The Bruin Blast

Labor Omnia Vincit

Week #12: November 16-20

Review the Habits of Mind: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood


Principal's Corner

Dear staff,

On Friday, we walked the campus with the Executive Director and the Principals of the Lincoln/ Madison Feeder pattern. Their focus was balanced literacy and the use of data in the classrooms. They were excited to see the implementation of balanced literacy and data in all of the reading classrooms. We did step into a couple of math rooms to show them the consistency of the data trackers throughout all classrooms :-)

As I talked with the Principals I remembered me sharing with all of you how exciting it is to have been able to hire each one of you for Blanton. I truly believe that each of you has the opportunity to make great changes in the lives of students! I am thankful that each of you has the urgency needed to move students at an accelerated pace. I hope that each of you continues to be inspired by the challenge of making a difference in the lives of all students and that you continue to believe that your actions will determine how quickly the achievement gap closes.

THINK BIG, EXPECT MUCH and ALWAYS INSPIRE! Our children need you! Our scholars deserve the very best which is YOU!

Have a great week of teaching and learning and remember that we are BLANTON PROUD and HARD WORK CONQUERS ALL!


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Look what we saw this week!!!



Reading/Writing Corner

Creating Word Nerds: Effective Vocabulary Instruction

Children’s vocabulary in the early grades is a direct correlation to reading comprehension in the upper grades (Scarborough, 1998)

The ultimate goal for vocabulary instruction is for students to transfer new words to their speaking and writing. How can we achieve this effectively AND at an accelerated rate?

Here are some important things to keep in mind as you prepare for vocabulary instruction and introduce new vocabulary in your lessons:

  • Some words are more important to teach than others
  • Students learn words at more than one level
  • Not all word knowledge is equal
  • Students learn better when they experience new words multiple times
  • Looking words up in the dictionary is NOT an effective practice
  • Using student-friendly definitions IS effective, especially when students are able to articulate the meaning in their own words

Students learn new vocabulary through:

  • wide reading
  • rich conversations
  • wordplay
  • direct instruction

Students often wonder what words mean as they read, but they don't necessarily know what strategies to use as they figure out the meaning. The anchor chart below gives 6 strategies you can teach students to use. There are many others.

Dare to Prepare: Using background knowledge to think of what we already know about the topic.

Read Around the Word: Reading the sentences that come before and after the word so we can try to understand it in context.

Look at Text Features: Text features help students understand facts and details found in informational books.

Think About Word Parts: Using prefixes and suffixes gives students the chance to figure out word meanings along with word origins.

Choose a Substitute: Ask the students to think of a word that would make sense in that spot. It's a great way to figure out the meaning of the unknown word. This is an effective synonym strategy.

M & M Words: These are words with multiple meanings. Brainstorm the different meanings students already know for that word. This can also be done in groups. Students can create anchor charts and add to them throughout the year.

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer."
The Matthew Effect

(Stanovich, 198)

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Math Corner

2-4 Mathematicians,

Research shows that many students, especially students with mathematics difficulties, enter mathematics classes without needed prerequisite skills. Lacking the needed skills, struggling students are often disengaged and failed to understand taught concepts.

SMU has developed the ESTAR Modules that contain strategies to help students compensate for their mathematics difficulties and participate in classroom activities.

About the Module Lessons

Research shows that students with mathematics difficulties respond best to structured systematic, explicit instruction. The scripted lessons are organized as follows:

  • Preview, which serves as an advance organizer
  • Engage Prior Knowledge, which provides a review of background information the student should already possess
  • Modeled Practice, which allows the teacher to help a student learn the strategy
  • Practice, which connects the learned strategy to the core mathematics lesson being taught
  • Independent Practice, which gives the student an opportunity to show what he has learned

How will you use the lessons?

  • The lessons are designed to help students with mathematics difficulties (Tier 2 / Tier 3) access the general education mathematics curriculum.
  • The lessons can be taught by an interventionist, classroom teacher, or trained paraprofessional. So, if you have people pushing in your classroom to intervene with a group of students, this is a great resource.
  • The intervention is designed to supplement core instruction, so the intervention time is in addition to core mathematics instruction.

These are all the modules available:

  1. Addition & Subtraction of Whole Numbers
  2. Building, Comparing, & Ordering Fractions
  3. Fraction & Decimal Relationships
  4. Fraction Models
  5. Multiplication & Division Fact Strategies
  6. Multiplication & Division of Whole Numbers
  7. Multiplication & Division Relationships
  8. Place Value

3rd grade & 4th grade received the Modules for: Multiplication and Division Fact Strategies, Multiplication and Division Relationships, Multiplication and Division of Whole Numbers.

2nd grade: on Monday Mr. Freelon will give you the modules for: Addition and Subtraction of Whole Numbers, and Fraction Models.

We are inviting you to use these modules, with Tier 2 and Tier 3 students, especially with students that have been referred to S.S.T.

If you are interested in any of the other modules, please let me know and I will get them organized :)


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We celebrate the GREATNESS in you!!

  • "I'm training for the Mayor's race!!! I did the long run today (7 miles)... and didn't die, vomit or fall, so it was a win!!!!" - Ms. Iwasko
  • This month I would like to focus on us giving thanks!! I am thankful for having such a committed group of teachers that are open to continuously improving their practices for the betterment of students!! It is through a growth mindset that we can also create a growth mindset for students. -Laura Garza

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