Monday, August 13, 2018

Time Capsule Project Manual - August 2018

(Print out this posting to have available as a reference on how to run the Time Capsule Project)
Students study harder knowing roots and goals

================= August 2018 Summary ===================
(Being edited 8-14-18)     

As of August 2018 there are 6 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 4 high schools in Dallas ISD that have School Time Capsule Projects.

The project goal is for every child from 3rd through 12th grade to have a set of two annual Language Arts letter writing in-class exercises focused on connecting with their parents, their roots, and planning for their futures.

Each school year begins with a letter to their parents, and/or other important people in their lives, asking for a letter back. Students ask for two things in the return letter: 1) the letter writer's dreams for them, and 2) one story from the writer's life that the writer values enough to want it repeated some day in the future to the student's children. 

(Once the project starts, hopefully 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 may even increase family history talks at home.)


Students immediately read any letter they receive from a parent or relative.  They also immediately ask the writer questions about the letter so that they understand it well. They save the letters until the day they bring them to school for the day the second letter is scheduled to be written.

The first thing they do in school that day is prepare a self-addressed envelope to hold all the letters. This envelope should have email and cell phone numbers on them 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, the students write a letter to themselves about their own dreams for their future, and how they plan to achieve those dreams.

All letters then 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.

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 reunions for those classes.  


The 10-year reunions will 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.

Every school should have volunteers to help make certain the letters follow the students year to year. These volunteers also 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.  It is recommended that the last elementary school letters follow the student to middle school, helping to make that often difficult transition more positive one.

================= 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, that were slowly happening over the years since 2005, 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 and for them all to be active in the School Time Capsule Project. 

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.  
   
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. Bill Betzen)

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.


(TO BE CONTINUED BELOW – 8-14-18 EDITING STOPPED HERE)

It is most possible that DISD students can begin writing such letters in the 3rd grade. They continue this focus on their own futures through graduation. The letters are stored by grade in a large vault in the school lobby.  Each year before the annual letter writing starts, the letters from the previous year are returned so your child can see what was written the year before.  They will also bring home the letters you wrote the year before.  It is good to see how dreams and goals grow over time.  Every year new letters are written about life, but always including updated life goals. A priceless record is being created, one that helps your child better understand how they themselves can change things over time. They will see how education gives power!
All letters are sealed each year into one self addressed envelope for each student. The only letters not returned to your student the next year are those written in the 8th and 12th grade.  In those grades all letters are written planning 10-years into the future. Those letters stay in the vault for 10 years.
At the class 10-year reunion, they will no longer be children but 23 years old or older.  They will pick up their letters and be asked to speak with current students in their former school on Career Day. They give their own recommendations for success, filling in gaps after 8th grade.
The fourth 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 last summer Superintendent Dr. Hinojosa, named 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 not take a decade!
For more details on this open-sourced, low budget, volunteer-based project, see http://www.StudentMotivation.org, and the attached blog.
Expect a letter from your child!                          Bill Betzen, 1-25-18, bbetzen@aol.com

Monday, April 30, 2018

Quintanilla Class of 2008 10-year Reunion, May 9th 6-7

The 8th grade Class of 2008 is being welcomed back to Quintanilla on Wednesday, May 9th, from 6 to 7 in the Quintanilla Cafeteria, remodeled since 2008.  Presentations will begin at 6:15 pm regarding the May 23rd morning Career Day events.  Would you like to talk with Quintanilla Students about life after 8th grade and your career choices, giving the advice you wish you had received a decade ago?

Come with your ID so you can pick up the letter your wrote in 2008 to yourself in 2018 with your dreams and plans.  If it is impossible for you to join with us on May the 9th, after that date you can connect with Ms. LaShonda Roberson who was a science teacher some of you may remember.  She is now the Quintanilla Librarian.  After May the 9th she will have the remaining letters not yet picked up. They remain in the Library at Quintanilla.  Just come during school hours and bring your ID to pick up your letter but only after May the 9th.  Ms. Roberson's email is LaRoberson@dallasisd.org

See you on May the 9th at 6 pm.  I hope to be there by 5:30 pm to begin handing out letters. Bring your ID.   The reunion is in the Cafeteria at Quintanilla.

Former Computer Applications Teacher,

Bill Betzen
bbetzen@al.com

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Beginning a School Time Capsule Project

A School Time Capsule Project can be started within a few weeks in any school serving grades from 3 through 12. It only requires a principal and staff who want to see over 80% of the parents of their students actively involved. They become involved by writing letters to their child both recording their dreams for their students and writing family history stories they want their child to pass on to grandchildren someday.


Two annual writing projects in Language Arts Class achieve these goals. The first is a letter written by students to their parents and other important adults in their life.  That letter asks for a letter back to the student answering two questions of the adult: 1) "What are your dreams for me?" and 2) "Will you write me a story from your history that you want me to pass on to my children someday?"

About two weeks after that first letter, when most students will have received and studied the letters received back from all the people they wrote to, the second writing project happens.  It involves the students writing a letter to themselves about their own futures.

All these letters are then placed into one self-addressed envelope for each student.  These envelopes are then placed into the School Time Capsule, usually a 500 to 700-pound vault located in a central location in the school lobby.

Before these writing projects each year students and parents are given back the letters they wrote the year before. Children change a lot in one year. The quality of the letters almost always improves year to year.  It is good for both parents and students to see those changes reflected in their letters.

The only big change in the annual letter writing is in the 8th and 12th grades when students, and everyone writing to them, write letters planning dreams for a decade into the future.  These are the letters that remain in the vault for a decade.  At their class 10-year reunion these letters are returned.


We are now planning the 4th such reunion at Quintanilla Middle School which, after 14 years of the School Time Capsule Project, is one of the highest performing middle schools of all 33 DISD middle schools. 

The reunions are always planned a week or more before Career Day so that the returning former students can volunteer to speak that day with current students about their lives after middle school and how they chose their professions.

As students become more future-focused they also become more well-motivated. Behavior problems decrease. The School Effectiveness Indices (SEI) scores for all schools with active Time Capsule Projects have risen this past decade to be among the highest in all of Dallas ISD.  See more details about progress in Time Capsule Project Schools in this report filed last November: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2017/11/school-time-capsule-project-update-11-6.html

To begin this project you must simply schedule the two writing projects for all students in all grades. Plans to secure a vault must be made, but you do not need the vault to begin. It only needs to be secured before the next school year. A 43 cubic 700-pound vault is now recommended, but if your school has classes closer to only 100 students each, a smaller vault will be adequate.  We are currently ordering the 700-pound 43 cubic vault from Costco.com that sells for $900, online at https://www.costco.com/Cannon-43.8-Cu-Ft-Executive-Series-Safe%2c-60-min-Fire-Protection.product.100341405.html  Smaller vaults are available but this vault gives potential for growth in the amount of materiel students can store in their letters. Larger envelopes can be used to allow all the letters to be collected for storage until the 10-year reunion.

Below are examples of directions recommended for students for the writing of that first letter to their parents, and other adults in their lives such as grandparents.  They were written using  https://readable.io/text/ so that they are written for three different reading levels.

***************************************
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.