STAR Staff Newsletter

Week of April 27 - May 1, 2015 Vol. 32

Big image

SUBS & the Rest of the Year...

From now until the end of the school year, we have lots of personal days being used. While I never deny a personal day, please keep in mind that on top of personal day requests, we also have teachers out for professional development, curriculum writing, etc.

A sub will always be pulled for professional purposes first. If by chance, we aren't able to fill a spot with a sub, students will have to be split among the grade level. I understand that this is not convenient, however, it is unavoidable if we don't have enough subs.

To possibly help the situation, I will add the number of subs that are already scheduled to be on campus beside each date from Monday through the remainder of the year (as seen below).


Monday, 4/27 (4 subs)

  • Grades due
  • Michelle @ Region 11

Tuesday, 4/28 (4 subs)

  • Visitors on Campus - AM
  • Fort Worth Science Night
  • Keller ISD Night - Texas Rangers Baseball

Wednesday, 4/29 (2 subs)

  • Charlie - AP meeting PM
  • Module 2 - Snow Day Make-Up @ 3:30 in Library
Thursday, 4/30 (1 sub)
  • Letterland (K-1) Principal Overview - Visitors from other campuses to hear and see Letterland
  • SITs
  • Leadership Team Meeting - in Conference room - YES! We will have this! We must discuss new federal processes next year with regards to the Campus Needs Assessment
  • Charger Feeder Pattern Music Showcase, hosted @ WRES Auditorium - 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Friday, 5/1 (3 subs)

  • Janie Out
  • Charlie Out
  • Amy @ PTA Brag Luncheon (11:00 - 12:30)
Big image

From the Assistant Principal:


Thank you all for your flexibility during this administration of STAAR. I am happy to report zero irregularities/incidents. The majority of the campus was involved with testing and everyone went above and beyond to support the staff, students and families on these days. Thank you all for your continued support, Summer is around the corner J.

RTI/SIT Calendar

-SITs, Thursday, April 30th .

GT Referral Window

-Referral Deadline, May 1st

-May 18-29 Testing

Dyslexia Testing Window

-May 11-29


-May 4-15TH


-May 10-15

EOY Reading DCA 3rd and 4TH

3rd May 20th

4th May 21st

**Any questions about this section should be included in the Meeting of the Minds document and addressed to Mr. Rodriguez.

From the Counselor:

Strategies to Help Students Motivate Themselves


Providing students with freedom of choice is one strategy for promoting learner autonomy. Educators commonly view this idea of choice through the lens of organizational and procedural choice. Organizational choice, for example, might mean students having a voice in seating assignments or members of their small learning groups. Procedural choice could include a choice from a list of homework assignments and what form a final project might take -- a book, poster, or skit.

Some researchers, however, believe that a third option, cognitive choice, is a more effective way to promote longer-lasting student autonomy. This kind of cognitive autonomy support, which is also related to the idea of ensuring relevance, could include:

  • Problem-based learning, where small groups need to determine their own solutions to teacher-suggested and/or student-solicited issues -- ways to organize school lunchtime more effectively, what it would take to have a human colony on Mars, strategies to get more healthy food choices available in the neighborhood, etc.
  • Students developing their own ideas for homework assignments related to what is being studied in class
  • Students publicly sharing their different thinking processes behind solving the same problem or a similar one
  • Teachers using thinking routines like one developed by Project Zero at Harvard and consisting of a simple formula: the teacher regularly asking, "What is going on here?" and, after a student response, continuing with, "What do you see that makes you say so?"


Feedback, done well, is ranked by education researcher John Hattie as number 10 out of 150 influences on student achievement.

As Carol Dweck has found, praising intelligence makes people less willing to risk "their newly-minted genius status," while praising effort encourages the idea that we primarily learn through our hard work: "Ben, it's impressive that you wrote two drafts of that essay instead of one, and had your friend review it, too. How do you feel it turned out, and what made you want to put the extra work into it?"

But how do you handle providing critical feedback to students when it's necessary? Since extensive research shows that a ratio of positive-to-negative feedback of between 3-1 and 5-1 is necessary for healthy learning to occur, teachers might consider a strategy called plussing that is used by Pixar animation studios with great success. The New York Timesinterviewed author Peter Sims about the concept:

The point, he said, is to "build and improve on ideas without using judgmental language." . . . An animator working on Toy Story 3shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. "Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying 'no,' the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, 'I like Woody's eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?" Using words like "and" or "what if" rather than "but" is a way to offer suggestions and allow creative juices to flow without fear, Mr. Sims said.

"And" and "what if" could easily become often-used words in an educator's vocabulary!


A high-quality relationship with a teacher whom they respect is a key element of helping students develop intrinsic motivation. What are some actions that teachers can take to strengthen these relationships?

Here are four simple suggestions adapted from Robert Marzano's ideas:

1. Take a genuine interest in your students.

Learn their interests, hopes, and dreams. Ask them about what is happening in their lives. In other words, lead with your ears and not your mouth. Don't, however, just make it a one-way street -- share some of your own stories, too.

2. Act friendly in other ways.

Smile, joke, and sometimes make a light, supportive touch on a student's shoulder.

3. Be flexible, and keep our eyes on the learning goal prize.

One of my students had never written an essay in his school career. He was intent on maintaining that record during an assignment of writing a persuasive essay about what students thought was the worst natural disaster. Because I knew two of his passions were football and video games, I told him that as long as he used the writing techniques we'd studied, he could write an essay on why his favorite football team was better than its rival or on why he particularly liked one video game. He ended up writing an essay on both topics.

4. Don't give up on students.

Be positive (as much as humanly possible) and encourage a growth mindset.


Have students write about how they see what they are learning as relevant to their lives. Researchers had students write one paragraph after a lesson sharing how they thought what they had learned would be useful to their lives. Writing 1-8 of these during a semester led to positive learning gains, especially for those students who had previously been "low performers."

It is not uncommon for teachers to explicitly make those kinds of real-life connections. However, research has also found that this kind of teacher-centered approach can actually be de-motivating to some students with low skills. A student who is having a very difficult time understanding math or does just not find it interesting, for example, can feel threatened by hearing regularly from a teacher how important math is to his or her future. Instead of becoming more engaged in class, he or she may experience more negative feelings. These same researchers write:

[A] more effective approach would be to encourage students to generate their own connections and discover for themselves the relevance of course material to their lives. This method gives students the opportunity to make connections to topics and areas of greatest interest to their lives.

What other strategies do you use in the classroom to reinforce any of these four critical elements of intrinsic motivation?

**Any questions about this section should be included in the Meeting of the Minds document and addressed to Mrs. Smythe.

Library Lingo

It’s amazing to see how Reading Bingo participation has increased in the four years I have been at WRES. I think my first year, there were 17 kids that finished all of the cards and got to come to the party. My second year we had 47 kids finish. Last year there were 68 kids that finished, and this year we have exactly 100 kids who will get to come to the party and receive the free shirt. I am amazed at the perseverance our students have put forth. Thank you for encouraging them along the way!

The last day for students to check out books will be on Friday, May 8 and all student books need to be returned to the library by Friday, May 15.

This is a little earlier than I had originally wanted, but the district is changing the library database system we use from Alexandria “Alex” to Destiny. Every librarian in the district has been instructed to inventory every book in their school library and get everything checked in before the migration happens, which will be before this year is completed. Overwhelmed would probably best describe how this is making me feel. When I have decided how the items that are checked out to teachers long-term will be inventoried, I will send further information.

Week of April 27-May 1

· It will be back to normal with library lessons and book check-out for Tuesday, Wednesday, and part of the day for Thursday classes that happen to come from 12:45 to 2:45. If you are a class that comes on Thursday mornings between 8:30-11:30, please make a note that I will need you to bring your class on Friday morning this week instead. The library is being used for a principals’ meeting on Thursday morning.

Week of May 4-8

· Looks like a normal library week for all!

· Friday this week is the last day for students to check-out books

May 11-15

· Thursday classes will need to bring their students on Monday, May 11 this week for their lesson. Tuesday and Wednesday classes will run as scheduled. Because books can no longer be checked out, I will prepare some kind of 30 minute lesson/activity. Teachers may drop off students and return at pick-up time. I don’t need you hanging around unless that is what you like doing with your FREE time!

· The BOGO Book Fair begins Thursday and continues on Friday and the following Monday. Feel free to bring your class down to look/shop at any time to the fair. There is no structured schedule for when to visit.

· Beyond the buy a book, get a book free sale, there is no additional discount offered to teachers during this particular sale.

May 15 is the hard due date for all student books to be returned.

May 18-22

· BOGO Book Fair ends at the end of the day on Monday at 3:30.

· Special opportunity for anyone interested on May 19 & 20!!!

There are tons of kids who are excited to check out a Yearbook, an I Spy book, or a drawing book from the library when they come weekly for book check-out, but their teacher wants them to get a book with words that they can practice reading….hmm….imagine!

I thought it would be fun to offer a time where you can bring your class for a 20 minute block of time and I will have all of the yearbooks, I Spy and drawing books set out with paper and pencils for the students to enjoy. It will be a very relaxed time. Did I mention that you don’t have to stay with your class either?

A sign-up sheet in Google Docs has been created if you would like to participate. The link is:

May 21

Reading Bingo Party: The entertainment will start at 10:00, so please send your kids that earned this privilege to the library around 9:45.

May 22

Mrs. Evers will be here from the Watauga Public Library to share with students about the summer reading program and activities. I will send out a schedule when it gets a little bit closer for the time assigned to your grade level.

May 27

The library space will be utilized by 3rd Grade who will be hosting there 2nd Annual Market Days.


· Six Flags tickets should arrive around mid-May. I will pass them out to teachers when they arrive. You may want to discuss as a grade level whether you want to disburse right away or hold onto them for your end of year awards ceremonies.

· I will make up certificates for you to pass out to your students that participated in the Six Flags Read to Succeed program.

· I will also make up certificates for students that participated all the way for Reading Bingo.

· I am still working on a game plan for how professional development books checked out under your name through the library will be collected this year. Stay tuned…

**Any questions about this section should be included in the Meeting of the Minds document and addressed to Mrs. Tassone.

From your Instructional Coach:

see "Writing Poems" video below

**Any questions about this section should be included in the Meeting of the Minds document and addressed to Ms. Hill.
Writing Poems
Big image