Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Time Capsule Postmasters Needed!

Traveling back in time is one of the most valuable journeys students take in a classroom, when they truly connect with the past, with history.  Too many students never take that journey with parents and relatives, connecting with their own family history. The Time Capsule Project changes that. Students and their parents write letters to each other for a decade, starting in the 3rd grade, documenting their dreams and plans for the future along with their family stories written down to be passed to future generations.

These journeys are made possible by volunteer Time Capsule Postmasters.  They are the volunteers who deliver forward these priceless letters.  Each year a student stores all the letters they have from family, and they letter they write to themselves, in one large self-addressed envelope.  The job of the postmaster is to organize and store these letters for each class so that they can be returned to the child the next school year before the letter writing starts again.

Want to help deliver this priceless mail?  Your work will make the School Time Capsule Project possible in the school you care about.

You can also help start a Time Capsule Project in any school you want to see improve. Share this project information with the principal. Ask if this could become a Parent Teacher Association Project. They could raise the $900 now required to purchase a 700-pound vault from Costco.com, delivered,  that is now being used in most schools.

Share the School Time Capsule Project Manual from these pages with the school especially the teachers most involved in teaching writing.  This is a writing project that helps students experience the power of writing.

This writing exercise, carried forward year to year by your volunteer "postmaster" work, will show students the power of writing.  Writing is too often the weakest link in the education of our students!

These goals are possible!

Simply helping letters that students, parents, and other important relatives write, to get back to the student a year, or a decade later, makes it all possible!

Imagine handing out year-old letters to 5th graders.  Year-old letters are very old to most students.

Volunteer School Time Capsule Postmasters are needed to help these goals be achieved! Their work makes a system possible that focuses both students and parents on their own roots & goals, year by year, from pre-k through graduation.  They help the 10-year class reunions happen!

Some of those attending the ten-year reunion May 2, 2017 for Quintanilla's 8th grade class from 2007.




Each postmaster invests possibly 40 hours a year helping store hundreds, if not thousands of letters parents and students write for the School Time Capsule Vault, a large 500 to 700-pound vault usually placed in the school lobby, a place students and parents pass it as often as possible.

It begins with pre-k enrollment when each parent is asked to write a letter to their child about their dreams for them. The letters are written each year and go into the vault in the envelope for each child.

This process changes by the third grade when two annual writing assignments begin. Students write a letter to each of their parents, and may expand in later years to favorite relatives, especially grandparents. Students write to ask for letters back about dreams the writers have for the student and for a story from the writer's personal history. Students should always immediately read letters they receive back. They then ask the writer any questions they may have.  Hopefully this will lead to those priceless conversations we should have more often with our children and grandchildren.

Honorable Trini Garza, former DISD Trustee and Bill Betzen on 1-17-19,
with the old 2005 Quintanilla vault and the new 700-pound vault.
Too many letters for the old vault! Nice problem! Since 2015 Quintanilla has
consistently remained one of the 5 best of all 33 DISD middle schools.
The second writing class is when students prepare the self-addressed envelope to hold the letters collected.  Then the student writes a letter to themselves about their own plans for the future while the postmaster and teacher double check addresses on the envelopes. (Such accuracy is critical!) 

A year is a very long time. Students change significantly.  Thus the "Time Capsule" term is appropriate from the perspective of both the student, and their parents who see the massive year-to-year changes every child's life reflects.

Postmaster(s) make this system possible. They manage the archiving system so that they can personally hand back to each student the envelope they prepared a year earlier.  They will see that twinkle in the student's eye as students try to remember what they wrote a year earlier.

The letter writing starts as parents write their first letter to their child about their dreams for them.  This letter goes with the pre-k application. It is the first of 14 annual letters to their child about their dreams for them.  These letters will develop and gain detail as their child grows.

The Postmaster(s) will also help for the special 10-year-in-the-future dreams and plans that happen in the 8th grade, and then again in the 12th grade.  They will ultimately be helping to coordinate those 10-year 8th grade and 12th grade class reunions.  At the high school level they may simply staff the "Time Capsule Table" at the traditional high school 10-year reunion.  They will pass back the letters written 10-years earlier.

2015 was first 10-year reunion for the first Time Capsule Project Class of 2005.
2015 was also the year Quintanilla had the highest DISD School Effectiveness
Indices (SEI) Score of any DISD middle school, for the first time! System
improvements now speed up such improvement to three years, not 10.

I personally consider this to be the most rewarding volunteer work possible.  You will see a school change before your very eyes!  Your work allows students to begin to know in more detail their own family roots and make their own plans for the future, updating their plans every year.  Grades and behavior both improve! Student confidence grows!  Then you see tears of joy at the class reunions as they are thankful and celebrate what they have achieved.

Please call the Dallas ISD Volunteer Center (972-925-5440) about becoming a Time Capsule Postmaster. You may even help start such a project in a school you want to change. Use the word "Postmaster" and they will know what you are calling about.

To see more details about the project, read the manual that is found at www.StudentMotivation.org.

This is an open source project that is ran independently by each school.  We only ask that Project improvements discovered be shared.

Bill Betzen, bbetzen@aol.com

Thursday, April 25, 2019

School Time Capsule Project Manual

(Print out this posting to have directions available on the School Time Capsule Project.)
Student achievement soars
knowing roots and goals!

====== pk-12 - Project Manuel ======= 

As of October 2018 there are 6 elementary, 10 middle, and 4 high schools in Dallas ISD that have School Time Capsule Projects.  Each of them have a 500-700+ pound vault, prominently located in the school hallway or lobby, to hold these priceless pk-12 letters from year to year, and for the 8th and 12th grade 10-year reunions. Volunteers are being established at each school to keep letters organized so they follow students, and to ultimately plan 10-year reunions.

Student motivation and parental involvement are the goals.  The process begins as parents enroll their child in Pre-K and each write the first of 14 annual letters to their child about their dreams for their child.  It is explained this will be an annual letter that will be increasingly easy to write until the child graduates high school. Each letter should include another story from the parent's history so their child becomes familiar with their family history and their roots.  


This letter writing will hopefully help lead toward a life-long process of their child becoming grounded in their own family and heritage! At the same time students are reading their parents dreams for them each year. They are slowly building toward their own more solid written life goals that are annually updated after third grade.

Before 3rd grade parents write out their dreams for their child each year as they enroll them for school. That practice changes in third grade as parents begin to respond to a letter their child writes to them asking for a letter about their parental dreams for them and one story from their family history.

The student is encouraged more as the years pass to write letters to additional people important in their lives such as relatives, grandparents, close family friends.

As the project evolves parents and the other letter writers will begin quietly planning forward each year thinking of the story they will share in next year’s letter. It will hopefully increase the frequency of families talking about their family history at home.
As students receive letters from a parent or relative they immediately read them and ask the writer questions about the letter.  They want to understand it well. They then bring all the letters collected to school for the day a second letter is scheduled to be written, the student's letter to themselves about their own life plans. 
In school that day they first prepare a self-addressed envelope to hold all their letters. This envelope should have the student's address, email, and cell phone numbers on them (as available), as well as another relatives address for backup. Then, as the teacher checks for potential errors on the self-addressed envelope at each students desk, students write a letter to themselves about their own dreams for their future, and how they plan to achieve those dreams.

All letters are considered confidential unless the parent or child wants them to be read by others, or by their teacher.

The letters go into each student’s self-addressed envelope and into the School Time Capsule Vault, separated by class. They remain in the vault until just before the same writing project the next year when they are returned to students.  The same process is then repeated. 
It is recommended that the last elementary school letters follow the student to middle school, helping to make an often difficult middle school transition into one that is more positive. It helps as letters from elementary school are read in middle school to continue the life planning process.

The exceptions to this process are in the 8th and 12th grades when all letters are written planning 10-years into the future. Those two years all letters are then gathered into an adequately large self-addressed envelope that will remain in the School Time Capsule until the 10-year reunion for the student's class.  


It is recommended that 10-year reunions be planned just before Career Day so that returning students can be asked to volunteer to speak on Career Day.  They will speak about life after 8th or 12th grades, their careers, and give their recommendations for success to current students.

Every school needs a volunteer team to help make certain these priceless envelopes follow the students year to year. These volunteers eventually help plan the 10-year reunions and send out those notifications, both online and through U.S. Mail.  They manage the re-connection with former students.  

======== End Summary ========

History: The School Time Capsule Project started in 2005 with only 8th graders writing letters to themselves for 10-years into the future. That project immediately showed positive results as the high school most students attended gradually began to have fewer students drop out. More students were successfully transitioning to the next grade. Graduation rates rose from 33% to over 70% within a decade.
  
In that same decade the discipline problems at Quintanilla dropped to 14% of what they used to be as counted by referrals made. Student pregnancies dropped significantly. In 2005, the first year 8th graders wrote letters, a girl ran out of the classroom leaving the future planning writing exercise.  She knew she was pregnant. How that would change her future was too much for her to face.  Active written plans for the future are the most effective birth-control available.

It took a decade, but by 2015 the School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) for Quintanilla was the highest of all DISD middle schools.  However, Time Capsule Project changes made, moving letter writing to all grades and adding the first letter written to parents & relatives, now accelerate such school improvement to about 3 years in a normally resourced school.

In 2009 parents were first invited to write letters to their child before the student wrote their letter to themselves planning their future.  This followed a brilliant idea by Ms. Thompson, a teacher.  The principals and/or teachers would send a message home asking for such a letter, but the percentage of students receiving letters back from parents never went above 30%.

That changed dramatically in May of 2016. Quintanilla Language Arts Coach, Nicki Lincoln, had two brilliant ideas to improve the Project.  First she wanted students to write their own parents requesting the letter back themselves.  It would be a Language Arts writing project. Second, she wanted all students in all grades to write such letters, writing one each year and reading it a year later until the 8th grade when the 10-year letters are written.

This expanded the positive effects of the Time Capsule future focus to the entire school.  All students would receive back the letters they wrote the next year so they could read it and improve the letter they wrote that year.  The 8th graders received back their 7th grade letter, studied it, and then at the end of the year they wrote their final 10-year letter. (As this point, if the school wants and students want, larger envelopes can be used so that all the letters from all three years could be placed into the Time Capsule for safe keeping for the next decade.)

It was an immediate success!  Quintanilla teachers were reported in tears due to the results when as many as 85% of student received those valuable letters back from their parents and caretakers. 
This started the recommendation of annual letter writing by all students from 3rd grade through 12th to help then connect with their roots and their goals more each year.

This plan was tested in 2016/17 at Browne Middle School, a Time Capsule Project School for 2 years but still in its 5th year as a failing school. Their 8th grade writing Time Capsule Project had just completed the 2 years with some improvement, but Browne Middle School leadership and teachers loved the idea of all students in all grades writing to each of their parents asking for these priceless letters back, and then writing their letters to themselves.  Browne immediately did this in all grades and the results were astounding!

Browne went from 5th year IR, to Meeting Requirements with 4 Distinctions for the 2016/17 school year!  Their School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) went from just "below average" at 47.5 to 61.7, the highest SEI score for any middle school in all of DISD!  This tied the other largest one year gain by a middle school over the past 20 years in DISD! 

By 2016/17 there were 6 active Time Capsule Projects in DISD middle schools.  All of them were comfortably above average in their SEI scores, and 4 of them were among the 5 highest SEI scores of all 33 middle schools in DISD. This was reported to the public.  In 2017/18 a total of 9 new Time Capsule Project were started, ending the year with 6 elementary, 10 middle, and 4 high schools.  By this time the DISD Curriculum Department was involved and monitoring the progress.

The goals for 2018/19 are to activate the all-grade from 3rd through 12th letter writing projects, 2 letters every year, in the 18 additional schools that will join Quintanilla and Browne in their progress.

In the fall of 2018 a DISD Kindergarten volunteer, Elaine Wildman, suggested that when enrolling their child for school that parents of PK through 2nd grade parents include a statement of their goals for their child.  This would begin the forward thinking process for parents, the putting of goals into words.

   
Letter writing recommendations: These are only recommendations.  The ownership of this project is with each school.  School leadership ultimately decide when and what to do. (It is requested that if schools develop significant improvements that they share their ideas with all schools with Time Capsule Projects, and with us. bbetzen@aol.com)

Timing: all letters except the 10-year letters in 8th and 12th grade should be written during the first half of the school year. (8th and 12th graders could also write letters at the start of the school year and then get those letters back at the end of the year before writing their final 10-year letter. It is an alternative for school leadership to decide.)  The end of October is recommended due to that being when full enrollment is anticipated.  The 10-year letters should be written at the end of the school year so as to sum things up.

Recommendations for first annual letter:
While it is recommended this start in the 3rd grade, teachers have spoken about earlier starts.  That certainly can be done. 


Recommended directions to give to students for writing that first letter to parents:

Here are three sets for directions that can be printed out to share with students with the directions for their letter writing to parents and other relatives they would like to have letters back from.

***************************************
Directions for 3rd through 5th grade students for the first Time Capsule Project writing lesson:


What are your dreams for me?
Time Capsule Project Letter Student Directions
Elementary School  3-8-18

Write a letter to each of the most important adults in your life. Write to your parents, grandparents, other relatives, or even school staff.     

Ask them to write you a letter telling their dreams for you.

Ask them to write one story from your family’s history. It can be a story they want you to someday tell your own children.  

Your parents and/or relatives will finish their letter. Read it with them. Ask them questions so you can best understand their letter.  

Bring the letters you have received to school. Bring them on the day your teacher says you will write a letter to yourself. In this letter write your dreams for your own future.

Place all these letters into one envelope. Put your name and home address on the envelope. 

Your envelope will return to you in one year.


***************************************
Directions for 6th  through 8th grade students for the first Time Capsule Project writing lesson:

What are your dreams for me?
Directions for the first Time Capsule Project letter
Middle School 3-8-18
Write a letter to each of the most important adults in your life. Write to your parents, grandparents, guardians or other relatives. You may even write to school staff you may be close to.  Write to adults from whom you would like a letter describing their dreams for you.   

You may write your letter in any language. 

You will write such letters each year.  You change a lot in one year.  You will write letters to the adults observing your changes.  They will describe how their dreams for you have changed as you change.

Ask them to each write one story from your family’s history. It can be a story about themselves or any relative.  It should be a story they consider valuable. It should be a story they want you to pass on to your children someday.   

When your parents and/or relatives finish their letter, read it at home with them. Ask them questions so you understand it.  The goal is for you to understand the letter. 

Bring all the letters you have received to your Language Arts Class. Do this on the day planned to write a letter to yourself. On that day your teacher will give you an envelope. It will hold all the letters you have received. Place your name and address on this envelope. You will then write a letter to yourself about your own plans for the future.

You will also place the letter you write into this self-addressed envelope.  You will place that envelope into the School Time-Capsule.  This will happen each year until you graduate. 

Every year you will receive back this envelope with your letters. The only differences will be in the 8th and 12th grade. Those years you will write letters planning your life 10-years into the future.  Those same years the relatives writing to you will also describe their dreams for you 10-years into the future. These 10-year letters will remain inside the school time capsule for 10 years.


In 10 years your class will have a 10-year reunion. At that reunion you will receive these envelopes back. School staff will invite you to speak with the then current students in your former middle school.  You will give your recommendations for success to them. You will describe life after middle school.


***************************************
Directions for 9th through 12th grade students for the first Time Capsule Project writing lesson:

What are your dreams for me?
Directions for the first Time Capsule Project letter
High School Students 3-8-18
Write a letter to each of the most important adults in your life. Write to your parents, grandparents, guardians or other relatives. You may also write to school staff you may be close to.  Write to adults from whom you would like a letter describing their dreams for you.   

You may write your letters in any language. 

You will be writing such letters each year.  You change a lot in a year.  You will write letters to the adults observing your changes.  They will describe how their dreams for you have changed as you change.

Ask them to each include one story from your family’s history in their letter. It can be a story about themselves or any relative.  It should be a story they consider valuable. It should be a story they want you to pass on to your children someday.   

When your parents and/or relatives finish their letter, read it with them. Ask them questions so you understand it.  The goal is for you to understand the letter. 

Bring all the letters you have received to your Language Arts Class. Do this on the day planned to write a letter to yourself. On that day your teacher will give you an envelope. It will hold all the letters you have received. Place your name and address on this envelope. You will then write a letter to yourself about your own plans for the future.

You will also place the letter you write into your self-addressed envelope.  You will place that envelope into the School Time-Capsule.  This will happen each year until you graduate. 

Every year you will receive back this envelope with your letters. The only differences will be in the 12th grade. That year you will write a letter planning your life 10-years into the future.  Your senior year the relatives writing to you will also describe their dreams for you 10-years into the future. Your senior year letters will remain inside the school time capsule for 10 years.

In 10 years your class will have your first 10-year class reunion. At that reunion you will receive these envelopes back. School staff will invite you to speak with the then current students in your former high school.  You will give your recommendations for success to them. You will describe life after high school.  You will give the recommendations you wish you had received. You can also talk about the recommendations you did receive and now regret not having followed.


But for now, plan the future you want and describe how you will achieve it.

====================================
The fifth such 10-year reunion will happen this year at Quintanilla, the first Time Capsule Project School, started in 2005. Quintanilla used to be a normal DISD middle school, but for the past several years Superintendent Dr. Hinojosa, has called Quintanilla the best DISD middle school.
Such progress now happens much more rapidly in new Time Capsule Project Schools due to expanded, every grade, letter writing. It will no longer take a decade!

Expect a letter from your child!                          Bill Betzen, 10-29-18
bbetzen@aol.com


Monday, November 27, 2017

More precious than diamonds... More valuable than gold...

This is the Greiner Middle School Time Capsule. William Fields, a Greiner TAG teacher at the time, started this Dallas ISD School Time Capsule Project in 2010. These are words he placed on the vault in 2010. It is a very positive statement, that has been proven more than accurate, about the power of students planning in writing for their own lives and their own futures. (See www.StudentMotivation.org .  At the bottom of this posting see how to buy a vault for Christmas and change your local school!)
No automatic alt text available.
Nothing will lower poverty levels in Dallas more than if every school in the city has an annual set of letter-writing lessons wherein all students both connect with their roots and plan for their futures.
This is the heart of the School Time Capsule Project. Students write letters to their parents, and other important adults in their lives, every year from third grade through 12th grade asking for letters to be written back to them.
They only ask for two things in the return letter. They ask for each adults' dreams for them, and they ask each adult, parents and others, to include one story from their family or community history they consider valuable enough they want it passed on someday to the students' children.
Imagine a collection of 10 such stories about each parent's family recorded by the time your child graduates! They will know more about their roots, their community, than any students today!
In the process their attitude toward writing will change!
Students read the letters and ask questions of parents, and the other people they may have asked to write letters, about their letters. Students then bring the letters to school. First they prepare a self-addressed envelope to hold all their letters. Then they write a letter to themselves about their own plans to be included in that envelope. All letters are sealed into the prepared envelope and placed into the school time capsule, on the shelf for that students class.
The vault installed at Greiner Middle School in 2010 is now filled with 7 years of letters students have written to themselves planning their futures. Class reunions start in three more years!
This year will be the fourth such 10-year reunion at Quintanilla.
Imagine the power of these reunions! They are planned before Career Day so volunteers can be recruited from the returning alumni to talk on Career Day to current students about life after 8th grade! How did they choose their professions? What recommendations do they give for success? What would they do differently if they could be 12 years old again?
Six middle schools are now actively doing this in Dallas: Browne, Boude Storey, Greiner, Quintanilla, Rosemont & Zumwalt. It is no accident that all of them are well above average in achievement. The lowest School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) score among these 6 schools is still the 13th best of all 33 middle schools!
Four of these 6 are among the top 5 performing middle schools of all 33 middle schools in Dallas! Browne Middle school, which would have been in its 5th year as a failing IR school, now has the highest SEI of all middle schools in Dallas! That is the power of future planning well done with parents involved. While I do not know the parental letter writing percentages at Browne, at Quintanilla it was as high as 85%!
This project is now moving into more schools from 3rd through 12th grade.
Help your local school become a higher achieving school. Buy them a vault for Christmas! Go to the blog at www.StudentMotivation.org to see how to buy a 770-pound vault for your school for $775, on sale till 12-17-17 at Costco.com. Delivery is included! Just coordinate with the principal and have the vault delivered to the school lobby, or another location where it can be seen by students every day. The more often they think of the letters from their parents, and they letters they themselves wrote, the better.
Please share this posting with people you know have the money to help your local schools have this $775 vault, or maybe the $150 in supplies it takes to put in the 10 shelves, donated to your school for Christmas. Then recruit, and/or become one of the volunteers willing to study www.StudentMotivation.org and get the project going.
Too many Dallas students do not know their roots, or their plans for the future. If that changes, starting in the third grade, so will the poverty level for the next generation!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Christmas Present for Your School 2017

The most valuable Christmas present you could give your local school is to introduce them to the School Time Capsule Project and, if they agree, purchase a $775 vault, now on sale until 12-17-17 at Costco online. This is the 43 cubic foot vault on sale:
This vault would go into the lobby of the school, or another high student traffic location so the maximum number of students see it daily. Ten shelves would need to be installed inside the vault for 10 years worth of letters from parents, relatives, and students.  They would be writing valued stories in these letters from family history and dreams for the future with plans for achieving those dreams.

Such reflecting on history and planning for the future has helped create the highest performing middle schools among the 33 middle schools in Dallas ISD. See blog posting below. The Time Capsule Project has now been approved by DISD to be used from 3rd through 12th grade for helping students focus on their futures and know their past.

Bill Betzen
www.StudentMotivation.org 

School Time Capsule Project Update 11-10-17

School achievement is driven by motivated students who know where they came from, their roots, and where they are going, their plans. Students and parents must discuss as much as possible the history they share. With that foundation they focus more completely on their own goals, constantly updated. Such grounded student motivation is the mission of the School Time Capsule Project.

After 14 years of improvements due to constant input, one of the 6 active Time Capsule Project middle schools have had the highest annual School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) score of all 33 Dallas ISD middle schools for three of the past 4 years!  Then on 10-19-17, when the most recent SEI data was released, it was also discovered that four of the five DISD middle schools with the highest SEI's this past year were Time Capsule Project Schools!  (The School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) is a DISD measurement of school performance that has been used 20+ years to measure performance in each DISD school every year.) 

It must be emphasized that there are only 6 active Time Capsule Project middle schools among the 33 DISD middle schools.  Only one of the 25 non-Time Capsule Project middle schools is among the top 5 in SEI scores for 2017. See page 2 of the 2016-17 Summary List at https://mydata.dallasisd.org/SL/SD/SEI/Default.jsp for the middle school listings which are repeated in the chart below. Notice below that the 'worst' SEI for an active Time Capsule Project school still places them better-than-average as 13th best among 33 middle schools. 
Dallas ISD Middle Schools in order by 2017 School Effectiveness Indices Scores

The Time Capsule Project is expanding this year to 14 more schools, including elementary schools for the first time. From third grade through 12th grade there will be two annual lessons:

1.   Students write a persuasive letter to their parents, and/or other relatives, asking for them to write a letter back. Students ask for two things in these letters: "What are your dreams for me?" and "Please write one story from your personal family history that you want me to pass on to my children someday." Over 80% of families respond and write potentially priceless letters.  Students then talk with anyone they asked to write a letter about what they have written. Students must be certain they understand the letter. Such conversations can be priceless, reinforcing family relationships.

2.   The resulting letters from lesson 1, or copies if the family wants to keep the originals, are brought back to Language Arts Class where each student prepares one self-addressed envelope to hold them. Then the student writes their second letter, this time to themselves about their own goals and dreams. All letters then go into that self-addressed envelope for each student. These envelopes go inside a 500-pound, or larger, School Time Capsule Vault in the school lobby. (Vaults can come from COSTCO for $500 to $800. For less than $100 the needed 10 shelves can be purchased and installed by volunteers.)

The previous year’s letters are always studied by students before the next letter-writing actions. In 8th and 12th grades all letters are written focusing on goals 10 years into the future. Students know they will be invited back for a 10-year reunion to pick up their envelopes, usually scheduled just before Career Day. At that reunion they will be asked to return and speak on Career Day with then current students about their recommendations for success, their profession, and life after 8th or 12th grade.

The fourth such 10-year reunion will happen this year at Quintanilla, the first Time Capsule Project School. It is still a 95% high-poverty school, but Dr. Hinojosa, DISD Superintendent, last summer named Quintanilla as the best middle school, the model middle school inside DISD.

The newest recommendation is, when possible, that a school secure the large 43-cubic-foot vault below, now on sale at Costco for $775. With such a large vault every student can be given a large 9"x11" envelope to use in storing their envelopes every year in the vault.  Each year students can read what they have written before as they plan that years letter.  Ultimately the school can leave all letters in the vault for the 10 years.  Fewer letters will be lost. The 10-year reunion will become more significant, especially with letters from parents and other relatives each year.

Quintanilla has had SEI scores among the top 20% of DISD middle schools every year for the past 4 years. Such progress will now happen much more rapidly in new Time Capsule Project Schools due to improvements outlined above. It will not take a decade!

One or more volunteers are needed to function as Time Capsule Masters at each school to help manage the Time Capsule Project.  They sort and help teachers return each year the letters from the previous year by each student.  Once the 10-year reunions begin, these volunteers help manage the reunions. This is exceptionally rewarding volunteer work. I have done it for over a decade, one of many volunteers with many wonderful stories to tell from the Project. We need more volunteers, at least one at each school.

Last year Browne had all students in all grades write letters as described above. Parents responded wonderfully! The photo below shows today’s Browne Time Capsule with the results:

Notice that the shelf for this year’s 8th grade class, 2018, as well as next year’s 8th grade class, 2019, are already filled with letters. These are the letters written last year by then 6th and 7th graders.  They will be returned to those students, and read, before this year’s letter writing. By the end of this year new letters will fill these shelves. The only difference will be that shelf “2018” will hold letters about dreams and plans for 2028. Those letters stay on that shelf until 2028.  

It is recommended 6th and 7th grade classes write letters at the beginning of the year to have the greatest effect on achievement that year. It is best 8th graders wait until the end of their 8th grade year to be able to reflect on more of their middle school experience as they write their letters planning 10-years into the future. Such future-focus by all students was one of many factors that helped Browne achieve the highest SEI scores of any of the 33 middle schools in DISD for 2016/17.  

The SEI for Browne went up 14.2 points in just one year!

A School Time Capsule Project only works in a school that is already a high functioning school under solid leadership. Once you have that, and add to it the grounding in family history and planning for the future reinforced by the Time Capsule Project, you have even greater achievement due to stronger student motivation. Positive student behaviors increase!  

School Time Capsule Vaults should be located in the highest student traffic area of a school, usually the lobby, to remind students daily of their parents’ letters, and their own plans.
For more details on this open-sourced, low budget, volunteer-based project, see http://www.StudentMotivation.org, and the attached blog. Please share.

If you want to help another Dallas ISD school purchase a vault to start their Time Capsule Project, please send donations to: Time Capsule Project, c/o Lulac National Education Service Center, 345 S. Edgefield Ave., Dallas, Texas 75208. If you want to help a specific school, talk with that principal to see if they are willing to start at Time Capsule Project, and then specify which school you want your money used for.

You also may just buy a vault and bring it to the school, and help install the needed 10 shelves inside the vault.  This is a very flexible system!  Help your local schools!  Below is one large vault on sale until 12-17-17 for $775 from Costco, a large 770-pound 43 cu. ft. vault.


Any school can start a Time Capsule Project on their own with any modifications they may want.  We only ask that if you come up with what is considered a very successful improvement, that you share the details with us so more students can benefit.  The students are the only reason for this project. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Students Achievement seen as SEI History over 8 years

There are many different ways to look at the progress in the schools that are Time Capsule Project Schools actively having students write letters.  Here are a chart covering the middle schools in Dallas ISD with the Time Capsule Project schools indicated.  It documents the progress Time Capsule Project schools have enjoyed.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Time Capsule Project Achievements Since 2005 - a focus on the future!

  • The oldest Time Capsule Project DISD middle schools (Quintanilla 2005 & Greiner 2009) now have the highest 3-year average SEI* scores of all 31 DISD middle schools!  
  • The 5 middle schools with newer Time Capsule Projects have achieved an average 3-year SEI gain of 6.7 points per school!  
  • The 24 middle schools with no Time Capsule Project suffered an average 3-year SEI loss of 0.7 points during the same years.  
  • Sunset, with the oldest high school Time Capsule Project, has now changed one of the worst DISD graduation rates a decade ago into the highest of all 22 non-magnet high schools! (Calculated as the balance between 9th grade size and number of diplomas given within 4 years without corrections allowed in state calculations.)
  • See charts & details in October 2016 blogs at www.StudentMotivation.org.

Annual goal-focused letter writing is now recommended for all grades in Time Capsule Project schools. It is also recommended that the request for parents to write a letter about their dreams for their child come directly from the student in a personal letter. This was first done in May 2016 with the result that the old 30% parental response rate almost tripled! As many as 85% of parents responded with a potentially priceless letter to their child.  
The third Quintanilla 10-year reunion will be this year, scheduled as planned before Career Day.  The 8th grade class of 2007 will return to pick up their 2007 letters in time for volunteers to be secured for Career Day. Eighth grade students were told a decade ago to be prepared to give such talks. They speak with current students on Career Day about life after middle school, their employment and preparation for it, and what they would do differently if they could be 13 once again. Is it easy to understand why the SEI is rising?   
* “School Effectiveness Indices (SEI’s) are Dallas ISD's value-added measure of the academic performance of a school's students. The SEI model is an alternative to evaluating school performance with absolute measures such as passing rates. SEIs are a fairer method for determining a school's effect on student performance because they take into consideration known factors over which school personnel have no control, such as socio-economic status, language proficiency, and gender.”
      From 
https://mydata.dallasisd.org/SL/SD/SEI/Default.jsp with 18 years SEI data by school.