Husky Hotline

Sycamore Elementary School Has the IT Factor!

“Feedback is only successful if students use it to improve their performance… If our feedback doesn’t change the student in some way, it has probably been a waste of time.”

Dylan William

In This Issue



Crystal's Corner

Class Pick Up From the Cafeteria

School Affairs

Curriculum and Instructional Support


April 11, 2016

Crystal Cooper Thompson, Principal

Aesop Reminders

When you submit a request in Aesop:

  • Please remember to post In/Service-Staff Development when requesting for a staff development day off. Assure that you have gotten clearance to attend from Crystal first so that payment for subs can come from the proper line item.

  • Click “save” and the Aesop system will locate a sub for you.
  • Click “save and assign” when you have already spoken to the sub and you know for certain that he/she will be in your class.

Please remember to update the time in Aesop. A full day is 7:45-3:45, half day is either 7:45-11:45 or 11:45-3:45.


Alison Rowland- April 1

Carolina Pogreban- April 4

Wilnia Aristilde- April 4

Kimberly Wyble- April 7

Jerry Watts- April 9

Marsha Suggs- April 12

Marjorie Mantilla- April 16

Lindsay Cramb-April 17

Tonya Mejia-April 17

Cindy Bennett- April 23

Beverly Carlan-April 27

Staff Calendar-To be updated

Crystal's Corner


Welcome back everyone! I hope that you enjoyed every minute of your spring break and that you are refreshed and renewed! I had a great time with my family at Panama City Beach, Florida. We had a blast, got a chance to put our feet in the sand and bond. You can't ask for a better time. A little work in between of course was part of it too!

It is natural to feel a bit of anxiety as you return, so take some time today to relax and breathe. When you get to school in the morning, socialize a bit so that you can slowly come back in to the fold. Also, laugh and have fun! Life is too short not to!

Please review all rules/procedures and goals with your students after announcements on Monday as well. A morning meeting is a great idea on the first day back to get everyone focused on learning. We would like to avoid discipline matters as much as possible so that we can focus on observations and evaluations. So, please be proactive in your planning with monitoring, engagement and activities.

This week, will be our last attempt to get all of our last minute learning for our Georgia Milestones students. You have worked so hard to get them ready and I can't wait to see the results in May. Please continue to check the blueprints for our district assessments too so that we can prepare for success. We will share our district comparisons with you as soon as they are drafted.

Article on feedback: Please read

1. Dylan Wiliam on Feedback That Makes a Difference to Students

(Originally titled “The Secret of Effective Feedback”)

In this article in Educational Leadership, assessment expert Dylan Wiliam reports the startling research finding that students often learn nothing from the comments and grades their teachers write on their papers – in fact, many students learn less when teachers provide feedback than when they write nothing at all. “The apparently simple process of looking at student work and then giving useful feedback turns out to be much more difficult than most people imagine,” says Wiliam. “The only important thing about feedback is what students do with it… If our feedback doesn’t change the student in some way, it has probably been a waste of time.”

Two examples: An English teacher tells a student that her composition will be better if she reverses the sequence of the third and fourth paragraphs. The composition will improve, but the teacher did the intellectual heavy lifting and the student probably learned very little. Similarly, if a teacher corrects arithmetic errors, there’s nothing left for the student to do except calculate the score. “The real issue is purpose,” says Wiliam. “We need to use the information we obtain from looking at the student’s work – even though that information may be less than perfect – and give feedback that will move the student’s learning forward.” Here are his suggestions for teachers:

Design tasks and ask questions that make students’ thinking visible. This means more prep work for the teacher, especially in math classes, but frontloading well-framed tasks makes it much more likely that feedback will be useful. We won’t always get it right, says Wiliam, but he reassures us with a reminder that batting .300 in the major leagues is considered very good.

Make feedback into detective work. A math teacher might return a 20-question test to a student with the comment, “Five of these are incorrect. Find them and fix them.” This approach ensures that students receiving feedback do as much work as the teacher who provides it. It also makes students look at their work with a more analytical eye.

Build students’ capacity for self-assessment. The ultimate goal of feedback should be to get students to the point where they can self-correct without the teacher looking over their shoulder. Instrumental music teachers understand this intuitively, and focus the 30-40 minutes they spend with their students each week on developing the skill of being able to notice mistakes and improve technique in the hours of solo practice. “Contrast this approach with most content-area teaching in schools,” says Wiliam, “where teachers seem to believe that students make most of their progress when the teacher is present, with homework as a kind of optional add-on.”

Human nature being what it is, many students find it emotionally challenging to be critical of their own work. A good scaffolding strategy is having a class look at an anonymous piece of work and describe the feedback this person should receive, then have students critique the work of a classmate, and finally self-correct. After a task like this, it’s helpful to ask students what they found easy, what they found difficult, and what was interesting. Alternatively, students might be asked what they would do differently if they did the task again. Once students can do this, feedback from others becomes less and less necessary.

“In the end,” says Wiliam, “it all comes down to the relationship between the teacher and the student. To give effective feedback, the teacher needs to know the student – to understand what feedback the student needs right now. And to receive feedback in a meaningful way, the student needs to trust the teacher – to believe that the teacher knows what he or she is talking about and has the student’s best interests at heart. Without this trust, the student is unlikely to invest the time and effort needed to absorb and use the feedback.”

“The Secret of Effective Feedback” by Dylan Wiliam in Educational Leadership, April 2016 (Vol. 73, #7, p. 10-15),; Wiliam is at

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School Affairs

    Please share links to the new online Communiqué in your local school e-Newsletter and your website. New items are added each week.
    The latest posts to the online Communiqué include features on Transition Fair for Students with Disabilities, the Gwinnett Heat, meetings about the county's transportation plan, plus calendar reminders about the Area Board meetings and the latest episode of In5ive.

School Reminders:

1. Please lock up all devices at night and lock your classroom doors when leaving for specials, lunch and recess. Students need to bring everything with them and not come to the classrooms unattended as much as possible. 2 barriers are suggested, however 1 barrier will suffice.

2. Please have students assist with putting chairs on desks when leaving each day.With us eating breakfast and snacks in the classrooms, it causes for more attention to vacuuming. Please help us get your rooms as clean as possible.

Curriculum and Instructional Support

        The National Archives at Atlanta will again host its Primarily Teaching workshop from June 27 through July 1. This year’s nation-wide theme is Taking a Stand in History and NARA Atlanta’s research topic is entitled Equal Opportunity on the WWII Home Front: The Committee on Fair Employment Practices and the South. Participating teachers will research original documents from the records of the Fair Employment Practices Committee, a federal commission tasked with enforcing equal opportunity in World War II war industries. They will choose between 3 and 5 documents, scan them and they will be entered into Teachers will then create a activity built around their chosen documents. For more information about Primarily Teaching 2016 go to the following website: . You can also contact Joel Walker, Education Specialist at or call 770-968-2530.

Curriculum and Instruction

SAVE THE DATE: New Teacher Orientation 2016

What: New Teacher Orientation

When: July 19-20, 2016

    Teaching and Learning Conference
    On June 16-17, K-12 teachers of all content areas will participate in the second annual GCPS Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC). Last year, we hosted more than 900 teachers at the J. Alvin Wilbanks Instructional Support Center for the conference. This year, we expect more than 1,000 teachers to attend! The conference will be held from 8 AM - 4 PM on both days. Teachers will be able to choose the sessions that best meet their needs. Conference strands include:
    • Instructional Transformation/Differentiated Instruction
    • Academic Knowledge and Skills
    • Instructional Leadership
    • Formative Assessment
    • Special Education
    Registration for TLC will be open from April 11th through April 29th via the Portal\Tools\2016 Teaching and Learning Conference. Sessions for the conference will be selected on site.
    Promo video link:

    Teaching and Learning Pre-Conference Sessions
    Pre-conference sessions (June 13-15, 2016) will cover specialized instruction and will be available at various locations throughout the district for some curriculum areas. Sessions can be found:
    • in the Summer Staff Development Calendar (available under Curriculum and Instruction section)
    • or, in PD&E by selecting Calendar (located on tool bar at top of screen)\Select "full calendar"\Change calendar to June view
    Sessions for June 13-15 will be open for registration in the PD&E tool and visible in the PD&E calendar beginning March 28, 2016.

    If you have questions, please contact Gwen Pirkle at 678-301-7290 or


Thank you Mandy, Michelle and Melanie for helping to complete the yearbook! I appreciate your positivity and support. ~Crystal

Thank you Jill Moore for helping our 4th grade students in such a great way. You have done a great job! ~Crystal

Thank you to our Carolina and her custodial team for working so hard to beautify our school during the break! ~Crystal

Thank you Bev Carlan for being willing to get some "hands on" planting training on Monday of Spring Break ~Crystal

Thank you to everyone for all of their hard work! ~Crystal

Kudos to Larry for helping me with the Volunteer Tea video! It was a hit ~Crystal

Thank you Kim, Katie, Cindy, Marjorie, Rochelle and Cecelia for supporting me at our Volunteer Tea. ~Crystal

Kudos to my office staff for being positive while we endure low staffing! ~Crystal

Thank you to the A Team for juggling so many responsibilities and still getting things done! ~Crystal

Thank you Deanne for joining me at the GCPS job fair! ~Crystal