Eagle News

Building Blocks of Success Week of March 21, 2016

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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.

Campus Improvement Plan

Problem Statement 1: 47% of the "all students" category did not meet the state standard in writing.

Annual Goal: 76% of the "all students" category will meet state standard in writing in the 2016 STAAR.

Problem Statement 2: 67% of the African American students did not meet the state target in reading.

Annual Goal: 76% of the African American students will meet the state target in reading in 2016.

Problem Statement 3: Less than 5% of all students met 2 or more subject area tests at Final Level II in the 2015 STAAR assessment.

Annual Goal: 15% of all students will meet 2 or more subject area tests at Final Level II in the 2016 STAAR assessment.

Staying Motivated After Spring Break

As enjoyable as spring break can be for both students and teachers, it can be difficult to readjust after a week of vacation, and especially with a few weeks of school left to go. At this important time of the school year, it is our responsibility to keep our students focused an motivated to finish up the year strong.

In order to prepare fourth grade students for the Writing STAAR , students and teachers will participate in the Expository Writing Camp. All fourth graders will be immerse in the Expository Writing Camp for four days. Teachers will have an opportunity to review, wrap-up, and motivate the students to do their very best on the Writing STAAR. The students will have the opportunity to travel through different stations that include activities such as jeopardy game, writing prompt, and revising and editing games. Our fifth grade team will also be providing Reading and Math Camp for all fifth graders.

Our fourth graders will be taking the Writing STAAR test on March 29, 2016. Fifth graders will have the Math STAAR test on March 29, 2016 and the Reading STAAR test on March 30, 2016.

Let's all motivate our students to do their best!

Let's continue our Building Blocks of Success!

Proud to be an Eagle!

Week at a Glance...

Magnificent Monday, March 21, 2016

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • PD at 4:15 pm

Terrific Tuesday, March 22, 2016

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • Principal Budget Meeting 2:00 pm

  • Tutoring

Wonderful Wednesday, March 23, 2016

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • Superintendent's Principal's Meeting 1:00 pm

  • Tutoring

Thrilling Thursday, March 24, 2016

  • Attendance is due by 9:00 am

  • Tutoring

  • PLC

  • Coffee with the Principal 9:00 am

  • Lesson Plans are due

Fabulous Friday, March 25, 2016

  • Inclement Weather Day. No classes.


For Monday PD, we will all meet in the PD Room.

3 week interim assessment - Schedule 3rd six week assessment this week if you did not take them prior to spring break (1st round grade levels/EOC courses do not need to give 3 week assessment). These are: fifth grade Reading and Math and Fourth grade Reading/LA.

Fourth grade STAAR Parent Meeting

Our parents attended a fourth grade parent meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to share with the parents important information about the upcoming STAAR assessments. Teachers also informed parents about how the scores are used to place students in the different DISD Magnets Programs (for middle schools). Thank you to all teachers and staff members that coordinated this successful event.
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Avance Book Club

Did you know that we have a Book Club for our AVANCE parents? The AVANCE-Dallas Parent-Child Book Clubs focus specifically on a fundamental educational and bonding activity of a parent reading to their child. Through the Book Club:
  • Low-income parents learn to read regularly and expressively with their young children
  • Low-income children birth to age 3 engage in stimulating reading activities that increase their literacy
  • Parents and children become partners in education by prioritizing reading in the home
  • Families increase the number of children’s books in the home

At our campus, Ms. Alas our parent volunteer, is directing the Book Club.

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Strategies for Helping Students Motivate Themselves

This piece was adapted from Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies to Help Students Thrive in School and Beyond by Larry Ferlazzo, available March 21, 2015 from Routledge.

My previous post reviewed research on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and described the four qualities that have been identified as critical to helping students motivate themselves: autonomy, competence, relatedness, and relevance. In this post, I'll discuss practical classroom strategies to reinforce each of these four qualities.


Providing students with freedom of choice is one strategy for promoting learner autonomy. Educators commonly view this idea of choice through the lens of organizational and procedural choice. Organizational choice, for example, might mean students having a voice in seating assignments or members of their small learning groups. Procedural choice could include a choice from a list of homework assignments and what form a final project might take -- a book, poster, or skit. Some researchers, however, believe that a third option, cognitive choice, is a more effective way to promote longer-lasting student autonomy. This kind of cognitive autonomy support, which is also related to the idea of ensuring relevance, could include:

  • Problem-based learning, where small groups need to determine their own solutions to teacher-suggested and/or student-solicited issues -- ways to organize school lunchtime more effectively, what it would take to have a human colony on Mars, strategies to get more healthy food choices available in the neighborhood, etc.

  • Students developing their own ideas for homework assignments related to what is being studied in class

  • Students publicly sharing their different thinking processes behind solving the same problem or a similar one

  • Teachers using thinking routines like one developed by Project Zero at Harvard and consisting of a simple formula: the teacher regularly asking, "What is going on here?" and, after a student response, continuing with, "What do you see that makes you say so?"


    Feedback, done well, is ranked by education researcher John Hattie as number 10 out of 150 influences on student achievement.

    As Carol Dweck has found, praising intelligence makes people less willing to risk "their newly-minted genius status," while praising effort encourages the idea that we primarily learn through our hard work: "Ben, it's impressive that you wrote two drafts of that essay instead of one, and had your friend review it, too. How do you feel it turned out, and what made you want to put the extra work into it?"

    But how do you handle providing critical feedback to students when it's necessary? Since extensive research shows that a ratio of positive-to-negative feedback of between 3-1 and 5-1 is necessary for healthy learning to occur, teachers might consider a strategy called plussing that is used by Pixar animation studios with great success. The New York Times interviewed author Peter Sims about the concept:

    The point, he said, is to "build and improve on ideas without using judgmental language." . . . An animator working on Toy Story 3 shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. "Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying 'no,' the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, 'I like Woody's eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?" Using words like "and" or "what if" rather than "but" is a way to offer suggestions and allow creative juices to flow without fear, Mr. Sims said.

    "And" and "what if" could easily become often-used words in an educator's vocabulary!


    A high-quality relationship with a teacher whom they respect is a key element of helping students develop intrinsic motivation. What are some actions that teachers can take to strengthen these relationships?

    Here are four simple suggestions adapted from Robert Marzano's ideas:

    1. Take a genuine interest in your students.

    Learn their interests, hopes, and dreams. Ask them about what is happening in their lives. In other words, lead with your ears and not your mouth. Don't, however, just make it a one-way street -- share some of your own stories, too.

    2. Act friendly in other ways.

    Smile, joke, and sometimes make a light, supportive touch on a student's shoulder.

    3. Be flexible, and keep our eyes on the learning goal prize.

    One of my students had never written an essay in his school career. He was intent on maintaining that record during an assignment of writing a persuasive essay about what students thought was the worst natural disaster. Because I knew two of his passions were football and video games, I told him that as long as he used the writing techniques we'd studied, he could write an essay on why his favorite football team was better than its rival or on why he particularly liked one video game. He ended up writing an essay on both topics.

    4. Don't give up on students.

    Be positive (as much as humanly possible) and encourage a growth mindset.


    Have students write about how they see what they are learning as relevant to their lives. Researchers had students write one paragraph after a lesson sharing how they thought what they had learned would be useful to their lives. Writing 1-8 of these during a semester led to positive learning gains, especially for those students who had previously been "low performers."

    It is not uncommon for teachers to explicitly make those kinds of real-life connections. However, research has also found that this kind of teacher-centered approach can actually be de-motivating to some students with low skills. A student who is having a very difficult time understanding math or does just not find it interesting, for example, can feel threatened by hearing regularly from a teacher how important math is to his or her future. Instead of becoming more engaged in class, he or she may experience more negative feelings. These same researchers write:

    [A] more effective approach would be to encourage students to generate their own connections and discover for themselves the relevance of course material to their lives. This method gives students the opportunity to make connections to topics and areas of greatest interest to their lives.

    What other strategies do you use in the classroom to reinforce any of these four critical elements of intrinsic motivation?

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Increasing Student's Achievement and Interest in Reading.

Geoff Swaim is an American football tight end for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League (NFL). He volunteers each week and comes to our campus to read to three fifth grade students. Having the ability to read, but lacking the motivation, is one of our concerns with our fifth graders. Our partnership with the Dallas Cowboys Wives allows us to have volunteers to come and motivate our students to read. We are blessed to have this partnership.
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Pasta for Pennies Campaign

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Awesome effort!

Thanks to the efforts of students, parents, teachers, and staff we raised $1,833.12. The money raised through the contributions supports leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research, and patient services. Our students are learning at a young age how important and fulfilling community service can be.

Special thanks to Ms. Ortiz, our school counselor, for the coordination of this campaign. The winner classrooms were:

First place-Ms. Harrington, Second place: Ms. Sotelo, and Third place-Ms. Serratos.

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Mark your Calendar!

March 29th-4th grade Writing

5th grade Math

March 30th-5th grade Reading

Gabe P. Allen Elementary

Sheila Ortiz Espinell- Principal

Franceslia Rodriguez- AP

Russell Sims-AP