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Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing, Math and More-October 2, 2012

Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain School.  Our students have had a great first month.  Teachers are teaching and students are learning. Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Over the past two weeks I’ve enjoyed spending time with students.  The students meet me in the cafeteria, we do a quick project then children write about the experience.  This frees up a bit of time for teachers to meet regarding reading instruction and how to strategically group children to maximize instruction.  It gives me a great opportunity to see students in action as they write.  It is fascinating to see what second, third, fourth and fifth grade students can produce in a short period of time.  Some children focus on the emotions related to events. Others focus on technical aspects of the project.  All in all, their papers are a joy to read.  I can’t wait to see how their skills will change over the year.

In addition to the shared writing experience, I’ve been getting a lot of notes from kids.  Since the news reported last week that hiking makes you smarter, I wanted to share one piece from Julia in 4th grade.  She has a location you might want to try for a family hike.  She writes…

Oneonta Falls is located just east of Multnomah Falls.  There is a dam of logs to climb over at one point and beautiful ferns, trees, and vegetation.  There are even miniscule, mahogany colored fish!  But of all the wonders the place holds, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the temperature of the water.

Amy, also in fourth grade wrote me a note about Sparky’s Running Club.  Can you tell this author’s purpose for writing?  She writes…..

Click.  Clack.  Click.  Clack.  I can hear the shoes smacking down the pavement as Mrs. Stratton’s class hits the track.  They are trying to win the pizza party challenge at the end of the competition.  If we had the best principal from the best school in history run with us, it would motivate us.  Please come run because hearing the shoes on the pavement is pleasant…..Thirty-one children plus one principal equals more laps than ever!

It is always a treat to read student writing.  If you haven’t had a walk through our halls lately, I would encourage you to come in and see some of the work on display.  Our students have interesting ideas and like to share!

Last week I provided information about student achievement in mathematics and the approach we’d be using to improve learning.  I talked about how we would focus on three specific areas related to student achievement in math.  Since last week, I’ve been overwhelmed by all the offers to help!  Our families have great ideas and are willing to implement them.

The ability to quickly recall basic facts is important for math success.  Our students (grades 1-5) will be given a one-minute basic facts test weekly to see how many equations they can solve in 60 seconds.   Last week, four grade levels participated and results are below.  Each week, we expect to see growth in the number of problems solved.  Teachers will be working to improve speed and accuracy in the classroom. We hope you will practice at home too.   Here are some ways you might do this:
·      Flashcard practice during television commercials
·      Keep a set of flashcards in the car and have your child practice at every stoplight
·       After dinner, practice equations orally for five minutes before you clear the table
·      Download printable worksheets from the web or make your own for kids to do


Second Grade
Addition and Subtraction
Third Grade
Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
Fourth Grade
Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
Fifth Grade
Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division
Week Of Sept. 24
Thanks to our amazing volunteers for correcting all these equations!
First grade will be added to the chart next week.

Another one of our strategies for improving student achievement in mathematics is to increase student vocabulary.  The ability to understand math vocabulary and process words associated with mathematics sets apart strong mathematicians from the rest.  In all classrooms, teachers are working to explicitly teach the terms.  Look for math word walls and charts with vocabulary and definitions when you visit classrooms.  Watch 5th grade math spiral notebooks for learning targets with vocabulary words included.  At home, start a list of words or phrases that indicate what operation is needed in order to solve a number story problem.  Each Wednesday, students will have the opportunity to wear a word (in the form of a sticker).  If you are looking for extra fun, borrow a Math at Hand or Math to Know book for your family’s reading enjoyment.  Help yourself from the box under the Visitor Sign In table. 

Applying computation and math vocabulary to number story problems is the third part of our plan for increasing student achievement in mathematics.  Students will explore a variety of math story problems throughout the year.  Over their elementary school years they will deepen their bank of resources for approaching math tasks.  Last week I had the opportunity to sit in with two teams as they discussed student learning and the procedures they were using to teach students how to approach problems.  Fourth grade teachers talked about teaching students to first figure out what the problem is asking.  Next, students will figure out the facts in the problem.  The students will then figure out the operation to be used based on the words in the problem and the question.  Finally, students will solve the problem.  Teaching this process regularly and thoughtfully throughout the year with each unit will be a challenge but mindful planning will make it happen.  The fifth grade team is building on this work.  Students will restate the problem, eliminate extraneous facts, list data, and pick a strategy.  Students are building a bank of strategies they can use to solve the problems and will work to solve the problem in more than one way to verify the accuracy of their answer.  Number story problems are a part of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum so students will have regular practice.  We will also be pulling in other resources to extend this work.

Parent volunteer, Robyn Jackson, found the site below. According to Robyn, you can sign up for a spam-free daily email, or just get the problems off the website or Facebook page.  Each day there is a problem for each of three levels (wee ones, little kids, and big kids).  The problems don’t take long to do, and can mostly be done in your head, so no supplies are needed.  It’s a fun way to get math every day, and see how much math really is out there in our daily lives. 

Additionally, families will have the opportunity discuss and perhaps solve a silly question of week. We can learn a lot from one another about process and strategies so I encourage you to get the whole family involved. The question of the week is just for fun and your family can submit your own questions for future problem solving.

Number Story Problem of the Week
The Rock and Roll Half Marathon is December 2.  In order to comfortably make it 13.1 miles on that day, a participant will need to train regularly.  Training ramps up this month.  Starting October 2, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the athlete will walk six miles.  She likes to wear orange and black on her Tuesday outings and green and yellow on her Thursday outings.  On the first Saturday in October, the athlete will walk 8 miles in Corvallis before the OSU game. Each Saturday the athlete will increase the miles walked by one mile a Saturday until she gets to 12 mile Saturday walks.  One Saturday she’ll walk 8 miles, the next Saturday 9 miles and so on.   She will walk in Beaverton, Bend, Portland, and Corvallis.  Three weeks before the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, she will taper her Saturday mileage and reduce her Saturday walks by one mile each week.   The week before the event, she will reduce her Tuesday and Thursday walks by one-third.  She will not walk on Saturday, December 1.   All together, how many miles will this participant walk in October and November in preparation for her half-marathon?

In this story problem there is a lot of information that is not related to the question.  Talk to your child about what is need and what is not.  Have your child restate the question.  What facts are needed?  How could you organize those facts?  If you would like to share your family’s work as you think about or solve this problem, feel free to send your thinking, illustrations, equations or other things related to this question.  Turn it in to Mrs.CB’s mailbox in the office.

Must Be Present to Win
Hopefully, you can tell that we are ramping up to do great things for kids in the area of mathematics, writing, reading and science.  In order to get the most out of great instruction kids must be present!  Please note that we have several days with no school this month so it’s very important that kids be here every minute on the days we do have school.  During the month of September there were 204 times when students were signed out early.  When kids leave early they miss instruction.  Teachers often prep kids for the next day during the last 10 minutes so leaving even a bit early means missed learning. 
  • §  32 times,  kids went home sick so left early in September.  Sick kids should be at home.
  • §  172 times, kids left early for appointments or vacations

Please take advantage of the days when students don’t report to school to schedule appointments if you can.

Goal Setting
I’ve shared some of the goals we have for school improvement this year.  Between now and conference time, we would like for you to be thinking about goals you have for your child.  Include your child in this process.  Sam in first grade recently wrote that his goal is to learn how to cook brownies this year.  He had some good reasons for setting this goal.  Unfortunately, with budget cuts, we won’t be teaching brownie baking so this is a goal that his family will have to work on away from school.  When you think about goals for your child, think of different content areas (reading, writing, math, science, etcetera) or perhaps behavior or work habit goals.  Please bring your list to your parent teacher conference so you and the teacher can decide on some shared priorities for your child. 

With one month down, we are off to a strong start.  Together, we are going to do great things for kids this year.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Take Care,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a Mrs. CB

Attendance Drawing
Thanks to Thad Miller at Horace Mann for including Sexton Mountain School in the Outstanding Attendance Donation Program.  In January and June, we will have a drawing.  The student whose name is pulled will win a bicycle.  Thad Miller will try to find the right color and size for the child selected.  Kids can earn one chance a week by being on time and in class, all day, everyday for the week.

Upcoming Events
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 in Principal’s Office
October 5       Room Party Coordinator Mtg.  9:00am in Portable 6
October 5       PTC Meeting-9:30am in Portable 6
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
November 16 Family Dance 6:30-8:30pm
The Family Dance is intended to bring families together for a fun, social opportunity.  Parents will stay with children and enjoy time as a family so that everyone has fun.  The evening will start with a special time from 6:30-7:00pm just for kindergarten students.  Wiggles songs, the Chicken Dance, and songs targets for the younger group will be featured during this time. The success of the event is dependent on volunteers.  If you can help, contact Kate at
November 21 Budget Reduction Day-No School
November 22  Thanksgiving Holiday-No School
November 23 School Closed-No School
November 30 Holiday Bazaar
December 3  Grading Day-No School
December 2-7  Beaverton Elks Canned Food Drive (Volunteer needed to coordinate.)
December 7 Barnes and Noble Family Literacy Night and Book Fair (at Tanasbourne) 4:00-8:00pm

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·      Beautiful Poster Maker Needed-We’d like to graph our math results on chart paper so kids can see each grade level’s growth.  Contact Mrs. CB if you can create a graph then update it weekly.
·      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)-Steve McCoy has figured out how to make our main sidewalk have less of a bottleneck for students as they come and go.  We need to relocate a rail and this requires welding.  Can you help?
·      Donation of LARGE Dry Erase Board for the gym-Mr. Miller would love to reduce the chalk dust by exchanging the chalkboard for a dry erase board. 
·      Donation of Photos or Posters of the Blue, Strawberry, Cascade, Steins, Siskiyou Mountain Ranges-Did you know that when Sexton Mountain first opened each pod was named after an Oregon mountain range?  We are not sure when they went to colors instead of mountains but we’d like to bring back the mountain themes AND teach our kids a bit about Oregon geography. Our first step in this process is collecting photos or posters of each mountain range.
·      Volunteers to help correct one-minute math timed tests weekly.  We have 10 volunteers but could use another 7.
·      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.   If you volunteer at Barnes and Noble, you will help with a literacy activity or read a story to kids.
·      Loan of Cooler on Wheels for October 11 and 12-Our teachers will be meeting with teachers from several other schools for Staff Development Day.  We will be meeting off site (Village Baptist church has donated their space).  Water bottles and pop have been donated for the event BUT I need an easy way to transport it.  If you have a cooler to loan us that day, we’d love to borrow it!
·      Field Trip Planner-Grade level teams have determined where they will be going for field trips this year (thanks PTC for paying for transportation) but each team would LOVE to have someone be in charge of the details so teachers can use plan time to focus on instruction.  If you’d like to be the planner, please contact Mrs. CB.  Having access to a phone during the day is an essential part of this job since there seems to be a lot of phone tag.
·      Food Drive Organizer -December 2-7  Beaverton Elks Canned Food Drive-The organizer will get empty boxes to classrooms before the drive begins and bring boxes to a central location for pick up at the end of the food drive.
·      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.
·      Celebrations-Please e-mail me if you have a school related celebration or send in a written note about the celebration. Celebrations inspire our work.
Spotlight on Staff-Meet Meghan McGill
Please join us in welcoming Meghan McGill to our fifth grade team.  Megan comes to us from the wild world (her words) of secondary education.  For the past several years, she’s served students at Mt. View as a Humanities teacher.  Meghan is a RABID (her words) Ducks fan.  Her three-year old, Carmody  is the center of her universe.  Meghan also has three dogs, a cat and a fish.  Meghan is passionate about writing, traditional Iris music and dance, animals, education and family.  We are thrilled to have Meghan McGill on the Sexton Mountain team.
Spotlight on Staff-Jenny Barbay
Jennifer Barbay (know to kids as Ms. Barbay or Ms. Jenny) is serving our students as the counselor on A,B,C,and D days .  Jenny graduated from Lewis and Clark with her Masters in Educational Leadership:  School Counseling.  She previously served students at Oak Hills and Rock Creek.  Jenny is a graduate of Conestoga and Southridge so she’s familiar with the southwest side of Beaverton.  Jenny has been directing summer camps for THPRD for the last five years.  In her free time,  Jenny loves to spend time chatting with her mom over coffee, having Sunday night dinners with family, playing racquetball with her dad and going out to eat (especially breakfast).  She has an older sister and younger brother plus three beautiful nieces and a handsome nephew.  She’s currently training for a half-marathon and plans to run with her dad and sister.  Ms. Jenny loves guacamole and chips or anything covered in chocolate.  We are thrilled to have Jenny Barbay join the Sexton Mountain team.
Thanks to:
Thanks to Heidi Elliott and her team of volunteers for making the Passport Club so exciting for kids!  What an incredible day!
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  15645 SW Sexton Mountain Drive  Beaverton, Oregon 97007 nOffice: 503.672.3560  FAX 503.672.3563

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