Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - May 4, 2015

About the Title

Common Sense was a pamphlet authored by Thomas Paine in 1775-76. It was written to inspire American colonists to declare independence from British Rule at the beginning of The Revolution. This weekly, modern, online relative of that pamphlet documents the news, events, updates, and celebrations of the TJ Revolution - the educational sensation sweeping through northwest Dallas.

TJ Feeder Pattern News in Brief

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Executive Director's Message

May is a special time of the year. Not only do we have an opportunity to celebrate the heroes among us (Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!) we also get to "Make the Most of May!" by continuing to hold our students to high academic and behavioral expectations.

During this most special week of the school year, take time to recognize those who are doing the most important work of our time - educating our youth. Publicly mark (and encourage others to the same) the contributions our teachers are making to the lives of our students in the TJ Feeder Pattern.

One of the most important ways our teachers make a difference is by providing high quality instruction every day. Now is as important a time as any to continue delivering high quality, rigorous lessons so our students are set up for success through the end of this school year and to start the 2015-2016 school year.

I challenge each of you to offer precise public praise to the teachers you see this week fulfilling this most important obligation of delivering high quality instruction. I plan to do the same! Consider shouting out some of your favorite teachers - past and present - on the linked Padlet here. Use the hashtag #ThankATeacher!

Have a great week with students!

Timothy J. Hise

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern

Teacher Appreciation Week Freebies!!

Stories from "The Hub"

School Leadership: Principal Practices in Action (Videos)

This video series follows 10 principals in four metropolitan areas through their workdays, showing how they use five practices of effective school leadership to improve teaching and learning in their classrooms. The practices, described in The School Principal as Leader, are based on more than a decade of Wallace-supported research to identify what successful principals do. The five-video series, produced by WNET, New York City’s PBS affiliate, is also available on the PBS LearningMedia website.
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Solving Lesson Planning Challenges with Backwards Unit Design

from Marshall Memo #585

In this Education Update article, Laura Varlas addresses five challenges teachers face as they plan lessons:

Coverage – Getting through the curriculum is an imperative, but if that’s the main focus, teachers may lose sight of deeper goals. In an English class, says Understanding by Design author Grant Wiggins, planning shouldn’t be about what book is being read but “how students are different when they’re finished reading it.” UbD co-author Jay McTighe agrees: “Just like a coach plans with the game in mind, teach individual skills and knowledge with the performance in mind, not as ends in themselves.”

The fun trap – Many teachers plan cool, engaging activities that don’t necessarily push toward understanding. “Activity-oriented lessons can be fun in the short run, but they’re cotton candy,” says McTighe. “They don’t have any deep nourishment.” Wiggins: “It’s possible to build a model of a working roller coaster but not learn any physics.” He likes to ask students:

- What are you doing?

- Why are you doing it?

- What’s it helping you learn?

The key: deciding on lesson strategies after formulating learning outcomes and how they’ll be assessed. Activities should be a series of steps leading students to being able to perform the objective and explain what they’re doing.

Information overload – “The wealth of free online lesson planning resources can become tempting distractions as teachers sit down to design learning,” says Varlas. The same is true of digital planning software that links a unit to standards and spits out 40 objectives. Teachers need to take a deep breath and (ideally with colleagues) think through the content and what students should learn, focusing on the new standards being taught.

Educator egocentrism – It’s important for teachers to step out of their own mastery of the material and imagine how students will experience it – in particular, what misconceptions they may have and what rough spots they’ll hit. This means working through the material in advance and preparing during-lesson questions that probe for deeper understanding – and then responding nimbly to students’ partial answers and errors.

Lesson plans – Wiggins and McTighe believe the smallest unit of curriculum planning should be the unit plan. “I’m not saying ‘stop planning,’” says instructional coach Mike Fisher. “I’m saying, ‘stop planning for the isolated moment.’” Varlas adds: “Moving away from the potential myopia of daily plans requires schools to shift from isolated teacher planning to collaborative, integrative teams. It also begs principals to question the merit of requiring teachers to submit daily plans. Instead, look for a coherent unit plan with rich, well-aligned assessment tasks built into it.” McTighe sums up: “Don’t micromanage day-to-day teaching. Manage results on things that matter.”

“Writing a Master Plan” by Laura Varlas in Education Update, April 2016 (Vol. 57, #4, p. 1, 4-5), for ASCD members; Varlas is at

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-a-Glance

Monday, May 4
  • Campus Visits
  • ITBS/Logramos Testing Begins

Tuesday, May 5

  • Campus Visits

Wednesday, May 6

  • Campus Visits
  • Principal Focus Group @ Haskell (4pm)

Thursday, May 7

  • Campus Visits
  • ACE School DTR Recruitment Fair @ Adamson (5-8pm)
  • Administrator Mandatory LPAC Training @ Buckner (4:30-6:30pm)

Friday, May 8

  • TJ Feeder Principals' Meeting @ Polk ES (8:30am - 12pm)

Saturday, May 9

  • Dallas ISD HCM Job Fair @ Conrad HS (9am - 12pm)
  • U GOT THIS College Experience @ SMU (Jefferson HS students) - 8am-4pm

On The Horizon

May 1-22 - ISIP EOU Grades K-2/SRI (EOY) Grades 9-12

May 4-8 - Teacher and Teacher Assistant Appreciation Week

May 6 - National School Nurse's Day

May 6 - Principal Focus Group

May 9 - HCM Job Fair

May 11-12 - ACP Performance Tests Grades K-5

May 18-22 - National Educational Bosses' Week

May 18-29 - ACP Performance Tests Grades 6-12

May 25 - Memorial Day Holiday

May 30 - HCM Job Fair

May 30 - Deadline for ZERO VACANCIES

Action Items