Cougars' Illustrated

"In it, to win it!"

Week of February 7 - February 20, 2016

Core Beliefs

  • Our main purpose is to improve student academic achievement.
  • Effective instruction makes the most difference in student academic performance.
  • There is no excuse for poor quality instruction.
  • With our help, at risk students will achieve at the same rate as non-at risk students.
  • Staff members must have a commitment to children and a commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

STAAR Countdown: 30 Instructional Days Until STAAR

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2015 - 2016 Goals (updated)

1. 70% of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will pass STAAR Reading, Math, Writing, and Science.

2. 25% of Economically Disadvantaged students will meet advanced performance in 2 or more tests.

3. 98% attendance rate for both teachers and students.

4. Earning 3 distinctions in either math, reading, science, student progress or closing the achievement gap.

5. Average of 2.0 or better on SPOTs.

We are engaged in the exact professional activities geared towards our goals: Watch Teams, Cougar Huddles, Status Meetings, 2 week lesson planning, creation of common rigorous assessments, RTI, structured PLCS, Friday FUNdamentals, content support provided by instructional coaches and grade-level leads, and data driven conversations. We must be fully committed to these practices and see them as opportunities to increase our instructional practice and to bring the best to our students every day.

In it, to win it!

1. Mr. Maldonado: 93% of KA scored above 70% on Math quiz.
2. O'Leary: 88% of 2D scoring above 70% on Math quiz.
3. 5B, 5C and 5D: Breaking the 50% passing above 70% on Reading Quiz.


The goal of this series is to introduce short snippets from professional articles geared towards growing us as professional intellectual educators. (TEI Domain 1, 2, 3 and 4).

The 3 attached videos are representative of our work together. The first is a combination of instructional rounds and status meetings. The second and third videos will help with 2.3, 2.5 and 3.1 of our SPOTs.

The Curse of Knowledge: A Failure of Empathy in the Classroom

This article really touched on comments I have heard many a teacher make, "It was really easy." Remember: We have all failed at something and if someone had not taken the time to invest in us, where would we be? F=First, A=Attempt, I=In, L=Learning

In this Edutopia article, Christopher Reddy explores the “curse” of a teacher knowing content really well and forgetting how difficult it was to learn it in the first place. This creates an empathy gap with students who are having difficulty learning – the teacher can’t get into students’ state of mind, making it much more difficult to teach effectively. A teacher suffering from the curse of knowledge may assume that the lesson’s content is “easy, clear, and straightforward,” says Reddy. “We assume that connections are apparent and will be made effortlessly. Assumptions are the root cause of poor instruction. And acknowledgement is the first step to recovery.” Reddy suggests these steps to counteract the curse of knowledge:

Fill in background knowledge. It’s very difficult for students to understand new content without a foundation of facts and concepts, says Reddy: “Conceptual knowledge in the form of facts is the scaffolding for the synthesis of new ideas.” Teachers should not assume that students have all the prerequisite puzzle pieces to understand what’s being taught.

Tell stories. Vivid narratives are one of the most powerful ways for students to make a personal connection to curriculum content, says Reddy: “Everyone loves a great story because our ancestral past was full of them. Stories were the dominant medium to transmit information. They rely on our innate narcissistic self to be effective learning tools – we enjoy stories because we immediately inject ourselves into the story, considering our own actions and behavior when placed in the situation being described.”

Inject emotion. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found that playing a short, humorous film clip or making a quick joke can change the emotional valence of a classroom, creating emotional links between teacher and students.

Use more than one learning modality. Students are attuned by a variety of learning styles and intelligences, and presenting visually, kinesthetically, orally, musically, etc. connects with more students.

Use analogies and examples. An effective analogy highlights a connection, and getting students to form connections is at the core of learning. Similarly, giving lots of examples helps students scan their knowledge inventory for possible connections.

Use novelty. “New challenges ignite the risk-reward dopamine system in our brains,” says Reddy. “Something that is novel is interesting, and something interesting is learned more easily because it is attended to.” Teachers should look for ways of presenting content with a different spin.

Have students retrieve what’s been learned. Effective teachers check for understanding at regular intervals, strategically spacing the mini-tests to maximize long-term retention and provide feedback to teacher and students on what’s being learned and what continues to be a struggle.

“The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About” by Christopher Reddy in Edutopia, December 18, 2015,

Upcoming Events

Monday, Feb. 8th
  • 3rd and 4th grade PowerHour (CICs/Demo)
  • Writing Samples Due and tracker updated
  • SAM
  • Calibration Walks, 9:30 - 10:30 (CICs,Demo)
  • UNCF Fundraiser Begins
  • Test Coordinator Meeting
  • CILT Meeting, 4:30 - 5:30pm

Tuesday, Feb. 9th

  • TCA visit "Kindness through Literature" Please have them help you in your classroom.
  • Status Meetings

Wednesday, Feb. 10th

  • Writing Wednesday
  • T & L: Math (Minter/Humphrie) 8:30 - 11:30, Buckner
  • Literacy Cadre, 2-5 pm
  • Dual Language PD @ J. Q. Adams, 4-6pm
  • Basketball: Carr vs Kahn, 4:30 @Nash
  • LPAC Mid-Year (Esparza), 4:30

Thursday, Feb. 11th

  • BOC/FSAC @ 7:15 am
  • PD Night
  • T & L: Reading (Covington), 1-4pm
  • MLEP PD (Diaz, Amaya, Arevalo and Arguello)

Friday, Feb. 12th

  • Weekly content quiz
  • Gradebook Meetings

Sunday, Feb. 14th

  • Gradebook Monitored

Monday, Feb. 15th

  • No School (Presidents' Day)

Tuesday, Feb. 16th

  • Writing Samples Due and tracker updated
  • End of Six Weeks Assessment: Social Studies
  • MCL and Guest Teacher Meeting @ 7:15 am, main office
  • Calibration Walks, 10:30 - 11:30 (CICs, Demo)
  • Fire Inspection
  • Status Meetings
  • Huddle/ARK

Wednesday, Feb. 17th

  • No Writing Wednesday
  • End of Six Weeks Assessment: Math (Released STAAR for 3rd -5th)
  • Basketball: Carr vs. Webb, 4:30 @ Beckley-Saner Rec. Center

Thursday, Feb. 18th

  • End of Six Weeks Assessment: Reading (Released STAAR for 3rd - 5th)
  • Think Through Math (Humphrie) @ Pinkston (312), 9 - 11 am

Friday, Feb. 19th

  • End of Six Weeks Assessment: Science (Released STAAR for 5th grade)
  • End of 4th Six Weeks
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