The Hero Focus

Heritage Staff Newsletter - January 17, 2017

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Writing Take-Aways

I enjoyed our time together on Friday and hope you were able to take-away some valuable learning. I have been in a training similar to what 3rd and 4th did on Friday, but I am always able to take-away something new.

I will be the first to admit that writing has never been a strength of mine. It definitely was not my favorite “subject” to teach as a teacher. However, that changed when I began teaching fourth grade. Sure, the fear of the STAAR test probably had some influence, but it was more than that. What I saw were my students sharing journals of their writing. Some struggling to write a complete sentence and others with pages filled with beautiful and powerful words. I was their teacher, but at a loss of how to best teach writing. I have learned that some of the easiest strategies don’t come from a book or manual…

Students need both the skill and the will to develop as writers. As teachers we should establish a supportive environment in the classroom to build a community of writers who are motivated to write well. In a supportive writing environment teachers participate as writers to demonstrate the importance of writing. By taking part in writing lessons and activities, teachers convey the message that writing is important, valued, and rewarding.

1. Teachers should participate by writing and sharing their writing

Teachers should model how the ability to write affects their daily lives, demonstrate the importance of writing to communicate, and model the perseverance required to create a good piece of writing. As a classroom teacher I had a journal just like my students and whatever I expected them to write in their journals, I did in mine as well. Most importantly, model thinking out loud to make the invisible act of composing — which occurs internally for experienced writers — more visible to students.

2. Give students writing choices

Teachers should provide opportunities for student choice in writing assignments — for example, choice in selecting writing topics or the freedom to modify a teacher-selected prompt. One way I fostered choice was to keep a list of prompts in a binder. This binder had journal prompts for free writing to a variety of personal narrative and expository prompts for more formal writing.

3. Encourage students to collaborate as writers

Teachers can encourage students to collaborate throughout the writing process by brainstorming ideas about a topic, responding to drafts in a writing group, or helping peers edit or revise their work. Collaboration also can take the form of collaborative writing, whereby students jointly develop a single text.

4. Provide students with opportunities to give and receive feedback

Students need to know whether their writing is accurately and appropriately conveying its message. One way students can determine this is by sharing their writing and responding to written and verbal feedback from the teacher and their peers. Although teachers should provide feedback to students through teacher-student conferences and rubrics, peers also should be encouraged to participate in the feedback process. Students also need to be taught strategies and appropriate language for written feedback.

I truly appreciate all the hard work and dedication that I saw on Friday and in the classrooms. Happy Writing!


Updates and FYI's

  • Jan. 17th - Writing Data input into Aware - we need this for the PLC Writing analysis on the 18th.
  • Jan. 17th - be sure your grades are input to HAC by 5:00, so we can begin the report card process. Also, a note about report card grades....if a student has a significant drop in citizenship or receives a failing grade in a content area, please contact parents before the report cards are posted so they are aware. Thank you!
  • Jan. 19th: Fire Drill 10:15
  • Jan. 19th: Marco's Pizza Spirit Night
  • Jan. 20th: KISD will show the Inauguration in classrooms. Stay tuned for the details.
  • Jan. 20th - CBA data due in Aware
  • Jan. 20th: Reading Levels Due
  • Jan. 20th: Report Cards Available in HAC for parents.
  • Jan. 23rd - Feb. 3rd: Dyslexia Testing Window
  • Jan. 27th: Lockdown Drill 2:00

Upcoming Events to have on your radar:

  • March 24th - 12 hours of EQ time due
  • Check to see how you are doing on getting your 6 hours of GT update
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Professional Development

  • Jan. 17th - 19th: Kasey Smith on Campus for ELA support (Letterland Coaching Support)

  • Jan. 18th: PLC - Analyze the results of the Writing Benchmarks

  • Jan. 18th: Amber Richards on campus - please schedule to have her come in to model and/or observe you teaching the problem solving process.

  • Jan. 19th: Dream Team Meetings

  • Jan. 25th: PLC meetings - Data Analysis for Reading and Math CBA's

  • Jan. 26th: Team Leader Meeting

Thank you!

  • Thanks for your commitment and participation in the Friday Writing PD!
  • Thank you, so much, to those that are able to help with the third and fourth grade tutoring. Your sacrifice and dedication is very, very much appreciated.
  • Thanks to Mallory, Kasey, Robin, and Shayna for presenting and facilitating the writing training!

It's Time for the Keller Film Festival Competition

  • This is the 9th year of the Film Festival, and we are accepting online entries NOW through March 20 (the day we return from Spring Break)
  • 7 categories to choose from, including comedy, music video and documentary. Enter by yourself, with your friends, or as a class project!
  • Finalists will be honored at an Oscars-style Awards Ceremony to be held in May where they will receive certificates, trophies and prizes.
  • The “Filmmaker Campus of the Year” trophy is awarded to the school that enters the most films.
  • All the information can be found on the website


Telpas is right around the corner. The new Rater training window will open Jan 30 through February 17. We are looking at getting a half day floating sub to cover the new rater training.

  • Feb. 13 Writing collection begins
  • School wide calibration day will be on Feb. 20

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