ACE Weekly Newsletter

February 1, 2016

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In This Week's Issue:

Note from Executive Director


Celebrating Excellence

Articles of the Week:

  • Main Idea: The Skillful Teacher
  • Links to articles on Turnaround

Video Spotlight

  • Students Analyze Work Samples to Determine Misconceptions
  • Growth mindset


  • ACE Site
  • Math SE live binder
  • School Calendars
  • HUB
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Note from your Executive Director

Dear ACE Team,

Is dramatic school transformation/turnaround possible in just one school year? I have to be honest and tell you that I google this question every week in different ways to search for new ideas. Interestingly enough, there are not a lot of new ideas; no quick fixes. Yet, without a doubt the answer is yes, we can create school transformation in just one year with the right people doing the right things. One recurring "right thing" is data use.

I have been very proud of the data processes we have implemented as a core ACE strategy this year. Our Dallas ISD Teaching & Learning department has been a supportive partner in this work by creating our ACE interim assessments and solutions manuals for backwards planning. All in Learning has been an effective tool for us to scan tests and quickly disaggregate the data for planning. TORSH has been another tool to video data meetings and share feedback. Clearly, these practices have paid off as measured by ACP results.

There is a strong correlation within our small group of seven schools related to these practices, specifically Blanton, Lee, Dade and Zumwalt. The schools with the tightest data processes are making gains the fastest. This should not come as a surprise, as many researchers have shared the same realization.

In her book, It's being Done and How It's Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Press) Karin Chenowith consistently sites five common practices among all successful turnaround schools:

  1. They all have a laserlike focus on what kids need to learn
  2. They all collaborate on how to teach it
  3. They all use formative assessment to see if kids learned it
  4. They all use data to drive instruction -- to identify kids who need extra help or enrichment
  5. They all work hard to build relationships and a culture of support

This week, please take a minute to think about these five practices and how they are implemented at your campus. Which area could use strengthening? Where might we get the most bang for the buck, so to say? It is not too late.

Speaking of that, I must share a pat on the back for Edison Middle Learning Center. We had an awesome Instructional Audit last week! Edison Eagles, please know we appreciate your perseverance. To all of our schools, thank you and keep up the great work!


Jolee Healey

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February 1st-5th


STAAR Practice 1

Our first mock STAAR window opens February 1st-5th!

Grades and Contents:

  • 4th Writing
  • 7th Writing
  • 5th Reading and Math
  • 8th Reading and Math

The Reading and Writing teachers will use the 2015 released tests on TEA, found here. We will share the math test to be used later this week.

All answer keys will be shared through All in Learning by Friday of this week. For helpful notes to consider, click here.

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A Special Dad's Night at Zumwalt

Zumwalt hosted a “Dad’s Night” with over 30 students in attendance. Special thanks to Brandon Carr of the Dallas Cowboys for donating over 400 plus ties to our school and thanks to Council Member Casey Thomas for providing pizza for everyone in attendance. School Board Trustee Miguel Solis also attended to support students by teaching them the art of tying ties.

ACE Saturday Math Academy

ACE Math Teachers,

Tank you so much for continuing to meet one Saturday a month with your colleagues and the Carnegie Math trainers. We appreciate your time and dedication to learning about embedding process standards with content in high rigor ways. Huge thanks to Alanna Arenivas, our outstanding Math AF!

Way to Go Umphrey Lee Elementary Longhorns!

Thank you Principal Clayton-Brown and faculty members for hosting our feeder meeting last week. We had a wonderful time visiting classrooms to study engagement and classroom data use. We were inspired!
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The Skillful Teacher, Part II

In part II of the Skillful Teacher summary, the focus is motivation, which is incredibly important for these last few weeks before STAAR. We are reminded that "the emotional state of students affects almost everything they do in school – their level of focus, amount of investment, and the energy level they bring to tasks.

This emotional state is influenced by three major areas – each of which is described in the section on motivation: their relationship with teachers (Personal Relationship Building), their feelings of support among peers (Classroom Climate), and their own confidence and belief in themselves (Expectations)."

Read this week's main idea to get the part II summary by clicking Here.


Common Elements of Successful School Turnarounds: Research and Experience

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Students analyze work samples to determine misconceptions

A great strategy to increase ration and stretch it at the same time! Small groups of students analyze other students' work to gain a better understanding of concepts and methods.

This strategy helps to expose the errors in their own thinking and can be applied to any content or grade.

Last Week's Video

The Power of Belief: Growth Mindset and Success

"The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity."

Joshua Waitzkin

Watch the the video below to see how your praise can encourage fixed mind sets vs. growth mindsets in students.

The Power of belief -- mindset and success | Eduardo Briceno | TEDxManhattanBeach

TTM March Math Madness!

Think Through Math is gearing up for the biggest contest of the year – The Think Through Math 9th Annual March “Math” Madness better known as MX3! It is going to be an epic battle -- school against school -- fighting to be the top Think Through Math school in the nation!!

Qualifying begins today Tuesday, January 19 and we will be narrowing contestants down to the Sweet 16 on March 1st. You need to rally all of the Think Through Math classes in your school to log in and pass their math lessons! 4 Schools from each time zone of THINK Nation (Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific/Aleutian) will vie for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Each week we will show the top schools making the moves in the qualifying rounds. Make sure your SCHOOL has the highest average of passed lessons per active student in your time zone to qualify for the Sweet 16 on March 1st!

Does your school have what it takes to “Bring On The Madness!!!

*Participating schools must have a minimum of 25 active students to be eligible during the qualifying rounds. The four top schools with the highest average of passed lessons per active student as of March 1st move onto the Sweet 16 round. Average passed lessons per active student is calculated from Tuesday, January 19 through midnight, February 29 in your local time zone.

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