Winding down from the fall - Gearing up for the spring
This is an incredibly busy year in all facets of the Humanities Department. GCISD is at the mid-point in our LEAD 2021 efforts; it is a pivotal time. This newsletter contains a recap of many updates around the district. Take a few moments at your leisure during the break to see all that is being done to ensure that the mission of GCISD Humanities is closer to being accomplished.
Blessings to you and yours.
The mission of GCISD Humanities is to instill a capacity for communication, empathy, and citizenship through critical thinking, reflection, and appreciation of diverse viewpoints.
K-5 Humanities Curriculum Redesign and Development
See below for a glimpse into the work we've been doing.
Middle School ELA Electives
Students are doing AMAZING things across the district in their ELA Elective classes. Take a look at this book trailer created by Hazel in Mrs. Pelt's Young Adult Literature class at HMS. GOTTA SEE THIS!
Check out a great book!
Dr. Newell has a closet full of some of our most important departmental professional resources. Shoot her a message if you'd like to borrow any of the following (she might even schedule a time to meet you during the holidays if you'd like to read during the break):
Book Love, Penny Kittle
Write Beside Them, Penny Kittle
The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller
Reading in the Wild, Donalyn Miller
The Reading Strategies Book, Jennifer Serravallo
Conferring with Readers, Jennifer Serravallo
Readicide, Kelly Gallagher
Jeff Anderson's entire collection of books (4) on teaching writing. These are fun, accessible, and immediately applicable to teachers in any content area... and just a hint... he MIGHT be a guest at this summer's Humanities Summer Institute the first week of June!!
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Get lost in a good TED talk. A few favorites are:
Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work (his book, The Happiness Advantage, is also awesome!)
Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation (his books are great too!)
Get lost in the TEDed lesson site. Pay close attention to the sections on Literature and Language or Social Studies.
Travel and Learn
Some specific opportunities that extend beyond the boundaries of our district are shown below. The holiday break might be a good time to apply for some of these programs...
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (February 29, 2016 deadline)
The National Endowment for the Humanities Educational Programs (March 1, 2016 deadline)
6-12th grade Unit Design Collaboration
A few campuses/grades have been more focused on completing the templates in the folder this year, and the results they've shared have been encouraging. Some GMS teachers recently relayed that these have led to some of the best instructional planning they've ever done. A few campuses are taking our department up on the offer to cover the cost of subs to invest the time in unit design planning this year. (The first year of any new process takes longer [and is more painful] than subsequent years.) If your teams would like to do this in the second semester, please jot your info on this form. We'll send you sub codes and make plans!
Related to the issue of unit design is the effort to align semester exams in Humanities courses. This year, all middle schoolers took common semester exams in ELA and SS. Some high schoolers took common exams in English, and next year, we'll move to common exams in high school Social Studies. All of these efforts are designed to bring greater consistency to the access students have to an aligned written, taught, and tested curriculum. The common exams also serve as STAAR benchmarks (in applicable grades) and are thus saving time previously used for administering separate benchmarks and semester exams.
The screencasts below can walk you through either the ELA or SS templates and the components thereof. Completing every box of the templates IS NOT THE GOAL. The goal is to spend time with PLTs considering the end goal of the unit and mapping out a plan to teach the requisite skills and knowledge to get there in a way that utilzes best practices and common instructional expectations.
K-12 Adopted Social Studies Materials
Newly Restructured Literacy Intervention Services - Dyslexia and Reading Support
Learning Commons - Libraries Redefined
Many of you took your campus Learning Commons survey at the beginning of the year. Librarians have reviewed this feedback with campus leaders and are working on areas in need of growth. The survey will be given again later this year. Please take advantage of the services in your Learning Commons and tap into the expertise of one of the most helpful people in your school!