Principal and Leadership Team Institute, Pasadena – October 24, 2007

Winter 2008 | | March 6, 2008 at 10:14 am

Live Oak Middle School, Tulare City Elementary School District | Presentation: “It’s a Grizz Thang!”

From their School Self Assessment Rubric deliberations, the School Leadership Team concluded that their focus should be on maintaining a Rigorous Academic Curriculum and providing Intensive Academic and College-Going Support for students. Their strategies include using a “Grizzly Bear” theme and symbols to enhance student interest in the instructional program and developing a small packet of color-coded standards for each grade level with each skill indicated. Staff members identify student strengths, build upon them, and make a sequential plan of advanced classes for each grade level to challenge all students. Their intent is to make their school like a mini-college campus with many student activities; they use many visuals throughout the school, even having photos of classrooms displayed in the teachers’ lounges.

Best Practice
Staff members use multiple visual displays and incentives—pencils, pins, award ceremonies, festivals, concerts, charity events, and other activities—to keep students motivated to achieve at their highest potential and promote their campus as a community school. “It’s a Grizz Thang!”

Regional Coordinator: Robert Van Zant

White Middle School, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) | The Academics, the Activities and the Ardor”

 To renew their focus on a Rigorous Academic Curriculum, the School Leadership Team has settled on several strategies, including increasing the use of Socratic Seminars, an AVID strategy, in all classes. The school wants to be the first AVID Demonstration School in LAUSD. Teachers also structure the cognitive tasks with the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy so that students can learn more easily. Furthermore, they examine student data to determine who the non-participating classroom students are—those who do not complete homework—and require their participation at the end of class and after school in a session with the principal. To enhance the instructional program, teachers take students to summer classes at many of the local educational institutions, e.g. math camp at UCLA and the Museum of Science and Industry near USC.

Best Practice
Staff members are using connections provided by the GEAR UP partnership grant to solidify their collaboration with many institutions outside of the school. After a search for other grant opportunities that support rigorous academic curriculum, the principal was successful in receiving a grant for “Robot Kits” that students use in a robotics competition. Northrup provides math/science support and the UCLA Center X offers staff development for this focus.

Regional Coordinator: Robert Van Zant


San Pasqual Middle School, San Pasqual Valley Unified School District | Creating a Culture for Academic Rigor”

 To provide an environment for Academic Rigor, the School Leadership Team determined a variety of strategies are needed, including changing the perception of summer school from remedial focus to a Summer College Readiness Academy, revising the Master Schedule, and establishing a “Culture of Pride” for all students. Summer College Readiness Academy receives supplemental funding through the GEAR UP partnership grant and state funding. Students attend the Academy for 4 weeks from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with the focus of getting ready for college. The Master Schedule adjustments include sending the 8th grade algebra students to the nearby high school for the class. The school “Culture of Pride” is enhanced through student government activities and leadership. Staff wants students to embrace the idea that it is “cool” to do well in school. Staff members also initiated home visits during the first day of staff development for the school year to understand better the home environment and the long distances of the students’ bus ride.

Best Practices
• Staff members make much use of student data. They do an analysis of each student’s progress, keeping track on a growth chart. When student conflicts arise, teachers assist students to resolve their problems and maintain a positive attitude toward other students.
• Working as a collaborative team, staff members model the behavior they expect of their students and help them to focus on academic skills needed for success in high school and postsecondary options.

Regional Coordinator: Robert Van Zant

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