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Melissa Giroux

Melissa Giroux

School Success Lead, Kiddom

Committed to providing contextualized support and professional development to schools using the platform to drive student achievement and support teacher learning. Her passions include women’s history and literature, vintage fashion, cats, and she hopes to stamp all 195 countries on the globe in her passport someday.
Ann Leghorn and I met in 2013 when I interviewed them for a position in my department at a transfer high school for overaged, under-credited students in the Bronx. Ann’s engaging, skills-based intervention courses were an important foundation of our school model, and while their lack of desk organization was a point of contention when we shared a classroom, Ann brought a culture of literacy to the school that made an impression on me. Since then, we’ve both moved onto other positions, but Kiddom’s tools brought us together again.

 

Beginnings: Kiddom + Williamsburg Charter HS

by Melissa Giroux | excerpt from CoSN 2019 presentation

  

A New Chapter

Over the last three years, Kiddom has worked with Ann’s team at Williamsburg Charter High School in Brooklyn to test our new products and learn more about how schools want to personalize instruction. Their feedback has driven our products. This year, the WCHS literacy intervention team used Kiddom for Schools and Districts to support professional learning for new staff through shared rubrics and custom literacy standards, and to help teachers make more informed RTI placements. 

First, Ann developed a series of literacy skills and rubrics that would support intervention for high school students reading at or below a 7th grade level and we imported them into WCHS’s Academy accounts to be added to assignments and discussed with students. We used data analysis protocols each trimester to work through the Kiddom standards reports, move students into appropriate courses, and refine the curricular resources to support teachers. As the school year wrapped up, I had the chance to sit down with Ann to reflect on the experience of piloting a new ed tech tool to drive new instructional practices.

Q: How did having access to more granular data around student literacy skills help your work this year?

Ann Leghorn: It allowed me to be much more specific in my feedback, also really allowed the teachers to take ownership of the data. Prior to this year we only had the three-time-a-year benchmark assessment data…and while that’s helpful, it’s only one data point. I think it was sometimes easy to narratively explain away that data, like “Oh it was an off day,” things like that. It’s always best to make instructional decisions based on multiple data points, and so now we’re able to use this on a daily basis. In the small 1:1 coaching meetings that I have with my teachers we often open that data and look at the most recent skills that we’ve taught, which materials were most effective, and where teachers can spiral or reteach, or move on. It’s allowed for more specific conversations rather than me just providing data reports to teachers.

 

Q: So as you think about using this more actionable data, how does that change the way you think about your role as an educator?

AL: It’s pushed me to consider moving into a more administrative role as a formal instructional coach. Being able to take the work that I’ve done with data coaching sessions both as a participant and facilitator and do that on a larger scale. Working with Kiddom has helped me practice the way that we look and talk about data and take action steps based on those discussions.

 

Q: We had the honor of co-presenting with Microsoft EDU and Fresno USD at the CoSN Conference in April. For me, being able to present with an actual educator changed the way that I prepared and made it feel more authentic and engaging. At a meta level, what was it like being able to tell your team’s story at CoSN?

AL: Leading up to it I felt nervous. I’ve only done this on smaller scale like to the board at my school. Getting into a room of people, many of whom weren’t educators, and getting to talk about the work I do in education made me feel proud. It can be easy in the day to day to lose sight of the gains that you’ve made because so many other things pile on, and so while preparing for the presentation and then doing the presentation gives you a chance to reflect on the work you’ve done on a global level. It really has pushed me and my department and my thinking further, gave me a chance to be proud of our work.

 

Q: What do you think educators are looking for when they step out of the day-to-day at conferences like this?

AL: I think educators are looking to hear other educators’ stories, and the ways that they are actionably problem-solving. When you go online, yes you can find that, but people are often talking about issues but not solutions. When I go to conferences I am always looking for what are actions that people are taking and what has been the impact. It’s great to talk about big picture systemic issues in education, I’m all about those conversations too, but sometimes I feel like people get stuck in those conversations. I need to know, what can I take away? Like a methods course. I want to know, “What are the things that you’re doing? How has it been working?” I want to be having a conversation about how I can take it to my school, like a giant PLC rather than a lecture.

Next year, Ann will indeed be moving into an instructional coaching position at the school (congrats on the promotion, Ann!) and will continue to use Kiddom’s data reporting tools to provide support for teachers across the content areas to incorporate literacy practices in their classes. Using our Responsive Curriculum Management tool, Ann can distribute suggested strategies ranging from graphic organizers to discussion prompts, view teacher lesson plans to provide feedback, and identify high-quality strategies from individual classrooms to share them more widely. We are excited to support your work, and can’t wait to see what comes next.

At a typical Kiddom school, hands are in the air, there’s a buzz in the room, and teachers and students are energized. Kiddom was designed to help improve teacher retention and increase student performance and graduation rates.

For the first time, the most important parts of teaching and learning are connected and simplified in Kiddom. Curriculum lives in one place and is easily measured and refined, instruction is personalized to meet the needs of each student, and data serves as a powerful system of support for every member of the learning community to keep students on track.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

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