Legendary Lens

"Excellence Without Boundaries"

March 23, 2015

What does it mean to have a Legendary Lens?

How we view our purpose is influenced by our life experiences which shape our perspectives. This adds to the strength and depth of our team.
As we serve with an unrelenting commitment to excellence, we must posses a shared and common LENS. As two very wise women once said, "One Band. One Sound." makes for LEGENDARY outcomes! The Legendary Lens serves as a weekly calibration which defines our collective target and guides our aim for excellence.

High Leverage Targets

Quote of the Week

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Principal Message

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

Our impact is strengthen, deepened, and more meaningful when we work collectively and honor each others' contributions.

Thank you for our teamwork this weekend at the Job Fair and Saturday School!
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StrengthFinder Interviews

We all will interview each other over the next two weeks to learn more about each other's strengths. Read the strengths section of your interviewee, there are nuances described as you read that provide more insight.
  • highlight key words/phrases from the each of the 5 strengths that will help you learn more about your teammate.
  • identify what your teammate adds to the team

Click here for team's strengths.

Please be prepared to share ON FRIDAY your reflections from interviewing two team members.


If you indicated that you would like to participate in the Executive Leadership Team training, please submit your current resume to me by Tuesday. I appreciate your attention to this request.

STAAR Testing Support

Ms. Brown will most likely be out for STAAR Testing, due to personal reasons. Ms. Walker is manning the ship. We will all need to chip in as much as we can. Testing meeting is after school on Tuesday. Very important all teachers attend, please remind them. Make ups will be held during lunches on Wednesday.

Job Fair

Please be on the look out for request for your presence at performance interviews. We are excited for the opportunity to see if they are a fit for us and if they feel we are a fit for them.

Chaperones for Friday Dance

I will be in attendance at the dance. Please keep this on your radar and remind your teachers that chaperones are needed. Dances are always fun!
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April 14th - Leadership SWAP

Walker will be Nix 7th, Andrus will be Walker 8th, Nix will be Andrus 6th.


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Taylor & IC Meetings


2015-2016 Instructional Coaching Planning Meeting


Marshall Memo

Timothy Shanahan on Real Test Prep

Interesting perspective on test preparation; three strategies highlighted.

“The idea of having students practice answering test questions is ubiquitous and ineffective in raising test scores,” says Timothy Shanahan (University of Illinois/ Chicago) in this article in The Reading Teacher. He understands the pressure to raise scores on the new generation of more-challenging ELA tests coming down the pike – PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and others. But the time-honored approach of analyzing sample test items and having students answer questions on main idea, supporting detail, providing evidence, describing a character, identifying a theme, and drawing conclusions doesn’t work, he says. “It has never worked. And it won’t work any better with the new assessments on the horizon. It’s as ineffective as pushing the elevator button multiple times to hurry it along or turning the thermostat to 90º to make a room warm up faster.”

So why are so many principals and superintendents and teachers wasting valuable instructional time on an ineffective strategy? “There is a kind of logic to it,” says Shanahan: “The students are practicing something that at least looks like it could improve test scores.” But the fundamental problem is that many educators are not sure what will improve test scores and make students better readers. It’s not students’ ability to answer questions on specific skills, says Shanahan – “performance on various question types explains none of the variance in student performance on standardized comprehension tests… Analyses of test performance suggest that outcome variance is due not to the questions but to the passages. On reading comprehension tests, it matters how well students read the passages that they will be questioned about. If you want higher test scores, then teach your students to read the test passages better.” How do teachers do that? Here are Shanahan’s suggestions:

Teach students how to figure out unknown words. When they take the new tests, students are going to encounter some words they don’t know – there’s no way they will have learned all the possible words. If instruction during the year has focused on learning as many words as possible, students will be up the creek without a paddle. But if instruction has focused on learning words and strategies for figuring out unknown words, students will be able to manage. Shanahan believes that during the year, too many teachers are pre-teaching words. That’s okay if the words’ meaning can’t be figured out from context clues. But if there are context clues, as there usually are, students should be required to do the work of figuring out the word – and explicitly taught how to struggle successfully.

Making sense of sentences. Consider this sentence from a fourth-grade text and how difficult it would be for many students to decipher its dependent clauses:

The women of Montgomery, both young and older, would come in with their fancy holiday dresses that needed adjustments or their Sunday suits or blouses that needed just a touch – a flower or some velvet trimming or something to make the ladies look festive.

Students need explicit instruction in how to close-read this sentence, break it down to its basic elements by taking out parenthetical phrases, and make sense of it. The same is true of sentences that use the passive voice (It was determined by Roosevelt that the Chancellor’s message did not require an immediate response from the State Department). “There is a substantial research base showing the effectiveness of sentence combining and sentence reduction in improving students’ writing and reading comprehension,” says Shanahan. “Such lessons, at one time, were commonplace in many American classrooms. Perhaps it’s time for their rediscovery.”

Silent reading with real understanding – Reading comprehension tests require students to read lengthy passages without prompting or assistance. How much practice are students getting at this demanding task? Shanahan wonders. He sees silent reading periods in schools he visits, but he’s unclear: “I just can’t tell, from what I see, whether the students are really improving in that essential reading skill or whether they are languishing. In many situations, I doubt whether the teacher knows, either. Sadly, I’m finding that few teachers have any idea how to teach students to engage successfully in this kind of extended silent reading.” Shanahan believes many students need to be asked to read one sentence silently and be quizzed on it, then two sentences, then a paragraph, then a page, then a chapter. “This kind of build-up reading with intensive questioning can take place beyond the reading book,” he says – in science, social studies, Weekly Reader, Time for Kids. And students need to be able to do it without picture clues.

If we teach these three things well – figuring out unknown words, breaking down difficult sentences, and sustaining concentration and comprehension when reading long passages silently – Shanahan believes we will see improved test performance, and students will be better readers as well.

“Let’s Get Higher Scores on These New Assessments” by Timothy Shanahan in The Reading Teacher, March 2015 (Vol. 68, #6, p. 459-463), available for purchase at

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/trtr.1329/pdf; Shanahan can be reached at shanahan@uic.edu.

Leadership Weekly Meeting Agendas

Leadership Presence

Leadership collaboration time is fundamental to our growth, connectivity, and effective implementation of our goals. Arrange plans accordingly.
Core Team - Mondays 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Trailblazers - 2:45 pm to 4:00 pm

What's Going on Elsewhere?

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