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Weekly Teacher Download for the week of Oct. 31, 2016

2016 October 28
by HISD Communications



  • Teacher support email addresses temporarily unavailable: As the district continues its upgrade to Microsoft Office 365, the Mentor@ and NewTeacher@ emails are all currently inaccessible by the staff who normally monitor those accounts. In the meantime, email any concerns or questions to, who will forward them to the appropriate Program Manager for response and resolution. If you are having any problems with your email, or 713-892-7378.
  • Benefits changes to be aware of as annual enrollment approaches: Before our Annual Enrollment period (Nov. 3-17), there are some changes that you should be aware of before making your benefits elections. While HISD has increased the amount it contributes to help pay for your benefits, unfortunately keeping employee rates the same for 2017 is simply not possible. To cover our rising claims, we must make changes to our plans and rates, placing our highest priority on providing high-quality care and affordability for all. These changes include slightly higher rates for our medical-plan options and the elimination of our HealthFund contributions for next year. Rest assured, any money you currently have in your HealthFund account from previous years is still available to help pay for eligible expenses. Click here for additional information and an FAQ document.
  • Upcoming Literacy Leaders Speaker Series featuring Kwame Alexander: Spots are still available for the Nov. 3 HISD Literacy Leader Speakers Series featuring Newberry Medal winner Kwame Alexander. To sign up for a morning or afternoon session at Kingdom Builders Center, use Course Number 183003 in OneSourceMe. Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times bestselling author of 21 books, including Booked and The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newberry Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children. Alexander writes for children of all ages. His other works include Surf’s Up, a picture book, Crush: Love Poems for Teenagers, and She Said, He Said, a young adult novel. The HISD Literacy Leaders Speakers Series is part of the district’s larger literacy efforts. Both elementary and secondary teachers and school leaders are invited to attend the Thursday, Nov. 3, session.

  • Get the scoop on UDL and Goalbook: Want to expand your knowledge base surrounding Universal Design for Learning and Goalbook? Then register for a Nov. 3 professional development seminar where trainers will provide an overview of HISD’s framework for supporting instructional practices and the diversity of our scholars. You also can sign up for Goalbook, which is a web-based resource that helps teachers design rigorous instruction for all learners and assists with crafting standards-based goals that include levels of support for scaffolding instruction. Goalbook is available to all HISD instructional personnel, and you can request access clicking here. To register for the Nov. 3 session, which will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Ryan Professional Learning Center, 4001 Hardy, use Course Number 145002. For more information, email
  • Avoiding survival mode by adding to your toolkit of strategies: Fall is in full swing, but don’t let your students’ academic progress cool off. As teachers across the district design their rigorous instruction for all learners, one major consideration for teachers and students is communications (i.e., clarifying learning objectives, checking for understanding, and most importantly building relationships). With so many tasks and responsibilities the way communication is delivered and received can very well become the deciding factor of what students may or may not understand. As teachers plan instruction, communication should be at the core of learning. Consider a few quick starting points through these helpful resources: 6 Hand Signals That Bring Learning to Life; The Student-Centered Classroom: Communicating What Matters; and Rules of Engagement: Building relationships through Working With Parents.
  • Help teach students problem-solving skills through the Bebras Challenge: The Bebras Computing Challenge is a fun, interactive 45-minute contest that introduces students to computational thinking to get them excited about computing and improve their problem-solving skills. The challenge, which is open to 5th- through 12th-grade students worldwide, will take place on Nov. 7-18, 2016. HISD was the largest 2015 participant nationwide, with more than 7,000 students taking part in the challenge last November, and the district hopes to continue to lead the nation in participation this year. In addition, HISD hosted an invitational round of the Bebras Challenge this past month in partnership with Rice University Mathematics Scholastic for the highest scoring students from last year’s challenge. Click here for more information and how to participate.


  • November, December professional development opportunities for most content areas: Looking to sharpen your teaching skills? Whether it’s working with English Language Learners in Pre-K, high-impact math lessons for elementary, or instructional strategies for hard-to-teach science lessons, the Elementary Curriculum & Development team likely has an upcoming training session for you. Click here to see a full list of opportunities in November and December, along with OneSource Course Numbers.
  • Register now for PK-5 Social Studies Summit: This Dec. 10 social studies conference will support Literacy By 3, the implementation of social studies instruction, and the use of the new social studies adoption, Studies Weekly, to reinforce literacy skills using social studies content. The opening welcome and keynote speaking will be the Civil Rights Activist: Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. The closing session will be presented by author and award-winning film maker Loki Mulholland. Breakout sessions will highlight various components of the online adoption, aligned best practice strategies, and Literacy By 3 components: vocabulary/word study, comprehension, read aloud, writing, and work stations. Registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 2. Use OneSource Course Number 63014 to register.


  • Engineering design challenges for middle school students: Engaging students in engineering design challenges provides opportunities for critical-thinking and problem-solving in a project-based learning format. The Advanced Academics Department, STEM Teacher Development Team will present the HISD Cycle 3 Engineering Design Challenges for middle school teachers (grades 6-8) so you can learn how to incorporate these challenges into your classroom. The middle school sessions are scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, or Thursday, Nov. 9. Each challenge is aligned to grade level TEKS. All sessions will be held at Ryan PD Center Auditorium, 4001 Hardy. Register on OneSource using Course Number 80008.


  • Keep up with your requirements to earn bilingual stipend: Who qualifies? What are the requirements? Where can I find the list of trainings I need to attend? All that and more in answered on the Multilingual Department’s FAQs for the bilingual stipend. If you have any further questions, contact the Multilingual Department at or 713-556-6961.


  • Thursday Think Tank: Do you need assistance or support in providing special education services? Come to the Special Education Department’s Thursday Think Tank on Thursday, Nov. 3. This is an opportunity to problem solve, share effective instructional and behavior strategies and connect with colleagues who are seeking support and who can also provide support. The Thursday Think Tank training will be at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center. Register in OneSource, course number 170003. Contact Joan Anderson at for more information.



  • Eddie Bauer:  Regular-priced merchandise is 10% off in store with a valid ID.


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