MS Weekly Staff Memo – November 22, 2014

What’s On My Mind
Dear MS Staff,
As we venture into this wonderful season of giving thanks, I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for the countless ways in which you serve our school community each day.  Not only are you outstanding educators who are providing a stellar education for our students, you are caring adults who put the needs of others before your own.  I see the ways in which you all support each other – to the same extent any blood family would – and I never cease to be amazed by your selfless acts of service.  While you don’t make a fraction of what you’re worth monetarily, I hope each and every one of you recognize the value of your presence at our school and in the CSD community at large.  Each of you bring your own special brand of magic to the table that flavors our community with a genuine sweetness that is practically palpable.  My Thanksgiving wish is that each of you find time this holiday weekend to “be” with those you love the most and to be reminded of the many blessings of our incredibly fortunate lives.  Get some rest, eat well, and most importantly, find a reason to smile and laugh with those you love the most!
All my love,

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Upcoming Events
Monday, November 24th

Tuesday, November 25th

Looking Ahead….
12/1 – MS Principal/Parent Coffee Talk 8:30-9:30
12/1 – NO Parent Advisory in December
12/2 – Regional Charter School Meeting at HS 10-12
12/3 – MS Staff Meeting
12/8 – School Spelling Bee
12/10 – Band Concert 9:30-10:30
12/11 – MS Dance Dress Rehearsal (during school day)
12/13 – MS Dance Performance
12/17 – MS Show Choir Performance
12/22 – 1/4 – Winter Break

The admin team would really appreciate it if a few of you would write thank you notes to our auction team.  That amazing group of people worked many hours to give us a wonderful auction.  Thank you!

Be thinking about presentation topics for our Fresh Take Conference (January 23, 2015)!  We need you! Proposals are due and we have minimal offerings.  Please begin thinking or if you are willing but not sure what to do, see an admin or team member for brainstorming.  It is super important that we offer a variety of presentations.  I think we may have high numbers this year!  Proposals can be submitted through the following link:

As we approach the Holiday Season, please be mindful of not giving homework assignments over the breaks.  We really want students to be able to unplug and enjoy their family time without the pressures of having pending assignments hanging over their heads.  We also want YOU to be able to take a break from the demands of collecting and grading as you greatly deserve it!

Professional Development

Two names I highly recommend in the field of education are Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.  They have published multiple books and articles on topics ranging from vocabulary development to formative assessment to student engagement.  Their research is convincing and I find their tips and strategies to be practical!  The following article, Speaking Volumes, was published in the most recent edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership.  In this article, Fisher and Frey address the importance of talking and listening in an establishing an effective classroom environment that is conducive to learning.  As you read, I ask you to ponder the following:

Speaking Volumes by Nancy Fisher and Douglas Frey

The person doing the talking is doing the thinking.  Question – Who is doing the thinking in your class?  Are you putting the cognitive load on the students or are you shouldering this burden yourself?  Ask yourself, “Who is doing the thinking?”  Also ask yourself, “Am I listening – really listening – to what the students have to offer?  Active listening affords us the opportunity to really understand our students’ thinking and intervene where necessary.

Setting the stage for meaningful student talk requires well-designed tasks that provide authentic purposes for students to engage in discussion as they resolve challenging problems.  Question – Are my tasks designed deliberately to provoke thought and engage the students in deep thinking and reasoning?  Am I challenging students to solve real-world problems or am I merely having them scrape the surface by reiterating procedural information?

Reading and writing float on a sea of talk.  Question – Am I making full use of student thinking by engaging them in a wide variety of literacy activities (no matter what the content area)?

Creating a classroom driven by discussion, rather than distraction, requires planning and well-honed procedures.  Question – Are my classroom routines and procedures creating an environment that in conducive to on-task, meaningful talk?  What can I do to refine or better hone these procedures?



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