Common Sense

Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern News - January 19, 2015

About the Title

Common Sense was a pamphlet authored by Thomas Paine in 1775-76. It was written to inspire American colonists to declare independence from British Rule at the beginning of The Revolution. This weekly, modern, online relative of that pamphlet documents the news, events, updates, and celebrations of the TJ Revolution - the educational sensation sweeping through northwest Dallas.

TJ Feeder Pattern News in Brief

Executive Director's Message

I took a rare free moment this weekend and went to the movies. It had been so long since I went that the concept of "reserved seating" took me by surprise! When did that start?! Once I sat down in H7 - my assigned seat - I watched a very impactful movie - Selma.

As I took in the scenes from not-too-long-ago, I sometimes winced, sometimes closed my eyes, but always kept on my mind an immense amount of respect for the leader of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His words are powerful, even today, when considered in the context of the current front of the civil rights movement - the quest for a quality education for all Americans.

You are all on the front lines of that movement every day. Thank you for looking at each child who enters your building each morning with eyes of hope and feelings of aspiration. Those students will accomplish so much, in part, because of you.

Have a great week with students!

Timothy J. Hise

Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Feeder Pattern

TJ Feeder DTR Application Party

Slice of Support: Teachers work together on DTR applications

Increasing Student Engagement in Middle School

from Marshall Memo #569

In this article in American Educational Research Journal, Julianne Turner, Andrea Christensen, and Meg Trucano (University of Notre Dame), Hayal Kackar-Cam (Northern Illinois University), and Sara Fulmer (SUNY Oneonta) report on their three-year intervention aimed at getting students more engaged in a middle school. At the request of the school’s principal, the authors led several PD sessions explaining the theory behind student engagement, gave teachers specific techniques for improving it, and closely observed classrooms to see if there was any change. Some teachers brought about marked improvements, while others saw no difference. The teachers who were successful in boosting engagement used specific techniques, “pulled” their students into greater engagement, and noticed a synergy among the key elements.

What did the researchers teach these educators? At a theoretical level, engagement is “the student’s psychological investment in, and effort directed toward, learning, understanding, or mastering the knowledge, skills, and crafts that academic work is intended to promote.” Here are four crucial variables, with classroom techniques for each:

Belongingness – Students have frequent, pleasant interactions with others in an culture of concern for one another’s welfare. Teachers can foster belongingness by modeling and encouraging mutual respect and teaching students to work together productively.

Competence – Students have a feeling of self-efficacy as they successfully interact with the classroom environment and meet their goals. Teachers can enhance competence by giving appropriately challenging tasks, continuously assessing learning, providing scaffolding and feedback, and letting students know that mistakes provide helpful feedback.

Autonomy – Students have the space to satisfy their curiosity, choose to engage in schoolwork, and take the initiative to participate in class activities in accordance with their interests and values. Teachers can boost autonomy by nurturing students’ interests, competence, and relatedness; explaining classrooms tasks well; allowing multiple viewpoints; using non-controlling language; getting students to self-evaluate, ask questions, debate freely, and justify their thinking; and allowing students enough time to do high-quality work.

Meaningfulness – Students see how classroom learning relates to their interests, values, and futures. Teachers can increase meaningfulness by building on students’ prior knowledge; addressing the central ideas of the subject; invoking universal human experiences and themes; giving opportunities for complex thinking; using concrete objects; sharing their own experiences and thoughts; inviting students to put themselves into the context of the topic; and getting students involved in extended conversations that build shared understanding.

“Enhancing Students’ Engagement: Report of a 3-Year Intervention With Middle-School Teachers” by Julianne Turner, Andrea Christensen, Meg Trucano, Hayal Kackar-Cam, and Sara Fulmer in American Educational Research Journal, December 2014 (Vol. 51, #6, p. 1195-1226),; Turner can be reached at

Strategy: Collaborative Strategic Reading

Do your students need help improving their reading comprehension, developing academic vocabulary, and synthesizing information? If so, Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) could be a useful teaching strategy for you. CSR is research based, meaning it has been scientifically proven to improve students’ reading comprehension.

CSR teaches students to work in collaborative groups to read text and apply a “family” of strategies before, during, and after reading to better understand content area text. For example, students learn to watch out for clunks (confusing words) while they read and how to “get the gist,” or main idea, after they read a passage. CSR is useful with all students but has been especially effective with struggling readers and English learners. The best part is that CSR can be used flexibly in any content area class with any text.

It may take a few weeks to teach students the CSR procedures and strategies, but eventually, students will be able to work independently in their groups while the teacher monitors students or works with targeted groups.

Should you choose to accept this challenge, free learning modules, video examples, and instructional materials are available.

Region 10 State Accountability Training Offered for Principals

Region 10 will offer training on the Texas State Accountability System for Dallas ISD Principals in the coming months. The training will highlight the 4 indexes of the state accountability system. What subjects, which students, and calculation methods will be discussed for each index.

  • January 21 (2-5pm) - Dallas ISD Administration Building
  • January 22 (2-5pm) - Haskell Building
  • January 27 (2-5pm) - Dallas ISD Administration Building

If you wish to register for one of the sessions, call 972-925-6714 or email Registration is capped at 30 participants per session.

Leadership Quote of the Week

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Week At-a-Glance

Monday, January 19
  • MLK Day - Staff & Student Holiday

Tuesday, January 20

  • Mid-Year @ Medrano MS
  • Mid-Year @ Cary MS

Wednesday, January 21

  • Districtwide Principals' Meeting @ Hulcy MS (1-5pm)
  • HCM Documentation Training @ Hulcy MS (11:30-12:45 or 5-6:15)

Thursday, January 22

  • Mid-Year #2 @ Jefferson HS
  • Mid-Year #2 @ Longfellow MS

Friday, January 23

  • HCM Documentation Training @ Administration Bldg (9-11am or 3-5pm)
  • Cycle 5 Data Meeting @ Greiner MS (All Division 1 MS) - 8:30-11:30am
  • Mid-Year #2 - Cary MS
  • Mid-Year #2 @ Williams ES
  • Mid-Year #2 @ Knight ES

On The Horizon

January 28: Districtwide Assistant Principals' Meeting @ Hulcy MS

January 30: Cycle 5 Data Meeting (High) @ Jefferson HS

January 31: Dallas ISD STEM Day

February 4: Principal Focus Group

February 11-12: Master schedule Builder Training 2015

February 19: Six Weeks 4 Ends

February 20: Staff Development, Student Holiday

Action Items