Jun 152011

By Naomi Hatch–

The last day of school was May 27, but Snowflake School District personnel participated in a two-day leadership retreat on May 31 and June 1 at the district office to learn how to implement a new program, Beyond Textbooks.

Participating in the retreat were grade level leaders from the elementary schools, and department chairs from the Snowflake Junior High School and Snowflake High School as well as principals and district level leaders, such as the superintendent and federal programs director.

“We have decided to partner with Vail School District, which provides support for a program called Beyond Textbooks,” said Superintendent Hollis Merrell. “The purpose of the two-day retreat was to give our school’s key stakeholders a chance to become more familiar with the theory and practices that make Beyond Textbooks a success.”

Sitting at the same tables were representatives of the elementary schools and intermediate schools, who discussed items such as essential standards, curriculum calendars, unwrapped documents and formative assessments, and made decisions regarding implementation of Beyond Textbooks that will begin this fall.

“Beyond Textbooks is a web based program that organizes the state standards into a curriculum calendar to ensure that the essential standards are being taught consistently throughout the district in core subject areas,” Merrell explained. “Beyond Textbooks also makes it easier for teachers to plan together, share resources and to focus on those standards that will provide the greatest gains for the students.”

Merrell further explained that the curriculum calendar will help to keep teachers and students on track for academic success, and provide online resources for teachers to access, which will help them teach to the standard identified in the curriculum calendar.

“Resources provided also help to summarize the rigor, big ideas, essential questions and evidence of master for a given learning objective,” said Merrell. “Beyond Textbooks can be used as a resource for teachers to teach the standard identified in the curriculum calendar.

“I have been very pleased with the way our teachers and principals have approached this significant change in how we plan for, deliver and assess instruction. We are very fortunate to have high quality teachers and staff who are willing to do whatever they can to help improve student success and to move our district forward. Many of them will spend their own time this summer becoming familiar with and planning for the implementation of Beyond Textbooks this fall,” said Merrell.

At the June 9 district governing board meeting, the board approved Aug. 11 as the first day of the 2011-12 school year, which is a day later than previously approved. This slight modification of the district calendar was approved to allow for training to occur prior to the start of school. You can view the district calendar on the school web site.

In other action, the board:

* Approved early release dates for the 2011-12 school year that will provide adequate time for teachers to plan and implement Beyond Textbooks.

* Approved were governing board meeting dates, student retention and high school fundraisers.

* Approved out-of-state travel for Ron Tenney and Merrell to attend Capturing Kids’ Hearts training scheduled July 12-14 in Salado, Texas. This training will provide direction and training regarding classroom management and student-teacher relationships. The cost will be possibly one night in a hotel, a few meals and transportation, which is estimated to total $700.


Photo by Naomi Hatch

Snowflake School District personnel attended a leader retreat on May 31 and June 1 to learn Beyond Textbooks, a web based program that organizes the state standards into a curriculum calendar to ensure that the essential standards are being taught consistently through the district on core subjects.