ACE Weekly Newsletter

January 11, 2016

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In This Week's Issue:

Note from Executive Director


Celebrating Excellence:

  • ACP scores

Articles of the Week:

  • Three Ratios for the Classroom

Video Spotlight

  • Stretch It


  • ACE Site
  • Math SE live binder
  • School Calendars
  • HUB
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Note from your Executive Director

Dear ACE Team,

Happy New Year! Welcome back ACE team. We have much to celebrate and some good data to use for continuing our journey. I can't emphasize enough the power of data to guide instruction. ACP data is strongly correlated to STAAR performance. Please make time to review your data from multiple points of view so you can update your curriculum calendars and provide the best possible instruction and intervention:

  • By student, as compared to STAAR passing standards (Passing, Phase II, Advanced, and Growth for Index 2)
  • By SE in conjunction with STAAR frequency rates and released items
  • By teacher, to gain input and support from colleagues

As I visit classrooms, I try to make a habit of comparing LOs with the STAAR frequency charts to see how many times a particular standard was previously tested, then I compare the DOL to the STAAR released items available for that specific SE. Alignment with content, vocabulary, levels of rigor, scaffolding and format are all so important. This is a great practice to complete daily. With so little time and so much to teach and learn, this study of alignment will increase effectiveness. Please remember the ACE SE breakout booklets and the Lead4ward documents are quick and easy guides to assist you with this alignment work.

As a reminder, the BRES group will be visiting to observe campus transitions and instruction this week. The rubric is linked below and includes the teaching strategies "Ratio" and "Stretch It", also discussed below.

I hope you had a wonderful and well-deserved winter break. Please know we are all grateful for your dedication and efforts.


Jolee Healey

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January 11th-16th

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School Board Recognition Month!

January is School Board Recognition Month, a time to thank local leaders for their dedication and willingness to serve as advocates for children and public schools.

We are so grateful for our Trustees: Nancy Bingham, Lew Blackburn, Joyce Foreman and Bernadette Nutall.

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Congratulations for ACP Growth!

Your hard work is paying off. As a collective, our ACE teams exceeded the district's growth on 72% of the ACPs tests given at both elementary and middle school, as indicated with blue below. Notice several areas with more than 30 points of growth.

We also scored above the district in many areas as indicated by dark green and within five percentage points as indicated by light green.

  • Umphrey Lee outperformed the district on 22 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 7 ACP tests
  • Blanton outperformed the district on 20 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 7 ACP tests
  • Dade outperformed the district on 11 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 2 ACP tests
  • Mills outperformed the district on 8 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 2 ACP tests
  • Zumwalt outperformed the district on 7 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 3 ACP tests
  • Pease outperformed the district on 3 ACP tests and was within 5 %age points of the district on 3 ACP tests
  • Edison was within 5 %age points of the district on 2 ACP tests

If we keep up the momentum and add support to critical areas, we will exceed our first year's performance goals. We are demonstrating that transformation can occur in one year.

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ACE Saturday Math Carnegie Training

Thanks to our ACE math teachers and leaders for attending training this weekend as part of the ACE Carnegie Math Academy. We appreciate your time and engagement!
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Three Ratios for Success, by Dave Levin

1) Positive Interaction Ratios:

The ratio of our positive interactions to our negative ones impacts both joy and learning.

Research by Barbara Frederickson and Marcial Losada has found that the ratio of positive to negative interactions have a profound impact on someone’s cognitive as well as emotional well-being. They found that positivity “equips individuals with the adaptive bias to approach and explore novel objects, people, or situations.”

According to their research, normal human function is characterized by a ratio of 2.5 positive interactions for every 1 negative one. This ratio climbs to 4.3 to 1 for optimal functioning, and then 5 to 1 for successful marriages :). It’s important to note that these interactions are often less than 3 seconds.

Four thoughts to increase positive interactions:

1. Smile more

2. Circulate the room more during lessons noticing and commending positive behaviors and work

3. Use kid’s name more when praising work or behavior in one on one interactions (remember growth mindset praise focuses on effort and actions)

Misconception Alert:
Every interaction must be positive (misconception). Remember this is a ratio. According to research by Daniel Kahneman there are 20,000 moments in the day. This means there is plenty of room for negative interactions – we are just looking to have the ratio tilt more in the positive direction.

2) Questioning Ratios:

Increase the ratio of varied questioning techniques (playing basketball) to static questioning (playing catch) and the ratio of higher level questioning to lower level questioning.

Think of static questioning as a game of catch between the teacher and one student at a time and varied questioning as techniques that have students talking in a variety of different formats (to the teacher, to each other, whole-group oral response, raise your hand if…, in writing to each other, etc…)

Some varied questioning techniques include (For more on certain of these see Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion):

- Call and response
– Pre-call – alert a kid that you are going to call on them next
– Cold call – call on kids without warning
– Half-statements – means you start a statement and then stop mid-way which is a signal for the kids to raise their hands to finish your thoughts
– Fill in the blank
– What’s next/what comes before
– Unbundling – breaking a complex idea into its components.
– Elaborating or building on
– Why/how
– Testing the logic
– Playing dumb – intentionally making mistakes to see if the kids catch them
– Steering cues
– Asking students whether they agree or disagree with another student’s answer

Try elaborative interrogation (coined by Robert Marzano) and Stretch-it (coined by Doug Lemov) to increase ratio of higher-order thinking questions.

Elaborative Interrogation: Forces student to “prove,” “justify,” or “defend” their answers and those of their classmates in a positive manner (of course).

Some Elaborate Interrogation strategies include:

- “What are some typical characteristics you would expect of ______________”
– “What would you expect to happen if__________________________”
– “Why would that be true?” “How do you know that is true?”
– “Tell me why you think that is so?”
– “It seems to me that you are saying _________________”

Stretch-It (from Lemov’s pp.41-47): Reminds us not to stop with simple, correct answers but rather to push students to answer follow-up questions that extend knowledge or test for reliability/correctness (both of their own answers and those of their classmates).

Some Stretch-It strategies include:

- Ask How or Why
– Ask for Another Way to Answer
– Ask for a Better Word
– Ask for Evidence
– Ask Students to Integrate a Related Skill
– Ask Students to Apply the Same Skill in a New Setting

Misconception Alert:
Every question needs to use a ratio strategy (misconception). You need to use these strategies to balance the needs of rigor, engagement, and pacing and timing. If you did a ratio strategy every time, you’d run out of time.

Misconception Alert #2:
These strategies apply only to oral questioning (misconception). These apply just as much to the written questions we structure for kids. Again, we must be cognizant of pacing and timing in all of the decisions we make as teachers.

3) Doing the Work Ratios:

Increase ratio of independent practice compared to guided practice.

Are we having enough sustained, structured, and rigorous independent practice so that our students have sufficient “at-bats” to develop and demonstrate mastery of what they are learning? Toward that end, independent practice allows us to have time in class to work deeply with individual/small groups of students on their level – those who are struggling, those on level, and those ahead. Providing real-time feedback on the quality of work is an essential part of maximizing the effectiveness of student practice.

Four thoughts for increasing the work done by our students

1. Use a timer to keep a hard target for your opening routine and guided practice.

2. Set the expectations for and establish a routine for which kids you are going to work with during independent practice – try working either with a small group or an individual student for an extended time as opposed to hopping from student to student.

3. Create a chart to track the total time kids spend working independently every day.

4. Clearly explain to students what they are supposed to do when they are finished (when in doubt, try reading silently).

Misconception Alert:
More independent practice is always a good thing (misconception). There can be too much independent practice in a class by which teachers are not providing enough guidance or examples to feedback.

Misconception Alert #2:
Independent Practice requires less planning (misconception). Effective independent practice requires actually more planning because it must be differentiated for the multiple levels in our classroom and it also must be clear enough that there aren’t a bunch of questions from students about what they are supposed to do.

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