The Monday Message

Office of the Principal; Monday, March 2, 2015

Quote for the Week!

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

Duty Roster for the Week

Duty Roster

Monday - I Group on duty (Young on Duty)

Tuesday - R Group on duty (Inabinet on Duty)

Wednesday - M Group on duty (Major-Murphy on Duty)

Thursday - O Group on duty (Sava)

Friday - I Group on duty

Reminder - At the request of several teachers, everyone is receiving a remind message on Thursday evening of each week, calling attention to the Friday duty assignments.

The Week Ahead

Black Week - Classes Meet 1-2-3-4-5-6

National Nutrition Month, National Social Workers Month, National Women's History Month, National Youth Art Month, National School Breakfast Week, National World Language Week

Monday (2nd) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Admin Meeting (9:30am, Cafe'),

Tuesday (3rd) - Law Enforcement and Safe Schools Seminar (8:00-3:00pm), Student Government Mtg (7:45am, Rm. 812), Team Meetings (During Plannings), Faculty Meeting (3:50pm, Cafe'), Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3)

Wednesday (4th) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Principal's Meeting (12:00-4:30pm, DO Board Room), Saluda County Schools Visit (1:30-3:30pm)

Thursday (5th) - Crew (8:20-8:50), Safety Plan Committee Meeting (11:00am, DO Board Room), Course Fair Parent Meeting (6:00pm, Cafe')

Friday (6th) - Guidance IGP's (8-11, 2-3), Spring Hill High School Registration,

Tasks to Complete This Week!

1. Teach like a champion every period, every day!

2. Attend Tuesday's Faculty Meeting after school (3:50-4:50)

3. Attend Wednesday's team meetings during plannings

4. Incorporate the topics specified in the weekly calendar in your lesson plans and activities. Make sure you are making specific connections to the experiences of our students as well as cross curricular planning and connections.

5. Everyone report to duty as scheduled. See roster here.

6. Read the Monday Message in its entirety (including the articles linked and inserted). Also view the video clips, reflect, and adjust your practices where needed.

7. Review this week's Crew lesson and prepare for Thursday.

8. Continue working with your bubble kids and planning additional instructional activities and supporting lessons to ensure that they meet their goals on the spring MAP assessment.

March Staff Birthdays

Tammie Hardy, March 11th

Brandi Clarkson, March 25th

Marilyn Constante, March 31st

Please join me in wishing these staff members a happy birthday.

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We have several shout outs this week:

1. Vernon Sava, Danielle Major-Murphy, Glenn Hutto, Latoya Young, Scott Thur - On Wednesday February 18th, our school experienced an unfortunate bomb threat. Our administrative personnel immediately jumped into action and worked together as a cohesive unit contacting district and law enforcement personnel, evacuating the building, worked with the staff at CRMS to get our students out of the inclimate weather, and kept me abreast of the events while I was sick at home. I received many complimentary messages from district personnel, CRMS staff, IMS staff, parents, and emergency personnel. Way to do TEAM! Join me in congratulating our administrative personnel on a job well done. Let's give them a huge iAM shout out!

2. iAM Marketing Team - This past week, we received notification from the district that over 120 students have chosen Irmo Middle as their school of choice for 2015-16. These amazing numbers would not be possible without the efforts of our magnet recruitment team. I would like to thank every member of the staff who took time of our our extraordinarily busy schedules to recruit families, make phone calls, send emails, update our materials, set up for our events, etc...Because of the efforts of so many people, we will enjoy 970+ students on campus next year. Join me in giving all members of our recruitment team and support personnel a huge iAM shout out and congratulate everyone for an amazing recruitment season.

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ACT Aspire Info (From Mr. Hutto)

Here is the info on ACT Aspire (click here). We also received a lot of resources to share with English and Math teachers as we begin preparing students for the new assessment. Here they are:

Click here for Avocet resources

Sample Test Items

Calculator FAQ


  1. Writing (7 & 8) - 30 minutes, 1 item (7th-Expository, 8th-Argumentative)
  2. English (7 & 8) - 35 minutes, 45 items, multiple choice
  3. Reading (7 & 8) - 60 minutes, 31 items, multiple choice & constructed response
  4. Math - 7th Grade - 60 minutes, 41 items, constructed response & multiple choice
  5. Math - 8th Grade - 65 minutes, 45 items, constructed response & multiple choice

FAQ's about ACT Aspire (New)

Timed Classroom Activities - To begin acclimating students to a timed testing environment, we are asking that all teachers help prepare students for these assessments by planning/facilitating some type of timed activity in your classes daily. Timed writing assignments with prompts (that are aligned to the test) should occur weekly. The more practice our students get the better they will perform. Please see this list of strategies for timed writing of essays and share these ideas with your students

Attendance (Staff) - Update

Last week the teacher attendance rate was 94% (20 absences) and the entire staff attendance rate was 95% (32 absences). We fell just short of our goal last week. I remain optimistic that we will rebound this week and hit 97% in both categories. Next week, I will include the February attendance data for your review. As always, it is absolutely critical that everyone make every effort possible to be here each and every day. I will join you in those collective efforts. When you need to be out, please follow the proper protocols and prepare excellent plans for your students. Remember, if you are on duty, that needs to be communicated to your substitute as well.

Dismissal Supervision

For the second time in less than a week, we had a disturbance at dismissal. I will be asking Mr. Sava to develop an enhanced dismissal duty plan that will include additional supervision for our students. The purpose is to prevent all further disruptions. I am asking all teachers who are located around the bus loading areas to come out and help supervise to that our students can get home safely and without incident.

Staff Dress Code

I want to remind everyone that it is critically important for everyone to look their professional best everyday. It is quite difficult to enforce the student dress code when we have teachers and staff members that are not dress professionally. I realize that some of today's attire are very comfortable and that is a motivating factor to wear those items to school. I want everyone to exercise good judgement and dress your professional best every day. As a reminder, Monday and Tuesday are dress your best days. Wednesday is Black and Grey. Thursday is Black and Khaki. Friday is Jeans and IMS paraphernalia.

The Magnet Minute & EL Corner

The theme of this Magnet Minute is feedback!

Expeditionary Learning Mid-Year Review Feedback: The report from our Mid-Year Review with Sarah and Myra is linked here. Please take a moment to read and reflect. We will spend more time unpacking this document and thinking through the recommended "next steps" and outcomes at our next Shared Leadership Team meeting and during our March Faculty Crew time.

Workshop 2.0 Follow-Up and Feedback: Thanks again, Kelly and Hannah, for leading us through a grapple during our most recent PD day! Because of your facilitation and energy, many of us had "A-ha!" moments and grapples have popped up in classrooms across campus since then. In Katie Manning and Clare Bellucci's classes, kids are grappling about WWII attack strategies. In math, kids are wondering whether it's better to earn $1000 a day for a month, or to double your money each day throughout the month.For your continued thinking, the lesson planning template for Workshop 2.0 is attached. To continue the spirit of feedback, here's what we thought about the experience:

"This was a powerful PD that walked teachers through creating highly engaging learning activities for our students."

"I can see immediate use in my classroom!"

"Loved the experience wearing the 'student hat'!"

"This is the coolest thing! I better understand what it is and am willing to begin trying it in class."

"Fabulous tool for helping students collaborate, think rigorously on real-world tasks, and learn how to work towards high quality products."

Kelly and Hannah will open their classrooms again Monday for those interested in seeing the process live, with real students and real content. If you plan to attend, please sign up on the form linked here.

Warm and Cool Feedback from GHS: Thanks to all teachers who welcomed GHS teachers into their Crews and participated in the round-table discussions! Your willingness to forgo planning time is appreciated. It was powerful to hear reflections from our team related to our growth and transformation over the past two years. I asked the team from Gilbert High School to provide us with some warm and cool feedback based on their experience/observations at our school. Here's what they said...


"We expected to see a show. It wasn't that at all! Everything we saw and participated in was natural, organic, and clearly authentic."

"We saw very diverse Crews and this was encouraging because it was very realistic!"

"We saw teachers really facilitating Crew, rather than acting as the 'sage on the stage.' This was incredible! The learning during Crew was totally student-driven."

"We felt a strong community during Crew. The ways that teachers interacted with students was healthy and positive."

"Teachers at IMS really believe in the work! They seem so willing to put in the time and effort."

"I am blown away by the SPED teachers and the ways that they adapt and modify Crew lessons so that they are meaningful for all kids. Totally impressive!"

"I loved participating in EL protocols during the actual PD session. What a great way to model what kids experience."

"I saw kids holding each other accountable. The culture of respect between teachers and students was very obvious."

From Sarah Boddy: "This is beautiful and not at all surprising. Thank you so much for making your process and progress transparent and helping a future EL school! You are Crew at Irmo, but you are also part of a nationwide EL Crew, and today, you helped others on our collective way up the mountain."


"I heard the IMS team discuss teacher turn-over. This is intimidating!"

"I can't think of any 'cool' feedback to share! Our day was great!"

Crew Challenge Feedback: The informal feedback from the first Crew Challenge was very positive! From both kids and facilitators, I heard that Crews were largely engaged in the process and enjoyed the experience. If you have ideas or suggestions for improvement for a future Crew Challenge, please share! Congrats to the winning Crews, led by Mrs. Blackburn and Mrs. V. Williams (tie) and Ms. Goeckner!

Team leaders will learn this week's Crew lesson on Monday, another lesson related to motivation, and will share out before Thursday morning. The entire motivation quiz (excerpts were pulled for this week's "5 Corners" activity) is attached if you are interested in using with your students.

Feedback related to our EL Summer Institute: Based on feedback from team meetings, the EL Summer Institute will be held on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6, 2015. All particulars related to times, locations, and agendas will be provided closer to the dates - but please mark your calendars now. Currently, we are exploring options to compensate your time. These options include (but are not set-in-stone): a stipend for one day and a swap day for the other (January 15, 2016).

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From Mr. Thur

Spring IEP update

As you may know, we have Spring IEPs in our district. This means that each student has to have their Annual Review IEP between April 15 and June 3. The annual meeting is required to take place within one year from the previous (i.e. last year’s) annual IEP meeting. Therefore, the student’s Anticipated Date of Annual Review meeting is predicated on when the previous annual took place. In this meeting, we will be developing the Annual 2015-2016 IEP.

In the coming weeks, we will make a master schedule and stagger meetings to where there is an even distribution of general education representatives across meetings. Mrs. McNeil will be developing this schedule. Please be aware this schedule is quite involved, and requires considering factors such as your planning periods, parent availability, and meeting locations. This official schedule will not be created for several weeks, but the planning and coordination will soon begin. I wanted to make you aware. I will keep you posted through email and upcoming Monday Messages, especially as we get closer to Spring Break. Thank you in advance for your flexibility and understanding.

Upcoming Survey

I will be sending out a survey within this next week, asking you about your preferred topics for the next round of Special Education PD. I want to make this authentic, and instead of creating a topic that might not be applicable or relevant to you, I want to find out exactly which areas you want more information on. As like the previous sessions, your feedback will drive our next PD. Please be on the lookout for this. Thank you!

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From Mrs. Inabinet

No entry this week

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From Mrs. Young

Saluda County Schools Visit

Wednesday, March 4, we will have 7 visitors from Saluda County Schools with us from 1:30-3:30 pm. They will be rolling out Chromebooks to their 7th graders next year and are very interested in seeing our classrooms in action. If your classroom is slated to be visited, you should have received an e-mail from me. However, all need to be prepared to help us showcase the great things we are doing with the Chromebooks and our digital resources. Please make sure your iAM Diplomats are prepared and ready to greet our visitors.

Teen Tech Week 2015

Teen Tech Week is March 9-13. Although each school is handling things a little differently, our ultimate goal is to help educate students on how to be safe, smart and effective users of technology.

Please review the schedule of activities and lessons. Note that we will present our first lesson thisThursday, March 5 during Enrichment.

Dropbox Security Concern

Last week you received information regarding security issues with Dropbox and the District's recommendation that you move Dropbox files to Google Drive immediately. Click here for additional information including a video showing you how to do this.

Chromebook Collection

Although all details have not been finalized, we wanted to provide you with some general information regarding how we will handle collecting Chromebooks at the end of the year to allow you to plan accordingly:

  • The exam schedule has been revised to accommodate Chromebook collection. This was sent out by Mr. Hutto on Feb. 26. Please be sure to take note of your department's final exam date.
  • Devices and power cords will be collected May 28 & 29 through social studies classes. The week prior to collection, homeroom teachers will complete preliminary device checks. Detailed information and training will be provided in the weeks leading up to this.

Readings and Resources:

16 graphic organizers that can be used for many different subject areas and grade levels.

Did you know . . . When you copy a URL (link) to any Google Apps file, it probably says “view” or “edit” at the end of it. Now you have the ability to replace the "/edit" or "/view" at the end of a URL with "/copy" to force whoever opens that link to make a copy of the file instead of opening your file. That’s another trick to keeping your original version from being altered. This works with Sheets, Documents, Slides and Draw.

Closing Thoughts

This week's Monday Message contains a calendar to guide our week ahead, PD links, and events on the horizon. In February, I informed you that for the next ten weeks, I will be focusing my closing thoughts on the Expeditionary Learning Design Principles. The reason for this is to bring awareness to these guideposts, explain them, and challenge you to embrace and implement in your classrooms daily.

If you recall, the last edition of the Monday Message focused on The Having of Wonderful Ideas. We learned that teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed. You were asked to think about how you accomplished this in your classes and how you continuously embrace the having of wonderful ideas in your classes/work daily.

This week, everyone is asked to focus on Design Principle # 3 - The Responsibility for Learning. With this design principle, EL teaches us that learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.

As you contemplate this notion, ask yourself, how am I continuously learning as a professional and how am I encouraging children to become responsible for their learning? This goes beyond just statements and directives given to students. For many of our learners, they need additional support while they grapple with difficult concepts. For teachers and leaders, we have to resist the urge to simply just give them the right answer to sped up the process. So, how will you do this in your classes this week?

Remember, working on culture and character is not a sometimes thing. Every time one person slacks off, it hurts the entire school. While we are doing this very important work, we must not put students on the outside looking in, we need them on the inside, helping us to solve problems by owning their work and striving to produce better outcomes. We will accomplish this as long we consistently display a We Are Crew, Not Passengers spirit.

Remember, Together We are Smarter!

Robert S. Jackson, Ed.S., Principal

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