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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Language, Learning, Goal Setting and College Spirit-November 1, 2016

Sexton Mt. Families:

The way we talk changes the way we work.  As we focus on increasing students’ use of academic language this year, teachers started with a unit called The Art of Getting Along.  Children have been learning how to use increasingly complex language (words and language patterns) to make requests, ask and answer questions and respectfully deal with conflict.  They are learning to deal directly and confidently with peers as they build language skills to navigate locally and globally. 

I’ve noticed that many of our students are moving from the language of complaint to the language of commitment.  Instead of expressing what they don’t like, they express what they support.  In Ms. Lawson’s community circle this week, I noticed that kids were helping one another focus on articulating the positive and with just a slight shift in words, the tone went from a speaker sounding a bit whiny and critical to speaking with hope and conviction and this created a positive energy in the classroom. 

We’ve spent the first two months of school getting to know our learners so that we can help them set focused goals.  All students should be able to tell you a reading power goal.  As children get ready to read at home, ask them to think about what their focus will be.  In Ms. Olson’s classroom, Lieam told me that his goal is to understand the meaning of new vocabulary words by looking at context as he reads.  In Ms. Martin’s room, Ian shared that he’s working on editing and revising during writing.  In the piece he worked on Tuesday, he looked closely at how effective his transition words were in his opinion piece. 

This week I watched kids express care and support for one another.  As you may be aware, a parent in the Sexton Mt community passed away Friday.  Though it was not unexpected, as she's been fighting cancer for quite a while, it is impossible not be deeply saddened as we watch a family deal with such profound loss.   As adults, it is important for us to always remember that we serve as role models and examples for our children.   Thank you for demonstrating healthy, appropriate ways to deal with sad situations and to express sympathy and grief appropriately.  The Sexton Mt. community is special in so many ways. 

As a school district, we want our children to lead full and successful lives.  We prepare children for a wide range of post-secondary options. My hope is for children to enjoy school, have a growth mindset and grow into the kind of adults I would want as a neighbor, co-worker, or caregiver.  While our emphasis this year is on language, the goals we are setting focus on reading.  The ability to read deeply opens doors.  Conversely, the inability to read well in elementary school can be a predictor for high school dropout rates. 

My goal is for all students to make at least a year’s growth in reading.  For some students,  the trajectory needs to be even steeper in order to  college and career ready so the goal will be even greater.  Students in Sexton Mt.'s historically underperforming groups (English Language Learners, Students eligible for Special Education, students Living in Poverty) will make 1.5 year’s growth.  During the next three weeks, I will meet with teams (using sub release time) to strategically plan how we can make this goal a reality.   Additionally, as a school-wide team, we need to make sure that we protect learning time and maximize instruction. 

If you have ideas on how to support this goal, please share your ideas with me.  Our classroom schedules include time blocks for English Language Arts (90 minute), English Language Development (30 minutes), Writing (30 minutes), and Math (70 minutes) so that students have time to engage in the important work of learning.  We also build in brain boosts throughout the day and have time for other content areas as well. We need to make every minute count.

We are off to a great start and we will build on this foundation.  It’s going to be a great year of learning!  Now that we’ve set Student Growth Goals, look forward to updates on our progress in future newsletters.  As we partner together, great things will happen for kids!  Thank you for sharing your children with us!


Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed.D.

Thank you to....

  • ·      Kate Kristensen for organizing a fun family dance night.  Kids had a great time!
  • ·      Our PTC for continually supporting our students and staff. 

Upcoming Events

Nov. 6-Daylight Saving Time Ends-Set Your Clocks Back
Nov. 8-Dining for Dollars – Hapa Grill
Nov. 10-Certified Staff Development Day-No School
Nov. 11-Veterans' Day-No School
Nov. 16-Picture Retake Day
Nov. 16- 5th Grade Field Trip
Nov. 17-Passport Club
Nov. 18-2nd Grade Taekwondo Belting Ceremony in Cafeteria-9:00-10:30
Nov. 23-25-Thanksgiving Break-No School
Nov. 28- Grading Day – No School
Dec. 2-Report Cards Go Home

Dec. 2-3rd Grade Taekwondo Belting Ceremony in Cafeteria-9:00-10:30

Every Wednesday is College Gear Day-Here are some schools we saw represented this week.

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