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La Harpe School Board March Meeting

On March 18, 2014, a regular meeting of the La Harpe Board of Education Community School District #347 was held in the school library. Visiting 2nd grade teachers, Cindy Pollock and Erin Schatz, were recognized.

2nd grade teacher Cindy Pollock gave credit to Mrs. Sholl for the video presentation that she showed the board. The video showed Pollock's classroom morning routine with a daily student leader. The class signed the Pledge of Allegiance while saying it, completed calendar, money, and "100 chart" activities.

Pollock was shown working with students on tangrams and adding 3-digit numbers.

The students practiced regrouping with Mrs. Sparrow in Response to Intervention (Rti) small groups.

Pollock explained that small groups are used for enrichment and Rti. The video also showed the students dancing to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy", to which she referenced State Goal 19, which states: Acquire movement skills and understand concepts needed to engage in health-enhancing physical activity.

2nd grade teacher Erin Schatz greeted the board, noting that this is her second year teaching in La Harpe. Schatz talked about writing being a big focus with the Common Core changes.

In August, Schatz uses an essay about summer vacation to assess the students' skill in writing. Around Veteran's Day, students are writing thank you letters to specific veterans. Students use a graphic organizer and the five steps of "Traits Writing".

For each writing project, students take their work through the steps of the writing process; prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

The end result of each project is a published book, and a collection of these books is made available to the students to read during extra time.

One book focuses on adjectives; another book, which is sent home for parents to keep, includes different types of poetry. Schatz provided graphic organizer samples of these.

The current focus in Schatz' social studies class is: Important Women in History. Schatz uses "purposeful listening" and "fact tickets" to develop skill in note-taking.

Schatz attended the IRC Conference which emphasized student note taking-especially with non-fiction texts (brochures, magazine articles, blogs, diary entries, and newspapers). Realizing that the students need to learn to annotate, Schatz plans to make some changes to more thoroughly teach this skill.

Schatz mentioned that she is glad to work with Mrs. Pollock this year and has learned a lot from her.

Schatz answered several questions from board members and the administrators. She explained how students self-edit and co-edit their work and conference with their teacher on writing. Schatz listed the different types of writing activities that her students do including narratives, compare/contrast, pre-writing, using Venn diagrams, how to read and write a non-fiction text, "reading closely", and using "zippy" verbs.

Schatz mentioned that the types of poetry 2nd graders are doing now used to be written in junior high.

The board discussed the recent re-emphasis on writing in Common Core, and in high school and college classes.

In the computer-based PARCC assessments, the writing involves students making a brochure, writing a persuasive essay based on 2 articles, and in 3rd grade math testing students are expected to write an explanation of their work. The Type to Learn program students are using will be helpful for this.

A topic of a recent reading conference, Schatz briefly explained "brain memory", and how drawing appropriate pictures next to notes one is taking increases memory for those facts. Schatz is anxious to try this with her 2nd grade students.

Dr. Olson, President Wear and the board thanked the two teachers for coming and for their presentations.

The board approved the consent agenda and payment of bills.

The board accepted with regret the retirement of Janet McKoon effective at the end of this school year, authorized the purchase of a used bus from Central States Bus Sales for the purpose of replacing bus #6, approved the preliminary calendar for next year, and approved the offering of additional student accident coverage for parents to purchase through Hometown Insurance Center of La Harpe.

The board heard updates on the 3rd grade room heater and the repairs to the water-damaged Title I room.

Board members were given a copy of the new policy updates to review before the Committee of the Whole meeting in April.

Technology and Curriculum Committee members will meet with Mrs. McKeown and Mrs. Sholl and Dr. Olson before the April board meeting.

Superintendent Olson told the board of a recent anonymous donation which paid for student past due lunch balances. Dr. Olson expressed his gratitude for the donor's financial gift.

Dr. Olson recounted the topics of a WIU law conference, a Hancock County Needs Assessment meeting, a Western Area Schools Insurance Coop board meeting he attended, and a recent FOIA request the district received.

Principal McKeown gave updates on volleyball, track and scholastic bowl. She mentioned the recent completion of ISAT testing, the Preschool Family Night, and the results from spring preschool and kindergarten screening.

Illini West held presentations on cheerleading, dance team, and flag team, and the football coach held an informational meeting.

A very interesting reenactment of Generals Lee and Grant was performed for the students. Dessa Rodeffer was mentioned as having organized it.

Third quarter grades are being calculated and parent conferences will be held.

Eight teachers attended the annual reading conference, and the teachers shared information from the conference and collaborated with their colleagues on ideas to try. "Guiding Reading in Action" DVD's were purchased to use this year.

The teacher evaluation committee has been discussing artifacts teachers may use for their evaluation portfolios.

Present at the meeting were: with the following members in attendance: President Cindy Wear, Vice-President Nate Butler, Pam Campbell, Dustin Detherage, Mark Irish, Bobi James, and David Mershon. Superintendent Ryan Olson,

Principal Lila McKeown and Board Secretary Jeanne Clayton were also in attendance, along with guests.

To view online agendas, news releases, and approved minutes, visit the school board link at