9.04.15 Staff Update

A Communication Tool for the Seven Hills Staff

Personalized Learning at Seven Hills: Learning Targets

A critical component of providing a personalized approach to learning at Seven Hills Elementary, is having a deep understanding of the standards students are responsible for learning and designing instruction aligned to both the rigor of the standard and student need. When teachers have clarity about what it is that students are expected to know and be able to do, they are able to make better instructional decisions gauge student mastery, and plan intervention and extension based on formative assessment data. Susan Brookheart promotes that every lesson must have three key elements:

  • Student "look fors"
  • Performance understandings
  • A formative learning cycle that feeds the learning forward, including: questioning, feedback, peer assistance, and self-assessment.

Learning targets help drive and provide direction for this cycle, much like using a GPS to navigate a road trip.

Learning targets are short term goals or statements, which clearly state what the students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of the lesson. Clear learning targets are:

  • written in kid friendly language
  • specific to "what" and "how"
  • specific to what criteria will be used to determine mastery

When learning targets are a natural and consistent part of the learning environment, students begin to take charge of their own learning, set their own learning goals, assess their own learning, and choose the most effective strategies to improve their work. Students are able to answer three basic questions:

  • Where am I going?
  • Where am I now?
  • How can I close the gap?

In their book, Moss and Brookhart state, “The most effective teaching and the most meaningful student learning happen when teachers design the right learning target for today’s lesson and use it along with their students to aim for and assess understanding.”

Learning targets will be used to drive instruction at Seven Hills, and I understand that everyone has a different level of understanding and comfort with them. We will offer mini-sessions on developing targets as well as offer self-paced learning opportunities throughout the year. If you are interested in refreshing your understanding of learning targets or would like additional professional learning about using learning targets to provide clarity to your instruction, I encourage you to look at the following:

Updates and Information

What's Happening Next Week at The Hills?

  • Tuesday, September 8th:
- Grade Level PLCs during planning, Instructional Team Leaders will receive agenda

- Curriculum Night Planning Meeting, 3:15 cafeteria

  • Wednesday, September 9th:
- Fire Drill

- Kim Blackburn off campus at training

  • Thursday, September 10th:
- Kim Blackburn off campus at District Leadership Team Meeting

- Staff Meeting, 3:15 - 4:30

  • Friday, September 11th:
- Grandparent's Day, 7:45 - 8:45 am

Happy Birthday To:

Laura Dial (belated) 9/2

Penny Blanchard 9/8

Laura Sammons 9/10

Curriculum Night is Tuesday, September 15 from 6:00 - 7:30 (Title I Meeting at 5:30)

Curriculum Night is quickly approaching, and I am getting excited about the slightly different approach to parent learning. The event will begin at 5:30 with a parent information meeting about Title I. From 6:00 - 7:30, parents will be able to attend multiple sessions with grade level parent information sessions and curriculum based sessions to choose from. This is an exciting opportunity to share all of the wonderful instructional approaches and programs The Hills has to offer, while also offering parents sessions on how to support their students at home!

While campus communication has been and will be sent home to parents, please make sure you invite parents to "Pop" in for Curriculum Night, where we will serve popcorn and soda pop! The PTA has secured movie theater popcorn for the event! Yum! We will also provide an activity room for students, so that parents can focus on the learning during each session. (A paper copy invitation and course outline will be sent on Wednesday, September 8th. The same information will be emailed on Monday, September 14th, and a half-sheet paper reminder will be sent on the 15th.)

There will be a planning session to support all sessions, as well as those sessions with vertical alignment on Tuesday, September 8th at 3:15 in the cafeteria. Bring your resources and creative ideas! The outline of sessions will be sent prior to the planning session.

Help Needed! If you are a staff member not presenting a session at Curriculum Night we do need your help! Please use the following link to sigh up for an activity: https://docs.google.com/a/nisdtx.org/document/d/18lGV5PqieuV4f4VOLQwcVvd0ibtMa5DB-oQsONHmevA/edit?usp=sharing

Friday, September 11th is Grandparent's Day at Seven Hills!

This is an exciting morning for our families. Please make sure you have sent home communication to parents both inviting grandparents or special guests as well as a call for breakfast items to be donated.

Each grade level team will set up a table in the hallway for the light breakfast. Teams should have a brief activity your students can do with their grandparent. Grandparents and students will have an opportunity to take pictures with the PTA. Please thank them for their time and say your goodbyes between 8:15 and 8:30a.m. Our goal is to end the event by 8:45 a.m.

In a Classroom Near You...

One of our campus goals this year is to establish and maintain effective lines of communication between the home and school. At the campus level, we have established the following communication tools:

  • Seven Hills Star News: a newsletter from the Principal's office, sent home via email twice monthly. If you have news that needs to be shared in the Star News, email me with the text, and copy Wilma Adams.
  • Seven Hills Campus Facebook Page: A campus fan page has been set up on Facebook. This page is separate from the "Seven Hills Family and Friends" page, and will be used to share campus news and updates, as well as campus special interest stories. If you have a story or activity in your classroom that you would like shared, contact me,Leslie Russell or Q. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to "like" our page. Please encourage parents to "like" our page as well, explaining that this page is separate from the PTA Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SevenHillsElem
  • Campus Website: If you have updates needing to posted on the front page of our campus webpage, contact Q.
  • Campus Twitter: please communicate our campus Twitter handle to parents. We will determine a campus hashtag in our staff meeting this week. @7HillsNISD

Several teachers and grade level teams have been using some creative approaches to establishing lines of communication as well! If you are interested in learning more about any of these ideas, please contact the teachers or grade levels listed!

  • Communication Magnets: Share your contact information with parents on a magnet that can be placed on refrigerators, message boards, etc. at home! This is a great quick reference for parents. Thank you Chrissie Vann, Amy Davis and Fifth Grade for sharing your magnets with the group!
  • S'More Newsletters: Several grade levels are using S'more for their grade level newsletters. This is a relatively user friendly tool, that organizes and presents your newsletter content in an almost "blog like" format. The benefit is that parents can open on their mobile devices and it doesn't loose it's formatting. I started using S'more this year for my staff updates, and am slowly but surely learning all of the tricks and tools. If you want more information on using S'more, contact Third Grade and Fifth Grade. For a grade level example: https://www.smore.com/6hh8j


  • Please read the email from Tanya carefully regarding BOY assessments. IF you have questions, please check with Leslie, Team Leaders and/or mentors. Mentors, please check in with any new staff to see if they need any support with BOY assessments.
  • Use the Beginning of Year Checklist as a guide to help you make sure all beginning of the year tasks and requirements are completed in a timely manner.
  • Don't forget to sign up for a time for me to read the first book of the month or another book to your class. The sign-up sheet is posted on my office door. If you need a time that is not listed, ask...I will add or adjust the schedule.
  • Beginning of the year conferences with me will begin after I complete classroom BOM visits. A sign-up sheet will be sent via Google Drive next week. I know this is on the BOY checklist, and I promise the schedule is coming. :).
  • Please make sure your wreaths are finished by the end of the week. The box of pins has not been returned to me yet, please check your rooms for this box. I have more ribbon in my office for those who need it. The wreaths will be delivered to those who indicated they needed one on Tuesday.
  • Our halls continue to look AMAZING! I honestly believe that our students enjoy the halls as much as we do, and the environment has generated a sense of pride. Students want the place they come to learn to be inviting, athletically appealing, and well kept. As I have noticed poppies drooping, and corners of the yellow brick road coming up, I have been putting them back up. Please do the same.
  • All communication going to an entire grade level or the entire school must be turned in to the front office. A "Campus Communication" binder has been set up in the front office. Please either turn the paper copy in to Dora OR place the copy in the appropriate grade level, specials, or after school activity section according to the tabs in the binder. This will ensure that we are able to efficiently answer parent and student questions.