Humanities Headlines

August 2015 Edition

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What's new for 2015-16 in the world of Humanities curriculum?

  • Launch of updated Common Instructional Expectations (CIEs) for grades K-5 and grades 6-12. Last year, the Humanities CIEs were introduced to much applause by teachers. The Vertical Team of 2014-15 has updated them, hyperlinked many key resources, and condensed them from 6 documents to 2 documents that help to spotlight the expected common practices between ELA and SS. It is a district expectation that these documents be used as guides on every campus and grade to determine baseline expectations for implementing Humanities curriculum and instruction. Remember, we don't all have to be doing the same thing, but there are some things we all have to be doing.
  • K-5 Humanities Curriculum Revision process begins in September. Throughout this school year, representatives from each grade on each campus will work together to redesign curriculum documents in a way that allows for more integration of ELA and SS. Additionally, the redesign will provide teachers with a manageable guide for instruction that can be consistently implemented across all classrooms. Grade level representatives and a core leadership team will be selected in September, and work will begin soon! Full implementation of new resources is not expected until August of 2016.
  • 6-12th grade Humanities PLC Protocols to launch at the August 19-20 College Readiness Institute. In order to provide guidance for unit design by same-course teachers, new design documents have been created and will be kept in a common, shared portal. This shared portal can serve as a resource for teachers to view each others' unit designs and share resources across the district more easily than ever before.
  • The 13 year wait is nearly over! K-12th grade teachers will soon be receiving information and/or hard copies of their newly adopted Social Studies materials. For teachers who missed the July training, more is planned. Secondary DLLs will work with Brandi Carey to schedule a day/time for McGraw Hill to train on their campuses. Elementary teachers will have an after school session to learn about either K-2 or 3-5 resources. Date TBA. Prior to training, there are many opportunities for self-teaching and exploration of the resources. This will be a good opportunity for teachers to practice their Portrait of a Graduate skill of being a "self-directed learner!"
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2015-16 GCISD Book Challenge

After last year's celebration of 1,919 students completing the 25 Book Challenge, this year promises to be even better! A wide variety of tools for communicating about the challenge may be found in the following folder. New features for this year's Book Challenge include:

  • K-2 students will be invited to participate! Their participation can be either in the form of a 100 Book Challenge (to include shorter/picture books) OR in the form of a 25 Book Challenge (for chapter book readers with the length and genre parameters established last year). Students who progress from being a short book reader to a long book reader during the year will be allowed to transition from the 100 to the 25 book challenge at teachers' discretion.
  • Completion of the GCISD Book Challenge may be submitted using the following Google Form.
  • Record keeping of the 25 or 100 titles may be done in ANY manner chosen by teachers. There are sample logs in the resources folder, but any form of record keeping is acceptable.
  • Adults (parents or staff members) will be invited to participate in the 25 Book Challenge this year! They can keep track of their titles/genres and have their names submitted on the same form used for student submissions.
  • Reading done during summer months CAN be counted toward this year's Book Challenge! Success and accomplishment are the goals of this challenge, and this will give many students a head start on meeting their goal!
  • Teachers should be aware of the need to make accommodations for students who struggle with reading. Please make note of this letter which addresses ways to adjust the Book Challenge in a way that meets the needs of all learners.
  • The name of the challenge this year has been revised to the GCISD Book Challenge in order to reflect the inclusion of K-2 students and the 100 Book Challenge.
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Literacy Intervention - Program Restructuring

Check out the newly updated GCISD Dyslexia Website

When you click on the link and login as a GCISD employee, you'll have access to more information and resources!

Restructured K-5 Model

Teachers on elementary campuses may notice some changes to the literacy services they receive this year. Each K-5 campus will be served this year by one Literacy Intervention Teacher (LIT). Campuses serving bilingual populations will have an additional Bilingual Literacy Intervention Teacher (BLIT). The priorities of these teachers will be:

  1. To serve the campus' identified students with dyslexia
  2. To serve K-2 students needing early reading intervention (Tier 2-3)
  3. To support classroom literacy instruction in ways determined by campus leadership

In addition to the LITs assigned to each school, there will be supplemental support provided as needed. The goal of this new model is to provide time for LITs and BLITs to develop stronger relationships with students and teachers on each campus, to reduce lost travel time (which existed in our prior model), and to serve campuses with a literacy resource who is able to serve in a more comprehensive fashion than our former, targeted assistance model.


Dyslexia screening/assessment procedures are being streamlined/updated in order to bring greater consistency to this process across the district. Campus 504 Coordinators (usually an AP) will be a teacher's first point of contact if the need for a dyslexia screening exists. Assessment will take place during a window in the fall and in the spring. Students identified during these windows are to receive instruction by their classroom teachers until pull out service can begin by the campus interventionist.

6-12 Dyslexia Expectations

GCISD Middle School students who are receiving daily intervention will be served through a Literacy Achievement ELA Elective class by one of our traveling LITs.

GCISD Middle and High School students with dyslexia who have completed intervention will be best served by teachers who have great empathy for the challenges brought about by dyslexia and who fully implement accommodations listed in 504 plans.

K-12 Teacher Training

Aside from knowing how to provide literacy intervention and/or accommodations to students in class, perhaps the most important thing for a teacher of students with dyslexia to have is empathy for the challenges these students face in school. In order to develop this understanding, teachers are expected to have done one or both of the following:

1. Watch The Big Picture (HBO documentary available via your GCISD login credentials in the Safari Montage media library) designed to inform audiences about life with dyslexia.

2. Participate in a Shelton School Dyslexia Simulation to be held in GCISD during the first month of school.

  1. Level 1 Trainings offered centrally to any K-12 teacher who has never participated in a Shelton School Simulation, September 1, 3, or 9th from 4-5:30 at PDEC. Register in Eduphoria.
  2. Level 2 Trainings offered for the first time this year on every elementary campus. This training will provide teachers with a recap of the info in the Level 1 simulation and extend this to build teachers' capacity to more effectively support students with dyslexia. The session dates will be as follows (3:15-4:45):

9/8: Timberline Elementary

9/10: Silverlake Elementary

9/15: Heritage Elementary

9/16: Colleyville Elementary

9/17: Bransford Elementary

9/22: Bear Creek Elementary

9/23: Grapevine Elementary

9/24: Glenhope Elementary

9/29: OC Taylor Elementary

9/30: Cannon Elementary

10/1: Dove Elementary

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What is a Learning Commons?

Many teachers may have noticed last year that their librarians were making changes and redefining their practices and their spaces. This year, the trend will continue - beginning with the new name for the space! After a year of reconceptualizing the purpose of the space formerly known as the library (cue Prince music :)), principals and librarians agreed upon renaming the space the Learning Commons. The goal of this renaming is to communicate that this space is the hub of learning in the school. It should be a place all teachers and students interact with on a frequent basis - large group projects, small group work, class lessons, co-teaching, PLC meetings, parent functions, makerspaces, and much, much more.

Watch for more information from your campus' librarian about all of the ways they can work with you to enhance instruction.