Saturday, February 25, 2017

TOMMIE SAYLOR: Grading is about mastery of the material

“Grades don’t measure anything other than your relevant obedience to a manager.”
John Taylor Gatto

By Tommie Saylor
Kennedy High School Principal

Teachers place a tremendous amount of effort into the development of their lessons, trying to make their lessons authentic, relevant, specific, rigorous and entertaining. 

But, after putting so much effort into the development of their lessons, teachers often forget to place an equal amount of effort into what can arguably be the most important part of the learning process: Grading.

The purpose of assigning grades is to assess the student’s mastery of the material taught, and the extent to which the student mastered the material.  In addition, assigned grades are as much a measure of the student’s effort, as it is of the teacher’s ability to inspire the student’s willingness to learn. 

Given this, each instructor should place a good amount of effort into determining how they are going to assess their students, what is important enough to grade and what does not have to be graded, and most importantly, make sure that what you are grading is student learning – not the students’ ability to follow directions, procedures, or other such incidentals.

The days of granting extra credit for bringing in a box of Kleenex are gone. Soon, the days of averaging grades and taking points off for turning an assignment in late will be gone. Remember, it’s not about making things easier for the instructor; it’s about measuring if the student gained mastery over the material, and if not, finding a way to help them master the material. 

Teaching is a service job – it is not about making your life easier. It’s about improving the lives of your students by opening doors through the medium of a good education.

The future of education is aligned with standards based grading and mastery learning.  The “Holy Grail” of education is grading a student purely on the level of knowledge gained, and nothing more.

Helping students to find their greatness. Making Kennedy the school of choice. Excellence by design.


At Blair Moody Elementary School everyone had a “super” night recently as students, parents and staff came out to enjoy an evening of learning and family fun at "SuperHero Literary Night.” They had the opportunity to participate in a variety of creative literary learning stations.

TAYLOR SCHOOLS participate in Special Olympics Unified event

On February 13, several Taylor Schools participated in the first Special Olympics Unified Sporting Event by going bowling.

Blair Moody Elementary, Hoover Middle School and Truman High Schools were named Unified Champion Schools by Special Olympics of Michigan.

Taylor School District runs the POHI Program for 15 of the Downriver Communities. These students have physical or health impairments and are a welcomed part of the district!

The Special Olympic Grant provides integrated sporting events, positive interactions between our POHI athletes and general education partners. Everyone looks forward to building understanding, developing relationships and enjoying activities together.

DISTRICT CELEBRATES 25 years of Coach Chuck Suttles

Truman High School, the Taylor School District and many others surprised long-time Coach Chuck Suttles with a reception in his honor and a plaque commemorating his more than 25 years of coaching varsity basketball last week.

Many of his former players and assistant coaches were in attendance and it was a great reunion of athletes from the Taylor Center era, and of course, from Coach Suttles' time as varsity coach at Truman High School.

Pictured with Coach Suttles is Taylor School District Athletic Director Loren Ristovski (above).


Second-graders at Eureka Heights Elementary School recently received a visit from the Fur Angels and read with the dogs. The Fur Angels' reading program was created by Martha Hall, the Lincoln Park organization's founder, and former Taylor teacher Kate Capion. The idea is to promote reading and help young children read through interaction with pets.

PIANO WARS fundraiser to benefit Taylor Schools Foundation


The Randall Elementary School Players performed to a sold out crowd every night during their 24th play at Randall School on February 13, 14 and 15.

Randall had its largest number of students participate during the past five years.  The students worked hard beginning in December learning reading, speaking and listening skills in the classroom as well as practicing those skills as a whole group with the play “Twas the Week After Christmas.” 

This year’s play emphasized the moral that we can do things better when we do them together. It started with the elves and reindeer both discussing how they are excited about their vacation after the long Christmas season. Soon, as they realize that they are both at the same tropical location, the fights ensue. 

Each group thinks that their job is the most difficult. Finally, with the help of an undercover Mrs. Claus, they realize that they are both important parts to Santa’s workshop. The students did an awesome job this year!

The Randall staff and students would like to thank Mr. Mike Carey of Mike Carey Music for allowing them to use his own personal equipment at the last minute to make our sound fantastic.  If you have any music needs, please consider Mike Carey music for those needs at 1673 Fort Street in Wyandotte.

RANDALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: First graders learn outside

Mrs. Milley, Mrs. Holstein and Mrs. Jonassen's first-grade classes at Randall Elementary School took advantage of the gorgeous weather on February 23 and took a trip outside to learn about physical and human characteristics.  

They then worked together to create T-charts of these characteristics. One of the attached pictures shows some grass, a tree and a trash can. The little learners can tell you what each of these items represent. Concepts always stick longer when we can apply real world examples.


Ms. Agemak and Ms. O'Connor's sixth-grade math students at West Middle School have been working hard creating STEM houses.  

STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The kids had to design their own house and create a blueprint, while keeping city codes in mind.  

Once finished, they had the option to "dress" it up for a few points of extra credit.  They had a lot of fun learning in a different way.  This project was made possible by funds granted to the students.

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL hears special presentation on War of 1812

February 22 was a very proud day for Robert J. West Middle School. One of its very own, Rachel Albany, gave a wonderful presentation on the War of 1812.

Besides being a valuable member of the academic teaching assistance staff, Miss Albany's love of history has also sent her in the direction of an additional career as a park ranger for the National Parks.

In Miss Albany's presentation to our eight-grade history students, she discussed the War of 1812 as it related to our Great Lakes region. She explained the River Raisin battle. Also she told the students about the battles fought in what are now the cities of Wyandotte and Brownstown. 

Fort Mackinaw, located in Mackinaw City, Michigan, and Fort Dearborn, located in what is now Chicago Illinois, were two other important battle sites in the War of 1812.

Miss Albany compared the casualties to our school population of about 900. With that in mind, only 33 out of 900 people survived the war, almost 400 were killed and a little more than 500 people were captured. Miss Albany impressed upon our students that the War of 1812 was the biggest American defeat by the British and Native Americans. Conversely, it was the Native Americans' greatest victory to date.

Many thanks to Miss Albany for her informative presentation. The students have a greater appreciation of the War of 1812 as it was fought in towns that they probably have often visited.  With Miss Albany's expertise in areas of history, this is just the beginning of other presentations to come.

HOOVER MIDDLE SCHOOL Garden Club begins planting

Hoover Middle School's Garden Club is starting spring planting season.  The students have developed a plan for this season and learned about growing organic vegetables.  They began by planting cool weather crops.  They chose lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, and brussel sprouts for their first planting day.

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL students enjoy day at The Henry Ford

Through a generous grant from The Henry Ford, 200 West Middle School students were treated to a day at the museum.

The students saw an inspiring movie about the advancements in engineering called Dream BIG at the IMAX Theater. They also visited several areas of the museum, including a roundhouse, the Civil Rights area, toys past and present and the cars and trains.

The highlight for many on the trip was to get on the bus that helped ignite the civil rights movement, when Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man.

Students were also excited to view the theater chair that President Lincoln sat in when he was shot. President Kennedy's car that he was driving in on that fateful day in Texas was also on display.

During our visit, The Henry Ford had a special exhibit that showcased clothing from the last two previous centuries. It was interesting to see how styles have changed over the years.      
This trip was quite a success. Students found The Henry Ford informative and engaging. Surely it inspired many to continue their studies in math and science. And as in the message of the IMAX movie, it is our hope that all of our students continue to dream big!

Submitted by Sara Bochenek

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL studies light

Mrs. Proudlock's and Mrs. Woolford's seventh-grade science classes at West Middle School have been studying light.

To further explore how light behaves the students participated in a six-station light lab. From the various stations the students gained first-hand knowledge that red, green and blue light converge to create white light. Concave lenses make light diverge while convex lenses cause light rays to converge or come together.

In another station the students organized a variety of materials under the headings of translucent, transparent or opaque. Using a diffraction grating the students were able to see how green, yellow and white light refracts. Finally in an interesting activity involving a "disappearing" penny, students understand how light was refracted to make the penny "reappear.”

The students had a favorable reaction to this assignment. Students positively interacted with one another. This hands-on assignment made the principles of light come alive for the students. In real time the students now have a better understanding of how light behaves.

Monday, February 20, 2017

WEST MIDDLE SCHOOL students study rocks while extending curriculum

West Middle School eighth-grade science classes have been studying igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. To extend the curriculum the classes were asked to use magnifying glasses and reference books to identify rock samples by name and type. Students worked cooperatively in groups to fill out lab reports.
It was interesting to witness critical discussions by group members in order to identify the rock samples provided. Some students used prior knowledge to either identify or eliminate particular choices. Such comments as, "We have that in our kitchen,” (for granite) and "It can't be coal because it's not blackening my hand,” (to eliminate coal and choose obsidian) were overheard.    
This lab activity was a success. Students were able to accurately identify rocks as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic by using scientific tools and reference guides.

Most importantly, students have a good understanding of  what qualities make a productive group member. Active learning occured during this successful rock identification lab.