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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Service Projects, Standards and Reading Comprehension-June 5, 2012

 Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

On Sunday morning after church my husband and I came to school to watch our amazing group of fifth graders, parents and siblings paint a map of the United States on our playground.  Jenny Rogers had organized and prepped so the work was fast and the workers friendly!  This special gift to our school from the fifth graders will be used for years to come.  Thanks to Jenny, the other parents and our students for creating such a special learning place for our students to enjoy daily during recess.  I wonder how many of our students will be able to identify all 50 states by the time school starts up again in the fall. 

In this newsletter I am going to share about the work our teachers will be doing next year around the national standards.  I’ll share a bit of information about our year end work and how we will not be having a Fly Up like I’d hoped. Following the newsletter, you’ll see some important dates for next year.  Additionally, you’ll find information about the Developmental Reading Assessment and what you can do to support your child’s comprehension growth for reaching the next level.  You’ll also find a summer’s worth of writing prompts.  We know that practice makes proficient so spending time reading, thinking about reading, and writing over the summer will be important for keeping skills sharp next fall.

My son had a birthday Friday so we had a bunch of teenagers spend the night.  While food, a new FIFA Street video game, The Hunger Games and soccer were topics of discussion throughout the night, one thing that surprised me was the boys’ talk of school, standards and proficiency.  They were actually talking about learning targets and how well they were working towards or mastering the targets.  This was certainly NOT expected but as an educator, I delighted in the discussion. It seems that spring is the time when they are having second or third attempts to show proficiency towards targets.  They knew the criteria for different performance tasks and knew what they needed to be able to do in order to meet expectations.   For the past few years, Beaverton middle schools have had a sharper focus on standards work.  That the emphasis on learning and what specifically students need to know and be able to do is even evident at birthday parties!

Next year, the standards work will be further expanding to the elementary schools as well.  As our class sizes grow next year, our teachers will be called to do work differently than they’ve done before. At our Tuesday staff meeting, teachers learned more about our plan to focus on standards and assessment next year. We believe that if learning environments are supportive and inclusive of every student and if instructional practices in each classroom support every student in acquiring mastery of Learning Targets, and if educators work collaboratively to strengthen the instructional core then all students, regardless of background, will graduate college and career ready.  The main goal of this work will be to provide teachers with the knowledge, skills and tools to prepare all students to graduate from high school, college and career ready.   Here are the nine components of Beaverton School District’s Standards Based Learning System that we will be working on next year:
  • Clear learning targets 
  • Assessments linked to learning targets
  • Multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency
  • Flexibility for individual learners
  • Valuing teacher judgment and expertise
  • Equity and consistency across the District
  • Balance between formative and summative assessment
  • Clear communication about student learning
  • Opportunities for student involved assessment

As we prepare for next year, our teams have been thinking about the questions below. We hope to build rigor and relationships as we focus on the standards.
  • What will you do to ensure that all students learn the targets?
  • What knowledge and skills should every student acquire as a result of our units of instruction?
  • How will we know when each student has acquired the essential knowledge and skills?
  • How will we respond when some students do not learn?
  • How will we respond when some students have clearly achieved the intended outcomes?
  • What will teams do to make sure that all are teaching at the same depth or complexity to ensure that all students have strong skills going into the next grade?
  • What will teams do to build caring, trusting relationships? 
  • How will we celebrate learning?

Though teaching assignments are tentative for next year, I have asked these tentative teams to spend some time working on this now as these discussions will benefit all teachers, especially across grade levels. We want a strong K-5 system and these conversations are important!  We are working hard to prepare for a successful 2012-2013.  I’m disappointed to share that one of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing at other schools we won’t get to do here this spring because of staffing uncertainties.  I had hoped that we would get to have a Fly Up day this spring so that our students would go into summer knowing who their classmates and teacher would be for the fall.  There is so much uncertainty in the District about teaching assignments for the upcoming year, that we won’t be able to have the detailed Fly Up I had hoped.  We will give kids an opportunity to learn about the location of the classes and we will give kids an opportunity to ask questions about the upcoming grade.  We will send home a supply list and a map of where classes at each grade level will be located.  Because teaching assignments might not be finalized until late August, teacher announcements might not happen until the Ice Cream Social the week before school begins.

Between now and August, it’s likely that your child will spend hours and hours reading and I wanted to share some prompts that will help your child develop reading comprehension skills.  Knowing what kids are supposed to know and be able to do at different levels in the area of reading is a topic that parents often have questions about.  Teachers use the Developmental Reading Assessment to determine a child’s reading level.   Teachers listen for accuracy (how accurately is a child reading the text- 95-100% is expected), fluency (how many words per minute is the child reading) and comprehension (how well does the child understand what is being read.  Expectations increase as the child’s level increases. 

Fluency and accuracy are pretty straight forward so I won’t spend time explaining those areas.  Expectations for comprehension increase as the levels become more difficult so I will share some of the things that a child should be able to discuss or write about (beginning level 28) at different levels.  The bulleted points below come from Developmental Reading Assessment by Beaver and Carter.  They provide great discussion points for the reading your kids will do over the summer.  Start by inviting your child to tell you about what they read then question strategically to draw out details, inferences, connections and more.

DRA Levels 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14-Student:
  • Includes at least 4 important events from beginning, middle and end in sequences
  • Refers to all characters by name and includes most of the important details in a logical order
  • Uses important language or vocabulary from the text
  • Has a good understanding of key words or concepts
  • Retells the story with no questions or prompts from the adults
  • Retell reflects higher level thinking including synthesis and inferential thinking
  • Makes thoughtful text to life, text to self, or text to other text connections that reflect a deeper understanding of the story

By level 16
  • Quickly locates and uses nonfiction text features (i.e. charts) to accurately respond with details to questions asked

By level 18, 20, and 24
  • Makes thoughtful predictions that go beyond the page
  • Insightful understanding of important text implications with supporting details or rationale
  • Identifies significant events and gives reasons for opinion that reflect higher-level thinking

Starting with level 28
  • Responds to the text independently in writing.  

By level 28, 30, 34, and 38, provides the following: 
  • Detailed information accesses from text features
  • Summary in own language includes the most important ideas and supporting facts from each section including important characters, events and details from the beginning, middle and end
  • Description of each character includes at least three specific details
  • Insightful understanding of important text implications with supporting details or rationale

By level 40 , 50, 60, and 70
  • Well organized summary in own language:  includes all important characters’ names, specific details, and all important events from the beginning, middle and end
  • For literal comprehension, all important information from the text that effectively responds to questions is represented
  • Insightful understanding of important text implications
  • Significant message or event and reasons for opinion that reflects higher level thinking

As students read over the summer, asking them to think about their reading and write about what they read will deepen the experience and their skills.  Just before a child learns to walk, adults in their lives spend a ton of time hunched over the child with the child holding onto their fingers as they toddle about the room.  Occasionally, the child will let go and take a step or two on their own.  They will cruise along the couch and will let go to balance on their own again and again and again.  This safe practice gets them to the next level.  We know that if they go beyond their level just a bit, they will fall hard and get discouraged so we give them lots of safe practice.  The same holds true for reading.  We need to provide our children with lots of “just right” book with many rich experiences for thinking and discussing.  The Beaverton School District website has a database of leveled books so that you can better match books to your child’s level.  Check it out at   Thanks in advance for keeping minds sharp over the next three months. 

I apologize for the length of the letter this week.  A lot will be packed into the next eight days. Thank you so much for sharing your children with us this year.  It has been a pleasure indeed!


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

Wish List
  • Boxes for moving
  • Student Artists willing to participate in Art Show at Canfield on June 22
  • Volunteers to participate in a “Packing and Moving Party” on June 14

Upcoming Events
June 5- Intermediate Music Program at 6:30pm (DiResta, Stratton, Skiba, Shotola)
June 5- Spirit Day-Wear Tie-Dye Apparel Day
June 6- Intermediate Music Program at 6:30pm (Krueger, McConnell, Tanksley, Parson)
June 6- Spirit Day-Sports Attire Day
June 7-Book Swap Day 8:30-9:30am
June 7- Spirit Day-Pajama Day
June 8- Spirit Day-Hat Day
June 8-Field Day-9:00-10:50 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Yokom and AM K.)  and 1:00-2:45 (4th, 5th, PM and Full-Day K. and Burnett)
June 11- Spirit Day-Mismatch Day
June 12- Spirit Day-Class Matching Day (classes wear matching clothes)
June 12-Third Grade Music Performance at 1:45 in the Cafeteria-Portland:  The Musical
June 12-Mt. Guide Picnic
June 13- Spirit Day-Hawaiian Day
June 13-Fifth Grade Party
June 13-Last Day of School
June 13-Assembly at 8:45am
June 14-Teacher Workday
June 15-Furlough Day a.k.a. Budget Reduction Day
June 22-Canfield Art Fair and BBQ (Please let us know if you have student artwork to display and would like to attend the BBQ with your child between 11:00am and 1:30pm.)
August  2012
18 Beaverton Foursquare Church Work Party to Benefit our School-10:00am-3:00pm
September 2012
3  Labor Day-No School
4 First Day for First-Fifth Grade
4  First Day for Kindergarten Students whose last names begin with A-L
5 First Day for Kindergarten Students whose last names begin with M-Z
13  Back-to-School/Curriculum Night
October 2012
12  Staff Development Day-No School
18  Conferences-No School
19  Conferences-No School
November 2012
9  Staff Development Day-No School
12  Veterans' Day Observed-No School
21  Budget Reduction Day-No School
22-23  Thanksgiving Break-No School
December 2012
21-31 Vacation-No School
3  Grading Day-No School
7  Report Cards Go Home-District Wide
10  Budget Reduction Day-No School
January 2013
1-4  Winter Break
21  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day-No School
February 2013
Staff Development Day-No School
18  President's Day-No School
March 2013
11  Budget Reduction Day-Do School
15  Grading Day-No School
19  Report Cards Go Home-District Wide
25-29 Spring Break-No School
April 2013
12  Assessment Day-No School
29 Budget Reduction Day-Do School
May 2013
24  Staff Development Day-No School
27  Memorial Day Holiday-No School
June 2013
13  Report Cards Go Home-District Wide (or mail the following day)
14  Grading Day-No School

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