Comprehensive Reading Program
Strengthening our Comprehensive Reading Program has been a major priority for us, as it should be for all elementary schools. In the Spring of 2006, Denison Elementary earned a Reading First Grant for $450,000 over three years. The grant provides us with money for classroom books, quality assessments, and teacher support and professional development. The grant did not come with a standard program or â€œone-size-fits-allâ€ approach. Rather, we were responsible for using the funds to support our Comprehensive Reading Program through best practices and strategies that meet our studentsâ€™ needs. Despite the challenge of adjusting to many changes, our staff and students proved they were up for the challenge. A major focus of our program was to create 90 minute literacy blocks in which students are actively engaged in small reading groups, receiving research-based instructional strategies. With the completion of our first year with this grant, we were evaluated on 15 assessment benchmarks. Compared to over 100 other schools with the Reading First Grant, Denison Elementary was the only school in the state to achieve all 15 benchmarks! Furthermore, our students showed the greatest gains from the fall assessment to the spring.
In October of 2007 and August 2009, Denison Elementary was recognized as a Highly Successful School by the Iowa Department of Education, and we were also named a School with the Greatest Gains in Achievement for all schools with the Reading First Grant. These awards are truly a reflection of the quality of staff, students, and families at Denison Elementary. We are just beginning to see the impact of our school improvement efforts, and we are committed to continuous improvement and success for our students.
Comprehensive Reading Program Flyer | Download PDF
Denison Elementary has been recognized as the 2008 Iowa School of Character!
According the Institute for Character Development, the award is presented to the schools who have developed and sustained a comprehensive character development program to positively impact the culture and climate of the school and community. Congratulations to all who help make our school such a great place!
Our character education is focused on the Six Pillars of Good Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. Each month, we focus on a character pillar and how we can show good character through our words and actions. Students write Character Chats that are read on the announcements each week, Mrs. Beeck teaches about good character in her guidance classes, our students eat lunch in our Character Cafe, and we even have the Character Superheroes visit our school on a regular basis! Through good character, we can live our school motto, "Be responsible, do your best, and help the rest!"
From time to time, we are lucky to have the Character Superheroes visit our school! They always bring a lot of energy and excitement to our school as they talk about good character and how we can make our school and community a better place through our good character.
Click here to see a picture of the Character Superheroes!
Purple Hands Program
The Purple Hands Program starts with our Purple Hands Pledge: "I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others." Every morning, our students and staff say our anti-violence pledge to help pay attention to the things we say and do to ourselves and others that can be hurtful. The Purple Hands Pledge shows our unity as a school, and that we all should think before we say or do something that could hurt ourselves or others.
We like to celebrate good behavior at Denison Elementary. Our Purple Hands Honor Roll recognizes all students who have not used their hands or words for hurting others. In order to make the honor roll, a student must be able to recite the Purple Hands Pledge and not be caught using their hands or words for hurting. Our Purple Hands mascot, Pixie, likes to hand out rewards each quarter to the students who made the honor roll.
For the 2012-2013 School Year, 92% of our students made the Purple Hands Honor Roll for the entire year!
Community Business Partners
We are entering the eighth year of our Denison Elementary Community Business Partner Program. Our theme is â€œBuilding tomorrowâ€™s future together.â€ One of our district goals is â€œto continue to enhance partnerships with the community and county.â€ This program pairs a classroom with a local business, and they meet a minimum of four times per year. The four objectives of the program are: (1) Teach our business leaders the Six Pillars of Character, our School Motto, and our Purple Hands Pledge, (2) Take a field trip out to the business, (3) Teach a lesson with the business partner that connects academic skills to the world of work, and (4) Provide opportunities for the BP to visit the school during special events and celebrations, and to participate in service projects.
Community Business Partners
Each school year, Denison Elementary hosts Family Literacy Nights for our students and their families. Teachers and community members read books, play games, and do other activities to celebrate reading and our families. Free books are provided to all students who attend the events!
English as a Second Language
Denison ELL Handbook | Download PDF
Reading Recovery is a highly effective short-term intervention of one-on-one tutoring for struggling readers in first grade. The goal of Reading Recovery is to dramatically reduce the number of first-grade students who have extreme difficulty learning to read and write. Individual students receive a half-hour lesson each school day for 12 to 20 weeks with a specially trained Reading Recovery teacher. As soon as students can meet grade-level expectations and demonstrate that they can continue to work independently in the classroom, their lessons are discontinued, and new students begin individual instruction. Denison Elementary currently has three Reading Recovery Teachers, and six other teachers who have been highly trained in Reading Recovery strategies.
Talented and Gifted
In order to meet the needs of students who require an additional challenge, there is an Extended Learning program available for grades 3-5 on a full year basis.
Students are admitted to the program by exhibiting highly advanced thinking skills, content skills, and/or creativity. Iowa Tests of Basic Skills composite scores, teacher nomination, and/or individual assessments are involved in the selection process. The students are continually evaluated throughout the program to ensure that the students are benefiting from the program. Parental permission is required before students may participate.
Special Education services are provided for eligible students in accordance with the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students are identified through a referral and evaluation process and are educated in the general education curriculum and classrooms to the maximum extent possible. Students may receive different services at multiple points along the following continuum based on their IEP:
1) Consulting Teacher Services;
2) Co-Teaching Services;
3) Collaborative Services;
4) Pull-Out Services; and
5) Special Class.
District Developed Special Education Plan | Download PDF