Monday, December 14, 2015

Dec. 14, 2015

PTA is providing our scholars a unique opportunity at our school on January 22nd because "Dinosaur George: Museum in the Classroom" will be here!!

"Dinosaur George: Museum in the Classroom" gives students the unique opportunity to see exhibits of prehistoric life from around the world, with over 150 museum quality exhibit pieces from the earliest life on earth. From giant Texas reptiles, to dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals, students will see firsthand some of the creatures that once roamed Texas. Dinosaur George: Museum in the Classroom provides a fun learning environment in Spanish and English! During the exhibit, staff experts will be on hand to answer questions, and Museum in the Classroom is a self-guided tour so that teachers and students can learn at their own pace. Dinosaur George: Museum in the Classroom is one of the largest traveling school exhibits in the country."

Please plan to take time as a team to look at the lessons provided (in English and Spanish) to see how you can enrich this great learning opportunity. The lessons are in science, math and language arts. Be prepared to share your ideas in January at PLC.

TEKS Connections to Dinosaur George (scroll down to middle of page)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec. 7 2015

I wanted to highlight some updates that have been added to our district curriculum Google site for easy access.  

  • ONLINE TEXTBOOK ACCESS - it gives specific directions on how you and your students can access resources along with QR codes to use with students.  This is inclusive of Texas Treasures-reading, Pearson Easy Bridge-social studies, ThinkCentral-math, and STEMscopes-science
  • RTI - actually links to the Personalized Learning Google Site which also includes
    • all of the MATH progress monitoring, 
    • RTI, 
    • Five Phase information
    • PLP (student goal setting)
  • COMMON INSTRUCTIONAL EXPECTATIONS: these documents are also embedded within the curriculum

If you are interested in having an instructional coach come meet with you or your team about the new Pearson Easy Bridge resources or ThinkCentral please let me know so I can get that scheduled.  

Nov. 30, 2015

This week is my favorite of all holidays because it is not about gift giving.  The gift of time to enjoy family and friends and the ability to just slow down is essential to my mental and physical health.  As we go back to school, know in your heart that YOU make an impact in each student's life and be THANKFUL for that opportunity.  Here is my "thankful list" of the reality I live- not my "dream life of being a princess with unlimited funds"! (Actually, my list would be the same minus timelines because I would have more $ to provide myself help.)

Timelines that give me structure
Humor because I love to laugh
Autonomy that allows me to figure it out
Nice people who care
Knowledge that is always growing
Family & friends that keep me grounded
Unity and teamwork makes me better
Loyalty for a purpose bigger than myself

What does your THANKFUL acrostic look like?  Please send it to me and I will be posting them in my room!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Nov. 16, 2015

I heard this quote and it has really resonated with me.  Many days we do the same routine and follow our same habits because it is comfortable. Our students do not come to school for comfort, they show up to molded and prepared for the future.  

Good is simply not good enough anymore if we want to prepare today's students to be productive
citizens in our ever changing society.  I am heavy hearted about Paris and the responsibility that we as educators have to teach not only content but personal responsibility. It does not matter what a scholar's situation is outside of school, we have 7 hours a day to impact them. If you are still reading this- I hope you feel this same passion to move onto better & best because our scholars deserve it!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Nov. 9, 2015

The November 2015 issue of Science & Children focuses on writing in science.  There are two articles that we will look at in PLCs. One is called MAP IT-THEN WRITE IT which focuses on primary grades.  The 3rd-5th grade article called SCIENCE FOR TWO VOICES shows how to use poetry to reinforce students' understanding by comparing two related concepts.  These cross-curricular connections allow students the opportunity to strengthen their skills when we embed grade level writing expectations with our content.

Nov. 2, 2015

At U-CAN this past week, this great resource was given out to one of your team members.  We spent time going over the well formatted one-page reading strategy ideas.  One thing that I LOVE about this book is that it shows you an example.  Each strategy is cross referenced by levels, skills and genre.  That makes this a great resource for Social Studies and Science as well!  Take a look at the example for younger students but keep in mind there are over 300 strategies in this book. This is a perfect resource so go to when you are trying to differentiate for all levels.  Please take time to examine this resource in your next team meeting.  If you would like time to look through it together, please email me and let's set up a time.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Oct. 26, 2015

As our first round of Achievement Data meetings ends, I feel teachers battle with two things:

1. How do I help my students academically?
2. How do I address the factors I can’t change?

Let’s look at the first one. “The Why Behind RTI” states that: “Targeted Instruction + Time = Learning

Because learning styles and instructional needs vary from student to student, we must provide each student with targeted instruction—that is, teaching practices designed to meet his or her individual learning needs. We also know that students don't all learn at the same speed. Some will need more time to learn. That is the purpose of RTI—to systematically provide every student with the additional time and support needed to learn at high levels.”

Secondly, I know in my heart that you desire to meet the needs of your students. That becomes overwhelming when you literally think of the INDIVIDUAL needs of the scholars that you cannot change. Eric Jensen states that economically disadvantaged students’ deal with 4 issues:

· Emotional and social challenges.
· Acute and chronic stressors.
· Cognitive lags. (RTI & sound helps address this!)
· Health and safety issues.

Overwhelming not only because of the needs that you cannot address but also because of time constraints. “Kids raised in poverty are more likely to lack—and need—a caring, dependable adult in their lives, and often it's teachers to whom children look for that support.” Students need consistency and dependable relationships in which to succeed.

WE CAN be successful with any student IF we provide these 2 things to our scholars. Please discuss the needs of your students with your team so every scholar feels this dependable, consistent support.

The Why Behind RTI
Teaching with Poverty in Mind, by Eric Jensen
Big image

Oct. 19, 2015

Have you heard of this costume wearing-tech savvy-engaging teacher from Seattle? Mr. Heath really stretches me to think outside of the box to reach students. I've shared a video of one of his math lessons below - I hope he inspires you too!

Follow him on Twitter @teachheath

Oct. 12, 2015

Learning time loss: Why bell-to-bell learning matters 
by Dr. Justin Tarte @justintarte

Imagine this scenario: You teach at least 5 classes or 5 hours a day (this accounts for both elementary and secondary teachers). Each 1 hour block takes about 5 minutes to get started and ends about 5 minutes early.

This means that roughly 10 minutes out of every 60 minutes are underutilized. Over the course of the day, this means that roughly 50 minutes out of every 300 minutes are not focused on learning. Over the course of a typical 5-day week there will be 250 minutes not spent on learning out of a total 1,500 potential learning minutes. Over the course of a typical school year of 174 school days there will be 8,700 minutes not utilized for learning.

Now, let's be realistic and cut that number in half because we all know there are assemblies and other events that cut into learning time throughout the school year. That leaves us with 4,350 minutes of time not spent learning. 4,350 total underutilized minutes divided by a typical 300 min. school day = 14.5 days per school year are slipping through our fingers.

Does every minute needs to focused on learning, of course not. Are there times when kids and educators need a few moments to simply 'breathe,' of course there are.
It's unrealistic to think every minute can be focused on learning.

However, even with conservative numbers, almost three weeks of school each year are being lost. In other words, 8.3% of a student's year in a 36-week school year. And, there's one thing all educators can agree with... time is precious and we always need more of it.

This article by Dr. Justin Tarte really made me think! You will be amazed when you learn what great things are happening @canSTEM. Come to PLC prepared (with photos or examples) to share what you do in your classroom. Let's really focus on making sure we are maximizing the time we have! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oct. 5, 2015

As I was reading Twitter, I ran across this graphic.  It was a great
reminder of our district's student-centered platform goal.
"Student-centered learning platform will include multiple approaches
to the content, process and product and include a classroom
environment that fosters differentiated instruction and engagement."
How do you learn best?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sept. 28, 2015

In the latest STEM Magazine Dr. Willis discusses “How to Teach Students About Their Brain”.  (Debbie sent you an email on Sept. 21st with the link.)  Using brain research teaching strategies and explicitly discussing brain research within your classroom empowers students to become self-regulated learners with aligns with our Portrait of a Graduate.  If you LOVE this article like I do and would like to dive deeper, please let me know.  This would be a great topic for a book study! 

Dr. Judy Willis, a board-certified neurologist and teacher in Santa Barbara, Calif., has combined her training in neuroscience and neuroimaging with her teacher education training and years of classroom experience. She has become an authority in the field of learning-centered brain research and classroom strategies derived from this research.  You can also find other article and webinars from Dr. Willis on the ASCD website

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sept. 21, 2015

Engaging & Effective iPad Practices

Here are some ideas and sample lessons that come from all grade levels in GCISD including Specials!  (PE, art and music this means you too!) Please remember, you must be logged into GCISD Schoolwires to access the links.

GCISD-Elementary 1:1 iPad Initiative  is a Google site that contains all of the resources used for 1:1 iPad professional learning used throughout the district.  This Google site has a plethora of information but today I want to highlight the “Sample Workflow Lessons”.   You will find the link in the right column near the bottom.  Select your grade level and then your just click through the samples for all subjects.  Here is a 3rd grade example:

Another amazing GCISD resource is a blog that our instructional technology coaches write.  Each week the blog has relevant connections to your classrooms.  Be sure to subscribe to the GCISD LEAD with Technology blog TODAY if you are not already receiving weekly emails with their current blog post. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sept. 14, 2015

As I listened to several of you talk about parent conferences that have already been set up and I think about some of the questions I fielded on curriculum night, I find it interesting the same comment I hear each year from parents.  “I was not good a math either.”  “He/she is NOT a math person.” 

In the English/Language Arts worlds there are several gurus, Penny Kettle and Donalyn Miller whose passion is to teach students to FALL IN LOVE WITH BOOKS.  My personal beliefs align with both Kettle & Miller I feel that helping students find their passion is reading very tangible.  But how do we teach students to find their PASSION in math?

I read an article from August issue of STEM Magazine discussing how students perceive their relationship with math.  Often students, even those who are confident about math, do not arrive at a LOVE for math.  Professor Zahra Hazari states, “If we want to empower students and provide access to STEM careers, it can’t just be about confidence and performance.  Attitudes and personal motivation matters immensely.”  Once again MIND-SET plays a roll in being able to develop a math identity!!!  Please take time to read this article. 

FYI:  We receive this resource in an email from Candi Amos that says: 

Here is the August STEM Magazine ready for distribution as you wish.
Remember, it's PDF printable and you have unlimited distribution.

STEM Magazine August 2015 Issue

Sept. 7, 2015

Lisa’s Third Week of School Top 10 for Teachers

10-Demonstrate professionalism at all times to inspire respect from students, parents & colleagues.  If we inspire each other…we will raise the level learning for our studentsJ
9-Know your standards and TEKS.
8-Lesson plans should fulfill your purpose of delivering seamless instruction
7-Technology requires planning ahead and practice. Schedule Ben to help you and your students.
6-Mythbuster: Teachers work an 8-hour days with weekends off!!
5-Follow through is imperative on all levels.
4-Ask specific questions to gain clarity for yourself and instruction
3-Classroom management-get in control NOW!  Set expectations high so our scholars can rise to meet them.
2-Plan ahead to ease frustration.
1-Student engagement- bell to bell!!  Engaged students create less discipline problems and experience more learning.

We are off to a great start this year!! I personally think the first two weeks are the most challenging.

FYI- I appreciate your patience in the area of our “on-line” student accounts.
-Educational Galaxy will be working very soon-by Wednesday at the latest.  They will be uploading the entire school any time.
-Raz-Kids is in the process of being renewed via Debbie.
-STEMscopes should be working minus a few glitches.
-waiting on updates for GoMath, Social Studies and IXL

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Aug. 31, 2015

Congratulations!!! You have survived the 1st week of school.  As I have worked behind the scenes this past week, I have witnessed you taking care of students, parents, new teachers, colleagues and putting yourself last.

I read a great article from ASCD Express that explains Ten Things Master Teachers Do.  I will give you the short list:
·      Ask for help
·      Avoid negative people AT ALL COST
·      Have a classroom management plan AND STICK TO IT
·      Be the happiest-looking teacher in the school
·      Convince your students you care
·      Make lessons fun, meaningful, and doable
·      Avoid power struggles with students
·      Use social media appropriately
·      Act like a professional
·      Communicate with parents

All of my beliefs align with this article with one exception.  It is imperative that you take care of yourself as well.  Your personal happiness is reflective in the way you treat your students, parents and colleagues. 

I appreciate your passion to focus on teamwork and the overall success of our school.  I look forward to working with each of you this year.  Please send me an email and let’s schedule time to achieve your goals!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Aug. 24, 2015

iPads for New Students - We will be working hard this week to prepare iPads for distribution to all students who are new to Cannon this year! Our goal is to have devices out to all 1st-5th grade students by the end of the week, however, we are waiting for additional devices to be delivered to school, so we are hoping to receive them quickly. Once all of the new 1st - 5th student devices are distributed, we will work on getting Kindergarten devices out to all teachers no later than mid-September. Thanks for your patience!

Updating Websites - This should be a priority for ALL staff. The first place parents will look for information about your classroom will be on your website. If you need any assistance with this, Ben Waits, is ready to help! Email him at to schedule a time for him to come help you!

Dyslexia Training Sign up- As a reminder, as part of the Superintendent's Goals this year, there is a big focus on dyslexia training for all staff. You will recall that there are 3 required dyslexia trainings. One is completed as part of your FLEX; one will be held at Cannon on 9/30 (3:15-4:45); and the 3rd is at PDEC on the following dates. Please sign up for the date that works best for your schedule.

Sessions will take place at PDEC from 4-5:30:
September 1:
September 3:
September 9:

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015

        Being a Hurdler:  Mindset Matters! 

We are at that time of year in which each staff member becomes a hurdler. One definition of hurdling is: the act of running and jumping over an obstacle at speed. This is very stressful for some and exhilarating to others, depending on your mindset.

I want to help remind you some of the hurdles:

  • Blue Literacy folders are kept in Brenda Milum’s room. It is required that BOY, MOY, and EOY SCORED writing pieces be added. If you want my help in securing the folders OR clarify the directions- please ask.
  • iStation: Reading and Math ISIP for May is completed for ALL students. Please check your reports to verify that all scores are showing.
  • PLPs: We will be completing 2015-2016 PLPs in your PLCs for the next 2 weeks. Please make sure you have thought about your district, campus and individual goals prior to coming. I realize that our teams are changing as we add new teachers and students to each grade level for this coming year. There are many individual goals that are universal to all teachers, no matter what content we teach. We all need to work on literacy strategies, vocabulary development, ELL support, questioning strategies, small group instruction etc.
  • Eduphoria: K-2: enter reading text level & writing stages into Eduphoria for each student. 3-5: enter writing stages for all students and a reading text level if a Tier 3 student.

The biggest lesson a hurdler has to learn is that even though they may hit, stumble and even fall down due to a hurdle-they must get up and finish the race. With the right mindset, we can finish strong together-please reach out to me if I can assist you.