Final 7 Days of the Fall Semester

The Week of December 14+ with Period 1, 2, & 7 exams Friday

Good afternoon Viking Leaders,

We are there. Seven short days until the end of the semester! As we prepare to wrap up final exams and spend time with loved ones over the break, please enjoy your Viking Notes for the Final 7 days of the Fall Semester

This week’s Mission Moments

Francis Howell High School is committed to working in partnership with the community (staff, students, parents, and community members) to provide a quality learning environment that promotes continuous improvement for students in achievement, attachment, and behavior.

Instructional Insights and Celebrations

Classroom Practices That Boost – and Dampen – Student Agency

In this paper from Harvard’s Achievement Gap Initiative, Ronald Ferguson, Sarah Phillips, Jacob Rowley, and Jocelyn Friedlander report on their study of the ways in which grade 6-9 teachers in 490 schools influenced their students’ non-cognitive skills. The central variable that Ferguson and his colleagues measured was students’ agency. This, they write, “is the capacity and propensity to take purposeful initiative – the opposite of helplessness. Young people with high levels of agency do not respond passively to their circumstances; they tend to seek meaning and act with purpose to achieve the conditions they desire in their own and others’ lives. The development of agency may be as important an outcome of schooling as the skills we measure with standardized testing.”

The researchers used data from Tripod surveys of students’ perceptions of their teachers to examine how Ferguson’s “Seven C” components of instruction (caring, conferring, captivating, clarifying, consolidating, challenging, and managing the classroom) influenced agency, which manifested itself in the following ways:

- Punctuality – The student tries hard to arrive to class on time.

- Good conduct – The student is cooperative, respectful, and on task.

- Effort – The student pushes him- or herself to do the best quality work.

- Help-seeking – The student is not shy about asking for help when needed.

- Conscientiousness – The student is developing a commitment to produce quality work.

- Happiness – The student regards the classroom as a happy place to be.

- Anger – The student experiences this in class, which may boost or dampen agency.

- Mastery orientation – The student is committed to mastering lessons in the class.

- Sense of efficacy – The student believes he or she can be successful in the class.

- Satisfaction – The student is satisfied with what he or she has achieved in the class

- Growth mindset – The student is learning to believe that he or she can get smarter.

- Future orientation – The student is becoming more focused on future aspirations (e.g., college).

The researchers also identified a number of disengagement behaviors – the opposite of agency: faking effort, generally not trying, giving up if the work is too hard, and avoiding help.

What did the data reveal? Ferguson and his colleagues found that some teaching behaviors were agency boosters and others were agency dampers, indicating the delicate balance teachers must maintain between what they ask of students (academic and behavioral press) and what they give students (social and academic support). The details:

Agency boostersRequiring rigor came through strongly in the study – asking students to think more rigorously by striving to understand concepts, not simply memorize facts, or to explain their reasoning. This boosts mastery orientation, increases effort, growth mindset, conscientiousness, and future aspirations – but sometimes diminishes students’ happiness in class, feelings of efficacy, and satisfaction with what they’ve achieved. “These slightly dampened emotions in the short term,” say the researchers, “seem small prices to pay for the motivational, mindset, and behavioral payoffs we predict to result from requiring rigorous thinking. Combinations of teaching practices – for example, appropriately differentiated assignments, lucid explanations of new material, and curricular supports to accompany demands for rigor – seem quite relevant in this context.”

Agency dampersCaring may sometimes entail coddling: “in an effort to be emotionally supportive,” say the authors, “some teachers may be especially accommodating and this may depress student conduct as well as academic persistence.” Conferring can sometimes lack a clear purpose, which can undermine student effort and reduce time on task. Clearing up confusion can occur too automatically, with teachers doing the work for students and denying them the incentive and opportunity to diagnose and correct their own misunderstandings, which diminishes effort and conscientiousness.

Future-orientation boostersCaring and captivating are the teaching components most closely associated with college aspirations, the researchers found.

Achievement boostersChallenge and classroom management are the components correlated with students doing well on standardized tests, as the Measures of Effective

Teaching study found.

“The point is not that there is a trade-off between annual learning gains and higher aspirations,” say Ferguson and colleagues. “Instead, the point is that the most important agency boosters for each are different. A balanced approach to instructional improvement will prioritize care and captivate to bolster aspirations, and challenge and classroom management to strengthen the skills that standardized tests measure. Certainly, without the skills that tests measure, college aspirations might be futile. But in turn, without college aspirations, the payoffs to those skills may be limited.”

Here is their distillation of ten classroom practices that develop agency:

- Care – Be attentive and sensitive, but avoid codding students in ways that hold them to lower standards of effort and performance.

- Confer – Encourage and respect students’ perspectives and honor student voice, but do so while remaining focused on instructional goals – and don’t waste class time with idle chatter.

- Captivate – Make lessons stimulating and relevant while knowing that some students may hide their interest.

- Clarify with lucid explanations – Strive to develop clearer explanations, including how the skills and knowledge you teach are useful in the exercise of effective agency in real life – especially for the material students find most difficult.

- Clarify by clearing up confusion – Take regular steps to detect and respond to confusion in class, but do so in ways that share responsibility with students.

- Clarify with instructive feedback – Give instructive feedback in ways that provide scaffolding for students to solve their own problems.

- Consolidate – Regularly summarize lessons to help consolidate learning.

- Challenge by requiring rigor – Press students to think deeply instead of superficially about what they are learning. Anticipate some resistance from students who might prefer a less-stressful approach – but be tenacious.

- Challenge by requiring persistence – Consistently require students to keep trying and searching for ways to succeed even when work is difficult.

- Classroom management – Achieve respectful, orderly, and on-task student behavior by using clarity, captivation, and challenge instead of coercion.

“The Influence of Teaching: Beyond Standardized Test Scores: Engagement, Mindsets, and Agency – A Study of 16,000 Sixth Through Ninth-Grade Classrooms” by Ronald Ferguson with Sarah Phillips, Jacob Rowley, and Jocelyn Friedlander, a paper from The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, Oct. 2015, adapted by KM

FHSD descriptors for use of high quality Marzano strat

Here is a listing of the high quality implementation (OFIC) of the Marzano/McRel strategies

Happy Viking Staff Birthdays!















This week’s Viking in-the-know tidbits:

1. If you are involved in Secret Santa, activities begin on Monday! Fun, fun.

Please see Jessica Aebischer with any questions. Thanks and Happy Holidays from Viking Way!

2. For those interested, information on possible staff reductions for the 16-17 school year should be posted on FHSD web site in the Board of Education documents beginning later today. In this challenging time, understanding the information in these documents will be important to

  • Help us all be sensitive to the reality of the situation and especially those who may be impacted
  • Avoid hurtful rumors and gossip

FHHS has a great staff made up of very caring and professional people. It seems this situation may provide opportunities for us to value and appreciate those qualities in each other most.

3. After the department survey results were collected, we will continue with the 15-16 plan to have the spring conferences on February 4 (Progress Report Day) and March 3 (End of Quarter March 8)

4. A question about why we are focusing on parent communication at the January 28 faculty meeting was brought to Dave Wedlock. The response is that this topic was brought to administration by some faculty. To address it, Dr. Wedlock has talked with faculty across the building to learn some of the best practices in this area currently in use at FHHS that could be shared faculty wide at a meeting. We'll share this information and a bit of fun with some awesome teacher volunteers who will roll play some scenarios for us. To top it off, we'll enjoy a brief information session from Carl Wayne on the use of Infinite Campus to send emails to parents and Remind (Formerly Remind 101) to communicate with students and parents since it has been effective for several staff here. Currently the FHHS parent survey results show an average 95.6% agreement with 667 responses on the five key questions all buildings in the district ask their parents to respond to each year. Clearly, the staff is doing a wonderful job in working with parents and we are continuing our efforts to share and build on the successes and add skills in this area.

5. What is the PD committee up to? This month, we reviewed the faculty responses to the PD questions on the department survey, discussed next semester's plans to focus on how we teach students to use effective reasoning to support their claims, and began a conversation about what 16-17 building PD at FHHS may look like. Please see a PD committee member for more information.

6. What are the Top FHHS School Improvement Achievements over the last 12 months? Click here to vote:

7. FYI: Electronic transcripts are now available to students and include their ACT score. Thank you, FHHS guidance, for working through this change.

8. Streaming Radio

Streaming Radio was routinely one of the District's largest consumers of bandwidth. Over the past month, Technology has been closing many of the online streaming radio sites, and will continue to do so as more pop up. This has greatly increased the reliability of our network, and has provided a much better quality of service for network usage.

This Week's Scheduling Notes:


Full day of learning


Full day of learning / Semester Review


Full day of learning / Semester Review

No Howell Time/Early Release Schedule


Full day of learning / Semester Review

Friday, Dec. 18, 2015

7:20-8:50 First hour exam (90 mins.)

8:55-10:25 Second hour exam (90 mins.)

All students must be dismissed from 2nd Hour at 10:25!


10:30-12:15 Fourth hour

Lunch Sessions

  • 4A/B 10:30 – 11:20 4A 10:25 - 10:55
  • 4B/C 10:55 – 11:45 4C 11:20 - 11:45
  • 4C/5A 11:25 – 12:15 5B 12:20 - 12:45

11:25-12:45 Fifth hour

  1. 5A/B 11:50 – 12:45


12:50-2:20 Seventh hour exam (90 mins.)

Monday Dec. 21, 2015

The day will follow a “Late Start Format” with students arriving on campus

at the usual time. All staff arrive at the regular time.

7:20 - 8:10 Late Start Format (Please supervise your classroom, hallway, and nearby stairwell areas)

8:15 - 9:45 Third hour exam (90 mins.)

9:55 - 11:25 Fourth hour exam (90 mins.)

11:25 Winter Staff Luncheon in the commons at 11:30. Afterward, teachers will remain and grade examinations and calculate semester grades.

Tuesday Dec. 22, 2015

The day will follow a “Late Start Format” with students arriving on campus

at the usual time. All staff arrive at the regular time.

7:20 - 8:10 Late Start Format (Please supervise your classroom, hallway, and nearby stairwell areas)

8:15 - 9:45 Fifth hour exam (90 mins.)

9:55 - 11:25 Sixth hour exam (90 mins.)

11:25 Teachers will remain and grade examinations and calculate semester grades.

Monday, Jan. 4, 2015

Faculty meeting the library, 9:00-10:00 am

Teachers asked to hold 2 hour PLC meeting on 1/4 to debrief semester one and move toward semester two.

Teachers must have all of their grades ready to be electronically exported by the Data Processing Dept. NO LATER THAN 12:00 p.m.

Note: Please drop off all examination make-up request forms and examinations to the department’s supervising principal’s office no later than 2:00 p.m. on FRIDAY, Dec.22, 2015.

Jan. 6 & 7 Make-Up Final Examination Days 2:30-5:00

Please remember under NO circumstances are teachers to leave their rooms to grade examinations during an assigned examination period.

Students are not to be released from class during examination periods for any reason. (Use discretion for nurse and restroom only.)

REVIEW: There is a three day MINIMUM review period before final exams are administered; however, review throughout the week preceding Final Exams is recommended. The minimum period does not indicate that three days must be spent on review, only that a review must be given at least three days before an exam is presented to students, it is clearly marked if it will be taken for points, and the correct answers are given to students.

Grade Submission and Computation:

Please refer to the I.C. Grading System information that has been/will be sent to you, via e-mail, from our Building Information Specialist (Chris Seaman).

If you have any questions regarding the grading process, please see Chris, who is located in the Guidance Office, or call her at 4837.

Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect at FHHS

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected please make an immediate call to the Children's Division using the information provided at this link. Thank you for all you do to improve and protect the lives of our students.