In The Middle 2.3


If you are going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG!

A special thanks to all of the Division I coaches for attending the September Institute. We had a robust morning session discussing components of effective lesson plans and returned in the afternoon for an engaging, working session where we began our quest towards improved questioning by examining Daggett's Rigor/Relevance framework. Many thanks to AF Loni Coots and our secondary Science CICs who joined us in the afternoon!

Click on the title above to access all session materials and presentations!

Please take the survey while you are there. We need your feedback.

As we march through the first 6 weeks and we observe teachers, I thought this article would be very fitting. Often times, it takes a major shift in thinking for educators to make a conscientious effort to change their practices.This article, by Steven C. Reinhart, promotes student engagement and sense making through the use of effective questioning techniques. Asking the best possible questions not only provides for teaching better mathematics but also for teaching mathematics better.

Click on the title above to access this powerful article.

Click here for an accompanying supplement that may be helpful in your coaching.

What's your campus definition of rigor?

Recognizing Rigor In The Classroom

Few people question the need for America’s schools and classrooms to be more rigorous. But there is little agreement about what rigor is and what it looks like.

In Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word, Barbara Blackburn defined rigor as creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so that he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008). This three-part approach assures that rigor doesn’t consist of just adding curriculum requirements or raising grading standards. Integral to the model is providing every student with high levels of support so that they can thrive and be successful in their classrooms.

Rigor is more than a specific lesson or instructional strategy. It is deeper than what a student says or does in response to a lesson. Real rigor is the result of weaving together all elements of schooling to improve the achievement and learning of every student.

Click here for the full article

To read more about Dr. Barbara Blackburn and her work with rigor, click here where you will find lots of free resources.

What will be your campus definition of rigor?


T3 Fall Workshops (Texas Instruments)

Educators in math and science can select T³™ fall workshops for hands-on, quality professional development. During these one-day workshops, participants will learn how to implement appropriate change in the classroom, employ new strategies for teaching using TI technology and improve content knowledge of rich tasks and activities.

A variety of topics to choose from include implementing Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or STEM topics to getting started with TI technology in the classroom.

Registration is only $125 and includes a full-version of either the TI-Nspire™ Teacher Software or TI-SmartView™ for the TI-84 Plus family software (up to a $155 value)*

Click here to register or read more about T3.

Have you heard of the interactive and engaging learning environment for all public or open enrollment charter schools in Texas? Your log-in is the same as the one you use for Region X. Access the website by clicking on the title above.

Click here to view available courses! This can be a great supplemental option for teachers!



Who: Teachers

What Just-in-Time training unpacking TEKS from the 2nd six-weeks

When: Sat, September 20th; 6-8 grades ALL (a.m.session); Alg. 1 (p.m.session)

Where: Lang Middle School

Why: Plan ways to differentiate or scaffold those (bundles of) TEKS.

Registration required. Session provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Participants should please laptops or tablets to the training.

View the table below for a short list of upcoming sessions provided through Teaching & Learning. Please remember to check on SchoolNet for a complete list and to register.
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Assessment of Course Performance (ACP) Information

  • Test sessions will now be 90 minutes. Tests have been built with the timeline in mind, capping items at 60 total. Also for courses with published readiness SEs, a minimum of 50% of the items will focus on readiness standards.
  • Reporting categories have been added to the blueprints.
  • Again, there will be no Spring ACP for Algebra I Pre-AP students due to EOC testing.
  • MARK YOUR CALENDARS! ACP Viewing will be from October 20th - November 6th. Registration will begin on Monday, September 22nd. Look for more info this Friday via DISDnews blasts and this Friday's WAIP.


OJC (On The Job Coaching)

You're familiar with on-the-job-training but what about on-the job coaching? Our division, headed by Assistant Superintendent Dessynie Edwards, is looking to encourage instructional leaders to engage in real-time coaching. Break out of the mold and take advantage of coaching opportunities beyond the conventional conference setting.

OJC is a total interactive experience for educators grounded in partnership and guided by professional peer development. As an aspect of the coaching relationship, educators can expect to be informed during OJC by receiving real time feedback during the observation.

Here are some OJC considerations:

  • Ground your feedback in evidence and refrain from subjective statements
  • Use (pre-established) hand signals with the teacher
  • Find the window of opportunity (passing period, during Do Now, etc.)
  • Follow-up (right then and there and again later in the day)
  • Elicit teacher feedback on your OJC
  • Praise in Public, Correct in Private
  • Don't derail the conversation: Choose your words carefully
  • Focus on the student outcomes and not the teacher actions
  • Establish a dialogue: Listen actively, ask open-ended questions and paraphrase

Are you struggling to coach a resistant teacher?

The article, What Can We Do About Teacher Resistance? by Jim Knight starts by posing this simple yet common question. One answer is that those of us who are change leaders should be careful about how we share practices with teachers. This read takes you through six questions to ponder and concludes with suggestions for leading change.


Reprinted and distributed with permission of Phi Delta Kappa International, All rights reserved.

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E H Cary Middle School

CIC Jameelah Johnson has stretched out of her own comfort zone to improve her communication skills. She has been more connected in our Division I PLC forums such as GroupMe as well as by phone and email. Additionally she has done an outstanding job of keeping her teachers informed with upcoming PD opportunities throughout the district. Thanks for CCing me in those communications, Jameelah! Cary has also been represented at each of the three TI Nspire/Navigator sessions. Go Colts!


Many schools already employ such a tool. How about your campus? Is your DOL tracker electronic or hard copied? What would make it easiest for both your teacher to input data and for you to collect and analyze it. How will this information be used to improve student academic achievement? Might I recommend using Google forms to support this practice?

Contact me directly if you would like to try using this platform for your campus.


Thursday, September 25th


Bonham Professional Building

2617 N. Henderson Avenue Room 217

Friday, October 3rd

First 6 weeks ends

Mon-Thur, Oct 6th -9th or 13th -16th

TEI training (for CICs)

Friday, October 17th

Secondary Fair Day

Instructional Coaching

All Division I CICs received Jim Knight's book during September's Institute of Learning. I'd like to recommend you all start to read or skim through Chapter 2. You'll read about:

  • What Is Instructional Coaching
  • What Is The Partnership Philosophy
  • The 7 Partnership Principles
  • The Big Four
  • Five Tactics for Translating Research Into Practice
  • Modeling Lessons
  • Data & Feedback

About the creator

Steffanie Blackmon is in her 7th year serving in the Dallas Independent School District and her 3rd year in an instructional coaching capacity. She is DISD Proud! The time is now, the place is Dallas.