Ram Nation News

Week of December 4, 2017


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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A great deal of student achievement lays on the level of motivation students have. A discouraged or unmotivated student will not put forth the effort required to perform above the average. Students can have access to great books, teachers, lessons, and technology, but it will not get students excited about learning, nor will it make students be willing to work hard. Motivation is key in the success of students. Teachers play a very important role in encouraging and motivating students, but since every student is motivated differently, it takes time and effort to get to know how to motivate and encourage each student. Even the best-intentioned and educated teachers sometimes lack the skills to keep kids on track. (See the end of the newsletter for more strategies on how to motivate students)

  • MOTIVATE our students to do their very best so that they would not miss the opportunity to be and feel successful.
  • Be familiar with and implement the accommodations that our Special Education, 504, and ESL students have during testing; if you don't know, please ask!!!
  • Let's continue to review and practice for ACPs using the blueprint and the ACP samples as our guide. By doing so, you are able to determine the critical SEs tested and the level of thinking demand.
  • Let’s make this learning relevant and incorporate engagement strategies to motivate students. Games such as, Jeopardy, use and reference to study guides, stations, and Quizlet are a few examples of engaging activities while reviewing. As we review for ACPs, continue to make sure that you are addressing, What students are learning, Why it is important, What mastery looks like, and How to connect it to prior knowledge and their own lives
  • Be very intentional in the type of work and tasks that you are putting in front of our students. As you know, there are things that students must know and other things that are nice to know; therefore, have a laser-focus on the learning that is critical for each grade level and focus on the must know.

This week's planning review by the leadership team will focus on reviewing the alignment of the LO and DOL, we will look at the actual DOL, and the level of rigor as compared to the STAAR. In classroom visits, we will be looking for teachers implementing aggressively monitoring and using "show call" during instruction.


  • Ms. Calderon and Ms. Shelby for their leadership and coordination of the High School Fair last week. Also, thank you to all the 8th grade teachers who supported our students as they learned more about the various paths available to them with our collegiate academies.
  • Mr. King, Ms. Blanks, Ms. Baker, Mr. Proctor, and Ms. Minter for their support with the implementation of the AVID strategies as they were visited and highlighted during the AVID visit. Our students did an awesome job with their collaboration and inquiry skills.
  • Mr. McCann and Mr. Alarcon for their support and passion for music as they led the band during the greeting of our AVID guests and pep rally. Our students are very confident and sound awesome; they are making believers out of each one of us!
  • Mrs. Buchannon for her dedication in making our cheerleaders the best. She led our cheerleaders during the AVID visit and our students did a very nice job cheering us on unto victory.
  • AVID Site Team for their passion for learning and transforming as well as leadership during the AVID panel. They were able to communicate how AVID continue to support our transformation journey.
  • Each one of our Rusk staff members for coming together as a team in the preparation for our AVID visit as well as during the visit; it was evident that teamwork makes the dream work.

High School Fair

AVID National Demonstration Revalidation Visit

There is so many great things taking place at Rusk MS!!! I am still excited about the great news to know that we received AVID National Demonstration status for another 3 years. I firmly believe that the transformation we are making here is unbelievable; our students deserve it and we are making it happen. The work we are doing and the footprints we are leaving shape the path for a life of opportunity for our kids. Thank you for continuing to be a part of this journey.
Avid national demonstration campus revalidation announcement!


Monday, December 4- A Day
  • District Campus Survey continues - Those who have already completed and sent confirmation may wear jeans all week.... yay!
  • Have you completed your technology inventory? Anybody with technology assigned in office, classroom, laptop, or any other device must complete. Please, see more details below
  • Planning Meeting with CIC/AP - 6th Grade (Math, SS, Science), and 7th / 8th Grade RLA
  • 4:40 LPAC meeting - Ms. Vasquez
  • 4:40 Planning time with team. Remember to follow the Planning Expectations document to support you with the backwards planning design. (you must log in to the website using your EAD credentials.)

Tuesday, December 5-

  • Planning Meeting with CIC/AP - 7th Grade (Math, SS, Science), and 6th Grade RLA
  • 4:25 p.m - After School Continues

Wednesday, December 6-

  • Planning Meeting with CIC/AP - 8th Grade (Math, SS, Science), and 7th / 8th Grade RLA
  • 4:25 p.m - After School Continues

Thursday, December 7 -

  • 9:00 - 12:00 ACP Training for Testing Coordinator - Ms. Woods
  • 4:25 p.m - After School Continues
  • 5:00 Lesson Plans Due
  • 6:00 p.m. Soccer Game Vs Medrano At Franklin Stadium. Let's support our teams!!! Girls team needs to win this game to go to the playoffs.

Friday, December 8 -

  • Weekly PLC - Room 103
  • 3:00 - 6:00 Teaching Trust Teams 2
  • 5:00 - 8:00 Winter Dance - Mrs. Buchannon and Cheerleaders

Saturday, December 9

  • Mayor Race - Let's join in and have a great race. Free for staff members and students. Ms. Addison
  • UIL Competition - Ms. Corray
  • Discover DallasISD at Loos - Leadership Team

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, December 12

  • Last day for tutoring for the semester

Wednesday, December 13

  • 6:00 - 7:00 Winter Program - Band and Cheerleaders

Thursday, December 14

  • 5:00 - 8:00 Christmas Party. Based on feedback received from grade levels .

ACP Testing Dates

  • December 18th is a full day. AM will be testing session; PM will be Social Emotional Learning/Celebration session - No review sessions can be done.
  • December 19th – 21st - half days. AM will be testing sessions

District Climate Survey

Each semester our District sends out the climate survey to staff members in an attempt to

  • improve as an organization
  • gain integral feedback from our school-based employees
  • align systems to student outcomes, and
  • get feedback from employees on their perceptions of climate in their individual schools and for the district as a whole.

To ensure confidentiality, the survey will be administered by an external organization, Hanover Research, an independent education research firm located in Washington DC. While the survey is anonymous and we don't have a baseline for participation, our goal is to have at least 90% of the staff provide feedback.

I want to encourage everyone to respond to an email you will receive by Tuesday, November 28, 2017 to complete the survey. The subject line will be Climate Survey - Dallas Independent School District” If you do not receive the e-mail by Wednesday, November 29, 2017, please check your Junk mail. If you do not receive the e-mail, please let me know and e-mail Conor Kelly at ckelly@hanoverresearch.com and Babatunde Aideyan at baideyan@hanoverresearch.com or call at 202-795-4027.

The deadline to complete the survey is December 13, 2017. You may wear jeans the week of December 4th if you take the survey and send Ms. Saucedo and I the confirmation of your participation.

On MOTIVATION of students!!!

The following are some recommendations that www.onlinecollegecourses.com has published to help teachers explore different ways to motivate students. While it may not be possible trying them all at once, it may be beneficial to implement two or three of them and add more as the school year progresses.

Define the objectives.

Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work.

Create a threat-free environment.

While students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, far more motivating for students than threats are positive reinforcements. When teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their belief in a student's abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do their work. At the end of the day, students will fulfill the expectations that the adults around them communicate, so focus on can, not can't.

Change your scenery.

A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Implement movement and hands-on activities, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.

Use positive competition.

Competition can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition in your classroom, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge.

Allow students to work together.

Students find it fun to try to solve problems, do experiments, and work on projects with other students. The social interaction can get them excited about things in the classroom and students can motivate one another to reach a goal.

Give praise when earned.

Even as adults we crave recognition and praise, and students at any age are no exception. Teachers can give students a bounty of motivation by rewarding success publicly, giving praise for a job well done, and sharing exemplary work.

Encourage self-reflection.

Most kids want to succeed; they just need help figuring out what they need to do in order to get there. One way to motivate your students is to get them to take a hard look at themselves and determine their own strengths and weaknesses. Students are often much more motivated by creating these kinds of critiques of themselves than by having a teacher do it for them.

Be excited.

A great way to get our students motivated is sharing your enthusiasm. When you are excited about teaching, they notice and they will be more excited about learning. Make things fun!

Not all class work needs to be a game or a good time, but students who see school as a place where they can have fun will be more motivated to pay attention and do the work that is required of them than those who regard it as a chore. Adding fun activities to your school day can help students who struggle to stay engaged and make the classroom a more friendly place for them.

Provide opportunities for success.

Students, even the best ones, can become frustrated and demotivated when they feel like they are struggling or not getting the recognition that other students are. We must provide all students with a chance to play to their strengths and feel included and valued.