David G. Burnet Elementary

Shining Stars Gazette - January 11th, 2016

Excellence Will Lead to Success!

2nd Week of the 4th Six Weeks

David G. Burnet Elementary


Providing excellence in the physical, emotional, social and academic growth of every child to ensure all student achieve their maximum potential.


Teachers will create strong classroom cultures, build relationships with students, and implement instructional practices that engage all students.

Notes from the Principal!

This will be the best year ever at Burnet, home of the All Stars! Not only are we celebrating Burnet's 60th year, we are also celebrating school culture, instruction, data-driven and team effectiveness. Our student achievement show many gains, your hard work is paying off!

Teach valuable knowledge and skills and spiral important TEKS, especially Readiness Standards, on grade-level. Ensure that you are using feedback from PLC to concentrate on lesson alignment of on grade-level TEKS that all students must be introduced to, guided on and have the opportunity to do and master independently. Ensure that you are reteaching knowledge and skills that the students missed last six weeks and that you are spiraling them in after reteach.

From Marshall Memo 616

The Qualities of a Good Teacher

In this Chronicle of Higher Education article, A.C. Grayling (New College of the Humanities, London) says there are two ways that ineffective teachers can harm students: putting them off a subject and undermining their confidence and self-belief. “Good teachers do exactly the opposite of these things,” says Grayling, “and as a result inspire, guide, and give their students a broader sense of life’s possibilities… the desire to know more, understand more, achieve greater insight.” He lists several qualities that the best teachers possess:

  • Enthusiasm – Students often catch this in their classrooms.

  • Charisma – Teachers can be Pied Pipers for their subject.

  • A capacity to clarify and make sense – This quality illuminates any subject.

  • Humor – It lightens the hard work students need to do.

  • Kindness – A teacher’s power is enhanced when there’s a human connection.

  • A genuine interest in students’ progress – This involves constantly checking for understanding and responding accordingly.

    Good teachers have these qualities in varying proportions, and the net effect is that students begin to teach themselves. “And that, paradoxical as it may seem, is the best outcome of good teaching,” says Grayling. “Independence of endeavor, and soon therefore of mind, should be one of the fundamental aims of education.”

    Some novice teachers worry that if they show humor, kindness, and interest, they’ll come across as weak. But Grayling says there’s “no inconsistency in being both kind and firm, humorous although not prepared to tolerate messing about, and interested without being partial. It is a matter of operational tact and good timing.”

    “Good teachers are those who remember being a student,” he concludes. “They hear themselves as their students hear them. They know which aspects of their subject might present a difficulty, which require to be grasped before which, and what their best students will be keen to know, and why… Students’ questions and doubts compel one to think and rethink, often prompting one to see things that had not been noticed before. For this reason it is never boring to teach the same subject repeatedly.”

“What Makes a Good Teacher?” by A.C. Grayling in The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 11, 2015 (Vol. LXII, #15, p. B4-B5), e-link for subscribers only

The Art of Designing Lessons With Desirable Difficulties

In this article in Education Week Teacher, author/researchers Brad Ermeling, James Hiebert, and Ron Gallimore applaud U.S. educators’ recent emphasis on growth mindset and “grit.” They point to clear benefits in having students wrestle with complexity, uncertainty, and difficulty and coming up with their own answers rather than being guided through every step.

But Ermeling, Hiebert, and Gallimore worry that “struggle” may become an end in itself, rather than a means to higher levels of student learning. Cooperative learning has fallen into this trap, they believe: “In many classrooms, students have learned to be better ‘cooperators’ but often without any distinct benefit for deeper learning. To avoid a similar fate with growth mindset, the instructional goals must be richer learning, not just struggle.” The key is getting students engaged with a task that captures the central idea of the lesson or unit.

Here’s an example. A teacher is introducing the addition of fractions with unlike denominators (students already understand how to add fractions with like denominators and can solve problems like 2/5 + 1/5). One approach would be for the teacher to ask, “Can you find a common denominator for the problem 1/2 + 1/3?” But this doesn’t focus students on the key idea, which is that units or wholes must be broken into same-size parts to find the exact answer to the problem. A better question would be, “Can you find how much juice we would have if we added 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup? Show how you found the answer by drawing a picture or writing how you thought about the problem.” This gets students wrestling with the key idea they need to understand – how to think about the quantities of juice in smaller, equal amounts so they can be added together. When students have worked on this problem, they will be much more receptive to learning the concept, perhaps in a direct explanation from the teacher.

Designing learning experiences focused on worthy learning goals is challenging, say Ermeling, Hiebert, and Gallimore; it involves a lot of trial and error and teacher persistence. Here are some other key elements in successful “struggle” lessons:

  • Determining the timing and placement in a curriculum unit;

  • Crafting the problem so it hits students’ zone of proximal development (ZPD) – the level of difficulty that will challenge them without undue frustration;

  • Making sure they have the prerequisite knowledge and skills – for example in the problem above, knowing how to add fractions with like denominators before tackling problems with unlike denominators;

  • Doing ongoing assessments to gauge students’ current level of understanding and proficiency;

  • Providing a safe environment that encourages student thinking, collaboration, and risk-taking;

  • Using probing questions to nudge students into their ZPD;

  • Providing appropriate help – “Success depends on teachers recognizing when a little timely assistance sustains student persistence but does not prematurely terminate productive struggle and learning,” say the authors.

  • Following up each struggle episode with carefully structured lessons that build on students’ ideas, address misconceptions, and help them reflect on their new understandings.

    “Beyond Growth Mindset: Creating Classroom Opportunities for Meaningful Struggle” by Brad Ermeling, James Hiebert, and Ron Gallimore in Education Week Teacher, December 7, 2015, http://bit.ly/1I52vKR; Ermeling can be reached at brad.ermeling@gmail.com.

From Marshall Memo 617.

High Schools That Combine Academic and Social-Emotional Learning

In this American Educational Research Journal article, Stacey Rutledge, La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, and Ronnie Roberts (Florida State University) and Lora Cohen-Vogel (University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill) compare four urban high schools in Broward County, Florida, two with impressive student achievement and two with lower results. The researchers’ goal was to identify the programs, policies, and practices that produced better results for these schools’ mostly poor, minority, and ELL students.

There were many similarities among the schools in curriculum alignment, classroom instruction, and parent outreach, but the researchers identified some key differences. They believe the secret sauce of successful schools is the way they combine academic and social-emotional programs. This, they say, allows students to “effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.” Here are the key differences among the schools:

Organizational structures – The higher-performing schools had several programs that enhanced personalization by supporting interaction between adults and students. The key features: looping of guidance counselors and administrators over several years; comprehensive and consistently enforced behavior management structures; and educators’ ready access to a rich array of data on students.

Administrators’ involvement – In one of the high-performing schools, the principal met regularly with students to inquire about their classroom experiences. In one of the less successful schools, teachers expressed deep frustration at the lack of useful feedback after administrators’ frequent classroom visits.

Connecting with students – Adults in the higher-performing schools made deliberate efforts to personalize learning – for example, making sure all students were involved in at least one extracurricular activity. Students in these schools described teachers and administrators as “caring” and “involved.”

Academic supports – Higher-performing schools inculcated a culture of learning and college attendance for all students, while the lower-performing schools focused this message mostly on high-achieving students. The more-successful schools used advanced courses as a way to institutionalize rigor; made the guidance department the “hub” for academic support (in one school, counselors made a point of visiting classes at every grade level); and explicitly taught academic and social-emotional skills in classrooms and tutorials.

Use of data – All four schools were systematic in this domain, but the higher-performing schools had a more positive attitude about how student learning results could be used to improve students’ schedules and educators’ practices.

Social-emotional supports – The more-successful schools frequently used the language of personalization and pushed staff to know students and connect with them. There were also more formal and informal adult-student connections, which included being present during lunch periods and intentionally checking in with students. “You can talk to anybody if you have trouble or something,” said one student.

“Understanding Effective High Schools: Evidence for Personalization for Academic and Social Emotional Learning” by Stacey Rutledge, Lora Cohen-Vogel, La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, and Ronnie Roberts in American Educational Research Journal, December 2015 (Vol. 52, #6, p. 1060-1092), available for purchase at http://bit.ly/1QUZEW4; Rutledge can be reached at sarutledge@fsu.edu.


Ms. Loskot, Proud Principal of All Stars!

Key Action 1: Promote a positive climate and culture that ensures student achievement by establishing a common vision. (Philosophy)

Key Action 2: Strengthen the instructional program and data system by providing differentiated professional development. (Process)

Key Action 3: Promote student achievement by implementing and monitoring a system of data and feedback on instruction. (Implementation)

One School, One Vision, Together We Are On A Mission

Week At-A-Glance

Monday, January 11th, 2016

  • Classroom Entry & Ten With a Pen (Day 82)
  • No Faculty Meeting on Monday

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

  • Classroom Entry & Ten With a Pen (Day 83)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

  • Classroom Entry & Ten With a Pen (Day 84)

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

  • Classroom Entry & Ten With a Pen (Day 85)
  • The Teachers with 100% attendance for a drawing of a MacBook Air
  • Thursday Folder
  • Parent Conference 4-7:30 p.m.

Friday, January 15th, 2016

  • Classroom Entry & Ten With a Pen (Day 86)

Quote of the Week

Think BIG

Keep Calm and Shine On!

Action Items

Action Items