Aim Higher Flyer

A Monthly Look into ECHS Instruction

CIF Stars

Classroom Talk Strategies

For the month of January, we pledged to try or integrate more of a specific classroom talk strategy. Thank you to those of you who allowed me to visit and observe these strategies. We saw measurable improvements in the quality of student responses so I charge us to continue these strategies into February and March. See the galleries below for some examples.

Tech Bytes

GALE Reference Library

Do you wish your students would use more articles, newspapers, and primary sources when researching a topic instead of Wikipedia,, and

Sheldon ISD has recently subscribed to the GALE virtual reference library. This reference library allows students to research a topic but only returns sources that you can properly cite.
For instance, a search under the World History in Context tab for "Minoans" yielded 35 reference texts, 7 magazine articles, 22 news articles, and 7 academic journals. All of which can be commented on, highlighted and saved to your or the student's Google drive!

There are tabs for literature, world history, United States history, science, National Geographic, news, Spanish texts, and environmental issues. There is even a tab called "Opposing Viewpoints" which contains pros and cons of popular debate topics. Students can even practice SAT, ACT and STAAR skills in the Testing and Education Reference Center tab.

I encourage you to explore the website and think about how you can use this to help scaffold research skills in our students. I would be happy to answer any questions and help guide you through the website.

Chrome Hacks

As a Google district, we are in and out of Chrome all day! I recently found this article that describes 19 Chrome "hacks". Hacks are essentially add-ons that will operate anytime you're using Google Chrome as your web browser. I can't believe I lived without some of these! Here are just a few:

Grammarly: Checks anything you write in Chrome for grammar and spelling mistakes

OneTab: Declutters all of your tabs onto one page

Postman: Notifies you anytime you receive an email to your Google account

Pocket: Allows you to save any document, PDF, or link and access it on any device at a later time (and all in one place!)

StayFocused: Blocks distracting websites such as social media for any period of time you set. If you set it it to block Facebook from 9-3, you physically won't be able to access it!

Language Immersion: Trying to learn or hone a new language? Language Immersion randomly switches words and phrases from English into your language of choice (in anything you open in Chrome!)

Check all of these out and more here and here.

Motivation Station

Book Study

I have joined a book study being put on by Michelle Wheeler, KHS ELA coach, focusing on Eric Jensen's Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind: Practical Strategies for Raising Achievement. I look forward to sharing with you insights on how to engage and motivate these students.

If you would like to participate contact Mrs. Wheeler. A full version of the book is available online through the district's library website.

Student Engagement: A Summary

Many of you have indicated that student motivation is an area of high interest. Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching has a nice summary section on the two types of motivation - intrinsic and extrinsic- with suggestions on how to approach students for each type.

Additionally, the website discusses a model for generating intrinsic motivation. Authors Middleton, Littlefield, and Lehrer posit that students, when first exposed to a learning activity, determine if that activity is going to be interesting. If so, the student engages in the activity. However, the student then evaluates the activity on two factors: stimulation (challenge, curiosity) and personal control (freedom of choice, not too difficult). If an activity is deemed controllable and stimulating they are more likely to engage. However, if over time, the activity deemed interesting loses elements of stimulation or control, the student will remove it from the list of activities they find engaging.

The article also compiled a research-backed list of strategies that help to engage students. The suggestions include role-modeling excitement over material, building relationships, including a variety teaching strategies, and setting realistic goals. See the full list here.