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Articles from November 2016

Mock Trial Black Team third in state

Ahs mock trial black 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team reaches third in state

Ahs mock trial black 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Black Team, 2016

Ames Middle School’s mock trial Team Black won first place in the regional competition held Oct. 28 in Marshalltown, and advanced to the state competition held Nov. 14-16 to take third place. This is the first time both Ames Middle School Mock Trial teams—Black Team and Orange Team—advanced to the State Competition and the first time in 23 years since an Ames Middle School team made it to the Final Rounds representing the top four teams in the state.

Mock Trial Team Orange took second place at the regional competition.

Ahs mock trial orange 2016

Ames Middle School Mock Trial Orange Team, 2016

Mock Trial is designed to introduce sixth, seventh and eighth graders to the courtroom and legal system, and enhance their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Ames Middle School mock trial teams, led by teacher Shannon Fitchko, have worked hard since the beginning of the school year, preparing questions and memorizing courtroom procedures.

“This year was extra special because our teams were led by Peggy Michelotti, a practicing attorney who gave these children no less than a college law course, donating her free time to our kids,” Fitchko said.

In this year’s scenario, a wrongful death case, each student had at least one roles in the case, either on the side of the defense or of the plaintiff or both. During the competitions, school teams from different cities were paired against each other in separate courtrooms. The teams were then judged on their memorization, their acting ability, their teamwork, and other criteria.

Daniel Lee, an eighth grader and third time Attorney, said during the state competition, “The tension as we entered the courtroom was substantial, but the excitement when the trial started was even greater. Ultimately, the Semi-Final round was a mesmerizing experience.”    

Mock Trial Team results at 2016 Regional Competition

Black Team – First Place: Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher, Leslie Kim.

Orange Team – Second Place: Mia O’Connor-Walker, Alicia Nicolas, Amy Zhang, Elizabeth Burras, David Lee, Yujie Chen, Michael Huang, Adrian Guan, Peter Marshall-Gilbert, Elaina Johnson, Angelina Chen, Daniel Yakobson.

Mock Trial results at 2016 State Competition

Black Team- Third place finish at State Mock Trial – Daniel Lee, Malik Davis, Erin Yoon, Annabella Marquez, Emma Dorhout, Mariam Mkhitaryan, Sophia Cordoba, Suya Que, Matthew Jacobson-Fisher.

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Iowa Reading Research Center’s Role in Literacy Pilot

The Ames Community School District (District) has launched a literacy pilot as part of our program evaluation in an effort to select materials to support Tier 1 instruction of foundational reading skills. Piloting of instructional materials as part of program evaluation before purchasing and implementing them District-wide has been in practice for over 30 years and is supported by Board Policy IF, Curriculum and Assessment Development.

Chapter 12 of Iowa Code requires that school boards have a process for assessing and improving curriculum and instruction. To comply, the District’s Board Policy IF states that curriculum evaluation, including evaluation of instructional materials, must include collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to aid in understanding what students know and can do. In order to create a cohesive District program evaluation, pilot programs are always approved by the District, not at a building level.

Our District pilot program involves using three sets of vetted materials in classrooms in order to measure student growth and to better enable teachers and administrators to evaluate the instructional design of each program. At the end of the pilot, all data gathered will be used to select one set of materials to implement with all K-2 students during the 2017-2018 school year. Pilot programs for program evaluation are not considered to be research in the same way as someone working on their dissertation or thesis, for example. Rather, much like teachers using data to inform instruction for their students, the District is collecting data to determine which of these three research-based programs best meets the needs of all students in the area of K-2 foundational reading skills instruction.

Each of the three programs in this K-2 literacy pilot was selected by the Word Study Team because the programs aligned with the identified gap in our implementation of our Board-approved curriculum, the Iowa Common Core. These gaps were centered around the foundational skills standards including phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. Several programs were vetted using a rubric adapted from the Center on Instruction’s reading materials evaluation rubric. The three programs selected scored above 50 points on our modified rubric that focuses only on the sections that pertain to our identified need.

At no time did the District shift to embark on a research study; rather, we are focused on collecting data from teachers and administrators as well as student growth data to select the best program to fit the identified needs. Numerous questions have been asked about the Iowa Reading Research Center’s (IRRC) role in this pilot, including whether the pilot is legal. The Ames Community School District requested the IRRC’s assistance with the pilot.

The IRRC is serving as the external evaluator for the District’s pilot of foundational skills instructional materials. The intent of the IRRC is to assist the District in selecting a set of materials to adopt, which is a part of the IRRC’s legislated purpose:

281—61.2(256) Purpose. The purpose of the center shall be to apply current research on literacy to provide for the development and dissemination of all of the following, although each of the following will not necessarily be of equal priority or immediacy:

1. Instructional strategies for prekindergarten through grade 12 to achieve literacy proficiency that includes reading, reading comprehension, and writing for all students.

Program evaluation of this sort does not meet the definition of human subjects research:

“Research” generally does not include operational activities such as defined practice activities in public health, medicine, psychology, and social work (e.g., routine outbreak investigations and disease monitoring) and studies for internal management purposes such as program evaluation, quality assurance, quality improvement, fiscal or program audits, marketing studies or contracted-for services.

To ensure proper interpretation of this provision, the IRRC submitted a Human Subjects Research Determination form to the University of Iowa’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB Chair reviewed the IRRC’s role and concluded it did not constitute human subjects research:

“I have reviewed the information submitted with your project titled 201609831 Evaluation of Phonics Curriculum Implementation in the Ames Community Schools.  I have determined that the project described in the application does not meet the regulatory definition of human subjects research and does not require review by the IRB, because the project is to assist a school district in choosing an instructional product and the methodology is not a systematic investigation.”

The IRRC is involved as an independent third party to protect against pre-existing bias in collecting and analyzing student and teacher data. The IRRC is able to support our collection of student data that will be sensitive enough to show growth in these foundational skills. All student test data will be de-identified. Additionally, the IRRC will assist us during our pilot with collecting data to identify which programs are best able to be delivered with fidelity. Fidelity data includes video and audio files that focus on the teacher’s implementation of the materials—not on the students in the class. Recordings are uploaded to the IRRC, and the District will never have access to them. The fidelity data cannot be used for evaluative purposes, and the results will be provided at the aggregate level and not the individual teacher level. This information for each program will help us in analyzing the student growth data.  Once the external evaluation is complete and the District has made the program selection, the recordings will be destroyed.

For these reasons, the District and IRRC are exempt from IRB oversight for the pilot activities as currently designed.

The District is appreciative of the support and collaboration provided by the Iowa Reading Research Center. We look forward to moving forward with a decision at the end of this pilot to implement the  materials that will best meet the needs of our students.

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Parents of young children invited to Reading Camp

Are you the parent or guardian of a child in preschool through Grade 2 who wants to help your child read at home, but looking for ideas and expert advice? Through a partnership with Ames Community School District, the Iowa State University School of Education and the Ames Public Library, we’re launching a series of Reading Camps for parents. 

The first Reading Camp is Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6:30- 8 p.m., at our District Offices, 2005 24th St., in the Boardroom.

We’ll share what “a day in the life” of reading instruction is like in our schools for students in preschool through second grade, provide strategies you can use for reading at home with your child and offer tips for choosing books that will keep your child engaged in reading.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, Nov. 15, with this form.Father reading to children

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Sawyer students honor local veterans

Sawyervets

Local veterans say they were deeply honored by a ceremony fifth grade students at Sawyer Elementary School organized to honor them for their service.  

The school treated veterans to a breakfast followed by a ceremony and choral presentation of patriotic music, Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Veteran Richard Maurer said, “This is awesome. Because the kids are interested. We like sharing what we did. I think it will help them grow.”

Maurer said the veterans, who each shared their service record, experience, and philosophy of life, tried to “get across that  students need to get a good education.”

“The future just doesn’t hand you stuff,” he said. “You have to work hard and earn it.”

Students said they realized “Veterans are cool. “They do different jobs.” “They had to work and study hard to learn to serve our country.”

Fifth grade teacher Brett Fuller worked with American Legion Post 37 to organize the event, with the aim of engaging students with history, social studies and intergenerational learning.

“This event serves as an excellent learning opportunity for our students to develop a deeper understanding of why we celebrate Veterans Day,” Fuller said. “It will also help them to recognize that we have many veterans who live right here in our community.”

After the ceremony, veterans joined the students in their classrooms to answer questions. The guests toured the newly renovated Sawyer building.

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Girls swim and dive team state champions again

The Little Cyclones’ girls swim and dive team’s sixth state swimming championship in seven years came together Nov. 4 and 5 when the team won four events and broke state records at the YMCA in Marshalltown.

Ames was favored to win its second title in a row and sixth since 2010, despite being forced to train in an alternate facility for a period of time when its pool was out of commission requiring repairs.

Coach Dan Flannery told the Ames Tribune the team could have lost its edge, but is too solid as a unit to make excuses.

“We just took advantage of our opportunities and scored more points than anybody else,” he said.

The team became just the seventh team ever to score more than 350 points in a state meet, shattering an old record in the medley relay and  setting another record in the 400 freestyle relay.  

Read the full story in the Ames Tribune.

Swimteam

Photo credit Ames Tribune

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Nov. 1 – Literacy Pilot launched

The Word Study Team met met Tuesday, Oct, 25 to hear the final details of the Literacy Pilot and to learn from literacy consultants for each of the three programs in order to begin using the first set of materials. 

We’ve bookmarked the details here:

Logistics– Dates of rotations, factoring students who move during a rotation, and considering teacher compensation. See also, Important Dates. 

Communication – where to find updates about the pilot and plans for surveying parents and community members

Classroom Instruction – how substitute teachers will manage during a teacher’s absence, and how the materials fit into the literacy block.

Assessment – details of types and duration of assessments conducted during the pilot and balancing the effect of natural student growth during the pilot.

Pilot evaluation – details for maintaining program integrity and a list of scoring factors that will help determine the final decision.

For more information, view the October 7 presentation to the School Board and the Word Study Team presentation from October 25. 

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