Eagle News

Building Blocks of Success Week of December 7, 2015

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Dallas ISD Core Beliefs

  • Our main purpose is to improve student academic achievement.
  • Effective instruction makes the most difference in student academic performance.
  • There is no excuse for poor quality instruction.
  • With our help, at risk students will achieve at the same rate as non-at risk students.
  • Staff members must have a commitment to children and a commitment to the pursuit of excellence.

Campus Action Plan

Key Actions

  1. Allen Elementary will increase student achievement by providing purposeful instruction in Reading, Mathematics, Writing, and Science.

  2. Improve the quality of instruction by increasing rigor and student engagement.

  3. Allen Elementary will improve positive perception of school climate and culture by all stakeholders including students, staff, parents and community.

Building Blocks to Success!

It's hard to believe, but testing season is upon us. ACP testing begins in December 10. Results from these tests not only demonstrate to each student their individual academic growth, but are also used by the District to evaluate the school as a whole.

Therefore, it is extremely important that all students do their absolute best on each and every section of the tests. Please encourage your student(s) to get plenty of sleep and eat a good, solid breakfast each morning so they are alert and focused during the exams. Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

Let’s all do an excellent job by actively monitoring our students during testing. Please be on time and follow our procedures that are detailed in our Testing Manual.

Success is not a matter of luck, but planning and organization.

Proud to be an Eagle!

Week at a Glance...

Magnificent Monday, December 7, 2015

  • Professional Development @ 4:15 Mandatory Testing Meeting

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • Register at least 2 grades each week on Gradespeed

  • Terrific Tuesday, December 8, 2015

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • Tutoring 4:15-5:15

  • Wonderful Wednesday, December 9, 2015

  • Third grade Assembly at 8:15- Rotary Club will distribute a dictionary to each student @ the cafeteria

  • First grade Team will serve Breakfast to all staff

  • 9:00 am Coffee with the Principal

  • Holiday Lunch in the Cafeteria for all staff, parents, and students

  • Principal Mid Year Review 10:30-12:30

  • SBDM Meeting @ 6:00 pm

  • Thrilling Thursday, December 10, 2015

  • ACP Testing

  • No Tutoring

  • Science Fair 6:00-7:00 pm

  • Fabulous Friday, December 4, 2015

  • ACP Testing

Teach Like a Champion

The first grade team lead by Ms. Saravia presented Chapter Two- Planning that Ensures Academic Achievement. They mentioned five planning techniques: Begin with the End, The 4 M's for Lesson Objectives (manageable, measurable, made first, and most important), Post It, Shortest Path, Double Path, and Draw the Map.
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Why we Closely Monitor Attendance

The attendance rate is important because students are more likely to succeed in academics when they attend school consistently. Students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. This relationship between attendance and achievement may appear early in a child's school career. A recent study looking at young children found that absenteeism in kindergarten was associated with negative first grade outcomes such as greater absenteeism in subsequent years and lower achievement in reading, math, and general knowledge.


"Every School Day Counts: The Forum Guide to Collecting and Using Attendance Data - Why Does Attendance Matter?" N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

At Gabe P. Allen Elementary, we will continue monitoring the students attendance rate. Every Six Weeks, we will recognize the group with the highest attendance percentage.

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Building a Curriculum of Great Classroom Talk

In many classrooms I visit, students do not raise their hands. They are taught early on how to participate in discussions where raising hands isn’t necessary. They respect the speaker’s turn, they listen carefully, and wait for an opportunity to respond. The teacher acts as a facilitator or a coach for the conversation, not as the sole channel through which information can pass. In these conversations, questions are valued as highly as answers. The goal is to create new ideas, ideas that perhaps even teacher had not considered, not to regurgitate old ones.

Although it is so easy to default to the standard way of running a discussion, hands raised, teacher calling on one at a time (often the same few), there is magic when you say to students, “Put your hands down. I’m not going to call on anyone. Just speak when you have something to say.” Doing this sends the message that your students’ voices are just as valuable the teacher’s.

So what happens in a truly great great whole class discussion? A few ideas might come to mind:

  • Students listen carefully to one another and respond directly to others’ comments.
  • One or a few topics are explored in depth.
  • New conclusions, understandings, and ideas are grown.
  • New questions are raised.
  • All students’ voices are heard.

Build students’ vision of strong talk

Lucille Clifton has said, “We cannot create what we can’t imagine.” Similarly, we cannot expect students to engage in strong discussions if they do not know what these look like. To find samples of strong classroom conversations, you might need look no farther than your school building. If you know a classroom where strong talk is taking place, take a few minutes of video to show to your students (make sure your school’s videotaping policies allow for internal use of students’ images, of course).

Or you can find videos online that show students engaging in discussions worthy of studying.

After watching the conversation, debrief and ask students to name some of what they noticed that helped the conversation to go well. Record these on a chart that will serve as a reminder for students when they are engaged in their own discussions. Because these ideas are student-generated, they will take on greater significance in your classroom.

Guide students to assess and set goals to get better at discussion

Most students understand that they are working on building their skill sets in subject areas such as reading, writing, and math. Many students set goals for themselves in these areas, and, rightly or wrongly, judge their progress against that of their peers. They know, for example, that in math they are working on getting better at converting improper fractions to mixed numbers and that in reading, they are working on developing theories about characters. But many students don’t have a sense of their skill level when it comes to discussion, and some aren’t aware that building skill in discussion is not only possible but also vital.

Create a simple rubric or checklist with your students using the ideas they generated about good discussions to help them understand what they need to do in order to get better at accountable talk. Tell them they’ll have a chance to assess their own work during a discussion so that they can get a sense of what they’re doing well and what they need to work on. Then, lead the class in a discussion (recording this for future viewing can be useful).

After the discussion, you can ask students to assess themselves using the rubric or you can to fill out one rubric together, considering a discussion is something the entire class creates.

In addition to helping your students to assess their skill at discussion, you can also assess their stamina, the length of time they can keep a rich conversation going. It may well be that your students’ stamina for this kind of conversation is at about five minutes to start. If this is the case, keep in mind that marathon runners must train their way into running 26.2 miles. Record the length of time of the discussion as a benchmark, and encourage students to aim to sustain their conversations for longer and longer amounts of time as the year progresses.

Plan instruction to strengthen students’ talk

Here are a few teaching ideas that can help move your students’ discussions from so-so to great.

  • Model effective discussion techniques. Before students are ready to take the discussion reins, they’ll need plenty of teacher modeling. For example, the single most effective way to encourage your students to listen to each other right from the start is to listen to them. One way to model that you are listening is to repeat parts of class conversations in a way that shows you are really trying to understand. “So what I hear you saying is….”
  • Teach connective language. The Common Core Standards for Opinion and Informational Writing highlight the use of words and phrases to link ideas and information. Those familiar with the work of the Reading and Writing Project and with Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke’s Literature Circles will be familiar with thought prompts such as: For example… This is important because… On the other hand… and What I’m starting to realize is…to help students make connections between ideas in conversations. Making these prompts visible in a chart such as the one above and referring to them often will ensure that these phrases become an ingrained part of the way students talk, and eventually, the way that they think.
  • Use visual supports to encourage inclusion. A major goal of discussion is to ensure that all voices are heard. A simple way to help students to understand the patterns in their language is to trace the conversation visually. To do this, create a chart by writing students’ names where they sit in discussions. Then, trace a line from name to name as students participate during a discussion. Analyze the discussions’ pattern and discuss how students might invite those whose voices were not heard to participate.
  • Confer with students individually as needed. Some students might need some extra coaching to get better at classroom discussions, either one on one or in small groups. Use language from the rubric as much as possible in your instruction so that students are crystal clear on what they can do to improve.
  • Build in frequent opportunities for students to self-evaluate. Be sure to revisit the rubric you created, perhaps even at the start and end of each discussion at first.

From: "Building a Curriculum of Great Classroom Talk." Great Classroom Talk. N.p., n.d.

Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Grand Conversation - Kelly Jones 4th Grade East Side Elementary

D-Tube of the Week

Gabe P. Allen Elementary

Sheila Ortiz Espinell- Principal

Franceslia Rodriguez- AP

Russell Sims-AP