DMS Corral

by Darnell and Guerra 3/21/16

Events at a Glance

Monday, March 21

Tennis vs Pleasanton 4:00

Tuesday, March 22

Wednesday, March 23

Lytle Band Festival

Thursday, March 24

Student Holiday/Staff Development

Friday, March 25


Grades Due Monday!

Grades for progress reports are due next Monday. Please be sure that you have at least one test grade and five daily grades in the gradebook so that Mrs. Garza may pull grades at 10:00am.

STAAR Testing Next Week

The STAAR testing plan has been e-mailed to staff. Student rosters will be posted this week so that students know where to report. Teachers of students who are not going to be testing need to let students know where they will report if their classroom has been re-located. Also, please check the testing plan and be aware of your what your responsibilities are next week as many of you who are not testing will be monitoring other classes for teacher who are testing. If you have any questions, please come see Mrs. Guerra.

Potluck Lunch Next Week

If you want to enjoy the potluck lunch next week on Tuesday and Wednesday, please be sure you pay Mrs. Guerra your $10. Otherwise, you will responsible for bringing your own lunch. If you bring your lunch, please make sure it is a lunch that does not require heating as there is not enough time for microwave use. Only those who pay to eat the potluck will be eating the potluck meals.

Payment must be given to Mrs. Guerra by this Wednesday.

TELPAS Writing Collections Due Monday!

Please have a writing sample to our TELPAS raters by Monday, March 28- that is next Monday! They need time to be sure the collections are appropriate and time to rate them. All core teachers are required to provide at least one content - area writing sample to the raters for each LEP student in their classes by next Monday. Be sure the student has written his/her name on the paper and the date with sample was written.

Your rater for 7th grade is Mrs. Oropreza; the 6th and 8th grade rater is Mrs. Freas. Please see them or Mrs. Guerra if you have any questions regarding the writing collection.

Designing Useful STEM Classroom Assessments By Anne Jolly

The STEM movement remains one of the fastest growing initiatives in education. If you’re a STEM teacher, chances are you’ve searched for good instructional strategies and for help in locating and designing STEM lessons. Now comes the big question: How are you going to assess your students’ progress during and following your STEM lessons? And what, exactly, do you need to assess?

Since STEM is a relatively new way of teaching science, math, and technology, the most useful and instructive assessments often occur during the STEM lesson itself, or shortly after the lesson. I’ll give you some of my thoughts on some things you need to consider to gauge the success of STEM lessons in your classes.

The guiding questions for my assessments are fundamental: What are students learning, how are they thinking, and what understandings and skills are they gaining as a result of this STEM lesson? You may choose different things to scrutinize from lesson to lesson, but here are five areas—in no particular order—that you may want to check during all lessons.

1. Examine the quality of your STEM lessons. Are your lessons on target? What did those lessons, taken collectively, accomplish for your students? At a minimum, your lessons should help students improve their abilities to do the core STEM tasks listed here:

  • Focus attention on identifying and solving real problems.
  • Apply specific grade-level science and math concepts.
  • Use an engineering-design process to guide their thinking and problem-solving.
  • Create and test prototypes (technologies) as solutions.

Check out my article "Six Characteristics of Great STEM lessons" for additional help in thinking about your STEM lesson design.

2. Gauge students’ understanding of the science and math needed to solve the problem. Be intentional about helping students make specific math and science connections during the lesson. (That will generally not happen automatically.) As they work on their STEM challenge, observe whether they understand how to apply science and mathematics to solve a problem.

Before and after class, consider giving bell ringers (entrance questions) or exit questions to get a quick idea of whether students understand a particular aspect of the content.

Another thing you’ll want to confirm is that kids actually understand how math and science work together to create solutions for problems. Sometimes you and your students might simply talk about it. At other times this might be an exit question, or even a discussion question for a student engineering notebook or test. Since STEM lessons should take students deeper into grade-level science and math objectives, their success should also be reflected in scores on summative assessments and tests.

3. Look at student teamwork progress. Next, consider students’ progress in working as productive team members. You might keep good teamwork behaviors on students’ radar by asking them to do a brief 60-second self-assessment, individually or as teams, before each class begins. Questions might include:

What behaviors did our team do well during our last lesson?

Did all team members feel included and valued?

What teamwork behaviors do we need to improve today?

You might also check to see if team members do these things:

  • Set norms for productive teamwork behaviors they all value.
  • Respond positively and successfully to guidance when needed
  • Regularly self-assess their team behaviors.

4. Assess STEM skill development. Today’s fast-paced culture demands citizens and workers who understand how to tackle emerging problems as well as longstanding issues. STEM lessons help students build these skills. Have you seen evidence that your students are growing in their abilities to do these things?

  • Come up with several different possible solutions for a problem.
  • Combine materials and ideas in clever and imaginative ways to create a solution.
  • Design a prototype and test it to see if this device solves the problem.
  • Successfully evaluate their testing results, and analyze and interpret their data.
  • Recognize things they can do to change and improve the design of the prototype.
  • Communicate ideas in new and innovative ways.

Probably one of best indicators your STEM lesson is having an impact on students is an increase in student enjoyment and interest in learning. Hopefully they no longer feel disconnected from the real world when studying science and math. Increasingly positive responses to their subject matter, plus an increase in student engagement and understanding, are real testaments to your teaching.

5. Examine student attitudes and confidence growth. A primary goal of STEM lessons includes developing specific attitudes that will help kids be more successful students, citizens, and members of the workforce. Think about how your students react during and following their STEM lessons. Look for indicators that your students are beginning to:

  • Feel “safe” in expressing out-of-the-box imaginative ideas.
  • Believe that it’s safe to fail, and then use failure as an opportunity to improve
  • Suggest increasingly creative ideas for solving a problem.
  • Show increased persistence in sticking with finding solutions for a problem.
  • Take ownership of their projects and learning.
  • Express increasing curiosity and ask more questions.
  • Transfer STEM practices to other subject areas.

Instructional Indicators of Strong STEM Learning and Growth

STEM classes should involve students in hands-on exploration and critical thinking. If you’ve successfully taught project-based learning (PBL) in the past, then chances are you made this transition with ease. The PBL teaching approach is STEM friendly and contains the necessary ingredients for STEM instructional success.

If you had not been using PBL, you may have abandoned some old familiar practices as you taught STEM lessons; then you dove into new open-ended strategies to encourage student interaction, invention, and creativity. If so, that can’t have been comfortable. Kudos for doing that!

As you look back on your year so far, identify the areas in which you and your students are already successful. Shore up areas that need strengthening, but continue to focus on areas of success. Focusing on the strong points encourages students, creates positive attitudes, and prepares them to take on areas where they need to change and improve.