posted Mar 21, 2016, 12:33 PM by Kristi Kirsch
Hello All,

I attended our second ACSA Elementary Education Council meeting which was a visit to and tour of Pomeroy Elementary School in Milpitas. Part of my responsibility as a member of this council is to bring the information back and share it with the rest of our region. Below is a summary and attached are the minutes from the meeting. We are also extremely pleased with the video that was produced to chronicle this visit (http://videos.acsa.org/elementary-ed-council-takes-tour-at-21st-century-school). This was one of the main goals of our Council for this year in an effort to better share the experience with elementary educators across the state. If you have any questions or if would like further clarification on something you see, please send me an email. 

Pomeroy Elementary has fully implemented a “blended learning” program to serve their students. We selected this site to see what blended learning might look like in action. What we saw was very impressive. Over the course of a few years, Pomeroy went from being the ditto capital of California (as Principal Dr. Murphy-Brewer put it) to a true blended learning school. This took a lot of time and trust among all staff members. They have a strong focus on the 5 C’s of Common Core (they added Caring as the 5th). They differentiate using cooperative groups and a center model. 

A main component of their language arts program is the Curriculum Associates iReady online learning program. Starting in first grade, all students log into their personal account and learn at their own pace. Progress benchmarks were set by staff to make sure each student is progressing at an appropriate pace, and teachers regularly review each student’s growth. We observed a first grade class in the learning lab where one group was on Chromebooks in the iReady program and the other group was completing a thinking map to start writing a summary of an article they had read on penguins in Scholastic News. Thinking maps are also a staple of the language arts (writing) program in all grade levels.

The standard structure we saw in classrooms for language arts time would be one group using Chromebooks to access the iReady program, one group working on some type of writing assignment using thinking maps (Google docs is the platform for writing), and two or so groups reading a leveled book and completing an activity. The teacher normally placed him/herself strategically with the lowest group to provide more individual assistance to these students. The common theme across all classrooms was a LOT of writing, lots of individual work in the iReady program, and a lot of practice reading a combination of nonfiction and fiction text.

In math, the standard structure appeared to be one group using Chromebooks to access a variety of online math programs including Summit Learning’s “Personalized Learning” for sixth grade and Sumdog and Math.com for other grade levels. Other groups would be working independently on pages in the adopted textbook (Singapore Math). Again, the teacher was strategically placed with the group needing the most individual assistance.

Pomeroy’s intervention model is called WIN time (WIN stands for what I need). All students are placed in leveled groups for 45 minutes each morning to work on language arts, math, social studies, science, social emotional…whatever need has been identified by staff for each student. They go through 6 week blocks and then re-assess needs. The principal reported the largest groups during this time are writing.

It was apparent this model works well for the students and staff of Pomeroy Elementary. Students were on-task in all rooms, working at their own pace on standards-based curriculum at their individual level. 

Sean Snider, Principal
Sutter Creek Elementary School
Amador County Unified School District

Elem Ed Council Minutes 1.21.16