Matt's Memo

Davison High School - January 19, 2015

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Quick holiday concert surprise!

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Great things I noticed last week

Members of our Varsity Choir program led the school board meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by an inspired performance of the "Star Spangled Banner". It was a great way to start the school board meeting. Great kids and a great program. Way to show it off a little bit!

Brent Prim representing our staff and the Science department with a presentation before the board showing how the new "Go-Pro" camera was being used. Job well done!!

Kristin Slattery honoring the School board with her spot-on comments and a donation to the Davison Education Foundation. Well said Ms. Slattery!

Another large gathering of students on Wednesday morning looking forward to getting the help that they need. It is crunch time for students, so we continue to expect the numbers to grow over the next two weeks.

An engaged staff Wednesday morning for our "Twitter chat". Whether it was direct participation, group tweets, the discussion in our curriculum groups, or e-mails to me, it was great to see so many contributing. We know the best PD and many of the best ideas come from internal sources. It was great to see it shared in this way!

A packed auditorium for our Autism Awareness concert on Friday night!

The boys basketball team handily beating Lapeer on Friday night.

Another very successful blood drive organized and run by our National Honors Society.

A very successful "Dangers of texting and Driving" campaign as part of a group Deca project. The engagement, involvement, and interest of our students was sky high after the video that was shown and at lunch time. You will see the signed banner right outside the main office and you will soon notice 2 texting and driving signs as you leave our campus. Hopefully, we will continue to help our students make good decisions behind the wheel.

An outpouring of ideas as to how we can help our younger students transition from having to take the ACT to having to take the SAT. I have no doubt based on the information sharing so far that our kids will be well prepared no matter what. This thought was supported by comments from Junior Student School Board representative Ryan Myers, who shared with the board how well prepared he felt he was for the ACT that he took last weekend. He also shared that no matter what, he felt the Davison High School staff would have younger generations prepared for whatever assessments they needed to take.

Our recognition journals continue to be passed from staff member to staff member, even when we do not have staff meetings. Thank you for continuing to recognize each other in this way, whether privately or at a staff meeting. I recently had the opportunity to read some of the things you have shared in one of the journals and it is powerful. Great work!

CALENDAR...Anything out of the ordinary?

Monday 1/19 MLK Day, No School

Tuesday 1/20 -

Wednesday 1/21- Delayed Day, students can come in for extra help at 7:25, no passes needed.

Thursday 1/22 - Snow day...Not really..Just making sure you are paying attention!

Friday 1/23 - All course request sheets are due to the respective teachers.

Monday 1/26 - Final review day before Final Exams.

Tuesday 1/27 - 1st and 2nd hour final exams, starting at 9:30

Wednesday 1/28 - 3rd and 4th hour final exams, starting at 9:30

Thursday 1/29 - 5th and 6th hour final exams, starting at 9:30

**** Note that students are allowed to come in for extra help on the three final exam days at 7:25 with a pass from the teacher and at 8:20 without a pass.

Friday 1/30 - Teacher Record Day.

Monday 2/2 - All Grades are due by 3:00

From the Twittersphere --Consider following....


Rick Wormeli- Worth repeating





Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to check for Understanding

JULY 30, 2014


What strategy can double student learning gains? According to 250 empirical studies, the answer is formative assessment, defined by Bill Younglove as "the frequent, interactive checking of student progress and understanding in order to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately."

Unlike summative assessment, which evaluates student learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment monitors student understanding so that kids are always aware of their academic strengths and learning gaps. Meanwhile, teachers can improve the effectiveness of their instruction, re-teaching if necessary. "When the cook tastes the soup," writes Robert E. Stake, "that's formative; when the guests taste the soup, that's summative." Formative assessment can be administered as an exam. But if the assessment is not a traditional quiz, it falls within the category of alternative assessment.

Alternative formative assessment (AFA) strategies can be as simple (and important) as checking the oil in your car -- hence the name "dipsticks." They're especially effective when students are given tactical feedback, immediately followed by time to practice the skill. My favorite techniques are those with simple directions, like The 60 Second Paper, which asks students to describe the most important thing they learned and identify any areas of confusion in under a minute. You can find another 53 ways to check for understanding toward the end of this post, also available as a downloadable document.

In the sections below, we'll discuss things to consider when implementing AFAs.

Observation: A Key Practice in Alternative Formative Assessment

A fundamental element of most AFAs is observation. In her Edutopia post, Rebecca Alber says there is much to learn by taking observational notes as students work in groups. "However," she clarifies, "if it is quiet during this talk time, and they are watching you watch them, they are most likely lost." Another Edutopia blogger, Elena Aguilar witnessed "a fantastic first grade Sheltered English teacher" who directed his students to respond to a story by making hand gestures and holding up picture cards. "In this way, the teacher was able to immediately see who was struggling with the concepts and provide corrective feedback."

By methodically watching and recording student performance with a focused observation form, you can learn a lot about students' levels of understanding in just a few moments. For example, on the Teach Like a Champion blog, watch how math teacher Taryn Pritchard uses an observation sheet, and note her description of how she pre-plans to assess students' mastery levels in only ten seconds. Pre-planning methodical observations allow instructors to efficiently and effectively intervene when it counts most -- the instant students start down the wrong path.

New to Alternative Formative Assessment? Start Slow

The National Capital Language Resource Center recommends the following when introducing alternative assessment for the first time:

  • Integrate alternative assessments gradually, while still using the traditional assessments.
  • Walk students through the rubrics and discuss expectations when you introduce assignments.
  • Learn to score alternative assessments yourself, and then gradually introduce students to self-evaluation.
  • Teach students how to thoughtfully give each other feedback as you introduce them to peer-response.

A Simple Way to Gain Information from Your Students: Ask Them

When preservice teachers are confused as to why their students performed poorly on an assignment, I gently say, "Did you ask them why?" After all, having learners use their own vernacular to articulate why they are stuck can be profoundly useful for identifying where to target support.

According to the American Institute of Nondestructive Testing, the simplest tool to encourage student self-assessment is evaluative prompts:

  • How much time and effort did you put into this?
  • What do you think your strengths and weaknesses were in this assignment?
  • How could you improve your assignment?
  • What are the most valuable things you learned from this assignment?

Learners can respond to those prompts using Padlet, a virtual corkboard where many computer users can simultaneously post their responses, followed by a focused whole-class discussion of students' answers. The instructor doesn't always have to develop prompts -- students can invent and submit one or more potential exam questions and answers on relevant content. Tell them that you'll include the best contributions on a forthcoming quiz.

Portfolios are a more complex form of ongoing self-assessment that can be featured during student-led conferences. James Mule, principal of St. Amelia Elementary School in New York, describes how children benefit from the student-led conferences that occur at his institution: "With the student in charge and the teacher acting as a facilitator, the authentic assessment gives students practice in self-evaluation and boosts accountability, self-confidence, and self-esteem." Pernille Ripp's Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension provides all the handouts needed.

The biggest benefit of integrating AFAs into your practice is that students will internalize the habit of monitoring their understanding and adjusting accordingly.

We created the following list as a downloadable reminder to post by your computer. In the comments section of this post, tell us which of these 53 ways you've used for checking on students’ understanding -- or recommend other AFAs we should know about.

Click to download a PDF of these 53 AFA strategies (435 KB)

The importance of clear communication....Amongst staff members, as well as with our students and parents!


Hacking School? ...One young mans interesting perspective

Hackschooling makes me happy | Logan LaPlante | TEDxUniversityofNevada

Reminders, we have a few...

We need to make sure our Guests have spots to park outside the main (North) entrance. Please park in designated teacher spots, either in the East lot or the South teacher parking lot. Please remember that the parking lot between the buildings is for food service, in season coaches, computer techs, and maintenance.

Our red food trays grow legs at lunch...If you see students with these trays, please make sure they are returned to the cafeteria or the main office, and we will make sure they get down there. If you have any in your rooms, please do the same.

Please continue to supervise the hallway outside your classroom during class change. Your presence makes a HUGE difference.

Please encourage students to come in these next few weeks for extra support. There are so many opportunities to get help that they can take us up on. Perhaps send an e-mail to your parents to let them know you would really like to see Johnny in for extra help if he needs it.

Communicate like crazy over the next ten days...No Surprises

As stated in Thursday's e-mail, please put your absence into Aesop as soon as you know you are going to be gone. This is the only way we can get the necessary coverage. Also, make sure pre-arranged absence forms are filled out as soon as possible so that we can make sure there is coverage.

We want to keep it comfortable for all kids in our building and make sure it is conducive to learning. If it is too cold or too warm, let me know. Dan is on it, and I want to know if he needs to make adjustments.

GO CARDS!! Have a great three day weekend!