Schools and Projects

Dixie Magnet Elementary School Lexington KY
Teacher & School Effectiveness
Collaborative Development & Teaching of Instructional Lessons (by Teachers....and by Students!)
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Course Materials
About Us
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Collaborative Analysis of Student Work (by Teachers....and by Students!)
Advanced Arts Integration
Funding & Expenditures
Differentiated Instruction - for students lacking background knowledge or prerequisite skills
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Dixie Magnet School - Project Focus is to support the School Mission ( to foster excellence in intellect, creativity, and character ) with Arts Integration & Character Development.

Dixie Magnet Elementary School strives to positively impact the future by preparing students to be confident, hardworking, and goal-oriented individuals. Our vision is to strengthen students’ abilities to live healthy, balanced lives in which they fulfill their responsibilities and use compassion and creativity to make a positive difference in the world. Our mission is to foster excellence in intellect, creativity, and character.
Dixie’s Magnet emphasis is to provide an individualized program of studies and instruction.   Our school has open classrooms in which teams of teachers deliver the instructional program.  The team teaching approach allows educators with complimentary abilities, skills, and talents to form professional learning communities in which they collectively create, plan, and implement engaging instructional units that meet the needs of individual students.

Individually Prescribed Education --The mission of Dixie Elementary is to determine the individual needs of each student and provide a school environment that affords each child an opportunity to appreciate his uniqueness, realize his full potential, develop and learn according to his own style and ability, and become a responsible, successful learner and citizen.

The prescribed education allows for plans and objectives to be developed, taking into account the physical, social, emotional and academic development of each student. Students are given responsibilities, choices and opportunities to use self-discipline within a controlled environment. Dixie also accommodates different learning styles.

More about Dixie Elementary School...

Dixie Magnet ES Website

Recommended Resources for Professional Learning Prompts & Modules

From Janet Bertram - Six Traits Writing Rubric

Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning (Research Studies on Why and How the Arts Improve Learning)

Key Excerpt from Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart

Marzano Classroom Strategies

Formative Assessment - 5 Key Strategies (Dixie ES already strong in # 4)

Universal Design for Learning

What Works in Character Education

Professional Learning Communities

Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools (The Evidence for Arts Integration)

Arts With The Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen (Study Guide)

NeuroEducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain

The Smartest Kids in the World - by Amanda Ripley (Video 18 minutes)

Considerations At Dixie

Feb 15, 1013
- Considering a visit to selected, similar Schools in Atlanta Area  - 50% FRL, 60% white, 10% ELL
- Exploring co-teaching for SWD
- Prefers face-to-face professional Learning, open to some blended with distance learning for grade level teams
- aims for more than 70% faculty vote - interested in a model which emphasizes listening to teachers, addressing teacher priorities, and starts slowly, with volunteers at each grade level....
- possible evaluation plan related to a doctoral dissertation
- will call back after reviewing my website.....

Very Tentative DRAFT WOTS Up Analysis

Internal Strengths:

++Faculty skilled / experienced in meeting individual student needs(differentiation?)

+ new Language Gifted Teacher?

+ Chinese (now grouped?)

Internal Weaknesses:

-Classes grouped by grade level in one room (difficult to not make noise)

--a few volitile students, some anger or self-esteem issues, in person and internet bullying

External Opportunities:

+System magnet support

+Professional Learning - Professional Learning Communities, etc

External Threats:

--Losing students to Arts or Gifted Magnets, or area middle school feeder schools

2014 - 2015 System & State Resources - CIITS and more......

Proposed Plan for 2014 - 2015   DRAFT Aug 9 - For review.....

Contract for Professional Development Consultant Services – Between Richard Benjamin,  and Dixie Elementary School, Fayette County Schools, Lexington KY

The proposed work will take place on mutually agreeable dates during the 2014 – 2015 school year.

It will involve on-site and on-line work with and through teacher leader / instructional coaches and directly with teachers during their grade-level common planning periods and after school.

Individual, differentiated, and group selected high priority instructional skills, drawn from within the Kentucky Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, will be provided, addressing priorities from the Kentucky Program Review process at Dixie Elementary School.

The focus will be on arts integration and character development (the teaching of arts standards and the use of the power of the arts to teach key Common Core and 21st Century Standards) within a context of Invitational Education (Inviting students, faculty, and administrators to more fully realize their potential). Special attention will be given to English Language Arts – Critical Thinking and Writing, Creative Problem-Solving, and Establishing High Quality Human Relationships.  Interdisciplinary understandings will also be emphasized.

The initial visit (within the 60 day period for teachers to establish their CIITS goals) will review key strategies and results from previous work during the 2013 – 2014 school year and will invite collaborative identification of 2 individual and  2 team priority goals for attention during the year.

Work Plan:

-          On-Site - Four site visits of two days each during the school year.


-          On-Line - The equivalent of Two 10 hour days for on-line provision of group and individual development .



Kentucky Program Review Process and recent results for Dixie ES

Kentucky Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System and current selected priorities

Robert Marzano – Classroom Instruction That Works  (9 top research-proven instructional strategies).

Robert Marzano – Enhancing the Art & Science of Teaching With Technology.

Ron Ritchhart – Making Thinking Visible.  And other strategies growing out of Harvard’s Project Zero.

Sherry Norfolk – Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom.



What Is the Plan?

Each of the project activities below will directly address key dimensions of the Kentucky Program Review Process and Documents:

- Working with volunteer faculty, explore and implement one research-based arts-based strategy per month.

- Orchestrate selected students preparing and teaching other students, in their own classroom, and with younger students, focusing on writing, using the Six-Traits writing rubric. (see resource column to the left)

- By February, link volunteer 'Specials' faculty to volunteer regular grade-level volunteer faculty through 'digital collaboration' to plan and implement arts integrated lessons and/or units, focusing on appropriate interdisciplinary 'concepts' drawing together timely academic standards, involving formative (performance) assessment and collaborative analysis of student work.

- Within the above pilot student digital portfolios at one grade level - Portfolios to include student monthly personal and academic goals and self and peer-assessed writing samples.

- Guide a set of visitors to demonstration schools and classrooms in the Atlanta area - probably Sept 17-19, 2013

- Possibly assist in planning and implementing a visit by students from a Hong Kong School - probably late January, to coincide with the Chinese New Year.

Project Activity

Resources & Notes


Prep - View some Audra Knight Videos

How to Teach Human Paragraph to students



KPREP Sample Items


KPREP Sample Items


2013 DRAFT Plan:

Particular items of the Program Reviews will be addressed within three specific areas of emphasis:

Part A : Arts Integration (The numbers correlate with the Arts and Humanities Program Review numbers)

Curriculum and Instruction

·       1a – intentionally scheduling time within the instructional day for a balanced program of creating, performing and responding to the arts in each of the four disciplines (dance, drama, music, visual arts)

·        1b – instruction in each arts discipline containing its own body of knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking

·        2c – The school curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas (particularly STEM and STEAM)

·        2d – the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of art and from a variety of artists, cultural traditions, and historical periods

·       4c – students, with teacher guidance, routinely use creative, evaluative, analytical and problem solving skills in developing and/or reflecting in their artistic performances and products

·       4d – students use written and verbal communication to objectively reflect on exhibits and performances

Formative and Summative Assessment

·       2c – Teachers develop rigorous student learning and academic growth through student learning objectives and refined SMART goals.

·       2c (distinguished) teachers engage students in creating their rubrics or scoring guides for creating, performing or responding, and Professional Development (distinguished)

Professional Development

·       1b – A variety of job embedded professional development opportunities [collaborative analysis of student work and collaborative development of arts integrated instructional lessons and units] are available to the Arts & Humanities teachers to encourage continuous growth and are tailored to meet individual needs of teachers and students [modeling differentiation], and 2b (distinguished) Arts and Humanities teachers take on a leadership role in professional learning communities to address issues related to instructional practices, data analysis, and improving student achievement and share this information school-wide.

Part B:  Character Development / Health Education: Particularly KDE Program Review Standards

·       1e - frequent opportunities for cross-disciplinary connections

·       3a – integration of 21st Century Skills & Knowledge

·       3b – problem-solving, goal setting, critical thinking, decision making, and analyzing information

·       4e – the application of core academic skills such as reading and math to solve real word problems.


Coaching appropriate to the strengthening of a school culture of caring and continuous improvement for all students and school staff.

·       Strengthening or initiating character education key principles integrated within effective classroom practices and instructional units as appropriate, including the use of ‘Dinner Dilemmas’ to guide moral reasoning linked to Common Core writing prompts, and the use of class meetings, student goals, and Academic Service Learning (students teaching other students) for character development toward moral values, performance values and work ethic, civic values, and Social-Emotional Learning.

Part C:  School Transformation

 Professional Development will be delivered collaboratively within the framework of Professional Learning Communities, aimed to strengthen the relationship between the School Improvement Plan and the Kentucky Program Review Standards.

·       Assessments 1a – Kentucky Core Academic Standards & 21st Century Skills & Knowledge are used in the development of formative and summative assessments

·       Teachers and other leaders will be coached in transformational, ethical, invitational leadership.

Existing structures and priorities will be honored and utilized in the commission of activities provided for by this proposal, including the School Improvement Plan, the existing school committees and planning opportunities, and the Professional Learning Communities components.

All efforts will be demonstrably guided by solid research, (see references below) most notably: 1 - What Works in Classrooms – the nine Marzano strategies augmented by arts-based emphasis on visual, auditory and kinesthetic dimensions

 2 – Champions of Change

 3 - Professional Learning Communities

 4 – Effective Schools Research

 5 – key principles from The Character Education Partnership.

In this regard, the proposed project activities will draw from recognized best practices, including from Arts Now, Lincoln Center Institute ( , Kennedy Center ArtsEdge ( Music in Education National Consortium ( and, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education CAPE ( and other Arts Integration initiatives

The professional development proposed will address the Core Curriculum State Standards emphasis on integration across disciplines ( and on the ‘reading’ of artworks as texts, and most especially on writing, utilizing the initial Core Curriculum Standards and the emerging standards in other disciplines.

While this is a one-year proposal, the effectiveness and depth of the efforts will depend on a three year plan. Year one will focus on the Art and Humanities Team to design and pilot the initiatives internally and with a selected set of volunteer classroom teachers, at least one at each grade level. This is a practical plan in light of the fact that each grade level has nearly completed planning for their 24 hours of professional development for 2013-2014.

Dixie ES Dual Proposal May 2013
3. Increasing arts, character development and 21st century skills into daily instruction

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This year, Dixie has focused harder on recalibrating and improving our program to fit the needs of our students and families. Both our students’ and families’ needs are changing. We recognize that in order to accommodate family needs and student learning styles, Dixie has to look at doing things differently. We are listening to you, our students, each other as well as to what research says. I have encouraged our staff to fail often…if it will lead to success. Our goal remains to provide your children with a prescriptive plan for individual success.

1. Shifting from negative to positive focus on behavior management
2. Reaching out more to build relationships with our community, families and students
3. Adding more days and frequency of students meeting with gifted/talented instructor
4. Increasing benchmark markers for student achievement. We are expecting more!
5. Adding more after school clubs and events to invite parents in to the building
6. Providing enrichment and acceleration for Art and Chinese students
7. Moving towards additional co-teaching models for resource students
8. Training all staff in more effective ways to teach reading and math
9. Systematic approach to moving all students forward in growth, achievement and gap closure
10. Building and sustaining a strong school culture and climate along with recruiting the best

Staff Proposals in Discussion
1. Purchasing a full-time gifted/talented teacher serving students five days a week
2. Adding a science lab
3. Increasing arts, character development and 21st century skills into daily instruction
4. Adding a full time reading interventionist


Principal: Tara Isaccs
Key Contact: Crystal Peters
Rachel Louch/art & Instructional coach .2    859 559 7641
Liza  Dicken - Instructional Coach 1.0
Yan Wang/Chinese , professional staff assistant (PD certificates?)
Atlanta Visitors:
Dr. Young - FCPS

Dixie ES Staff Directory

Consider showing portions of 'Everyday Creativity' by Dewitt Jones


Needs updating for 2014-15... list for volunteers:

Special Education: ?

K- Kara Gray and Michelle Bowling

1st - Stephanie, Lindsay, Hannah, Janice

2nd -  coming on August 2014

3rd- Not..Janet, Laura

4th- Not...Liza, Not...Kim, Jessie, Mac

5th - coming on August 2014

A Pavona, Yan Wang, C Peters, R Losch, K Fischer, Monica Eversole, and S Loscheider

Dixie ES - Monthly (voluntary) Faculty Workshops

Resources to Explore

Kentucky DOE Arts & Humanities Resources

Kentucky K-Prep Sample Test Items

Janet Bertram - Developing Artistic Writing

Common Core Writing Samples

Edutopia - Use Arts Integration to Enhance Common Core

Report on Humanities - "The Heart of the Matter"

Reading The Art - Sample Lesson linking Arts Integration to Common Core State Standards

Puzzle, Think, Explore - Artful Thinking Strategy which goes with "Reading The Art" Lesson Example

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Kentucky Dept of Education & Reading Like a Historian Page 3 Volume 2, Issue 4 In teaching kids to read like a historian, Sam Wineburg says history class becomes a series of questions rather than just a series of answers. This creates an inquiry approach in history classes that increases student engagement in the learning process. Inquiry questions spark student curiosity, interest and ownership in the learning process while individualizing the learning experience for the student. Primary source documents are selected to allow the inquiry questions to go in multiple directions. As students are introduced to an inquiry question and provided with primary source documents, they first begin with sourcing. Sourcing requires the student to ask a series of elementary questions pertaining to the literacy piece to determine if its source of information is valid and can be trusted. Sourcing Before reading the document, ask yourself these questions: 1. Who wrote this document? 2. What is the authors point of view? 3. Why was this document written? 4. When was this document written (a short time or long time after the event)? 5. Is this source believable? Why or why not? The next step in reading like a historian is to teach students contextualization. Contextualization is the process of looking at what is going on in a particular time period through the perspective of that era and knowing about what is going on in that time period. Contextualization helps prevent students from viewing historical events or persons through a modern day lens or from passing judgment on particular events or persons using a21stcentury mindset. This is the point in the learning process where students need to study specific historical content to understand what is going on in a particular time period. The next step in reading like a historian is to teach students corroboration. Corroboration is the process of investigation of other primary source documents that may corroboratethedocument/sourceinquestion. Examples mayincludeinvestigatingdiaries, journals, audio tapes, video clips, speeches, etc., to corroborate what is being said in the document/source. This is the process where students take their questions and the content they have learned and put it to use to find answers for their questions. The next step in reading like a historian is to teach students to form an argument/ defend a position for debate or discussion. Students finalize the process by forming either a written or verbal argument to defend their position on particular answers to their inquiry questions derived from their extensive investigation of history content and primary sources. Wineburg argues that reading like a historian approach treats middle and high school students with respect. Rather than teaching students with worksheets and textbooks focused on predetermined answers to memorize, the reading like a historian approach allows students to train their minds more rigorously by allowing them to come to their own conclusions by examining original primary source documents and engaging in their best intellectual abilities

Oct 2013....

 I believe that four KEY steps will boost writing performance.   For your consideration:

- 1 The development and use of a school-wide Writing Rubric - with appropriate adjustments for grade level standards
........- The Writing Rubric suggested by Janet Bertrand - 6 Traits, is just fine.
........- Dixie can build on a wonderful current strength - the use of "I CAN" statements.....These need to be developed to 
         specifically match the school-wide writing rubric....

- 2  The collaborative analysis of student work by teachers, mostly by grade-level teams, but also with a bit of attention to adjacent levels (for example - 3rd grade teachers working a bit with 2nd and then 4th grade teachers, and so on for each grade level.... to provide a view of vertical articulation (KPR 2a)
........- This process is pretty straightforward.....The teachers meet together, bringing writing samples from their own 
        students - some top, some middle, some low.  The use of a projector to show individual pages is useful to focus the 
        group on the writing sample under discussion.  Each participant assesses the sample individually, using the rubric, 
        then differences in scoring are discussed.

- 3 Engaging in the collaborative analysis of student work by students in each classroom - following the process described above....Using the RUBRIC.  Here is where we would consider the use of student portfolios.
.......- Please see the writing sample attached, from my early work in Fort Worth (I know it is old!)  

-  4 The collaborative study of thinking, by teachers, and then by students,  so as to address the Kentucky Reading & Writing Standards which emphasize critical thinking....especially the location and citing of EVIDENCE to support  an opinion/position.
.........- The 'Gisting' or Summarizing strategy I presented during my last visit is one, initial, critical step toward other 
          thinking standards, like Comparing, Classifying, Induction, Deduction, Convergent, Divergent,  Error Analysis, 
          Abstracting, Constructing Support, Analyzing Perspectives, and Systems Thinking.
.........- Specific attention to Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity (Creative Problem-Solving) (KPR 2e)
.........- Please see the attached PPT from my recent workshop at Jackson ES - a school I suggest your team visit when 
          you come to Atlanta (see especially 'Convergent / Divergent Thinking' which I think is key to moving from critical 
          thinking to creative problem solving......which are both in the Kentucky Standards......
Please let me know how and when I might be of support.....

Best Regards.......


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