Re-2 develops its own Colorado Academic Units |

Re-2 develops its own Colorado Academic Units

Math content specialist Tiffany Utoft works with Garfield Re-2 elementary teachers as part of the Colorado Department of Education's visit to the district. Six content specialists assisted teachers with developing their
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The Colorado Department of Education and content specialists in math, language arts, science, social studies, music and physical education spent the day in Garfield Re-2 on April 10 listening to and helping teachers build out their Colorado Academic Units more deeply and completely.

The Garfield School District Re-2 began work on developing the Colorado Academic Units last year, and as Brian Sevier, Standards Project Director for the Colorado Department of Education, explained, the district is in that “challenging” place with the new standards and units.

“Teachers across the state, and in Garfield Re-2 are taking the bare bones units and fleshing them out into full blown units,” said Sevier. “You are in that challenging place of what do the standards mean, and how do we get our kids to master them.”

The work is challenging because each district has the opportunity to tailor the units to their local context, using the standards as you would a destination on a map.

“The way you get there, and the things you do along the way are completely up to you — the local districts,” explained Sevier.

That means that the information and the resources that rural districts use, for example, to teach a unit may be very different from those used by more urban districts. He cited the example of a third-grade Language Arts unit developed by Garfield Re-2 teachers last year that he uses as an exemplar around the state. The unit is about teaching persuasive writing, but the materials and tools used to get students to mastery are about local topics of interest — in this case the reintroduction of the lynx and wolves to the area. Students have to take a side and write persuasively about their stance. That unit is on the CDE website for other school districts to use as a resource.

Sevier said that the work Colorado teachers are doing to create guaranteed and viable curriculum across the state, amazes his colleagues from other states.

“When I share what we are doing with folks from other states, they are blown away,” he explained. “The teachers of Garfield Re-2 are exactly where they should be in thinking about mastering the standards and how to prepare our kids for the 21st century.”

Emma Brown, second-grade teacher at Wamsley Elementary, said that having the content specialists from CDE at collaboration day was useful.

“I felt it was very valuable and the feedback was very encouraging. It was great to reflect and refine on our learning experiences,” she said.

Nutritious school lunch

It’s nutritious, it’s delicious, and it just may make you the coolest kid on campus.

It’s school lunch.

That is the pitch from Rifle High School teacher Lisa Scrabeck’s health class students. Scrabeck assigned teams of students to compete in the development of a video to promote school lunch. The goal of the project is to encourage their peers to give Rifle High School lunch a chance.

“A lot of times, people don’t realize what is available for school lunch,” said Scrabeck. “There is a movement nationwide to improve the nutritional content and quality of school lunch.”

It is a movement that Garfield Re-2 has been on the leading edge of for several years with the elimination of chocolate milk and processed foods from the menu, and the implementation of from-scratch cooking including all breads made from whole-grains and baked fresh daily.

“The students have realized that they can get great salads for lunch here,” added Scrabeck. “I didn’t even realize what we had for lunch options.”

Some of Scrabeck’s students already eat school lunch, many others do not and they spoke with students across the school that had varied opinions about the quality of food served.

“Our commercial shows how good school lunch is now,” said Josh Collett, a school lunch consumer. “I like it. Some kids think that it tastes bad, but it is a healthy lunch.”

“Over the years, it has become more healthy and there is more variety,” added Chase Church.

The team of James Hammond, Sadie Suarez, Jordan Wright and Gabe Marbus created their take on a Taco Bell commercial with the coolest kid in school eating a fictional “kale-rito” for lunch.

The project comes at a time when Garfield Re-2 is collaborating with the dietitians at Grand River Health and LiveWell Garfield County to improve the taste of school lunches in light of the tighter restrictions on the amount of fat, sugar and salt allowed in lunches.

“Grand River Health has been so helpful in evaluating the nutritional content of our meals and giving us ideas on how to improve taste without increasing the salt, sugar or fat content,” said Garfield Re-2 Nutrition Coordinator Lori VanSlyke. “LiveWell Garfield County has such great resources and support. We all have the same goal — making sure that students have great food to fuel their minds and bodies.”

Students will vote for the best video and winners will receive prizes provided by LiveWell Garfield County. The LiveWell Garfield County Coalition brings together community resources to promote affordable access to and education about healthy eating and active living, to reduce the burden of obesity-created chronic disease, for all who live, work, learn and play in Garfield County.

School board recognitions

Congratulations to award winners from the March 17 school board meeting at Kathryn Senor Elementary. Principal Jana Price presented awards to Julie Martinez, who was named staff member of the month, Charity Carnahan for volunteer of the month and Williams for Business of the Month (Kelsey Suchar accepted the award on behalf of John Suchar).

The next Garfield Re-2 school board meeting will be Tuesday, April 28, at Elk Creek Elementary in New Castle beginning at 5 p.m.

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