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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Full Option Graduate, Math, and Endless Possibilities-Sept. 25, 2012

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                 

My son loves music.  He plays a number of wind instruments and loves to create music.  Recently, he expressed great disappointment in me.  “Why didn’t you make me stick with piano lessons?” he asked one afternoon. “You took away choices for me now by letting me quit.”
When he was six, he had tried lessons for a few months and for some reason he stopped. The day he expressed his disappointment, he had missed out on an opportunity that lessons may have afforded.  A decision we made for our son when he was six changed his options at age 14. 
While I’m not sure if piano lessons would have made a huge difference in his life, I do know that in order to have a full range of options when he graduates from high-school, he will need to have strong literacy and mathematics skills.  He’ll also need to have key cognitive strategies.  As a parent and as an educator, I know that the academic choices we make for children today can limit their options later in life or prepare them for a wide range of possibilities.  It is the goal of the Beaverton School District to make sure that children are prepared for post-secondary education and career success.
In the upcoming weeks, I will be sharing about the Full Option Graduate and College and Career Readiness (CCR).  At conferences you’ll learn about what students need to know and be able to do at their current level in order to be on the trajectory to have options when they graduate.  Whether they opt to enter the work force or attend college, there are things they will need to know.  Please review the attached Full Option Graduate Profile to learn about what key content, key cognitive strategies, academic behaviors, and the contextual and awareness skills students will need.

If we look just at the Oregon Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (OAKS) scores of our students from the last few years, many of our students are on the right path in the area of English Language Arts.  In fact, 88% of our third, fourth and fifth graders last year were performing at levels that are indicative of future success.  That sounds pretty good UNLESS your child is one of the 12% of kids who are not on the path to College and Career Readiness.  We want every child to be ready.  When my son looked into my eyes with great disappointment and asked why I limited his option with piano when he was six, my heart ached a little.  I can’t imagine how I’d feel if the 40 kids who were part of the 12% came back during their high school years and asked, “Mrs. CB, why did you take away my choices in elementary school by not doing everything in your power to make sure I was on track?” 

I am sure my heart would break.  Our children must be prepared! I want our students to have the bold confidence to approach the world knowing it’s full of possibilities.  It gives a sense of power to control your own destiny.  The flip side of power is fear.  Fear increases when choices are few and grave.  Wrong choices can mean devastating consequences.

Last year on the Oregon Assessment of Skills and Knowledge math portion, 41% of our students in third, fourth and fifth grade were not on the trajectory for College and Career Readiness.  That can best be described as a big YIKES for nearly 150 students.  I’ve been asking teachers and now I’m going to ask families also to help me make sure that 100% of our kids can look forward to being a FULL OPTION graduate.  The good news is that we are now in the second year of a very strong math adoption.  Everyday Math provides a spiraled approach to concept development so students revisit and review math strands regularly.  Another positive thing is that the bar has recently gone up so we simply need to readjust and aim higher.  This is good news for our students already achieving at high levels in mathematics because when we raise the floor, we raise the ceiling too!  In this time of larger class sizes and shrinking budgets, it may seem like I’m asking too much but I’m sure if we TEAM together, we can do it!  In the area of mathematics we have committed to a three-prong approach:
§  Math Vocabulary-Children must know vocabulary specific to math.
§  Math Fluency-Students must be able to recall addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts quickly.
§  Math Problem Solving-Children must understand what math word problems are asking and have a bank of strategies for solving problems.

Our grade level teams are engaging in the dialogue related to their teaching, the targets and assessment.  They are using a systematic approach to improving practice.  If you would like to help in our effort beyond supporting your child at home with vocabulary, computation, problem solving practice and regular homework, we have a number of jobs:
  • §  Correct weekly timed tests-This job can be done at home.  The student papers are marked with a secret code so you won’t know whose paper you are grading but if you can correct a batch of papers and get them back to us the next day, we can provide our students with powerful data for goal setting.
  • §  Lead a small math group-There are many games that reinforce vocabulary and concept development.  Volunteer regularly to play games.
  • §  Make math games-Some of the great math games need to be assembled. 
  • §  Tutor a child-Volunteer to help students in need of assistance during the day.
  • §  Hold an After School Math Club-There are many math games that provide extra practice.  Volunteer to supervise a group of 10 students from 3:10-4:00 once a week while they practice.
  • §  Volunteer to Serve on our Site Council-We will continue our work with Carol Dwek’s Mindset and develop ways for our kids to understand that practice makes proficient in the area of mathematics.
  • §  Find great websites or resources for us!  Send me the links so I can share with staff and parents.
  • §  Hold an After School Club Related to Math-Perhaps you’d like kids to see the importance of math in the world.  Quilting, cooking, construction, and engineering are just of few things that might provide a fun way to explore math.
  • §  Volunteer to be a guest speaker for Career Day.  Tell how you use math or why a strong math background helped you succeed.
  • §  Volunteer to supervise an after school Chess Club.
  • §  Volunteer to supervise an after school Math24 Club.
  • §  Think of other ways you can support our students and let me know!

In the next week or two, if your child is at risk of not being on track for future success in reading or math, you will get a letter from me telling about what our Response to Intervention team may be doing to help your child.  We have a small team and they will meet with the students with the greatest needs 20 minutes daily. They will use high leverage practices to improve student achievement.  In the classroom, teachers will work to make sure your child has access to a viable curriculum.  Teachers will also give homework so that kids can continue the learning away from school.  If your child is behind in reading or math, I want to encourage you to provide them with MORE practice time than the classroom teacher expects of the other students.  In order to close the gap, we will have to work as a team-(Teacher-RTI-Family) to get kids on the trajectory for later success.

 The thing I love most about our school is how everyone rallies to do what is best for our students!  I can’t wait to see how we respond to this challenge. 

Take Care,

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

Congratulations Mrs. Cohn!
Last summer Mrs. Cohn submitted a grant proposal through DonorsChoose.  Her goal was to fill her classroom with high quality books.  She started with a small request to get funding just for books by Mo Willems.  Her project was totally funded!  Four donors, including a matching grant from Kia Motors provided $308 to purchase the collection of books.  Because Mrs. Cohn was a media specialist before teaching first grade, she knows the power a great book has in engaging students and inspiring the love of reading.  Because she taught in a library with thousands of books, she has few of her own.  She’s working to fix that in creative ways.  In addition to the grant, she’s also asking older kids to consider donating books they no longer use or find interesting to the first grade classroom.  If you have great books you’d like to donate, send them to Mrs. Cohn.

Upcoming Events
Sept. 26          Passport Club Check Day (Grades 3,4,5)
Volunteers Needed for 10:30-Noon Session
Sept.  27         Spirit Assembly at 8:25am.
October 3       International Walk and Bike to School Day
October 4       Jog-a-thon—Volunteers Needed
  • ·      8:45-9:20- Kindergarten and SRC
  • ·      9:30-10:15- 5th Grade
  • ·      10:20-11:05-4th Grade
  • ·      11:40-12:25- First Grade and SRC
  • ·      12:30-1:15-Second Grade and PM Kindergarten
  • ·      1:20-2:05-Third Grade

October 5       Community Engagement Committee Mtg. 9:00am
October 5       PTC Meeting-9:30am
October 12     Staff Development Day-No School
October 17     Family Bingo Night 6:30pm in the Cafeteria
October 18     Conferences-No School
October 19     Conferences-No School
October 24     Passport Club Check Day(Grades 3,4,5)
October 25     Spirit Assembly at 8:25am
November 9   Staff Development Day-No School
November 12            Holiday-No School

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·      Volunteer to help inventory of extra textbooks so we can share resources with other schools.  This will be done at school in a storage room.
·      Postcards (we write positive notes to our students) and postcard stamps
·      Donation of Ukuleles-Because we have music half as often this year, Mr. Davis would like to maximize his time with kids by having an instrument for every child.  If you have a ukulele you no longer use, he can put it to good use. 
·      Donation of Welding Services (110/120 volts or run by generator)
·      Volunteers to help correct one-minute math timed tests weekly
·      Volunteers to help with a Barnes and Noble Book Fair on December 7.  We didn’t get a volunteer to run the Scholastic Book Fair at school this year so we are going to try a 4 hour Book Fair event at Barnes and Noble.
·      Volunteer to teacher small groups of students calligraphy or handwriting after school
·      Celebrations-Please e-mail me if you have a school related celebration or send in a written note about the celebration.  Maybe your child loved a certain lesson, made a connection with a staff member or has mastered a new skill.  We love to know what thrills you.  Celebrations will be shared at staff meetings and posted on a celebrations board in the Staff Room.  Celebrations inspire our work.
·       High Quality used Literature for Mrs. Cohn’s First Grade Classroom including:
o   Magic Tree House series
o   Henry and Mudge, Poppleton or any Cynthia Rylant books
o   Roscoe Riley Rules, by Katherine Applegate
o   Any Caldecott Award winning books
o   Any nonfiction book loved by first and second graders (of particular interest are dinosaurs, ocean animals, dogs, cats, eagles, penguins, apples, pumpkins, sports and jokes)
District Listening & Learning Sessions
The Beaverton School District School Board and Superintendent Jeff Rose have scheduled Listening & Learning Sessions this school year to answer questions and gather community input on issues in the Beaverton School District.

All community members are invited and encouraged to attend any or all of these conversational sessions. Here is the Listening & Learning Session schedule for the 2012-13 school year:

October 4, 2012
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Mountain View Middle School
January 22, 2013
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Aloha High School
April 11, 2013
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Westview High School
May 16, 2013
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Beaverton High School
Thanks to:
§  Thanks Trish Thompson for volunteering to clean our staffroom each afternoon!  I’m sure she’d love company if you’d like to join her at 2:45pm in the staffroom!  This has really taken a burden off staff.
§  Thanks to Kristin Hayes for helping with the home poster project.  She’ll also be helping with data entry!  Yahoo!
§  Thanks to Steve McCoy for coming up with ideas for making our front path safe and flow more smoothly.
§  Thanks to  Terri Rottman and Debbie Stout for volunteering to correct math papers at home.

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