Off to a Great Start

Fantastic Fridays

No Changes on the Horizon

Thank you all for a great two weeks of school! I am proud of each of you and the efforts made getting our students back to normal as quickly as possible after Harvey. In an effort to keep you updated on the happenings around the State and Region, I wanted to report the latest information I received at my last superintendent's meeting.

1. As you are aware, we are two weeks behind districts not affected by Harvey. As of today, we have been told that the state accountability system will not change. Districts and schools will have an accountability rating, as if no disaster had taken place.

2. The Commissioner of Education has stated that he is not opposed to having students who fail the first administration of a given test an opportunity to re-test, but he does NOT think he has the authority to grant this request.

3. Districts in counties declared disasters were given an attendance waiver. The waiver is good through September 8, 2017. Our board adopted the required resolution Monday night and KCISD will not have to make up any days due to Harvey. In addition, the board adopted a resolution granting the district to pay employees for days missed due to Harvey without having to make up those days. Thank you KCISD board.

4. Students who may have enrolled in KCISD, if here during snapshot, will count for our state rating.

5. Due to many of our families affected by Harvey, KCISD will send a Free/Reduced application home to all students next week. Because of the storm, families' financial situations may have changed.

Even though there are variables out of our control, we have control over our thoughts and actions. I am proud of how we have started school and the relationships we have created with families and students in KCISD. Thank you----and as always, remember what is important in life.

Band Makes Lemonade from Lemons

Yes I know the title seems like an oxymoron, but I want to take a moment to affirm the KHS band for their uplifting spirits, positive attitudes, and "can do" approach regarding the football game last Friday in Palestine.

Our band, on their way to Palestine, had an unexpected development - the truck transporting their instruments broke down. Arriving at the game with no instruments, no music and no director, they had to improvise when it was time to play our school song. What did they do? Our band, who plays so well, turned into a wonderfully in-tuned choir. Our band sang the school song beautifully. Now, most bands may have just sat down during the game and waited for the instruments to arrive, which they did at half-time, but not our band. They were on their feet, yelling cheers, showing spirit and illustrating un1ty. There are times when we are all proud of our classes, children and family. Friday night was that night for me. Thank you band!

Educational Corner - Having Students Justify their Answers.

Last week we discussed instructing "bell to bell" and not wasting instructional time, due in part to Harvey and our delayed start and the fact that bell-to-bell instruction is a best practice.

This week, let us talk about another teaching tip -- students justifying their answers. This week I have made this more of a research-based section to illustrate the importance of having our students justify their responses.

So how many students should you call on and what types of questions should you ask? According to Hollingsworth and Ybara (2018), they suggest that instructors should consider calling on two students for simple questions and three or more children for more difficult questions. They contend that if these random students called upon are successful, chances are all students are grasping the content taught. However, if the random students are not successful, it is time to reteach.

In their book Explicit Direct Instruction: The Power of the Well-Crafted, Well-Taught Lesson 2nd edition, they penned students should also answer in a loud, public voice that everyone in class could hear. "Try to avoid walking up to individual students to hear a soft voice. When you do this, the other students stop paying attention. Instead, ask students to speak up in a voice you can hear across the room and that all students can hear" (p.56). We know when students are asked to speak in a tone just described; it will begin to build confidence in our children.

Lastly, the authors claim that students should justify all answers -- even simple answers can be higher order when students justify their answers or are asked to provide textual evidence to support their responses. Justifying the answers should be part of your questioning every day.