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Monday, October 31, 2011

College and Career Readiness

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:   

The Nike School Innovation Fund brought Dr. David Conley to Beaverton last week.  On Thursday morning, I got to hear about the four key dimensions of college and career readiness.  Conley defined college and career ready as “the degree to which schools prepare their students to continue to learn beyond high school.”  He goes further to define learning as “the ability to engage in formal learning in any of a wide range of settings:  university classrooms, community college, certificate programs, apprenticeships that require formal classroom instruction as one component, and military training that is technical in nature and necessitates the ability to process information through a variety of modes developed academically, such as reading, writing and mathematics.”  A brief description of each of dimension of college and career readiness is below.

·      * Key Cognitive Strategies enable a student to learn, understand, retain, use and apply content from a range of disciplines.  These strategies describe the intentional behaviors students must use in a variety of learning situations.  They are the habits of mind or thinking skills kids need to have in order to be successful.

·      * Key Content Knowledge includes two academic skills necessary for future success, reading and writing, as well as core academic subject knowledge and skills.

·      * Academic Behaviors are also considered self-management behaviors.  This area includes a range of behaviors that reflects great student self-awareness, self-monitoring and self-control.

·       *Contextual Skills and Awareness is a broad category of skills and abilities that help students “fit in” to different situations. 

I have been thinking a lot about the academic behaviors students need to have in order to be successful.  When kids are working do they ask themselves, “Am I understanding what I am doing?”  Do they have a plan if they don’t?  Can they stay focused even if it’s a task that may not be of high interest to them? When I visited Mrs. McConnell’s room recently, a group was reading a science text then posing questions. In Mrs. Kreuger’s classroom, students were reading the criteria for learning then comparing it to what they thought they knew.  In the computer lab, fifth graders were asked to monitor their progress on a project in order to finish by a certain time.  What types of behaviors do you see at home that show you your child is able to monitor his or her own learning? 

Your children likely won’t be happy with the news I’m about to share but I also learned last week that one of the things that might help with developing these academic behaviors is doing chores before and after school.  When I was in elementary school, I would get up very early in the morning to do my chores.  I had to feed the horse, make sure the water trough wasn’t iced over, feed the neighbors lambs then get to the bus stop about a mile from my house. We lived quite a way out of town so I’d do my homework on the long bus ride home then do my evening chores that included hauling wood for the stove before going out to play.  Unfortunately for my kids, they don’t have as many sensory input opportunities as I did and I learned last week, that the lack of a wide range of activities might make it harder to focus in the classroom.

At our staff meeting last week, Occupational Therapist, Marcia Loggins, shared information on the importance of sensory input in helping kids focus and be ready for learning in the classroom.  Incorporating fine motor and sensory motor tasks into everyday activities will prepare your child for school including focusing in class, following directions, completing work, handwriting and general fine motor skills. 

In the Kitchen
In the Yard
In the Bathrooms
When Practicing Handwriting
*make cookies or bread dough—knead the dough, roll out with a rolling pin, cut the dough with kitchen scissors
*make a salad, tear the lettuce, cut up the vegetables (with supervision)
*spread butter, jam honey or peanut butter
*stir, stir, stir
*wash dishes
*cut out coupons
*write a grocery list
*rake leaves
*pull weeds
*dig in the dirt
*use garden scissors to trim small plants or cut flowers (with supervision)
*blow bubbles
*use soap crayons  to write on the shower or tub wall
*use vinyl alphabet letters to practice spelling
*use shaving cream to finger paint or practice writing
*scrub skin with loufa or rough sponge
*vary the color, smell, weight and size of markers, crayons or pencils—try watercolor pencils for a change of pace
*write in a cookie sheet full of rice, cornmeal, salt, toothpicks or strips of paper
*tape large pieces of a paper on the wall to write on a vertical surface

One of the things I notice about the lists of tasks for the kitchen is that many of these chores can be broken down step by step. Kids often see adults doing work but don’t realize all the small steps you do automatically in order to successfully complete a project.  In my house this week I plan on being more explicit about the steps that go into different tasks.  From making dinner, to planning for my book group discussion, I can show how I approach tasks so that my son can learn to chunk large tasks into more manageable ones.  I’ll also encourage him to list the steps he needs to take in order to successfully complete his school projects.  This is also an academic behavior.

Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain School!  Thank you for sharing your children with us.  We have important work to do!


Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.

Wish List 
*Playground balls (soccer and basketball)
*Mini-marshmallows for upcoming writing project

Many of you have probably heard that one of our Sexton Mt. families had a house fire a few weeks ago.  The parents and three children are so grateful that no one was hurt in the fire, but it has still been very difficult to recover from such a loss.  Although they had insurance, it will not come close to replacing all that was lost in the fire.   Many of you have already asked how you can help.  Our counselor has experience with such events and has found a way to support the family.  If you are able to help, there is a way that you can show support and encouragement to the family during this difficult time.  We will be collecting gift card donations to give to the family.  Gift cards to help them replace clothing, kids toys, and household goods would be especially helpful.  You can do this by ordering gift cards through the Scrip Program here at school or by purchasing the gift cards on your own and dropping them off at the school office. If you want to order gift cards through Scrip, please fill out the order form and write “donation” across the top of the form.  Our Scrip coordinator will make sure that those orders are given to the family.  Thank you so much for being willing to be supportive and encouraging to this family and to help show what a caring and supportive community we have here at Sexton Mt.   Please contact Michelle Solberg, our school counselor, if you have questions.

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