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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Our Past, Their Future and Courage-January 19, 2016

The purpose of today's letter is to:
  • Compare our past to our kids future
  • Remind you that COURAGE is our theme this month

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

Following the 1988 Monsters of Rock concert in Seattle, my friend and I drove home to Monmouth, grabbed about two hours of sleep then were up bright and early for finals the last day of summer term. My husband noted that I exuded the same energy following the 4th and 5th grade music program last Thursday.  It was better than Sammy Hagar with Van Halen and The Scorpions combined! 

I hold dear my special memories of the big hair bands of my youth so when my generation was represented at the program with Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger it made me smile.  The range of skills and teamwork shown during the program far exceeded my 4th and 5th grade programs where “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” on the recorder was the highlight.  Things have changed in our education system because the world has changed.  I surprise myself when I catch myself comparing my past with my students present or future since I see examples daily of the need for change daily.
Though wildly energetic last Thursday evening, I went into panic mode when I noticed a text from a friend. “HELP!” it read and the picture attached made my tummy churn. It was math-middle school math—and the picture on the tiny screen of my phone made the equations look impossibly complex.  Luckily, the next message read, “Nevermind. Got it!” 

When I was a child, I learned mathematics by memorizing an algorithm then using those steps over and over and over.  Unfortunately, if I messed up on a step, I didn’t have the number sense to determine if my answer was reasonable.  Unfortunately, if the problem was presented in a way that didn’t make sense, I was at a loss.  Unfortunately, from one year to the next, if my memory failed me and I lost the algorithm, it seemed like I was starting from scratch.  At a certain point in my education, I had reach my memorizing limit and I was done with math.  This limited choices later in life.  I’m so happy that things are different today for our students.  By the time today’s fifth graders are seniors in high school, they will be taking Math 95 at the very least but more likely will be taking AP Calculus, Math 253, or Pre-Calculus.  As high school freshmen they will take Statistics.  These classes will provide opportunities through instruction and assessment to demonstrate proficiency on all learning targets that define college and career readiness in mathematics.  

I happened to be in Mr. Shotola’s classroom last week during a math lesson.  At one point, it was clear that some students were trying to take a short cut by using an algorithm they’d been taught (very similar to the one I learned in 4th grade) but they had no idea what the number represented so when careless mistakes were made kids didn’t catch their error.  In last week’s newsletter I talked about the thousands of decisions teachers make daily.  Mr. Shotola made the decision to stop for less than a minute to address the errors kids were making.  He pointed out what kids were doing and noted that adults will often show kids the way they learned which may be different than what he’s trying to teach.  He pointed out the misconceptions kids had as a result of not understanding the numbers represented.  Children must develop the conceptual understanding needed for the next level and they need to know how to think so if they get stuck, they can approach the problem in a different way.  

Our children will live in a world we can’t even imagine.  Thank you for helping us to prepare them for a wide range of choices and options.  Thank for partnering with us to build thinkers and problem solvers.  Thanks for knowing that we are preparing children for their future, not our past so we need to equip them with the skills that will help them be ready for an ever-changing world.

Our students continue to talk and read about Courage this month.  We’ve seen impressive results in the number of students getting to the cafeteria, library, gym or playground then classrooms independently in the mornings.  If your child is still having a hard time separating, please contact Jennifer Yoshida, our school counselor.  She has a wealth of resources to help your child develop this important skill of independence.

Thank you for sharing your treasures with us!

With gratitude,

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

  • ·       Thanks to Julie Slaikjer for the donation of books and magazines for our lunchtime reading bins.
  • ·       Thanks to all who helped with set up and clean up last Thursday.

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.

  • ·       Donations of foaming hand soap will be put to good use.
  • ·       Donations of felt squares and craft sticks will be put to good use for a literacy project.
  • ·       Donations of paper grocery sacks with handles will be put to good use during Kindergarten Orientation.
  • ·       Mid-day ECO CLUB volunteers are needed from 12:00-1:00 to assist a small group of students with a composting project idea.
  • ·       Kindergarten Orientation Volunteers Needed-We have a number of jobs that can be completed at home in preparation for Kindergarten Orientation. 
·       Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.
Upcoming Events
January 28-PTC’s Family BINGO Night @ 6:30pm
January 29-No School-Staff Development Day
Feb. 11-2nd and 3rd Grade Music Program @ 6:30pm
Feb. 15-No School Presidents’ Day Holiday
Feb. 19- Talent Show @ 6:30pm
Feb. 29-Our school is scheduled to have our phone system updated on this day.
Marc 3-4-No School-Parent/Guardian-Teacher Conferences
March 10-Kindergarten Orientation 5:30-6:30pm
March 11-No School-Grading Day
March 21-25-No School-Spring Break
March 28- No School-Staff Development Day

District Goal: WE empower all students to achieve post-high school success.

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