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In last week’s bulletin, we discussed how to reflect on the interest level of our GRASPS, and to find our own inner excitement regarding the projects we have developed for students. To take it to the next level, look at the essential questions you have developed in the GRASPS – which of them is most interesting and exciting to you? Let the students know, and then give them the opportunity to pick the questions that are most interesting – or better yet – have them develop their own essential questions. According to Wiggins and McTighe, in order to make sure we are using questions to delve deeper into content, it is important to design units so that there are overarching essential questions, for the course, and topical essential questions, for the unit. Here is an example from Social Studies from Understanding by Design

Overarching Essential Question

What are the common factors in the rise and fall of powerful nations?

Topical Questions (for each unit)

Why did the Roman Empire collapse?
Why did the British empire end?
What explains the United States rise to world prominence?  

The overarching question should be posed to students at the beginning of the course, and throughout the course.  As students progress throughout the course, this question will generate deeper and more knowledgeable discussion.  The time to pose the higher order questions is now – and every day!

The role of provocative questions in engaging students in their classes and work, cannot be overestimated.  There is a body of recent research on the importance of building classrooms that encourage students to be creative and use divergent thinking, and this is one of the most potent ways to improve achievement. (Drapeau, 2014)

What are the elements needed to foster creative thinking by students? In addition to creative questioning, according to Drapeau, hooking student interest can be achieved through unusual images, asking students to connect content to unrelated ideas, fostering small group, problem based learning, and asking student to produce creative projects.  Our GRASPS can do this – we just have to plan how to give them to students in a way that lets each student find out what interests them.  Drapeau’s book, Sparking Student Creativity, has some specific, easy strategies to do this.  If you would like to check it out, please see M. Tukeva.


This week our illustrious Class of 2016 will continue the first half of their Portfolio Presentations, due to the snow days.  This is a graduation requirement for CHEC, and is the moment when we see and hear what our students have mastered, as well as their own unique development and perspective on the world. Most departments will serve on panels in lieu of their department meetings on Wednesday. If you are able to serve at any other time, it would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you, as always, for your support of our students.


We have finally received last year’s PARCC results, and have them sorted by teacher.  You should have received an excel database with them.  If you did not, please contact Billy Oliva. These can be used to give you more background information on your students and their performance on specific standards.

February 1 - February 5, 2016
January 4-8, 2016

Congratulations to the middle school boy’s basketball team who defeated Browne.  The middle school girl’s basketball team lost to Francis Stevens and Browne. Congratulations to the varsity girl’s basketball team who defeated Coolidge.  The jv and varsity boy’s basketball teams lost to Coolidge.

MSGB: 2-4
MSBB: 3-3
VGB: 9-7
JVB: 1-11
VBB: 4-14

MSBB vs. West at 4:45 @ West
VGB vs. Riverdale Baptist at 6:30 @ CHEC

JVB vs. Dunbar at 4:00 @ CHEC
VGB vs. Dunbar at 6:00 @ CHEC
VBB vs, Dunbar at 8:00 @ CHEC

MSGB vs. Brightwood at 4:45 @ CHEC
MSBB vs. Brightwood at 6:00 @ CHEC

Swim Meet at 5:00 @ Wilson

No Games

No Games
No Games


Feb 4th 11am (50 tickets)
-Olivario (Kennedy Center)

Feb 11th 10:15am (8th Grade)


January 28, 2016 - Today, DC Public Schools (DCPS) awarded nearly $1.7 million dollars in innovation grants to 16 schools across the city as part of the Empowering Males of Colors (EMOC) initiative. The Empowering Males of Color Innovation Grants will improve academic and social outcomes for young males of color by focusing on academic development, family engagement, and social-emotional supports. “The schools receiving the Empowering Males of Color Innovation Grants have demonstrated a strong commitment to partnerships and innovative ideas that will help our young men of color excel,” said Eugene Pinkard, Jr., Deputy Chief of School Turnaround and Performance at DC Public Schools.  

“I am thrilled that so many schools took this challenge to build innovative programs and supports for our young men of color,” said Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DC Public Schools. “With these targeted programs, we will see more of them reach graduation and be prepared for college and beyond.”

The EMOC Innovation Grants recipients are:
  • Columbia Heights Education Campus (CHEC) ($225,000) will create a multipronged initiative that includes expanded trauma-informed care services, gang and violence prevention sessions, mentoring, and a unified approach to bonding for males of color. (Click to read more)


December 9, 2015 - CHEC students were delighted to receive Director O'Sullivan at the school and to learn firsthand about the wide range of available career opportunities in the intelligence community. Ms. O'Sullivan, who holds the most senior position of any woman in the U.S. intelligence community, spoke movingly about her personal narrative and aspirations as a young student interested in the sciences in the small town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Ms. O'Sullivan strongly encouraged our students to consider pursuing STEM related careers and to aspire to work for one of the sixteen different federal agencies that she oversees. The agencies are currently looking to expand their ranks by hiring more women and minorities. Accompanying Director O'Sullivan was CHEC's very own Berta Gonzales (Class of '08) who spoke passionately about her time at CHEC, college and working in the intelligence community.


November 23, 2015 – Congratulations to Director Ana Ayala, and the entire staff of the Bell Teen Parent Child Development Center! Our program has achieved a new, five-year term of NAEYC Accreditation by successfully completing the renewal process. The administration, teaching staff, and families of Bell Teen Parent Child Development Center are all to be congratulated for continuing to uphold the mark of quality represented by the NAEYC Accreditation system. The process was extremely rigorous, and involved site visits, and ratings on the ten NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards. Please congratulate Ms. Ayala, her staff and the Bell Babies on this wonderful achievement!!!

Charles Brooks can’t be stopped in Bell’s last-second win over Eastern
By Mark Giannotto October 16, 2015

Considering Bell’s Charles Brooks and Eastern’s Jarome Johnson traded highlights all night long, it only seemed right that the one with the ball last would strike the decisive blow. Except Brooks, the area’s leading rusher entering Friday, ended this thrilling rematch of  (click for more)

D.C. friends win Gates scholarships,
will have college costs covered
By Michael Alison Chandler May 1, 2015 at 12:01 AM

Fernando Umanzor and Abreham Gebre have lived parallel lives. Both came to the United States when they were 4, one from El Salvador, the other from Ethi­o­pia. They grew up attending D.C. public schools, striving to learn English while their parents worked hourly-wage jobs in office buildings, restaurants or hotels and pushed... (click for more)

In a City Desperate for Good Middle Schools, One May Be Hiding in Plain Sight

Sam Chaltain

Like a lot of cities, Washington, D.C., frets about its middle schools -- or lack thereof.

Just over a year ago, then-Councilwoman Muriel Bowser introduced a resolution calling on the city to improve its middle schools or risk continuing to lose its schoolchildren to the suburbs, private schools, or the rapidly growing charter sector. Earlier this year, in her inauguration speech as D.C.'s newest mayor, she reiterated the point: "If you stay united with me," she promised, "we'll transform our middle schools."

Bowser is right to place the (click for more)

At D.C. School, 1,300 Students Stopped to Discuss Ferguson

By: Martin Austermuhle, WAMU
September 11, 2014

On any normal Friday, students in Joe Talarico's AP English Literature at the Columbia Heights Education Campus could expect to discuss Antigone or The Great Gatsby. But on the Friday before the Labor Day weekend, they were asked to reflect on something different: the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. 

And it wasn't just them: over 1,300 students across the campus, which encompasses a middle and high school, were asked to do the same. Whether in (click for more)

CHEC Receives Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) Planning Grant

April 28, 2014 –
CityBridge Foundation, in partnership with Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), announced that Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) was among an exclusive group of schools to receive a Breakthrough Schools: D.C. planning grant. Breakthrough Schools: D.C. is part of a national initiative called "NGLC Regional Funds for Breakthrough Schools." The Breakthrough Schools: D.C. competition was first announced in fall 2013 to encourage (click for more)

D.C.’s Hospitality High to convert from charter to traditional school
By Emma Brown, Published: April 28

Leaders of Hospitality High, a D.C. charter school backed by some of the Washington area’s largest hotel companies, have decided to relinquish their charter to join the city’s traditional school system.  The unusual move - it is the first time a D.C. charter school has converted into a traditional school — allows Hospitality to avoid potential closure by the D.C. Public Charter School Board, which is responsible for approving new charters and closing those that underperform. "Our choice to merge with D.C. Public Schools was in the best interest of our students and the commitment that we’ve made to the District of Columbia to expose them to the wonderful industry that is hospitality (click for more)

CHEC is the #1 non-select school in the DMV
Overall CHEC is #3 in DC and #34 in the region.

Washington, DC, April 8, 2014:
Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC), home to Bell Multicultural High and Lincoln Multicultural Middle Schools, is once again one of DC’s most academically challenging institutions according to The Washington Post's annual rankings.  CHEC is #3 overall in the District and #34 in the metro area when compared to other public schools and public charter schools.  

CHEC has held the position of 34, which is in the top 19% on the index, for the past 3 years.  CHEC is ranked 291 out of 2025 of the top high schools nationally, which is in the top 14% of this exclusive grouping of schools. What is even (click for more)

Principal Maria Tukeva receives
2014 In Her Honor Award

March 25, 2014,
in a ceremony at Howard University, CHEC’s very own Maria Tukeva was a distinguished recipient of the
2014 In Her Honor award from The Emergence Community Arts Collective. The award recognized Maria for making history through an enduring legacy of activism and excellence in the field of education. This grassroots award celebrates significant contributions to (click for more)

First Lady Michelle Obama returns to CHEC to tell students: 'My story can be your story'


By Idit Knaan

When 37-year-old Raquis Petree walks into the Columbia Heights Education Center on a recent Monday, he is the man of the hour. Fellow teachers and staff holler “Great job” and offer warm handshakes. Everyone he runs into seem to be in agreement: Friday’s show, the
(click for more)

Krishunda Pennn is selected to share teacher insights on

June 6, 2013 - BetterLesson selects 8th grade Math instructor,  Ms. Krishunda Penn, as one of 14 new Master Teachers in thecountry who will share their teaching insights and experiences through the BetterLesson site.
The Master Teachers were selected for their exceptional mathematical knowledge, unique ability to illuminate math for their students, as well as leadership in their schools and community. They are an inspiring, dedicated group who are eager to help teachers around the country make the leap to the Common Core.

I’m thrilled to collaborate with teachers across the country to create and share lessons that will help students meet the Common Core Standards!” - Ms. Penn (click for more)

Congratulations to Chris Best,
Rubenstein Award Winner!!

The Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Faculty is one of the District of Columbia Public School’s top honors, and the selection process is very competitive. Chris Best, the Custodial Foreman at Columbia Heights Educational Campus received a Rubenstein Award for 2013-2014 and this well-deserved recognition reflects his lasting impact on our school. Mr. Best is one of only two support staff city-wide to receive this honor - it was said by the DCPS nominating committee that "he stood out among the many candidates as an outstanding asset to DCPS." (click for more)

3101 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20010 / H.S. Tel: 202-939-7700 / M.S. Tel: 202-939-6680 / Fax: 202-576-9145 /

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