Ram Nation News

Distance Learning Week 7


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

I am extremely excited about this week because it is Teacher Appreciation Week. Of course, this year, it is very different and you have done an outstanding job adjusting to our new norm, Zoom meetings, Zoom lessons, Google Classroom, virtual learning. We want to take the time to recognize the work done by each one of you and the impact you continue to have in the lives of our Remarkable Rams.

I am excited that you have been a part of my team during my time at Rusk and the transformational work we have accomplished. Continuously, I have enjoyed seeing you in action teaching and interacting with our "little guys". You are a role model who has inspired our students to persevere and do their very best despite of their circumstances. You have stood by our young Rams and supported them along the way. You have proven to our community and our district that our students are like a butterfly, they are proof that they can go through a great deal of darkness and still become something beautiful. Continue to do what is right and stand for equity for our students. Do your magic! Be that beacon of hope to support our "little guys" to find their dreams, motivate them to work hard in order to achieve greatness. We know, it is not about who and where our students are at this time, but who they will become.

Thank you for helping reach and stretch the potential of each one of our Rams.

Happy Birthday!!!

We wish you a great day!
  • Carolyn WebLee 5/8
  • Diane Bush-Wells 5/11
  • Cristina Rocha 5/14
  • Jacey Melchiorre 5/15
  • Monica Rodriguez 5/19
  • Timothy Martin 5/22
  • Ashtian Beck 5/22
  • Phylisia Rendon 5/24

Joining Rusk MS - Recommendations sent to HCM

Our team is hard at work making sure we recruit and hire the best!!!! Teacher leaders and administrative team has been busy for the last three weeks making hiring a top priority. As a result, we have recommended the following personnel to HCM

Mr. Lawrence - Special Education Inclusion

Ms. Karolevitz- 8th grade science

Mr. Chavez - 6th grade science

Mr. Paramo- 6th grade science

Ms. Bonner - 6th grade social studies

Ms. Eze - 6th grade RLA

Mr. Rosendahl - Spanish

Climate and Culture

Our goal for our students is to make sure they are feeling supported, continue to have a connection with our teachers and staff, and have a great learning environment still taking place. Thank you so much for everyone who participated in our Spirit Week! Shout out to Ms. Calderon for coordinating our efforts. Also, thank you so much to Mr. Hernandez, Mrs. Lewis, Ms. Cagle, and Mr. Johnson for their daily motivational message for our Ram Nation. All of our pictures and stories are posted in our Instagram page.

Professional Learning Communities

It was great to see all of our teachers collaborating and sharing their At-Home Learning experience in PLCs. All of these experiences support us in growing better as a high effective team.

I want to apologize to the social studies and electives team because I was unable to get a picture to share here.

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Distance Learning Plan of Action

Monday - Friday - May 4 thru May 8

Teachers and Staff:

  • Transfer period to a High Priority Campus ends on May 8, 2020. Look forward to hearing the great things that will take place with the personnel who has decided to continue the journey to EXCELLENCE here at Rusk.
  • Teacher and staff will clock in at 9:00 a.m. by completing the Clock-In Form
  • Teachers will be accessible online through the instructional day (9:00 a.m. -12:00 noon &1:00 p.m - 4:00 p.m.). Each teacher will have an online designated platform for courses, which can be found on our school Master Directory directly.
  • Teachers will meet with their classes based on the schedule below and keeping our calendar of A/B days for electives. Students needing assistance will be reaching out the teacher directly via email, the classroom platform, or phone.
  • In order to support students with assignments and maintain a good structure, use the sample below to incorporate in your lessons as a way to provide students with a one-pager of activities for the week with the links to the lesson, site, or activities.
  • Review work completed and submitted by students, provide feedback, and assign grades. For Cycle 6, a minimum of 1 grade/week will need to be recorded in the Powerschool Gradebook. While teachers may maintain a separate student gradebook as a part of Google Classroom activities, they are required to enter grades into PowerSchool through PowerTeacher Pro.
  • SPED Inclusion teachers will follow existing schedule of classes, assist teachers, and provide support to students according to their IEP amendment.


  • Follow up with students who have academic plans to ensure they are on track with online and material access to ensure they are successful with work completion and passing grades.
  • They will provide follow up for those students reported by teachers who have not engaged with the our virtual setting. They will use the 6.3 Attendance Sheet filled out last week as a reference to help contact students. They will collaborate with Ms. Alanis, Ms. Strong, and Mr. Kelly to help contact parents/students.
  • Follow up with students who were receiving psychological as well as Youth and Family Services to provide support and guidance.
  • Counseling Services is requesting for Dallas ISD counselors to document their work by filling this link.
  • Meet with the administrative team on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at times scheduled.


  • Meet as Admin Team on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at times scheduled.
  • Coordinate and support food distribution - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

  • Support and sign out during teacher/staff EOY close out - M- Scott, T- Guerra, W- Ford, F- Maymi/Cordoba
  • Respond to parent and student questions and concerns via email.
  • Meet with Mr. Kastl as admin team to discuss virtual learning, academic tasks, and student work.
  • Conduct virtual PLC meetings with content teams. Deliverables: Update Syllabi and Instructional Planning Calendars for @HomeLearning.
  • Admin virtual meeting to review the week and plan next steps based on survey results, parent, student and teacher input.
  • Check calendar invites.
  • Monitor PowerSchool grades weekly and provide support as needed.
  • Participate in ARDs and 504 meetings. Use the Final ARD Script for Administrator Facilitating the Meeting
  • Continue virtual interviews for current vacancies.
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Parent and Student Communication

Communication is key to ensure our students feel supported and are successful. Therefore, we will formally document these phone calls in our Teacher-Parent Contact log.

  • Based on feedback and to provide alignment with our tracking form, we will change to contact our 2nd period as "Advisory" students at least once a week. Of course, this does not mean that our 2nd period teachers will not call students; however, this helps to better align our efforts in attendance tracking. During this time, 2nd period teachers should also check on the data inputted by colleagues so that we can all keep students accountable for completing work in all subjects. Use the Check-In Script provided by our counselors. I understand that we may reach out in different ways such as, ClassDojo, Remind, e-mail, or text; however, hearing a friendly voice means a lot especially when faced in times of social distancing. This will allow students the opportunity to stay connected with the school and for the teacher to help students solve issues or concerns.
  • Our website is updated with information about At Home Learning.
  • Please adhere to technology etiquette and policy guidelines. Teachers should not be directly communicating with students or parents after 9:00 pm and before 7:00 am. We understand if you are providing feedback and do not need student responses, but we cannot expect students to respond, nor should texts and Remind 101 messages be sent after 9:00 pm or before 7:00 am.

Use this School Student Directory to have access to more students' contact information. It is listed by grade level at the bottom of the screen. You can search within each sheet the student's information you need to access.

Below, there are flyers with Emergency Information for the community and information for our families considered Homeless (extended stays fall under this category and we have about 50-60 students who fall under this category).

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SEL Lessons for Students - May 4 - May 7

Refer to e-mail sent by Ms. Woods:

In order to make lessons more interactive, this week we will continue to implement a Nearpod lesson. Ms. Woods uploaded it to our school library. She has uploaded the 5/4 - 5/7 lessons to our school library. The lesson are titled Rusk (Subject) SEL date.


  • Content Area - Lesson Topic

Monday - 5/4

  • Math - Communication

Tuesday - 5/5

  • Reading - Taking Responsible Risks
Wednesday - 5/6
  • Science - Weighting the Pros and Cons

Thursday - 5/7

  • Social Studies - Setting Smart Goals

Below you will find step by step instructions on how to place the lesson in your google classroom.

After signing in to Nearpod

  1. Click on School Library (on the left side bar)
  2. Find the lesson and click Add to my library
  3. Go to my Library
  4. Hover over the lesson and click Student Paced
  5. In the pop up, select add to google classroom

Teacher Appreciation Week

In an effort to celebrate you, our counselors have put together a series of activities to have our students, families, and other staff members participate. Use the information below and post it in your Instagram and tag us or DM @thomasjrusk_middleschool. Please, encourage all of our students to participate.
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Grading Procedures

Cycle 6 (6th Six Weeks): April 14, 2020 = May 27, 2020

  • Teachers will enter 1 grade a week per course
  • All grading categories will be weighted the same. Remember to change all of your categories to Classwork/Homework.
  • Students who are missing assignments will not be given a zero. - The grade for the assignment will be blank. - The missing grade(s) will not be calculated in the final grade for the cycle.
  • Students without grades for cycle 6, will not receive a zero for the final grade. A blank grade will be entered.
  • Final grades will be available to parents/guardians and students on May 27th (ES) and June 10th (MS/HS) via Parent Portal. Parents/guardians may also request the report card be emailed. Parent/guardian identity confirmation over the phone will be required.

See document below to access more information on Grading and how to Resolve Missing Final Blank Grades

Power School Parent Portal - Please, share with parents

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Attendance Procedures


  • Attendance is taken only for the teacher’s “ADA” course (meets at 11:00 am.)

o On Tuesdays

o On Friday

All Teachers are required to confirm participation in at-home learning for each student.

  • Confirmation of participation at-home learning will be used to enter student attendance as “present”.
  • Confirmation of participation in at-home learning can be determined using electronic login by student (Google Classroom, Zoom, Teams, or other learning applications or platforms)
  • Confirmation of participation can be used for any of the three days prior to official attendance accounting on Tuesday and Friday.

Unexcused Absences: Students are only marked as having an Unexcused Absence if the teacher has attempted multiple times to contact parents/students and received no response at all. Confirmation of participation should begin well before the Tuesday/Friday deadline. Teachers should be encouraged to keep a log of participation so that on Tuesday and Friday, they have very few students/parents to reach out to.

Use link below to access an example for secondary campuses.

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Attendance - Work Completion Tracker

We are using the Attendance and Work Completed Tracker each week.

Teachers will still have until 4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays to enter and submit student attendance for their 2nd period students.

This will allow for better alignment and communication as grade levels to ensure that our students are logging into each class and completing work. This will also allow our counselors and CIS to continue to contact students who neither are completing work nor have reported online.

You will also enter the best working number you have for the students in your 2nd period; (if someone is blank and you have a working number please enter it) however, the information for all students in your caseload needs to be entered to better support you.

Technology Support

Please, use and share the tips below as well as the document with our students via your Google Classroom. It is posted in our website as well, but we know that it is more effective sharing in your classrooms.
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Teacher Remote Lesson Design and Online Delivery

Click link to access site. While there is information on using PowerSchool Learning, as a campus, we have agreed to use Google Classroom to ensure consistency for our students

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Webinar schedule outlining dates and times for professional learning. We will have some of our administrative team members attend to support in implementation, but you are welcome to log in and participate for your own learning.

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Instructional Resources

Instructional Resources List

Choice Board

See presentation in this link and video showing you the power of choice boards.

  • A graphic organizer that allows students different ways to demonstrate their learning of a concept. Choice boards are aligned to TEKS and learning goals.
  • Activities that appeal to different learning styles to build student interests
  • Increases students ownership of learning and provides teachers opportunities to differentiate. Content is the priority, but choice boards help build students capacity for decision- making.
  • Very important: Directions for completing choice boards should be clear, but leave room for students to choose activities to demonstrate learning.
  • Define how and when student will submit work.

For more ideas on how to create choice boards visit:

Hickmann Mills ISD- Flexible Learning (Great resource with sample lessons)

Quitman ISD- Life Skills Challenge

Wellness Choice Boards from Caitlyn Tucker: (SEL options)

For Teachers

For Students

Choice Board Template

Choice Boards May 3, 2020 5 34 PM


Make any video your lesson: Choose a video, give it your magic touch and track your students' comprehension.

Engage students: Introduce students to self-paced learning with interactive video lessons. It's easy to add your own voice narration and questions!

Reinforce accountability: Check if students are watching your videos, how many times they're watching each section, and if they're understanding the content.

Special Populations: Guidelines during School Closure

These are the guidelines for teachers serving students receiving Advanced Academics, Bilingual/ESL, Section 504/Dyslexia, and Special Education services as each of these groups has compliance requirements that remain in place during this time.

These are the guidelines for our teachers that serve students receiving Advanced Academics, Bilingual/ESL, Section 504/Dyslexia, and Special Education services as each of these groups has compliance requirements that remain in place during the district closure. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional information as it becomes available.

Important to note, all ARD and Section 504 committee meetings will be conducted virtually through Microsoft Teams. Principals in collaboration with Special Education Case Managers will coordinate these meetings where applicable.

Procedures for Recording a Virtual ARD during COVID-19 School Closures

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Teacher Report & Input -ARD Meetings / IEP Development

In order to provide our students with the best possible IEP plan, your input and report is very important. Use this link to access the teacher report so that our inclusion teachers can plan and prepare for ARD meetings and develop IEPs.

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Counseling Corner

Request for Counseling Services

  • Request for Counseling Services
  • Request for Counseling Services (Spanish) This form is for current Dallas Independent School District students, parents/guardians, or staff who would like to request counseling services for a student from a professional school counselor. Once completed, a member of the counseling team associated with the identified school will contact you regarding your concerns.

One-on-One Counseling Support through Bookings

Through Outlook our counselors have the capability to use Bookings which allows them to chat with students virtually similar to Skype. Students and parents can visit our counselors' booking page whenever they want, book the time and service they need, get a confirmation email and calendar invitation, and reschedule or cancel if they must.

Students may schedule an appointment with our counselors using the Rusk Counseling Booking Link.

Social-Emotional Learning

  • Mindfulness and Emotions: To help find a sense of calm and focus on the present, we encourage both adults and students to practice mindfulness and regulate our emotions. Each of us can build our skills by pausing to breathe deeply, focusing on the present, and allowing emotions to come and go rather than being swept up in one particular train of thought or heightened emotion.
  • Remember to visit Dallas ISD's At-Home Learning for SEL resources for students (available in both English and Spanish). If you feel students need support from our counselors, please refer them to one of our counseling queens team members.
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District Extended Emergency Leave

During an Extended Emergency Leave, some employees (this applies to all of us) may be required to perform limited duties remotely/work from home to maintain key functions of the District (i.e.: activities such as instruction, lesson development, curriculum development, staff supports and business office functions). An employee must be available during normal work hours.

If an employee is unwilling or unable to fulfill their assigned duties on a given day or are not available due to a trip, vacation, surgery etc. they should utilize PTO.

Open Transfer Period (MUST read if planning to transfer)

The Open Transfer application for regular schools will be available starting March 6, 2020. Eligible employees must apply via the open transfer application online at https://www.dallasisd.org/careers within the time frame established. Principals will have an opportunity to submit open transfer recommendations no later than April 10, 2020 for regular schools. If you are seeking a transfer to a High Priority Campus listed here, then you can still participate of the Open Transfer Window until May 8, 2020. Transfers are not final until an approval email notification has been sent from Human Capital Management. All notification will be completed by April 24, 2020.

If you know that you are planning to transfer or leaving the district, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly. As we are working on having a solid and effective team, transfers will not be approved after the April 10 deadline for regular schools or May 8 for HPC. In previous years, I have tried to be flexible and supportive allowing staff members to transfer; however, we have found ourselves in a bind trying to fill vacancies for transfers approved after the deadline. Therefore, while I want to keep as many of you as possible, I know that life happens and some of you will be transferring. Please, plan accordingly and let me know of your next steps.

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CDC Guidelines on Coronavirus Prevention

Site is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Click on the button and it will take you to the website.