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Monday, March 19, 2012

Reading, Adult Learning and Spring Vacation-March 20, 2012

Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

If you haven’t had a chance to attend a Community Budget Teaching Session yet, I want to remind you that I will be working with the principal at Hiteon on Wednesday, March 21 from 6:00-8:00pm at Hiteon Elementary School.  With up to $40 million in cuts expected next year, the advisory data that you provide at these teaching sessions will be very helpful to the Budget Strategic Team as they make very difficult decisions.  Those who have attended the sessions so far have noted that a reduction in days, staff, and programs are very real possibilities.  By attending the Budget Teaching Session, you will be better informed about the potential impact for our school next year and feel like your voice is heard.
We’ve had several other teaching sessions this month too.  Last week parents learned about College and Career Readiness and our process for placing children into classrooms for the upcoming year.  The classroom placement session was so popular that it will be repeated again on April 2 at 8:45am in the cafeteria.  As we plan for the 2012-2013 school year, we are asking for parent input regarding the learning environment that fits your child.  We want to achieve the best possible balances and learning for all students at our school.  It is very important for us to get a complete picture of your child as a learner.  Current teachers and specialists will be providing information regarding students' learning needs.  Your information, in addition, will be of great value in understanding individual needs for all of our students.  If you’d like, please write a letter commenting on the following points:
*Your child's learning style. 
*The type of teaching that best suits your child. Please do not list specific teacher names as teaching assignments have not been determined. 
*The type of classroom situation/environment you prefer. 
*Any special concerns that need to be considered.
Please drop letters by the office or send letter to by April 28.  No letters will be accepted after April 28.  Much thought and care goes into placing children.  Your input is one valuable piece of the process.  By the time we have finished this procedure, we have created an intricately woven community of children.  Your information allows us to meet your concerns while doing what is best for all children at Sexton Mountain.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
This week we also had a session on Carol Dwek’s Mindset.  Please compare a fixed mindset and growth mindset before Family Science Night on April 20.  Families will have an opportunity to learn more about ways to praise for a growth mindset in your child that night.
In addition to what we are doing for adult learners, exciting things are happening for kids at Sexton Mountain Elementary School!  Throughout the fall, teams of students have been reading books in preparation for the Battle of the Books.  Over the last month or so, we had teams battle one another here at school.  They were asked questions about the 16 selected books representing genres including biography, fantasy, historical fiction, realistic fiction, mystery, and science fiction.  Our school’s top team went on to the regional battles last weekend (Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook and Washington counties) and they were AMAZING!  As the moderator read the questions, they listened intently.  They put their heads together to share and confirm their thinking.  One person represented the group as the presenter.  Our team showed amazing grace and an eagerness to tackle challenging questions.  Obviously they had worked incredibly hard to remember so many details from such a wide range of books.  At one point they had to find evidence in the text to support a question they challenged and were able to do so quickly and systematically.  I was so proud of our hard working team.  Ava, Duchati, Ellie, Flora, Keren and Yesmin represented our school well! 
With a wide range of plans for spring break, the one thing most kids have in common is that they plan to spend some time reading.  This is a good thing since after spring vacation, students in third, fourth and fifth grade will begin taking the Oregon Statewide Assessment.  You can prepare for this by stocking up on books for spring break and having your kids think about the text as they read.  On the statewide assessments students read passages.  Then their reading comprehension is checked as they answer questions about what they have read.  Reading comprehension can be separated into three different levels.  Literal comprehension is understanding the details stated in writing.  This might include information related to the sequence of events, main ideas or facts.  Inferential comprehension uses the information explicitly stated in a passage to determine what is not stated.  Evaluative comprehension requires the reader to draw conclusions based on evidence in the text.  As parents, you can ask questions that help children develop a better understanding at all levels.  Questions can be asked before, during and after reading, to help children think more deeply about a passage.  To enhance your child's reading experience; you may want to ask your child a variety of questions.  Samples from each area are listed below.

·      What does the character plan to do first?
·      Which one of these things happened after the other three?
·      This selection mostly tells about…
·      Which sentence in the story lets you know that there has been a shift to events in the past?

·      Can you give an accurate example of a cause-effect relationship described in the story?
·      Why does the main character change her mind?
·      By reading the story you can tell that…
·      What is the attitude the author had toward the readers in the last sentences?
·      What is the purpose of a _______?
·      What kind of person is _____?
·      What will probably happen to kids who read this story?
·      Which is the best clue that this story took place in the past?

·      This selection would probably be most helpful to someone interested in……
·      Which of the following does this article try to teach you?
·      Which words in the selection are an opinion?
·      Why did the author probably write this selection?
·      The information in this story leads to the conclusion that….
Keeping skills sharp during vacation times makes the return to the classroom go much more smoothly.  Please encourage your child to read daily over the break.  Encourage a wide range of reading materials and celebrate the many ways they share what they’ve read.     
Our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders will begin statewide assessments in reading and math in April.  Additionally, in April, all 2nd grade students in the Beaverton School District will be administered the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) Screener.  This 30-minute test measures students’ learned reasoning abilities through verbal/picture analogies, number analogies and figure matrices.  Currently the main purpose for administering the CogAT is to identify students for TAG in the area of intellectual ability. Scores for the CogAT will be distributed to parents at the end of the school year.  For more information, please contact our school’s TAG facilitator, Michele Cobain at
I hope your family has opportunities to build memories over spring break.  My kids are looking forward to spending time with grandparents.  Thank you for sharing your children with us each day!

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

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·       Volunteers to review our Student Handbook and offer suggestions for improvement for next year
·       Small toys for our rainy day games cart
·       Families willing to host an “Amazing Race” type station for a staff community building activity on April 13 between 8:00-9:00am.
·       Postcard stamps
·       Postcards
·       Small prizes for staff community building contests

Upcoming Workshops for Families-- The purpose of each 30-minute workshop will be to provide information and gather input. 
·       Class Placement-Mysteries Revealed and Myths Busted-April 2 at 8:45am
·       Positive Behavior Support-Teach, Reinforce, Reteach-April 12 at 8:45am
·       Make and Take Math Games-Strategies for Keeping Skills Strong During the Summer Months-April 12 at 6:30pm
·       Reading Assessments Revealed-April 19 at 9:30am

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. 

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