The Longfellow Voice

March 16 - 20, 2015

Principal's Message

I hope each of you had a relaxing, refreshing and revitalizing Spring Break. I can barely believe it is spring again already! Spring is a season of renewal and a rebirth of energy into our environment. Spring brings a recommitment to life as the leaves come back on the trees, flowers bloom, animals awake from hibernation and butterflies and bees float through the air.

I hope the promise of spring will inspire you. I hope as you teach this week you will embrace a recommitment to your students. We are three-fourths of the way to the finish line. You have worked all of these weeks prior to get them ready. You are using your data from the mock STAAR to make the final adjustments to your instruction. Now is the time for you to get down to the “brass tacks” of preparation. Now is the time to reinforce those critical thinking strategies we want students to use on each STAAR question. Students should use these strategies each day as you transition your instruction into the STAAR formatted questioning. Our data tells us this is the time for us to critically focus our instruction on those objectives that need the most reinforcement with each individual student.

As their teachers you have every tool in your toolbox to help them reach their highest potential. There must be urgency for our students’ success. Our daily instructional decisions have an impact upon the future success of our students, the school and community as a whole.

Remember it will be you that makes the difference for all of our students showing growth in their learning. You have the tools and the resources to make that difference for each student – Recommit!

Recommit to our students being successful and soaring to their highest potential. Our success as a school depends on it.

Make it a GREAT week!

Dr. Wright

Student Art Work on Exhibit at Love Field Airport

Longfellow students’ artwork is on exhibit at Love Field Airport gallery until March 31st. We are honored to have our student artwork showcased in a professional setting. Click on the link above to see the complete exhibition.

The Story Behind the Art Work...

The Longfellow Academy art students ranging from 6th-8th grade worked throughout the school-year creating masks. Through the process they made cultural connections between the experience of the masks in indigenous cultures and their own, thus engaging the purpose of art making for the expression of culture and identity. They investigated the materials and the environment in which art works are created and challenged them to think outside of the American culture. While creating their masks and weavings the students considered cultural influences and applied specific color schemes and textures. The masks were made out of Paper Mache’, and the students created their own looms for their weavings. As part of the student’s artistic choice they were allowed to complete their projects using a variety of material such as: raffia, buttons, wall paper, etc.
Groundbreaking for Jose "Joe" May Elementary School

The Jose "Joe" May Elementary School will be the newest addition to the Division 1 - Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern in 2015 -2016. The school will be located directly across the street from Medrano Middle School. Click the link above to read more.


Monday, March 16th - "A" Day

· Spot Observations / Extended Observations

· Lesson plans in Google Docs (Lesson Cycle format)

· Weekly PLC meeting; discuss and review mock STAAR data

Tuesday, March 17th - "B" Day

• Spot Observations / Extended Observations

• Lesson plans in Google Docs (Lesson Cycle format)

• Weekly PLC meeting; discuss and review mock STAAR data

· Data Meeting with ELAR 10:15 – 10:45 AM

Wednesday, March 18th - "A" Day

· Spot Observations / Extended Observations

· Lesson plans in Google Docs (Lesson Cycle format)

· Weekly PLC meeting; discuss and review mock STAAR data

· SCAT Team Meeting – Review Longfellow Climate Survey

Thursday, March 19th - "B" Day

· Spot Observations / Extended Observations

· Instructional feedback conferences – TBA

· Weekly PLC meeting; discuss and review mock STAAR data

· Lesson Objectives and Demonstration of Learning due to CIC for review

· Principal’s Professional Development 3:45 – 4:30 (Library)

Friday, March 20th - Longhorn Day

· Instructional feedback conferences – TBA

· Weekly PLC meeting; discuss and review mock STAAR data

Personalized Learning at Marsh: Choose Your Own Education Experience

Personalized Learning in Dallas ISD

Dallas ISD’s Marsh Preparatory Academy is one of four schools that are piloting an innovative curriculum called Personalized Learning (PL). PL offers students choices to show their mastery of learning concepts. Watch the video above to learn more.
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Systematic, Schoolwide Vocabulary Instruction

In this article in Principal, Rhode Island principal Aradhana Mudambi says we used to believe that all students would acquire vocabulary through extensive reading, but now we know better. “Reading widely will not help children with weak vocabulary bases improve their vocabulary skills,” she says. And depending on this approach will widen the achievement gap, an example of the Matthew Effect – the vocabulary-rich will get richer and the vocabulary-poor will fall further behind. This realization, plus the escalating demands of the Common Core, suggest an urgent need to make direct vocabulary instruction an integral part of a school’s literacy program.

But there are three barriers to making this happen, says Mudambi. First, many teachers are skeptical about direct vocabulary instruction. Second, many don’t have an extensive toolkit in that area. And third, other urgent priorities are constantly vying for scarce classroom time. “Teaching vocabulary is complicated,” says Mudambi, “and in an environment where vocabulary instruction is only now coming back into the mainstream classroom, it requires a lot of preparation on the part of teachers.” She believes the principal has to play a major role.

One way to raise consciousness about vocabulary is to give teachers a text in an unfamiliar foreign language and ask them to read it and answer comprehension questions. “For many of our students, this is what grade-level English resembles,” says Mudambi, “– a foreign language.” Teachers should also be introduced to idea of the Matthew Effect and persuaded that if they don’t teach vocabulary more effectively, achievement gaps will continue to widen – but if they successfully teach low-performing students new words, the neediest students will do better.

The principal’s second task is leading teachers in implementing a coherent, systematic vocabulary program that teaches the right words and maximizes four key components:

Word connections – “Students must be able to relate new vocabulary words to other words, images, or ideas,” says Mudambi. “Strategies include creating semantic webs, graphic organizers, learning synonyms, and labeling pictures.” A school might identify a theme each week or month (for example, emotion), choose appropriate Tier 2 words for each grade level, and create interactive hallway bulletin boards for each grade with columns for different types of emotions.

Significance – Students need accessible, kid-friendly definitions of new words – for example, for trite, the dictionary-definition choice would be banal but that might not be helpful to many students;overused would work better. Principals might organize a competition among classes to identify vocabulary words matching new definitions and announce the winning class during morning announcements.

Context clues – Using surrounding clues to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words is a skill that requires practice, and students learn it less readily with short, decontextualized sentences. Mudambi suggests embedding vocabulary words within longer, high-interest passages, encouraging teachers to read these aloud, and using close-reading strategies to explicitly teach the skills of figuring out meaning from context clues.

A word-rich environment – This includes presenting new words in different contexts – at least six times. Mudambi suggests word walls in all classrooms and the cafeteria and regularly challenging students to use new vocabulary in sentences.

“When Old Becomes New: Bringing Vocabulary Instruction Back Into Our Schools” by Aradhana Mudambi in Principal, January/February 2015 (Vol. 94, #3, p. 14-17),

Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy

"Our students are learning to think globally, act locally and go boldly into the furture."