Head U Gator News

April 3, 2016

A grateful heart

My heart is grateful for...

...Jennifer, who has not only coached Leah during her first year back, but has also agreed to mentor and coach Morgan Epperson who will be taking over Becky Kruse's class.

...Julie Lee, who began incorporating a new approach to her Daily 5 activities when she felt she needed some additional structure. I appreciate Julie and others who recognize the need to do something different and aren't afraid to say "help" when they need it!

...everyone who worked to support testing last week. It went off without a hitch and the students worked incredibly hard. I heard several teachers say that they had never had groups work as diligently as this particular group did.

....Molly, for creating the Sky Ranch books for fourth grade.

...Rion, who in addition to creating a great atmosphere in the library, for always being willing to do "whatever!" His attitude is remarkable.

Sherlock visits

This week I'll start sending you reminders if you don't have visits posted. Many of you have gotten them done, but don't forget to write, post and check off!

small group minutes

Reading: 87%

Math: 88%

Wow! That's a big improvement from the last data we shared, especially in math.

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Opening Day

Tomorrow is the first day of the Ranger's season, so if you are willing to wear Texas Ranger's gear you can do so with jeans. Thanks for the question, Lynne!

Let's hope their season is a successful one, and we're wearing Ranger's gear in October to cheer them on for the World Series.

An official update:

I spent a lot of time after Becky shared she needed to go on leave trying to find a good long term sub. After meeting with a lot of dead ends, I finally contacted the UNT cadre coordinator and asked if we could work with one of our student teachers who had proved her skills since starting with us. Fortunately, we were able to work things out so Morgan Epperson (who started with Christina Hayes and had been with Leigh Ballard) will be starting with Becky's former class this week. She will be observing Jennifer Monday and Tuesday and then begin working with students on Wednesday. I know you'll make Morgan feel supported as she takes on a pretty big task.

This week:

Monday, April 4


Art Club, 2:45

Tuesday, April 5

La Academia Spanish 2:45-3:45

CMT 3:00

Wednesday, April 6


Sky Ranch

Thursday, April 7

Marimba Band

Mad Science

Math Lab

Sky Ranch

Friday, April 2

Bowman Sports and La Academia Spanish

Sky Ranch

The X factor in College Success- an excerpt

From Educational Leadership, March 2016, pp. 77-78


Finding the X Factor

We probably all know students who did well in high school but flamed out in college—or who underachieved in high school yet excelled in college. Researchers and educators have long agreed that some set of "other" skills and traits must be important. They have sought to capture these areas with labels like noncognitive skills, 21st century skills, social and emotional skills, and character strengths(Kamenetz, 2015). To date, however, it's not clear which traits are most important and how we should teach or measure them—or whether they can be assessed at all.

Yet, like dark energy and dark matter (which astrophysicists can't observe, but which they calculate comprises the bulk of the universe because of observable gaps in mathematical models of the universe), this mix of other traits and skills appears to account for most of what makes a student successful. Fortunately, recent efforts to survey students about these "softer" skills—and determine which skills add predictive power to the standard measures—are yielding clues. Some promising predictors have emerged:

  • Can-do attitude. Perhaps the most important noncognitive factor related to student success is a can-do spirit—feeling capable as a learner and able to achieve one's goals. A notable meta-analysis by Richardson, Abraham, and Bond (2012) found that the combined factors of academic self-efficacy, goals for course grades, and a feeling of control over life events accounted for roughly 20 percent of the variance in university students' grade point averages (GPAs)—almost as much as high school grades and test scores.
  • Self-discipline and study habits. Unbridled optimism alone, however, doesn't guarantee success: Students must also apply themselves. A meta-analysis of 344 studies (Crede & Kuncel, 2008) found that a constellation of factors related to study orientation—namely, students' study habits (such as the extent to which they avoided procrastination) and study attitudes (such as the extent to which they bought into the goal of a college education)—had a correlation of .33 with overall college GPA, which translates into roughly 11 percent of variance in GPA.
  • Active learning. Students must also dig into their studies, for instance, by participating in classroom discussions, communicating with professors, and talking about their studies with others outside class. An examination of students in 18 colleges and universities found that such forms of student engagement collectively accounted for 13 percent of the variance in college students' first-year GPAs (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008).

Can you see the parallels between our focus on grit, growth mindset and goal setting?