Friday, September 30, 2011

Adequately Yearly Progress

Sioux Trail is MAKING Adequately Yearly Progress!

Adequate Yearly Progress is part of the No Child Left Behind legislation (the Re-Authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) that was put in place by George W Bush.  The legislation sets targets that schools must meet on an annual basis and consequences if schools do not achieve the target.  The end goal is that 100% of students are proficient (according to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments) by 2013-14.

 The AYP system evaluates multiple areas within reading and math including: all students, ESL students, Special Education students and five different ethnic subgroups.  The process evaluates participation and proficiency on the assessment and attendance at the school.  At the end of the 2008-09 school year Sioux Trail was found to not be making AYP in six different areas within the proficiency area. At the end of the 2009-10 school year Sioux Trail demonstrated progress and was found to not be making AYP in one area; Reading for Special Education students.  Today the AYP results were publicly released and Sioux Trail is making AYP in ALL areas.

This is terrific news for Sioux Trail and recognizes the hard work of Sioux Trail staff, students and parents.  Despite making AYP in all areas Sioux Trail remains on the Not Making AYP List because the process requires schools to make AYP two years in a row before being removed from the list.  Sioux Trail is in stage 1.2  meaning that Sioux Trail parents have school choice and can take their children to another ISD 191 school choice site.  Sioux Trail families will have more information on this soon.

Being identified as "Making Adequately Yearly Progress" by the Minnesota Department of Education doesn't stop our continued hard work towards moving each student forward and providing high quality instruction that facilitates personal and academic growth.   We have a lot of very important work to do and Sioux Trail staff are the right team to do this work.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bubble Maps

Sioux Trail parents have noticed information on Thinking Maps coming home in Friday Folders.  Thinking Maps are tools for a common visual language for learning within and cross all disciplines. class room Teachers have been making extraordinary use of these tools with their students and I had the opportunity to use Thinking Maps with classrooms when we discussed several different topics. 

The first set of photos shows a Circle Map.  These are from a Second Grade classroom and we used the Circle Maps to identify things that should and should not come to Sioux Trail.  Sioux Trail families should watch for a letter that will be coming home with more information on these items.

The second set of photos (both from Fourth Grade) are from conversations we had around how bullies make us feel and steps for solving a problem.  We used a Bubble Map to identify the ways a bully can make us feel and we talked about the fact that most of these feelings aren't ways we want to feel at Sioux Trail.  The problem solving map used a Sequencing or Flow map to chart out step by step problem solving.

These are "low tech" examples, but Thinking Maps can be done with SMART Boards and other technology tools.  I chose chart paper because I wanted to leave the maps behind in each classroom so that our thinking was visible.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sioux Trail Boat Cruise and Silent Auction

You are invited to a casual parent/staff evening to support our fabulous Sioux Trail School. Come with us and enjoy the colors on the St. Croix! You can enjoy a full River Boat Buffet, sip a beverage of your choice, listen to the music of the very talented Billy Johnson and bid until your hearts’ content on the exciting items on the auction table.

Friday, September 30th, 2011
6 pm St Croix Boat Company

Your $40.00 per person ticket includes:
2 1/2 hour cruise up and down the St Croix River, Full Buffet dinner and Music
Silent auction & cash bar are available for an additional charge

All proceeds from your ticket purchase and silent auction items
go directly to PTO
Donate your time, talent or treasure
Share your unique resources by donating an item or service for this event. We are seeking items of all price points. All proceeds benefits the Sioux Trail PTO general fund. Go online regularly to view the silent auction items and keep checking back as new items are added daily.

Billy Johnson web site is

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bullying Meetings

This letter will also come home in Friday Folders on 09.23.11
Dear Sioux Trail families,

I am writing to let you know that I recently met with each classroom to discuss bullying with all Sioux Trail students.  My first priority as principal is to create a safe learning environment where bullying does not belong here, nor is it tolerated.  I meet with students every year, and I wanted to share the same information with you.  In my conversations with students, I defined what bullying is, highlighted a specific set of steps that can be used to stop bullying and shared with students that bullying is not a part of the Sioux trail community and that I will not accept it.

I shared the following definition of a bully with students; A bully is someone who finds something you don't like and does it over and over again.  Olweus, a national bullying prevention program, defines bullying as: "A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself."

After defining bullying and talking about the various ways it might happen, I shared the following steps for dealing with a problem.  When I met with students, we used a Thinking Map called a flow or sequencing map to chart out the process step by step.  Several Sioux Trail teachers are using different types of Thinking Maps as tools to help students increase their understanding of various topics.  I encourage you to ask your child to map out these problem solving steps.

Identify the problem.  What is happening that you don't like?
  1. Tell the person who is doing this to you to stop. 
When you do this:
    1. Say the other person's name
    2. Use eye contact
    3. Say it in a firm or assertive voice (let the other person know that you are serious)
I shared with students that if the problem stops after this first step, it is not bullying because the behavior isn't being repeated.  I define this scenario as someone making a mistake and learning from their mistake.

If the problem continues:
2.      Say it again.  Tell the other person one more time.
a.       Say it differently than you did the first time, use a louder voice or be more assertive
b.      Include a non-verbal signal.  This accesses a different part of the brain and may make a connection that the words did not.
3.      Get help from an adult.  ALL Sioux Trail staff care about our students and any adult at Sioux Trail will intervene and help. There may be situations when a student needs to go directly to an adult, and I told students they may need to "bypass" the first two steps and go directly to step number three. 
These steps may not work for every situation, but they provide students a simple template that he / she can use to clearly communicate that they do not like what is happening, and want the behavior to change.

Open communication is important to problem solving.  If you know of a problem, please report this to your child's classroom teacher right away.  Classroom teachers are the first step in problem solving, and when needed, they will work with me to ensure that the problem is solved.

If you have questions, or want additional information on the prevention of bullying, please feel to contact Sioux Trail staff or visit one of the following websites:

I hope you find this information helpful. 

Taber Akin; Principal

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cafeteria Grand Opening

Sioux Trail had a an upgrade to our cafeteria this summer.  Gale and Karra put this video together to share the "Grand Opening" with the entire Sioux Trail Community.  In addition to the cafeteria upgrades we also added six round cafeteria tables to the cafeteria and these are a big hit with students.  We plan to rotate the seating arrangements so that all students will be using the round and rectangular tables.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Name!

Re-Naming Sioux Trail Touches Home:
Today is the first day that we're sending home our newsletter, Sioux Trail Touches Home. The name "Sioux Trail Touches Home" has been in place for several years and a small, but quiet movement has been growing for a new name that is a little catchier.  I'm hosting a contest for a new name for Sioux Trail Touches Home. The rules are very simple:
  • ·        Name must have a connection with Sioux Trail
  • ·        Ideas may be generated by staff, individuals, families or anyone else who is interested.
  • ·        I will narrow the list, get help from the Student Council and we may do a final vote.
Suggestions should be delivered to the office.  At this time there is no prize, but suggestions are welcome!  Have fun and bring on the creative ideas!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photos from the First Day of School!

ISD 191 Communications Director, Ruth Dunn, visited Sioux Trail on Tuesday as we kicked off the 2011-12 school year.  This was an exciting day.  Here are a couple photos from her visit to Sioux Trail.