Principal’s Message – Happy Halloween! October 31, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 31, 2014

“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.” – Erin Morgenstern

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/
Good Morning and a Happy Friday…Trick or Treat!

A shout out to the English Department for their Halloween theme goodies and treats! I’m seeing many artistic and creative costumes this morning both with the staff and students. I also want to thank the staff for sharing the ‘Halloween Dress code” PowerPoint with our students. I’ll be taking pictures throughout the day and sharing them on our Twitter page.

Good luck to our Cross Country teams, they’re competing today at Lake Casitas for the county championship….run with Godspeed! Also congratulations to Coach Tag and our football team! Last night’s victory earned the team a CIF playoff berth….1st time since 1992! Next week’s game at Calabasas will be for the league Championship….Go Pioneers!

ZAP! Start zapping your students. We’ll be constantly reviewing this pilot rollout and tweak as we see the need. Hopefully by the end of the semester, and definitely by the end of the school year, we’ll have solid data to move us forward with the ZAP program.

January 5 is our Common Core Staff development day. Please share with your department chairs on breakout sessions that will help you and our students with the Common Core curriculum.

We’re about to send in our first order for the commemorative brick, if you would like to order one, please let me know by the week’s end…I’ll put a copy of the order form in your mailbox.

Perhaps a little rain this evening, roll back your clocks Saturday night (spring forward, fall back),
keep smiling, enjoy trick or treating, and let’s all make it a great day !

Steve P 🙂

Principal’s message – October 29, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 29, 2014

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/
Good Morning and a pleasant Wednesday!

Halloween is Friday…how about all of staff getting dressed up as historic figures and letting the kids tell us what and why. I’ve also attached a power point with Halloween Dress Code Reminders. (We’re looking to add a slide or two to the presentation, and if we do, I’ll send out the revision), if you can find a few minutes in your schedule to go over it with your students, it would be appreciated!

Both girls’ golf and girls’ tennis begin their CIF title quest today. Golf plays at Sol Park in Ojai while tennis will raise a racket at Moorpark. Also the frosh football team will host a Wednesday afternoon game against the Chargers of Agoura. Don’t forget this week’s football game will be played tomorrow evening.

We’re about to send in our first order for the commemorative brick, if you would like to order one, please let me know by the week’s end…I’ll put a copy of the order form in your mailbox.

During this Friday’s leadership team meeting, we’ll discuss the ZAP program and hopefully be able to start a pilot next week. Also we’ll start a discussion about the possible breakout groups for our PD day in January.

Keep smiling, enjoy our beautiful Fall weather, turn mistakes into learning experiences, and let’s all make it a great day !

Steve P 🙂

Principal’s Message – October 27, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 27, 2014

“It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright.” – Erin Morgenstern

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Good Morning and a pleasant Monday! It’s another beautiful day in paradise, almost a carbon copy of the weekend. I’m told that the rest of the week will be about the same until Friday night (possible rain showers?).

Halloween is Friday…how about all of staff getting dressed up as historic figures and letting the kids tell us what and why…

Over the next couple of days please, please take a look at this short video from Doug Reeves. It validates the ZAP program and emphasizes that the best consequence for not doing the work is to have the student do the work!
http://www.teachertube.com/video/dr-douglas-reeves-toxic-grading-practices-29656

ZAP! Here’s the Prezi link again that Denise sent out this morning for the ZAP Program…it’s still in its infancy stage and I’m should we’ll mold it as it grows, it will be rolled out as a pilot and hopefully by next year, we can mandate it across the board. I’ve also clipped the draft copy of the program below…
http://prezi.com/mo-cbghvrryv/zap/

Good luck to Cami Sage as she tees up at River Ridge Country Club for CIF Individual Golf Championship…a quick word of advice Cami…Low score wins! Later in the week (wed) the golf team travels to Ojai for CIF round one. Take a look at the AD’s game schedule for the week, due to Halloween, Football under the lights has been moved to Thursday night.

Keep smiling, enjoy our beautiful Fall weather, watch the video, and let’s all make it a great day !

Steve P 🙂

Zeros Aren’t Permitted (ZAP):
Program Overview / Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ZAP program?

Zeros Aren’t Permitted (ZAP) is a program designed to increase expectations of students who habitually, or even occasionally, fail to complete and turn in homework assignments on time. It is first and foremost an expectation of high academic standards for all students. This program will empower students to acquire self-discipline and develop positive work habits. These skills will help students achieve success in our school while preparing them to meet the expectations of college and career professionals that they will encounter after graduation.

Why is SVHS using the ZAP program:

The ZAP program is formed based upon the belief that every student can learn and be successful in school. Based on this belief, we will implement this program to hold ourselves and our students accountable for meeting this level of expectations. He/she will take pride in completing an assignment and doing it to the best of his/her ability. The most important trait that an individual can possess when it comes to achieving success is grit.

Grit is the ability to persevere and overcome any obstacle in the pursuit of a goal. When students choose to skip an assignment, they lose an opportunity to practice hard work and display their grit.

We realize that for many students a zero is not an immediate consequence since most students who repeatedly receive zeros are students who are struggling in school anyway. As educators, we recognize that when a student skips an assignment, this is behavioral problem that often becomes an academic problem.

ZAP is one more strategy to help a child experience more success in school by building good character and work ethic. However, ZAP goes beyond behavioral goals like teaching grit. Using ZAP means preparing a student for college, career and/or for life because it requires teachers to ensure each child knows the curriculum, and if he/she is not completing assignments a teacher cannot possibly provide an accurate measure of that student’s knowledge. Our students know more than nothing, and we want them to prove it every time. That is why zeros aren’t permitted.

When will ZAP start?

The ZAP program will begin after the first quarter of the 2014-2015 school year and continue each week that follows (excluding the last week of a grading term, which is devoted to final exams). Teachers will review their gradebooks to identify students with missing work and issue a ZAP form on Friday, November 7th. The ZAP form serves the purpose of providing a written notice to both students and parents that the student is missing one or more assignments for a specific class.

ZAP forms should be signed by both the student and parent and must accompany any and all missing work that a student submits after a deadline. Students who fail to complete the assignments listed on the ZAP form by the following Monday, November 10th will be “zapped,” which means they will be referred to the ZAP program at lunch (or after school). The ZAP program runs at lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:00 on Tuesday & Thursday of each week. Students who are zapped for English, Math or History will attend ZAP on Tuesday. Students zapped for Science or electives will attend ZAP on Thursday.

The Progression of ZAP (RTI)

Tier One: Students will be assigned to the Lunch ZAP program where they will be given supervision and academic support by a certified teacher until they have completed their work. Students will lose ten percentage points of the total points earned for that assignment every day they are in the ZAP program until the missing assignment is completed. The highest possible grade will be 50% of the total points earned after five days, which is much better than getting a zero. Students will be given two days to attend ZAP and complete their work. If the student chooses not to attend ZAP and complete his/her work within three days, then he/she will be moved to the Tier Two intervention of the ZAP program.

Sports Eligibility: Student may participate in all practices or games (unless they are on the deficiency/ineligibility list).

Tier Two: In addition to the Lunch ZAP program, students will be required to attend an after-school “Homework Help” class. Parents will be notified of students being placed in the ZAP program once they are referred to Tier Two in the ZAP program. Kids who miss after-school ZAP time (when confirmed with parent) will receive an office referral. If the student chooses not to attend ZAP and complete his/her work after two days then he/she will be moved to the Tier Three intervention of the ZAP program.

Sports Eligibility: Student must report to after-school ZAP until 4:00 p.m. He/she is dismissed from afterschool ZAP at 4:00 p.m. to go to practice or home games. If he/she is not on the deficiency/eligibility list, student may travel with the team and play at away games.

Tier Three: In addition to the Lunch ZAP program and required after-school “Homework Help” class, the student will be assigned a “Saturday School” (this is assigned if student fails to attend 2 lunch time ZAPs and 2 after-school “homework help” classes). Saturday School is held periodically throughout the school year as needed. Saturday School runs from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. If the student chooses not to complete his/her work after

ZAP PROGRAM SCHEDULE

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Weekend
Teachers collect ZAP forms and completed work for grading.

Students still missing work or an with an unsigned ZAP form are required to attend ZAP for the classes in which they have work that is missing or incomplete.

Teachers notify Counselor of the ZAP referral if student is assigned to D-11. Lunch Time ZAP all subjects

ZAP time for English, Math & History:
3:00-4:00 Students who have missed 2 Lunch Time ZAPs will be assigned after-school ZAP, Counselors will notify Parents

Students who have missed 2 after-school ZAPs will be assigned SATURDAY SCHOOL, Admin will notify parents Lunch Time ZAP all subjects

ZAP time for Science & Electives:
3:00-4:00 The ZAP process begins when teachers identify students missing who are missing assignments. The teacher addresses the missing work with the student, provides a ZAP form to be signed and submitted with missing work. Students have an opportunity to complete the missing assignments listed on the ZAP form. If complete and submit their missing work along with a signed ZAP form, they can avoid getting zapped for the following week.
SATURDAY SCHOOL 1x/mo.
a Wednesday and/or Saturday School, then he/she will be moved to the Tier Four intervention of the ZAP program. Tier three students are ineligible for school-sponsored activities, clubs, or sports.
Eligibility: Student is ineligible for all after-school activities (i.e. sports, performances, dances, etc.) beginning on the day he/she is placed on Tier 3 for one full week – for example, Wednesday to Wednesday.

Who do I contact with questions concerning ZAP?
Parents with questions or concerns regarding the ZAP program should contact their student’s teacher. If further assistance is necessary please contact either Denise Johnson (Counselor) or Amy Simmons-Folkes (Assistant Principal).

Thank you for your support as we make a push to raise our student expectations, teach grit, and master the educational standards designed to prepare our students for college and careers.

Principal’s Message – TGIF October 24, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 24, 2014

“Music teachers and athletic coaches routinely provide abundant feedback to students and only occasionally associate a grade with the feedback. Teachers in visual arts, drafting, culinary arts, or computer programming allow students to create a portfolio to show their best work, knowing that the mistakes made in the course of the semester were not failures, but lessons learned on the way to success.” – Douglas B Reeves

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Good Morning and a Happy Friday! Thank you for the vibrant discussion at this morning’s faculty meeting. Let’s keep the discussion going and remember its all about allowing our students to achieve at their highest potential!

Over the next couple of days please, please take a look at this short video from Doug Reeves…I wish I had it earlier today to show it at our meeting, it validates the ZAP program and emphasizes that the best consequence for not doing the work is to have the student do the work!
http://www.teachertube.com/video/dr-douglas-reeves-toxic-grading-practices-29656

Friday Night under the Lights! Homecoming game against Oak Park…kick-off time is 7:00pm. Encourage all your alum friends to stop by…the Class of 1964 (50 years) will be honored this evening. Besides rooting hard and loud for the players, let’s also give a high 5 to our Cheerleaders and Band members for all that they do to lead the crowd and team to a victory!

Also, good luck to our Cross Country teams as they travel down south to Mt San Antonio College (Mt SAC) tomorrow for a big invitational meet!

Band Spectacular! Tomorrow, our band program under the direction of Dan Pracher will be hosting their annual show. This year they have a record number of bands (almost 40!), and once again, it promises to be an exciting day! Our band will perform at 4:15pm…make plans to stop by and catch a glimpse or 2!

ZAP! Here’s the Prezi link again that Denise sent out this morning for the ZAP Program…it’s still in its infancy stage and I’m should we’ll mold it as it grows, it will be rolled out as a pilot and hopefully by next year, we can mandate it across the board.
http://prezi.com/mo-cbghvrryv/zap/

One more article to read, after the meeting a couple of teachers reminded me of an article regarding ‘Toxic Grading Practices’ both the above video and the article below are from the Google search on Toxic Grades. I highlighted a portion of the article below that we once asked the staff to come up with a final grade, and as the article explains, we too came up with a wide range of grades. Please post your comments on the blog where we can all continue this discussion:
http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Keep smiling, enjoy our beautiful Fall weather, and let’s all make it a great day and a fantastic weekend!

Steve P 🙂

http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb08/vol65/num05/Effective-Grading-Practices.aspx

Leading to Change / Effective Grading Practices
Douglas B. Reeves

If you wanted to make just one change that would immediately reduce student failure rates, then the most effective place to start would be challenging prevailing grading practices. How can I be so sure? Try this experiment in your next faculty meeting. Ask your colleagues to calculate the final grade for a student who receives the following 10 grades during a semester: C, C, MA (Missing Assignment), D, C, B, MA, MA, B, A. I have done this experiment with thousands of teachers and administrators in the United States, Canada, and Argentina. Every time—bar none—I get the same results: The final grades range from F to A and include everything in between.
As this experiment demonstrates, the difference between failure and the honor roll often depends on the grading policies of the teacher. To reduce the failure rate, schools don’t need a new curriculum, a new principal, new teachers, or new technology. They just need a better grading system.

Ineffective Grading

The results of my experiment are not surprising. Guskey and Bailey (2001) and Marzano (2000) have synthesized decades of research with similar findings. Neither the weight of scholarship nor common sense seems to have influenced grading policies in many schools. Practices vary greatly among teachers in the same school—and even worse, the practices best supported by research are rarely in evidence.
For example, the most effective grading practices provide accurate, specific, timely feedback designed to improve student performance (Marzano 2000, 2007; O’Connor, 2007). In the best classrooms, grades are only one of many types of feedback provided to students. Music teachers and athletic coaches routinely provide abundant feedback to students and only occasionally associate a grade with the feedback. Teachers in visual arts, drafting, culinary arts, or computer programming allow students to create a portfolio to show their best work, knowing that the mistakes made in the course of the semester were not failures, but lessons learned on the way to success. In each of these cases, “failures” along the way are not averaged into a calculation of the final grade.
Contrast these effective practices with three commonly used grading policies that are so ineffective they can be labeled as toxic. First is the use of zeroes for missing work. Despite evidence that grading as punishment does not work (Guskey, 2000) and the mathematical flaw in the use of the zero on a 100-point scale (Reeves, 2004), many teachers routinely maintain this policy in the mistaken belief that it will lead to improved student performance. Defenders of the zero claim that students need to have consequences for flouting the teacher’s authority and failing to turn in work on time. They’re right, but the appropriate consequence is not a zero; it’s completing the work—before, during, or after school, during study periods, at “quiet tables” at lunch, or in other settings.

Second is the practice of using the average of all scores throughout the semester, a formula that presumes that the learning early in the semester is as important as learning at the end of the semester (Marzano, 2000; O’Connor, 2007). Interestingly, when teachers and administrators have been students in my graduate courses, they routinely insist that they should be evaluated on the basis of their understanding at the end of the semester rather than their work throughout the term.
Third is the use of the “semester killer”—the single project, test, lab, paper, or other assignment that will make or break students. This practice puts 18 weeks of work at risk based on a project that might, at most, have consumed four weeks of the semester.

A small but growing number of school systems are tackling the issue head-on with comprehensive plans for effective grading practices. (The policy developed by one such district, Grand Island Public Schools in Nebraska, is available at http://wikiassessments.editme.com/files/GradingandReporting/G%26R%20Guiding%20Docs.pdf.)
But even in districts that have attempted to put effective grading policies in place, enforcement is often inconsistent. Grading seems to be regarded as the last frontier of individual teacher discretion. The same school leaders and community members who would be indignant if sports referees were inconsistent in their rulings continue to tolerate inconsistencies that have devastating effects on student achievement.
High-Stakes Grading

The Alliance for Excellent Education estimated that the annual cost of high school failure exceeds $330 billion (“An Economic Case,” 2007). Some of these failures are no doubt caused by excessive absences and poor student performance. But, as the experiment at the beginning of this column clearly indicates, many failures are caused by the differences in teacher grading policies.

Do another experiment: Randomly select 30 course failures from the last semester, and determine the cause for failure. Two common causes are missing homework and poor performance on a single major assignment—a term paper, lab, or project. What would it mean to your school if you could reduce the number of failing grades resulting solely from uncompleted homework?

The stakes of grading practices are not limited to student failure. When grading policies improve, discipline and morale almost always follow. For example, Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, achieved a remarkable reduction in course failures through focused attention on improved feedback and intervention for students (Reeves, 2006). I recently checked in with the school, and Principal Joel McKinney reported that the success of this challenging urban school (74 percent free and reduced-price lunch, high mobility, and increasing numbers of English language learners) did not stop with reducing 9th and 10th grade failures. As of fall 2007, enrollment in advanced placement classes had increased 32 percent; suspensions had declined 67 percent; elective opportunities in music, art, and technology had increased; class cuts and tardiness had fallen significantly; teacher morale and school climate had noticeably improved—and the course failure rate had continued to decline (personal communication, December 5, 2007). When schools take steps to reduce failures, lots of good things happen.

The Steps to Take

Although changing grading systems is a challenging leadership task, the benefits are so great that it’s worth doing.

First, create a sense of urgency. Identify the exact cost of inconsistent grading practices. How many failures can we prevent this semester if we improve our grading practices?

Second, identify teacher leaders who are already improving policies. Chances are that some teachers in your school have already eliminated the use of the average and the zero on a 100-point scale and created meaningful opportunities for corrective feedback outside of grades. Provide a forum for these teachers to share their insights with colleagues and lead the effort to develop improved policies.

Third, get the facts; gather evidence that will create a rationale for decision making. At the end of the day, your choices about teaching practice must be guided by evidence, not opinions. For example, although many people sincerely believe that giving poor grades as a punishment is effective, Guskey (2000) has marshaled 90 years of evidence to the contrary.

Fourth, reassure parents, students, and teachers that certain things will not change. Students will still have letter grades, transcripts, honor rolls, individualized education plans, and everything else that they have counted on as part of their grading system. What they won’t have is irrational grading policies that give students widely different grades for the same work.

The benefits of effective grading practices are not limited to a reduced failure rate—although that benefit alone is sufficient to justify change. When student failures decrease, student behavior improves, faculty morale is better, resources allocated to remedial courses and course repetitions are reduced, and resources invested in electives and advanced courses increase. When was the last time a single change in your school accomplished all that?

References
An economic case for high school reform (Editorial). (2007, November 1). Minneapolis Star Tribune. Available: www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/11148976.html.
Guskey, T. R. (2000). Grading policies that work against standards … and how to fix them. NASSP Bulletin, 84(620), 20–29.
Guskey, T. R., & Bailey, J. M. (2001). Developing grading and reporting systems for student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Marzano, R. J. (2000). Transforming classroom grading. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
O’Connor, K. (2007). A repair kit for grading: 15 fixes for broken grades. Portland, OR: Educational Testing Service.
Reeves, D. B. (2004). The case against zero. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(4), 324–325.
Reeves, D. B. (2006). Leading to change: Preventing 1,000 failures. Educational Leadership, 64(3), 88–89.

Principal’s message – October 23, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 23, 2014

“I don’t know anybody who said, ‘I love that teacher, he or she gave a really good homework set,’ or ‘Boy, that was the best class I ever took because those exams were awesome.’ That’s not what people want to talk about. It’s not what influences people in one profession or another.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/
Good Afternoon and a pleasant Wednesday! Once again, we’re being treated to some of the best weather that So California can offer!

A shout out to our MHC academy. Today under the direction of Christina Peloquin every 9th grader is getting hands on training in 1st Aid and CPR…if you get a chance this afternoon, stop by the MPR and check it out!

The DTASC Fall Festival Showcase is in D-7 @ 7 tonight. Simi Valley High students have represented our school at over thirty Fall and Shakespeare festivals over the years. It’s an important event for our actors…a big shout out to Sharon Crane for all that she does with our Thespians!

Last night’s choral presentation, “Broadway or Bust!” received raving reviews! It returns for an encore presentation this evening in the MPR starting at 7pm. The SVHS Choral Department presents featuring Concert Choir, Beginning Jazz, and our award-winning Vocal Ensemble and Vocal Jazz choirs. The program will consist of choreographed musical selections from Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease.

In sports this afternoon, our Frosh and Soph football teams start off the Homecoming games against Oak Park and Burroughs (Fr). Kick off times are at 4:00 and 6:00pm. Girls’ tennis will try and extend their streak also against Oak Park here at home and the Girls’ volleyball will host the Scorpions of Camarillo….Go Pioneers!

Band Spectacular! This Saturday, our band program under the direction of Dan Pracher will be hosting their annual show. This year they have a record number of bands (almost 40!), and once again, it promises to be an exciting day! Our band will perform at 4:15pm…make plans to stop by and catch a glimpse or 2!

At Friday’s faculty meeting, I’ll like to have a discussion about assessments and grades…are we using grades as a punishment, are grades measuring behavior or student progress? What’s the ‘punishment’ for missing or failing an assignment? Is it important to get it right the first time or can we fail numerous times before mastery a task? Here’s one more article to review…again, please review the articles this week and be prepared to discuss them at our meeting on Friday!

Enjoy the sunshine, keep smiling, read the articles and be prepare to discuss them, and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

Tom Schimmer
Enough with the Late Penalties!

Here is my issue with Late Penalties being applied to student work. If we are going to reduce an entire course worth of work down to one symbol for the purpose of reporting, should we not at the very least ensure that the grade is accurate? Late Penalties lead to inaccuracy, which leads to deflated grades, which distorts the students’ achievement; their true ability to meet the intended learning outcomes. In most jurisdictions (if not all) grades are supposed to reflect the student’s ability to meet the intended learning outcomes of the course they are enrolled in. In my 20 years I have never seen a curriculum guide that had “handing in work on time” as a learning intention. It’s possible that one exists, I’ve just never seen it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for students meeting set deadlines. It is obviously a great habit to develop that will serve students well as they make the transition to adulthood. I also believe in holding students accountable for deadlines, I just never applied a late penalty. Like “0”, I was the late penalty guy early in my career; “10% per day” was my middle name. Over the years I saw the late penalty as a waste of time. I’d rather support the student than penalize them. 10% is a nice round number and that’s likely the reason we’ve chosen it through the decades as it keeps the math easy! I am not aware of any educational research that proclaims “Late Penalties” as an effective practice…are you? The threat of a penalty is supposed to motivate students into meeting the deadline. Clearly that threat isn’t working as that threat has existed for decades and yet students are still late with assignments.

Here is my position: Students should be graded on the quality of their work (their ability to meet the desired learning targets) rather than how punctual the assignment is. Here’s why:
Some students predictably struggle with deadlines. Once a due date has been given, most teachers can predict which students will be on-time and which students will be late. We know that most students will meet the deadlines. If most don’t, then there is likely a flaw in the assignment. The few that struggle with deadlines need support, not penalties. The other aspect is that we already know (to a certain degree) who is going to be late. Think about that…we can predict they’ll be late, but do we act to ensure the learning and/or assignment is on track? Most students like deadlines and the organization and pacing they provide.
Quality work should trump timeliness. Would you rather a student hand-in high quality work late or poor quality work on-time? Now I know that in an ideal world every student would complete all assignments correctly and hand them in on time, but I choose quality and I think you would too. We have spent far too much time in education focusing on the things that sit on the periphery of learning. Meeting a deadline is a good thing – even a great thing – but it doesn’t have anything to do with how much Math or Social Studies you understand!
The flood is a myth! No, not that flood. The flood of assignments at the end of the year that you think you are going to get; it won’t happen, at least that wasn’t my experience. In fact, in every school I’ve worked in where teachers eliminated their late penalties they did not experience the flood. As I said above, most students like deadlines and not having a late penalty doesn’t mean you don’t set deadlines and act when they are not met; just don’t distort their grade by artificially lowering it.

We don’t ‘add’ for early. When I’ve asked teachers who have late penalties why they don’t add 10% per day for early assignments they usually say something like, “I couldn’t do that. That would inflate their grade and wouldn’t be accurate.” I think they’ve just answered their own question. The exact same logic as to why adding-for-early is not appropriate applies to late penalties; the logic of inaccuracy.
Behavior & Learning must be kept separate. Inaccuracy comes when we start to include student attributes into reporting. Not handing in work on time has nothing to do with what they know; it reflects what they haven’t done.

Ken O’Connor writes:
The punitive nature of the penalty is a powerful disincentive for students to complete any work.”
If I’m a marginal student who barely passes most assignments, why would I even bother doing the work if I’m 3 or 4 days late? I vote for eliminating the penalty altogether, but here are some other suggestions if you insist on keeping your late penalty. After all, I can’t make you change.
• Provide a DUE DATE WINDOW and allow your students to manage their time. Provide a window of a few days or an entire week. Then, after the window closes consider them late.
• Spend MORE TIME IN PREPARATION making sure every student is clear on what to do and how to do it. Students might need exemplars or deeper explanations before they are ready.
• Provide EXTRA SUPPORT AHEAD OF TIME. We know some students struggle with deadlines and it would be irresponsible as a teacher to not act upon that knowledge before it’s too late.
Now, if all of that doesn’t work for you, then here is a late penalty I could support; I don’t like it, but I could support it. 1% per day! If you are like most teachers I’ve suggested this to you will have one of two reactions. One reaction is that, “it’s hardly worth the effort so why bother.” EXACTLY! The other reaction is, “that’s not tough enough!”

The second reaction usually reveals the real motive behind the penalty; that for students to comply with deadlines we need to toughen up on them. Just like with “0”, the punishment paradigm will never produce the academic epiphany. Making school less pleasant through artificial penalties has never inspired students to exceed expectations.
I set deadlines, but I negotiated deadlines if students came in advance. I held students responsible for deadlines and reacted NOW if a deadline wasn’t met. I contacted parents if deadlines were consistently being missed or avoided, but I DIDN’T PENALIZE STUDENTS in the GRADE BOOK! I accepted late work, but I never got the flood at the end of the year!

So…enough with the late penalties already and let’s put our focus back on learning!

Principal’s message – October 21, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 21, 2014

“When I was growing up, my parents told me, ‘Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.’ I tell my daughters, ‘Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job.’”- Thomas Friedman

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Good Morning and a pleasant Tuesday! It’s another beautiful day in paradise…just can’t beat this October weather!

It’s great to see the Chrome Carts being used! It’s simple to check one out, just go to the shared Chrome Cart Sign Up Calendar – https://docs.google.com/a/simivalleyusd.org/spreadsheets/d/12sgyxTVNO82jD0XKCkcHxaAiUV27AX48t9F2Y6Kd8oQ/edit#gid=1132539171
and pick a period(s) and a date. Just remember to return the cart back to L2 after you’re done since, others might be needing it…thanks!

The DTASC Fall Festival Showcase is in D-7 @ 7 on Thursday night. Simi Valley High students have represented our school at over thirty Fall and Shakespeare festivals over the years. It’s an important event for our actors…a big shout out to Sharon Crane for all that she does with our Thespians!

The SVHS Choral Department presents “Broadway or Bust!” featuring Concert Choir, Beginning Jazz, and our award-winning Vocal Ensemble and Vocal Jazz choirs. The program will consist of choreographed musical selections from Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease. The opening night is on Wednesday, October 22 at 7pm and the final show is on Thursday, October 23 at 7pm. Both shows are in the MPR at Simi Valley High School. Each night will feature different soloists and a live band! See Kelley or a choral student for ticket information!

Band Spectacular! This Saturday, our band program under the direction of Dan Pracher will be hosting their annual show. This year they have a record number of bands (almost 40!), and once again, it promises to be an exciting day…make plans to stop by and catch a glimpse or 2!

At Friday’s faculty meeting, I’ll like to have a discussion about assessments and grades…are we using grades as a punishment, are grades measuring behavior or student progress? What’s the ‘punishment’ for missing or failing an assignment? Is it important to get it right the first time or can we fail numerous times before mastery a task? Here’s my second article for the week…again, please review the articles this week and be prepared to discuss them at our meeting on Friday!

Enjoy the sunshine, keep smiling, ask a probing question or two (and wait for the answer!) and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

Also please download this article from Doug Reeves as well:
http://www.ccresa.org/Files/Uploads/252/The_Case_Against_Zero.pdf

February 2008 | Volume 65 | Number 5
Teaching Students to Think Pages 85-87
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb08/vol65/num05/Effective-Grading-Practices.aspx
*Leading to Change / Effective Grading Practices

Douglas B. Reeves

If you wanted to make just one change that would immediately reduce student failure rates, then the most effective place to start would be challenging prevailing grading practices. How can I be so sure? Try this experiment in your next faculty meeting. Ask your colleagues to calculate the final grade for a student who receives the following 10 grades during a semester: C, C, MA (Missing Assignment), D, C, B, MA, MA, B, A. I have done this experiment with thousands of teachers and administrators in the United States, Canada, and Argentina. Every time—bar none—I get the same results: The final grades range from F to A and include everything in between.
As this experiment demonstrates, the difference between failure and the honor roll often depends on the grading policies of the teacher. To reduce the failure rate, schools don’t need a new curriculum, a new principal, new teachers, or new technology. They just need a better grading system.

Ineffective Grading
The results of my experiment are not surprising. Guskey and Bailey (2001) and Marzano (2000) have synthesized decades of research with similar findings. Neither the weight of scholarship nor common sense seems to have influenced grading policies in many schools. Practices vary greatly among teachers in the same school—and even worse, the practices best supported by research are rarely in evidence.
For example, the most effective grading practices provide accurate, specific, timely feedback designed to improve student performance (Marzano 2000, 2007; O’Connor, 2007). In the best classrooms, grades are only one of many types of feedback provided to students. Music teachers and athletic coaches routinely provide abundant feedback to students and only occasionally associate a grade with the feedback. Teachers in visual arts, drafting, culinary arts, or computer programming allow students to create a portfolio to show their best work, knowing that the mistakes made in the course of the semester were not failures, but lessons learned on the way to success. In each of these cases, “failures” along the way are not averaged into a calculation of the final grade.
Contrast these effective practices with three commonly used grading policies that are so ineffective they can be labeled as toxic. First is the use of zeroes for missing work. Despite evidence that grading as punishment does not work (Guskey, 2000) and the mathematical flaw in the use of the zero on a 100-point scale (Reeves, 2004), many teachers routinely maintain this policy in the mistaken belief that it will lead to improved student performance. Defenders of the zero claim that students need to have consequences for flouting the teacher’s authority and failing to turn in work on time. They’re right, but the appropriate consequence is not a zero; it’s completing the work—before, during, or after school, during study periods, at “quiet tables” at lunch, or in other settings.

Second is the practice of using the average of all scores throughout the semester, a formula that presumes that the learning early in the semester is as important as learning at the end of the semester (Marzano, 2000; O’Connor, 2007). Interestingly, when teachers and administrators have been students in my graduate courses, they routinely insist that they should be evaluated on the basis of their understanding at the end of the semester rather than their work throughout the term.
Third is the use of the “semester killer”—the single project, test, lab, paper, or other assignment that will make or break students. This practice puts 18 weeks of work at risk based on a project that might, at most, have consumed four weeks of the semester.

A small but growing number of school systems are tackling the issue head-on with comprehensive plans for effective grading practices. (The policy developed by one such district, Grand Island Public Schools in Nebraska, is available at http://wikiassessments.editme.com/files/GradingandReporting/G%26R%20Guiding%20Docs.pdf.)
But even in districts that have attempted to put effective grading policies in place, enforcement is often inconsistent. Grading seems to be regarded as the last frontier of individual teacher discretion. The same school leaders and community members who would be indignant if sports referees were inconsistent in their rulings continue to tolerate inconsistencies that have devastating effects on student achievement.

High-Stakes Grading
The Alliance for Excellent Education estimated that the annual cost of high school failure exceeds $330 billion (“An Economic Case,” 2007). Some of these failures are no doubt caused by excessive absences and poor student performance. But, as the experiment at the beginning of this column clearly indicates, many failures are caused by the differences in teacher grading policies.

Do another experiment: Randomly select 30 course failures from the last semester, and determine the cause for failure. Two common causes are missing homework and poor performance on a single major assignment—a term paper, lab, or project. What would it mean to your school if you could reduce the number of failing grades resulting solely from uncompleted homework?

The stakes of grading practices are not limited to student failure. When grading policies improve, discipline and morale almost always follow. For example, Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, achieved a remarkable reduction in course failures through focused attention on improved feedback and intervention for students (Reeves, 2006). I recently checked in with the school, and Principal Joel McKinney reported that the success of this challenging urban school (74 percent free and reduced-price lunch, high mobility, and increasing numbers of English language learners) did not stop with reducing 9th and 10th grade failures. As of fall 2007, enrollment in advanced placement classes had increased 32 percent; suspensions had declined 67 percent; elective opportunities in music, art, and technology had increased; class cuts and tardiness had fallen significantly; teacher morale and school climate had noticeably improved—and the course failure rate had continued to decline (personal communication, December 5, 2007). When schools take steps to reduce failures, lots of good things happen.

The Steps to Take
Although changing grading systems is a challenging leadership task, the benefits are so great that it’s worth doing.

First, create a sense of urgency. Identify the exact cost of inconsistent grading practices. How many failures can we prevent this semester if we improve our grading practices?

Second, identify teacher leaders who are already improving policies. Chances are that some teachers in your school have already eliminated the use of the average and the zero on a 100-point scale and created meaningful opportunities for corrective feedback outside of grades. Provide a forum for these teachers to share their insights with colleagues and lead the effort to develop improved policies.

Third, get the facts; gather evidence that will create a rationale for decision making. At the end of the day, your choices about teaching practice must be guided by evidence, not opinions. For example, although many people sincerely believe that giving poor grades as a punishment is effective, Guskey (2000) has marshaled 90 years of evidence to the contrary.

Fourth, reassure parents, students, and teachers that certain things will not change. Students will still have letter grades, transcripts, honor rolls, individualized education plans, and everything else that they have counted on as part of their grading system. What they won’t have is irrational grading policies that give students widely different grades for the same work.

The benefits of effective grading practices are not limited to a reduced failure rate—although that benefit alone is sufficient to justify change. When student failures decrease, student behavior improves, faculty morale is better, resources allocated to remedial courses and course repetitions are reduced, and resources invested in electives and advanced courses increase. When was the last time a single change in your school accomplished all that?

References
An economic case for high school reform (Editorial). (2007, November 1). Minneapolis Star Tribune. Available: www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/11148976.html.
Guskey, T. R. (2000). Grading policies that work against standards … and how to fix them. NASSP Bulletin, 84(620), 20–29.
Guskey, T. R., & Bailey, J. M. (2001). Developing grading and reporting systems for student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Marzano, R. J. (2000). Transforming classroom grading. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
O’Connor, K. (2007). A repair kit for grading: 15 fixes for broken grades. Portland, OR: Educational Testing Service.
Reeves, D. B. (2004). The case against zero. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(4), 324–325.
Reeves, D. B. (2006). Leading to change: Preventing 1,000 failures. Educational Leadership, 64(3), 88–89.

Principal’s Message – October 20, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 20, 2014

“Mentors provide professional networks, outlets for frustration, college and career counseling, general life advice, and most importantly, an extra voice telling a student they are smart enough and capable enough to cross the stage at graduation and land their first paycheck from a career pathway job.”
Gerald Chertavian

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Good Morning and a Pleasant Monday! I hope you had an enjoyable weekend, and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. It’s going to be bit less hectic this week with most of the activities for Homecoming during lunchtime.

The Homecoming dance was well attended and the students all left telling me that they had a great time. A big thank you to Leadership, their advisors and everyone who helped out for the event! Congratulations to our Homecoming Court:
Queen – Laura Martin King – Austin West
Princess – Tiffany Kuchinski Prince – Noah Schleien
Princess – Cassie Thiel Prince – Davis Pinkston
Jr Princess & Prince – Kimmy Farr & Cody Lawson
Soph Princess & Prince – Brittany Kapp 7 David McLaughlin
Fresh Princess 7 Prince – Savanah Van Scoy & Justin Nunez

And of course a big shout to our Ma & Pa Pioneers!
Alisa Speidel & Jeff Jackson!

The SVHS Choral Department presents “Broadway or Bust!” featuring Concert Choir, Beginning Jazz, and our award-winning Vocal Ensemble and Vocal Jazz choirs. The program will consist of choreographed musical selections from Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease. The opening night is on Wednesday, October 22 at 7pm and the final show is on Thursday, October 23 at 7pm. Both shows are in the MPR at Simi Valley High School. Each night will feature different soloists and a live band! See Kelley or a choral student for ticket information!

Band Spectacular! This Saturday, our band program under the direction of Dan Pracher will be hosting their annual show. This year they have a record number of bands (almost 40!), and once again, it promises to be an exciting day…make plans to stop by and catch a glimpse or 2!

The quarter is over, and hopefully all your grades were inputted. As we move into the second quarter, please do your best to put in at least 1 grade a week in Aeries. When students and parents look at Aeries and it ‘seems’ like they doing well only to find out at the last moment that assignments are getting posted at the last minute causing for a significant grade change. Also to help your planning out for the rest of the semester here are the due dates for the remaining grading periods:

November 21 – 15 week progress report
December 19 – 1st semester final grades
February 6 – 5 week progress report
March 20 – 3rd quarter grades
April 30 -15 week progress report
June 5 – 2nd semester final grades

At Friday’s faculty meeting, I’ll like to have a discussion about assessments and grades…are we using grades as a punishment, are grades measuring behavior or student progress? What’s the ‘punishment’ for missing or failing an assignment? Is it important to get it right the first time or can we fail numerous times before mastery a task? I’ll be posting a few articles in the next few days, please read them over before Friday’s meeting and come prepared to discuss them!*

Enjoy the sunshine, keep smiling continue to connect the dots, and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

* Research Says / Good Feedback Is Targeted, Specific, Timely
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Good-Feedback-Is-Targeted,-Specific,-Timely.aspx
Bryan Goodwin and Kirsten Miller
Many parents have observed the irony that a child who shows little perseverance when practicing piano or doing homework will joyfully commit countless hours to mastering Guitar Hero or other video games. In fact, by the time the average U.S. adolescent turns 21, he or she will have spent 10,000 hours playing video games (Prensky, 2001)—which is, as it turns out, about the same amount of time necessary to fully master a sport, musical instrument, or area of professional expertise (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993).
According to Prensky (2007), the addictiveness of video games can be partly attributed to the constant stream of feedback they provide. At each level of the game, players learn what works and what doesn’t, and they can immediately use that knowledge to advance to more challenging levels. And researchers have found that the same dynamic applies in education: One of the most powerful keys to unlocking student motivation and perseverance is feedback.
A Powerful Effect on Learning
In a recent update of Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock’s 2001 meta-analysis, McREL researchers found an effect size for feedback of 0.76, which translates roughly into a 28 percentile point difference in average achievement (Beesley & Apthorp, 2010; Dean, Pitler, Hubbell, & Stone, 2012). John Hattie (2009) found a similar effect size of 0.73 for feedback in his synthesis of 800 meta-analyses of education research studies; in fact, feedback ranked among the highest of hundreds of education practices he studied.
But not all feedback is good feedback. Despite the generally beneficial effects of feedback, one-third of studies on feedback examined in two seminal meta-analyses actually found negative effects on learning (Shute, 2008). Research points to three keys to using student feedback to improve student achievement and avoid these negative effects.
Link Feedback to Learning Objectives
The first rule of feedback reflects the straightforward observation that feedback doesn’t do much good if students are not receptive to it. Researchers have long noted what many teachers have seen for themselves—when students buy into their learning objectives, they display more positive attitudes toward learning, more effort and perseverance, and greater engagement in their schooling (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002).
Further, some research suggests that when feedback is delivered as formative guidance rather than summative evaluation, it can help students develop a learning orientation, in which they view improving their own competence as the goal of learning, as opposed to a performance orientation, in which they view being evaluated well by others (or getting a good grade) as the goal of learning (Shute, 2008).
Make Guidance Specific
When the two of us were beginning writers, we shared a pet peeve—editors who would scrawl in the margin next to a piece of prose the three ambiguous letters awk (short for awkward). As novices, we had no idea what was wrong with the offending phrase or how to fix it. Rather than helping us improve our writing, the vague feedback just left us grumbling as we padded our sentences with extra words to appease what seemed to be an editor’s arbitrary sensibilities. In short, our writing got worse, not better.
Vague feedback can have similar negative effects on students, resulting in uncertainty, decreased motivation, and even diminished learning. Case in point: A study of 6th graders found that providing students with feedback in the form of written comments resulted in significantly higher achievement than providing the nonspecific feedback of numeric scores (Wiliam, 2011). Most intriguing, though, the same study found that adding numeric scores to written comments negated the benefits of the comments, presumably because “students who got the high scores didn’t need to read the comments and students who got low scores didn’t want to” (Wiliam, 2011, p. 109). As it turns out, the best feedback isn’t a score or grade; it’s clear, specific guidance on how to improve.
Give Feedback at the Right Time
Research presents a paradox regarding the timeliness of feedback. Obviously, students don’t learn much from feedback provided weeks after completion of a long-since-forgotten unit or assignment. For most education purposes, immediate feedback seems preferable, especially when students are learning difficult concepts or procedural skills (such as long division) in which they run the risk of developing misconceptions or faulty approaches. However, feedback that’s too immediate may cause students to rely on teachers for answers rather than persevering and figuring out problems on their own (Bangert-Drowns, Kulik, Kulik, & Morgan, 1991).
The optimal timing of feedback seems to depend on the nature of the learning task. When students are acquiring new, complex knowledge or skills, real-time checks for understanding and tips can prevent them from developing misconceptions or incorrect practices. But when they are extending and applying knowledge (for example, writing an essay or solving a complex theorem), delaying feedback somewhat can enable them to self-correct, develop perseverance, and take responsibility for their own learning objectives.
Making Classrooms More Like Video Games
The environment in many classrooms, where feedback is often delayed and provides vague guidance only loosely tied to learning objectives, contrasts sharply with that of video games, where a player learns within moments that he or she has played the wrong note on Guitar Hero or taken a wrong turn in the Zelda labyrinth. It’s hard to imagine children being glued to these games if, instead of receiving ongoing, real-time feedback, they got their results weeks later in the mail.
Teachers often complain about disengaged students who have been spoiled by the instant gratification of modern technology. Let’s face it—video games will likely always have more entertainment value than a biology class. But borrowing some of the principles of these games—in particular, the relevance, specificity, and timeliness of the feedback they provide—could go a long way toward powering up classroom environments, making them more engaging and rewarding for students.
References
Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Kulik, C., Kulik, J., & Morgan, M. T. (1991). The instructional effect of feedback in test-like events. Review of Educational Research, 61(2), 213–238.
Beesley, A. D., & Apthorp, H. S. (2010). Classroom instruction that works second edition research report. Denver, CO: McREL. Retrieved from www.mcrel.org/PDF/Instruction/0121RR_CITW_report.pdf
Dean, C., Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 393–394.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Pintrich, P. R. & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2002). Motivation in education: Theory, research, and applications. (2nd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–6.
Prensky, M. (2007). Digital game-based learning. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78(1), 153–189.
Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Principal’s Message – TGIF! October 17, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 17, 2014

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.” – Benjamin Franklin Fairless

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Good Morning and a Happy Friday! Today marks the end of the first quarter…wow! A big thank you to our Special Ed Dept for all the goodies this morning…once again they have set the bar!

Quarter grades are due the end of the day. Hopefully since you have been putting in at least a grade a week, moving your grades from your gradebook to the grade recording page should be as simple as a few clicks. If you need any assistance with inputting please give one of the Eaglets or myself a holler!

Today’s Homecoming Rally kicks off Homecoming Week. The rally will be in the gym during a double period 4. The ASB has sent out an email with all the pertinent information. For quick reference, here’s a copy of today’s bell schedule:
Double Fourth Period Schedule:
Period 1 9:00 – 9:39
Period 2 9:46 – 10:25
Period 3 10:32 – 11:11
Period 4/Rally “A” 11:18 – 12:00
Period 4/Rally “B” 12:07 – 12:49
Lunch 12:49 – 1:19
Period 5 1:26 – 2:05
Period 6 2:12 – 2:50

Tomorrow evening in the MPR our Leadership students will host our 1st dance of the year, an 80’s theme Homecoming Dance! Staff and faculty are of course welcome to attend or at least stop by and do a little ‘Flash Dancing’!

The SVHS Choral Department presents “Broadway or Bust!” featuring Concert Choir, Beginning Jazz, and our award-winning Vocal Ensemble and Vocal Jazz choirs. The program will consist of choreographed musical selections from Broadway shows such as West Side Story, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors and Grease. The opening night is on Wednesday, October 22 at 7pm and the final show is on Thursday, October 23 at 7pm. Both shows are in the MPR at Simi Valley High School. Each night will feature different soloists and a live band! See Kelley or a choral student for ticket information!

Last Call!!! Please check and empty your voice messages. I need to know if you use and want to continue to use your voice mail feature. Voice mail for all teachers will be turned off at the end of the month if I don’t hear back from you!

Our ‘Great California Shakeout’ yesterday seemed to go as planned. As expected we did see some kinks in the armor and we’ll put a few new things in motion. Our Search and Rescue teams found some kids wondering down south (part of the reason why we took a few extra minutes) and I’m sure you’ll hear from Brian with more specifics. Also you might want to take a peek at the VC Star, they had an article about the day’s activities throughout the district including our drill.

Kudos to Ana and all involved with the College and Career Festival! From the guest speaking to the exhibits to the HOSA activities, our students were given a wonderful opportunity to make the ordinary to extraordinary!

Also a big shout out to Denise and the counseling office for putting together Wednesday’s PSAT testing. We had over 250 students take the PSAT. There’s a reason why so many of our students earn recognition from the College Board, and our counselors do a wonderful job providing our students with opportunities to like this to shine!

Last chance!! The world would be a better place if…. What a great theme for the PTSA Reflections program! Students can submit their work in the following categories: 1) Photography, 2) Dance Choreography, 3) Film Production, 4) Literature, 5) Music Composition, and 6) Visual Arts. Detailed guidelines are available in the front office as well as from the PTSA. Make it a class project and submit your best! All entries are due to the front office by the end of the school day.

The quarter is over, and as we’re doing assessments on our students’ progress, now would be a good time to do a little reflection on ourselves. The article below written by Carrie Lam (an academic director) lists the 11 Habits of an Effective Teacher.* Do you agree with her list, anything you would add? Post your thoughts on my blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Enjoy the sunshine, keep smiling continue to connect the dots, and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

*11 Habits of an Effective Teacher
http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/11-habits-effective-teacher?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=discussion-11-habits-effective-teacher-active-discussion
Carrie Lam , Academic Director, Teacher & Workshop Leader, Canada

I really appreciate teachers who are truly passionate about teaching. The teacher who wants to be an inspiration to others. The teacher who is happy with his/her job at all times. The teacher that every other child in the school would love to have. The teacher that kids remember for the rest of their lives. Are you that teacher? Read on and learn 11 effective habits of an effective teacher.
1. ENJOYS TEACHING.
Teaching is meant to be a very enjoyable and rewarding career field (although demanding and exhausting at times!). You should only become a teacher if you love children and intend on caring for them with your heart. You cannot expect the kids to have fun if you are not having fun with them! If you only read the instructions out of a textbook, it’s ineffective. Instead, make your lessons come alive by making it as interactive and engaging as possible. Let your passion for teaching shine through each and everyday. Enjoy every teaching moment to the fullest.
2. MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
There is a saying, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. As a teacher, you need to be aware and remember the great responsibility that comes with your profession. One of your goals ought to be: Make a difference in their lives. How? Make them feel special, safe and secure when they are in your classroom. Be the positive influence in their lives. Why? You never know what your students went through before entering your classroom on a particular day or what conditions they are going home to after your class. So, just in case they are not getting enough support from home, at least you will make a difference and provide that to them.
3. SPREADS POSITIVITY.
Bring positive energy into the classroom every single day. You have a beautiful smile so don’t forget to flash it as much as possible throughout the day. I know that you face battles of your own in your personal life but once you enter that classroom, you should leave all of it behind before you step foot in the door. Your students deserve more than for you to take your frustration out on them. No matter how you are feeling, how much sleep you’ve gotten or how frustrated you are, never let that show. Even if you are having a bad day, learn to put on a mask in front of the students and let them think of you as a superhero (it will make your day too)! Be someone who is always positive, happy and smiling. Always remember that positive energy is contagious and it is up to you to spread it. Don’t let other people’s negativity bring you down with them.
4. GETS PERSONAL.
This is the fun part and absolutely important for being an effective teacher! Get to know your students and their interests so that you can find ways to connect with them. Don’t forget to also tell them about yours! Also, it is important to get to know their learning styles so that you can cater to each of them as an individual. In addition, make an effort to get to know their parents as well. Speaking to the parents should not be looked at as an obligation but rather, an honour. In the beginning of the school year, make it known that they can come to you about anything at anytime of the year. In addition, try to get to know your colleagues on a personal level as well. You will be much happier if you can find a strong support network in and outside of school.
5. GIVES 100%.
Whether you are delivering a lesson, writing report cards or offering support to a colleague – give 100%. Do your job for the love of teaching and not because you feel obligated to do it. Do it for self-growth. Do it to inspire others. Do it so that your students will get the most out of what you are teaching them. Give 100% for yourself, students, parents, school and everyone who believes in you. Never give up and try your best – that’s all that you can do. (That’s what I tell the kids anyway!)
6. STAYS ORGANIZED.
Never fall behind on the marking or filing of students’ work. Try your best to be on top of it and not let the pile grow past your head! It will save you a lot of time in the long run. It is also important to keep an organized planner and plan ahead! The likelihood of last minute lesson plans being effective are slim. Lastly, keep a journal handy and jot down your ideas as soon as an inspired idea forms in your mind. Then, make a plan to put those ideas in action.
7. IS OPEN-MINDED.
As a teacher, there are going to be times where you will be observed formally or informally (that’s also why you should give 100% at all times). You are constantly being evaluated and criticized by your boss, teachers, parents and even children. Instead of feeling bitter when somebody has something to say about your teaching, be open-minded when receiving constructive criticism and form a plan of action. Prove that you are the effective teacher that you want to be. Nobody is perfect and there is always room for improvement. Sometimes, others see what you fail to see.
8. HAS STANDARDS.
Create standards for your students and for yourself. From the beginning, make sure that they know what is acceptable versus what isn’t. For example, remind the students how you would like work to be completed. Are you the teacher who wants your students to try their best and hand in their best and neatest work? Or are you the teacher who couldn’t care less? Now remember, you can only expect a lot if you give a lot. As the saying goes, “Practice what you preach”.
9. FINDS INSPIRATION.
An effective teacher is one who is creative but that doesn’t mean that you have to create everything from scratch! Find inspiration from as many sources as you can. Whether it comes from books, education, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, TpT or what have you, keep finding it!
10. EMBRACES CHANGE.
In life, things don’t always go according to plan. This is particularly true when it comes to teaching. Be flexible and go with the flow when change occurs. An effective teacher does not complain about changes when a new principal arrives. They do not feel the need to mention how good they had it at their last school or with their last group of students compared to their current circumstances. Instead of stressing about change, embrace it with both hands and show that you are capable of hitting every curve ball that comes your way!
11. CREATES REFLECTIONS.
An effective teacher reflects on their teaching to evolve as a teacher. Think about what went well and what you would do differently next time. You need to remember that we all have “failed” lessons from time to time. Instead of looking at it as a failure, think about it as a lesson and learn from it. As teachers, your education and learning is ongoing. There is always more to learn and know about in order to strengthen your teaching skills. Keep reflecting on your work and educating yourself on what you find are your “weaknesses” as we all have them! The most important part is recognizing them and being able to work on them to improve your teaching skills.
There are, indeed, several other habits that make an effective teacher but these are the ones that I find most important. Many other character traits can be tied into these ones as well.
LAST WORD: There is always something positive to be found in every situation but it is up to you to find it. Keep your head up and teach happily for the love of education!

Principal’s Message – October 13, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 3, 2014

“It’s like Forrest Gump said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.’ Your career is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. But everything you get is going to teach you something along the way and make you the person you are today. That’s the exciting part – it’s an adventure in itself.”
– Nick Carter

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/

Happy Columbus Day as well as a Good Morning and a pleasant Monday! I hope you were able to catch your breath over the weekend, last week was very exhilarating and exhausting. However, it was all worth it after the big win Friday night! Kudos to all involved…from the advisors, the coaches, the players, leadership students, staff and of course our fantastic student body!!

Dr Peplinski asked me to share his letter to our staff:

Good morning Simi Valley Unified School District family.

As you may or may not know, for at least the next couple of months, I
will be serving as the Interim Superintendent for our district. We
are going through a period of extraordinary change in our district.
With change, can come difficulties, but in it, we can also find
opportunity. I know each and everyone of you is dedicated to
providing the best service we can to our students and our community.
When the challenges of change seem to be more present than the
opportunity, I encourage you to envision the faces of our students.
They come to our schools every day hoping we will fill their heads with
knowledge and that we will be a bright spot in their day. They are our purpose.
Together we will get past our challenges and celebrate our many
success. We are an exceptional school district with much to be proud
of and much still to accomplish. We are the group to make this
happen! Have a great week and I look forward to seeing you on your
campuses.

All the best!

Dr. Jason Peplinski
Interim Superintendent

Please check and empty your voice messages. I need to know if you use and want to continue to use your voice mail feature. Voice mail for all teachers will be turned off at the end of the month if I don’t hear back from you! If you need help setting up your phone box/message please refer to either this site on our web page:
http://svhs-simi-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1332658647523/1298972692622/5887943465902600136.pdf

The 1st quarter ends this Friday. Quarter grades are due also by the end of the day on Friday. Hopefully since you have been putting in at least a grade a week, moving the your grades from your gradebook to the grade recording page should be as simple as a few clicks

Although not as busy this week as last, this week has a full agenda as well:
Monday – Blood Drive
Wednesday – College and Career Festival/PSAT
Thursday – The Great California Shake out
Friday – Homecoming Pep Rally (Double 4th)
Saturday – Homecoming Dance

*Information regarding the College and Career Festival was sent out to you last week, I’ve also included the info below for a quick reference.

Brian has sent out numerous emails regarding the earthquake drill (The Great California Shakeout) and will send out another reminder later this week.

Information regarding Friday’s rally will be out sooner than later!

The world would be a better place if…. What a great theme for the PTSA Reflections program! Students can submit their work in the following categories: 1) Photography, 2) Dance Choreography, 3) Film Production, 4) Literature, 5) Music Composition, and 6) Visual Arts. Detailed guidelines are available in the front office as well as from the PTSA. Make it a class project and submit your best! All entries are due to the front office by the end of this week – October 17, 2014.

Enjoy the sunshine, keep smiling continue to connect the dots, and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

*College and Career Festival 2014
Simi Valley High School
Staff Information Sheet
Teachers: Thank you so much for your enthusiastic and supportive response to the new College and Career Festival! On the back (or below in e-mail attachement) of this sheet is a more detailed timeline for your information. Here are a couple of important suggested pieces that will help make the event extremely successful:
1. Create a grade for your students attending (2nd period teachers especially) – I will be giving EVERY student a booklet, you can use this as a way to grade them with the paragraph response, or you can do whatever you like.
2. Talk to your students about the dress-code that day: Business Chic! Please remind them to dress professionally & wear ID’s and colored wristbands during the entire event.
i. Wristbands will be given to teachers with booklets before the event.
3. Promote the event, especially to seniors:
a. Let them know they get to choose who they want to talk to.
b. We will use your attendance to do a drawing for the kids that day who attend. There will be 1 Prize per 2nd period class and 1 Grand Prize per grade:
i. Grand Prizes:
1. 12th Grade: 2 Winners: 1 Prom Bid and 1 set of 4 extra grad tickets
2. 11th Grade: Homecoming Ticket
3. 10th Grade: Winter Dance Ticket
4. 9th Grade: Spring Fling Ticket

*HOSA/MHC is running their own event this day*

College & Career Festival 2014
Teacher & Staff Day of Schedule – Red and Yellow Wristbands will be given to teachers with booklets according to Group A or Group B, please distribute and make sure all students are wearing them to help with traffic flow that day.
What? When? 10/15/14 Location/Notes Staff Notes
1st Period 8:00am-8:25am PSAT Students Check Pioneer Board, all others report to 1st period class. Teachers will receive a list via E-mail of those students taking PSAT Tues. afternoon.
Passing: All 8:25am-8:32am *except PSAT students* PSAT to end around 11:30am-12:00pm
2nd Period 8:32am-8:57
Regular 2nd Period, please hand out booklets to all students at this time.

Group A @ Gym Guest Speaker 8:57am A Group: released to GYM, and HOSA students with pass. – B Group remains in classes until 9:07am. Teachers & classes to report to gym; A Group:
Arisohn-Popp
+Shreck
Group B @ Quad for festival. 9:07am-10:20am B Group: Released to festival, with teachers to supervise. Teachers & classes at festival; B Group:
Pracher – Zhou
Passing: ALL
*except PSAT students*
PSAT to end around 11:30am-12:00pm 10:20am-10:35am Groups switch, please inform your students ahead of time that they will need to “switch” during this passing. *Each group of teachers will be given colored wristbands to give to students so that we can identify where they belong*
Group A @ Festival & Group B @ Gym, Guest Speaker 10:35am-11:45am Group A Students at festival.
Passing 11:45am-11:52am All Students, released from GYM and festival.
Reflection Period 11:52am-12:12pm All students report back to 2nd period class.
*Please use attached attendance sheet to check off who turns in booklet. Please have student reflect in booklets and collect them for attendance contest. – Send sheet to CCC or put in box.
Student Lunch 12:12pm-12:42pm Regular lunch period.
Passing 12:42pm-12:49pm
3rd Period 12:49pm-1:14pm
Passing 1:14pm-1:21pm
4th Period 1:21pm- 1:46pm
Passing 1:46pm-1:53pm
5th Period 1:53pm-2:18pm
Passing 2:18pm-2:25pm
6th Period 2:25pm-2:50pm
Draft list of Participants
Simi Valley High School College and Career Day 2014
*more participants awaiting confirmation*

Hospital Publicity & Hospital Careers
Columbia College Hollywood
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Automotive Technology
Ex’pression College
DeVry University
California Lutheran University
Media, Design, Fashion , Culinary – The Art Institutes
US Air Force
Boys & Girls Club of Simi Valley
Hospitality Management Education Initiative Program Coordinator
Grand Canyon University
Tutor Doctor
Nurse
Aerospace Engineer
Chemistry/Engineering
University of La Verne
Cosmetology/Esthetics
Mechanical Engineer
Simi Valley Adult School – CNA, Med Assistant, Machine, Welding, Cosmetology
Engineering/Robotics
Engineering
Dentist
US Coast Guard
Simi Valley Police Department
Veterinarian
Construction
Environmental Compliance Coordinator
FIDM
Army
Navy
Many Mansions
Prescott College
Air Force ROTC – UCLA
Red Cross
Fire Department
Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
Moorpark College
Marines
Nurse
Chemistry/Aerospace
Coalition for Family Harmony – Social Work, Therapy, Volunteering
Electrician

Principal’s Message, October 6, 2014

Simi Valley High School
Principal’s Message
October 6, 2014

“Don’t walk through life just playing football. Don’t walk through life just being an athlete. Athletics will fade. Character and integrity and really making an impact on someone’s life, that’s the ultimate vision, that’s the ultimate goal – bottom line.” – Ray Lewis

Simi Valley High School is on Twitter! Become a follower and get all the last minute news, updates and more!
@DrPSimiValleyHi

This message as well as the past messages can be found on the Principal’s Blog: http://spietrolungo.edublogs.org/
Good Morning and a pleasant Monday! I hope you were able to find some comfort from the heat, and had an opportunity to gear up for our big rivalry week!

You ‘gotta’ love the school spirit! On Friday night Fox Sports had a reporter taking pictures and blogging about our ‘Friday Night under the Lights’, the atmosphere and the outpouring of our school spirit! This morning, it was evident that we’re going to beat them in our sleep with all the pajama wear and that the crescendo is just beginning! Just to recap Jennifer’s email, here’s a list of the following activities for the next few days:
Monday – Pajama day – Nap time @ lunch! Come be in the “sleepy” vine!
Tuesday – Camo day – Army obstacle course @ lunch!
Wednesday – Simi Valley Superhero day – “Save the Citizen” game/dance contest @ lunch!
Thursday – “They Wish They Were Pioneers” day – Body spelling bee @ lunch!
Friday* – Swag day – mini rally at the end of 4th period. All classes to be dismissed at 12:15 to filter into the quad for a quick celebration and practice for our spirit songs to be “performed” at the game that evening.
*Football, cheer, and band need to be released at 11:50.

Let’s get the word out that tickets for Friday’s game will be at a premium. Last year, we only had standing room by game time. Staff will be allowed in for free w/their ID badge, SVHS students w/ASB cards will be admitted free, students with ID cards will be charged $5 and all others (adults and students) will be charged $8.00. To help alleviate the line (it was a mile long!), $8 presale tickets will be sold at the ASB office throughout the week!

Exciting news! We have been selected (thanks Steve Caswell for submitting the proposal!) as an AP Capstone school. Currently only 12 schools in California have this distinction. The AP Capstone “is an innovative program from the College Board that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges”. There are 2 classes that that curriculum is built around, 1) AP seminar – for 10th and 11th graders, 2) AP research for seniors. I’ll be attending an upcoming webinar to learn more about the specifics in the near future and I’ll share out w/the staff!

Please check and empty your voice messages. The District will wipe clean all of the messages in 2 weeks. If you need help setting up your phone box/message please refer to either this site on our web page:
http://svhs-simi-ca.schoolloop.com/file/1332658647523/1298972692622/5887943465902600136.pdf
or if you want a hard copy, see Sharon. Also I need to know if you use and want to continue to use your voice mail feature. Voice mail for all teachers will be turned off at the end of the month if I don’t hear back from you!

Just a few days left to get your application in for the SVEF grant…I need you application by Friday! You can access the application at http://www.svef.org/programs_grants.php

If you haven’t joined the Sunshine Club, please consider doing so — only $25 for the whole year, and tax deductible). Also, if you know of someone who needs a little Sunshine, either sympathetic or celebratory, let Sharon or myself know!

The world would be a better place if…. What a great theme for the PTSA Reflections program! Students can submit their work in the following categories: 1) Photography, 2) Dance Choreography, 3) Film Production, 4) Literature, 5) Music Composition, and 6) Visual Arts. Detailed guidelines are available in the front office as well as from the PTSA. Make it a class project and submit your best! All entries are due to the front office by October 17, 2015.

Most of us remember Bloom’s Taxonomy, another way to look at it is through the lens of Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) chart. I’ve attached an article taking about rigor (rigor doesn’t mean to do more work, harder books, longer school day, etc; but to increase the complexity of student thinking), besides clicking on one of the links, I’ve asked Sharon to put in your mailbox a copy of the chart.

Encourage school spirit, use the DOK* chart to increase rigor, keep smiling, and let’s all make it a great day!

Steve P 🙂

Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to Increase Rigor
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/webbs-depth-knowledge-increase-rigor-gerald-aungst?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-webbs-depth-knowledge-increase-rigor-wheel-image-repost2
The word “rigor” is hard to avoid today, and it provokes strong reactions from educators. Policymakers tout its importance. Publishers promote it as a feature of their materials. But some teachers share the view of Joanne Yatvin, past president of the National Council for Teachers of English. To them, rigor simply means more work, harder books, and longer school days. “None of these things is what I want for students at any level,” Yatvin says. Part of the problem is that we have adopted the jargon without a clear understanding of what we really mean.
Calculating Cognitive Depth
For classroom teachers, the more important question is one of practice: how do we create rich environments where all students learn at a high level? One useful tool, Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels, can help teachers meet that challenge. Depth of Knowledge (DoK) categorizes tasks according to the complexity of thinking required to successfully complete them.
Level 1: Recall and Reproduction
Tasks at this level require recall of facts or rote application of simple procedures. The task does not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response or formula. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typical Level 1 tasks.
Level 2: Skills and Concepts
At this level, a student must make some decisions about his or her approach. Tasks with more than one mental step such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating are usually Level 2.
Level 3: Strategic Thinking
At this level of complexity, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract. A task with multiple valid responses where students must justify their choices would be Level 3. Examples include solving non-routine problems, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre.
Level 4: Extended Thinking
Level 4 tasks require the most complex cognitive effort. Students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another. Designing a survey and interpreting the results, analyzing multiple texts by to extract themes, or writing an original myth in an ancient style would all be examples of Level 4.

Photo Credit: Expert Infantry.
Recently, educators have begun applying Webb’s DoK to help them design better instruction. Try this exercise to better understand the cognitive depth of the tasks you are using in your classroom and improve the rigor of your instruction:
1. Keep a list or collection of every task you ask students to do in a day (or in one subject for a week), including classwork, homework, and projects.

2. Sort the tasks into categories according to the four DoK Levels. Some resources which may help:
• This DoK “wheel” (PDF, 34KB)
• These examples of DoK levels for four content areas (PDF, 39KB)
• These examples of using DoK in the fine arts (PDF, 102KB).

3. Work with a team of colleagues to review the groupings. Many tasks are easily categorized, but some will require deeper discussion to clarify your understanding of the levels. Strive toward consensus. A few pointers:
• The verb does not define the level. Instead, consider the cognitive effort that a student will use to complete the task. The verb “describe,” for example, could be any level, depending on the kind of description.
• It is common to find tasks that seem to fall in between levels. When in doubt, assign the higher level.
• “Extended time” alone does not make a task Level 4. Lower-level tasks that are merely repeated over a period of time are still lower level.

4. Analyze your groupings. What patterns do you see? Is there a reasonable distribution of tasks across the four levels? Do you notice anything unexpected?

5. Rewrite a Level 1 or Level 2 task to be at least Level 3. These question stems are helpful in creating good tasks (PDF, 28KB).
Apply as Needed
You may be asking at this point, “Well, what is a reasonable distribution? How often should I be doing tasks at each level? What’s the right sequence?”
DOK Levels are not sequential. Students need not fully master content with Level 1 tasks before doing Level 2 tasks. In fact, giving students an intriguing Level 3 task can provide context and motivation for engaging in the more routine learning at Levels 1 and 2.
DOK levels are also not developmental. All students, including the youngest preschoolers, are capable of strategic and extended thinking tasks. What they look like will differ, and what is Level 3 to a kindergarten student may be a Level 1 task for a middle schooler. All students, however, should have opportunities to do complex reasoning.
To find the right balance, ask yourself these questions:
• What kinds of thinking do I want students to do routinely?
• If my own child were participating, what would I want him or her to be doing?
• What’s the most effective way to spend the limited classroom time I have?
Decide for yourself how often you should focus on tasks at each level so that students gain the most from the learning opportunities you design.
Regardless of how you define “rigor,” the important thing is that students are thinking deeply on a daily basis. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge gives you a framework and common language to make that happen in your classroom.