Ram Nation News

Week of October 29, 2018


A middle school that cultivates scholars to be catalysts of change, life-long learners, innovators, and competitors in a global society


At Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, our mission is to empower our students to become

college and career ready by providing them a culture of excellence through challenging

opportunities, powerful relationships, and strong community partnerships.

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As a school, during PLCs and other opportunities, we have collaborated to craft DOLs, weekly/common DOLs, create exemplars from our common assessments, and plan next steps for reteaching and extending learning. When we are laser-focused in our planning, data analysis, and progress monitoring of our students, we will see significant gains in student achievement as a result. Research shows that our students need to know up front what good work looks like, along with the expectation that they can achieve it. It means using DOLs, exit tickets, responses to writing prompts, or entries in journal that align with learning objectives, assess success criteria, and surface gaps or errors in student thinking.” When we use this process in our classrooms, each one of us communicates these beliefs to students:

  • I want to know how you are doing during learning so I can take next steps.
  • Errors are a vital part of learning.
  • It's persistence, not first and fastest, that matters.

Nancy Love and Michelle Crowell say, “When teachers and students use assessments to make timely adjustments in teaching and learning tactics, they can effectively double the speed of learning.”

This week, our students will be taking their common assessments, let's be very intentional to provide a great learning environment for our kids. Let's be very purposeful and have a laser focus as we work on having double digit gains across all subjects in all buckets and reach number 1!!!

As I shared last week, a great deal of student achievement lays on the level of motivation students have. A discouraged or unmotivated student will not put forth the effort required to perform above the average. Students can have access to great books, teachers, lessons, and technology, but it will not get students excited about learning, nor will it make students be willing to work hard. Motivation is key in the success of students. Teachers play a very important role in encouraging and motivating students. MOTIVATE our students to do their very best so that they would not miss the opportunity to be and feel successful.


Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. It is awesome to see all of our students being on time to school. Let's continue to support our students in transitioning in an expedited manner from class to class.

The following is the percent for attendance for the week of 10/22 - 10/26:

  • 6th Grade - 97.77% - improved by 0.69%
  • 7th Grade - 96.87 - improved by 0.98%
  • 8th Grade - 96.21% - improved by 1.14%

Way to go 6th grade with 5 weeks on the lead!!!

Let's continue to encourage our students to be present and on time on a daily basis. It really makes a huge difference when our students are present learning


  • Ms. Galvan and Ms. Zuniga for their support and organization as they worked on getting the last jacket order sorted and distributed to our students. As of now, we have distributed over 450 jackets.
  • Ms. Saucedo for her commitment to our campus and staff member as she continues to find parent volunteers to support our efforts. Last week, our school logged 21 volunteer hours.
  • Coach Addison for her leadership as the Athletic Coordinator and basketball girls's coach. Last week, she led the basketball tryouts to provide our girls the opportunity to be a part of our teams. We look forward to see and hear about a great season!
  • Ms. Buitron, Ms. Jackson, Ms. Maloy, and Ms. Trent for their dedication and support as they worked really hard during a high accountability ARD lasting only one day; it went well and all members were in agreement and were very collaborative.
  • Ms. Wells and Ms. Guerra for being selected as the ACE network experts in Performance Matters. Because of their leadership and knowledge, they will be called to train, assist strengthen, and build the capacity within School Networks in their usage of Performance Matters.

Instructional Practices


Climate and Culture

As I shared with you, our goal for our climate survey is to rank in the 5th quintile in all areas! This means that all of our areas of our climate survey will be green. Also, we want to provide our students with the opportunities to participate in after school or co-curricular activities as we support our district's goal #4. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and commitment as we continue to engage in various activities that supports building climate and culture. It was great to see how staff and students participated in the activities for Red Ribbon Week. Shout out to Ms. Calderon, Mrs. Mooty, and Ms. Shelby for their leadership and support as we celebrated the Red Ribbon week. The various events supported our students in knowing what it means to be drug free and what to do to be a person of character.

Our students and staff had a great time!

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Townview Visit

Thank you to our counselors for putting together such a great opportunity. Students were able to see the student run business district, on campus nursing, on site radio station, student run credit union, on campus courtroom, and classrooms in practice. They can’t stop talking about how they want to apply. Way to go Rusk Rams and thank you Ms. Calderon for arranging the visit!


  • Our Remarkable Rams will be testing this week. Remember to incorporate the testing message/script in which you and your team worked last week. During testing, we should be intentional as we aggressively monitor and provide accommodations to identified students. Please refer to the handout provided during PLC - Testing Expectations.
  • As common assessment scores are available, have students profile (use link to access two samples of profile sheets to use) their assessment and conduct conferences with students so that they know what mistakes they made as they took the common assessment. Also, set goals so they know what they need to do to achieve and make significant progress. (TEI 1.2 and 1.5)
  • As we work on documenting the progress our students are making, remember our policy regarding failure rates and the various opportunities needed to ensure our students are successful. EIA (Regulation) (TEI 2.2, 4.2, 4.5)
  • During transitions, let's make sure to have 100% participation and hold each other accountable to be present in the hallway supporting students. Our goal is to narrate the positive and have at least 10 positive interactions each transition. APs, CICs, and counselors will be working with each one of you to provide individual support. (TEI 3.3 and 3R Positive Attitude/Enthusiasm).
  • Engage learners throughout your lessons and ensure we incorporate bell-to-bell instruction. It will support the increase in student achievement and reduce disruptions. While students are more familiar with engagement strategies such as Think Pair Share, we need to ensure that we have taught, modeled, and practiced these skills in order for effective implementation (TEI 2.4, 3.1, and 3.3).
  • Be very consistent in the effective implementation of various practices discussed during our TEI orientation and lesson alignment conversations. With regards to Alignment (learning objective), the proficient rating states: Focuses students at the beginning and throughout the lesson, by clearly stating (TEI 2.1)
    • What they are learning
    • Why it is important
    • What mastery looks like
    • How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives and explaining to students
  • Submit lesson plans by Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (TEI 4.2)


Monday, October 29-
  • B Day -
  • Math Common Assessment. We will follow the testing plan shared by Mrs. Mooty; please, see testing plan in our "Staff" section of our website.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:45 School PD - Library

, October 30-
  • A-Day.
  • Reading Common Assessment
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. - Sign up Dallas ISD Flu Clinic available. - Teacher's Lounge
  • 6:00 p.m. - Homecoming Football game at Franklin Field against Franklin MS. Homecoming court will be presented during half time of the game. (only one game)

Wednesday, October 31-
  • B-Day.
  • Science Common Assessment and also Writing CA for 7th grade
  • Calibration Walks - We will be walking classrooms checking for alignment, exemplars, and aggressively monitoring.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • Compliance videos due -hard deadline - Please, submit your certificates to Ms. Miranda.

Thursday, November 1-

  • A-Day.
  • Social Studies Common Assessment
  • Department Collaboration PLC - Department Chair and AP/CIC
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • Students can select from several enrichment clubs such as Anime, Model UN, art, cooking, and poetry among others. Continue to promote your club - Data is being collected and I have noticed that we do not have a lot of interest from students and we need to bring our numbers up.
  • 6:00 - Lesson Plans Due

Friday, November 2 -

  • B-Day.
  • Testing make ups for those students who were absent.
  • 5:00 - 8:00 School Dance - Benefiting our Cheer and Dance Teams

Saturday, November 3 -

  • 9:00 a.m. The North Dallas High School JV Dance Company will be hosting the very first Dance Clinic - Dance Team is invited.
  • 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - Girls and Boys soccer game at Franklin Field Vs. Franklin MS.

Upcoming Events

November 7 -

  • 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Vertical collaboration - 8th Graders Field Trip to visit North Dallas HS and learn about pathways, programs, extra-curricular activities.

November 8 -

  • High School Fair

November 9-

Election Laws Related to Political Electioneering and Advertisement

As the upcoming November election nears, District employees needs to be aware of election laws related to political electioneering and advertisement.

Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgment

On November 1, 2018, you will receive a communication from the district regarding the steps to follow to complete the Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgment. Please, access the entire memo by clicking the link above.

Fostering Positive Academic Mindsets in Students

In this report from the UChicago Consortium on School Research, Elaine Allensworth, Camille Farrington, Molly Gordon, David Johnson, Kylie Klein, Bronwyn McDaniel, and Jenny Nagaoka synthesize research on what schools can do to support students’ social, emotional, and academic development, with a special focus on student engagement. “Four learning mindsets are particularly important in supporting students’ academic behaviors, persistence, and performance on academic tasks,” say the authors. When students have these positive mindsets, they apply themselves and are much more likely to be successful in school:

  • I belong in this learning community.
  • I can succeed at my schoolwork.
  • My ability and competence grow with my own efforts.
  • The work has value for me.

Why would a student embrace these beliefs? Home and community influences are important, but so is the climate created by administrators and teachers. Conversely, if students believe they don’t belong, can’t succeed or get smarter, and aren’t working on worthwhile endeavors, they are likely to disengage and do less well.

Academic mindsets can vary through a school day. As students move from one class to another, they may feel more or less confident and accepted depending on learning conditions and instructional practices used by different teachers. Students at different stages of development enter classrooms with a wide range of psychological “backpacks.” In each situation, say the authors, students are asking themselves, “Is school something that ‘people like me’ care about and are good at?”

What are the PD implications of this complex interface of instruction, classroom climate, and student attitudes? “Teachers get better at their craft by reflecting on how their own classrooms might support or interfere with the development of positive student mindsets,” say the authors. “Over time, positive mindsets and active engagement in learning not only support deeper understanding and better academic achievement, but they also tend to increase students’ enjoyment of learning and development of positive academic identities.”

The authors mention nine teacher actions that develop positive academic mindsets and turn around negative mindsets:

  • Setting predictable norms and routines that support respectful student and teacher interactions;
  • Sending clear messages about the nature and purpose of learning and the role of mistakes in the learning process;
  • Explicitly connecting new material to students’ prior knowledge;
  • Helping students “see themselves” in the work by connecting it to their interests, goals, and cultural identities;
  • Developing trust by listening to students and responding to their input;
  • Creating opportunities for student autonomy and choice as well as for collective learning;
  • Showing students models of high-quality work and conveying confidence that they can produce equally good work;
  • Providing frequent and specific feedback on students’ work and opportunities for students to apply that feedback to progressively improving their performance;
  • Ensuring fair grading practices that emphasize growth and improvement.

“Supporting Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: Research Implications for Educators” by Elaine Allensworth, Camille Farrington, Molly Gordon, David Johnson, Kylie Klein, Bronwyn McDaniel, and Jenny Nagaoka, UChicago Consortium on School Research, October 2018, https://bit.ly/2CV7d0j

Prayer Request

Please, keep in your thoughts and prayers

  • Mr. Guillory as his mother fractured her left hip, had surgery, and is now in rehabilitation.
  • Ms. Brunson and family as her mom is recovering from accident and her dad is still in ICU.
  • Ms. McGee and family as her grandmother passed away.
  • Ms. Shelby and family as her grandmother passed away.