Follow by Email

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bucket Filling-November 29, 2011

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                               

This morning at 8:30 in Mrs. Olson’s class, students were having a guidance lesson with Ms. Solberg.  She was reading How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath.  In this book, the main character learns the importance of words and actions.  Madison noted that giving kind words makes the giver feel good so it’s a double bonus for the giver as well as a good thing for the getter. Imagine each kind word or action as a drop in the bucket.  When you are the recipient of kind words and deeds your bucket is filled drop by drop.  On the other hand, if you are the recipient of unkind words your bucket is emptied drop by drop.

As an elementary school principal, I find mornings especially bucket filling.  Kids bound out of cars and have fun stories and hugs to share.  They smile and greet one another with enthusiasm and this warms my heart, filling my bucket by proxy.  Friends tease me because I have the only job in the world where a job hazard is broken necklaces due to the frequency and intensity of hugs.  Life is good at Sexton Mountain!

This can be the season of bucket emptying.  It seems like we are bombarded with messages from the media about perfection and spending.  Marketers target our kids too.  Advertisers can make our kids feel like we are lacking items or experiences and these can be bucket-emptiers.   My daughter and her friends were home from college last weekend and they were talking about the seasonal stress they feel and how this finals season seems to be worse than the one in March or June because of it.  They’ve decided to flood each other with kindness and encouragement during this time. They are leaving notes of encouragement, baking special treats for all the kids on their floor, and have decided to just go out of their way to smile.  As they left Sunday afternoon, their moods were already more positive.   I am sure the kids in Wilson Hall will benefit from this bucket filling team.  I wonder what we could do at Sexton Mountain during the next few weeks to fill the buckets of kids and staff?

Service projects are great bucket fillers.  Our second grade students are doing a community service project for the Humane Society.  They have just finished studying animals and their Storytown book is all about animals, so they’ve decided to do a food drive for the Humane Society. On December 9th the Humane Society will come in to talk to the class about what would happen to our community if there were no Humane Society.  They will also give the class lessons on how to safely deal with stray dogs, and all dogs, they meet in their communities.  

A lot is happening at our school.  Last Wednesday, students were invited to wear college t-shirts.  As you can imagine, we had a lot of green and yellow as well as orange and black.  Natalie stood out in her Harvard sweatshirt, Mr. Mori wore a Ohio State sweatshirt, and Ms. Weigel and Ms. Hunt work U.C. Berkley shirts.  Because I was wearing an OSU mom shirt, a number of children asked if I was a Beaver. I had to explain that, while my daughter and therefore a lot of my money goes to OSU, I am actually a Western Oregon Wolf or a George Fox Bruin.  I found that when kids asked about college, it was the perfect opportunity for me to talk about how I chose colleges for the programs they offered, not their sports teams. For a long time my son wanted to go to Boise State for no other reason than they had a blue field.  When I made him look up the programs offered, he was fascinated to learn about the field geosciences.   I challenge families to talk about the academic programs universities are known for each time you see a college team or t-shirt. 

Last week we also had a fabulous assembly on Wednesday thanks to our PTC.  Did your children tell you about Mag and Don and the games from around the world they learned? Children learned to celebrate the difference and the commonalities of many cultures by playing the games people play.  They discovered that smiles are the same in any language. Kids saw the Chinese yo-yo, fling-it-net, peteca-volleybird and juggling sticks.  Visit to learn more about what kids might have experienced.

Students completed the second writing project of the year with me last week.   They created structures with marshmallows and noodles then wrote about the experience.  Kids writing stamina really improved over the last six weeks.  Many classes wrote almost triple the words this month.  The results were fascinating. Look for more information about that next week.


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

Reminders and FYI

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids.  If you have things you'd like to share, feel free to send them in.
  • Modeling clay for first grade
  • Postcard stamps
  • Postcards

Walking Route
Several families have asked for suggestions on walking routes from Flagstone and 155th neighborhood.  The route below shows one way to get to school without crossing 155th.
Walk directions from SW Nora Rd
SW Nora Rd to SW 158th Ter
SW 158th Ter to SW Redstone Dr
SW Redstone Dr to SW 157th Ave
SW 157th Ave to SW Flagstone Dr
SW Flagstone Dr to SW Wakkila Ter
SW Wakkila Ter to SW Sexton Mt Dr
SW Sexton Mt Dr to SW 160th Ave
SW 160th Ave to SW Rigert Rd
SW Rigert Rd to North School Walkpath (from SW Rigert Rd)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude-November 22, 2011

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                              

An Oregonian article last Friday talked about the benefits of gratitude.  According to the author, practicing gratitude improves mood, hearth rhythms and sleep patterns.  Gratitude increases work performance, alertness and energy.   Altman, the author of One Minute Mindfulness encourages people to have a G.L.A.D. journal and each day, record one thing you are GRATEFUL for, one thing you LEARNED, one thing ACCOMPLISHED and one thing that DELIGHTED you.  The staff was not aware of the health benefits of having an attitude of gratitude as we selected the school-wide writing prompt of writing on the topic of gratitude.

I am grateful that I get to work with such amazing staff, students and families.  Sexton Mountain School is a special place indeed.    I appreciate the work all of the members of our learning community put forth for the success of the organization.  I enjoy watching the teaching that happens here daily.  I am grateful for all who go above and beyond for our students.  I was in Mrs. Parson’s room during a science lesson recently and the group was engaged in a discussion about inquiry and variables. Karson helped construct the items for testing and students encouraged one another.  In Mrs. Loumena’s class, students were writing sentences and children were complimenting and encouraging one another.  Writers in Ms. Cunningham’s class celebrated with classmates as they shared their work.  Our students have thoughtful conversations about learning and I know this is because parents and teachers have modeled this.  Thank you for your hard work.

I’ve learned so much from the students, families and staff over the past few months.  I am moved by parents willing to share stories, hopes and dreams.  I appreciate knowing that families have high expectations for kids.  I’ve learned that many parents hope their children grow up to be contributing members of a local and global community with unlimited options.    I’ve learned math games from first graders as they analyzed patterns and look for odd, even, before, after and sums.

I am amazed by the daily accomplishments of our students.  Last week in Mrs. Hiatt’s class, students were able to use mathematical terms to describe a pattern on a hundreds chart.  Caden and Alex both showed and told about a pattern. As a first grader, I’m not sure if I could have presented my ideas in front of a group of peers with such confidence.  All students in the class turned to a neighbor and described patterns they noticed.  Children politely questioned one another and they clarified and defended thinking.  Again, I’m not sure if I could have explained my thinking to peers at such an early age.  Our children are doing amazing thing.

I am delighted by the learners in our school.   I am touched by kind words students use to encourage one another.  Last week when I was in a classroom, children noticed the effort of their classmates.  We have kind kids, engaged in the process of learning.  That is a very good thing.

I am happy to be part of this community of learners.    It is a great pleasure to spend time at Sexton Mountain Elementary School.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!


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

Reminders and FYI

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids.  If you have things you'd like to share, feel free to send them in.
  • Person who likes to straighten or clean to organize some of our shared areas.

Fascinating Facts:
Number of Cars in the Drop off line on a recent sunny morning between 8:05-8:27 a.m.-175

Homework for Parents: Ideas Parents Can Use to Help Children Do Better in School
  • Visit an interesting place in your town. Then ask your child to create an ad to tell others about it.
  • Ask your child to tell you something she learned in school today. Then tell her something you learned today.
  • Pay your child a compliment today. Praise their effort
  • Ask your child, “What one thing makes you feel really excited?”
  • Make sure your child has access to basic reference books when he studies (atlas, dictionary, thesaurus).
  • Draw a picture with your child today. Hang it on the refrigerator.
  • Have your child tape paper towel rolls together to form a long chute. Then have her start a small ball at the top and roll it to the bottom.
  • Cut out four pictures from a magazine. Ask your child to tell you a story that involves something from each picture.
  • Do a library card checkup. Does every member of the family have a library card? If not, go to the library and sign up!
  • Ask your child, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”
  • Choose a news story and learn more about it with your child.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tradition, Reading and Teaching

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                      

Do you know that part in Fiddler on the Roof when one of the characters tells that the secret to balance is (he breaks into song) TRADITION?  I love that song!  Though I can really only remember one word, it’s the one word I sing over and over through November and December.  One might think that my traditions (and therefore song) are associated with some of the holidays that fall this time of year but I think that my traditions come instead from the shorter, darker, wetter days coupled with a break from fall sports.  At home, a favorite family tradition is to have soup for dinner with a good book.  Later we have cocoa with warm blankets and a good book.  At bedtime, I cuddle up with a good book.  Raindrops on the rooftop inspire me to READ!  At home, I love to read.

At school, my favorite thing to do is to watch teachers teach and student learn.  Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain so I am lucky to spend time doing what I love.  Last week, Mrs. Loumena’s students were hard at work in the computer lab.  Twenty-five five and six year olds getting logged into the website was quite interesting.  Once logged in they practiced letter names, sounds along and reading.  Extra adults are always appreciated in the lab.  Contact Dema Blood at if you would like to volunteer.

Being on time and ready to learn in kindergarten is just as important as the other grades.  Mrs. Cubley’s students were seated and listening to the morning announcements during the first few minutes of class.  Even in kindergarten, a lot of information is shared during the first few minutes of class.  Students reviewed prior learning.  Kids identified common attributes using descriptive words.  Mrs. Cubley described how they would use this skill on a new project.  Students had to identify similarities and differences.  They used words to describe size, shape, color and other attributes.  Children were called upon to use academic vocabulary to discuss attributes and sort items.

Our school counselor visits classrooms for guidance lessons each month.  When she visited a kindergarten classroom recently, she reviewed prior learning about big problems (things that are dangerous or scary like when someone is hurt or might get hurt).  When kids have a big problem they need to get an adult they trust right away.  Little problems are still important to kids and can be solved with strategies from Kelso’s Wheel.  This time, Ms. Solberg introduced a new character during this lesson.  Ask your child about Impulsive Puppy and the lessons they got to teach the pup.   Kids reminded the special visitor of strategies for being part of a classroom community.  Kindergarten students were able identify student skills like listening to the teacher, sitting attentively and not talking when others are talking.

In Mrs. Goei’s classroom, students were solving math problems.  The learning target was for students to make change.  The first problem was to use nickels, dimes and quarters to make exactly sixty-five cents. Madison shared that she used six dimes and one nickel.  Allison shared that she used two quarters, one dime and one nickel.  Paul shared that he used three nickels and two quarters.  The second problem was to provide money to buy something when you didn’t have exact change.  Kids had to think about reasonable answers for the task without providing way too much money.  They knew that if something cost less than a dollar they wouldn’t pay for the item with three one-dollar bills.  They really had to think about the task and what was needed. 

The adults in our building are learning as well.  The Site Council met last week with teams from Nancy Ryles and Scholl’s Heights to discuss the first three chapters of Carol Dweck’s Mindset.  We wanted a video clip that sums up the reading and it was powerful so I thought I’d share the link  since it applies to what we are doing in the classroom and what you can do at home.

Linking home and community is essential in our work.  Last Thursday, we had a parent listening session during the first part of our staff development day.  We had nine parents come and talk about their own experiences in school then share hopes and dreams for their child.  Teachers were touched by the stories of childhood, from Iowa to Indonesia, and left wanting more.  We heard a recurring theme of instilling the desire to be a good citizen as well as teaching the love of learning.

I feel honored to work in a school were kids, families and teachers are coming together to make a difference for the future.  Thanks for sharing your children with us!


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

Reminders and FYI

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids.  If you have things you'd like to share, feel free to send them in.
  • Mini-marshmallows for upcoming writing project
  • Person who likes to straighten or clean to organize some of our shared areas.

Fascinating Facts:
Number of Cars in the Drop off line on a recent sunny morning between 8:05-8:27 a.m.-175

Insights for Families: Taking Advantage of Your Local Library
In addition to the home and school, our community has another major educational resource: your local public library. It’s no secret that children who grow up with a love of books will be more successful in school. Here are some ways you can take advantage of your local public library:
• Get a library card – for both you and your child. It’s an easy process!
• Once a week, instead of curling up in front of a mediocre television show, take a family excursion to the library.
• Investigate the possibilities at your local library. Libraries have more than books and magazines for children and adults. They may also have educational games, books-on-cassette, entertainment and educational videotapes, records, compact disks, audiocassettes, DVDs and computer access to the Internet.
• Children learn library skills at school. Ask your child to help you learn how to find things more easily in the library. If your child has not yet learned library skills, learn how to get the most out of the library together. Don’t be afraid to ask the librarian to get you started.
• Talk about your library visit before you go. Decide what and how many kinds of materials your children will be checking out and discuss them prior to the visit.
• Discuss how important it is to take good care of the books and other materials you borrow from the library and why it is necessary to bring them back on time.
• Take advantage of the free activities and programs libraries offer for children and families. These can include book clubs, story times, family films and lectures and special exhibits.
• If your children express an interest in something – a new puppy, for example – go the library to learn more about their interests.
• When publicity about a new movie attracts the attention of your children, encourage them to read the book before seeing the movie. You can often find the book in the library.
• Take advantage of the library for your own personal growth and assistance. The library is full of books, magazines and pamphlets on such subjects as parenting, home maintenance, time management, stress reduction, career improvement, hobbies and health issues.

School Start Time
Because the Sexton Mtn. parking lot gets really congested between 8:20 and 8:30 a.m. especially now that it's getting wetter, I would like to ask that you consider making it your goal this week (and future weeks) to have your child at school between 8:05 and 8:10 a.m. so that children can enjoy the gym, playground, library or cafeteria and be a bit more relaxed before being in class and ready to learn at 8:30 a.m. when instruction begins.  Our school day does begin each morning at 8:30 a.m. so students should be in the classroom at that time when instruction begins.  Teachers take attendance electronically at that time then they are off to a day of teaching and learning.  If children enter after 8:30 without having checked into the office, the teacher stops teaching or interacting with students, goes back to the the computer and updates the attendance.  In order to allow teachers to focus on teaching and building relationships with kids at the start of the day, we expect all students arriving after the 8:30 a.m. bell to check in at the office.  This allows the office staff to change the electronic attendance and teachers to do their most important work (teaching).  With larger class sizes, reduced support staff and higher academic expectations for kids, having children check in to the office after 8:30 makes the most efficient use of our resources and honors the instructional time of those students who were in class at 8:30.  This is a procedural change from past practice at Sexton Mountain.  Please note this change on page 7 in your Student Handbook by changing the office check in time from 8:35 to 8:30.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Organizing Writing and Gratitude-November 8, 2011

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:    
On a cold, frosty, fall morning, students in Ms. Hunt’s room were hard at work writing about the cold times.  The learning target was to develop an idea with introductory, supporting, and concluding sentences.  Kids were expected to have a piece with a topic sentence, three supporting sentences and a concluding sentence.  The strategy they were using was to have the intro and concluding sentences in one color of pencil and each of the three supporting sentences in different colors of pencil. The strategy of using different colors for sentences really had kids thinking about what makes a sentence.

Nathan was hard at work.  “It was my skiing class.  When we got outside I wanted to go back inside because it was cold.  We got our skis on and we found my instructor.  Then we went on a chair lift and when we got off, it was not cold it was freezing because we were at the top of the mountain.  Finally we skied down and when we got to the bottom it was still cold because we were still outside.  When we got our skis off I wanted to go inside because it was so cold.”

Gavin wrote about his morning at school.  “On this icy cold day at my school I was so cold that I almost froze into an ice cube.  When I started playing my game of squash the ball was so cold that I almost could not touch it.  I finally was able to touch the ball so I almost didn’t get out of the game because my hands were warm.  When recess was over I was so cold that I couldn’t make it to the door because my legs were frozen.  The freezing cold weather was over. I was so glad the weather was over because I could go inside to get warmer.  I was so happy that I did not freeze into an ice cube at recess.”

Dakota had started a piece but was still working on the ending.  “Two years ago it was the coldest day in my life with lots and lots of snow and frost.  It was freezing.  I was only five.  I was with my best friend Willow.  We were going to the mountains.  It was a very long trip.  It took hours but we finally got there.  I was so excited because I never went to the mountains before.  When we finally got there I jumped out of the car but it was freezing.  I was so cold that I wanted to jump back into the car because it was colder than freezing.  Soon I started to get used to it and we started to do fun stuff like sledding and making snowballs.  When we got home I missed the mountains because it was fun.”

During the month of November, our school-wide writing theme will be gratitude with the organization as the instructional focus.  Here are the learning targets for each grade level in the writing trait of organization. Be sure to check out the sixth grade target so you know where kids are headed.

·       Tell an experience or story in a logical sequence.

First Grade
·       Write in complete sentences. 
·       Sequence two or more events.
·       Organize information using beginning, middle and end

Second Grade
·       Use correct word order in sentences.
·       Develop an idea with introductory, supporting, and concluding sentences. 
·       Sequence three or more events in a logical order

Third Grade
·       Create a single paragraph with a topic sentence, simple supporting facts and details, and a concluding sentence.
·       Organize information in clear sequence making connections and transitions among ideas, sentences, and paragraphs.

Fourth Grade
·       Writes multi-paragraph compositions that uses correct indentation and provides an inviting introductory paragraph and concludes with a paragraph that summarizes the point.
·       Present important ideas or events in sequence or chronological order.

Fifth Grade 
·       Write multi-paragraph compositions that include an engaging introduction, details to support ideas, transitions to link paragraphs, and a summarizing conclusion. 
·       Present important ideas using organizational structures such as sequential/chronological order, cause/ effect, or similarity/difference.

Sixth Grade
·   Write responses to text that demonstrate careful reading and understanding of the significant ideas of a text, using examples and evidence from the text.
·   Write research reports that pose relevant, focused questions, supporting the main idea with facts, details, examples, and explanations from multiple authoritative sources (include references used).
·   Write persuasive compositions that state a clear position supported by relevant evidence, both anticipating and addressing counter-arguments.
·   Write summaries using a formal paragraph structure that includes main ideas and significant details.

At the beginning of the year, all students in our school wrote about a treasure.  Our next school wide writing activity is going to be to write about something we appreciate.  I appreciate having an opportunity to read in a dry, warm spot. Because I know how miserable and bored I feel when I’m without a book, wet or cold, I am especially grateful for the blue chair in the corner of my bedroom. Over my head is a roof, a solid roof that protects me from the rain.  Next to the chair is a bright reading lamp.  It radiates heat.  The lamp sits on a table covered with books.  Right now Room, Mindset, The Whistling Season and College and Career Ready cover my table, just waiting to be read. Below the chair is a heater vent.  When it’s cold outside, the warm air blows on my toes.  My mom’s homemade quilts cover the arms of the chair on most days but cover me when it’s cold.  I love the patter of rain on the rooftop early in the morning.  I snuggle up with a comforter in my favorite chair and lose myself in a book. As the nights get darker and cooler, I'm finding that my son likes to sit in the same chair and read to me in the evenings.  These are quickly becoming my favorite parts of the day!  I am noticing that the great feelings associated with reading during these times are actually encouraging him to read more. 

How do you go about encouraging your child to develop positive feelings toward academic tasks?  From snuggle time and a book or a great game of cards, with darker evenings kids come in earlier so now is a great time to develop evening routines that support the love of learning. November also provides us with long weekends.  My family always looks for inexpensive ways to have fun when the kids are out of school. When we have fun adventures, we have things to write about.  One of the activities we enjoy is the Washington County Library Services Cultural Passport to Adventure.  With the Cultural Pass, we can go to AC Gilbert Discovery Village, Chinese Classical Garden, Pittock Mansion, the Children’s Museum, Japanese Garden, Rice Rock Museum or the Washington County Museum.  Each pass provides free admission to one of these spots and is available for a one-day check out from the library.  They can be reserved in advance.  Since November has so many long weekends, now might be the perfect time to have a family adventure.
Thank you for sharing your children with us!  Enjoy your long weekend.


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

Reminders and FYI

Wish List 
*Mini-marshmallows for upcoming writing project

School Start Time
Our school day does begin each morning at 8:30 a.m. so students should be in the classroom at that time when instruction begins.  We expect all students arriving after the 8:30 a.m. bell to check in at the office. This is a procedural change from past practice at Sexton Mountain.  Please note this change on page 7 in your Student Handbook by changing the office check in time from 8:35 to 8:30.

District Goal for 2010-2015:  All students will show continuous progress toward their personal learning goals, developed in collaboration with teachers and parents, and will be prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
The Beaverton School District recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups.  It is the policy of the Beaverton School District that there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, marital status, age, veterans' status, genetic information or disability in any educational programs, activities or employment.