Weekly Round Up 2/21/2016

If you were unable to attend Friday night’s Homecoming game, you missed something special.  Our team beat Jeffersonville, the cheerleaders did a great job, the dance team wowed, and the pep band sounded fantastic.  Before the varsity game we recognized our senior members of the Dance Team, Cheerleading Team, Girls Basketball Team, and Boys Basketball Team.  It is always emotional for these students and their families to realize how quickly the last four years have flown.  

The most touching event, however, was our Homecoming Court, presented at halftime.  For this event, every club, team, and organization can nominate representatives to serve on the court.  This provides a wonderful variety of students that are recognized, not just for popularity but for their contributions to the school.  Then, the entire student body voted on the King and Queen from this group.  This year’s winners were sophomores Blessing Mhlanga and Amzie Smith, two very special students who deserve this recognition and much more.  As happy as I am for them, I am equally touched by our student body who voted for them.  When you’re having a tough day and want to think things are bad, think about Amzie and Blessing and all of our students we are fortunate to know and have at Ballard.



  • I like this article because it describes a philosophy of no opt out.  When we allow students to turn in incomplete work or to not do an assignment it all, we send the message that the assignment and the learning aren’t that important.  By contrast, we could think about this differently and send the message that the work we design is important and is expected to be done completely.
  • Here are some creative ways to increase the rigor of what students are asked to do.  We want our students to be thinking more deeply and analytically about content, rather than regurgitating facts, and these activities could push them to work at a higher level.
  • Close Reading tipThis article explains ways to use questioning (KFT Domain 3, Component B!!) to deepen student understanding of what they are reading.  These strategies can be used with any kind of text — informational or literary.


Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities; Component B – Maintaining Accurate Records

  • Student Completion of Assignments
  • Student Progress in Learning
  • Non-Instructional Records

An essential responsibility of professional educators is keeping accurate records of both instructional and non-instructional events. This record keeping includes student completion of assignments, student progress in learning, and records of non-instructional activities that are part of the day-to-day functions in a school setting, including such things as the return of signed permission slips for a field trip and money for school pictures. Proficiency in this component is vital because these records inform interactions with students and parents and allow teachers to monitor learning and adjust instruction accordingly. The methods of keeping records vary as much as the type of information that is being recorded. For example, records of formal assessments may be recorded electronically with the use of spreadsheets and databases that allow for item analysis and individualized instruction. A less formal means of keeping track of student progress may include anecdotal notes that are kept in student folders.

The indicators of instruction considered Accomplished are:

  • Teacher’s system for maintaining information on student completion of assignments, student progress in learning, and non-instructional records is fully effective.

Some critical attributes seen in an Accomplished classroom are:

  • The teacher’s process for recording student work completion is efficient and effective; students have access to information about completed and/or missing assignments.
  • The teacher has an efficient and effective process for recording student attainment of learning goals; student able to see how they’re progressing.
  • The teacher’s process for recording non- instructional information is both efficient and effective.

Question for Reflection:

Most record keeping currently done involves recording completion of assignments and grades on assessments.  Just as important is record keeping of student progress and mastery of standards independent of grades.  What is your system for monitoring and documenting student progress?


PBIS Tip: Positive Postcards

It only takes a few minutes to prepare an email or note home that briefly describes positive behavior or an achievement that you have recently observed. Be sure to share it with the student before sending it home. Classroom management guru, Dr. Allen Mendler suggests a solution in cases where you haven’t seen positive behavior that you can genuinely acknowledge: Write a positive note or email as if a behavior you are seeking has already happened. Show it to the student. Ask him or her to tell you when it would be a good time to send it.


star Big thanks to Kim Barber for organizing our homecoming festivities and to Kelly Logsdon, Terrie Gupton, Vicky Gapen, Terri Sgro, and Kerri Dixon for their efforts as well!

starShout-out to Ronda Fields and Tanya and Natasha Gupta on their award of a Knollenberg Foundation Grant to conduct their research on solar absorption and reflection on our roof in order to determine what is most energy efficient.  Their project will be getting a lot of attention over the course of the next year!

starThis is going to be lengthy, but I want to share it.  This is an excerpt from a correspondence Mrs. Elin had with a former Ballard student.  He describes how his life and career were impacted by teachers who saw and encouraged something in him and went outside of the textbook and worksheets to help him develop his talents and passion.  It’s a good read!

Despite being a pretty lazy, academically disinterested high school student, most of what drives me creatively today began in your library, Ms. Livesay’s AP Lit course, in the WBHS classroom and in Mr. Whitehouse’s art studio. Those teachers applied interest, patience and creativity into a curriculum that laid the foundation of what would eventually become a kind-of career in film. 

I’m not sure what you’d like to hear or what would be valuable… but for what it’s worth, some of the fondest academic memories at Ballard stem from video projects, and those kinds of projects landed me a job cutting trailers. It wasn’t really my college degree and it certainly wasn’t networking. It was short films, experimental narratives and ‘fan trailers’ of movies I liked. Really the same stuff I’ve been doing since High School. I put some of them online and eventually a movie producer saw them, reached out to me and offered me a job cutting.

It’s a fun gig and I’ve been really lucky so far – working with some of my favorites filmmakers like Spielberg, David Fincher and PT Anderson. If there are any notable points to take away from this career so far it’s these:

  1. I’m not sure I would have discovered this path if a number of Ballard teachers didn’t notice my nerdy film interest and exploit it in the form of academic opportunities. In my opinion, this is the greatest gift teachers can offer and I was spoiled rotten with them.
  1. Most of my predecessors in the industry came from working the bottom up – getting an opportunity to cut after being an assistant for years. Conversely, most of my generation came from cutting themselves and posting work online. Believe it or not but serious people are looking. If you’re an artist, they’re looking at Instagram pages. If you’re a filmmaker, they’re looking at YouTube channels. If you’re a writer…. well, I dunno… that’s kind of out of my area. I doubt publications look for talent on Reddit but if 50 Shades can start as Twilight fan-fiction anything is possible… Point is – passion shouldn’t be taken for granted. Mine might have slipped past me if my teachers didn’t take notice of it first and later if I didn’t bother sharing it with other people.

— Anecdotally, late last year we finished a trailer for a movie called Love & Mercy about Brian Williams. The use of the track ‘God Only Knows’ in it is directly attributed to Ms. Livesay, who loaned me a cassette of The Best of The Beach Boys Senior year and got me hooked. I didn’t even consider other BB tunes.

— Also anecdotally, the first trailers I ever cut were for movies showing at our after school film club. They’d played on WBHS in the morning and I’d turn them in as credit. After cutting 2 in a row (I think for Ringu & Shaolin Soccer), the WHBS instructors kindly asked me to stop, as cutting trailers was “a waste of talent”… who know, maybe they were right.


√ Grades should be posted in IC by 3:00 this Thursday, February 25.

√ The ACT is in a week and a half!  Encourage our Juniors to get some sleep the night before, to eat a good breakfast that morning, and to give their very best effort on the test.  Our attitude is contagious, and they would love to hear all of their teachers, coaches, and support staff cheering them on!

√ District basketball is this week, hosted by Ballard.  The girls play Monday at 7:30 and the boys play Tuesday at 6:00 in the first round.  Come cheer on our Bruins!


Happy Birthday in February to: Sandy Klinglesmith (8th), Chris Renner (9th), Lakunta Farmer (10th), Gary Crume (12th), Don Evans (12th), Donna Gray (14th), Max Slinde (14th), Kim Marshall (15th), Scottie Alford (18th), WS Walston (19th), Kevin Payne (20th), Kristy Holien (22nd), Dennis Whitehouse (22nd), and Nick Hibma (27th)!



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