Degan Elementary Eagle Eye

December 14-18

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Avengers: Age of Degan--No Excuses!

It is so good to be back at Degan! Thank you for your heartfelt hugs and welcome back! I truly missed each one of you!

I have been drilling down into our data this weekend, and I have to say that the growth is outstanding! I have included a graph over time of our results. The important thing is that whether it is school, grade level, or individual classroom, they all look the same. I am amazed to see the impact of your work on student achievement. I have been wowed each week as the number of students showing "no growth" continually decrease as do the number of students who have been on the board more than once.

Additionally, I am proud to know that we not only address the needs of struggling learners but that we continually seek to help our "on grade level" and advanced students determine how they continue to grow as well. Our charge is to grow students, all students!

I wanted to share a bit of a conversation I had with Design Team this past week. We were discussing the impact of student conferencing and the concern was raised over the tremendous amount of time student conferencing requires and that it seems to take away from "instructional time". I can see why it could be viewed this way, but I would counter that student conferencing and goal setting IS instruction. It is some of the most powerful instruction that can occur, as evidenced by our tremendous boost in student achievement!

Think about it! It's not just people who perform poorly who get individual "tutoring". Talented dancers take additional "privates". World-class athletes have "form" coaches. Musicians take private lessons. Heck, I even have a "Principal Coach". Individualized feedback to help one improve is the very best and most meaningful type of coaching.

When you spend time with a child, looking at results and helping them set goals for the future, you are teaching them to be reflective. You ARE teaching! You are teaching them how to become a better learner. You are teaching them how to solve the most meaningful problem--how to overcome and address their own needs. You are teaching them the life skills necessary to exist in a world of the future that we don't even yet know what it will look like!

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day who is a "student retention dean" at a Texas college. She shared how she and her colleagues were discussing the problem of student resilience. I shared an article below with some additional thoughts. However, I am proud of the work we do to teach our students the skills they need to be resilient through challenges! There is no argument that this type of teaching does take time, but if you truly think about how you use that time with each child to specifically meet their needs, you probably spent time more wisely than any content lesson you would teach that week!

Moving forward, remember that Istation is not our reading program. It is critical that students be exposed to books and all kinds of mediums of print with all varieties of genres. Research shows that for improvement in reading skill to grow, it must be at the student's reading level. You must incorporate the grade level thinking skills with comprehension of the text at their reading level. At the same time, Istation does help pinpoint where deficit skills may exist. I encourage you to look beyond just he overall reading score and examine specific areas of reading skill that can improve. You could address this by assigning lessons in that skill to specific students for them to practice when using Istation during the month. You could also print out lessons on certain skills to incorporate in small group instruction. Istation truly tries to take some of that legwork off your plate!

Please know that because of your tweets and what the district shared with Istation officials about how we are using the program, our 2nd graders were invited to take a field trip to their corporate office. We are only the 2nd campus to do this, and it was a special invitation! They got to see the program writers, the animators, meet in the boardroom with the CEO, and wear costumes of the characters depicted in the program. Cool stuff!

I know this will be a busy week! Please make sure your review the weekly events below to know exactly what to expect. While this time of year can put a great deal of pressure on adults, I do encourage you to take a deep breath and enjoy the season through the eyes of our children. If we allow ourselves time, we can see that it is such a magical time!



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Resiliency of College Students Declining

The article below is not required reading. It is the article I referenced above. My hypothesis is that resiliency of our college-age students has declined because they have grown up "standardized" by test prep and the "follow these steps without deviation to pass" world. I certainly know I have been guilty of this practice looking back over my career. Hopefully, we are exposing our students the types of reflection and problem solving that help them know how to stick with a challenge.
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Twas the Week Before Christmas

Monday, Dec. 14th, 7:30am to Friday, Dec. 18th, 12:30pm

The Best School EVER!

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the school;

The fourth grade was writing, testing their grammatical rules.

Kindergarteners were busy with paper and paste;

The fifth grade explored "genius hour"- self-directed learning they chased.

Second grade was still excited from their field trip afar;

First grade looked at data to see what great readers they are!

Third grade continued to practice skills of multiplication,

while PKers worked on their next thematic creation!

The students were learning and growing their brains,

Teachers had data meetings to determine student gains.

When out in the hallway there arose such a clatter,

In each doorway appeared three elves with goodies on platters!

Why yes, there they were, Blevins, Stuart, and Smith;

Christmas Cart goodies--teachers' first Christmas gift!

But wait, that's not all! Of course, there is two,

The gift of time and your dreams will come true.

To make sure that you can get done all the things that you need,

No Staff Meeting on Wednesday will ensure you succeed.

Last but not least, there is just one more,

Comfort abounds this week with the jeans you adore!

'Tis Think College Tuesday, a change for this week,

To free Thursday for your best holiday chic!

Mrs. Stuart is grateful for all that you do,

She recognizes the hours you put in are not few.

But as we celebrate this magical time,

It's time to give back, as you see in this rhyme.

They Eagles will end the week with pajamas and shuffle,

PTA delivers cocoa to classrooms to eliminate scuffle.

Early dismissal will mean Friday is short,

"Children were picked up on time" we hope to report.

Mrs. Stuart will smile as the last car drives out of sight,

"Happy Holidays to all, may your break be DYNAMITE!"

Week at a Glance

No EAGLE time this week-break out the Brainology and GEM resources!

December 14th-Huffines Band Performance in Gym 2 p.m.

December 15th - PK PLC

Think College Tuesday (Please make students aware)

Zoe's Fundraiser

December 16th- Data Meetings During Conference

Vanessa @Learning Leaders

No Staff Meeting

December 17th-Class Parties 2 p.m. (Room Parents will be released to rooms at 1:45 to set up. All other parents will be released at 2 p.m. Make sure you have a sign-out sheet for parents who take students from the room in case there are questions at dismissal).

December 18th-Polar Express Pajama Day

PTA will deliver hot chocolate, milk and cookies to rooms

Follow Early Release Schedule for Recess/CAMP/Lunch

Dismissal at 12:30 p.m. (make sure you contact parents, especially those who make struggle with picking up students on time).

The staff is free to go once all students are gone.

On Deck:

Professional Learning Day (more details to come)

Sam's Baby Shower

Sonic Night

Staff Meeting

Think College Thursday

Advisory Council

Club Friday 5th/Kinder

Central Zone Principal PLC

Writing Initiative Day for 4th

Staff Meeting

Think College Thursday

Design Team

Early Release Day/End of 2nd Nine Weeks/Semester

School Holiday

Raising Cane's Fundraiser

Take Flight/SOAR Numbers due


Think College Thursday 4th/2nd

Report Cards and SOAR Invitations go home


Family Night

Staff Meeting

Think College Thursday

Data Meeting During Conference

Design Team

Club Friday 3rd/1st and SOAR Initiation

We believe that every child deserves the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares them for college. When schools exhibit a culture of universal achievement by believing in students, they collaborate around that belief. During collaboration, they align their standards as a team. As teams align standards, they need to assess the standards and manage the data. Then, and only then, can they pursue meaningful interventions with their students.