Newsletter: February 7 , 2018 - Year 4

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Walking the Right Path, Making Progress

Welcome Back ACE Literacy Team!

If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress. - President Barack Obama

During our last ACE Literacy training we continued our Literacy walk down the right path and launched Thinking Jobs and upgraded Intervention Small Groups with the revised SE Differentiation Chart. We are very excited about increasing rigor in our literacy classrooms and students' demonstrating their reasoning while reading on level text. Nothing compares to seeing students translate their thinking through annotations and hearing teachers pose rigorous questions during small group to ensure skill mastery.


  • Thinking Jobs
  • Small Groups
  • Motivation
  • Celebration
  • STAAR Dates and TIPS
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Thinking Jobs

  • Help students read and make meaning in each genre
  • Help readers recognize what they are reading and quickly adjust their reading styles
  • Helps the reader keep track of ideas and questions
  • Supports deeper understanding of the text
  • Supports students purposely interacting with a text
  • Create Anchor Charts to help support student learning

Small Groups

Heard your campus leadership asking you to push those "meets" and "masters" scholars? Feeling stuck on how? Take a look at these differentiation charts to help guide your planning.

As you study your data and consider your groups, use this differentiation tool to plan high leverage re-teach instruction.

For some students it may be higher leverage to drill down and work toward success on particular skills before moving on to others.

For example, in third, fourth, and fifth grades, we know that understanding the main idea in non fiction is critical for students to comprehend their texts.However, we also know that summary (fig 19E) is a skill that builds upon students' understanding of main ideas. For students struggling to achieve "approaches" it would be of greater benefit to master the skill of main idea before reteaching the skill of summarizing.

How can I use this tool?

  • Identify the more complex questions in a passage in order to give instruction and feedback to 'masters' and 'meets' level students.
  • Help narrow your focus for 'approaches' level students so that they can master high leverage skills.
  • Ensure that your instruction includes a range of question complexity and is representative of the complexity at which students will be assessed.
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Small Group Preparation

Successful small group preparation involves thoroughly analyzing student work. Examining student work and talking directly to students about their work is the most reliable method for determining students’ misconceptions and determining if there is a procedural or conceptual gap.

These are the steps involved in planning a data-based small group session:

  1. identify how students will be grouped
  2. select student expectation
  3. select standard-aligned questions using differentiation chart
  4. Select authentic text with the demands of SE
  5. create an exemplar & sequence questions to be posed
  6. list common or observed misconceptions
  7. write probing questions that will highlight the misconception(s)
  8. Plan laps
  9. teach/fine tune a specific strategy

Steps 4-8 are really not linear. As you create the exemplar, misconceptions may surface, and questions to ask to identify the gap or a misconception may also surface.

The goal of a small group session is to identify a gap and correct a misconception regarding conceptual or procedural understanding. Therefore teachers should focus on the concept or procedure within context.


A great teacher recognizes that student motivation is necessary for success in learning. Here are some suggestions to help motivate children to be the best version of themselves.

  • Be Inspirational
  • Establish high expectations and clear goals
  • Build a community of learners in your classroom
  • Develop meaningful and respectful relationships with students

Let's Celebrate Growth and Success!

Schools have creatively chosen ways to celebrate students ! Check out some of the ways our leaders are leading the way!

What are some creative ways you've decided to celebrate your students?

STAAR Tips and Information

Upcoming STAAR Dates

April 9th - 4th Grade Writing

April 10th - 5th Grading Reading

10 Classroom and School Tips to Improve Test Scores

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

As your curriculum runs down and anxiety ramps up, you may think that there’s nothing more you can do to prepare your students for test day. But, there are always ways to help students. Here are ten tips to make sure that they have every chance to succeed!

Prepare students for the test itself

Tests change even more often than standards based on such things as contractor changes, technology upgrades, and other factors. The testing services provide demos for a reason. Make them available to your students, and ensure that students know how to navigate any software that is needed. This is particularly true in math, where helpful tools like calculators may be hidden under a button or setting.

Benchmark your learners

Conduct one more benchmark assessment before testing season just to make sure that there isn’t one last topic in which everyone can improve with just a bit more practice. You’ve done a lot of benchmarking up to now, but things change quickly during the school year.

Leverage your data

Make one more pass at wholesale data study to make certain that there isn’t something missing from your students’ skill sets. In fact, bring in the students so that they understand the skills they need and learn where they must progress in order to score well on the test itself.

Provide students with incentives

Students aren’t known for intrinsic motivation, and a lot of practice can test their patience even further. Whenever possible, make practice a game, and offer consistent rewards to keep the students striving forward.

Practice previewing

Previewing test sections before answering questions can be a valuable skill on test day, saving time and closing gaps of understanding. Although it’s great to practice previewing in the context of a larger testing item, devoting some time to previewing itself can help all students get the point.

Let parents help

Although local news reports run the occasional story about upcoming testing, parents won’t know what’s going on with their individual children unless you tell them. Keep them informed of the schedule, the process, and the preparations the class is taking. That sets up parents to having meaningful conversations and helping with practice at home.

Create a positive culture

Help students set some goals and then never let them act as though they won’t reach those goals. Celebrate every little success during practice, and model that culture for other students as well. This can alleviate much student anxiety when test day comes.

Practice, practice, practice!

The cliché is true: practice does make perfect. Create a review plan that provides multiple chances for students to practice not only the content they will need to know but also the testing format. Make sure that your plan includes modalities beyond taking practice tests—games, writing, and speech exercises can help students retain information and gain a deeper understanding of concepts. The more exposure that students have to the material and testing environment, the more comfortable they will be when testing day arrives.

Be the students’ “catering manager”

On testing day, students’ minds are in their stomachs. Research has proven repeatedly that hungry students perform more poorly on tests than those who are well fed. Come to testing day with granola or energy bars, and ask parents to do their best on the home front. Some local fast-food restaurants even offer free breakfast for students during testing week, so check out participating ones and make sure that parents know about them.

Keep students moving

Just like a rumbling stomach, an aching back or neck can drag down a student’s score. Spend some time showing students some proven seated stretching techniques and breathing exercises. When the test offers a break period, allow students to use it to move around, not stay seated in the same place they’ve spent the past hour or more.

5th Six Weeks IPCs Updated!

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