Article provided by Theresa Dillard, Assistant Principal, FCHS.
Fannin County High School is on the block schedule and starts a new semester in January. Teachers started school on Thursday, January 3, one day prior to the students returning.
With a new semester, the majority of students have four new subjects and teachers. In order to meet the needs of all the students for the semester and the coming years, on the January 3 Professional Learning Day, teachers rotated through four sessions, all conducted by in-house staff.
As safety is always the number one concern of the staff, a review of the current safety plans and emergency preparedness plans was conducted by Assistant Principal, Darren Danner. This was an excellent opportunity to answer questions and discuss any concerns voiced by the staff, along with informing the staff of upcoming modifications that will be taking place over the coming months.
Another session dealt with the fast approaching registration for next year’s classes and was lead by counselors, Patricia Slagle and Jennifer Walker along with Patti DuBois, CTAE Director. Students will start the registration process during their Thursday advisement sessions next week. They will begin reviewing graduation requirements including pathway courses, AP courses, and electives. Teachers, who act as advisors to small groups of students, will assist the guidance department in registering students by entering course requests into the school Information Program, Infinite Campus. The plan is to have all parents review their child’s schedule and four-year in person with the advisor during the month of May. This session concluded with Assistant Principal, Scott Ramsey, reminding teachers of the newly implemented two step discipline procedure.
With new national assessments being implemented in the fall of 2014, teachers spent one session reviewing the format of these assessments. These assessments are being developed on the national level under the name PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). It is the belief of the district and the school that in order for our students to be prepared for these assessments we must start now moving towards assessing in the same manner. Next Generation Assessments will require students to solve multi-level or complex problems which is an ability all students need in order to be successful in college, the work place, the military and as citizens. This means the typical true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the blank test will not be as “typical” any more and when it is given, students will be required to explain why and how they chose their answers. This session, led by Assistant Principal Theresa Dillard and Academic Coach, Heather Collis, provoked a healthy discussion among each group of teaches as they voiced concern in the need for parents and all members of the community to become familiar with the format of assessments as teachers have been asked to implement examples on unit tests this semester.
The fourth session was led by Blake Turner, former FCHS English teacher and current Media Para-Professional along with Erik Cioffi, Principal. Mr. Turner and Mr. Cioffi attended a workshop on Lexile Scores in the fall. A student’s Lexile Score correlates with the previous “reading level” a student was assigned after being tested. Students are assigned a Lexile Score based on the results of their state assessments with each grade level having a “range” assigned. Most textbooks and books in the media center are also designated with a Lexile Score. Since every student has a Lexile Score and teachers have access to every student’s score, they have a better understanding of where a student is reading and can encourage students to read above their level, as well as assist students who are reading below their Lexile range. (A future Professional Development Day will include a session on reading strategies for teachers on the high school level.)