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Prairie City News

Middle school WIN Time a benefit for students and teachers

PCM Middle School Principal Wade Van Vark explains how WIN (What I Need) Time is used at the school to the school board at its recent meeting.
PCM Middle School Principal Wade Van Vark explains how WIN (What I Need) Time is used at the school to the school board at its recent meeting.

What I Need. That is what middle school teachers and administrators are addressing for students during WIN Time, a regularly scheduled period giving students access to teachers and teachers access to students to work on areas they need some help in or are growing in.

Middle school principal Wade Van Vark led a presentation on the school’s use of WIN Time at the recent school board meeting.

“The reason we identified this as a need, as you all know we’re working on our PLC (Professional Learning Communities) process and there are four questions that drive the work of a PLC school: What do we want our students to know and be able to do; How will we know if each student has learned it; How will we respond when some students do not learn it; and How will we extend the learning for students who have demonstrated proficiency,” Van Vark said. “Our WIN Time addresses questions three and four in the process. It gives us a time to respond to those kids and to extend learning.”

While working through a book by the founders of PLC, Van Vark said they highlighted a quote that drives the WIN Time. “School must dedicate time to provide students who do not master the essential curriculum additional support without missing critical new core instruction. This support is tier two intervention and must be timely, targeted, flexible and fluid.”

When looking to integrate time into the daily schedule, Van Vark said they needed more than just 10 minutes set aside during regular class time. He said they want to help the kids but did not want to interrupt core instruction. Previously, the school had Mustang Time, a period at the end of the day that was often treated as an extra study hall but provided time to students to also meet with teachers.

“It wasn’t being utilized in the best possible way according to the PLC frame,” Van Vark said. “We tweaked it a little bit, took it from the end of the day and put it in the middle of our day and then instead of just assigning kids to a study hall roster they would stay in, we make that roster fluid.”

Using Infinite Campus, teachers are able to create two priority offerings and two non-priority offerings for students to work with teachers, whether the students need additional help in an area or are ready to take on advanced work above and beyond the regular curriculum.

“The teachers can go in and take students from their class rosters and selected them to attend their priority day or their non-priority request. That then shows up on the student’s schedule. We have a set minimum number of students that teachers are required to use in classrooms,” Van Vark said. “They are different for priority days versus non-priority days with priority days having a lower setting because it is going to be more of an individualized instruction, smaller groups so kids can get the help they need.”

As of Feb. 8, WIN Time has allowed more than 1,400 different opportunities for students to get instruction they wouldn’t have had otherwise. It is also not just basic instruction but a focused meeting in areas the teachers have identified their students having a problem learning.

Science teacher Michelle Vande Wall said she appreciates WIN Time because it is timely, offers small groups and she doesn’t have to use the entire classes time.

“Based on the data on quizzes that we give, I am then able to pull kids who are showing that they need that reteach time,” Vande Wall said. I am working with a group of maybe 10 to 12 kids. It offers me the time to re-teach and then allows them to re-test or re-quiz, so I am using it in the way.”

She said she has also been able to help some of her lower readers by having them attend WIN Time to begin reading and highlight text for an upcoming topic.

“When we go to class the next day or two it kind of empowers them because they know what we are going to talk about and when they are working in small groups, they can be the one to give insight and information,” Vande Wall said.

During her non-priority time, Vande Wall said she is able to request larger groups of students for extending learning time. Often she is able to expand on topics they have covered in class or introduce new material for students.

“For example, when we were talking about body systems, during that non-priority WIN Time I talked about organ donation with the kids, which is something we probably haven’t talked a lot about,” Vande Wall said. “Knowing they are going to be getting driver’s licenses in the next few years … just educating and exposing them to the possibility and what it is all about.”

Math teacher Collin Harrison said WIN Time gives him the flexibility to be able to work with kids in the learning style that fit their needs.

“On priority days, I started implementing things through PLC process that we have been doing during the 90-minute late starts, as far as using data folders and finding kids who are really struggling,” Harrison said. “Those priority days have really helped because now instead of doing small groups during class time, now I can just request any kids that maybe didn’t do so hot on the CFA (Common Formative Assessment) that needs to be taught something, I have the built in time to be able to see them, in group of eight, nine, 12 kids, it gives a lot of leeway.”

Like most new endeavors, WIN Time is a work in progress and the staff is constantly talking about new ideas and better ways to serve the students. Even now, the staff is working toward having the capability to allow students to make requests to see teachers, instead of only the teachers making requests.

“This has been outstanding because the kids come to class, they feel more empowered, they actually understand the material better,” Harrison said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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