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Week of March 21-27, 2016

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Indicators of Success—

  • Increase average of campus Mid and End of the Year ACPs to at least 70% or higher Mid-Year and 80% or higher End of the Year.

  • ISIP progress monitoring results will show a Tier I increase in grades 1-2 including: a combine (English & Spanish) 70% or higher of 1st graders by December 2015 and 85% or higher combined scores by May 2016; 70% or higher of 2nd graders in Tier I by December 2015 and 85% or higher by May 2016.

  • 100% of our 3-5 students will pass with 80% or higher in reading, math, science and writing on STAAR

  • 100% of AA students in grades 4-5 will demonstrate a 10% increase on ACP and STAAR.

EVERY SECOND COUNTS! Staying motivated after Spring Break

Welcome back everyone! I hope you had a relaxing and well-deserved Spring Break. As enjoyable as Spring Break can be for both scholars and staff members, it can also be very difficult to readjust coming back from vacation. However, we need to remind ourselves and our scholars, that approaching these last few months of school is a very important time of the year. It is our responsibility to keep our scholars focused and motivated in the learning while we continue the path towards excellence and high expectations.

Thank you for all you do for the students at Kiest. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any question or suggestion. This is also the time for all of us to support each other emotionally and instructionally. Let's all have a wonderful 4-day week!!

Strategies for Helping Students Motivate Themselves

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Editor's Note: This piece was adapted from Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies to Help Students Thrive in School and Beyond by Larry Ferlazzo, available March 21, 2015 from Routledge.

In this post, I'll discuss practical classroom strategies to reinforce each of these four qualities.


Providing students with freedom of choice is one strategy for promoting learner autonomy. Educators commonly view this idea of choice through the lens of organizational and procedural choice. Organizational choice, for example, might mean students having a voice in seating assignments or members of their small learning groups. Procedural choice could include a choice from a list of homework assignments and what form a final project might take -- a book, poster, or skit.

Some researchers, however, believe that a third option, cognitive choice, is a more effective way to promote longer-lasting student autonomy. This kind of cognitive autonomy support, which is also related to the idea of ensuring relevance, could include:

  • Problem-based learning, where small groups need to determine their own solutions to teacher-suggested and/or student-solicited issues -- ways to organize school lunchtime more effectively, what it would take to have a human colony on Mars, strategies to get more healthy food choices available in the neighborhood, etc.

  • Students developing their own ideas for homework assignments related to what is being studied in class

  • Students publicly sharing their different thinking processes behind solving the same problem or a similar one

  • Teachers using thinking routines like one developed by Project Zero at Harvard and consisting of a simple formula: the teacher regularly asking, "What is going on here?" and, after a student response, continuing with, "What do you see that makes you say so?"


Feedback, done well, is ranked by education researcher John Hattie as number 10 out of 150 influences on student achievement.

As Carol Dweck has found, praising intelligence makes people less willing to risk "their newly-minted genius status," while praising effort encourages the idea that we primarily learn through our hard work: "Ben, it's impressive that you wrote two drafts of that essay instead of one, and had your friend review it, too. How do you feel it turned out, and what made you want to put the extra work into it?"

But how do you handle providing critical feedback to students when it's necessary? Since extensive research shows that a ratio of positive-to-negative feedback of between 3-1 and 5-1 is necessary for healthy learning to occur, teachers might consider a strategy called plussing that is used by Pixar animation studios with great success. The New York Times interviewed author Peter Sims about the concept:

The point, he said, is to "build and improve on ideas without using judgmental language." . . . An animator working on Toy Story 3 shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. "Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying 'no,' the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, 'I like Woody's eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?" Using words like "and" or "what if" rather than "but" is a way to offer suggestions and allow creative juices to flow without fear, Mr. Sims said.

"And" and "what if" could easily become often-used words in an educator's vocabulary!


A high-quality relationship with a teacher whom they respect is a key element of helping students develop intrinsic motivation. What are some actions that teachers can take to strengthen these relationships?

Here are four simple suggestions adapted from Robert Marzano's ideas:

1. Take a genuine interest in your students.

Learn their interests, hopes, and dreams. Ask them about what is happening in their lives. In other words, lead with your ears and not your mouth. Don't, however, just make it a one-way street -- share some of your own stories, too.

2. Act friendly in other ways.

Smile, joke, and sometimes make a light, supportive touch on a student's shoulder.

3. Be flexible, and keep our eyes on the learning goal prize.

One of my students had never written an essay in his school career. He was intent on maintaining that record during an assignment of writing a persuasive essay about what students thought was the worst natural disaster. Because I knew two of his passions were football and video games, I told him that as long as he used the writing techniques we'd studied, he could write an essay on why his favorite football team was better than its rival or on why he particularly liked one video game. He ended up writing an essay on both topics.

4. Don't give up on students.

Be positive (as much as humanly possible) and encourage a growth mindset.


Have students write about how they see what they are learning as relevant to their lives. Researchers had students write one paragraph after a lesson sharing how they thought what they had learned would be useful to their lives. Writing 1-8 of these during a semester led to positive learning gains, especially for those students who had previously been "low performers."

It is not uncommon for teachers to explicitly make those kinds of real-life connections. However, research has also found that this kind of teacher-centered approach can actually be de-motivating to some students with low skills. A student who is having a very difficult time understanding math or does just not find it interesting, for example, can feel threatened by hearing regularly from a teacher how important math is to his or her future. Instead of becoming more engaged in class, he or she may experience more negative feelings. These same researchers write:

[A] more effective approach would be to encourage students to generate their own connections and discover for themselves the relevance of course material to their lives. This method gives students the opportunity to make connections to topics and areas of greatest interest to their lives.

What other strategies do you use in the classroom to reinforce any of these four critical elements of intrinsic motivation?

Itinerary ~ Week of March 21-27, 2016

Happy Birthday Mr. Davis! March 16

Monday 3/21 Announcements this Week 1B

  • Attendance is due by 9:00AM

  • Bilingual Parent Academy @ 1:00PM

  • Beach Club @ 3:00PM

  • 3-5 Relevant Review- STAAR Strategies 3:15 @ Sanger

  • K-2 Literacy Cadre Training 3:45 @ Casa View

Tuesday 3/22 Announcements this Week 1B

  • Attendance is due by 9:00AM

  • PLC Meeting @ 3:15PM

Wednesday 3/23 Announcements this Week 1B

  • Attendance is due by 9:00AM

  • Tutoring 3:00-3:45

  • Science Club

Thursday 3/24 Announcements this Week 1B

Happy Birthday Mrs. Storm!

  • Attendance is due by 9:00AM

  • Grade Level Meetings ~ STAAR Training

  • Tutoring 3:00-3:45

  • Lesson Plans due by 6:00PM

Friday 3/25

Bad Weather Day- No School

Mark your Calendar!

March 29 - 4th Grade Writing & 5th Grade Math

March 30 - 5th Grade Reading

Your attendance is crucial. We count of having everyone at school both days.