ACE Weekly Newsletter

September 8, 2015

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In This Week's Issue:

Note from Executive Director

Celebrating Excellence

The Main Idea, Current Education Book Summaries

  • Teach Like a Champion, Part 1 (revisiting 2 techniques)

Article of the Week: Gradual Release of Responsibility

Video Spotlight

  • Lesson Planning: Backwards Design
  • Lesson Planning: Gradual Release of Responsibility
  • Data: All in Learning Scanning

Upcoming Events

  • ACE K-2 Balanced Literacy Cadre
  • TEI Score Card Update
  • ACE Saturday Carnegie Math Academy


  • Curriculum Central Links to ACE 6 Weeks Assessments & DDI Calendar
  • School Calendars
  • ACE Literacy Website Link
  • My Dallas ISD Online Learning Link: Writing Moodle
  • ACE Contact Information



Dear ACE Team,

Welcome back from Labor Day weekend; hope you enjoyed a well-deserved break. Last week I emphasized our goals of maximizing instructional time and mastering purposeful, engaging, high quality teaching and learning. High performing schools support these goals with a laser focus and do not leave professional development to chance. They utilize multiple, collaborative pathways to support continuous improvement. Let's review a few:

Strong schools:

  1. Meet horizontally to align lesson plans, study data, and problem-solve support for students. They value backwards planning design and a full lesson cycle (both highlighted with videos below).
  2. They meet vertically by content teams to look for trends in data and align key practices within the content area. These vertical teams read, study and research new ideas for continuous improvement.
  3. Strong schools also value observation and feedback. Teachers and leaders constantly seek feedback for how to become more effective. Within strong organizations, feedback is reciprocal and constant.

I felt fortunate to observe the leadership teams at Mills and Blanton last week. They shared their instructional plans which encompassed these best practices. There are many ways to organize for success, but the mission remains constant: to accelerate excellence.

Thank you for your dedication to our mission.

Best wishes for a wonderful third week,

Jolee Healey


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We Want to Hear From You!

Do you have a celebration you want to share with the ACE family? Did a team member get a Donors Choose funded? Was there a school event that was a huge success? Was your school highlighted in the media? Do you want to highlight something from your school that showcases how your team is Accelerating excellence?

Great! Let's celebrate excellence together by showcasing each other and ourselves! Click here to submit a summary and any pictures of excellence that you would like highlighted in next week's newsletter.


Weekly Reading

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Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College by Doug Lemov


Chapter 1 – Setting High Academic Expectations

Research consistently shows that holding high expectations improves student achievement. However, the problem is that the definition of high expectations varies widely. Below are five concrete techniques for holding high expectations that top teachers use. (This week, let's focus on the two below.)

Technique 1: NO OPT OUT* (Each technique that is demonstrated in the DVD is marked by an asterisk.)

In typical classes, when students don’t know an answer, or don’t want to try, they quickly learn the teacher will leave them alone if they respond to a question with "I don’t know" or shrugging their shoulders. The teacher then moves on to another student. Instead, NO OPT OUT is a useful tool to get all students to the right answer, as often as possible, even if only to repeat the correct answer.

For example, on day 1 to review you ask Charlie, "What is 3 times 8?" He mutters, "I don’t know" and looks away. Many teachers don’t know how to respond, and students come to use "I don’t know" to avoid work all year long. Instead, at a minimum, you can turn to another student, ask the same question, and if you get the correct answer, turn back to Charlie, "Now you tell me what is 3 times 8." Charlie, and all of the students, have just learned that they can’t get off the hook and must do the work in your class.

In a more rigorous form of NO OPT OUT you or another student can provide a cue. For example, in a class where a student was unable to identify the subject of the sentence, "My mother was not happy" the teacher asked another student, "When I am asking you for the subject, what am I asking for?" The second student responded, "You are asking for who or what the sentence is about." Then the teacher turned to the first student and said, "When I ask for the subject, I am asking for who or what the sentence is about. What’s the subject?" This time the student was able to respond correctly, "Mother." The sequence began with the student unable to answer and ended up with him giving a correct answer. Note that the tone in most classrooms that use NO OPT OUT is positive and academic and using it only reinforces the teacher’s belief in students’ ability to get the right answer.

These techniques can be maximized when teachers ensure equity with questioning by pulling name sticks or using a computer program or app to randomly generator student names.

Technique 3: STRETCH IT – Rather than stopping after a student gives you the correct answer, follow up with questions that extend knowledge and check for full understanding. Champion teachers ask students how they got the answer, what is another way to get the answer, what is the evidence, how to apply the same skill in a new situation, and what more specific vocabulary words they can use. This both challenges students to extend their thinking, and checks that students don’t get the correct answer by luck.


Be sure to read this week's article of the week!

"The gradual release of responsibility model provides teachers with an instructional framework for moving from teacher knowledge to student understanding and application. The gradual release of responsibility model ensures that students are supported in their acquisition of the skills and strategies necessary for success. "

Be sure to check out the article to learn more about how to properly implement the gradual release model to support students!



Backward Design Process
Gradual Release of Responsibility


Realtime Scanning


K-2 Balanced Literacy Cadre

Tuesday, Sep. 8th, 4:15pm to Thursday, Sep. 10th, 5:30pm

ACE Elementary Schools

Thanks to our Dallas ISD K-2 Curriculum & Instruction Department for this great partnership!

This week, reading teachers learned how to administer the beginning of the year assessments through ISIP in order to tier their students and determine their reading lexile levels. Additionally, presenters shared a wealth of resources from Istation including teacher directed lessons, engaging videos to teach foundational reading skills and a variety of reports that can identify the critical reading needs of each student.

Upcoming in September, K-2 teachers will dive deeper into the critical components of balanced literacy. Click here for the complete schedule of upcoming trainings!

2015 “Chief on the Beat” at PREP U Super Saturday: A Crime Prevention, Safety, Education and Health Fair

Saturday, Sep. 12th, 9am-12pm

2727 Al Lipscomb Way

Dallas, TX

Super Saturday Back to School Fair at South Oak Cliff High School: Health Screenings, Resource Booths, and Fun Activities

Saturday, Sep. 12th, 9-11am

3601 South Marsalis Avenue

Dallas, TX

TEI Score Card Arrival

Friday, Sep. 18th, 5pm

Dallas ISD Email

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ACE Carnegie Learning Mathematics Academy

Saturday, Sep. 26th, 8:30am

408 N. Haskell

Calling all 3-8 Math teachers & Campus Instructional Coaches! Make mathematics come alive for children through activities that emphasize the content and process standards! Study and plan instruction for "next-day delivery"!

Click here for a flyer detailing the registration process.

Participants will be compensated for their attendace.



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