Monday, June 15, 2015

Postive Behavior Interventions and Supports

The Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) initiative has been a part of the CAM CSD since 2002.  Having been one of the original three districts in the state of Iowa to receive a grant to establish PBIS, it's been an important part of our character and behavior plan in all of our buildings.  CAM High School as begun the process of re-training staff and re-implementation of all three tier levels of the PBIS program.

PBIS is set up as a multi-tiered system of support for behaviors, both good and bad, and a team from the high school attended "Tier I" training during the 2014-2015 school year and a second team will attend "Tier II" training in 2015-2016.  "Tier III" training will be held in the future, possibly the year after Tier II training is completed.


Tier I addresses the needs of 80% of the student body, the main feature is teaching and communicating the expectations of behavior to the students in a constant manner and vocabulary.  Staff and students go through, what many of us consider obvious, standards of behavior in the classroom, lunchroom, gym/locker rooms, bathrooms, hallways, music events and athletic contests.  Signs are posted, expectations or listed in programs and each building spends time 2-4 times a year teaching and re-teaching the expectations of behavior.
A second feature of PBIS Tier I is communicating a continuum of "consequences" for both GOOD behavior and problem behavior.  Everyone is used to punishments, but a big component of PBIS is establishing a ratio of 5 good consequences delivered by staff to every one bad consequence.  The Tier I team helps coach the entire faculty on the delivering of these consequences and staff are to keep the ratio of 5-1 in mind as they go through their teaching day.  Coupons are given to a randomly determined set of students from the students acknowledged for meeting expectations in any setting.  Prizes and privileges are then selected by the students, drawn by faculty or recognized by the Tier I team for those receiving coupons.

Much of the focus of Tier I are the rewards and the need and purpose of giving coupons for expected behavior.  Like everything in PBIS it has been designed around best practice interventions backed by data.  Click on the link below and check out how giving rewards, or "extrinsic" motivation actually helps develop intrinsic motivation.

The Tier I team will look at reteaching expectations during the year, set up "boosters" that are group rewards for students doing good things over a set-period of time and monitoring all data surrounding the good and bad behaviors happening in the school.

 Tier I is not all rewards and pats on the back, the continuum of consequences for problem behavior is used to collect data and decisions are made for addressing problems.  Since Tier I deals universally with 80% of the students, broad synthesis of the data happens, looking at locations, tendencies and a large scale interventions are established.  

Tier II

Components of Tier II are in place at CAM High School, including the "Room of Opportunity" or ROO, a place where minor problem behavior situations are dealt with rather than the Principal's Office.  Tier II interventions target 10-15% of the student body, those individual students who through data collection and analysis from the Tier I team are identified as needing support.  Many of our at-risk population are served in this room with study halls and support and the ROO working with the building's at-risk coordinator Rex Mehrhoff.  If a student is not responding to the teacher he/she will be asked to go to the ROO so that the learning environment in the classroom is maintained and the student has an "opportunity" to think through what happened, cool down, or just given time to process next steps.

The referral sheets completed by teachers for student problem behavior is very detailed and thought out.  This is used to collect more data on students exhibiting problem behavior for the Tier II team to look at and analyze and come up with individual interventions.  There are several new interventions that the team will learn about in this year's training that are new to PBIS since CAM was trained previously.  We'll look forward to reporting on those as they are implemented.

For the Adults too

While a frequently asked question about the reward system is - "Why do we acknowledge the expected?" - there are many sides to the answer.  One part is the fact that as teachers, administrators, and other staff we too need reminded what the expectation is and to identify and acknowledge those who are meeting the expectation.  We're always identifying the problem behaviors and giving attention to those instead of the obvious good behavior.  We need to continually give students a reason to meet expectations by simply engaging them when it happens.  Simple enough, but too often we forget to, or don't because this is what the students should be doing.

It also gives us a common language when dealing with behaviors and establishes a baseline of consistency in which we can then individualize to fit our classrooms and other areas of the school.  Lastly the data piece, probably the most important, allows us to be purposeful about our decision making process allocating time and resources to the most needed areas.

Look for more PBIS information in the near future!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Simon Estes to perform in Atlantic as part of his "Roots and Wings" tour

He is asking Iowa students to help save lives

One of Iowa’s most iconic figures is coming to Cass County and will be singing at a concert that will also feature our All-State vocalists on Sunday, October 27 at 3 p.m. in the Atlantic High School Auditorium.  Simon Estes will perform at the concert along with students from all of the schools in Cass County and a limited number of tickets will go on sale October 1st for $20 at locations in Anita, Atlantic, Griswold and Massena.

On October 28th he will be meeting with high school students from Atlantic, Griswold and CAM to deliver a message of motivation.  He believes Iowa has the best students in the country and that they have many skills and wants to encourage them to set high goals and work hard to achieve them.

Estes is also launching a campaign to raise money to help combat malaria in Africa.  He has released a CD of 15 songs and has asked the students of Iowa to sell three of them by the end of November.  He will donate $5 of every $15 sale to buy nets for the children in Africa to sleep under protecting them from the malaria spreading mosquitoes.  He is also donating $1 for every CD sold to participating school districts.

In celebration of the CD sales he has organized an event December 15 at 3 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, that will feature a chorus of students from across Iowa.  Each district has been invited to send between five and ten students to the event to perform several songs, again with Estes performing along with the Iowa student chorus.  Songs will include Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”, performed with the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestra , as well as standard Christmas Carols.

CDs will be on sale at CAM beginning October 14th and running until November 30.  We will be selling at events like the variety show, at churches and other locations, but please contact the high school at 712-762-3231 if you are interested and would like a copy of the CD.  Some will be on hand to sell, but we may also be taking orders and getting them to you before Christmas in case you want to give one as a gift.

This is an unique event that we’re hoping to use to raise funds for the music programs, specifically the purchase of new band uniforms.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Common sense on sleep can yield big results in the classroom

-->Students want to learn.  There isn’t a soul out there that starts the year with a desire to fall behind, to perform at an average level or fail.  Parents can go a long way in helping their kids by doing just a couple things, and they don’t require you to know anything about Algebra or writing bibliographies.  It just involves making sure they get to bed, turn off the electronics at times and get up in the morning.

Sleep goes a long way towards assuring a student has a good day at school.  Many students drag themselves into school tired, for various reasons, and spend the day watching the clock, unfocused and inattentive.  When asked many will indicate they were up watching TV, on the Internet (or phones); while some have jobs and work late, are up studying or have a late school activity.  The first reason is unacceptable, while the others need careful watching and management.

Treat all electronics as a privilege not a right to have and you dictate when they are acceptable to be turned on.  Having to fall asleep with the TV on should not be an option, and if a student claims they MUST have it on or they CAN’T get to sleep before a certain time, it’s time to adjust things.  Eight hours of sleep is recommended, while six is a minimum.  It’s pretty easy to adjust bed and waking up times to fit these hours into a busy teen’s schedule. 

The other issue is some leave their cell phone on and receive and send multiple texts into the wee hours of the night.  Harmless or not they’re in bed but they are not sleeping.  Cell phones can be turned off and left in a spot that isn’t beside their bed where the temptation to use them can be strong.  Buy them an alarm clock if they insist they have to use their phone to wake up and are caught using their phone at night when they should be asleep.

Lastly, have a time when they turn off all electronics to study, do homework, or simply review the upcoming day and get things prepared.  To read and comprehend the mind cannot process right with most types of music playing.  Music is fine if they are creating things (videos, some types of writing and reviewing) but the first couple times they read something or study facts, having a calm mind is essential.  And put the phone away so the temptation to text or do other things is minimal.

Good luck in the upcoming school year!

Monday, May 13, 2013

"In Their Words"

Here is my 2013 Commencement Speech "In Their Own Words"

Each year I get a little nervous thinking of the proper things to say in regards to the graduating class.  Our superintendent and class speakers have shared words of wisdom, advice and some funny memories.  Traditionally I try to characterize the group, give you all a look into the impression they left on everyone at school as they graced our hallways.  This year instead of choosing my own words, I surveyed the class and asked them to describe their classmates in a one simple word or phrase.  

May I present to you the Class of 2013 - In  Their own Words.

Hannah - Sweet, Smart, Musical
Hunter - Funny, Cool, Outdoor-sy
Ryan - Class Clown or Two words Mud-Kip
Emily - Smart & Athletic, Beautiful
Tyler B. - Artistic, Reserved, Geniune
Jarrad - A Sweetheart, Cool and Kind-Hearted
Ashlyn - Quiet, Very nice, Generous
Chance - Motivated, Comical, Hard-worker
Shelby - Nice hair, very fun, Pretty
Veronica - Artistic, Colorful, caring
Dustin - The Ferg, Loud, Care-free
Kassidy - Strong Minded, Hard-worker, Funny
Carson - Outgoing, social, free-spirit
AhLEEsha - Responsible, giggly, Kind
Jenna - Organized, Good Dancer, Spanish Guru
Kaley - Sweet, Pretty Eyes, Photogenic
Ashlynn - Nicest person, friendly, colorful
Trevor - Determined, studious, Athletic
Alex - Mischievous, fun, DUUUUDE!
Amber - Rural, Outgoing, Country
Tyler S. - Farmer, Strong, Mellow
Nichelle - Unique, Friendly, Quiet
Matthew - Intelligent, dedicated, Rippped!
Shaley - Inspiring, A Cool Cat, Lots of Fun

Graduates, you are all of these adjectives and so much more.  Thank you for an incredible four years, you certainly have a lot going for you.  

Thank you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What is your student's "Passion?"

What is your student’s “Passion”?  Inside every student is an interest that could develop into a passion that drives them in their post-secondary lives.  At CAM High School we provide student’s many opportunities to explore academic and activity based interests.  A question that needs to be asked is “are they taking advantage of these opportunities, and if not why not?”

How can we get student’s to turn away from their cell phones, TV & computers or is the question how do we reach them through those devices?  How do we teach them to utilize technology beyond entertainment?  Essentially enabling them to harness the power of the devices that range from laptops, to tablets to most students carrying smartphones.

We offer elective courses that introduces students to the world of virtual reality.  Our Project Lead the Way program gears students for a career in engineering.  CAM offers a deep and complete assortment of Math and Science courses.  What these areas all share in common is that they are under enrolled in by the percentage of students eligible to take them, to the actual number of student’s enrolled.

Student’s who are taking or have taken upper level math and science classes breaks down as follows - Seniors: science 63%; math 38%; Juniors: science 28%; math 38%.  Upper level classes included trigonometry, statistics, pre-calc or calculus in math; chemistry, physics and anatomy & physiology in science.  These are important classes for all students looking at two year or four year colleges and junior colleges.  About 20% of the student body is enrolled in a PLTW pre-engineering course.  These courses would be under the umbrella of the acronym “STEM” which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and are being touted by educators and politicians as important job areas.

We have a strong speech program, strong Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, hard-working coaches in athletics, excellent Spanish courses, and a top-notch fine arts program.  In all of these areas are students finding a niche and exploring possibilities beyond the next assignment or next practice?  Are they working on things at home just because, not because it’s required?

Passion is important as studies have shown that it takes 10,000 hours of engagement (not just attendance) with something to “master” that skill or content matter.  It’s obvious that school, practice and rehearsal supervised  by a teacher, coach or sponsor will not get them there..they need to find the drive to want to engage their interest on their own.

We can no longer afford to watch our students wait until they graduate to focus on their interests, as a lot of times those change as we mature.  We need to take advantage of the free opportunities offered at CAM High School and help discover what truly motivates them and what their interests are now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Class of 2000TWEET

Past years I’ve stood before you and told you a little something about each graduate.  This year, the Class of 2000tweet is going to do that for me through their postings on Twitter.
Twitter is like the New York Yankees - you either love it or you hate it.

IT is largely a narcissistic, mindless stream of babble that often ignores all rules of English, grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Studies have deemed Twitter more addictive than nicotine, food and all other impulsive human behaviors – does this sound like anyone in your household?

Twitter can be Inspirational, insightful, educational, giving everyone a platform to expose little pieces of themselves for their peers and the world -  thoughts thrown out easily and eagerly by our graduates riding the Twitter highway.

Often our graduate’s tweets were insightful, like -

Devan: Why is it that teachers let girls get way with everything?

Morgan, referring to Alex -  you cant go to college if you don't know what the acronym stands for – (you know) A.I.B. - American Institute of Business

Alex - So I was cutting peppers and after almost 10 minutes of wondering why it was so hard to cut, I realized I used the wrong side of the knife.

There’s the daily updates –

Dakota - 8 man final was today. …final score freemont....81 murry a giant 0 :) lol!

Adam - What's happening? Me typing this. That's what's happening this very moment.

Matt: Sitting in class... having fun; @Giegerich,

Justin: good ole johnny cash to start the day

Ryan: Taking the 3 wheeler on a 6 mile drive:) should be a good day lol

Kelsey: Corey, Seth and Shelby just held me down and tickled me #familylove

In a related tweet Angeline said- When a person is tickled the response is actually a form of panic, as the brain interprets the tickling sensation.

They are deep thinkers:

Morgan – Eventually you’re going to have to face your problems

Biz- Watching angeline’s video through the years.. So sad. Love this class

Lexi: People say hell is endless, they say its our worst nightmare, the face of our darkness

Angeline - The past can hurt. You can either run from it or learn from it.

Kelsey: Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Life’s too short to be anything but happy.

Trenda quoting Dr. Seuss: "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive, who is youer than you."

Then there’s the Random:

Lexi: Even though I have seen Bring It On a million times I never get sick of it #fave

Stakey - "Riding a scooter around school, now that's a good day."

Justin: ffa float = greatest float ever!!!

Alex - I get upset over the most STUPID things.

Devan: I love when im in the tractor and people pass me and are all pissed off because how slow i am going #itsatractor

At the beginning of the year, most let me follow them on Twitter, but after some detentions were handed out for bad twitter etiquette many dropped me.  So for those who did, and for those who don’t tweet, here’s my take on how they’d might …

Spencer – I’d tweet, but you’d probably not notice.

Sami – I believe the color black is very expressive, not many people see all of it’s different shades.

Tanner – Take me out to the ballgame or Let’s play two!

Borts – What?  I’m on my way to class.

Jaylnn – If I can balance on these shoes, I can balance on anything.

Travis – Twitter?  If I can’t drive it, hunt it, or put saddle on it, I’m not interested in it.

Ian – When I’m not playing sports, I’m starring in rap videos

Emily - If I’m going to make a difference I’m not going to need anything for it.

Tayler – I’ll tweet something after this migraine clears up.

Ethan – Today I AM a graduate of CAM High School

Dan – I’m most comfortable 21 feet from the basket!  Yeah buddy

Michaela – Who has time to tweet?

One can glean insight about people through Twitter, and real tweets or not I hope I’ve provided you some insight about how fond I’ve become of these seniors and how much we’ll all miss them next year.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rolling out the Blueprint for Iowa

Jason Glass, State Director of Education in Iowa, did not disappoint in creating "One Unshakable Vision - World-class Schools for Iowa" released yesterday, Oct. 3rd 2011. The much-anticipated document, outlined in a concise 16 page PDF file, is destined to face scrutiny and debate from all sides. At least I HOPE we can debate, discuss, contemplate and rebut the ideas presented.

Education is a big political issue, and if you are into the politics and the strategies of today, you know they are divisive and becoming more polarizing. Sound bites and advertisements are now black and white, either you're for us or against us. So when you push things to be black and white and eliminate the gray, there is no room for discussion or thought.

The blueprint will be categorized and characterized by the majority of Iowans without even reading or considering what is on it's pages. Newspaper headlines are reading "Branstad Education plan could be costly, some warn." - Omaha World-Herald. The article talks on the surface about how many teachers they would have to hire to provide time for Mentor and Master Teachers that will work with the rest of the staff. They quote one administrator as saying they'll have to add 10 staff.

Freeing up time for teachers to collaborate and work with other teachers will necessitate additional personal. But it's not as simple as taking all those quarters and halves and adding them together to make up their time. (Mentor teachers will spend 25% of their time and Master 50%) But we want to equate it in simple terms, we want to dismiss or accept without much thought.

In terms of adding staff I was able to look at our staff of 20 teachers and discovered I could get by with adding one full time teacher in English to accomplish the blueprint's goals. That's not considering we were contemplating adding a 1/2 time English teacher next year.

I challenge all Iowans to resist the temptation to put things in simple, politically charged, packets and sound bites but to instead work through to a solution. Whether in the end it's 90% of what's in the blueprint or 10%, let's find answers and not sound bites. Let's talk to each other, not at each other or down to each other. Arguing is good if you have a viable alternative or direction to fight for, not an interest-pushed agenda.

I would suggest having county-wide implementation teams of Superintendents, Principals, Board Members and Legislators working on feasibility, not in terms of is it possible? But more like MAKE it possible. Maybe even reach out to nearby districts to share resources in and out of the county.

My fear is that we never get the chance to work on this at the building level. There are "town-hall" meetings scheduled, which were held last spring and did a lot to craft the blueprint. I believe we're past that format and need to move to groups that directly are affected by the legislation to demonstrate what could work and find alternatives to what needs re-worked.

I challenge everyone to read, think and above all act. Whether it's attending a meeting, writing a legislator, working in your building to see what could work and taking the ideas and applying them in ways you can right now.

In that way the spirit of the document could gain traction even before hitting the state house floor.