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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 Teresa_Clemens-Brower@beaverton.k12.or.us 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! 
Way to go COOKIE MONSTERS!
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.

Literal
·      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?

Inferential
·      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?

Evaluative
·      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 Sandra_Cobain@beaverton.k12.or.us.
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!
Fondly,


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




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. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Joyful Students, Budget, Writing, and More-March 13, 2012


Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                                                                        

                  Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain School.  Last Thursday we welcomed our incoming Kindergarten students at Kindergarten Orientation.  Seeing so many enthusiastic four and five year olds reminded me about the high expectations our students have about school.   Thanks to all the parents and staff who made that evening a success! New families got to tour the school and students had a chance to visit classrooms.  It was a special night.

Please join us Tuesday morning, from 8:45-10:15 for am a Community Budget Teaching Session at Sexton Mountain Elementary School in the cafeteria.  During this meeting, I will provide a message from the District with the most up-to-date budget information; collect your budget reduction advice and answer questions.   The meeting will begin with a video message from Superintendent Jeff Rose. It will conclude with a hands-on activity where participants will be asked to work in groups to formulate recommendations for the estimated $40 million reductions the District will need to make to achieve a balanced budget for the 2012-13 school year.  I will be working with the principal at Hiteon on the budget presentations as well on Wednesday, March 21 from 6:30-8:00pm. Please feel free to invite neighbors who do not currently have children attending schools in Beaverton.  

If you will not be able to attend this meeting, you are welcome to attend meetings at other schools scheduled through the week prior to spring break.  The information shared and the format for the meetings will be the same at each school in the District.  Schedule at this website: http://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/home/departments/community-                 

Though the current budget reality is one of the things I am thinking about and working on right now, great teaching and learning are continuing at Sexton Mountain.  As I’ve visited classrooms these last few weeks, I’ve observed students engaged and working hard to complete writing tasks. I am constantly reminded of how much time and effort it takes to communicate our ideas effectively and efficiently in writing.  Effective writers must be willing to spend time thinking about their message, the needs of their audience and then be willing to devote great time and effort to writing a first draft.   Then, effective writers re-read what they’ve written and spend more time clarifying their thoughts and revising, often more than once, to achieve a final product.  Effective writers often ask others to read what they have written and to provide constructive feedback. Writing well is more complicated than mastering the six writing traits:  Ideas & Content, Organization, Sentence Fluency, Word Choice, Conventions, and Voice.  To become effective writers we must focus, work hard and accept feedback as positive and helpful. Writing well also requires us to think well and to think critically.

Thank you to our families for taking the time to encourage our young writers and to help them understand and accept that becoming a good thinker and a good writer takes time and requires hard work.  Talking to children about their ideas, questioning them and helping them to express their thoughts orally are great ways to support their development as writers.  To learn more about encouraging hard work and a growth mindset in your child, please attend the workshopHow to Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Child” on March 19 at 8:45am. 

This week begins the final trimester of the school year.  From Carol Dwek’s Mindset, we are going to be working on finding motivation and inspiration in the success of others.  Our fifth graders have started this effort with notes of praise.  Some are taking the theme of kindness to create inspirational posters.  Others are doing research on famous people who have pursued through failure.  This spring, as we focus on developing this mindset, I am sure you will see interesting things happening at Sexton Mountain.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,


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

Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
·      Small toys for our rainy day games cart
·      Families willing to host an “Amazing Race” type station for a staff community building activity later in the spring
·      Small prizes for staff community building contests-(art supplies, office tools, children’s books, small gift cards to book, office supply, or learning stores, or other small treats are appreciated)

Upcoming Workshops for Families
 The purpose of each 30-minute workshop will be to provide information and gather input. 
·       College and Career Readiness-Why are we talking about this in kindergarten?  March 16 at 8:45am
·       Building Class Lists for 2012-2013 (Mysteries Revealed and Myths Busted) and Fly Up Planning-March 15 at 6:30pm
·       Mindset-How to Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Child-March 19 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. 

Sexton Mountain Elementary School n 15645 SW Sexton Mountain Drive n Beaverton, Oregon 97007 n Office: 503.672.3560 n FAX 503.672.3563




Monday, March 5, 2012

Learning, Special Guests and Spirit Building-March 6, 2012

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

March in an elementary school is one of my favorite times of the year!  Exciting things are happening in and out of the classroom.  We had a fabulous author and talented musician present information to our students recently. Kids are hard at work on a variety of science, math and literacy projects. Family Literacy Night was a huge success. Our students collected over 2000 items for the Oregon Food Bank.  Great things are happening at Sexton Mountain Elementary School!

March and April are the months where I’m living in the present and the future.  I’m enjoying all the great things happening now and working hard to make sure we finish the year strong.  I’m also analyzing the successes of the year and am fully engaged in the planning process for the upcoming year.  I will be holding a series of workshops for parents on different topics related to the work happening in our school.  Interested people are welcome to attend.  The purpose of each workshop will be to provide information and gather input.  
  • College and Career Readiness-Why are we talking about this in kindergarten? - March 16 at 8:45am
  • Building Class Lists for 2012-2013 (Mysteries Revealed and Myths Busted) and Fly Up Planning-March 15 at 6:30pm
  • Mindset-How to Develop a Growth Mindset in Your Child-March 19 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

Persian Musician Teaches Fourth and Fifth Graders by Alicia
On February 23 we had a special guest in music here to teach us about Persian instruments.  He was also a very good instructor too.  I liked the presentation because all of the instruments were unique in some way.  The drums had different beats and sounds.  The violin had a different sound than other violins I’ve heard.  That is why I liked the presentation.

Persian Experiences by Sophia
Today a man from Iran came to do an amazing presentation about Persian instruments.  He showed us a santoor and he played in harmony with a fifth grader who played an interesting drum.  They did an amazing performance and I’d like him to come back.  I hope he’ll consider repeating this for the lower grades.  I really loved the presentation and I’d like to see it again.

Persian Instruments by Atom
“…..the guys arms were so fast it looked like millions of hands…”

Grace Lin Visits Sexton Mountain
Parent Polly Campbell was able to attend Grace Lin’s presentation last week.  Her summary below provides great talking points for discussions with children.

It took Grace Lin nearly three years to write and illustrate Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, but the effort resulted in her personal favorite among the dozen books she’s written, as well as, television appearances, and awards.

The Massachusetts-based author/illustrator talked to students Thursday, as part of literacy day at the school. Where The Mountain Meets the Moon was the 2010 Newberry Award Winner and a New York Times Bestseller. Lin’s book was distributed to every family through the One School, One Book program and her appearance was supported by the Sexton Mountain PTC

To research the book, Lin, a Chinese-American, visited China and Taiwan. There she learned the Chinese history and the mythology – such as the tale of the Buffalo Boy – that led to the tales woven throughout the novel.  Though this book took longer to create, Lin said it takes at least a year and a team of about a dozen people working in different specialties to publish any book.

At one point she called on student volunteers to represent the various editors, designers, printers and binders, who along with the author, are all involved in preparing a book for publication.

Once published, a book becomes widely available through libraries and stores, unlike the first book that Lin wrote and showed to the students during the assembly. That book was written on notebook paper and bound by staples. 

http://gracelin.com/index.php


Remember that a Budget Teaching Session at Sexton Mountain Elementary School is scheduled for Tuesday, March 13 from 8:45-10:15am in our school cafeteria.  Additionally, I’ll be teaming with principals at Montclair Elementary School on Monday, March 12 from 6:30 to 8:00pm and at Hiteon on Wednesday, March 21 from 6:30-8:00pm for similar presentations. The purpose of each Budget Teaching Session is to provide up-to-date budget data, collect advisory data from participants and answer questions.  There will also be a hands-on activity for participants to use several budget areas to make the estimated $40 million in reductions.  The information presented will be the same at each school in Beaverton.

Our staff will be engaged in this budget process Tuesday afternoon.  Cutting this amount of money after several years of cuts could make for a very gloomy third trimester but we are going to do everything we can to build community and team spirit so we finish the 2011-2012 school year strong.  We will be having silly staff contests weekly to keep us focused on the joy that teaming brings.  I encourage you to continue sending those wonderful notes of appreciation and encouragement to your teachers.  At church last weekend I met a former Sexton Mountain parent and the thing that she remembered most about our school is that it was full of caring people.  Our school really is a very special place to spend the day.  Thank you for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
A.k.a.  Mrs. C.-B.
Principal
Wish List--These are little things or jobs that will make a difference to our kids. Feel free to send them in.
  • Legos, crayons and coloring books for our Rainy Day Games Cart
  • Silly Staff Prizes for the team building contests that will take place through the end of the year