The Roar

November 30, 2015

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." ~Albert Einstein

Chatham's Chattering

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Whew! As most of you know, we've been battling "the plague" in our household. After almost a week of being sick, I am thankful to be on the mend. Clent is still struggling, but I am certain we will be back in force on Monday. While I missed out on all the festivities, I am still thankful for the time at home to reflect and recover. I am also thankful to be a part of this Harbins family. I have missed you all and look forward to being back with you next week.

As we continue our work and focus on refining our practice, I thought this Marshall Memo would be a great reminder of some key points regarding formative instructional practices. I am attaching a good portion of the entire document because there are so many great nuggets in here. These are summaries of the original publications, but the links are attached should you want to dig deeper. It's a quick and easy read, but one that will be worth your time.

I hope you have enjoyed your break and feel rested and rejuvenated! Are you ready to make it happen?

It’s GREAT to be a Harbins Tiger!


Marshall Memo 612

A Weekly Round-up of Important Ideas and Research in K-12 Education

November 16, 2015

In This Issue:

1. Key insights from Grant Wiggins

2. Richard Stiggins on formative assessment

3. Asking the right questions in PLCs

1. Key Insights from Grant Wiggins

(Originally titled “Three Lessons for Teachers from Grant Wiggins”)

In this ASCD Inservice article, Understanding by Design guru Jay McTighe reflects on three central lessons from his colleague Grant Wiggins, who died unexpectedly in May:

Always keep the end in mind. Wiggins said to teachers that when they plan curriculum, assessments, and learning experiences “backwards,” their goals will be more clearly defined, their assessments more appropriate, their lessons more tightly aligned, and their teaching more purposeful. This goes well beyond coverage, says McTighe: “Rote learning of discrete facts and skills will simply not equip students to apply their learning to novel situations… The idea is to plan backwards from worthy goals – the transferable concepts, principles, processes, and questions that enable students to apply their learning in meaningful and authentic ways.” Framing Big Ideas and Essential Questions will lead students to understand the content at a deep level.

Feedback is key to successful learning and performance. Wiggins believed that grades and exhortations (“Try harder!”) aren’t very helpful. Truly effective feedback:

- Is timely;

- Describes specific strengths and weaknesses;

- Uses student-friendly language;

- Gives students opportunities for self-adjustment.

The outcome: students know exactly what’s on target and what needs to be fixed.

Wiggins also believed that teachers should constantly seek feedback on their work – from students (exit tickets and questionnaires); from colleagues (reviewing unit plans and assessments); from formative assessments (“tasting the soup” as it’s made); and by analyzing student work (like coaches viewing game films) and adjusting classroom strategies.

Remember what it’s like to be a learner. “[E]xperts frequently find it difficult to have empathy for the novice, even when they try,” said Wiggins. “That’s why teaching is hard, especially for the expert in the field who is a novice teacher. Expressed positively, we must strive unendingly to be empathetic to the learner’s conceptual struggles if we are to succeed.” Teaching isn’t telling; understandings must be constructed – earned – in the mind of the learner.

One of the most powerful ways to gain empathy for students is to shadow a class for a day and reflect on the experience. This article (summarized in Marshall Memo 557) is a classic example.

“Three Lessons for Teachers from Grant Wiggins” by Jay McTighe in ASCD Inservice, August 31, 2015,; McTighe can be reached at

2. Richard Stiggins on Formative Assessment

In this Education Week interview with Catherine Gewertz, assessment expert Richard Stiggins identifies three common misconceptions:

- That annual standardized tests improve teaching and learning (only formative assessments have the potential to do that, says Stiggins);

- That formative assessment is an event (it’s actually a day-to-day process to give students and teachers a stream of information for next steps in learning);

- That assessment results often discourage students (“Good formative assessment keeps students believing that success is within reach if they keep trying,” says Stiggins).

Ideally, he continues, formative assessments do three things: (a) clarify the learning target for students; (b) tell them where they are with respect to the target; and (c) provide insights on how they can close the gap. “Do you see where the locus of control resides?” asks Stiggins. “It’s with the student.”

Should formative assessments be graded? Students’ progress should be monitored and shared with them, says Stiggins, using clear performance criteria and student-friendly feedback. Sometimes formative assessments provide more-accurate information on students’ skills, knowledge, and understanding than formal assessments. But he’s against grading day-to-day checks for understanding: “My admonition to teachers is, while the learning is going on, and we’re diagnosing and providing good feedback, the grade book remains closed.”

Stiggins describes his observation of a high-school English teacher working with her students to establish criteria for a term paper they’d just been assigned. First she gave students a copy of an exemplary term paper, had them identify what made it so effective, and had them synthesize the characteristics. Then she passed out a poorly written paper and went through a similar exercise. “OK,” she said, “let’s talk about the differences between these two papers. What was it about the good paper that differentiates it from the bad paper?” This discussion, and small-group work that followed, produced a consolidated range of quality on several essential criteria they should be aiming toward in their own papers – their own rubric!

“Q&A: Misconceptions About Formative Assessment” An interview with Richard Stiggins by Catherine Gewertz in Education Week, November 11, 2015 (Vol. 35, #12, p. S4-S5),;

3. Asking the Right Questions in PLCs

(Originally titled “Getting to the Why and How”)

In this article in Educational Leadership, Jason Brasel, Brette Garner, Britnie Kane, and Ilana Horn (Vanderbilt University) say that ideally, teacher teams analyzing interim

assessment results should answer four questions:

- What do we need to re-teach?

- To whom do we need to re-teach it?

- Why did students struggle with this?

- How do we re-teach it?

The problem, say the authors, is that many PLCs focus only on the first two and don’t think carefully about why students did poorly in certain areas, what went wrong instructionally, problems with the assessment itself, and what strategies will improve results. Here are some of questions that effective lead teachers and instructional coaches ask to get their colleagues thinking deeply about assessment data:

- What do you think made some items difficult for students?

- What are some possible sources of confusion?

- What do students’ wrong answer choices tell us about their errors and misconceptions?

- How did we originally teach this concept? What worked? What didn’t work?

- What are the best strategies for addressing the misconceptions?

- What are the best curriculum resources?

- How do you think students will respond to an alternative instructional approach?

“Getting to the Why and How” by Jason Brasel, Brette Garner, Britnie Kane, and Ilana Horn in Educational Leadership, November 2015 (Vol. 73, #3),; Brasel can be reached at

Some notes about Tiger Time

On Common Planning days, you do not need to proceed with Tiger Time. It is a little much for the subs with the transitions.

No Tiger Time on Dec 1.

Send tiger Time groups directly after announcements, please. This is extremely important!

Check out our staff hard at work! We are always learners!

Harbins Staff Calendar

Click the red button to go directly to the staff online calendar. The two weeks shown below is just a snapshot.

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Who Is Making IT Happen

  • Office Clerical Staff for jumping in wherever you were needed on Grandparents Days.
  • Lots of happy grandparents passed thru the doors today. Happy to to have lunch with grandchildren...appreciative of the school for the opportunity...impressed with the food. Several made a point of stopping by on the way out and asked that the lunchroom ladies be told "they are wonderful!"
  • Johnny and all our wonderful custodians for making sure everything was where it was supposed to be last week!

Midyear District Assessments

The content window for teachers to review the District Assessment is now open. You are encouraged to view the assessment prior to administration.

Blueprints and Grade Conversions can be found under Instructional Resources.

Any study guides created for an assessment should be developed using the standards on the blueprint not the actual assessment items.

Part B for the Constructed Response is OPTIONAL. Scoring Guides and Rubrics may be found under Instructional Resources.

The Administration Window is 11/30/2015 - 1/15/2016.

Here is a link that contains a 2-page document with online administration directions and online passcodes for Interim 2.

Also, it is in the shared drive under Staff-SchoolNet and in eCLASS--Harbins Landing Page--Content---Assessment.

DA Schedule

Georgia Milestone Assessment

This is the link to the letter we will attach to the Peek for parents regarding the Milestones results.

Leave Procedures

1) Future Absence/Meeting that you already know about.

a) Put in your leave request through the Portal

b) If Personal, Sick, Common Planning or Meeting with a

County Sub Code, put in for a sub through AESOP. Check to make sure

your absence has been picked up.

c) If County Meeting/Training without a sub code check with Montine.

2) Sickness that arises between 3:00 pm and 6:25 am the next morning.

1) Call the absence line – 678-226-7910 and leave a message

2) Put in a request for a sub in AESOP prior to 6:25 am

3) Put a leave request in the Portal if possible. If not then, put in as soon as you are able

Stellars are assigned ahead of time to cover necessary student meetings and are not set to cover any other classrooms until day of. If you are aware that you are going to be out for any time, sick or personal and even if only for an hour, you need to go into AESOP and put in for a sub. Subs have to be booked for at least a 4 hour period. This does not mean that you will be docked four hours, it just means that the sub will be here for the 4 hours. If it is day of, see Montine for possible stellar coverage.

SchoolNet and RBES

  • You can print out an item analysis from Schoolnet that can be attached to your RBES goals
  • Click here to view and/or print the directions document.
  • A copy of the document is also available on the Shared Drive - Staff - SchoolNet folder and in the eCLASS C&I - Harbins ES Training - Content - Tutorial Videos
  • Please see Mr. Rogers if you have any questions about this process

Classroom Supplies

Each of you should have the totals that you are allowed to spend this year on supplies. If you have any questions regarding this, please let Montine know. The last day to purchase your classroom supplies using your allotted money will be December 18th. Please be sure you have ordered your supplies or given Montine your county order by this date.

Formative Observations

Your 30 minute Formative Observations have started. We look forward to seeing all the great teaching that is happening every day all day in your classrooms!

Dates That Lunch Monitors Are Not Available and Teachers Will Need to Eat in Cafe With Their Class

Teachers will need to eat with their class in the Cafe on the following dates due to no lunch monitors being available:

December 10th

January 8th & 26th

February 5th & 22nd

March 4th & 21st

April 18th & 28th

May 12th

Technology Reminders

  • Technology coaching is open to all instructional staff, either through lessons with students, or for you during planning time. I would love to help you plan for successful technology integration in any way that I can, including model lessons, co-teaching, observing, or working during your planning time. Click here to access the 2nd 9 weeks technology coaching schedule and sign up for a time.
  • Please remember to remove yourself from the lab schedule if you can't come at the time you signed up for. There is no need to email to say that a slot is open.
  • Don't forget to turn off your projectors when leaving your classroom.
  • Tip of the week: want to organize filed & folders for teaching in Google Drive? Here is a great video to help you get started.

Classroom Spirit Award

Each Friday, you will go into the Google Chrome "Friday Spiritwear" file that Montine shared with each of you and enter the total number of students in your class that is wearing a red shirt or Harbins spirit wear. The class showing the most school spirit by wearing red or school spirit wear will get a "spirit paw" to hang on the door. Go Tigers! Show your school spirit and encourage your students to participate!

ABCD Awards

Please send your nominations to Chatham by October 20, 2015, for recognition of staff members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that teaching and learning at Harbins are at the highest levels.

Roar Deadline

If you want to add something to the Roar, it must be sent to Montine by noon on Thursday of each week. If not turned in by Thursday at noon, it will have to be entered into the following week’s Roar. Thanks for your help!

Leaders in Learning

A Chrome file has been shared with each teacher, please go in to list your Leader in Learning each month when Montine sends out the notification email.

Staff Birthdays


Heather Garren 11/30


Shannon Wiley 12/2

Kim Williams 12/2

Through the Eyes of a Child

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