Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Personalized Learning

Guest Blogger - Shawn Galvin, Principal

Lincoln Elementary School

So, you have probably heard the term Personalized Learning used at a district meeting, in professional publications, or even on Facebook through Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-million dollar donation towards advancing this work. So what is Personalized Learning anyways? 

Personalized learning is about so much more than bean bags and Chromebooks. While a comfortable learning environment and technology are components that aid in personalizing the learning experience, the lack of them are not obstacles to implementing this educational philosophy.

At Lincoln Elementary School, we define Personalized Learning as an approach to learning and instruction that is designed around the individual learner’s readiness, needs, strengths, and interests. Students are encouraged to customize their learning by actively participating in setting goals, planning paths, tracking progress, and determining how learning will be demonstrated. With Personalized Learning, children learn to take ownership of their education and ultimately become life-long learners on their own journey to greatness.

Personalized Learning has a broad definition in the literature. It can be everything from placing a student on an adaptive computer system, to complete autonomy for student’s interest to solely drive learning with no alignment to standards, or, to simply differentiate the text level for reading groups. It is important to have a clear understanding of the foundational elements of Personalized Learning in order to evaluate the claim of  “personalization.” 

Simply put, Personalized Learning gives students voice and choice in their learning.

  • Students understand how they learn best so they are prepared for today, as well as their future as global citizens.
  • Students are co-designers of their learning.
  • Students take ownership of their learning.

The structure of Personalized Learning can be summed up in these questions:

  • What standard does the data show you need to learn?
  • How are you going to learn it?
  • How are you going to show me your learning?

One of the key tenants of Personalized Learning is that it should develop efficacy in students. Personalized learning leader Dr. Jim Rickabaugh states in a blog-post, “Efficacy is the belief that one is capable of producing a result, meeting a challenge or accomplishing a task. For students, efficacy or self-efficacy is the belief that they can succeed and learn… we know that students who are efficacious persist in the face of challenge, learn from failure rather than becoming trapped in it, try different approaches and strategies, and do what it takes to succeed. Rich learning often occurs from significant struggle; the presence of a strong sense of self-efficacy is important for learners to continue to stretch and grow and to move beyond present levels of skill and knowledge.” 

Personalized Learning is not a ‘canned program’ that can be purchased such as a new math series or the newest device! It is a philosophical shift that takes us from a compliance based model of education to a contribution based model. It prepares learners to be productive members of the world they will face as adults.

Friday, July 8, 2016

School Board Approves Pay Increase for Non-certified Employees

Guest Blogger: Scott Garner

Director of Administrative and Human Resources

As we head into July, we start a new fiscal year for the School District of Janesville. I want to provide you with an update on a recent School Board action regarding a pay increase for non-certified district staff.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, the School Board voted 8-0 to approve the following recommendation from administration:

Administration recommends a 2.12% increase for all employees not included in the Professional Performance Structure for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year.

This group includes food service, clerks, custodians, paraprofessionals, administrators, secretaries, maintenance, and all other staff who are not leveled by principals as part of the performance pay structure.  This increase will begin with the first checks in July (July 8).  Letters further explaining the increase have been sent to employees impacted by this approved increase.

The following is the background/reasoning behind the recommendation:

In 2015-2016 this group received a cost of living raise of 1.62% plus an additional .38% increase to equal a 2% increase in wages. Other employee groups received the same increase. A select group of licensed employees have in place for 2015-2016 a Professional Performance Structure for raises that will go into effect for the 2016-2017 school year. The select group under the PPS is projected to receive an average increase of 2.9%. Prior to the recommendation and approval by the board, the non-PPS group did not have a structure in place for additional pay.

The increase approved by the board is intended to provide a wage bump to non-certified employees that is similar to certified/PPS eligible employees. Furthermore, if additional funding is made available, Dr. Schulte and administration would recommend another .78% increase to bring the non-PPS group closer to the same average range increase as the PPS group.

Please call or email me with any questions.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer School Is Heating Up!

Janesville Summer School Offers Something for Just About Everyone!

Picture of Paul StengelGuest Blogger: - Paul Stengel, Director, Summer School

Six little words. By themselves, these words are nothing more than sight words that are posted on 1st and 2nd Grade classroom walls throughout our schools. However, when strung together in a magical order and uttered from the mouth of a child, they can bring the sunny thoughts of a fun and relaxing summer to a screeching halt. What are these powerful six little words?

“I’m bored…..there’s nothing to do.”

That’s right, since the dawn of the first day of the first ever summer break, these six little words have been enough to make parents’ skin crawl and go scrambling to the calendar to see how many days are left until their kids are back in school. The good news is that this little expression is becoming increasingly rare throughout Janesville these days. That’s because the School District of Janesville’s Summer School program has a bounty of opportunities for students to become engaged in during the summer months.

The 2016 Janesville School District’s Summer School session began on June 13 and is now in full swing. Students and their families are taking full advantage of a wide array of offerings available in all 20 of the district’s school buildings. There are over 3,500 students signed up for at least one course during the summer, and this number is expected to grow as more students take advantage of offerings during July and August. By the end of summer, close to 40% of the School District of Janesville’s 10,300 students will have participated in at least one of our Summer School offerings.

June is bustin’ out all over with opportunities for students. Elementary and middle school students are able to attend programs at their own neighborhood or any elementary or  middle school. During these programs, students become actively engaged in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), physical education, reading, math, arts and cultural education, play productions, and even small engine repair! At the high schools, students are able to take advantage of credit recovery classes and physical fitness training.

When the temperature heats up in July, so do the Summer School offerings! In addition to the traditional “academic” type classes, students are able to explore their interests and participate in more “enrichment” type courses. Students may learn computer programming and robotics, hike different portions of the Ice Age Trail, learn about outdoor survival, and even go canoeing and kayaking! In History Camp, students will learn about architecture and explore the past by taking field trips to different parts of the city. On one of the days, the students will be touring Oak Hill Cemetery to learn about interesting people, their history, and their connections with Janesville. Did someone just turn on the A/C? --because summer school is getting really cool!

Much like a summer blockbuster movie that gets a lot of hype and attention, the School District of Janesville’s Summer School program also has its own blockbusters. The Global Ambassador Academy will provide a chance for students to learn what an ambassador is and to learn side by side with students from China and Mexico. And, who could  forget about the ever popular Summer School musical featuring the extremely talented students of Craig and Parker and area school districts?! This year’s show features the musical Carousel and will be held the weekends of July 15 - 24.  As always, it will be a must see!

During the dog days of summer in August, things slow down, and alas, so do the number of offerings provided in Summer School. However, students will still have opportunities to brush up on their academics as they prepare for school that will start in a couple of weeks. In addition, many music, orchestra, choir, and band camps take place throughout August,  allowing students to get their musical skills tuned up before school starts on September 1.

As you can see, there are a plethora of options available through the School District of Janesville’s Summer School program. Dare I say, here in Janesville, it’s quite possible that those six little words “I’m bored….there’s nothing to do” could go unspoken this summer!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

With the school year ending, everything starts anew

As the days lengthen and the temperatures rise, we recognize that the close of another school year is upon us. All of your efforts and hard work of the past 10 months is being realized now through students transitioning from grade to grade, from elementary to middle school, or with graduation ceremonies. Our students, parents, teachers and staff have been working together since last August, and the close of the school year is welcomed—for different reasons.

For some, the end of the school year is an opportunity to reflect on what was. So much can happen in the course of the school calendar, and sometimes, in the moment, it may be difficult to recognize the gains we have been able to achieve.

Some may look at the first few weeks of June as a time to think about their careers—perhaps planning to attend a workshop or other professional development session to help them in the coming school year.

Others may be looking to relax, rejuvenate, and recharge over the next several weeks, making sure that they are ready for the next group of students that will be coming to their schools for 2016-17.

And, others may be looking at a change in career or even moving on to retirement. Certainly new beginnings there!

We should all be proud of the work we have been able to accomplish this year. You can see it in the faces of the children that walk through our hallways. You can definitely see it in the proud faces of parents as they watch their children walk across the stage to pick up their high school diploma. Be assured that your efforts have played a role in making that possible.

Whatever will be new for you after June 9, I want to thank you all for the work you have done over the past school year to help us achieve our mission of providing an education to every child. Make the most of the last few days of school, enjoy the summer, and I look forward to seeing you again in the fall!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What’s New in Benefits? Online Open Enrollment!

Guest Blogger:
Tina Johnson, Assistant Director of
Administrative and Human Resources

Employee Benefits Open Enrollment runs from

Monday, May 23rd through Wednesday, June 1st

We know that as the school year winds down, thinking about something as exciting as your employee health benefits may not be high on your list. With that in mind, the Administrative and Human Resources staff have made a special effort to make enrolling in health benefits as simple as possible. Brand new this year is the Online Employee Health Benefits Open Enrollment!

You should follow these instructions to complete the Online Open Enrollment:

  1. Log on to www.janesville.k12.wi.us
  2. Scroll to the middle of the page and click on the For Staff box. Numerous options will appear below it. You will want to choose Employee Access (this is the last option in the first column).
  3. Skyward will appear on the screen.  Please login with the same Login ID and password used to log in​to your computer account​​.
  4. Once you have accessed Skyward, a box should pop up, informing you that you have an Online Form that needs to be completed. You can access the form by clicking on the link.  
  5. Once you have entered in all the information, you will scroll back to the top.  You should select ‘Save’ OR ‘Print and Save.’
  6. You should then  click on ‘Step 2, Complete Online Form.’ There will be a box to check that indicates you have completed the online form.  Please check ‘Finish and Submit.’
  7. You should receive a verification email indicating that you have completed the Online Open Enrollment Process.

After you have completed the Online Open Enrollment process, you may go back and print your form by logging back into Skyward. Under the Employee Information Tab, select ‘Online Forms.’  Your Enrollment form will show under completed Online Form. You can view and print from this area.

Who should have access to the Online Open Enrollment?

Online Open Enrollment will be available to employees who work 6 or more hours per day, or certified staff who work more than 4 hours per day (at a pro-rated amount).  If you do not have access to Online Open Enrollment, and feel that you are eligible for benefits, please contact Jamie Brown at ext 5007 to discuss the eligibility parameters.

As a reminder, this open enrollment is for your health benefits only, and must be completed by June 1, 2016. Enrollment for other benefits offered through the district, such as your Flex Spending Account, etc., will be done separately at a different time. 

We know this is a new process for everyone, and the Administrative and Human Resources team appreciates your time and patience as we go through the first Online Open Enrollment together!  


Q: What if I don’t want to make changes to my current coverage?

A:  The Online Open Enrollment form must still be completed.

Q:  I am not sure if I have coverage.  Who should I contact?

A:  Please contact Jamie Brown at ext. 5007 or jabrown@janesville.k12.wi.us to discuss your eligibility.

Q:  I can’t login to Skyward.  Who should I contact?

A:  Please contact Tina Johnson at tjohnson@janesville.k12.wi.us or ext. 5022 for help logging into Skyward Employee Access.

Friday, May 20, 2016

International Career Development with DECA

 Guest Bloggers:
John Zimmerman, Parker High School DECA Advisor and
Melissa Ellis, Craig High School DECA Advisor

The Parker and Craig DECA Chapters have recently returned from the 71st annual International Career Development Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. More than 17,000 DECA members, advisors, and business sponsors gathered for this conference. Participants tested their skills in different business and marketing competencies, shared their work and school experiences, and celebrated student accomplishments.

Seven Parker and four Craig DECA members attended the conference. While there, they participated in business role-plays, interviews, market research presentations, written marketing exams, and written economic exams. All DECA events, whether at the local, state, and international level, rely on business support and corporate professionals to be able to provide a valuable experience to DECA participants. The Parker and Craig DECA Chapters would like to thank the local businesses for their financial support.

Parker High School DECA International Qualifiers
Parker DECA was well represented by:
  • Jessie Lobrano and Emily Feirer - Buying and Merchandising Operations Research Event;
  • Claire Timm - Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research Event;
  • Michael Henry - Retail Merchandising;
  • Carly Treinen - Business Management; and
  • Ian Brown and Bree Porter - Financial Services.

Craig High School DECA International Qualifiers
Craig DECA was well represented by:
  • Alyssa and Coby Brault - Hospitality and Tourism Operations Research Event; and
  • Max Rammer and Joey Spoden - Buying and Merchandising Operation Research Event.

The students were able to network with more than 80 exhibitors representing businesses and colleges. The students participated in different activities outside of their competitive events by attending a Nashville Sounds baseball game and visiting the Opryland facilities. All of our students represented Parker and Craig High Schools, and Janesville, with the greatest of integrity and professionalism.

“The opportunity to compete at the International level was exciting. It is something I will never forget. It was great to meet and network with students from all over the world,” said competitor Claire Timm.
“Going to Nashville was a once in a life-time experience for me. It was really cool to see how the different levels of competition are run, as well as seeing other projects fellow DECA members created. My twin brother was my partner, and it was awesome for both of us to be able to see what real life business scenarios are like, as we both have always had an interest in business,” said competitor Alyssa Brault.

Friday, May 13, 2016

TAGOS Leadership Academy hosts Career Day

picture of Stephanie DavisGuest Blogger -- Stephanie Davis, English Advisor, TAGOS Leadership Academy

I knew I was going to be a teacher when I was a third grade student at Walworth Elementary School.  That school year, I had the opportunity to assist a student who had just moved to the United States from her home in Japan.  I sat with her every day in the back of the room and helped her with her work.  When my teacher, Mrs. Gregory signed my yearbook that year, she wrote that I would make an excellent teacher someday.  I’d like to think that I have made her proud.
Not every student is as lucky as I was.  While I knew at a young age what I wanted to be when I grew up,  many high school students, including seniors, still struggle to decide what they want to do with their lives.  At TAGOS we utilize Career Cruising to help students find their path, but we also hold an annual Career Day.  We believe it is very important to expose our student population to different types of careers and college options that they may not have considered or even known about.  We want students to see the wide variety of options they have, whether it be college, a technical school, the military, an internship, or entering the workforce right away.
Career Day at TAGOS was started last year and was organized by our social work intern, Amanda Jo Serrano, a Parker High School graduate. Amanda Jo did a fabulous job putting this event together.  The event was organized to engage students with careers they are already interested in, and introduce them to careers they may not have previously considered.  TAGOS serves 7th-12th grade students and we wanted all students to spent time rotating through the sessions, not just our juniors and seniors.  It is never too early, or too late to learn about different careers.  Our first Career Day was a great success and we decided to make it a yearly event.

This year, Career Day was held on April 25th and was organized by our social work intern, Megan Vincent a Craig High School graduate. Megan did a great job organizing a successful event.  We had several presenters attending from a broad range of fields, including: Radio (99.9 WJVL), Cosmetology (Academy of Cosmetology), US Army, Hospice & Nursing (Mercy), Counseling (Mercy), Tattoo Artist (Alkali), Dental Hygienist (Robinson & Prijic), Music Production, Janesville Police Department K-9 Unit, Photography, Janesville Fire Department & EMT, as well as UW-Colleges and Blackhawk Technical College.  
This year’s event was a great success, Many students were able to walk away with great information.  We received good feedback from students, staff, and presenters. A few comments provided include:

  •  “I love art and I never thought about using my skills in the tattoo industry.  I don’t know whether that is the path for me, but it was interesting to learn about a different type of career using art.” 
  • “I learned that I can finally fulfill my dream and fly in the military.”
  • “I was interested in nursing before, but I had never considered a career as a hospice nurse.”  
  • “I enjoyed the counseling presentation.  I am considering a career in counseling after hearing Mrs. Benash speak.”
  • “I’m glad UW-Colleges and BTC were both here.  I know I want to go to college, but I’m just not sure where.  Hearing them both talk about their available programs will help me make a decision.”
  • “This was a great, well organized event.  We had very high attendance.  Students were engaged, polite, and asked well thought out, pertinent questions.  The K-9 Unit was a big hit and the kids were excited to pet Fred the dog.”

In addition to our outstanding presenters, we are thankful for the food donated by Kwik Trip, Texas Roadhouse, and Mac’s Pizza Shack. Through their generosity, we were able to have breakfast and lunch available for all of our volunteer presenters.We hope to continue the Career Day event at TAGOS in years to come, adding many more careers and participants for students to learn about.