Volume 1 | Issue 3: Acronyms Galore

Educational Services Department

A Message from Kathie Nielsen

Hello TUSD Elementary Teachers,

It's so hard to believe the new year is already upon us. On behalf of the Ed Services Department I want to wish each of you a joyful and restful holiday. Thank you for embracing all the new learning you have tackled this first trimester. New opportunities also await in 2016 as we will be offering a variety of professional development sessions for you to choose from on Wednesday, January 20th. I hope you will continue to seek out these exciting learning opportunities designed thoughtfully by our TOSA team and our Connect Coaches. As we are reminded by the English poet, Robert Browning, "Our aspirations are our possibilities." I continue to be inspired by the amount of teachers reaching out and collaborating in new ways. This past month alone our teachers have been participating in peer observations, visiting sites outside our district, studying during our CGI online professional development, attending inquiry book clubs on their campuses, and joining our Universal Design for Learning (UDL) inquiry meeting group.

Thank you for aspiring to bring the very best not only to your profession, but to each and every TUSD elementary student as well.

Happy New Year!

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Acronyms Galore: What does that mean?


It is the mission of TUSD to ensure that each student optimizes individual achievement through an educational system characterized by challenging and exciting curricula and inspiring personalized instruction. To achieve this mission, balanced literacy (BL) is a structure utilized across TUSD classrooms to ensure that children are provided with multiple opportunities to interact with reading and writing in meaningful ways. The structures serve as a foundation, however the teaching that takes place within each component is the critical element.

The signature practices of reading workshop and writing workshop are essential components for supporting children at various levels of proficiency, and classroom libraries serve as the hub for reading materials, as children are matched appropriately with books that align to their individual reading level.


The idea behind Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is that our students come to school already knowing math - they have a great deal of knowledge and mathematical insight. During CGI problem solving sessions, students are asked to solve problems using a variety of strategies and explain their reasoning.

The approach to teaching mathematics places the responsibility onto students and allows them to work at various levels of mathematical development. CGI focuses on children's thinking, not specific teaching procedures.

Click HERE to learn more on the TUSD Elementary STEM Haiku class. The next CGI Institute Meeting is 1/11/16.


The Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model, which includes a focus lesson, guided instruction, collaborative, and independent work, is a new way of thinking for many teachers (Fisher & Frey, 2003). The GRR instructional method has served as a tool for teachers when planning curricular units, as well as, daily reading and writing mini-lessons.

How does BL align with GRR?

TO (immersion, teacher demo)

  • read aloud
  • modeled writing
  • reading/writing mini-lesson (focus lesson)

WITH (collaboration & exploration - students w/peers, teacher)

  • shared reading
  • shared writing
  • small group instruction
  • reading/writing workshop - partner work
  • reading/writing workshop - book studies/collaborative groups

BY (accountability - student work time)

  • independent reading during workshop
  • independent writing during workshop

Click HERE to access a 5-minute video by the Teaching Channel that explores GRR within a classroom setting.


Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is a way of thinking and problem solving to identify what kind of instruction, prevention, or intervention each student responds to best through systematic school-wide support and ongoing collaboration involving teachers, administrators, families, specialists, and community partners. Simply put, MTSS leverages the principles of RTI and PBIS and integrates a continuum of system wide resources, strategies, structures, and practices around the academic, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of all students.

The purpose for MTSS emerges as we continue on our journey to create 21st Century classrooms in TUSD. Our work in Balanced Literacy, assessments, mathematics, technology, and CCSS has lifted the rigor of curriculum, instruction, and student learning expectations for all students. In an effort to support the students in reaching these new standards, TUSD has launched a MTSS implementation team to study and recognize current best practices. The goal is to align and refine systems across the district to maximize effectiveness in helping schools and teachers give every child in TUSD the support they need to succeed.


Total Participation Techniques (TPTs) make every student an active learner. The techniques provide easy-to-use alternatives to the "stand and deliver" approach to teaching that causes so many students to tune out or even drop out. Total Participation Techniques presents dozens of ways to engage K-12 students in active learning and allow them to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge and understanding. -ASCD website

Readers of this book learn how to implement field-tested techniques such as:

  • Quick-Draws and Quick-Writes
  • Chalkboard Splash
  • Hold-Up Cards
  • Bounce Cards
  • Line-Ups
  • Debate Team Carousel

Click HERE to access Bounce Cards. A TPT for conversation starters that can be used to enhance and support whole group, small group, or partner conversations.


Katie Novak, author of UDL NOW!, writes, “We are lucky enough to live in a world that is becoming increasingly more inclusive. By inviting all learners in our classrooms, we are teaching students valuable lessons in diversity, acceptance, and the value of inclusion. Most importantly, we are providing a rigorous, engaging education to all our students, which is imperative for their future success.”

How do we design curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of so many diverse students and ensure high standards are taught and assessed? The answer is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Katie explains, “UDL is a curriculum-design model process that saves you time over the long haul and frees you to make your teaching practice more effective, while honoring your individual approach.”

On 12/8, the UDL Inquiry group studied the Affective Network of the brain and strategies to support representation (the "what" of learning). The next UDL Inquiry Group meeting is 2/16/16 @Estock (Room B-3).

Mark Your Calendar

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ELA Instructional Phase 3: 1/4 - 2/26

Phase 3: Expressing Thoughts, Ideas, & Feelings

The purpose of Phase 3: Expressing Thoughts, Ideas, & Feelings is to reflect and refine the strategies previously taught and build upon with strategies that focus on thinking, developing ideas, and sharing feelings. The phase will provide children with opportunities to develop deeper thoughts through their interactions with peers, therefore partnerships and/or small groups will be a key element of this phase. The work that children undertake within this phase will support their growth as independent readers and writers.

Text Type: Persuasive (Opinion)

Click HERE to access TUSD ELA Instructional Phases

Possible Teachers College Units of Study - Reading
K: Bigger Books, Bigger Reading Muscles

1: Readers Have Big Jobs to Do - Fluency, Phonics, and Comprehension

2: Bigger Books Mean Amping Up Reading Power

3: If Then Unit - Solving Mystery before the Detective: Inference, Close Reading, Synthesis, and Prediction

4: Reading History

5: Argument and Advocacy - Researching Debatable Issues

Possible Teachers College Units of Study - Writing
K: Persuasive Writing of All Kinds: Using Words to Make a Change

1: Writing Reviews

2: Writing About Reading

3: Changing the World: Persuasive Speeches, Petitions, and Editorials

4: Boxes and Bullets: Personal and Persuasive Essays

5: The Research-Based Argument Essay

Using Teachers College Units of Study? Need support in unpacking the units and projecting mini-lessons?

Contact Amanda Heineman - ajjohnson@tustin.k12.ca.us


Are you following @tusdbookclub on Instagram?

  • Optional book club for TUSD teachers
  • NEW book posted each month
  • Discussion at the end of each month

We hope you'll join the @tusdbookclub!


September 2015

Click HERE to access Volume 1| Issue 1
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October 2015

Click HERE to access Volume 1 | Issue 2
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