Weekly Staff Memo – Week of Oct. 5th

Great Things I Noticed This Week

In preparation for next week’s first Lottery Open House of the school year, I put together a little slideshow to hopefully capture the essence of our CSD K-8 school.  I love this song – so simple, yet so powerful.  (Thanks, Kathleen).   It’s such an honor to be a part of something so special.  Thank you, ALL, for using your “own two hands” to work magic each day.

Professional Development Corner – Importance of Learning Targets

Take a moment to review the following:


What is a learning target?  
“Learning targets are student-friendly descriptions – via words, pictures, actions, or some combination of the three – of what you intend students to learn or accomplish in a given lesson.  When shared meaningfully, they become actual targets that students can see and direct their efforts toward.” (Learning Targets:  Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today’s Lesson by Moss and Brookhart, pg. 9)

All too often, I think we, as teachers, have a very clear idea in our mind as to what we are trying to accomplish.  However, when we fail to be transparent with these goals (i.e. learning targets), we are making the assumption that our students have the same picture in their minds as well.  One of our most valuable commodities as teachers is time.  Think of the amount of time we could potentially save by ensuring that we are not making assumptions about our students’ understanding.  To me, this begins with clear learning targets.  Below are a few more thoughts from Moss and Brookhart’s book (which I am more than happy to loan out, by the way).

What do we mean by sharing the learning target?
This means more than simply writing the learning target on the board or stating the learning target at the beginning of the lesson.  We mean that students use multiple strategies during a formative learning cycle to make sure that students recognize, understand, and aim for what is important during today’s lesson.

Question – How do you define active engagement?
Caution – Be careful about defining active engagement on the basis of the number of activities in a lesson.  It is what students actively think about – what their minds are on – rather than what their hands are on – that determines active engagement.  What we require students to do should deepen student’s understanding and produce evidence of their learning.

Think about the metaphor of aiming for a target.
Just like with the roadmap analogy, we have to be acutely aware of where we are going in order to devise our plan for how we will get there.  (Sound familiar?  Hint-hint:  Backward Design)  But even more importantly, we have to make sure are students are acutely aware.  Otherwise students are stabbing in the dark.

Along these same lines, I want to be very transparent about what I’m looking for when I come into your classrooms.  Too often, classroom observations boil down to an audit of teacher performance.  While one of my foremost goals is to help you become the very best teacher you can be, I am far more concerned with “learning” than “teaching.”  Therefore, I’m looking for evidence – evidence that students are working toward specific learning goals.  Can they articulate what it is they are supposed to be learning or when asked, do they merely rattle off what it is they are supposed to be doing?  Think about that for a minute.  There is a difference.  So my challenge to you – and hopefully will be your challenge to all of your students in the days and months to come – is to be able to clearly articulate the learning targets for each lesson and then show evidence of their learning (via words, pictures, actions, or some combination of the three).

In closing, I want you to ask yourself this – Where is my focus – on teaching or on learning?  In my eyes, the difference lies in culture of evidence expected within your classroom.  Not just… “What do you know?”  But… “How can you prove to me you know?”  A great way to stay focused on an evidence-based classroom is to constantly revisit these four questions (DuFour):
1.  What do we want students to learn? (Planning and pacing instruction)
2.  How will we know if they have learned it? (Collect data) – and I would add, How will they know they have learned it?
3.  What do we do if they do not learn it? (Intervention)
4.   What do we do if they do learn it? (Enrichment)

If we stay focused on these four questions, I feel certain we will be fulfilling our mission of reaching all students!

Another really good resource:

If you desire any further information on learning targets, please let me know.  I have TONS, and I would love to share!


Did you know that Promethean replacement bulbs run about $250-300?  Please try to conserve the life of your bulb by hitting “no show” on the remote when you are not actively using the board.  It takes a deliberate attempt at forming a new habit on our part to do this, but if everyone trains themselves to be aware of when we are not using the boards and when we could click “no show”, we could potentially really elongate the life our bulbs, thereby saving the school lots of money.  Thanks for your help with this!

Upcoming Events

Monday, October 7th
11:30-12:15 – 6th Grade Team Meeting with Juli and Dana in 6th grade resource room.  Agenda to come soon via email…Be on the lookout to add items.
7:30p.m. – Parent Advisory Meeting at High School

Tuesday, October 8th
9:30 – K-8 Lottery Registration Open House – Expect many visitors touring the school between 10:30-11:30.  Please give your first period class a reminder about visitors in our building.  I would also appreciate as many teachers as possible monitoring the hallways.  Thanks so much!
7:00 p.m. – K-8 Lottery Registration Open House – *Remember, we encourage all staff members to attend an Open House annually to be reminded of the CSD Mission and Vision and what we are telling parents about our school.  We also LOVE it when you chime in from your perspective, so please join us if you are available!

Wednesday, October 9th
11:30-12:15 – Vertical Math Team Meeting in Juli’s Office.  Agenda to come soon via email…Be on the lookout to add items.
3:30 – Ed Leadership Round Table Teacher Discussion in MS Media Center

Thursday, October 10th

2:00ish – Middle School Fall Sports Pep Rally – Alternate Schedule coming soon…..
Kathleen is Admin-on-Call!

October is a busy month!  Lots of important dates coming down the pike….
10/18 – Jupiter Grades due for admin editing
10/24 – 1/2 day – Only 8th Graders report to school this day for Explore Test – Parent/Teacher Conferences
10/25 – No School for Students – Parent/Teacher Conferences; Fresh Take Conference (Day 1)
10/26 – Fresh Take Conference (Day 2)

Please consider joining us for our annual Fresh Take Conference on October 25th and 26th!  And even better, invite all folks who work with youth in any capacity!  Sign up today!  FT

If you have not yet signed up to attend Fresh Take please do so today. We want to make sure we order the correct amount of lunches.  Here is the link for our staff. We have fabulous workshops being offered at our conference (a sneak peek will be coming soon).  
Please encourage a friend to attend!  The Fresh Take link can be found on our website on the bottom right under the calendar.  We are going to update the registration link to allow for one day attendance for any friends who cannot attend both days.


Four Agreements – # 1 – Be impeccable with your word.

seedsWow.  This agreement is HUGE.  To be honest, this agreement is also probably the most difficult to honor.  I want you to stop for a minute and think about the power of our words.  Think of times when words have cut you to the bone, have taken the very breath right out of you, and have literally broken your heart.  Now think of the opposite.  Think of a time when a small casual comment made in passing has totally changed the trajectory of your entire day.  Words are powerful – probably one of the most powerful tools we possess as humans.  One of my favorite metaphors is thinking of the mind as a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted.  What kinds of seeds are you planting?  Seeds of judgement, mistrust, and fear?  Or are you planting seeds of joy, love, and appreciation?  Now take this a step further.  What kind of seeds is your mind fertile for?  Which seeds root deep into the ground and flourish and which seeds never take hold and wither away?  As we go into this next week, I challenge you to be keenly aware of the words you are using, not only with others, but with yourself.  What kinds of seeds are you planting?  What is your mind fertile for?  Be impeccable with your word.


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