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Monday, November 5, 2012

Wrinkles, Words, Math and More-November 6, 2012

 Dear Sexton Mountain Families:

As I entered Ms. Barbay’s classroom Monday afternoon, students were busy writing.  On one side of a scrap of paper students wrote a kind word.  On the other side, they wrote an unkind word.  Next, students crumpled up the paper into a tiny ball.  Finally, they were asked to unfold the paper and get all the crinkles out.  This was met with a collective gasp of, “WHAT?!?”
            “It’s impossible,” Rex said.
            Samantha replied, “There is no way it’s going to be flat.”
            Kids were sitting on the paper, pressing it in a book, rubbing it between fingers, and flattening it on the table but not a single child was able to get the wrinkles out.
            “Once you say an unkind word it’s like a wrinkle on this paper.  You can’t get it out.  It stays with the person forever.  Even an apology can’t take the word away.  Kind words also leave a lasting impression.  You have to ask yourself if you want to leave positive wrinkles or negative wrinkles.”
            “Sticks and stones…” Ms. Barbay started.  The kids finished the traditional rhyme but then Ms. Barbay shared a new saying.  “Sticks and stones can break my bones and words can hurt me too.”
            Kind words can leave a lasting impression!  Our students have been working on writing notes of recognition for kind actions. If you happen to be in the hallway outside of the cafeteria, check out our wall of kindness.  Here are a few examples of what you might see.
            Sashank was kind when he played with me.—Renika
            Odin let me be next to Ethan and Benjamin in Line.—Romy
            Weston was kind when he pulled me to the health place (medic) at PE.—Brayden
            It was very nice of Mrs. Gram to do Art Lit for us.---Sree
            Tyler helped me get through writers block.  He helped me figure out what to write.--Jacob
            I am lucky to serve in a place where an attitude of gratitude is so prevalent!  This week I am doing special math and writing projects with students while their teachers meet to analyze and discuss student progress.  Monday morning I met with the fifth grade students.  The purpose of this time is to have a shared experience then a common writing project while teachers have an uninterrupted hour to discuss data and learn together.  All students will do this in the upcoming weeks.  As I read the students’ papers, I enjoyed seeing how students were using their math vocabulary to describe what they’d done.  Additionally, there was a general JOY that exuded from student work.  I am glad our students are learning and even happier that they LIKE it! 
            While I got to spend time with the students, teachers met with our Response to Intervention teacher, Mrs. Smith, to analyze if interventions in reading or math were working.  Our Learning Teams (groups of adults focused on student learning and the adult learning that needs to happen in order to have a greater influence on student learning) work to make sure that we are using effective instructional strategies.  We learn from one another and this helps focus our work.  I’m certain that the outcome is not only better instruction but teaching that results in joyful learners as well.  This cycle will continue regularly throughout the year. Teachers will examine reading data every six weeks.  Because our School Improvement goal this year is in the area of mathematics, we meet more regularly about math instruction.  What’s working?  What’s not?  What can we learn from our exceptional performers?  What can we learn from student errors?  How can we refine our professional practice so that we are better tomorrow than we were today?  This ongoing discussion makes a difference for every child. 
            Because our focus is on math this year, it seems like I’m seeing math equations everywhere I go.  As you enter the building, you’ll see the PTC’s Jog-a-thon graph.  If $12000 has been donated so far and the goal was $18000, how big is the gap?  What will this mean for what the PTC is able to offer?  On the window next to the graph there is an estimation jar?  If there are six cups of rainbow popcorn kernels in the jar and 1 teaspoon has about 158 kernels, how many kernels might there be in all?  If 39 kernels of popcorn in the teaspoon are red, how many red kernels might be in the jar?  If one teaspoon of popcorn produces one cup of popped corn, how many cups of popcorn would all 6 cups of kernels produce if we popped it all?  As you travel down the hall toward the library, you can see graphs showing information about Sparky’s Running club.  What can you learn from the graphs?  On the stage there is a tub of books all about mathematics for students to enjoy if they have time before school or after they eat lunch.  Did you know that Powell’s has a whole section of books that tell about math concepts?  Math is all around us!  I hope that your child is pointing that out too!
            Great things are happening each and every day at Sexton Mountain.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Take Care,

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

Upcoming Events
November 9        Staff Development Day-No School
November 12     Holiday-No School
November 14 Passport Club Check Day(Grades 3,4,5)
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 targeted 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 BazaarPostponed to a Later Date
December 3  Grading Day-No School
December 2-7  Beaverton Elks Canned Food Drive
December 7 Barnes and Noble Family Literacy Night and Book Fair (at Tanasbourne) 4:00-8:00pm
December 7 Dining for Dollars Night at Red Robin Tanasbourne
December 19 Passport Club Check Day(Grades 3,4,5)
December 20 Spirit Assembly at 8:25
December 21 First Day of Winter Vacation (Yes this is a Friday with no school.)

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·       Donation of benches for front entry. We’d love to have a spot just inside our doors for kids or parents to wait on rainy days at dismissal time.
·       Donation of liquid hand soap.  With recess before lunch, we have supervisors making sure that students wash hands before going to the lunch room.  Hand washing is required by the Health Department.  We’ve found that if kids get a pump of hand soap before they go into the restroom, they leave the restroom with cleaner hands. 
·       Donation of bird’s nests (we have 4 but hope to collect 36 by January) for a school-wide writing project.  Please send them in a zip lock bag.
·       Donation of $10 Powell’s or Barnes and Noble gift cards for Ms. Kimball to use as prizes for the Adopt a Bookshelf Program.
·       Donation of photos of Oregon Mountain ranges.  We still need the Steins, Siskiyous, and Strawberry mountain ranges.  Did you know that in the early years of Sexton Mountain School, each pod was named after a mountain range?
Thanks to:
·       Thanks to Steve McCoy for volunteering to make our Math Vocabulary posters.
·       Thanks to Christine Leyva for volunteering to lead our Battle of the Books committee so kids in 4th and 5th grade can participate this year. Thanks to Grace Campbell, Heather Cough, Seona Zimmerman, Abeer Award and Heather Teague for working on this project as well!
·       Thanks to Robyn Fuenmayor for taking on the personal shopper project!  She was able to get great deals and many donations for the first task!
·       Thanks to Grace Campbell, Stacy Namdar, Heather Hough, Karyn Johnson, Abeer Awad,  and Tonya Robson for providing feedback on the Learning Teams presentation last week.
·       Thanks to the Campbell family for donating a tremendous math resource for our fifth graders!

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