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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Literacy, Conferences, Report Card, Costumes, and More-October 29, 2013

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:                                                                                                  

This morning I joined Mrs. Cobain-Soto’s class during literacy time.  Around the room, students were reading.  Jacob, Kyle and Zade dramatized a poem together.  Nia and Ryah were singing and pointing to the words in their songbook. Ruben was tummy down on the carpet reading a non-fiction book.  Ella read about bugs.  Around the room, kids were lost in books.  They read individually or with partners.  The girls I listened to self-corrected when things didn’t make sense.  First grade is a magical place indeed!

When I taught first grade, I don’t think my students had as much access to as many high quality, grade level non-fiction books.  The emphasis on learning through reading and writing about content areas has been evolving over the past few years and for good reason.  By reading non-fiction, students’ vocabulary grows exponentially as they learn about the world.  Non-fiction books provide the perfect springboard for writing as well.  When you are in our hallways, check out the writing students are doing as they describe their learning.  The pictures below show how students write, compare and contrast with information they have learned.  What evidence of learning and change do you see in our hallways?

Next week, families will get a chance to meet with teachers to discuss strengths and weaknesses as well as set goals for the upcoming year.  In a very short time period, you will get to discuss a lot of things regarding your child.

Because time is limited, we want to be mindful of questions that you might have about current or upcoming changes.  Changes in CONTENT regarding the common core will be shared on trifold boards in each pod. You’ll see examples of what kids are doing and why.  You’ll also see the learning targets for the grade and have access to information. 

The end of the first reporting period will be November 26 and teachers will work on report cards on December 2.  The report card has changed this year in order to better align with specific grade level expectations.  Last year our teachers studied writing expectations over the year so this part of the report card is much more specific.  This year our teachers are studying math expectations so this area is also more specific.  Other areas will evolve over time.   In the library, there will be a 10-minute continuous playing video with information about the new report card. Samples of the report card will also be available in the library.

Please send me any questions you have about the new content or the report card after you view these resources.  With any change, there will be questions or suggestions and I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

With so much happening in our school and such high (but realistic) expectations, we LOVE to have volunteers to support students and teachers.  If you plan to volunteer this year, please make sure you’ve completed your volunteer background check.  Visit this link to get started:

From cheering kids on during Sparky’s Running Club to reading with a student or troubleshooting technology issues, we have jobs for you that will make a difference for our learners.

Breaking News-Sign Up
Students talked about the thick frost on cars this morning and are already looking forward to our first snow.  Inclement weather sometimes means closed school, late starts or buses on snow routes.  Sometimes we have funky weather but we are open as usual. Remind101 is an app I can use to text breaking news messages to those who have signed up.   By signing up for new notices, you can get information as it becomes available to me.  If you would like to sign up for this service, text 971-238-0465 with the code @drcleme   and you’ll be added to my list.

Morning Drop Off
Remember that supervision does not begin until 8:05am so students should not arrive before that time.  The only exception is Mt. Guides as these fifth grade students have been nominated to serve in this role because of their strong leadership and independence and have gone through a rigorous application process.  They arrive before other students in order to prepare for the day.  Please make sure Day Care providers know when SUPERVISION begins.


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

How we report student learning
Every parent should be asking for a standards-based report card. If we want teachers and students focused on the most important skills and knowledge in each course and if we want students well prepared for their next step, the choice is clear.
Why are clearly identified standards or learning targets so important?  Why is feedback to students and parents critical for student progress?  The teacher, student, and parent should all know what major skills and knowledge will be taught and learned.  Teachers need to know in order to align their teaching, assignments, projects, tests, etc. to ensure students reach the level of proficiency required for success in the next step.  Clearly identified targets built into classroom practices allow the teacher to recognize and communicate to students and parents where the student is succeeding and where gaps in the student’s learning exist. 
Why is receiving feedback in the form of a 1-4 rating so important? Under the old system (E, M, and D) there were not fully developed definitions used consistently. In addition, students typically received a mark based on a comparison to the other students in the class.  In other words, the “E” your child received in Writing simply meant that your child was writing better than the class average.  It did not tell you how they were progressing towards proficiency in the writing targets.
If your child’s 2nd grade teacher states that your student has a 3 (Proficient) with Writing Learning Target #2, both the student and parent know this means the student can introduce a topic, provide facts and definitions to develop a topic, and provide a concluding statement or section.  You will know this from looking at the rubric describing proficiency levels for Writing Learning Target #2 in the 2nd grade, and read what a “Proficient” score of 3 means.   This is the type of information the student, teacher, and parent need to ensure success. 
Students and parents can view the Learning Targets and Rubrics for most subjects by going to the Beaverton School District website at and then use the tabs across the top to go to “DISTRICT” > “DEPARTMENTS” > “TEACHING & LEARNING”  Once there, click on the LEARNING TARGETS / CURRICULUM tab on the left.  We have not yet finished all of our work to develop Learning Targets and Rubrics but you will see that we have come a long way and we hope to have this work completed for every subject within the next year.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.  Thank you for your on-going support. 

THANK YOU-We are so lucky to have an active and involved community willing to do special things for our kids.  When we work together, our kids benefit.
  • §  Thanks to Shirley Yau and Megan McCue for the donation of new underwear for our Health Room.  We will put these to good use!
  • §  Thanks to the family of Leila Arabzadeh for a generous donation of small prizes to be used for teacher prize baskets.
  • §  Thanks to Lindsay Zobrist for teaching our teachers about  Our teachers have submitted requests and already one has received funding for 4 iPad minis.  Wow!
  • §  Thanks to Ann Grass for serving as our technology service person.  She is hard at work getting existing technology to work more effectively and finding apps that support student learning.
  • §  Thanks to Michelle Fogg for assisting with Canfield Lunch Buddies last week.  It was certainly nice to have an extra adult!

Wish List-These are things or jobs that make a difference to our kids, teachers or school. Send in items or let Mrs. CB know if you can volunteer.
       Swiffer duster refills for small handled dusters will be put to good use in our computer lab.  Please send donations to the office.
       Donations of NEW child sized underwear for our Health Room.
       Volunteers needed to distribute math vocabulary words before school once a week.  Kids will wear a word in the form of a sticker throughout the day for ongoing discussion and learning.
       Donations of Bistro Height tables (Tables this height provide students with an opportunity to stand and do work. 
       Donations of headphone extenders can be put to good use in the computer lab.
       Donations of small horses (toys) can be put to good use for an incentive program we have developed.
(This is a repeat from last week.)  
Student Dress and Accessories Info-Planning for October 31-Costume FAQ
Most of our classes are having fall parties on October 31.  I’ve had several students ask about costume expectations.  I’m thrilled when students ask questions and I assume this means others are wondering the same thing.  Just this morning, Madison asked two questions that seemed to sum up the theme of all questions asked.

Madison-May I wear my costume on Halloween?
Answer: Check with teachers for exact expectations but know that on October 31, 5.5 hours of the day will be learning and school as usual.  An hour has been allotted for a PTC sponsored fall party.  There are many exciting things that happen in the fall, including Halloween, but our fall parties will be fall parties (not Halloween parties) so costumes are not required. Students in grades 1-5 will be allowed to slip costumes over clothes during the party. Costumes may cover clothes but not faces or heads.  Kindergarten students are here four hours less than students in grades 1-5 and October 31 will be especially packed since they also have specials (library or technology) that day.  Because of the limited time they don’t have the time to change AND party.  Our kindergarten students are encouraged to dress in fall colors but not costumes.  This will give them more time to enjoy the party. Since kindergarten students have an extra four hours at home or daycare compared to older siblings, I’m sure they’ll find ways to enjoy dress up away from school during the day.

Students are expected to be safe, respectful and responsible all day, every day even when they are wearing costumes.  One aspect of safety is being able to clearly see and identify who is in our school. Faces should not be covered in the school so no masks or head coverings unless it is part of regular religious dress. Clothing worn during the party should reflect our expectations as well as the expectations outlined in the Beaverton School District Student/Parent Resource Handbook (see below). 

Dress and grooming are primary responsibilities of students and parents/guardians. However, students may be directed to change dress or grooming if it interferes with the learning process or school climate, is unclean, or threatens the health or safety of the student or others. Clothing, jewelry, or wording/graphics on clothing or on the person that is sexually suggestive, drug or alcohol related, vulgar, which depicts violence, insulting, gang membership related, or ridicules a particular person or group may be prohibited.

Madison’s Question-My costume comes with a little pretend bow and arrow.  Can I bring that?
Answer:  No.   Weapons, play-weapons or look-alike weapons are NEVER allowed at school.

In keeping with our safety theme, students should know that weapons as accessories are not acceptable at school.  Toy Weapons or Look-Alike Weapons are NOT allowed at school.  The use, threat of use, or possession of these at school may result in disciplinary action.  The expectations outlined in the Beaverton School District Student/Parent Resource Handbook are below. 

The use, threat of use, possession, or sale of knives and/or look-alike knives of any form and/or length will result in disciplinary action. If the knife is a dangerous weapon (readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, threatened to be used, possessed, or sold) or a deadly weapon (Specifically designed for and presently capable of causing death or serious physical injury) then expulsion is required.
The possession, use, or threat of use of a look-alike explosive device, firearm, or other dangerous or deadly weapons will result in disciplinary action.

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