Pride Post #74

Dear team,

Last week we were incredibly fortunate to have author Rebecca Fjelland Davis (also know as Mr. Dobell’s mom) visit our campus.  This visit was incredibly potent on a number of levels.  Our kids heard how much work and thought writing actually requires.  When Ms. Davis said she often threw away ten pages at a time and wrote an entire novel over again, jaws dropped around the room, and a few kids actually started to believing what we say about revision.  We couldn’t help but wonder: How do we create more opportunities for our kids to hear from people who are this passionate about their work?

Ms. Davis’s visit also brought together (thanks to Russell and Dobell’s planning) a group of young women from grades 6-11 into the same room.    I am frequently saddened by the fact that many kids and teachers only know older students from the hectic moments of dismissal.   In a seminar style format, sixth grade girls were able to hear ninth and tenth graders discussing literature instead of the mess they hear on the bus.  They were able to see and be strong young women talking with a real author about social stereotypes and the challenges of changing friendships.  The very next day our fifth graders were able to sing at an SAT Pep Rally for the eleventh graders and see older kids pumped up about a test.  How can we make these moments happen all the time, without or without an amazing guest? Creating more opportunities for our middle and high school kids to see and interact with each other at their best will impact this campus in a profound way.

Many thanks, and much love,


Readings, Links, and Other ways to get smarter

1. Teaching and learning is an art and a science.

A few weeks ago I referenced an article about Rick Stiggins, one of the gurus of assessment in education.  He speaks a lot about empowering kids through teaching them to self-assess and use assessment data to guide their own learning.  I witnessed a few powerful applications of this recently:

· Harwick had kids graph their class and individual benchmark growth.

· Weaver continues to experiment with students tracking and reflecting on their mastery quizzes.  He also has revised the effective effort checklist on his test; ask him for a copy.

Providing students (and teachers) direct feedback on their work is one of the most important levers for achievement and one of the most challenging acts in a teacher’s repertoire. During last weekend’s Writing Project meetings (in interests of disclosure I was only there briefly) I was struck by KIPP Houston’s use of the Drop IO site to provide teacher-student, student-student, and teacher-teacher feedback.  This site receives constant raves on but I hadn’t seen it action.  This is a simple and effective way to share student work.  This may be the ideal tool for sharing our tests and unit plans as well since it allows comments and even live chat about documents. How amazing would it be to have our units on-line and open to the team and perhaps some KIPP friends for feedback.  Check out Laura’s postings below to see how this (History paper draft) (History paper final) (Gaston training) (from my training class–you can put handouts on (surveys using free survey monkey website) (place to see everyone’s thesis) (see comments)

Here is our blog:

.Discovering new graphic organizers is a great way to expand your clarity repertoire.  This is a spectacularly cool presentation of graphic organizers. Seriously it’s fun to look at, even if you don’t use it.

Eliot Witney suggests this site. Differentiation Support If you are looking for additional resources that support your work in the classroom around Differentiation, you may look at the presentations here:

My two favorite presentations on this site are:

1, Writing and Talk: Language Tools for Improving Instruction and Problem-Solving in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom[1]

2, Managing a Differentiated Classroom.

2. All students leave GCP with the desire and skills to choose the life they want and become the people they want to be.

The article about academic resiliency in the Marshall Memo gets at the synthesis of culture and academics Barford spoke of a few weeks ago.  The study’s point that resiliency can be taught and measured challenges the thinking that character traits are fixed or innate.  This is a worthy read.

3. The students and teachers are passionate about ideas, their school, their community, and their growth.

There is a burgeoning group of TED Talk aficionados.  KIPP Houston CAO and Principal Eliot Witney passes these on:

Eric Lewis @ TED To those who seek metaphor for a teacher’s mind when attempting to bring order to what we see in front of us at times in the classroom, look no further than a few moments of Eric Lewis’s performance.  Ingredients: technical talents; courage; order in the midst of chaos.

William Kamkwamba @ TED In the afterglow of Engineering Day, this particular clip further inspires optimism in me that our children will solve real problems in the future.

Rives[2] @ TED For those of us who occasionally watch the clock as it ticks past 3:59am, now we commiserate with fine art and The Godfather.

Jill Bolte Taylor @ TED

A brain scientist tells the extraordinary story of her brain shutting down one function at a time after a blood vessel exploded in her brain.


Get your GCP photos online. Don’t keep those amazing pictures of classes, Pride times, and trips to yourself.  Share them on our shutterfly account.  I am looking for some high quality shots to frame for the front lobby.  If your shot is selected I will make you a free extra copy;

You can upload your photos at                                        Password: pride

4. Our school embraces the idea that this is a long term struggle to build strong people and an enduring community institution.

President Obama’s plans could directly expand KIPP’s ability to grow .

The impact of our work in the peanut field extends far beyond it.

I’m not sure whether you remember our visit to KIPP Gaston Prep almost two years ago.  Watching the children inspired us to be relentless in our attempt to bring KIPP to Jacksonville.  Our board chair recounts the anecdote of the young woman whom he asked where she wanted to go to college.  She responded that she wanted to go to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.   When another member of our group asked her if she had a fallback school, she said that she was only in seventh grade and was setting her sights high.  Thank you – that morning in Gaston is in large part the reason that KIPP will be coming to Florida.


Jane Vance

[1] This has a slide about including “justification” and “explaining” – two dispositions of critical thinking – in Math

[2] Recommended by Taylor Mali

To Dos and To Thinks

ì Experiment and expand your skillful teaching and learning repertoire.

ì Plan and script purposeful questions.

ì Get kids excited about the close of the quarter and upcoming events like the 5K, MMMM, and 100% of students growing on benchmarks.

ì Check out the Pride Post for parents and let me know if there are any additions or corrections.

ì Hype (and perhaps even train for) the 5k to kids, parents, friends, and families.  Let’s break the 400 entrant barrier.

ì Enjoy dismissal.  Spring weather in the 60s is predicted all week.

ì We will vote on the April Fool’s Prank suggestions below at the upcoming team meeting.

A. Teachers hide out during morning work and see what the students do if no one is around. This will also help Kelly with her Lord of the Flies unit.

B. Lock the doors and shut out the lights when students arrive.

C. Pretend it’s the first day of school and start by introducing ourselves and teaching CATS

D. Switch classrooms by grade level i.e. Snyder teachers 2013, Emily teaches 5th grade Reading, and so on…

E. Pretend that the EOG has been moved up and pass out Starbursts and songs.

F. Pretend that due to budget cuts we had to shut out the lights, close two hallways and teach everyone in the cafeteria.

G. Others?

Ongoing reminders

* Take care of yourself and have fun with kids and teammates.

* Plan and teach thoughtfully.

* Save $ and resources creatively.  Open windows are as good as air conditioning.

* Seek out additional funding and resources. Donorshoose is a great way to make this happen.  TFA corps members and alum, our proposals are being half funded by the Redwoods group so this is a huge opportunity.  Pat and Kristen just had a proposal funded J and Emily and I have been half-funded.

* Draft your next unit and assessment according to the due dates you established.  Seek feedback from all of the brilliant folks around you.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. *

This week I will try to…

ì Plan for several planning conferences and post-observation debriefs

ì Continue Observation round #6 and start round #7.

ì Participate in recruitment, testing, plant, budget, and leadership team meetings.

ì Teach History/Writing to 2013.  We are starting a second round of debates and would love observers, feedback, and guest judges.

ì Continue Work on mastery case study for RBT with Kelly.

ì Send thank you notes to our spring break groups.

ì Develop Kippster of the Year Selection process.   Still behind on this.

Upcoming Events and Due Dates

The Next three Fridays are full Pride day schedules for MMMM and Honor Roll Assembly.

End of 3rd Grading Period

March 20

All juniors take the SAT

March 14

Science Department Day

March 20

Grades Due

March 23

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

March 24

Scott Given (former ED of Excel Charter School) visits.

March 24

Woodley and Allen take 30 kids to a Band Festival

March 25

Grade Verifications Due Back

March 25

Report Cards Printed

March 27

The 5K

March 28

Brent Maddin– Director of Teaching and Learning
Teacher U visits.

April 1-April4

Title One Monitoring Visit

May 1-3

NC teaching fellows visit.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2016 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2015 EOY Trip

Tuesday May, 26-Friday May 29

2014 EOY Trip

Saturday, May 30-Wednesday, June 3

2013 EOY Trip

Friday, May 29-Monday, June 1 (Williamsburg)

End of 4th Grading Period

June 5th

2009’s Commencement Ceremony

June 6

Grades Due

June 8

Grade Verifications Out to Teachers

June 9

Grade Verifications Due Back

June 10

Report Cards Printed

June 12


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