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Articles from December 2017

Little Inventors at Edwards Elementary

Little Inventors Graphics

If you have not heard of “The Real Video Game,” a “Work-o-Tron,” the “Desk Fluffinator,” or an “Allergy Protector,” you will someday. These are some of the many inventions that third graders at Edwards Elementary have come up with as a part of a Little Inventors project.

It is another collaboration between 3rd grade Edwards teachers, and Sara Nelson, an Iowa State University College of Education professor. Nelson has collaborated with Edwards Elementary teachers a lot in the past, most recently with 3rd grade teacher Patti Allen, whose relationship goes back nearly a decade.

The catalyst for the idea came when Patti and Sara were looking for STEM education ideas, and they encountered an article about Little Inventors (, a group based out of the United Kingdom that showcases student ideas. Sara contacted the group via Skype and they have been in contact ever since.

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Elementary ESL Pilot Update (December 2017)

For the past two years, Ames Community School District elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers have been learning about the newly-adopted ESL Standards from the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA 21) consortium (more details about ELPA 21 available at

As teachers studied the standards and talked about how to instruct students to meet them, it became clear that the instructional materials that teachers had in their classrooms to teach students were not consistent or aligned with the standards.

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Fundations Professional Development, November 29, 2017

On Wednesday, November 29th, the K-2 teachers met with Wendy Robinson, Heartland Area Education Agency’s literacy consultant, to continue Fundations training at the District Office Boardroom from 2:30pm – 4:00pm. The work began with a quick check across the entire grade level team to share where teachers were in the sequence of lessons, things that were going well, and areas they needed more support to improve their implementation. After this initial sharing, teachers engaged in learning around accurate letter sound pronunciation, improving fidelity in the dictation routines, and sharing effective strategies for using the parent support pack provided in the teacher’s kits. Teachers shared that they appreciated time to share ideas and see a model of the dictation routine in action.

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Fundations Update (November 2017)

Fundations Logo

In June 2017, the Ames Community School District adopted Fundations for phonics instruction in grades K-2. The purpose of this communication is to clarify recent questions about our Fundations implementation.

District staff worked to get Fundations materials ordered and in the hands of classroom teachers as quickly as possible over the summer. During teacher workshop week, K-2 teachers were provided Fundations training with Wendy Robinson from Heartland AEA. Ms. Robinson has received training in Orton-Gillingham instructional programs in addition to her extensive training in linguistics and literacy. Training with Ms. Robinson continues monthly for each grade level to provide ongoing support to our teachers as they learn to use the new program.

Initially, we had planned to have the Iowa Reading Research Center (IRRC) serve as an external evaluator during Year 1 implementation. Our staff worked with the IRRC to develop a walkthrough plan for building and District administrators to collect implementation data through classroom observation to help make data-driven adjustments in professional development.

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