From the principal’s office: Alder Creek Middle School an awesome place to learn | SierraSun.com
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From the principal’s office: Alder Creek Middle School an awesome place to learn

Susan PhebusSpecial to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. – April, May and June at Alder Creek Middle School have been very busy. We took the state test, hosted orientation for the incoming 5th grade students, did our last Honor Roll for 2011-2012, and hosted our Open House.In May, the students at ACMS had the opportunity to show their academic prowess on the CST. It marks the culmination of a long process of monitoring progress towards proficiency of the state standards. Throughout the year the students prepared for this summative test through assessments called District Standards Assessments (DSAs). DSAs help teachers either re-teach concepts that are unclear or extend learning when needed. The Professional Learning Community, or PLC, forms the academic focus: a rigorous, thinking-centered curriculum that is a clear and systemic analysis of data and feedback to students. Each grade level curricular PLC meets weekly to adjust instruction not only based on DSAs, but on frequent Common Assessments. Common Assessments are constructed by the PLC in each curricular area and used as frequent formative assessments. The teachers analyze the results or data and form intervention groups to ensure that all students are successful and enrichment for those students who know the concepts being taught. Throughout the year, the PLC is constantly measuring the progress of all of their students. Each PLC has set specific, measurable, attainable, results based, and timely (SMART) goals. The PLC’s goal is to accomplish the level of proficiency that they have identified. Thus far, the DSAs and the common assessments have demonstrated growth towards proficiency for most students. Although this is the framework of assessment, the “magic” is in the classroom. The teachers are engaging students and inviting them to learn using a variety of strategies and activities. Students are involved in Civil War re-enactments, singing math formulas and rules, or going on expeditions to new and ancient lands. Students are learning 21st technology skills in our Aces period as well as having those skills infused into the core classes. For example, the students are creating brochures that require them to research a topic in depth; they are carrying on classroom blogs, and learning how to create games for the computer.Students who received a GPA of 3.3 or higher were honored at an Honor Roll Assembly and breakfast in April. We had the pleasure of honoring 87 6th grade students, 127 7th grade students and 76 8th grade students with either Honor Roll certificates or Distinguished Student certificates for those students receiving straight As.In April we also had our annual BBQ and Open House. The built-in BBQ set the stage of collegiality for teachers, students, and parents to eat together. Afterward, classrooms were opened and the students acted as their parents’ guide. It was a wonderful evening for the students to share their work and accomplishments with their parents.In May, 60 second language learners, or ELs, who “hit the target” will participate in a visitation to University of Reno as a reward for achieving a 3.0 GPA. Also in May we hosted a Parent Focus Night entitled “Parents Coming Together to Stop Teen Drinking and Drug Use.” A panel of teens, parents and professionals presented on drug and alcohol prevention topics. Parents who attended received a chance to win a $50 Safeway gift card in a raffle drawing!Our counselor, Mrs. Koles and a team of peer helpers went to all the incoming 5th grade classrooms as part of an orientation to ACMS. The peer helpers played a significant role in this by answering questions about middle school to help allay any fears. All 5th grade students attending Glenshire Elementary, Truckee Elementary, and Donner Trail Elementary then spent a day at ACMS for orientation. Additionally, we hosted a Parent Focus Night devoted to 6th grade at the end of May.In June, ACMS wraps up the school year with a variety of activities that are school-wide as well as grade level specific. These activities included an award assembly honoring all students, an ice cream social for yearbook distribution, a 6th grade Odyssey of the Mind field trip to Donner Lake, the 7th grade Renaissance Faire, and 8th grade graduation. Eighth grade graduation activities include a trip to Wild Island on June 15, the Graduation Ceremony, and a dance on June 18.Alder Creek Middle School is the home of the Cougars; it is an AWESOME place to learn! Thank you for allowing me to share my school with you!


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