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Monday, December 12, 2011

Learning Continues-December 13, 2011


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                   

My daughter came home from college Friday night and our family’s schedule suddenly changed dramatically.  Because she has free time, she’s taking her brother out for special events in the evening and wanting to do family things at times when our lives are usually pretty quiet.  She was convincing me that we needed to see the Zoolights, attend concerts, catch a high school play and take advantage of our time together.  At the same time, my middle school age son still has homework and needs his sleep so that he can be rested and ready for school.  These last few days, I need to be especially mindful of how the stress of the season can cause my family to go into meltdown mode.  Though “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” may be playing on the radio, the frenzy of activity can make this last week before the vacation seem especially stressful for kids.

We want our students rested and ready to learn because our school is abuzz with learning activity and will be through Friday.   Mr. Hayhurst’s students were sharing their writing with one another when I visited the classroom last week.  Mukund told a story about a mishap when cleaning his fish bowl and Spencer wrote about going to the movies with his grandma.  Kids read the work of other students then commented thoughtfully about content.  Later I happened to be in Mrs. Olson’s class while students were talking about what they noticed about peer writing.  In both classes, I was struck by the encouragement and truly constructive feedback students in our school offer to one another.

First and second graders were playing songs on the ukulele when I visited music class.  Because we have half as many ukuleles as students, one child observes and coaches while the other child plays.  It’s pretty remarkable how they encourage one another and reflect on their own learning as they offer supportive feedback to their partner.

I hope that learning won’t take a break in the upcoming weeks.  My family will head over the river and through the woods to Bend to spend time with my parents and in-laws during the break.  With a four-hour drive each way, I am already busy filling my seat backs with magazines and books that my kids will enjoy so they don’t have a guaranteed 8 hours of Gameboy time.  With so much less structured time, I have to encourage my kids to be very mindful of how they spend time.  By simply keeping a list of what they are watching or reading, it seems to inspire them to read more.  I would like to encourage Sexton Mt. students to take the Winter Break Reading Challenge.  Children are challenged to spend more time reading than watching television or playing video games over the winter break.  Kids can make and turn in a Winter Break Reading Log for a small treat when school resumes on January 3.  I notice that the first days of a new year are always easier if kids have maintained the habit of reading or writing over the break.

In the upcoming weeks, I hope that you are able to build special family memories.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,


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

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.
·       Postcards and Postcard stamps
  • Paper towel tubes or gift wrap tubes
  • Masking tape
  • Tin foil

College Quilt
Stop by the Sexton Mountain office to see a college themed quilt.  The T-shirt quilt was handmade and we will be selling raffle tickets for a drawing on Friday, December 16.  Raffle Tickets are $2.00 each.  Sexton Mountain, Portland State, Southern Oregon University, Whitman College, USC, Concordia, Carroll College, Linfield and OSU are represented on the front of this beautiful quilt.  University of Colorado polar fleece lines the back.  All proceeds will go towards the Fifth Grade BizTown learning experience.

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. 

Sexton Mountain Elementary School n 15645 SW Sexton Mountain Drive n Beaverton, Oregon 97007 n Office: 503.672.3560 n FAX 503.672.3563

Monday, December 5, 2011

Writing,Gratitude, Head Lice, Wish List and Snow Routes-December 6, 2011


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                             

At 8:30am on Friday morning, there was a quiet uproar in Mrs. Weigel’s room.  Parts of a stockade had been destroyed, a character kidnapped and the dialog bubbles above characters heads left clues about what might have happened.  Students were writing their predictions about what might have caused the chaos!  Irena, Kristin and McKenzie let me peak over their shoulders as they responded to the situation.  The writing their thinking reflected was complex. This was part of an integrate unit the class is doing where kids are party of a rich story that embeds skills and learning targets so the kids weren’t thinking of vandals but instead, how people long ago might have lived.  Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain Elementary School.

Not only is learning taking place in the classroom, but at assemblies as well.  At our last school assembly, Mr. Mori gave a short presentation that tied together our school-wide themes of organization (a trait of effective writing) and gratitude.  Mr. Mori had noticed three unifying themes as he explored the festive hallway displays of student writing on gratitude:  food, friends, and family.  Organizing his speech into clear beginning, middle, and ending sections, he challenged students to consider all the human labor it takes to bring meals to our dinner table (food), to extend good sportsmanship to all classmates during recess (friends), and to communicate in more meaningful ways with parents and siblings (family).  It was the perfect message for kids to take home with them before Thanksgiving. 

If you haven’t had a chance to view all of the artifacts of learning in our hallways, I would like to invite you in to see all the work our students have done over the past weeks.  I often catch myself walking and observing as if I were in a museum.  Seeing the developmental stages the work represents is fascinating!  Please come and do a gallery walk in our hallways!  Celebrate the great things happening at Sexton Mountain!

When I met with kids recently for a writing project I got to see how creative your children can be.  Kids were given marshmallows and noodles and asked to build a structure.  Older grades were asked to build a strong structure to hold pencils.  Students had about 10 minutes to build and then they wrote about it.  Before they wrote, I reminded them of the goals teachers set last month.

It’s interesting to see how each grade level’s work changed so much.  Kindergarten's goal was to increase the total number of words written.  Kindergarten students wrote 163 words more this month than last month.  First grade's goal was to increase the number of students capitalizing sentences.  Fifty-eight percent of students consistently capitalized sentence beginnings. This is up from 48% last month.  The first grade goal for the next six-weeks is to increase the number of students printing legibly and spacing words appropriately.  This month, 81% of students wrote legibly.   Second grade's goal was to increase the number of students using concluding sentences.  This month, 46% of students wrote a concluding sentence.  The team will continue with this goal. Third grade's goal was to increase the number of students using capitals at the beginning of sentences and ending punctuation.  This month, 95% of sentences were capitalized and had ending punctuation.  Last month, 64% of sentences were capitalized and 79% of sentences ended with punctuation. Fourth grade's goal was to increase the number of students writing multiple paragraphs.  Last month, 11% of students had multiple paragraphs.  This month 93% of students had multiple paragraphs. The fourth grade team has set a goal to improve sentence fluency.  The Beaverton learning target is, "Write complete simple and compound sentences of statement, command, question, or exclamation" and the state-scoring guide focuses on "smooth and flowing sentences that begin in different ways, and have different lengths and patterns."  Fifth grade's goal was to increase the percentage of students writing an introduction paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and concluding paragraphs.  This month 94% of students wrote multiple paragraphs (up from 65% last month).  This month 86% of students wrote an introductory paragraph (up from 27% last month).  This month, 76% of students wrote a concluding paragraph (up from 33% last month).  As you can see, goal setting and explicit instruction paid off. 

Our next round of writing will be January 24 and 25.  The project will again be about construction and design. Between now and then we’ll be collecting paper towel or gift-wrap type tubes, pennies, masking tape and tin foil if you’d like to make a donation.  I also would like to ask for volunteers to help with paper scoring on those days.  Training will be provided and it’s really FUN to read the student work.  Please let me know if you’re interested.

Though Winter Break is quickly approaching, we are still busy with reading, writing and math in our classrooms.  We will try to keep the learning environment as stable and academic centered as possible during the next few weeks.  Instructional time is a priority and we hope to continue through the weeks ahead.  Thanks for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,


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

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
  • Paper towel tubes or gift wrap tubes
  • Masking tape
  • Tin foil
  • Gently used College T-shirts

Head Lice
At our last PTC meeting we had an informative session on Head Lice.  We learned that where there are people, there are lice.  Parents at the meeting were encouraged to check their children weekly—the motto was “once a week, sneak a peak” since catching them early can help interrupt the life cycle.

Bus Information:  Snow Routes
The Beaverton School District Transportation Department, in preparing for inclement weather, creates Snow Routes for schools that have areas where travel by bus is considered hazardous. Some regular stops will not be available for students and in some cases, entire routes will be canceled. We make every effort to provide transportation when possible and in some instances create new stops on main thoroughfares to pick up students residing within hard to access neighborhoods.
In the event of snow, ice, or other potentially hazardous weather conditions, the District may decide to operate school bus service on Snow Routes. Public notification on days when Snow Routes are used (and other changes in service based on inclement weather) is available through local TV, radio stations and Flash News.

On days when the Superintendent authorizes the use of Snow Routes, parents should consult the District website:
http://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/home/departments/transportation/inclementweather-and-closures/snow-routes/ for a list of Snow Routes serving each school.  When the District calls Snow Routes for the morning pick up the same Snow
Routes will be run in the afternoon for take home. The Snow Routes listed on the District website will have one of three formats:
1. Snow Route – modifications are made to regular route due to stop changes.
2. No Snow Route, Driver Follows Regular Route – stops and times remain the same as non-snow days. Route stops are not published on the website when buses run on the regular schedule.
3. Route Canceled – this occurs because the regular stops are not accessible when snow/ice is present. In some cases a stop may be moved from one route to another for efficiency. If your route is canceled, please check other
Snow Routes for the closest stop being serviced.

Two-hour Delay Snow Routes
When the District calls for a Two-hour Delay and Snow Routes, Transportation will run the published Snow Routes with all buses delayed two hours in the morning for student pick up. For example, if your student’s stop time is 8:05 AM, the stop time for a 2-hour delay will be 10:05 AM. Afternoon stop times remain the same as published. Please note that all AM Kindergarten programs will be canceled on days that buses run on 2-hour Delay.


Mid-day Kindergarten Snow Routes
Some Elementary schools run multiple kindergarten programs that start or release at various times during the mid-day period. When a school has Snow Routes, extended half-day kindy programs are canceled. This includes ESL classes.
Transportation for AM Kindy Snow Routes will combine all AM programs for a single mid-day release time. Likewise, PM Kindy Snow Routes will combine all PM programs for a single mid-day start time. Schools that do not have Snow Routes will run all mid-day programs as usual, including ESL classes. Parents are advised to check the District website:
http://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/home/departments/transportation/inclementweather-and-closures/snow-routes/ . All Mid-day Kindergarten Snow Routes are listed separately under “Kindy Snow Routes”.


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. 

Sexton Mountain Elementary School n 15645 SW Sexton Mountain Drive n Beaverton, Oregon 97007  Office: 503.672.3560