• CISD Code2Learn

      Posted by CISD360 at 1/11/2017

      Coding and computer science are hot topics in education.  According to, 90 percent of parents would like their child to study computer science, yet only approximately 40 percent of schools teach computer science.  Last year, the White House created their “Computer Science for All” initiative.  This initiative was created to “empower a generation of American students with the computer science skills they need to thrive in a digital economy”.  According to this initiative, there were more than 600,000 high-paying tech jobs across the United States that were unfilled, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields.  With the many opportunities for growth in the field, it’s easy to see why coding and computer science is becoming more prominent in public schools.

      Coppell ISD is working to embed computer science and computational thinking skills within our K-12 curriculum.  It is our belief that we are not just teaching our kids to learn to code, but that we are teaching them code to learn.  With that belief, we are creating our CISD Code2Learn Program.  The mission of this program is to empower learners to become responsible users and creators of computing technology and contribute to local and global communities by learning new approaches to problem solving that harness the power of computational thinking.  Thus far, we have created a standards alignment document to see where CSTA’s 2016 Interim CS Standards fit within our new curriculum management plan.  As new core content curriculum is written, these standards are embedded.  

      Beginning in January of 2016, Coppell ISD’s curriculum, administration, and technology teams began meeting to discuss how we can ensure that all of our learners are exposed to computer science in the elementary level, and have the opportunity to deepen their learning through high school.  Our first step was to create a new high school elective course available to our eighth grade learners called Principles of IT.  Through this course, our learners explore not only the principles of IT, but also learn the basics of programming languages such as JavaScript, SQL, ROBOTC, HTML, and Apple’s programming language, Swift.  

      We then turned our attention to our elementary campuses.  In May of 2016, we surveyed elementary principals to find the current opportunities and resources available for our learners with regards to coding and computer science.  We found that all campuses were already participating in the Hour of Code initiative in some form.  Our digital learning coaches looked at the resources already on elementary campuses, and purchased more to support the district.  Before the school year began, each elementary educator was able to participate in a Coding Playdate learning experience put on by our digital learning coaches where educators were able to explore and come up with new ideas to leverage the resources in a low-stress environment.

      At CISD, you will find educators with the freedom to create new learning opportunities around coding and computer science.  With these new learning opportunities, CISD learners have the opportunity to deepen and demonstrate their understanding of key concepts, as well as enhance the local and global community by creating their own computational artifacts.  We are excited to see and experience what our learners create.

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    • Curriculum

      Posted by CISD360 at 1/5/2017

      Curriculum plays a critical role in the success of CISD and demonstrates the collaborative nature of our approach to transforming education for our learners.  Curriculum Directors and educators team to develop a viable curriculum which guides the work in actual classrooms with learners.

      Coppell ISD facilitates the curriculum development process at the macro planning level to develop a coherent scope and sequence for the course to ensure vertical alignment of standards.  This work is vested in the use of Understanding by Design, the chosen design process for the district.  Stages one and two address the learning standards to be delivered through learning experiences in classrooms.  Stage one of this process not only identifies learning standards, but also determines transfer goals, essential understandings and essential questions that students focus on during the various units of study.  Stage two once again involves Curriculum Directors and educators in developing performance assessments to measure progress towards mastery. Finally, in stage three, educators work more independently from Curriculum Directors to design learning experiences that align to the selected standards, enduring understandings and essential questions.  Educators work together in instructional teams to design these experiences while accounting for personalized learning for each student.  The result is scaffolding that works to provide each student with the viable curriculum in a challenging manner requiring their active participation to build upon prior knowledge and experiences in a constructivist manner.

      The curriculum and the educator designed experiences to deliver it foster a growth mindset in which growth is valued as learners strive to reach mastery. By utilizing the Understanding by Design process, we begin with the end in mind, thus helping to ensure that work related to the curriculum remains focused on those critical standards, concepts and future ready skills necessary to empower learners for future success.  Students are not only challenged by the rigor of the content, but also by the learning experiences which enable them to transfer knowledge from the classroom to new and unique contexts. Simultaneously, learners develop future ready or “21st century skills” such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication, including digital and information literacy.

      Curriculum is a catalyst for the success Coppell ISD has experienced with its learners.  The dynamic process of developing the curriculum and delivery of scaffolded learning experiences prepares learners with the necessary skills to be successful in a future they create.

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    • The Learning Framework

      Posted by CISD360 at 12/15/2016 3:00:00 PM

      Valley Ranch Elementary is currently celebrating its 20th year anniversary this year.  We have about 650 learners who are from all parts of the world.  The diversity of Valley Ranch offers a cultural awareness for the entire VRE family.  The instructional model at Valley Ranch Elementary is guided by the CISD Learning Framework.

       The Learning Framework specifically states “Educators intentionally design authentic learning experiences that bridge learners’ prior understandings and new ideas. The designed learning experiences allow learners to collaborate, communicate, model, investigate and reflect as they develop understanding of the big ideas.

      To support this meaning making, educators are expected to:

      • deconstruct content standards to identify the big ideas learners should know, understand and be able to do
      • use essential or driving questions to connect the content to broader disciplinary and transdisciplinary concepts and ideas
      • plan performance based assessments of understanding prior to planning the scaffolded learning experiences
      • analyze learner data to identify individual needs of learners
      • model appropriate strategies for learning”

      This district focus is activated and carried out through the lens of Project Based Learning (PBL) at Valley Ranch.  This initiative was started in 2009 and has developed and grown through campus wide efforts since that time.  Instruction has moved from short term knowledge retention to long term retention by integrating 21st Century learning experiences and embedding soft skills such as collaboration, cooperation, communication, personal responsibility and setting SMART goals.  These real life experiences will prepare Valley Ranch learners for future expectations of our society and work force. 

      To learn more about the PBL/UBD foundation and process at Valley Ranch, please join us at the CISD360 presentation on January 26th where we will highlight learners’ continued academic and social growth provided by this model.

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    • Learning Walks

      Posted by CISD360 at 12/12/2016

      Have you ever wondered what really happens within the walls of a Coppell school?  A Learning Walk is a great opportunity for stakeholders and visitors to experience an hour or so in the life of a CISD learner.  Although Campus and District Learning Walks can be catered to different audience members the result is still the same.  A peek into the people and practice that make Coppell an extraordinary district.  

      Parent Learning Walks typically take place on a campus where they have children in attendance or on a prospective campus they hope to enroll in.  During a Parent Learning Walk, visitors are able to explore a cross section of grade levels as well as content areas.  Visitors are invited into the classrooms where learners, or classroom ambassadors, are available to communicate what they are doing or communicate recent units of study to them.  Often times the visit is simply one where parents are able to observe the new reality of the instructional programs in CISD including the UbD process, A PBL exploration, or an IB unit.  Tools, resources, and district pedagogy are highlighted during these tours along with instructional clarifications.  Parent Learning Walks provide a perspective that challenges the notion many parents have about the way school WAS for them versus the way it IS for their kids now.  

      Campus Learning Walks or Tours can be customized for the participant and their purpose.  Coppell ISD campuses are aligned under The Learning Framework philosophy but unique in their articulation of The Framework.  Participants are able to visit the campus or campuses that most directly demonstrate the area in which they are focused on exploring.  Campus tours offer visitors the opportunity to see The Learning Framework in action including flexible learning, the integration of digital tools, the UbD model realized, or learner led/educator facilitated instructional experiences first hand. Subtle aspects of The Learning Framework that are not outwardly visible including lesson design, professional learning conversations, or grading practices are shared during the tour sessions and direct correlations between the inward and outward philosophy are made.

      If you are interested in experiencing a day in the life of a CID learner then a Learning Walk may be for you.  We welcome your visit and look forward to sharing our district with you.

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    • Why assess?

      Posted by CISD360 at 12/5/2016

      Assess If we hark back to the days when current educators were in school and long before, the answer would be two fold - primarily to assign grades, with a second dimension of informing the teacher which students understood the material.  The purpose was not to then help that student before moving on to new content, but to help give an overall picture of whether the student was, in fact, meant for academic pursuits.

      Times have changed greatly.  We now use assessments to inform future instruction.  But that, is easier to believe than to make come to fruition.  We have all thought that we are data-driven.  After receiving our state assessment scores annually, we examine them.  We look at the students on the “list” and name off the ones that we expected and then gaze in bewilderment over those that surprise us.  We might even make some sweeping decisions like - “well that teacher will not be teaching THAT class” or “we will make sure to include a few new strategies we learned at that conference”.  Classroom teachers have even begun to use formative assessment in ways that can shape their instruction that might include some type of “pulse check” before moving on to find out if the class as whole is ready.

      It’s not enough.  Is it data-driven decision making?  Yes.  Will it bring about the high levels of achievement and progress we demand for EACH learner?  No. We have to get granular.  We have to become educational diagnosticians of sorts.  We must deepen our assessment practice so that each assessment becomes a bigger part of the learning portrait for each individual learner.  

      The process is three simple steps: (which of course can be broken down into many more finite steps to help get you there)

      • Step 1:  Design formative assessments over the MOST important knowledge and skills that a learner needs in order to access the content and earn understanding.
      • Step 2:  Look at the data.  REALLY look at it.
      • Step 3:  Take ACTION.

      Today, the purpose of assessment is to gather data to help you make decisions and
      take action - action that targets specific learners and specific knowledge and skills.  To say that assessment “informs instruction” is too simple.  Deciding to reteach the entire class can be and “informed” decision after a quick quiz.  But using assessment data to determine the five learners that are missing a prerequisite skill for the upcoming unit, which three learners need to have a pre-teach session over vocabulary, and which seven learners need extra practice on a specific fundamental skill is what is going to make a difference - in the classroom and to each of those individual learners.  And where does the ability to intervene in such a purposeful way start?  … A purposefully designed assessment.

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    • National District of Character

      Posted by CISD360 at 12/1/2016

      “Happy Teachers, Happy Students”

      At the helm of Coppell ISD is our highly visible superintendent, Dr. Mike Waldrip, and our passionate School Board members. With an ever-increasing enrollment, the district leadership makes sure that the teachers are inspired and are supported. This allows them (teachers) to continually grow as professionals and cultivate positive relationships with our students who also grow and become empowered as individuals.

      One outstanding mark of CISD is a character program built around nine core values. In 2013, Mockingbird Elementary was named the district’s first National School of Character. In 2016, three additional elementary schools – Cottonwood Creek, Denton Creek, and Pinkerton – were also recognized as National Schools of Character.  That same year, honored Coppell Independent School District, one of only four in the United States, as a National District of Character. 

      Cottonwood Creek students find inspiration in following the Colt Creed, which encapsulates the core values. Their implementation of Genius Hour allows children, free of the usual school constraints, to explore their passion in areas as diversified as computer coding, recycling, gardening, sports, music and advocating for a cause.

      A more diverse school, Denton Creek shares a similar commitment to innovative practice. Following the tenets of Great Expectations, which stress high expectations for all, leading by example and challenging all learners, the school has experienced academic success.  This vision of excellence is actualized through individual learning, student-centered classrooms, mentoring, and multiple efforts to support their large number of immigrant families.

      The smallest of Coppell’s elementary schools, Pinkerton, may be small in size but not in achievements. Basing its instructional and character-building approach on the International Baccalaureate Programme, Pinkerton stimulates its children’s minds and hearts through an engaging curriculum, inquiry-based units, global connectedness, and service to others.  At Pinkerton, service learning is driven by student passion and interest. Students learn to be reflective and check their own progress taking more responsibility for their own learning and personal choices.  Students learn tolerance and compassion for others in the world around them.

      These National Schools of Character as well as the other 12 Coppell schools partner with local businesses and the community to address challenges such as poverty and immigrant issues. Teachers in Coppell ISD, as well as the school community at-large, have made it their mission to inspire students to become global citizens bent on changing the world.

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    • The Learning Potrait: Curriculum

      Posted by CISD360 at 11/8/2016

      With an innate sense of curiosity, learners wonder, dream, imagine and create. Desiring to grow in knowledge and skills, learners question, connect, process and reflect in order to further their understanding of concepts and skills. Learners are self-regulated, diverse individuals bringing with them prior experiences, skills and mental models that influence beliefs, emotions and prejudices as they continuously construct meaning. Learners advocate for their own understanding and seek opportunities, both local and global, to educate and serve others.”   - Coppell ISD “Learning Framework”

      Genius Hour1 Cottonwood Creek Elementary and Austin Elementary are two schools within Coppell ISD that look at “learner-advocated” learning in a unique way.

      Imagine a time set aside each week when passion-driven genius work is encouraged and celebrated. Imagine a time when learners are invited and expected to collaborate, experiment, and discover their genius. Friday mornings at Cottonwood Creek Elementary (CCE) learners are given one hour to explore their passions during a time called Genius Hour. During Genius Hour, learners are busy exploring topics such as computer coding, recycling, gardening, sports, culinary arts, music, art, fashion design, service leadership, and many more self-selected topics.  Learners at CCE use their passions during Genius Hour to create, solve problems, and connect with each other and the global community…thus becoming leaders who will change the world!

      Genius Hour2 Similarly, Austin Elementary pursues passion-driven instruction through the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM).  SEM applies the gifted pedagogy of interest-based enrichment across the campus and allows each and every learner opportunities to identify and develop their passions and abilities.  Through structures such as Enrichment Clusters, Interest-based Field Trips, Learner Internships, “E-Time,” and Brown Bag Lunches, Austin Mustangs interact with real world professionals to create interest-based products and services for our local and global community.  By grounding their instruction in interests and passions, educators at Austin Elementary are equipped to engage their students in the mastery of state standards and in the meaningful development of soft skills such as communication and problem-solving.

      Genius Hour3 Both Genius Hour and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model provide learners with unique opportunities to collaborate, connect, and change the world. Our learners experience self-directed learning that is creative, constructive, and celebrates the unique contributions and talents of each learner!

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    • Environment

      Posted by CISD360 at 10/31/2016 1:00:00 PM

      Richard J Lee Elementary School opened its doors to 538 learners in kindergarten through fifth grade in 2014, and enrollment increased to over 730 learners in just two years.  In the midst of this fast growth, the concept of a flexible learning environment is characterized in three ways: vertical alignment of the houses, flexibility of furnishings and construction within the spaces, and the idea of utilizing our school as a learning tool. 

      Richard J. Lee Elementary was intentionally designed to include five vertical families, called "houses," of kindergarten through fifth grade learners who have the opportunity to collaborate and engage with each other through face to face and digital means. In a traditional elementary school setting, learners are often limited to interactions with only their grade level. The design of the building facilitates opportunities for multi-age teaching and learning. At times, learners may be found in a Challenge Based Learning experience with multi-age groups consisting of three or more grade levels. In another house, two grades may work together in guiding activities. Common and frequent assessments and the vertical alignment of the houses makes all this possible!

      The environment at Richard J. Lee Elementary is flexible, and exceptional, for many reasons, but two of the biggest features spied immediately are the flexibility of the mobile furnishings and spaces. For example, in each house there is one collaborative space that has a collapsable wall giving learners and designers the opportunity to transform the space into two labs. There are movable walls located in the music room, cafeteria, and media center too.  The wall between the cafeteria and gym can be opened to reconfigure the space for performances and large group events. The sliding wall in the media center can be used as a backdrop for performances and presentations, or tucked away for large group meetings in order to engage with an interactive sustainability kiosk. Mobile furnishings include tables, chairs, and bookshelves on casters as well as white boards and mobile digital projectors. Furniture was purposefully selected with learners in mind. Chairs are ergonomic, some equipped with height adjustability, and accommodate learners' needs for flexible movement. Another unique feature of the building is that writing and designing transpires on glass surfaces, walls painted with idea paint, and on dry-erase tables throughout the learning environment.  In addition to paper, ideation materializes electronically on iPads® and MacBooks®.   

      Richard J. Lee Elementary is a campus that is learning and growing much like the learners within its walls.  The growth is accelerated by the design of the building and the flexible learning environments that utilize our School as a Tool.  Ultimately, school design and facilities, along with information, come together in a way that a flexible learning environment is born, allowing for creativity, rigor, and transformational learning.

      Join us for our session: Let's Get Vertical to learn more about how being organized into five vertical K-5 houses and hosting a vertical schedule can enhance multi-age flexible grouping, vertical collaboration, and assist your educators with intervention and acceleration of instruction.

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    • A District's Journey with Watson Element and Elight

      Posted by CISD360 at 10/25/2016 1:00:00 PM

      Coppell Independent School District (ISD) has been on an amazing journey with IBM and Apple to develop the first ever MobileIOS educational app.



      Coppell ISD is a suburb of Dallas, Texas, just ten minutes north of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The district has just over 12,300 learners (students) and just over 750 educators (teachers). Coppell has 16 schools consisting of ten elementary schools, three middle schools, one comprehensive high school, one choice New Tech high school that utilizes project-based learning as their instructional model, and one alternative school. For the past 10 years, Coppell ISD’s focus has been on transforming educational practices, moving away from the “stand and deliver” teaching model to a the educator serving as a facilitator and the learner taking more ownership of their learning. Also, Coppell ISD is a one-to-X district with technology. What does that mean? In 2012, we began the process for one-to-one iPads in the district. All educators received iPads first and they attended professional learning to build their knowledge and skills in using technology as a tool to design engaging learning experiences. Then, learners who are enrolled in fourth grade to twelfth grade received iPads in order to create products that demonstrate understanding of concepts. Classrooms in Kindergarten through third grade have classroom sets of iPads that stay at school. What takes CISD beyond a one-to-one to a one-to X technology district is that Coppell ISD also has stations of computers in classrooms and the use of phone devices is encouraged. 

      The partnership developed: 

      Over a year ago, Alex Kaplan from IBM and Chris McDade and Margaret Skeahan from Apple visited our district to discuss the possibility of a partnership between Coppell ISD, IBM and Apple to create an app to improve, and even transform, educational processes. They had us at transform! It has been our desire to create a transformative app that would improve the daily experiences of educators by providing relevant information they need to build relationships with their learners and align learner results to specific objectives. We desired an intuitive app that tracked learner progress and provided insight into each learner’s interests and learning styles. 

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    • Why?

      Posted by CISD360 at 10/19/2016 2:00:00 PM

      Why the tour?

      Over the past few years, many districts and companies from across Texas and around the world, have visited Coppell ISD campuses to learn more about how learners are engaged. We wanted to develop a process that would give participants an overarching look at our district as a whole. We wanted them to see the “big picture” and be able to make connections to what they are seeing in classrooms and our district's vision and beliefs.

      tour pic










      What is being offered?

      We are excited to share with you some of the great things going on in our school district. If you were wondering about how the tour will work, I am happy to help give you a better idea on what we are planning.  First, let’s get the details out of the way!

      tour pic2










      Coppell ISD and the Hilton Garden Inn (in Lewisville, Texas)

      When: January 25th and 26th, 2016

      On Day 1, (January 25th) each attendee may choose two of  8 campuses opened for tours. Transportation will be provided. Each campus has a different focus that may be of interest.   We will begin the day all together at the Hilton Garden Inn, with breakfast, where background information about the district will be provided and an overview given of the structure of the two-day event. On Day 2, (January 26th) there will be workshop sessions provided by our campus personnel, Curriculum Team and Technology Department. We will begin the day together at the Hilton Garden Inn for breakfast, and then attend sessions at the hotel. The district will provide breakfast and lunch each day.

      You can register for the tour anytime! The cost to attend both days is $198, but you are able to attend just one day ($99) if one focus speaks to you.

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