11-27-2023 - CHEC BULLETIN

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A Day

B Day
SLC Morning Meeting
ALT Meeting -3:30 Pm Middle School Library

A Day
SLC/MTSS Morning Meeting
Departmental Planning Period Meeting

B Day
Departmental Planning Period Meeting

No Meetings

Principal: Maria Tukeva

NOVEMBER 27, 2023:


How Might We Design Our Grading System so that Failure Leads to Learning?

The first advisory is now over, and we are analyzing the data on grades to determine what opportunities we have for continuous improvement.

Our school Redesign was first undertaken to address opportunities to improve experiences and outcomes for all of our students, with a focus on equity.  We are moving towards becoming a school where a design thinking approach is used to create innovative approaches to solve complex problems.

The problem of failing grades is one such problem.  In design thinking, and in learning in general, failure should not be seen in a negative light.  The idea of “failing forward” means that we can use failure to identify opportunities for learning.  In design thinking, failure is not a final destination or judgement, it is just one step in a process of improvement.

The failure denoted by  a final grade of F is not an incentive to learn, nor does it help a student or a teacher to learn more.  According to research, and actual outcomes we have observed in our own school, a failing grade of F  actually inhibits learning and progress in the following ways:

  • Lowers student confidence and resilience
  • Closes doors to courses the student wants to take aligned to their passions
  • Delays or even prevents promotion and graduation
  • Requires increased school expenditures on credit recovery, tutoring and after school programming.
  • Has a negative impact on future opportunities such as scholarships and college admission

Take a look at the initial grade data for Advisory 1 by grade level, and period of the day.

What are some questions that come to mind?

Why do the number of students failing at least one class  increase by grade the way they do – tripling between 7th and 8th grade, rising to a high in 10th grade, then decreasing slightly but still staying at a high level up until 12th grade?

Why do 11th and 12th grade have the most students with more than one F?

Why are there more failing final grades  in first and third periods?  Why are there the fewest failing grades in second period (all grades) and fifth period for middle school?

What is the correlation between attendance and a failing grade – is a  low attendance rate a cause or effect of a failing grade?

What are the causes of a failing grade for students with a high attendance rate and a failing grade?

Once we explore these questions as well as other questions of failure rates by gender and ethnicity we must  begin to design our learning to change how we approach teaching, learning and grading.  We must learn how to work with all students so that there are no failing final grades, only students and staff failing forward to increase learning.

We are still in time to change the trajectory for the 281 students who had one or more failing grade in the first advisory.  There is the possibility that they could all both learn, and receive a passing grade when the first semester ends in January of 2024.  It is our responsibility to design our learning, and our actions to achieve the ambitious but not unattainable goal of having all students learning to fail forward, and not receive a failing grade.


How Might We Use Design Thinking to Transform our School through Student Voice and Choice?”

As a school and organization focused on Design Thinking as our change model, we are in a process of continuous improvement and refinement.  Some of our previous design sprints have resulted in prototypes and pilots, which we are implementing in order to get additional feedback and further refine.  At the same time, as complex opportunities continue to arise, we are initiating additional design sprints.  If you or your team has a question you would like to explore through a design sprint, please come to the next ALT Team Meeting, November 28.

Another facet of redesign is the process of continual learning and leadership development for all staff. There are opportunities to attend conferences and training instituted aligned to our innovation.  If you would like to attend one of these, please also contact the ALT team, or any member of the Admin Team.  This week, a team of six will attend the Innovative Schools Summit in San Antonio, Texas, in order to bring back ideas and learnings from other schools involved in the process of innovation.

School wide Youth Voice and Choice and Design Thinking
So far, we have had over 100 students attend at least one meeting – we are  one quarter of the way to our goal of 25%, or 400 students attending at least one leadership meeting.  We are working to create a safe space where students feel their voices are heard.  This can be supported as well in the classroom by making the classroom a place where student talk is prioritized.   Students are developing more confidence in sharing their voices as we provide more ongoing purpose and opportunities for the sharing.

Wellness Pilots and Sprints

This week we will continue the student focused sprint we began at Camp Horizons, where we intentionally invited student leaders that represented a variety of learning styles and school experiences.  The follow up will focus on designing experiences that will be responsive to those different styles.  Learning how to do this will require a change in mind set of us as staff as well.We are going to build out a PD strand that uses Camp Horizons and experiential learning as an experience for all staff and students. This will basically a new prototype for PD based on building belonging through experiential learning for staff and students. We will have a the follow up session on November 30 with students and staff to build out ideas.

Staff Wellness Sprints

The Mental Health Team is facilitating a sprint to answer questions related to how to design services and resources to support wellness for staff.  Please look out for communication from the Mental Health Team. A second sprint will be initiated to redesign the Staff Lounges to make them more welcoming, attractive and responsive to staff needs.  If you would like to be involved in this design process, which will involve selection of furniture and other items for the staff lounges, please join!

Community Development Pilot

All students at CHEC are required to do 100 hours of community service.  Often, students have difficulty deciding what to do for service, and where to do it.  Our Social Issues Class is focused on having students assessing their communities’ needs, and determining a topic they want to explore deeply in order to engage in service learning.  During the PBL training, Mr. Bellido designed this project such that the students in the class will hold a Community Service Fair to engage their classmates in service.

Flex Schedule Pilot

We continue to hear feedback from students, through SGA, on the A day B day schedule.  Please participate this week in the schoolwide survey, and encourage students to participate, so that we can make changes in the second semester in response to student and staff needs. We now have First Advisory Data to analyze in relation to the schedule.

Advisory Pilot

The Admin Team reviewed all feedback on Advisory given by staff and students so far, and have recommended the following next steps:

  • Student feedback is needed by grade level (having students come into SLC to provide feedback)
  • Increase in flex days/time for teachers to check in with students
  • Walkthroughs of Advisory to observe implementation and get feedback in real time from teachers/students  
  • Each day with a different theme is making advisory disjointed and difficult to get a rhythm around a topic – consider focusing on a theme for a week or two  
  • Use one SLC meeting per month to work on/practice Advisory Curriculum

The full report of our work is here ..\CHEXQ 23-24\Advisory Redesign Results and Next Steps.docx  We will be surveying students, and SLC’s will provide time to reflect on the curriculum and implementation of the Advisory pilot.           

Co-Designed PBL Pilot

Project Based Learning with authentic audiences and compelling driving questions is part of our focus on meaningful engaged learning for all students.  We now have 16 teachers implementing this enhanced approach to designing and implementing projects.  On December 7, we will engage in a Design Day focused on Deeper Learning, and will share and tune one of our project based learning units with other high schools who are redesigning, in order to get feedback.


As we continue Advisory 2, it is important to continually reinforce and practice norms, by reflecting with students on how well we are upholding them as a community.  We are starting to see more students out of class without passes, and this is a reflection on how well students are owning their learning and showing dependability.  When students are out of class without  a clear purpose, it is difficult to maintain a safe and productive environment.  Please take time this week to discuss the norms, and to emphasize the importance of being in class.

It is also important to utilize the color-coded passes. If you need another one, please let the culture team know. You have received information from the Culture  team on these initiatives, as well as how our Culture team will support all staff in maintaining a positive culture.  The norms have been discussed in detail in Advisory over the first four weeks, and it is important to continue to use the language of the norms throughout the school year, in a co-regulatory fashion.


  • Shout out to the whole CHEC Team for an Terrific Thirteenth Week of School!
  • Shout out to Mr. Molina for organizing the distribution of turkeys and food to those in need!
  • Shout out to Mr. Icso for bringing the Ambassador of Iceland to talk to our students!
  • Shout out to Mr. Odom and the Enrollment/Registration team for continuing to work on our audit!
  • Shout out to Ms. Davies, 6th Grade Counselor for reaching out to all of our Feeder Schools to set up recruitment events!

Week 4 of Advisory 2

We are beginning week 4 of the Second Advisory!

Now that projects have been launched, our focus is on making sure the project is the focus of instruction, as opposed to something that is completed at the end of the unit.  In project based learning terminology, the project is the main course, not the dessert.  Each day, in the work period, students are working on a portion of their project, applying skills or knowledge that have been taught in the mini-lesson.
Throughout the unit,another lever for engagement is reminding students of the audience they will be presenting their project to-  an authentic audience – for example, and expert in the field, invited representatives of local government, or corporate partners.

Project based learning supports our focus on making sure students learn by failing forward, through ongoing peer and teacher feedback, and time for revision.  Since students work on the actual project in class, there is no reason that their project should not be completed by the end of the unit. Students are provided time to do the actual work in class, and receive a grade for it.

Coaching Corner
The Coaching Team would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you enjoy the break from school. While we do not have any PD sessions planned for this week, we do have two fantastic PD opportunities upon our return from the break:

  • Mr. Zack on Discovering Racial Identity (11/28) - Come read an excerpt from "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria" by Beverly Daniel Tatum. This iconic book delves into the development of racial identity, especially during adolescence. Come discuss the research and findings of this renowned author through an anti-racist lens while also reflecting on your own connections to the text.

  • Ms. Ermis on LGBTQ+ for Beginners (11/29) - This training will provide participants with a basic understanding of LGBTQ+ identities, orientations, and expressions. It is the foundational knowledge you will need for the training at the December staff meeting and the January PD day. If you have ever wondered - Why pronouns? What does it mean to be pansexual? What is the difference between gender expression and identity?  - This training is for you!

More information on each PD session and the registration form can be found here.

A calendar of future PD sessions can be found here.

Want to facilitate a PD session? We would love to add you to our calendar! Email the Coaching Team and let us know: coachingteam@DCk12.onmicrosoft.com

The Whole Child

The Whole Child Antiracist initiative celebrates diverse culture and antiracist initiatives. This month is Native American Heritage month we salute all indigenous people.  This Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to visit Colorado where there are over 50,000 Native American tribes that dwell there Colorado is a beautiful state with rich history of Native Americans.  Let's celebrate Native Americans and let them know we appreciate them.

Ms Planter

Instructional Calendar

The Instructional Calendar is a living document that houses all the major curricular requirements, assessments, and schoolwide events. The Instructional Calendar can be found on the CHEC Corner on Canvas, and you have also received an invitation to share the calendar.   If you have any requests for additions to the Instructional Calendar, please contact Ms. Massoni, Mr. Whitney, or Ms. Bruemmer.

Professional Development

This week six members of the Admin Team will attend the Innovative Schools Summit in San Antonio, Texas.

The ALT team is serving to guide our Redesign and our Comprehensive School Plan, and will be meeting every two weeks.  The fifth  ALT team Meeting was Tuesday, October 31st. Notes can be found here.

We need to hear all voices on the ALT and we embrace student attendance and voices.   The next ALT Team Meeting will be on Tuesday, November 28   at 3:30 pm in the middle school library. We will continue to look at first advisory data and make adjustments to our practices as needed, we will also begin the process of focusing on collecting data on “small wins” or indicators of what is working. The focus of this meeting will to determine how all four domains can work on preventing failing grades.

Local School Advisory Team (LSAT)

The LSAT met on November 14, and reviewed the enrollment projections of DCPS. After discussion of the impact of the drastic reduction in enrollment, the team agreed that we should petition for a higher enrollment level.  The petition was submitted, and it was to increase to 1567, our last year’s enrollment.  We will find out in two to three weeks if it was approved.  The team also began to brainstorm and sketch out our recruitment strategy.  We need all hands on deck to support! Please let Mr. Odom know if you can support some of our Recruitment activities.  The LSAT is composed of teachers, support staff, students, community members and parents, and is charged with developing the schools budget and monitoring the Comprehensive School Plan.    If you would like to attend the next LSAT meeting, it will be Wednesday, December 13 at 3:30 pm  in the Cafeteria.  



Katherine exemplifies pride and poise. Careful attention to detail in her work and a calming presence in her learning communities. Katherine is thoughtful, hardworking, and takes the iniative to complete her work! Very mature approach to her education.

Katherine is consistently excellent. She is always respectful and strives to be successful at everything she does. She is currently applying to become part of the Dual Enrollment college program.


"Sindy is such a sweet young lady who greets teachers each morning and afternoon with a smile and kind words. She actively participates in class and does a nice job on her work without needing praise or attention. We can always count on her to do the right thing whether we are watching or not"


"Yadira is a great student who works hard and she sets a quiet example for others to follow. We are so glad to have gotten to know Yadira this year and we can't wait to see what things the future holds for her."


Message from Deans:

Happy final week of November and countdown to December and Christmas break! Many of our students are coming back to school from a possibly overwhelming environment, which can be a tough transition for some students. School is a haven for many students, which is why more than ever before, our actions and engagement matter.

Use this week especially to welcome students back using restorative practices such as journal logging about things, they are thankful for, mindful moments, music playing during warmups, and fun ice breakers to get students reengaged.

If you need ideas for restorative activities, please use the following link: Brain Breaks, Ice Breakers & Engagers

Please remember to create an environment that is warm, welcoming, equitable and student focused.

This is also a good time to reset school and classroom norms! If you created social contracts with students at the start of the school year review them again with your students and focus on two of them each week so you can gage the progress of them with your students.

Check out this short video about “Developing Social Contracts with your Class.


  • Shoutout to Ms. Ferguson and Ms. Yamashita for being recorded by DCPS belonging for using SEL techniques in the classroom.
  • Shout out to Mr. Odom and the Operations Team for creating a clean welcoming environment for students and teachers when they return.
  • Shout out to all the fall athletic coaches and students' athletes for a successful fall sports season.


Please ensure that you have a hall pass. If you do not, please inform a member of the culture team.  Students are required to have a laminated colored pass to use the restrooms and travel to authorized locations in general.

Best Practices  
  • Please make sure you give passes at all times
  • Always write students’ Time Out and Return Time
  • Only one student should be out of class at a time
  • Enforce the 10/10 Rule (No passes during the first 10 and last 10 minute of class.
  • Do not issue passes during lunch periods. Students should have taken care of their needs during lunch or transitions.

Reminder: ALL professional development and Community of Practice sessions will be held in person this school year.

November Restorative DC Events and Calendar

Wednesday, November 29

Wednesday, December 7


Athletics are an integral part of the educational program and a means to accomplish the goals of education. Our athletic program exists for the welfare of students and the contributions it makes to their educational experience.  Athletic participation builds self-esteem and confidence and provides the necessary tools for success. The interaction between individuals on the fields of sport teaches students the value of teamwork, while developing the proper competitive spirit, combined with a sense of fairness.

MCIP Sports
Team Boys' Baseball Girls' Baseball JV Boys' Baseball Varsity Boys' Baseball Varsity Girls' Baseball Bowling
LINCOLN 0 - 0 0 - 0 -
BELL 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0 0 - 0
Day Games
THURSDAY MSGB vs. Walker-Jones at CHEC @ 4:45
MSBB vs. Walker-Jones at CHEC @ 6:00
FRIDAY JVBB vs. Kipp at Kipp @ 4:00
VGB vs. Kipp at Kipp @ 5:30
VBB vs. Kipp at Kipp @ 7:30
Team Result
MS BB No Results
MS GB No Results
JV BB No Results
V BB No Results
Bowling No Results
11/08/23 - MS Girls Soccer vs Cardozo. Photos by Josue Ramirez.
11/08/23 - HS Boys Soccer vs Washington International in DCSAA Playoffs. Photos by Lisbeth Olivar.
11/07/23 - HS Boys Soccer vs Capital City. Photos by Lisbeth Olivar.
To participate in sports, including tryouts, students must complete paperwork and upload their physical via https://www.thedciaa.com/participation-forms.  Anyone with questions, should contact the CHEC athletic director, Coach A in room D236, or via email at desmond.alexander@k12.dc.gov.

Desmond Alexander, CAA
Athletic Directo.  
Columbia Heights Educational Campus
Bell/Lincoln Multicultural Schools

(202) 939-7700 Ext: 5207 (office)
(202) 576-9147 (fax)

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