech and Debate provides students an opportunity to learn and hone valuable communication and critical thinking skills and experience that they will employ for the rest of their lives," said Leah Zika, Prairie High School English Language Arts teacher and the Speech and Debate Team coach.
Like something directly from a CNN episode of "Crossfire" with James Carville, PHS students practice debating and speaking after school. At this week's practice, students weighed the pros and cons of GMOs in a Public Forum debate, and other students delivered Duo Interpretation speeches with great enthusiasm and body language that enhanced their words.
The teams schedule includes several events this year, including this weekend at Heritage High School and a home tournament November 7-8 at Prairie.