ARMS Legend

Excellence Without Boundaries

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September 8, 2015 1st Six Weeks, Week 3


Principal Message

Greeting Rangers!

Thank you all for your commitment to our students and to your craft. What we do everyday is a craft. I am grateful to be working with a staff that understands that their impact is essential to the function and fulfillment of our purpose.

We have millions of opportunities to engage in "mini action research projects" to enhance our craft. Whether we focus on:
  • the impact of cultivating relationships with a particular class, or
  • strategic grouping of students when doing collaborative work, or
  • tracking how a new instructional strategy impacts student performance, to
  • noting trends in our office procedures to improve ARMS customer service.

Our profession allows us the opportunity to share what we love about two things: our passion for our CONTENT and our passion for cultivating LEARNERS (when you witness the "light bulb" moment, it is priceless). Thank you for seizing the moments you have with our students.

Continue to bring your best self every day and when you need reminding of "that best self" remember you have over 100 people that can help you with that :-). The "honeymoon period" is coming to a close soon, so remember the passion for your content,learning, and stay steadfast to the consistency of your message. Your best self will always be there!

Ranger Pride!
F. Taylor


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Shared by Ms. Barksdale

Ranger News

Big Rock Education Services (BRES)
We will have a BRES visitor with us one day this week. BRES is working as a partner with Teaching Trust Executive Ed. Teams program. As we continue to strengthen our ARMS Way (culture, teaching, and learning practices and norms) for our students and for us as adults, feedback is key. We look forward to the data BRES will provide to highlight our areas of strength and opportunities for growth.
Give the baseline assessment to the identified class(es) or student groups by this week.

As a reminder two professional development goals are to be submitted via School Net. One must focus on Domain 2 (Instructional Practice)

ARMS Family Cook:
Out is this weekend! Come have a couple hours of guaranteed FUN!!

ARMS Teacher Websites:
Input your teacher website link so that your administrator can approve and it can be put on the ARMS Website. The pictures are up and the expectation is all updated websites will be posted by Wednesday, September 30th.

DISD Compliance Videos:
Click here for more information. As a reminder, the videos provide you with a wealth of information in regards to health and safety. Due date Oct. 31st. Please do not let this responsibility be left to the last minute. The videos are lengthy.
Click here for instructions. We have 45 subscribers, that is great! Let's shoot for 20 more this week. It just takes a minute.

ARMS Parent Teacher Association:
How are those jeans looking? :-). Let's reach our goal: 100% of staff enrolled and active in PTA (paid dues of $10). Once we have 100% ARMS participation with $10 PTA dues paid, ARMS Staff can wear jeans on Friday.
First PTA meeting is September 9th, 6pm to 7pm.

ARMS PA System:
If you can not hear announcements REPORT to the Front Office team. We want to give accurate feedback so that all issues are resolved, your input is valuable.
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Pertinent campus wide WAIP information will be posted in the weekly ARMS Legend. Please ensure that you stay informed of district updates and general information. WAIP information that is specific to a team, grade, content, will be emailed directly.

Employee Organziation Policy & Guidelines

Click here for more information.

ARMS 1st Community Service Project

Common Cents: Pennies from the Heart

As a campus we will be participating in Pennies from the Heart Campaign. More information to come, but please click here for more information. Mr. Folkenroth or a designee will be the campus coordinator and are excited to start off the Student Giving Campaign (information forthcoming)
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Marshall Memo

What is the Marshall Memo?

Kim Marshall was a teacher, principal, and central office administrator in Boston for 32 years. He currently advises and coaches new principals through the New Leaders for New Schools program. He is also the author of the Marshall Memo. He subscribes to 64 top-quality publications, and every week he sifts through them to select the most significant articles with the most potential to improve teaching and learning.

In the spirit of our second "G" GROWTH, every week I will share 1 or 2 of the article summaries with ARMS staff. In hopes of sparking interest, sharing another perspective or strategies as we all collectively work to improve teaching and learning @ ARMS. Take what works for you, leave what doesn't.

Infusing Movement Into Secondary-School Classrooms

In this article in Education Update, (Originally titled “Learning from the Feet Up”) Kathy Checkley reports on a number of ways secondary teachers can get teenagers moving in their classrooms to overcome torpor, increase blood flow to their brains, and get neurons firing. Sitting for extended periods of time “is biologically incompatible” with effective brain function, says Michael Kuczala of the Regional Training Center in New Jersey. “The brain wants the body to move… Movement is important because it makes for a better learner.”

Why don’t more teachers get adolescents moving in class? One reason is concern about classroom management and losing control of barely-under-control students. But in fact, well-orchestrated movement may prevent discipline problems and help problem students behave better. Another reason many teachers hesitate to build movement into their classes is that they’ve forgotten how stultifying and, in fact, exhausting it is to sit for long periods of time.

To change the conventional mindset about what a classroom looks like (students sit, the teacher moves around), PD leaders should remind teachers of what it’s like to endure long meetings and get them on their feet and active during workshops. When this happens, says Kuczala, “They begin to feel and understand that we don’t just learn from the neck up. We learn from the feet up.” Here are some specific ideas for secondary classrooms:

  • Standing up and stretching – A short break with students reaching arms overhead, bending left and right, touching the floor, and standing on their toes is amazingly beneficial.
  • Acting out content – In a geometry class, the whole class stands and students mime circumference, diameter, and radius; in a Spanish class, students act out cracking an egg as they learn heuvo; in English, students act out the word lackadaisical.
  • Give one, get one – Students find a partner and compare notes on the day’s lesson, identifying similarities and differences in their learning.
  • Voting with their feet – Students peruse signs around the classroom displaying variations on the answer to a key question and stand by the one they think is best.
  • Learning stations – Students move from one activity to another, cycling through all of them by the end of the period.
  • Gallery walk – For example, in a class on the Holocaust using Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, students spend 20 minutes moving around the room jotting reactions to a series of primary-source images and displays.
  • Story telling – The teacher tells a story and students work in groups to retell the story while speaking in Spanish, using whiteboards, iPads, or acting it out.

“Learning from the Feet Up” by Kathy Checkley in Education Update, August 2015 (Vol. 57, #8, p. 2-3, 6), available for purchase at

What Video Games Taught a Middle-School Teacher About Grading

In this AMLE Magazine article, veteran New York social studies teacher Theresa Heilsberg describes her epiphany when a supremely unfocused, barely passing eighth grader aced a test on World War II without cheating. “Something had obviously changed, had clicked,” says Heilsberg. “He knew names, dates, places, causes, and effects. He was able to write fluently about the war.” When she asked the boy what had happened, he said, “Call of Duty.” The WWII video game had taught him everything he needed to know.

This got Heilsberg thinking about what it was about video games that keeps students engaged in very challenging tasks for hours on end, even though they’re failing 80 percent of the time? She decided there are three key advantages the games have over schoolwork. First, with video games, kids don’t perceive failing as the end of the game, whereas in school failing a test is a big deal. Second, students see school grades as “fixed and final, calculated by some complicated averaging they cannot understand,” she says, whereas in games there’s just a running score. Third, “In games, students build points as they progress; in academic assessments, students lose points for each mistake.”

“I needed to ‘gamify’ my grading policies,” says Heilsberg. Here’s how she restructured the credit system for curriculum units:

  • Instead of starting students with 100% and taking points off for mistakes and problems, everyone started off with a 0 and earned points for completing clearly defined assignments.
  • Heilsberg redesigned her units, assigning point values to each assessment, adding up to 100 points per unit – for example, five homework or classwork assignments worth 2 points each; one quiz worth 10 points; one unit project worth 30 points; five homework writing assignments worth 4 points each; and one test worth 30 points.
  • She used the New York State writing rubrics to score writing on a 4-3-2-1 scale.

- For tests, grades between 85 and 100 earned 30 points, 75-84 earned 20 points, 65-74 earned 10 points, and below 65 earned 0 points.

- In addition, there were bonus activities for which students could earn badges, extra points, or prizes.

- Students could re-do assignments or evaluations until they reached mastery (85%). Heilsberg learned it was important to set firm deadlines for re-takes.

- The final accumulation of points was the student’s unit grade.

- There were two or three units per marking period, and unit grades were averaged for report cards.

- She posted points earned on a public chart (with code names) so students could constantly check their score (she also used an electronic gradebook).

Students liked the new system immediately. “I have more control over my grade now,” said one. “I like the new grading policy because it makes me want to do better, and improve my learning,” said another. “It takes the pressure off to get everything perfect to get a 100,” said another. “Now I concentrate on learning the stuff and I learn more.” Another: “I like that I can build up to my final grade instead of it being averaged. I like that I can re-do projects and tests until I learn the material, not just to get a passing grade.”

“How I Won the Grading Game” by Theresa Heilsberg in AMLE Magazine, August 2015 (Vol. 3, #1, p. 28-30),; Heilsberg can be reached at

WEEKLY EVENTS ( 9/8- 9/12)

Staff & Student Holiday - Monday, 9/7 Labor Day
POD Meeting - Tuesday, 9/8 (Lead by POD Leaders)
ARMS Committee Meeting - Wednesday, 9/9, 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM, Library (NEW)
If you signed up for a committee this meeting is for you. We will send out an invite to all participants on Tuesday.
Hardship Parent Meeting - Wednesday, 9/9, 5:30 PM - 6:00 PM, Library
PTA Meeting - Wednesday, 9/9, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Library
Ignite Academy (1st Year Teachers)- Thursday, 9/10, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Library
Student $1 Jean Day - Friday, 9/11, 6th - 8th Grade Entrances
ARMS Family Cook Out - Saturday, 9/12, 11:00AM - 2:00 PM, Cafeteria & Gym

On the Horizon: September

Empower Team Mtg. - Tuesday, 9/15, 7:30 AM, Parent Conference Center
POD Meeting - Tuesday, 9/15, (Lead by Administrator)
Gifted & Talented Fall Kick Off - Tuesday, 9/15, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Library
Coffee with Principal - Wednesday, 9/16, 8:15 AM - 9:00 AM
Parent Workshop - Wednesday, 9/16, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
ARMS University - Wednesday, 9/16, During POD Time, Library
8th Grade Cohort Free Dress - Thursday, 9/17, 8th Grade Entrance
Staff Breakfast - Thursday, 9/17, Sponsored by Main Office & Attendance Office Staff, Teachers Lounge
Ignite Academy (1st Year Teachers)- Thursday, 9/17, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Library
ARMS Spaghetti Cook Off - Friday, 9/18, Staff Cook Off in Teachers Lounge during all three lunches
TEI Score Cards- Friday, 9/18, Delivered via email by TEI department to DISD teachers
ARMS Region 10 PD - Saturday, 9/19, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM (Math & ELAR PD Sessions)

POD Meeting -
Tuesday, 9/22 (Lead by POD Leaders)
ARMS Staff Meeting - Tuesday, 9/22, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Library
POD Leader Monthly Meeting - Wednesday, 9/23, 7:30 AM - 8:00 AM, Library (New)
SLO & PDP Plans Submitted via School Net- Wednesday, 9/23
Student Free Dress - Best Cohort that has the best Tardies (6th, 7th, or 8th)
Ignite Academy (1st Year Teachers)- Thursday, 9/24, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Library
Student $1 Jean Day - Friday, 9/25, 6th - 8th Grade Entrances
ARMS Region 10 PD - Saturday, 9/26, 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM (English Language Learner PD Sessions) Click here to register.

Empower Team Mtg. - Tuesday, 9/29, 7:30 AM, Parent Conference Center
1st Six Week Common Assessment - Math, Social Studies, Band, Orchestra, PE, Tech., CATE
1st Six Week Common Assessment - ELAR, Science, Theater, Dance, LCC, Spanish, RTI (Math, Reading)
SBDM - Wednesday, 9/30, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Just another reminder for our Saturday PD Sessions

Click here to register.
Take a moment to review the highlights of our ARMS Calendar. One more way to be informed. Click here for updated ARMS Fall Calendar.
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In case you missed it, check out the link below!! Thank you to A:: ARMS Ranger Staff for being clear, consistent, and kind as we foster respect and pride within our Ranger Students.

The Most Important Work of our Time! Always remember YOUR IMPACT!

Ann Richards Middle School

At Ann Richards MS, our vision is to be a flagship middle school at the hub of the community, nurturing diverse leaders, and empowering intelligent trailblazers.