The Eagle’s Eye

King Elementary School Instructional Newsletter

Week of February 22-26

Principal's Message

As we continue to finish up with our assessments from January, I want you to think about the term "data-based decisions"--a phrase that has become somewhat of a buzzword in education over the last few years.

However, for us it should make sense. Using information to help clarify issues, identify alternative solutions to problems, and target resources more effectively leads to better instructional decisions. The real question for us should not be whether to integrate the use of data in decision making, but how. Our STAR and benchmarking assessments are "good" data. Using the data effectively is actually a complex process--one that we should be mastering to increase student achievement.

Identifying the key questions is only a first step. The next step, data analysis, requires the availability of high quality, targeted data in a format that helps to address critical questions. We have data available that can be easily disaggregated to provide a detailed analysis of results by objective or skill in addition to overall scores. As we continue through the week we will examine the question "who are the 40%" that you will move to proficiency and how will we do so. We will then look at students who are lowest from the mark and think about ways to streamline processes during your RTI time to assist these students.

We will be most effective using assessment data to capitalize on the power of classroom teaching. Remember that assessments are demonstrations of what students know. We have to help them to be comfortable with the assessment and provide them with opportunities to build on their skills. This week, I urge you to embed assessments in "every aspect of your planning, thinking, and doing" instead of viewing assessment as a "once a year event"... let the data drive the success of your classroom's student achievement.

Now is the time for us to assess our own work and its impact on our students. To continue our success, we need to engage in conversations using assessment data to diagnose strengths as well as areas in which we need to modify instruction. We must continue to collaborate and discuss instructional practices, using assessment data as our springboard. Use your STAR reports to pinpoint specific areas of difficulty for each student, as well as broad strategies that need to be covered more thoroughly or taught in a different way.

Be Great,

Dr. Jermaine Wilson

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Kudos and Care Corner

  • THANKS to Mrs. Ricketts and Ms. Poulsen for taking extra classes with their classrooms!
  • THANKS to the PBIS Team and especially Ms. Culp, Ms. Farmer, Ms. Scott, Mrs. Campos, Ms. Nalls, Ms. Hatcher, Mrs. May, Ms. Poulsen, Ms. Tyree, Mr. Beene, Mrs. Reese, Ms. Hawkins, Mr. Warren, Mr. Abram, Mrs. Abram, LINC Staff, Ms. Powell, Mrs. Majors, and Ms. Jones for either donating a game or working during our PBIS Game or Movie Room Incentive!
  • THANKS to Nurse Yolanda for helping out with the Eagle Buck store and front office support!
  • THANKS to Ms. Willeford for being an excellent first responder during a staff crisis at King!
  • KUDOS to the 2nd-6th Grade Teachers for submitting their classroom data analysis forms on time...great job!

Attendance Counts at King

Below you will see the trajectory of our 90/90 attendance over our months of school:

August %- 91.5

September %- 90.7

October %- 87.2

November %- 84.8

December %- 81

January %- 74.1

February %- 72.7 (currently)

We are currently below our January mark and need to improve our attendance. We will be pushing for perfect attendance in classrooms and monitoring on our new Attendance Board. After 6 days of perfect attendance in your classroom, remind your students that they will receive a classroom party! Teachers of those classrooms will also receive an incentive of a 1/2 day workday. Please begin talking to your students about attendance goals and encourage students to come EVERYDAY! In order for us to reach our academic goals we will need to get students to be present to learn daily.

Thanks to all of those who are making consistent calls to parents and even hotlines for students with chronic absences. Make sure that you are updating your attendance charts and celebrating daily attendance. Those classrooms that have maintained consistently high attendance are those that make the expectation for attendance a priority,

PBS and School Culture

Brains in Pain Cannot Learn!

By: Dr. Lori Desautels

Educators want nothing more than for our students to feel successful and excited to learn, and to understand the importance of their education. We want our students' attention and respect to match our own. I believe that most if not all of our students desire the same, but walking through our classroom doors are beautifully complex youth who are neurobiologically wired to feel before thinking.

Educators and students are carrying in much more than backpacks, car keys, conversations, partially-completed homework, and outward laughter. Buried deep in the brain's limbic system is an emotional switching station called the amygdala, and it is here that our human survival and emotional messages are subconsciously prioritized and learned. We continually scan environments for feelings of connectedness and safety. I am learning that the students who look oppositional, defiant, or aloof may be exhibiting negative behavior because they are in pain and presenting their stress response. The thinking lobes in the prefrontal cortex shut down when a brain is in pain.

Trauma and the Brain

What is trauma? When we hear this word, we tend to think of severe neglect or abusive experiences and relationships. This is not necessarily true. A traumatized brain can also be a tired, hungry, worried, rejected, or detached brain expressing feelings of isolation, worry, angst, and fear. In youth, anger is often the bodyguard for deep feelings of fear. Trauma-filled experiences can be sudden or subtle, but the neurobiological changes from negative experiences cause our emotional brain to create a sensitized fear response. When we feel distress, our brains and bodies prioritize survival, and we pay attention to the flood of emotional messages triggering the question, "Am I safe?" We react physiologically with an irritated limbic system that increases blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration with an excessive secretion of the neuro-hormones cortisol and adrenaline pumping through our bodies. Chronic activation of the fear response can damage other parts of the brain responsible for cognition and learning.

We are all neurobiologically wired for social connection and attachment to others. When children don't receive healthy connections in early development, the brain rewires and adapts just as readily to unhealthy environments. If brain development is disrupted by adversity at any age, but especially in early development, the skills of problem solving, reflection, and emotional regulation are compromised and diminished. Children and adolescents need stimulation and nurturance for healthy development and attachment. Students whose development is disrupted often walk through the doors of our schools mistrusting adults.

Priming the Brain

To learn and problem solve, we must prime the brain for engagement and feelings of safety. In recent years, there has been a significant emphasis on Common Core proficiency while teacher training has often lost sight of the impact of understanding brain development in students. The almond-shaped clusters of neurons resting deep in each temporal lobe must be quieted if learning and well-being are to be exercised and addressed. Educators too need to be aware of our brain states and subconscious emotional triggers that could throw us into a power struggle and a stress-response state as we interface with our students.

What can we do to create calm and safe brain states within ourselves and within the students who walk in with an activated fear response? We first must understand that feelings are the language of the limbic system. When a student in stress becomes angry or shut down, he or she won't hear our words. Talking a student through any discipline procedure or thought reflection sheet in the heat of the moment is fruitless. Here are three ways to calm the stress response -- two of them through immediate action, and the third by a brief science lesson.

1. Movement

  • Movement is critical to the brain while calming the stress and fear response. Teachers and students together could design a space, a labyrinth of sorts, where students can walk or move to relieve the irritation of the amygdale. Physical activities such as push-ups, jogging in place, jumping jacks, and yoga movements help to calm the limbic brain and bring the focus back to learning and reasoning.

2. Focused Attention Practices

  • Teach students how to breathe deeply while focusing on a particular stimulus. When we take two or three minutes a few times each day or class period and teach students how to breathe deeply, we are priming the brain for increased attention and focus. These practices might also include a stimulus such as sound, visualization, or the taste of a food. The focused attention increases an oxygenated blood and glucose flow to the frontal lobes of the brain where emotional regulation, attention, and problem solving occur.

3. Understanding the Brain

  • Teaching students about their amygdala and fear response is so empowering. When we understand that this biology is many thousands of years in the making, hardwired to protect us, our minds begin to relax through knowing that our reactions to negative experiences are natural and common. A middle-school teacher and her students have named the amygdala "Amy G. Dala." By personifying this ancient, emotionally-driven structure in our brains, the students are befriending their fear responses and learning how to lessen negative emotion. We cannot always control the experiences in our lives, but we can shift how we respond, placing the science of our brains in the driver's seat of discipline!

Have you recognized students experiencing emotional pain in your classrooms?

PBS Updates and Tips

At our last PBS meeting, we examined the data and it was determined that we will need to focus on restroom and classroom expectations for our PBS program. Remember that in order for the PBS program to continue to be successful---EVERYONE must be involved in the program and commit to implement with fidelity.

PBS Tip: Make a positive phone call home to students who have shown improved behavior and academic achievement based on progress data!

If you have any questions or need additional support please do not hesitate to contact our PBS team leaders: Mrs. Judy Reese or Ms. Dionne Culp. Our next meeting will be on February 22nd after school from 3:30-4:30.

"The same behaviors that reduce classroom disruptions are associated with increased student learning" - Brophy and Good

KCPS Science and Math Camp

This year's Spring Break academy will be focused on Science and Math for 3rd-6th grade students. You do not have to be a current 3rd-6th grade teacher to work during the academy. The camp will take place March 14th-16th from 8:30am-11:30am. Teachers that work will earn $25.00/hour. If you are interested please email me so that I can get you the necessary information for training.

King Instructional Non-Negotiables

As we discussed in December, due to the high need of instructional foci to help student achievement to increase at King Elementary there are 6 non-negotiables that we will be implementing and monitoring:

1. Lesson Plans

2. “I CAN” Statements

3. Direct Instruction

4. Small Group Instruction

5. Vocabulary Acquisition

6. Student Engagement

Lesson Plans

  1. Teachers must use the approved King Elementary School Lesson Plan Template for ELA, Math, and Science (3-6) and submit electronically by Saturday on midnight in a King Elementary Lesson Plan folder on a Dropbox beginning January 9th.
  2. Post current lesson plans on or by the classroom door.
  3. Evidence of the lesson plan utilization to inform classroom instruction.

"I CAN" statements

  1. Based on Missouri Learning Standards/CCSS.
  2. Written on whiteboard so that students can see and refer to the “I CAN” statement.
  3. Should be explained to students and revisited at least three or four times during the lesson.
  4. The “I CAN” statement can be retold by the students.
  5. The “I CAN” statement should be aligned to Success Criteria (student work, assessments, and projects).

King Instructional Model

Do Now

  1. Each lesson should have a do now planned. This is any activity that you have at the very beginning of class that helps you set the tone for that day. Quickly, quietly, students get started right away. It should assess or review something previously learned by students.

Anticipatory Set

  1. Introduces a lesson through an activating strategy (e.g. KWL, Anticipation Guide, Think Pair Share, Video) and/or vocabulary instruction.


  1. The teacher restates the importance and relevance of I CAN statements.
  2. The teacher: (a) Demonstrates the skills correctly for students; (b)Presents a step-by-step sequence for problem-solving or using skills successfully; (c) Teacher talk should be limited to 8-10 minutes before a checking for understanding (CFU) or questioning strategy is utilized.
  3. The class: (a) Creates and refers to a visual reference (e.g. Anchor Charts, maps, graphic organizer) to support learning in the classroom and (b) students should have evidence to show that they are engaged with the lesson (e.g. math notebook, journals, interactive notebooks, graphic organizers, note structures).

Guided Practice

  1. The teacher addresses student misconceptions and errors.
  2. Completes work through teacher and student collaboration.
  3. The teacher includes the use of various Checking for Understanding strategies (e.g. 3-2-1, Thumbs Up, Quickwrites), which are planned and included in the lesson plan.

Small Group Instruction/Independent Practice

  1. The teacher distributes independent practice through small group stations and homework.
  2. Students are grouped using a data metric (STAR or NWEA Assessment Data)
  3. Protocols, Structures, Routines are evident in rotation structures
  4. There should be at least 3 mandatory ELA or Math Activities: Re-Teaching/Enrichment @ The Teacher Table; Technology (Reading Eggs/Study Island/Imagine Learning); Practice Activities aligned to the “I CAN” statement.


  1. The teacher closes the lesson through a summary activity (e.g. 3-2-1, Exit Tickets, Circle-Triangle-Square).

Vocabulary Acquisition

  1. Teacher should be using Assessment Power Words to emphasize during the content of the instructional lesson.
  2. Students should practice/interact with academic vocabulary in a variety of ways. (e.g. Frayer Models, vocabulary folders, vocabulary journals, Word Walls (authentic), Practice Stations for Vocabulary; and Vocabulary Games)
  3. A word wall that is interactive and evolving should be maintained and referenced by the teacher in the classroom.

Student Engagement

  1. Students are focused and committed to the lesson.
  2. Teachers and students are actively participating in the learning.
  3. Teachers maintain engagement by providing opportunities for students to read, write, and talk about the lesson.

Thoughtful and efficient lesson planning can help you to achieve all of these aspects. We will continue to get feedback on how you can support your team members in achieving success with these 6 areas. These will become additional areas of monitoring during our classroom observations this semester.

Upcoming Dates to Remember

February 22nd- STAR Early Literacy Testing Begins

February 24th- PLC Meetings

February 24th- 3rd-6th Grade Awards Assembly (9am-10am)

February 24th- Kindergarten-2nd Grade Awards Assembly (1pm-2pm)

February 26th- January Perfect Attendance-Lunch Incentive

February 26th- Spring Break Science and Math Camp Applications DUE

King Elementary School

“Ensuring Student Success through Quality Instruction and Culture”