Weekly Update: 2/10/14

Here are the updates for our 4-day week:

Flag Salute:

We will announce January attendance winners on Monday morning.  I do not have a lot of time for popcorn and reading this week- Thursday is most open for this week.  Please email me to arrange for popcorn reading.  I still have a couple of teachers who did not arrange for reading with me for the month of December but it’s up to you to email me.


PLC’s are on normal schedules this week.  You will have 2 opportunities this week to plan with your grade level- PLC and Wednesday in lieu of staff meeting.  Please use this time wisely.  I expect you all to continue unpacking standards at the level of depth that we have practiced in staff meetings.  The “steps” are listed in Rm. 28.  If we all want to deepen our understanding, then I highly encourage each member to begin by writing your own thoughts and understandings around each standard.  Just as we are asking our students to do more independent and criticial thinking, we need to do so as well.  Some teams might also choose to score PTAs while other teams may want to review upcoming PTAs.

Staff Meeting:

There will be no staff meeting this week.  Please email me with the location of your planning session.   I did not hear from all grade levels last week.

Math Performance Tasks:

Last week Amy Illingworth sent every grade level info regarding the upcoming Math performance tasks.  I know it is difficult to not want to “teach to the test” but this will not give you accurate assessment of your students’ abilities if you do this.  It is certainly ok to look it over and see what your students will be expected to do but if you haven’t been doing this all semester long, it will not be authentic to suddenly begin this type of assessment with your students.  If you want to give similar assessments beforehand, then just be careful not to scaffold or “give” them the answers beforehand.  It will be more beneficial to see how they do and plan your future instruction from that data.

SDAWP March Conference:

Remember, this Wednesday is the deadline to register for the SDAWP conference on Mar. 1.  Please let Eunice know if you are interested so she can do one, and only one, purchase order for the group of Emory teachers who are planning to attend.

Visits last week:

Thank you to those teachers who hosted a group of visitors.  Liz, from West Ed, along with Shelley Burgess and Amy Illingworth were all very positive in their feedback and encouraged to see every teacher attempting to grapple with the Common Core expecatations.  I enjoyed learning from Liz, one of the “gurus” of Common Core ELA as she pushed our thinking around “essential questions” of each lesson.  We will discuss this more in our next staff meeting PD but in the meantime, please continue to consider what your essential question to your students is for each lesson.  I know this is not easy and will take time, but ask yourself while planning, “What do I want to ask students at the beginning of each lesson that I hope they can answer by the end?”  This will really help you stay focused as a teacher and focuses more on the “inquiry process”.  In many cases, the students can also drive this “inquiry process” if you allow them to tell you what they want to learn.

For example:

Students are doing research reports on animals.  Typically, we might have them do reseach on Habitat, Food, Predators, etc.  Instead, we can push the “inquiry process” and ask in one lesson, “Why is where they live, their habitat, important to their survival?”  It moves from simply reading about the habitat and recalling that info into written form, to asking students to think about “why?”.

Classroom Visits:

Chris and I hope to get back into a busy routine of visiting classrooms.  We will be visiting classrooms beginning with ELD and throughout the day, also hoping to visit many of you during your writing block.  Please remember that your objectives should change daily, based on the focus standard for which you are addressing.  You may be addressing the same focus standard for more than one day, but typically, the daily objective will change based on the details within that focus standard.  At this point, we should expect to see objectives that are aligned with Unit 5.

Please ask for support if you are still struggling with writing daily objectives.  We are here to help you.  The Common Core is new to us all and we don’t expect anyone to “conquer” it overnight.  I appreciate you all jumping in and giving it a try, that’s the only way we will learn.

Resource for the Week:

Smarter Balance, the company that will be creating our new performance exams for many of the states that have adopted the CC, has released some more practice tests, etc.  You can find them  here under the heading: Practice Tests, Training Tests, and Sample Items.  Looking at these and/or taking them yourself might be another agenda item for your PLC or planning session on Wednesday.  Looking at these will give you a better idea about what our students will be seeing in the near future.

Quote of the Week:

“Two men look through the same bars; one sees the mud, ane one see the stars.”

-Frederick Langbridge

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