Sipley Weekly Howl

Week of March 23, 2015

Structured teaching requires that teachers know their students and content well, that they regularly assess students' understanding of the content, and they they purposefully plan interrelated lessons that transfer responsibility from the teacher to the student. The theory that guides this type of teaching, the gradual release of responsibility is a recursive structure that begins with modeling (I Do - teacher responsibility), to guided instruction (We Do It - teacher responsibility), to productive group work (i.e. Kagan, We Do It Together - student responsibility), to independent learning (You Do It Alone - student responsibility).

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey


  • Thanks to everyone involved in PARCC testing. This went as smoothly as I could imagine.
  • Thanks for those who attended a PLC meeting this week. I sense the heightened effort to ensure our Academic Transformation Plan is realized where all students show growth and where all students make progress toward college and career readiness.

Mid-day Collaborations

Thanks for taking time to increase attention to mid-day collaborations. I already see greater focus as I stopped in this week. This is important time to focus on our own development. There are a various directions that your collaborations may go, but the hope is that the time is meaningful and purposeful for each team. Meetings with SPED, Gifted, ELL, LRC, SW, and Title I may be guided by specific topics. Grade level meetings are more open ended. Items to consider:

  • Collaboratively plan a lesson
  • Collaboratively come up with an essential question or a hook for an upcoming lesson
  • Develop an exit question that helps guide future instruction
  • Develop an assessment
  • Analyze assessment data to determine strengths and areas of weakness. For example, take a writing sample and each person grade the same sample while discussing why they scored the sample as they did. Same is true for an extended response sample.
  • Do a book study on gradual release of responsibility or Kagan Structures.

Our staff is extremely talented and we have a vast amount of knowledge. Let's continue to tap into the expertise that each of us have as we increase our collective knowledge!

Dissertation Defense

Great news! My dissertation defense is scheduled for April 14 and a graduation in May! My dissertation is entitled Transformative Educational Leadership: A Ritual Critique of Principal Practice. This will be the first time since beginning my principalship at Sipley that I will not have doctoral coursework that I am doing in addition to the work here. I can't begin to tell you what a relief this will be! I am grateful for the support everyone has given me during this stressful and challenging time!

A bit about my dissertation: After observing two principals, one trained in social justice and one traditionally trained, I found that the neoliberal influences placed upon public schools and public school principals are a major obstacle preventing principals from doing critical transformative work. There is a great need to find ways to open dialogue amongst principals, school staff, parents, and those who make policy decisions so that these groups can begin examining oppressive conditions in schools. Reflection and action against unjust policies are essential to aspects of praxis for which dialogue can be used as a vehicle for change. Identifying and challenging the neoliberal influences that plague our public school systems, courageous leadership that challenges the status quo, and dialogue and praxis are needed if we are going to answer Shields’ (2013) four core questions, which ask for whom the educational system is working and for whom is it failing, who is advantaged, privileged, and always included, and who is marginalized and excluded, and how can we raise the critical consciousness of adults to understand inequity and facilitate collective action against injustice.

I am confident that my defense will go well and that April 14 will fulfill a life goal, a terminal degree and the title of Dr. as I complete an Ed.D in Educational Leadership. Again, thank you to my Sipley family for your support. This has been one of the greatest challenges I have faced and I am fortunate to have faced it in your company.

Tasks to Complete

  • Tenured staff who need to be observed should schedule the formal observation this week (for an April observation)
  • Plan field trips and avoid the last week of school
  • Complete grading for quarter three
  • Pete, Maureen, and Ana - Give Lynda your list of students attending after school programming
  • If you have PARCC test items, drop them off in my office
  • Relax over Spring Break - You EARNED it!

A Glance at the Weeks Ahead

Monday - Michelle Lacombe's Birthday!!!

Monday - RenPlace PD - See your calendar for your session

Monday - Certified Staff 3:00 - 4:00 Meeting in the LRC

Tuesday - I have a Principals Teaching and Learning Meeting in the afternoon

Wednesday - Ryan Barba's Birthday!!!

Wednesday - DEB is cancelled

Wednesday - Chicago Steel Hockey 101 and Score with Reading

Thursday - 2nd Year Band Field Trip. Sydney and Haley are attending this and need to eat lunch during first lunch.

Friday - End of Quarter 3

Saturday - Chicago Steel Hockey Game - It would be great to see staff there as our students sing the National Anthem.

March 29 - Julie Zei's Birthday!!!

April 6 - Damon Schmidt's Birthday!!!

April 7 - After School Session 3 Begins

April 7 - Admin meeting

April 8 - Follow a Monday Schedule

April 8 - PLC meetings (kdg, 1, 6, 3)

April 8 - Kindergarten preregistration

April 9 - 5th Grade PLC

April 9 - 1st Year Mentoring Meeting

April 10 - 2nd Grade PLC and 4th Grade PLC

April 10 - Mommy Son Night - Come on out - BMX Presentation - Should be fun!

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