Ram Nation News

Week of November 5, 2018


A middle school that cultivates scholars to be catalysts of change, life-long learners, innovators, and competitors in a global society


At Thomas J. Rusk Middle School, our mission is to empower our students to become

college and career ready by providing them a culture of excellence through challenging

opportunities, powerful relationships, and strong community partnerships.

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We are starting our 3rd six weeks!!! We know that how we use our time is crucial.

  • We have set our expectations, have built positive relationship with our students, and have identified the needs that our students have.
  • We continue our collaboration during PLCs to ensure that we have a very good understanding about the upcoming TEKS as well as those our students need to review to master by the end of a specific time.
  • We have worked together creating exemplars to know the level of expectation that we have for our kids and
  • We know that it is super important to have a tight alignment between the TEKS, our instruction, and DOLs to the end of the year assessments.

While I know that I have shared the information in previous years, it provides great insight to what we are currently doing and the need to continue to be extra focused as we collaborate in our PLCs. This week's message comes from "Never Work Harder than your Students and Other Principles of Great Teaching" by Robyn Jackson.

  • "Master teachers use their time differently than other teachers. They spend more time planning than teaching, and on asking students questions rather than talking themselves.

  • Master teachers spend more time designing quality assignments and assessments than they do creating volumes of work for their students and themselves.

  • Master teachers know that it is not the amount of work that is important; it is the quality of the work that matters. As a result, they don't waste time on assignments or activities that will not effectively move students toward mastery.

  • Master teachers are strategic about what they teach and how they teach it. They understand that it is the quality, not the quantity of learning experiences that matter.

  • Master teachers first determine what students absolutely need to know and how well they need to know it before deciding on what learning activities they will use to help students master the objectives. "

As we have about five academic weeks before our students take their ACPs, let's make sure that we continue to prepare our students and be laser-focused on those high leverage TEKS that will support our students be successful in meeting their grade level goals.


Regular attendance is essential to providing students with opportunities to learn. Let's continue to support our students in transitioning in an expedited manner from class to class.

The following is the percent for attendance for the week of 10/29 - 11/02:

  • 6th Grade - 97.60%
  • 7th Grade - 95.78
  • 8th Grade - 96.80% - improved by 0.60%

6th grade continues to be on the lead after 6 weeks and 8th grade wants to take this lead; 8th grade has improved their attendance 2 weeks in a row.

Let's continue to encourage our students to be present and on time on a daily basis. It really makes a huge difference when our students are present learning


  • Coach Clark and Mr. Thornton for their leadership and support with our athletic program. Last week, they led the basketball tryouts to provide our boys the opportunity to be a part of our teams. We look forward to a great season!!!
  • Ms. Winton and Mr. Salazar for their commitment to our students as they supported our soccer teams on Saturday as they faced Franklin MS.

Instructional Practices

Climate and Culture

As you already know, our goal for our climate survey is to rank in the 5th quintile in all areas! This means that all of our areas of our climate survey will be green. Also, we want to provide our students with the opportunities to participate in after school or co-curricular activities as we support our district's goal #4. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and commitment as we continue to engage in various activities that supports building climate and culture. Under Coach Addison's leadership, our students ran, nominated, voted, and selected the Rusk M.S Homecoming Court. Shout out to all of the staff members who came out to support our students and coaches: Ms. Rendon, Ms. Buitron, Ms. Calderon, Ms. Akin, Mr. Geiger, Ms. Davis, Ms. Guerra, Mrs. Woods, Ms. Gray, Coach Addison, Ms. Hayes, Ms. Trent, and Ms. Turnbull. Our student played hard and finished a great season! Thank you so much to our coaches for the support and commitment; our students are lucky to have you: Mr. Thornton, Mr. Willis, Mr. Salazar, Mr. Clark, and Mr. Rivera.


In an effort to inspire and motivate our 6th grade girls to take pride of the school, Ms. Ingram decorated the girls' bathroom and made it look awesome. This is a great example of building the whole child, meet students where they are, and build their confidence and self esteem.

Counseling Queens

We are very proud to announce that Ms. Calderon, Mrs. Mooty, and Ms. Shelby have been selected to participate in the Master Counselor program. This is a huge accomplishment and look forward to continuing to see great things taking place in our counseling department.
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ChatterHigh's College Challenge

We are thrilled to announce that our school is the winner in America’s Most Informed School – 2018 College Exploration National Championships, our students will be receiving a $500 check within 6-8 weeks.

This deserves a huge CONGRATULATIONS! Shout out to Ms. Baker for her leadership and support of our college-going culture.


  • As common assessment scores are available, have students profile (use link to access two samples of profile sheets to use) their assessment and conduct conferences with students so that they know what mistakes they made as they took the common assessment. Also, set goals so they know what they need to do to achieve and make significant progress. (TEI 1.2 and 1.5)
  • As we work on documenting the progress our students are making, remember our policy regarding failure rates and the various opportunities needed to ensure our students are successful. EIA (Regulation) (TEI 2.2, 4.2, 4.5)
  • During transitions, let's make sure to have 100% participation and hold each other accountable to be present in the hallway supporting students. Our goal is to narrate the positive and have at least 10 positive interactions each transition. APs, CICs, and counselors will be working with each one of you to provide individual support. (TEI 3.3 and 3R Positive Attitude/Enthusiasm).
  • Engage learners throughout your lessons and ensure we incorporate bell-to-bell instruction. It will support the increase in student achievement and reduce disruptions. While students are more familiar with engagement strategies such as Think Pair Share, we need to ensure that we have taught, modeled, and practiced these skills in order for effective implementation (TEI 2.4, 3.1, and 3.3).
  • Be very consistent in the effective implementation of various practices discussed during our TEI orientation and lesson alignment conversations. With regards to Alignment (learning objective), the proficient rating states: Focuses students at the beginning and throughout the lesson, by clearly stating (TEI 2.1)
    • What they are learning
    • Why it is important
    • What mastery looks like
    • How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives and explaining to students
  • Submit lesson plans by Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (TEI 4.2)


Monday, November 5-
  • A Day -
  • We will continue to work on sizing students who have not received their school jackets. Also, we will begin distributing student ID badges; this is safety measure and it is a part of the dress code.

  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:45 Monthly Staff Meeting - Library

  • Girls’ basketball game at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Forester Fieldhouse against Long MS.

  • Grades due at 11:59 p.m.

, November 6-
  • B-Day.
  • No Bully Training at Rusk MS - Selected staff members. We will have visitors in the building.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.

Wednesday, November 7-
  • A-Day.
  • 8th grade students will attend a field trip to explore North Dallas High School; please, ensure that the permission slip has been turned in and that students are wearing their uniform.
  • Calibration Walks - We will be walking classrooms checking for alignment, exemplars, and aggressively monitoring.
  • Meet with your grade level teams to align your Lesson Plans, continue the analysis of the common assessment, and analyze data profiles for your students.
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.

Thursday, November 8-

  • B-Day.
  • High school fair for our 8th grade students - Counselors
  • Department Collaboration PLC - Department Chair and AP/CIC
  • 4:30 p.m. After School Program Continues. Remember to clock out at or after 6:00 p.m. during the 2 days that you will stay after school.
  • Students can select from several enrichment clubs such as Anime, Model UN, art, cooking, and poetry among others. Continue to promote your club - Data is being collected and I have noticed that we do not have a lot of interest from students and we need to bring our numbers up.
  • 6:00 - Lesson Plans Due
  • Boys’ basketball game at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Forester Fieldhouse against Long MS.

Friday, November 9 -

  • A-Day.
  • Report cards are printed. Please refer to e-mail and communication regarding failure rates and failures with 67-69.
  • Selected 7th grade students will attend a college field trip to SMU.
  • DEADLINE for teachers to complete the designated supports forms in MyData Portal

Saturday, November 10 -

  • 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - Girls and Boys soccer game at Loos Field Vs. Marsh MS.
Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgment

On November 1, 2018, you will receive a communication from the district regarding the steps to follow to complete the Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgment. Please, access the entire memo by clicking the link above.

To comply with state and federal laws, Dallas ISD requires that all employees complete an Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgement. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 20, using their EAD user name and password, employees are required to log into the Annual Policy and Compliance Acknowledgement application at http://PolicyAcknowledgement.dallasisd.org/ to review and acknowledge the following:

  • Employee Handbook
  • Annual Employee Notification of District Policies
  • Conflict of Interest Notice
  • State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) Reporting Notice
  • Confidentiality Requirements

Visit the Annual Policy and Compliance page for more information and access to the documents (you must be inside the district's network to complete acknowledgement). In addition, the deadline for compliance training for all employees with respect to Child Abuse, Copyright Law, FERPA, Sexual Harassment, and The Texas Educators’ Code of Ethics is Nov. 16.

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Teacher Training Video

Here you will find the teacher training video to support you getting started in the use of the LED displays. Face-to-face training forthcoming.

Videos and other reference materials

Here you will find brochures, overview videos and "how to" videos to support you getting started in the use of the LED displays.

Fostering Positive Academic Mindsets in Students

In this report from the UChicago Consortium on School Research, Elaine Allensworth, Camille Farrington, Molly Gordon, David Johnson, Kylie Klein, Bronwyn McDaniel, and Jenny Nagaoka synthesize research on what schools can do to support students’ social, emotional, and academic development, with a special focus on student engagement. “Four learning mindsets are particularly important in supporting students’ academic behaviors, persistence, and performance on academic tasks,” say the authors. When students have these positive mindsets, they apply themselves and are much more likely to be successful in school:

  • I belong in this learning community.
  • I can succeed at my schoolwork.
  • My ability and competence grow with my own efforts.
  • The work has value for me.

Why would a student embrace these beliefs? Home and community influences are important, but so is the climate created by administrators and teachers. Conversely, if students believe they don’t belong, can’t succeed or get smarter, and aren’t working on worthwhile endeavors, they are likely to disengage and do less well.

Academic mindsets can vary through a school day. As students move from one class to another, they may feel more or less confident and accepted depending on learning conditions and instructional practices used by different teachers. Students at different stages of development enter classrooms with a wide range of psychological “backpacks.” In each situation, say the authors, students are asking themselves, “Is school something that ‘people like me’ care about and are good at?”

What are the PD implications of this complex interface of instruction, classroom climate, and student attitudes? “Teachers get better at their craft by reflecting on how their own classrooms might support or interfere with the development of positive student mindsets,” say the authors. “Over time, positive mindsets and active engagement in learning not only support deeper understanding and better academic achievement, but they also tend to increase students’ enjoyment of learning and development of positive academic identities.”

The authors mention nine teacher actions that develop positive academic mindsets and turn around negative mindsets:

  • Setting predictable norms and routines that support respectful student and teacher interactions;
  • Sending clear messages about the nature and purpose of learning and the role of mistakes in the learning process;
  • Explicitly connecting new material to students’ prior knowledge;
  • Helping students “see themselves” in the work by connecting it to their interests, goals, and cultural identities;
  • Developing trust by listening to students and responding to their input;
  • Creating opportunities for student autonomy and choice as well as for collective learning;
  • Showing students models of high-quality work and conveying confidence that they can produce equally good work;
  • Providing frequent and specific feedback on students’ work and opportunities for students to apply that feedback to progressively improving their performance;
  • Ensuring fair grading practices that emphasize growth and improvement.

“Supporting Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: Research Implications for Educators” by Elaine Allensworth, Camille Farrington, Molly Gordon, David Johnson, Kylie Klein, Bronwyn McDaniel, and Jenny Nagaoka, UChicago Consortium on School Research, October 2018, https://bit.ly/2CV7d0j

Happy Birthday

Wishing you the very best!!!

Dolores Reyes – 11/4

Thomas Lowry – 11/4

Taylor Iberosi – 11/16

Destany Morgan – 11/18

Arryan Baker – 11/22

Gabriel Hernandez – 11/26