Ram Nation News

Distance Learning Week 6


A middle school that cultivates scholars to be catalysts of change, life-long learners, innovators, and competitors in a global society

Happy Birthday!!!

We wish you a great day!
  • Kiara Brunson 4/30

April 27 - May 1

Our goal is to accelerate transformation and ensure our kids have access to quality education so that they can have access to a life of opportunities. Thank you so much for continuing to shape dramatically the lives of our children by providing awesome and meaningful learning experiences. Thank you for your unwavering commitment as you stretch yourself and expand your horizons with a different instructional approach with At-Home Learning. I appreciate all of your efforts in helping reach and stretch the potential of each one of our Rams.

Let's continue to support each other during these times of difficulty so that we can be the best educators for our students. By doing so, our students will benefit from the quality lessons that are put in front of them. Let's be purposeful and keep the alignment to STAAR and ACP as our target so that we can continue to contribute to closing the achievement gap.

Let's have a great week!

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Nominate your school cafeteria staff for ‘School Lunch Hero Day Award’

During the current crisis, Dallas ISD school cafeteria staff members have been busy ensuring that no child goes hungry. Each week Ms. Beck and her team prepare and distribute thousands of free meals via curbside pick-up. They are our heroes! Help us celebrate them! Last week we distributed to 820 students with a total of 12,300 meals.

This week, April 27-30 is Super Hero Gratitude Week. Let's all go online and vote for our school staff to be nominated for an award by CASTING YOUR VOTE AT www.dallasisd.org/lunchhero. Also, let's push this information to students via your GoogleClassrooms so that students can vote for our cafeteria staff. Each person can vote as many times as possible; I have voted like 10 times and will continue to submit votes.

The school with the most votes wins and will be recognized with a special prize!

Virtual Job Fair

Our team is hard at work making sure we recruit and hire the best!!!! We had a full house of teacher leaders and administrative team that supported in these efforts. As a result, we have 3 follow up interviews scheduled this week. Thank you so much!!!

Ms. Maloy, Mr. Brown, Mr. Maymi, Ms. Tucker, Mrs. Woods in the Special Ed interview

Ms. Minter and Mrs. Mooty in the Science Room 1 interview

Ms. Guerra, Mr. Hernandez, and Ms. Calderon in the Science Room 2 interview

Ms. Stripling, Ms. Molla, Ms. Ford, and Ms. Perez in the RLA interview

Ms. Scott and Mr. Johnson in the Social Studies interview.

Distance Learning Plan of Action

Monday - Friday - April 27 thru May 1

Teachers and Staff:

  • Teacher and staff will clock in at 9:00 a.m. by completing the Clock-In Form
  • Teachers will be accessible online through the instructional day (9:00 a.m. -12:00 noon &1:00 p.m - 4:00 p.m.). Each teacher will have an online designated platform for courses, which can be found on our school Master Directory directly.
  • Teachers will meet with their classes based on the schedule below and keeping our calendar of A/B days for electives. Students needing assistance will be reaching out the teacher directly via email, the classroom platform, or phone.
  • In order to support students with assignments and maintain a good structure, use the sample below to incorporate in your lessons as a way to provide students with a one-pager of activities for the week with the links to the lesson, site, or activities.
  • Review work completed and submitted by students, provide feedback, and assign grades. For Cycle 6, a minimum of 1 grade/week will need to be recorded in the Powerschool Gradebook. While teachers may maintain a separate student gradebook as a part of Google Classroom activities, they are required to enter grades into PowerSchool through PowerTeacher Pro.
  • SPED Inclusion teachers will follow existing schedule of classes, assist teachers, and provide support to students according to their IEP amendment.


  • Follow up with students who have academic plans to ensure they are on track with online and material access to ensure they are successful with work completion and passing grades.
  • They will provide follow up for those students reported by teachers who have not engaged with the our virtual setting. They will use the 6.2 Attendance Sheet filled out last week as a reference to help contact students. They will collaborate with Ms. Alanis, Ms. Strong, and Mr. Sanders to help contact parents/students.
  • Follow up with students who were receiving psychological as well as Youth and Family Services to provide support and guidance.
  • Counseling Services is requesting for Dallas ISD counselors to document their work by filling this link.


  • Coordinate and support food distribution - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Respond to parent and student questions and concerns via email.
  • Meet with Mr. Kastl as admin team to discuss virtual learning, academic tasks, and student work.
  • Conduct virtual PLC meetings with content teams. Deliverables: Update Syllabi and Instructional Planning Calendars for @HomeLearning.
  • Admin virtual meeting to review the week and plan next steps based on survey results, parent, student and teacher input.
  • Check calendar invites.
  • Monitor PowerSchool grades weekly and provide support as needed.
  • Participate in ARDs and 504 meetings. Use the Final ARD Script for Administrator Facilitating the Meeting
  • Continue virtual interviews for current vacancies.
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Parent and Student Communication

Communication is key to ensure our students feel supported and are successful. Therefore, we will formally document these phone calls in our Teacher-Parent Contact log.

  • Based on feedback and to provide alignment with our tracking form, we will change to contact our 2nd period as "Advisory" students at least once a week. Of course, this does not mean that our 2nd period teachers will not call students; however, this helps to better align our efforts in attendance tracking. During this time, 2nd period teachers should also check on the data inputted by colleagues so that we can all keep students accountable for completing work in all subjects. Use the Check-In Script provided by our counselors. I understand that we may reach out in different ways such as, ClassDojo, Remind, e-mail, or text; however, hearing a friendly voice means a lot especially when faced in times of social distancing. This will allow students the opportunity to stay connected with the school and for the teacher to help students solve issues or concerns.
  • Our website is updated with information about At Home Learning.
  • Please adhere to technology etiquette and policy guidelines. Teachers should not be directly communicating with students or parents after 9:00 pm and before 7:00 am. We understand if you are providing feedback and do not need student responses, but we cannot expect students to respond, nor should texts and Remind 101 messages be sent after 9:00 pm or before 7:00 am.

Use this School Student Directory to have access to more students' contact information. It is listed by grade level at the bottom of the screen. You can search within each sheet the student's information you need to access.

Below, there are flyers with Emergency Information for the community and information for our families considered Homeless (extended stays fall under this category and we have about 50-60 students who fall under this category).

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SEL Lessons for Students - April 27 - April 30

Refer to e-mail sent by Ms. Calderon:

In order to make lessons more interactive, this week we will continue to implement a Nearpod lesson. Ms. Calderon uploaded it to our school library. She has uploaded the 4/27 - 4/30 lessons to our school library. The lesson are titled Rusk (Subject) SEL date.


  • Content Area - Lesson Topic

Monday - 4/27

  • Math - Using Mantras

Tuesday - 4/28

  • Reading - Who am I?

Wednesday - 4/29

  • Science - Accept Our Emotions

Thursday - 4/30

  • Social Studies - Understanding Strength in Diversity

Below you will find step by step instructions on how to place the lesson in your google classroom.

After signing in to Nearpod

  1. Click on School Library (on the left side bar)
  2. Find the lesson and click Add to my library
  3. Go to my Library
  4. Hover over the lesson and click Student Paced
  5. In the pop up, select add to google classroom

Spirit Week

In an effort to support our students and staff stay connected, our counselors have put together a series of activities for all of us. Use the information below and post it in your Instagram and tag us or DM @thomasjrusk_middleschool. Please, encourage all of our students to participate.
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Grading Procedures

Cycle 6 (6th Six Weeks): April 14, 2020 = May 27, 2020

  • Teachers will enter 1 grade a week per course
  • All grading categories will be weighted the same. Remember to change all of your categories to Classwork/Homework.
  • Students who are missing assignments will not be given a zero. - The grade for the assignment will be blank. - The missing grade(s) will not be calculated in the final grade for the cycle.
  • Students without grades for cycle 6, will not receive a zero for the final grade. A blank grade will be entered.
  • Final grades will be available to parents/guardians and students on May 27th (ES) and June 10th (MS/HS) via Parent Portal. Parents/guardians may also request the report card be emailed. Parent/guardian identity confirmation over the phone will be required.

See document below to access more information on Grading and how to Resolve Missing Final Blank Grades

Power School Parent Portal - Please, share with parents

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Attendance Procedures


  • Attendance is taken only for the teacher’s “ADA” course (meets at 11:00 am.)

o On Tuesdays

o On Friday

All Teachers are required to confirm participation in at-home learning for each student.

  • Confirmation of participation at-home learning will be used to enter student attendance as “present”.
  • Confirmation of participation in at-home learning can be determined using electronic login by student (Google Classroom, Zoom, Teams, or other learning applications or platforms)
  • Confirmation of participation can be used for any of the three days prior to official attendance accounting on Tuesday and Friday.

Unexcused Absences: Students are only marked as having an Unexcused Absence if the teacher has attempted multiple times to contact parents/students and received no response at all. Confirmation of participation should begin well before the Tuesday/Friday deadline. Teachers should be encouraged to keep a log of participation so that on Tuesday and Friday, they have very few students/parents to reach out to.

Use link below to access an example for secondary campuses.

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Attendance - Work Completion Tracker

We are using the Attendance and Work Completed Tracker each week.

Teachers will still have until 4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays to enter and submit student attendance for their 2nd period students.

This will allow for better alignment and communication as grade levels to ensure that our students are logging into each class and completing work. This will also allow our counselors and CIS to continue to contact students who neither are completing work nor have reported online.

You will also enter the best working number you have for the students in your 2nd period; (if someone is blank and you have a working number please enter it) however, the information for all students in your caseload needs to be entered to better support you.

Student Activities going Virtual

Check out this video for more information.

In an effort to keep students engaged and to continue with scheduled plans, all district extracurricular activities sponsored by the Student Activities Department have been adjusted to online competitions. Using platforms such as PlayVS, Google Forms, Zoom, UIL Solutions, and ChessKid, students will compete in the originally scheduled spring season of activities. As with at-home learning, coaches quickly made the adjustment to the online competition format and continue to prepare their teams for success. Look forward in the coming month to seeing videos and pictures of your students participating in academic competitions. Attached is an overview. If you need additional information, please contact Sharla Hudspeth, shudspet@dallasisd.org.

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Technology Support

Please, use and share the tips below as well as the document with our students via your Google Classroom. It is posted in our website as well, but we know that it is more effective sharing in your classrooms.
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Teacher Remote Lesson Design and Online Delivery

Click link to access site. While there is information on using PowerSchool Learning, as a campus, we have agreed to use Google Classroom to ensure consistency for our students

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Resources for Online Learning and Management

Trauma Informed Principles for Educators During COVID19

10 Minute Teacher Podcast: Learn the ten principles to help us encourage and help others as we work through this crisis together. This is an important listen for those struggling to figure out how to help kids. Great podcast (student focused)!!!


Webinar schedule outlining dates and times for professional learning. We will have some of our administrative team members attend to support in implementation, but you are welcome to log in and participate for your own learning.

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Instructional Resources

Instructional Resources List


Make any video your lesson: Choose a video, give it your magic touch and track your students' comprehension.

Engage students: Introduce students to self-paced learning with interactive video lessons. It's easy to add your own voice narration and questions!

Reinforce accountability: Check if students are watching your videos, how many times they're watching each section, and if they're understanding the content.

Special Populations: Guidelines during School Closure

These are the guidelines for teachers serving students receiving Advanced Academics, Bilingual/ESL, Section 504/Dyslexia, and Special Education services as each of these groups has compliance requirements that remain in place during this time.

These are the guidelines for our teachers that serve students receiving Advanced Academics, Bilingual/ESL, Section 504/Dyslexia, and Special Education services as each of these groups has compliance requirements that remain in place during the district closure. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional information as it becomes available.

Important to note, all ARD and Section 504 committee meetings will be conducted virtually through Microsoft Teams. Principals in collaboration with Special Education Case Managers will coordinate these meetings where applicable.

Procedures for Recording a Virtual ARD during COVID-19 School Closures

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Teacher Report & Input -ARD Meetings / IEP Development

In order to provide our students with the best possible IEP plan, your input and report is very important. Use this link to access the teacher report so that our inclusion teachers can plan and prepare for ARD meetings and develop IEPs.

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Counseling Corner

Request for Counseling Services

  • Request for Counseling Services
  • Request for Counseling Services (Spanish) This form is for current Dallas Independent School District students, parents/guardians, or staff who would like to request counseling services for a student from a professional school counselor. Once completed, a member of the counseling team associated with the identified school will contact you regarding your concerns.

One-on-One Counseling Support through Bookings

Through Outlook our counselors have the capability to use Bookings which allows them to chat with students virtually similar to Skype. Students and parents can visit our counselors' booking page whenever they want, book the time and service they need, get a confirmation email and calendar invitation, and reschedule or cancel if they must.

Students may schedule an appointment with our counselors using the Rusk Counseling Booking Link.

Social-Emotional Learning

  • Mindfulness and Emotions: To help find a sense of calm and focus on the present, we encourage both adults and students to practice mindfulness and regulate our emotions. Each of us can build our skills by pausing to breathe deeply, focusing on the present, and allowing emotions to come and go rather than being swept up in one particular train of thought or heightened emotion.
  • Remember to visit Dallas ISD's At-Home Learning for SEL resources for students (available in both English and Spanish). If you feel students need support from our counselors, please refer them to one of our counseling queens team members.
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Personnel Topics

District Extended Emergency Leave

During an Extended Emergency Leave, some employees (this applies to all of us) may be required to perform limited duties remotely/work from home to maintain key functions of the District (i.e.: activities such as instruction, lesson development, curriculum development, staff supports and business office functions). An employee must be available during normal work hours.

If an employee is unwilling or unable to fulfill their assigned duties on a given day or are not available due to a trip, vacation, surgery etc. they should utilize PTO.

Instructions for accessing your Dallas ISD contract

Please read the instructions thoroughly and sign your contract within two weeks of receiving notification. Any questions regarding contracts should be emailed to contracts@dallasisd.org.


Step 1: Select DISD Employee Self-Service and follow the steps below

More information at Human Capital Management website

Open Transfer Period (MUST read if planning to transfer)

The Open Transfer application for regular schools will be available starting March 6, 2020. Eligible employees must apply via the open transfer application online at https://www.dallasisd.org/careers within the time frame established. Principals will have an opportunity to submit open transfer recommendations no later than April 10, 2020 for regular schools. If you are seeking a transfer to a High Priority Campus listed here, then you can still participate of the Open Transfer Window until May 8, 2020. Transfers are not final until an approval email notification has been sent from Human Capital Management. All notification will be completed by April 24, 2020.

If you know that you are planning to transfer or leaving the district, please let me know as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly. As we are working on having a solid and effective team, transfers will not be approved after the April 10 deadline for regular schools or May 8 for HPC. In previous years, I have tried to be flexible and supportive allowing staff members to transfer; however, we have found ourselves in a bind trying to fill vacancies for transfers approved after the deadline. Therefore, while I want to keep as many of you as possible, I know that life happens and some of you will be transferring. Please, plan accordingly and let me know of your next steps.

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CDC Guidelines on Coronavirus Prevention

Site is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Click on the button and it will take you to the website.