Monthly Staff Newsletter

Bright Spots

What does instructional excellence look like? Where can we see best practices and proven instructional strategies to model at DCHS? The answer is simple-our own classrooms. There are great examples of outstanding instruction occurring every day here at DCHS, and it is my goal monthly with this feature to highlight those “Bright Spots” in our building. This is a way for me, as the instructional leader, to give some public praise to our very best practitioners, as well as identify classrooms and teachers for all of you to visit if you are looking to observe some excellent instructional practice.
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Mr. Jeremy Griffith

Our Bright Spot for instructional practice this quarter is ICE US History teacher and Social

Studies Content Lead Jeremy Griffith. Mr. Griffith teaches 4 sections of AP US History (APUSH) and two sections of US History for ICE. He has taught for 13 years and is currently completing his Administrative License at Marian University. Mr. Griffith uses media, visual art, music, and multiple other “attention-grabbers” to make students think at higher levels about the content. He has taken his classes to the IRT to incorporate drama and storytelling into his US History classes, and annually plans a “walk” through the downtown Veterans Mall to use the military monuments as teaching and discussion guides about conflicts in American History.

Mr. Griffith is also incredibly creative at developing critical thinking and problem solving

in students. His innovation and creativity in unit development help shape his instruction

through a backward design approach to planning. He recently started a filming project using the “green screen” in the Innovation Hub for students to create public service announcements

about/set in the 1950’s. His lessons in the Media Center that use our Lock-boxes ask students to “solve” some issues or find some contextual facts related to those issues, to build engagement and collaboration into the lesson. He has multiple modules planned using the “Artistic Learning” model, which is the foundation of ICE’s instructional theme, and his intentionality in infusing those elements make his history lessons come alive for his students. I highly recommend any teacher looking to infuse media or the arts into their subject area to sit down with and/or observe Mr. Griffith.

Strategy of the Quarter

A Specific Way To Overcome DCHS's Instructional Problem of Practice

After spending time looking at both qualitative and quantitative data, The Instructional Leadership Team has identified the lack of frequent, quality academic conversations as a significant roadblock to our student's success.


The lack of frequent, quality academic conversations is a roadblock for DCHS student achievement.

We as a team are working to research, model, and provide examples of conversation protocols and strategies. You will be exposed to these strategies in various ways over the course of the year. Some will be presented to you during a coaching session with a Mentor or Lead Teacher. Our Lead Teachers are working to model a conversation strategy with each PD/PLC session. In addition, the Quarterly HAWK TALK Newsletter will highlight one specific strategy.

Critical Friends


  • The purpose of a Critical Friends protocol is to provide opportunities for collaboration, as it gives presenters and “friends” alike the opportunity to learn from one another.

  • The protocol creates an environment in which presenters receive feedback in a non-threatening way, as “I like” and “I wonder” provide gentle sentence starters for critique.

  • Two heads (or three) are better than one!


This can (and should) be edited to fit the needs of your classroom

  1. Presentation of project/topic/issue (4-5 minutes)

    1. Presenter shares their project/topic/issue (it may prove beneficial to have a specific focus topic)

  2. Clarifying questions (1-2 minutes)

    1. Friends ask clarifying questions. These questions are to provide further context/understanding, not to provide feedback (yet)

  3. Pause to Reflect (1 minute)

    1. Everyone reflects SILENTLY. Friends write down their likes/wonders in preparation to share out

  4. I likes/I wonders (3-5 minutes)

    1. Friends share their likes/wonders to provide the presenter with feedback. Presenter should sit SILENTLY, making note of the feedback

  5. Debrief (2-3 minutes)

    1. Presenter has the opportunity to respond to the feedback they’ve received and to ask questions of their own

Tap Corner

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It's All About Asking the Right Questions!

As a teacher, not only is it important to ask students the "right" questions, but it's especially important to ask questions in the "right way". In others words, you want to phrase the questions in such a way that engages students and avoids moments in which you only receive confused expressions and blank stares. Listed below are some basic questioning techniques that can enable students to recognize your expectations and as a result, allow you to receive the desired answers.

  1. Higher order Questions command a greater display of understanding and thought in order to be answered. These questions are meant to encourage students to demonstrate their understanding by summarizing detailed concepts. These questions are vital in order to get students to clarify their understanding to you as well as themselves. However, like all questions it's just a matter of finding the right time to use them.

When to Use Them:

  • To Comprehend given information:

  • To have students interpret and describe concepts and ideas in their own words.

  • To have students organize facts and various types of information.

  • To have students use critical thinking skills to: Analyze information, infer relationships and connections, predict outcomes, interpret facts, put prior knowledge into new contexts, grouping information and so on.

  • To Apply learned information:

  • To use methods, ideas, and concepts in new contexts.

  • To solve problems which require knowledge and or skill.

  • To use obtained knowledge.

How to Use Them:

  • Comprehension...

  • Summarize...

  • Distinguish...

  • Predict..

  • Interpret...

  • Application...

  • Apply...

  • Demonstrate...

  • Examine...

  • Classify..

  • Illustrate...

  • Relate...

2. Open-ended questions are those that encourage students to analyze their own thinking and observations. These types of questions are meant to teach students to build on concepts, put these concepts in their own words, and to think about certain topics on a deeper level. ( Why did the author come to that conclusion? or How does this relate to me personally?) These questions are a great way to encourage students to relate information to their own lives and to articulate their own understanding by putting the information in their own words. However, these types of questions don't work in areas that require a specific definition in order to be correct. Still, this type of question is extremely helpful, because it encourages further thought without taking too much time away from the lesson.

When to Use Them:

  • To have students answer in their "own" words.

  • To encourage complex thinking.

  • To have students display understanding on multiple levels of thinking.

  • To gain more detailed answers. (At least one sentence long.)

How to Use Them:

  • Why..?

  • How..?

  • Phrases such as: What do you think about..?

Lunch & Learn

How have we been continuing on with a “Growth Mindset”?

Take a look at all the “Lunch and Learn” sessions we have held this year! If you want to know more about each session, click on the link provided!

Important Dates

March 15-21 Renaissance Testing Window

March 22-31 Spring Break

April 10-17 Renaissance Testing Window

April 18-19 Earth Day Museum

April 23 ISTEP Math Part 2 (Sophs)

April 24 ISTEP ELA Part 2 (Sophs)

May 4 Prom

May 6-17 AP Exams

May 21-23 Final Exams (9-11)

May 23 Graduation

May 24 Teacher Work (half) Day

About DCHS

Decatur Central High School serves roughly 1800 students from grades 9-12 within the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township. The MSD of Decatur Township is located in the southwest corner of Marion County just outside of I465.