Weekly Tiger News
April 4 - April 8, 2016
Happy Birthday to...
PLC Meeting This Week...
Something to think about...
"A goal without a plan is simply a wish"
We made it!
We are not done, we still have a second round of testing in May. You all have done a great job preparing for the next five weeks. Stay focused during the time.
Three Steps for Improving Teacher Questions
As you read the article below, reflect on what we have discussed during the year on implementing effective questioning strategies.
Have you changed they way you question your students?
Do you provide your students with the opportunity for discussions in groups?
Are you using the Blooms Taxonomy questioning stems provided to you in the first semester?
Do you write your questions stems out prior to the lesson?
How have you improved in your question strategies?
Three Steps for Improving Teacher Questions
JUNE 26, 2012
According to Robert Marzano's book, Classroom Instruction that Works, 80 percent of what is considered instruction involves asking questions. It makes sense then, that if we want to improve our effectiveness at teaching, of course we would start by improving our questions. I have thought a lot about this topic and I would like to share three specific actions that we can take to improve our questions. To begin with, we need to get students talking rather than the teacher talking. Second, prepare the questions when you plan the lesson. And third, scaffold the questions.
The first action for improvement in reality is not an action, but a shift in thinking about our own concept of teaching. We have to stop thinking that when we get in front of students, we will be able to get into the groove of a "discussion" by simply asking a few poignant questions. Let me explain. Some teachers may be tempted to believe that they are "teaching" when they are engaging students in a "class" discussion by asking a series of questions to lead students to a certain way of thinking. This type of teacher-student interaction really is not a "discussion." Students are not providing their opinions or evidence, nor does the teacher really want conjecture. The teacher typically is fishing for the "right answer" and is trying to draw it out of the students by asking leading questions. True discussion occurs where there is no "leader." There is give-and-take from everyone that involves conjecture, deduction, argument, proofs, and logical conclusions. Most importantly, in a true discussion, the outcome of the discussion is not known beforehand but is discovered through the discussion process.
After understanding this definition of a true discussion, trying to "lead" a class discussion is a waste of effort and time, primarily because "leading" destroys the exploratory purpose of the "discussion", but also because the number of students that are able to participate in a whole-class discussion is limited to just a few. I think you know where I am going with this: Instead of "leading" a discussion, why not teach your students how to discuss and break your class up into groups of four or five students, so they can then discuss the issues. This is much more productive than having 30 or more students listening to just a few talk with the teacher.
The next move is to prepare the questions you want to ask as an integral part of the lesson. If questions are not prepared in advance, most the questions you ask or provide for the students will be knowledge and comprehension questions because it is extremely difficult to create higher order thinking questions "on-the-fly." The purpose for these questions is to "check for understanding" and to engage thinking skills, but remember that "whole-class" questions, as discussed above, have limited utility. If you provide the questions to the students in a PowerPoint, once again, you can divide the class into groups of four or five students and you have them all answer the questions at the same time orally.
Certainly students cannot answer questions or discuss something of which they know nothing. Savvy teacher will design learning activities in preparation for student-led discussions that will give students background knowledge, evidence, and ammunition to argue a point. The ELA strand of the standards encourages teachers to help students identify opinion and utilize evidence to support their argument -- the point of argument being to convince rather than to simply expound both sides of an issue.
The final way to improve our use of questions is to design the questions so that they scaffold from cognitive difficulty levels of easy to hard. An effective way to do this is to create a spreadsheet with a column for containing a row for each concept and three additional columns (Knowledge/Comprehension, Application/Analysis, Synthesis/Evaluation) where you write several questions for each column for each concept. If you do this as you plan your lesson, you will have questions for building a vocabulary foundation of the concepts, questions for helping students relate the new knowledge to what they know already, and questions to help students establish the value of this knowledge (this also creates a handy question bank for assessing student knowledge).
An interesting thing about scaffolding questions is that it allows repetition without being repetitive. Each time you lead the students to a different level of question on a topic, students have the opportunity to revisit what they know, and use it in a different way. This helps students to remember and at the same time it keeps them engaged because you are not simply repeating the same question. Even though it is the same topic, it is new. Again, whole-class questioning value is limited, and students in small groups, answering all the questions from easy to hard, is a much more effective way to engage all students.
If teachers spend so much time asking students questions, then an easy way to improve student learning is to improve the way we ask the questions. What interesting ways have you found to engage more students and ask more effective questions?
Sheldon Elementary Attendance
At the end of week March 24th - 96.98%
At the end of wee April 1st - 96.86%
Attendance went down this week. Continue to make attendance a priority! Let's try to get above 97% this week.
Review and remind your students of the attendance incentives we have in place.
Each teacher will monitor their homeroom attendance. A form with perfect attendance will be given to teachers. Each time the class is in full attendance, the class will receive a letter. Once the class has spelled out the words “PERFECT ATTENDANCE” the class will celebrate with a class party (the celebration will be determined by the teacher).
Each week the class with highest attendance will receive a poster to post on their door for that week. The winners will be announced on the first day of the week. The attendance clerk will provide the principal with the weekly attendance on Friday to be announced on Monday.
Each nine weeks, the grade level with the highest attendance for the nine weeks will receive the banner and it will be posted in their grade level pod.
During the awards assembly, students will be recognized and names will be placed in a drawing to win a gift card to McDonalds (one boy and one girl from each grade level) in the amount of $10.00. Names will be announced Friday morning at the end of the nine weeks.
End of the School Year:
Students who have had perfect attendance all year will get their name in a drawing for a bike, two primary and two intermediate (one girl and one boy). Students will also participate in a field trip and receive a t-shirt at the end of the year.
We now have I-Station available for our 3-5th grade students. I will be working with the Core Team and team leaders to develop a schedule so that every student is assessed on I-Station by the end of April and again in May.
Spanish I-station is also available for third grade students who need to be assess in Spanish.
I-station can be used as a rotation in centers during the guided reading.
The recommendations for the use of I-station based on the Tiers?
Tier 3 students should be on I-station for 90 minutes a week.
Tier 2 students should be on I-station for 60 minutes a week.
Tier 1 students should be on I-station for 30 minutes a week.
You also have access Writing Rules! (Six Traits of Writing). This is a great time to take advantage of this resource.
The district is the process of getting I-station for K-2nd grades in both English and Spanish. I will let you know when it is available.
Town Hall Meetings
Town Hall meetings start this week. Encourage your parents to attend one of the scheduled Town Hall.
Meetings to gather information about our upcoming bond election.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Null Middle School – Cafeteria
The Sheldon Pirates Musical will follow after the Town Hall Meeting. Parents will also have the opportunity to attend the Sheldon Book Fair. Refreshments will be served.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Sheldon Elementary – Cafeteria
- Apirl 4 - April 8 - IOWA Window for 1st and 2nd grade teachers
- April 4 - STAAR ALT 2 Opens
- April 4 - Staff Meeting
- April 5 - Rep Council - Review HB5 documentations
- April 6- Success Celebration names due to Ms. Young
- April 7 - Town Hall Meeting at 6:30p.m., Pirates Musical will follow
- April 8 - 3rd Nine Weeks Awards during Specials
- April 8 - Teacher Self Report Due
- April 8 - Success Celebration at 2:30 p.m.
Rezoning information is now available on our website. Please be sure that as you begin to get questions from your parents, that you are aware of the changes. You can locate the new zone maps on the website so that you will be prepared to answer questions for your parents.
New Zone Maps
- Teachers, please make sure you are at your door when the bell rings at 7:40 a.m.
- Greet your students each morning as they enter the classroom.
- Teachers, please let Ms. Garza know when you have a missed punch on the time clock. It is important to clock in on time each day.
- All letters to parents need to be approved by an administrator before sending home.