Monday Memo

November 10th-14th

"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right." -Rosa Parks

Dear Team,

I want to thank all of you for making my birthday so special. I really enjoyed all of the cards, banners, well wishes and hugs. I wasn't able to go shopping this weekend, but I feel quite confident that I will be able to put my gift card to good use.

Last week, Sylvia and I began another round of walk throughs/learning walks. This round we will be focused on Domains 1,2 and High Yield Strategies. For this reason, if you do not have comments in areas other than those listed, please do not be concerned. It is a joy to spend time in your classrooms, and I am proud of the work you are doing.

This weekend, I upgraded my phone. I've put it off for quite a while in fear of losing contacts and having to set up everything again. Before I did it, I backed up my phone and the dude at the store assured me he could transfer my contacts without using the iCloud that seems to jack everything up. Much to my disappointment, he was unsuccessful, and now I have a phone full of my children's contacts. :( In short, when you get a chance, please send me a text. It would be a huge help as I try to restore my world!

If nothing else, I am going to bed grateful for first world problems.

Make today count!


TeacherTube Pay Attention

Veteran's Day

Miss Angie and Sharon Butler have been planning for this week, and they will be talking with their kiddos on Monday and Tuesday about Veteran's Day and our military. Some of you may already know this, but Sharon's son and Angie's son are both currently serving in the U.S. Air Force. Sharon is going to make a bulletin board outside my classroom to honor our service men and women, both Veterans and those who are active duty.

What Sharon would like from you all, is if you have a picture of a family member who is a veteran or who is on active duty, please bring in a picture and help yourself to add it to their wall. In addition, maybe pass this along to your students' and see how many of them bring in pictures as well. She will leave this wall up until we leave for Christmas break. At that time, you may come pick up your pictures. She just thought this would be a fun way for our students to see all of the people who have fought for our rights to be free in this country.

Volunteers During After School Duty

If you would like to volunteer to help support our positive behavior notes during dismissal, please click on the link below. A jeans pass will be issued for each volunteer slot that you sign up to serve.

High Yield Strategy Focus


The use of sentence stems as a tool to develop vocabulary provides students an opportunity to use new vocabulary in a meaningful and logical sequence. It provides students a structure to speak academically.

Why is it important?
  • Sentence stems provide scaffolding to help students get started in speaking or writing without the added pressure of thinking about how to correctly formulate a response.
  • Sentence stems allow students the opportunity to use new vocabulary words in meaningful context while using correct syntax.
  • The use of sentence stems is focused on developing fast vocabulary for students with limited academic language in order to speak effectively about a subject.
  • This strategy can be used as a linguistic accommodation that will provide ELL students an opportunity to communicate and write about their learning.
  • When students use the sentence stems or sentence starters, they can participate in class and this increases their self-esteem and willingness to use academic language.

Learning Opportunities:

7 Steps to a Language Rick Interactive Classroom (Presentation by John Seidlitz)

How to Use Sentence Stems

How to Use Accountable Conversations


Vocabulary Instruction for ELL - Use of Sentence Stems as a strategy to develop vocabulary and syntax.

Examples of Sentence Stems:

Accountable Talk Sentence Starters

Sentence Stems to Build Comprehension

Depth of Knowledge Sentence Stems

Structured Conversation Cards & Posters

For a printable version of the calendar, please click on the "Calendar" title above.
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Online Spanish Classes for Teachers

  • We have purchased 20 Rosetta Stone licenses for teachers to participate in online Spanish classes.
  • Teachers who previously participated in our Spanish classes will be given priority in enrollment.
  • In order to participate in this class, teachers must make a commitment of using Rosetta Stone 1.5 hours per week outside of contract hours. There will not be PD credit for this class.
  • Please email Judith Coffman if you are interested in participating in this class.

ESL Test Prep Classes

Below are November dates for this training at McKinney.

Region 10 also offers a supplemental online learning option.

Online - TExES English as a Second Language (ESL) #154 Supplemental Competency Follow-up

ESL TExES #154 Preparation Course (2 Full Days)

At McKinney - Register Through Eduphoria

ESL TExES #154 Cert Prep Course Workshop PreK-12 (Cluster Event)

Registration Open Thru 11/11/2014

11/12/2014 8:30 AM-3:30 PM,

11/13/2014 8:30 AM-3:30 PM

McKinney ISD, Central Office, 1 Duval Street, McKinney TX 75069

7 Ways to Consistently Get and Keep Student Attention

This month, I’ll share a simple list. Before you read it, please do not confuse fluency (something that is easy to read) or familiarity (you have heard them before) with real-life action. (Are you currently using each and every one of these tools?)

Attention is simply a focused arousal state. Most of your everyday attention is driven by your brain’s hard-wired arousal processes. For example, you hear a loud BANG and your head turns to pay attention. That sound is a known danger sound, and it presented itself as a contrasting (loud vs. quiet) noise level. The same thing happens when a student screams, cries or yells; it’s a contrasting noise level with a known sound associated with possible bodily harm or pain. Our brain is wired to PAY ATTENTION to contrasts in the environment that is alerting the brain to potential danger.

Our attentional arousal is facilitated by serotonin when we are not in an emergency mode. During stress, our brain bumps up cortisol. When things are more urgent, our brain may produce noradrenaline. When we anticipate something good, we’ll have more dopamine available in our brain. These chemicals are only mentioned as a “soft” generalization. In reality, your brain has varying levels of dozens of chemicals at any given time.

We can train our brain to respond to certain types of environmental input. For example certain professions (e.g. musicians, doctors, sound engineers, thieves, special forces, and hunters) have trained their brain to be alert to specific auditory input. A newborn learns to pay attention to his or her caregiver’s voice since it is the presence of the caregiver that often means food, human contact and fresh diapers.

Our brain is also highly susceptible to everyday attentional arousal for curiosity. We watch others and listen to stories and jokes to find out what happens next. Movies, stories and television writers continually work to find the attentional hooks so you keep watching a show or reading a book. Getting students to pay attention for a moment is actually pretty easy. It does not guarantee learning, but attention is an important start.

Here are 7 ways to get attention.

1. Switch pacing often
Speed up or slow down. Mimic another person’s accent or use a quote that everyone thought was outrageous. Switch mediums (play a recording or show a movie clip, slide or YouTube video). Pause for a few seconds, then end a sentence with a “ta-da!” A good rule of thumb is to switch things up every 10-12 minutes or so.

2. Ask compelling Questions
Open your presentation with questions that are a bit quirky or trivial. Use odd facts to hook in your students. For example, you could ask, “How many of you would like to find out who was the real hero of the civil war?”, or “How many of you would be surprised to find out that our military was tricked in to starting a war?”

3. Use physical objects relevant to the content
When I speak about brains, I often use a real human brain (injected with resin, so it’s hard) to share with my class. These are extremely hard to get a hold of. I’m sure you can find props at a local thrift shop or Wal-Mart. Your props might include a hat, scarf, sunglasses or jacket that fits a character.

4. Boost arousal with a quick energizer
Our brain is much more receptive to new information when our alertness level is higher. Get students up and out of their seats. Have students lead small teams (or, when they’re ready and able, the whole class) in an energizer.
5. Create a “cliff-hanger” opening
Share an opening comment that leaves everyone wanting more. You can post it up front or use an electronic device to post it. This gets students curious and focused right away on content.
6. Establish learning jobs
Prior to the class content, put students in learning groups (or teams), and then post up 5 or 6 learning roles for students. These roles might include a team leader, an energizer leader, a summarizer, and a relevancy specialist. Each of these can create varying levels of attentional arousal as the jobs get done during the class.

7. Share personal stories
Most students are interested in knowing the person behind the profession - YOU. Tell a real story about your past, an incident or specific unusual experience you had that relates to the content being taught. This creates an attentional hook because of the connection felt to the person or emotions of the story.

In closing, you CAN have the best school year of your life. Implement ideas from this monthly newsletter and get ready for a miracle!

Feedback for me about this information? Just drop me a note:


  • Office Team - Thank you for a wonderful birthday celebration! You are a wonderful group to be sharing it with! -JL
  • Michelle C - Thank you for all that you do for us. Your support, perspective and honesty is greatly appreciated! -JL
  • Sylvia - Thanks for covering for me on Friday morning so that I could chat with a student. You are an amazing partner! -JL
  • Kammerer- Thank you so much for your patience and flexibility! It appreciate it more than you know. -JL
  • JL and SL – Thank you so much for always being so gracious in helping me with my crazy schedule. You both are simply amazing and I couldn't do my job without your phenomenal support. -Michelle C.
  • Valerie- Thank you for your quick sweet chat Friday night. It was so sweet for you to offer running my child home. It is times like this that I sit here and realize how blessed I am to call McGowen my family. - Michelle C.
  • Melanie – I am so grateful to you for all you have and continue to do to support the DRA2 kits. You are AMAZING! - Michelle C.
  • 5th grade team- you are an amazing team and I LOVED being a temporary part of it. I can't believe it went by so quickly. Thank you for all the many things you did to make it so easy to slide in and just love on the kids! -Chaney
  • DONNA ~ Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness Tuesday. The hot oatmeal really hit the spot after a cold, rainy carpool duty, but your thoughtfulness warmed us moreJ Gaby, Amanda and Nick
  • JL- Thank you for the sweet note on Monday! -KT
  • MC- Thank you for again taking so much of your time to meet and chat about my friends! -KT
  • Bianchetta- Thank you for being an awesome cafeteria partner during walk-away after school! -KT
  • JENNIFER - Thank you very much for hiring a veteran; I'm sure I'm not the only one, but for me...I really love my job, the wonderful people I work with and the kids; and I appreciate you for giving me the opportunity to "serve". Gaby

Focus for 2014 - 2015

· Providing all students with at least one year’s growth

· Closing the achievement gaps in our subgroups

· Utilize data to drive instruction

· Collaborative team planning and lesson design to promote higher level thinking and student engagement

· Posting learning and language targets daily in student friendly terms

Happy Birthday!!


Sherri Stromness 11/4

Jennifer Little 11/6

Laura Kammerer 11/24

Jalynn Mitchell 11/27


This week we would like to recognize Gaby Shambo. Working morning carpool duty every day come rain or shine alone is reason enough for her to be recognized, but she is just amazing! She always has a positive attitude and is willing to help out in any way possible. In addition, she shares ideas on how to make McGowen even better. If that wasn't enough, she can often be found supporting Healthy Zone initiatives, like Insanity and Family Fun Nights after school. We appreciate all that she does for our school and loves that she is here!

McKinney ISD's Vision, Mission and Beliefs

Any time we have an idea, concern, solution and/or comment, this is the filter through which we should speak. Let's help each other live up to our vision, mission, and beliefs.


We are a cohesive, diverse community providing engaging learning experiences for all.

We will provide engaging learning experiences so students can become effective communicators, quality contributors and socially responsible citizens.

  • Partnerships between students, parents, community members and staff are foundational to educational success.
  • Positive school culture and a safe environment foster growth.
  • Everyone has inherent value and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Learning is an active process requiring engaging tasks and engaging minds.
  • Relevant and authentic experiences ignite continuous, deeper learning.
  • Meaningful relationships enrich learning.
  • Confidence fuels risk taking and higher achievement.
  • Financial stewardship ensures a tomorrow for education.