Worth Repeating: Rigor = Epic Teaching and Learning

#oneccpsYou made it through  last week. You have been inspired by your principal and developed professionally by the specialists. You have also reflected on these blogs, set up your classroom for success, mastered the skill of setting rules and procedures and GET the habits of highly effective teachers. And, today, you successfully welcomed your students to your classroom.  Now, it’s time to design rigorous and relevant lessons or projects for your students.

Here’s another Wong bit of advice:

Learning has nothing to do with what the teacher covers.
Learning has to do with what the student accomplishes.

Let’s get ready to teach the knowledge and skills that students come to school to learn. According to the Wongs, “Student learning must be at the heart of all decisions made in the school.”

got curriculum frameworks

The curriculum specialists, guided by the Virginia Department of Education, have laid out a strong set of curriculum standards that are highly rigorous. The tests that your students will take at the end of the year are aligned with these rigorous standards. Teach these standards well, and there will be an increase in levels of achievement almost immediately, according to Mike Schmoker, author of Results: The Key to Continuous School Improvement.


Your district curriculum frameworks outline what students are to learn. How students learn in your classroom is left up to you. Our focus for the coming year continues to be on providing rigorous and relevant learning experiences for students, so that students develop the competence to think in complex ways and apply their knowledge and skills to solve problems and create solutions. This focus on rigor and relevance can be applied to no only the more-rigorous SOL tests but also extends beyond SOL testing to focus on teaching and learning significant content and 21st-century skills.

If you are not familiar with the rigor/relevance model established by the International Center for Leadership in Education, take a moment to familiarize yourself with it.  “Rigor refers to academic rigor — learning in which students demonstrate a thorough, in-depth mastery of challenging tasks to develop cognitive skills through reflective thought, analysis, problem-solving, evaluation, or creativity.” Rigorous learning can occur at any grade and in any subject, regardless of the age or addresses of your students.

rigor and relevance verb listA handy way to define the level of rigor of curriculum objectives, instructional activities or assessments is the Knowledge Taxonomy verb list (see Page 6 of the pdf). The verb list can be used to create a desired level of expected student performance or to evaluate the level of existing curriculum, instruction or assessment.
When creating lesson plans and student objectives, selecting the proper verb from the Knowledge Taxonomy verb list can help describe the appropriate performance. Simply start with a verb from the desired level and finish the statement with a specific description of that skill or knowledge area.

Focus on teaching with academic rigor through critical thinking skills starting the first week of school. The enhanced critical thinking will address the higher-level rigor of the SOL tests but will also help students become college and career ready.

Please tell us how you will address rigor on the first week of school. And let’s cap off this week with words of encouragement to fellow teachers in your school through your shout-outs!

Best wishes for a great first week of teaching!   We believe in you. We believe in ourbest wishes students. And we have high expectations for learning!

Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA : Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc., 2009.

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Worth Repeating Part 3: Epic Classroom Management Begins With a Smile?

teacher appreciation 11According to Margaret C. Wang, Geneva D. Haertel and Herbert J. Walberg in an Educational Leadership article titled Synthesis of Research / What Helps Students Learn?, “An analysis of 50 years of research reveals that direct influences like classroom management affect student learning more than indirect influences such as policies.”

Can you believe that? According to the research, the most important factor influencing student learning is classroom management. Moreover, classroom management begins on day one with you and your expectations for learning.

Effective Teachers Manage Their Classrooms

Consider these statements by Harry and Rosemary Wong in The First Days of School:

Effective teachers manage their classrooms.
Ineffective teachers discipline their classrooms.

As a teacher, I always wanted an organized and well-managed classroom so that I could teach the rigorous and relevant mathematics I wanted my students to learn. A well-managed classroom begins with consistent expectations. Consistent expectations are taught through procedures and routines.

Begin Each Day with a Handshake

Young Woman Bending Down and Smiling with Arms Stretched BackLet’s begin with a simple routine: Start each day by standing at the door with a big smile and warm handshake.

During our new teacher orientation a few years back, Annette Breaux encouraged teachers to be like Wal-Mart greeters. Wal-Mart actually pays people to meet and greet customers because Wal-Mart gets it — happy shoppers who feel wanted and welcome are more likely to buy what is being sold and return to the store again and again. Wouldn’t this model work for students, too?

According to Breaux, you want students — your customers — to feel happy and welcome when they enter your classroom and you want them to buy what you are selling — a passion for learning mathematics, reading, music or art. We also want our students to come back repeatedly.

How can you become the Wal-Mart greeter for your classroom? Simply stand at the door, every day, every period and greet students! Greet them by name. Smile. Thank students for coming to class. Comment on their new haircut, cool T-shirt or nice attire. Inquire about the upcoming football game, volleyball game or other extracurricular activities. Ask about their work on assigned projects.

Four Steps for Positive Greetings at the Door

Dr. Clayton Cook from the University of Washington has actually given a name to this routine — the Positive Greetings at the Door procedure.  Dr. Cook breaks Positive Greetings at the Door into four easy steps:

1. Stand at or around the door to focus on greeting students. Make students feel important even before they sit down.

2. Positively interact with students as they come in the door. Positive interactions can Businesswoman giving thumbs upconsist of verbal interaction (praising a student for walking in quietly, saying, “hello, how’s it going”) or nonverbal behavior (shaking hands, giving the student a thumbs-up). Look students in the eye and teach them to give greetings back! Your goal is to initiate at least five positive interactions with students as they walk into your classroom. Take a minute to look back and scan the room for students who are responding to your positive expectations. Recognize the appropriate behavior you want all students to model.

3. Next, provide pre-corrective statements to individual students or the entire class. Tell students about the behaviors you want them to exhibit in order to have a successful day in your classroom. Praise and reinforce positive behavior.

Close Up of Music4. Remind students to look at the learning target or agenda on your board so that they can become engaged in the learning process immediately. I’ve seen many teachers post warm-ups on the board, give five-minute challenges or a brain teaser for a group of students to solve, provide a quick writing prompt or just let students know what supplies to have out so that learning can begin. Have your favorite music playing when students enter; classical music sets the tone for learning — but so does rock ’n’ roll! When students pass through your door, it is a signal for learning to begin — even before the bell rings.

Practice this procedure routinely. Students say that teachers who meet and greet them at the door are the ones who also care about them personally, and this personal interest motivates them to do better in class. Remember, you will not get to rigor and relevance until you first build positive relationships with students

People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

John Maxwell gets it: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Show students you care about them personally and about their learning. Set a positive tone for learning each day that students enter the classroom. You won’t regret establishing this routine — but you MUST practice it consistently. You can’t do this just on opening day and expect long-lasting results. Be at the door every day for your students.

By the way, as students leave your classroom each day, tell them goodbye and let them know you look forward to being with them tomorrow!

Here’s your chance to share tips for meeting and greeting students at the door. What consistent expectations do you set as you greet students each day? (Remember to give a shout-out to your school by letting us know where you teach.)


Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker, 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior. Larchmont, NY : Eye of Education, 2010.

Cook, C. R., |. (n.d.). Positive Greetings at the Door.

Wang, M. C. (1993). Margaret c. wang, geneva d. haertel and herbert j. walberg in an educational leadership article titled synthesis of research / what helps students learn?. Educational Leadership51(4).

Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA : Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc., 2009.

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Worth Repeating Part Two: Epic Advice on Rules and Procedures

rules and proceduresDid you know that teachers with rules and procedures have far fewer discipline problems than teachers who lack clear, consistent rules and procedures? We have the data to support this statement through our experience with positive behavior interventions and supports.

Annette Breaux in 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior clarifies the difference between a rule and a procedure:


A rule regulates a serious offense, and there must be consequences each time a rule is broken.
A procedure is simply a way that you want something to be done — the same way, every time.
• When a student breaks a rule, the student faces a consequence.
• When a student does not follow a procedure, you simply practice the procedure with the student.
• You will never want to have more than five rules.
• You should have many procedures.
• An example of a rule is, “We agree not to bully anyone.” If the rule is broken, there is a definite consequence, and students know this in advance.
• Examples of procedures include how to move from one class to the next, what to do when you have a question, what to do when you need your pencil sharpened and how to move into cooperative groups.

????????According to the National Education Association (www.nea.org), engaging students on the first day of school in creating of a set of rules helps ensure their investment. Decide what you want to be considered serious offenses in your classroom. State your rules in positive ways. One suggestion is to have your students create the rules in their own words. Most teachers agree it is best to limit rules to five or fewer. Discuss the rules with students, help them understand why the rules are important and explain the consequences of not following the rules. Most importantly, you must be consistent in enforcing the class rules.

The NEA offers a how-to guide on setting rules and consequences that work in elementary and secondary settings: http://teachingasleadership.org/plan-purposefully/establish-rules-and-consequences-p-5.

Elementary teachers may also want to read this Scholastic Instructor article Everyday Rules That Really Work!:http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/everyday-rules-really-work.

Here’s the bottom line: Keep classroom rules few in number, clearly stated, positively worded and applicable to all situations and — above all — enforce them consistently.

Now let us discuss procedures. Every teacher needs a set of procedures to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment. Breaux suggests that you will not want to establish all of your procedures at one time. Instead, begin with the most important procedures, then add a few at a time. Let students know what the procedure is and discuss its importance. Model the procedure and show students what the procedure looks like. Rehearse the procedure with your students — even the Redskins rehearse procedures every day! Praise and reinforce students when they follow procedures and remind them of the procedures when they forget. Continue to calmly and repeatedly practice the procedures. As with rules, remain consistent with the procedures.

Breaux indicates that the most important procedure that every teacher must have is a consistent way to secure students’ attention. This is essential — without their attention there will be no learning! There is no one right way to get students’ attention, but ineffective ways include begging, threatening and warning.

Harry and Rosemary Wong suggest establishing procedures to address:

• what to do when the bell rings
• what to do when you hear an emergency alert signal
• what to do when you finish your work early
• what to do when you have a question
• what to do when students enter the classroom
• what to do when you want their attention
• where you want quizzes or project work placed
• where to find assignments if they have been absent
• what to do upon dismissal of class

Want to learn more about rules and procedures? Visit the NEA site for professional development modules and readings on rules and procedures. To see teachers modeling classroom procedures, simply search online for “how to teach procedures” and you will find videos with great examples.

What procedures do you have? Please share a procedure here — and remember to give a shout-out to your school by letting us know where you teach.


Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, The First Days of School. Mountain View, CA : Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc., 2009.

Annette Breaux and Todd Whitaker, 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior. Larchmont, NY : Eye of Education, 2010.

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Worth Repeating: Effective Teachers

ImageThis blog was posted three years ago…but the message warrants repeating.  So here you go…

Next Tuesday, we will welcome almost 60,000 students through our school doors and into your classrooms. Each day this week, I will highlight key strategies for kicking off your year in an epic way. Epic? Yes, epic in the sense of surpassing the usual or ordinary. That’s what we do best in Chesterfield County Public Schools — surpass the ordinary!

Let’s start by talking about the importance of you — the effective teacher. As Harry and Rosemary Wong state in The First Days of School: How To Be an Effective Teacher, “the greatest asset of a school is its people.”  While school officially begins the first Tuesday after Labor Day, school does not really begin until a teacher walks into a classroom. What the teacher knows — the content — and what the teacher can do — strategies to engage students in the content — is the most significant factor in student achievement. Many authors detail the characteristics of effective teachers through their research, books and blogs, including the Wongs, Annette Breaux, Todd Whitaker, Anne Reeves, James Stronge, Debra Pickering and Robert Marzano.

Today’s blog focuses on what I believe are important characteristics of effective teachers.

Effective Teachers GET, Connect and Understand Content.

  1. Effective teachers are masters of their content.
  2. Effective teachers know their curriculum, know where to find the curriculum frameworks for Chesterfield County Public Schools and know how to teach and test the written curriculum. (This is a three-fer!)
  3. Effective teachers must know their content deeply and flexibly enough to make connections for students.

Effective Teachers GET Effective Teaching Strategies.

  1. Effective teachers understand how to engage students in rigorous and relevant lessons.
  2. Effective teachers establish a context for student learning.
  3. Effective teachers facilitate student learning.

Effective Teachers GET Collaborative Planning.

  1. Effective teachers are innovative and collaborative lesson planners.
  2. Effective teachers have clear objectives in mind for their lessons.
  3. Effective teachers know how to design lessons for student mastery.
  4. Effective teachers begin their lessons with the end in mind.
  5. Effective teachers assess students on a regular basis through formative assessments and give feedback to students.
  6. Effective teachers pace their lessons appropriately.

Effective Teachers GET the Importance of Classroom Management.

  1. Effective teachers have strong classroom management skills.
  2. Effective teachers teach routines and procedures.
  3. Effective teachers are consistent with expectations.
  4. Effective teachers create a nurturing and safe learning environment.

Effective Teachers Just GET It!Image

  1. Effective teachers have a positive attitude.
  2. Effective teachers have a sense of humor.
  3. Effective teachers never stop learning and growing.

Effective Teachers GET the Main Thing: a Focus on Students.

  1. Effective teachers believe all students can be successful.
  2. Effective teachers have high standards for student learning.
  3. Effective teachers have a laserlike focus on individual students and can personalize instruction for their students.
  4. Effective teachers show interest in students and build positive relationships.
  5. Effective teachers treat students equally and fairly.
  6. Effective teachers produce results.

This list is just a beginning.  Please take a minute to reflect on this blog, then comment by filling in the blank: “Effective teachers ______________________.” (Give a shout-out to your school by letting us know where you teach.)

Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong, The First Days of School.  Mountain View, CA   :  Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc., 2009.

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Behind Closed Doors: The Taught Curriculum

reviewAs all good teachers do, let’s start with a quick review of the written curriculum before moving into the taught curriculum:

  • The Standards of Learning for Virginia public schools establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science, technology, the fine arts, world language, health/physical education and driver education.
  • The curriculum frameworks of Chesterfield County Public Schools, which are on CNET, are aligned with the Standards of Learning. Our curriculum frameworks amplify the Standards of Learning and define the essential content knowledge, skills and understandings that are measured by the SOL tests.
  • Our curriculum frameworks contain a wealth of resources for our teachers including
    • pacing guides
    • standards
    • essential knowledge, skills and understandings
    • resources
    • presentations
    • assessments
    • model lessons
    • multimedia
    • vocabulary
    • websites
  • The curriculum frameworks of Chesterfield County Public Schools are our go-to guide for planning and delivering effective instruction aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning.

The Curriculum and Instruction team for Chesterfield County Public Schools guarantees that our curriculum frameworks are aligned with the Virginia Department of Education standards. But this guarantee is only valid for our written curriculum. Curriculum alignment occurs when what a teacher is teaching, how it is taught and how it is tested are aligned with a Standard of Learning curriculum framework found on CNET. When a teacher closes the classroom door, the taught curriculum begins and ends.

Once you have reviewed the frameworks for the content, context and cognitive level (read the previous blog on the written curriculum), begin to plan your assessment (we’ll save the topic of assessments for our next blog!). After planning your assessment, teachers must think of ways to teach the standards in rigorous and relevant ways.

To help youmarzano identify high-impact strategies to teach the written curriculum, take a look at the research done by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning. From this work, Robert Marzano identified nine instructional strategies that are most likely to improve student achievement. The chart to the left not only identifies the strategy but also highlights the average percentile point gains on student achievement tests when teachers regularly use a particular strategy in the classroom:

Begin to design your lessons that target these nine strategies:

  1. Identifying Similarities and Differences helps students understand more complex problems by analyzing them in a simpler way.
  • Use Venn diagrams or charts to compare and classify items.
  • Engage students in comparing, classifying and creating metaphors and analogies.
  1. Summarizing and Note-taking promotes comprehension because students have to analyze what is important and what is not important and put it in their own words.
  • Provide a set of rules for asking students to summarize a literary selection, a movie clip, a section of a textbook, etc.
  • Provide a basic outline for note-taking, having students fill in pertinent information.
  1. Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition showing the connection between effort and achievement helps students see the importance of effort and allows them to change their beliefs to emphasize it more. Note that recognition is more effective if it is contingent on achieving some specified standard.
  • Share stories about people who succeeded by not giving up.
  • Find ways to personalize recognition. Give awards for individual accomplishments.
  • “Pause, Prompt, Praise.” If a student is struggling, pause to discuss the problem, then prompt with specific suggestions to help her improve. If the student’s performance improves as a result, offer praise.
  1. Homework and Practice provide opportunities to extend learning outside the classroom but should be assigned based on relevant grade level. All homework should have a purpose and that purpose should be readily evident to the students. Additionally, feedback should be given for all homework assignments.
  • Establish a homework policy with a specific schedule and time parameters.
  • Vary feedback methods to maximize its effectiveness.
  • Focus practice and homework on difficult concepts.
  1. Nonlinguistic Representations have recently been proven to stimulate and increase brain activity.
  • Incorporate words and images using symbols to represent relationships.
  • Use physical models and physical movement to represent information.
  1. Cooperative Learning has been proven to have a positive impact on overall learning. Groups should be small enough to be effective, and the strategy should be used in a systematic and consistent manner.
  • Group students according to factors such as common interests or experiences.
  • Vary group sizes and mixes.
  • Focus on positive interdependence, social skills, face-to-face interaction and individual and group accountability.
  1. Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback provides students with a direction. Objectives should not be too specific and should be adaptable to students’ individual objectives. There is no such thing as too much positive feedback, however, the method in which you give that feedback should be varied.
  • Set a core goal for a unit, then encourage students to personalize that goal by identifying areas of interest to them. Questions like “I want to know …” and “I want to know more about …” get students thinking about their interests and actively involved in the goal-setting process.
  • Use contracts to outline the specific goals that students must attain and the grade they will receive if they meet those goals.
  • Make sure feedback is corrective in nature; tell students how they did in relation to specific levels of knowledge. Rubrics are a great way to do this.
  1. Generating and Testing Hypotheses: It’s not just for science class! Research shows that a deductive approach works best, but both inductive and deductive reasoning can help students understand and relate to the material.
  • Ask students to predict what would happen if an aspect of a familiar system, such as the government or transportation, were changed.
  • Ask students to build something using limited resources. This task generates questions and hypotheses about what may or may not work.
  1. Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers help students use what they already know to enhance what they are about to learn. These are usually most effective when used before a specific lesson.
  • Pause briefly after asking a question to give students time to answer with more depth.
  • Vary the style of advance organizer used: Tell a story, skim a text or create a graphic image. There are many ways to expose students to information before they learn it.
Respond to the blog to have a chance to receive the 2nd edition of this book!

Respond to the blog to have a chance to receive the 2nd edition of this book!

Make it your goal this next week to begin to incorporate at least one of these high-impact strategies into your delivery of instruction. Respond to the blog and let us know how the strategy worked and if your students responded in a positive way. I’ll randomly choose 10 teachers who respond to this post to receive a copy of Marzano’s book, “Classroom Instruction That Works.”

Check out my Pinterest Board on Marzano 

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He Who Would Search for Pearls Must Dive Below: The Written Curriculum

The Standards of Learning establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course. The Virginia Department of Education provides tools to support teachers in teaching the standards:

  • Curriculum frameworks detail the specific knowledge and skills students must possess to meet the standards.
  • Enhanced scope and sequence guides provide sample lesson plans and instructional resources to help teachers align classroom instruction with the standards.
  • Test blueprints detail specific standards covered by a test, reporting categories of test items, number of test items and general information about how test questions are constructed.
  • Released tests and test items are representative of the content and skills included in SOL assessments and present the format of the tests and questions.

desktop 2Feeling overwhelmed with the abundance of resources provided by the state and where to find them? Our Curriculum and Instruction team has integrated all those resources and made them easy to find on the CNET Curriculum and Instruction home page. According to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Stacey Austin, the Curriculum and Instruction CNET home page will serve as the place to start as you seek to meet the needs of students in your class, department or school.

Why should you visit the CNET Curriculum and Instruction home page? The simple answer is that it is designed to make lesson planning easier for Chesterfield County teachers. It’s also true that our curriculum frameworks are designed to guarantee that our written curriculum frameworks align with expectations of the Virginia Department of Education. True curriculum alignment occurs when what a teacher is teaching, how it is taught and how it is tested are aligned with the Standards of Learning curriculum frameworks.

Visit the Chesterfield County Public Schools curriculum frameworks on CNET to launch dive deep 3learning and dive deep into the curriculum. It is not enough to look only at the broad Standards of Learning or pacing guides. Teachers must dive deep into the curriculum to understand the essential knowledge, skills and processes that are measured on SOL tests. However, beyond SOL tests, the curriculum frameworks prepare a student to gain the knowledge and skills essential for them to master the standards, move to the next grade level and become college and career ready.

Chesterfield’s new curriculum frameworks dive deep into the curriculum and provide teachers resources to support the written curriculum:

  • deep divepacing guides
  • standards
  • essential knowledge, skills and understanding
  • resources
  • presentations
  • assessments
  • model lessons
  • multimedia
  • vocabulary
  • websites

By unpacking the curriculum, you can work with your teammates in professional learning communities to align your written and taught curriculum. Unpacking a standard involves three steps:

  • CONTEXT:  First, review the overarching standard in order to determine the context in which students are learning essential knowledge and skills. Within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in today’s world, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration.


  • CONTENT:  Second, determine the significant content that students must learn. Pay attention to key vocabulary that students will need to master the standard.


  • COGNITIVE LEVEL:  Third, determine the cognitive level using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy. The importance of the taxonomy for teachers is that it reminds us of what we are asking students to do and why. In the cognitive domain, Bloom arranges the objectives in increasing complexity from simple recall of knowledge to higher levels of rigor such as applying, analyzing or evaluating knowledge. Here are the six cognitive levels in Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, from lowest order of thinking to highest order of thinking:
    • remember, in which the learner recalls previously learned information

    • understand, in which the learner demonstrates an understanding of the facts, such as explaining ideas or concepts
    • apply, in which the learner uses information in another familiar situation
    • analyze, in which the learner breaks information into parts to explore understanding and relationships
    • evaluate, in which the learner justifies a decision or a course of action
  •  create, in which a learner generates new ideas, products or ways of viewing things

Start with the standard and essential knowledge, skills and processes in the curriculum frameworks. With your teammates, discuss the overarching context for learning, underline the content, circle the words that provide information regarding cognitive level and, finally, classify the word into one of Bloom’s six cognitive levels. The next step is to work with your teammates to design objectives or learning targets (elementary teachers may create “I can” statements) with the content and cognitive level found in the curriculum framework.

That’s the first step to lesson planning and setting learning targets for students: Dive deep into the curriculum frameworks, identify the content that students must learn, then focus on the level of thinking that is required to teach the knowledge, skills and processes.

The next step is to plan for your assessed and taught curriculum so that it aligns with the written curriculum. I’ll save those topics for future blogs!

he who would searchTake the plunge and dive into the curriculum frameworks. Go deeper into the pacing guides and discover the rich content expectations, key vocabulary and higher level of rigor required to teach the standard. Let your deep dive into the curriculum drive the instructional planning process.

English poet John Dryden stated wisely, “He who would search for pearls must dive below.” What pearls of wisdom can you find in your curriculum frameworks?

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I Believe

I believe that 2014-15 will be the best school year ever!

Over the summer at iLearn and our superintendent’s professional development session, the superintendent, executive director for school administration and I handed out coffee cups, notepads and buttons with the words “I believe in you.” The pins have this quote from Anne Frank:


ann frank


“Everyone has inside him a piece of good news.The good news is that you don’t realize how great you can be!  How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”



We each have inside us a piece of good news. Let me share with you what I believe about Chesterfield County Public Schools and our written, taught and tested curriculum.

ccps teachers

Board Chair Dianne Smith with teachers at Camp Chromebook

I believe we have a strong written curriculum to support teaching and learning. Our curriculum frameworks and pacing guides are available on the new CNET. Teachers came away from iLearn excited about the new curriculum documents to support digital learning. Our specialists have worked hours and weeks individually and with teams of teachers to redesign the written curriculum. Let CNET and the curriculum frameworks guide your work in planning lessons. The curriculum documents align with the Virginia Standards of Learning and contain important information including:

  • essential understandings for students
  • background knowledge
  • instructional strategies
  • key vocabulary
  • writing prompts
  • assessments
  • model lessons
  • multimedia support
  • presentations
  • resources

I believe in the power of formative assessments to support the taught curriculum. Teachers in grades 3 through end-of-course can take advantage of new digital assessment resources from Interactive Achievement. Teachers will now be able to create formative assessments aligned with the standards in just a few clicks. Students enter their answers on the computer, and teachers can take advantage of a deep level of data analysis to determine strengths, weaknesses and interventions for individuals or groups. Through this analysis of student data, teachers will be able to adjust instruction to meet the needs of all students and provide targeted feedback about specific skills students are lacking.

ccps teacher

Providence Middle math teacher Melike Monahan was one of just 204 teachers from 27 countries selected for the Honeywell Educators Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

I believe in the ability of teachers to make the curriculum engaging, relevant and rigorous. Revisit the guiding principle of student engagement and the rigor/relevance model from International Center for Leadership Excellence. As teachers incorporate rigorous and relevant instruction and assessment, students will become highly engaged in learning, prepared for the future as 21st-century collaborators, communicators, creative thinkers and critical problem-solvers.

I believe every Chesterfield employee has the ability to build positive relationships with students, to show students they care and believe in their abilities. Anne Frank’s quote references “how much you can love.” Students do their best work when they feel connected to a caring adult — yes, a loving adult.

I believe in our strategic plan, the Design for Excellence 2020, and its strategies to support student learning. But I’ll save some of my thoughts on our guiding principles and the big ideas of blended learning, project-based learning and service learning for future blogs. Stay tuned: We’ll have guest bloggers throughout the year share their beliefs about teaching and learning. Hey, if you —yes, YOU reading this blog — would like to be a guest blogger and share the good news from your class or school, just send me an email.

good newsI believe in sharing the good news of Chesterfield County Public Schools! I created a hashtag on Twitter, #ccpsibelieve, that principals, specialists and directors are including in their tweets about the good news of their schools or the anticipation of great things for the upcoming year. Check it out — we already have 65 tweets! I encourage you to go to #ccpsibelieve and share accomplishments.

ccps students

Jacobs Road Elementary kindergartners made their message clear last week for Valentine’s Day and the start of the school’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser.

Most importantly, I believe in our students. From prekindergartners to seniors, I believe they have the potential to change the world and accomplish great things! In your classroom will be a future entrepreneur, inventor, problem solver, president, doctor, lawyer, athlete or writer. You will shape their future, one day at a time.




I DO believe that 2014-15 will be the best school year ever. Let’s make it happen!

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