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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.
Principal


Appreciation
  • ·       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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome Back, Stories and Goal Setting-January 5, 2016


January 5, 2016

Dear Sexton Mt. Families:

As water poured from the ceiling, we thought the roof was leaking at my parents house late in the evening on December 25.  It took a few seconds for us to realize it was dry outside and my dad had been diligent about keeping the snow off the roof.  It was 18 degrees outside so frozen pipes were a possiblity but my parents don’t have pipes in the ceiling.  Our sleepy team of detectives finally realized that the hot water heater was spraying a pin sized stream upward and the water hit the ceiling before coming down.  LUCKILY, noctural children heard the leak and woke the elders so only a small portion of the dining room carpet was soaked.  That hour was the most exciting part of my winter break.  I spent the rest of the time  with family, friends and books.  I hope you had a restful last few weeks and that kids are recharged and ready to return to learning.  I’m sure I’ll be reading stories about your adventures as I visit classrooms this week.

January, February and March are my favorite months of the school year as students seem to get into the learning groove.  I look forward to an awesome 2016.  This year as we focus on English Language Arts, many students know their specific power goals for reading.  I read recently that “a goal without a plan is just a wish” so I encourage you to ask your child how they plan to meet their reading goals.  Most students I talk to are very clear about the steps they are taking to reach the next level and beyond.  Thank you for reinforcing this at home too.  Remember that reading TO your child and having your child read daily away from school are some of the most important things you can do to improve vocabulary and reading abilities.

With no school Monday it seemed that our break was extra long.  Please remember that Spring Break will be similar in that Monday, March 28 there will be no school for students as it is a staff development day.  We have just 86 days left in the school year and we want to make the most of every one.  Thanks for sharing your children with us.

With gratitude,

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

Wish List- Donations of Sports Illustrated for Kids, Ranger Rick, Highlights, Lego Magazine, Zoo Books, American Girl and more will be put to good use.

Reminders
Remind.Com—For timely school specific information related to weather, safety, or special events, text @drcleme to 81010 to receive text messages regarding “breaking news” for our school.


Courage-During the month of January, our school will focus on COURAGE!  Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one.  School is a great place to practice being courageous.  During the month of January, we are going to ask students to show courage in safe ways.  Our first goal will be for all children to enter the building INDEPENDENTLY.  By Wednesday, January 13th we would like all of Sexton Mountain’s children to say good-bye to parents at the front door and proceed to their classrooms.  Mountain Guides will be in the hallway to count independent students showing courage as they make their way to their morning choice then classrooms without being accompanied by parents or grandparents.
 
Reading With Your Child-If you resolved to spend more time reading with your child this year, here are some suggestions from previous emails about how to make the most of your experience.
·       Read aloud to your child—Your modeling teaches them so much and provides a shared experience for discussion. 
o   Share not only the words but your thinking about the words and how you draw conclusions based on what you’ve read.  You might try some of these sentence frames to get you started.
§  The author said ___ which tells me…
§  The author said ___ which suggests….
§  The author said ____ which shows…..
§  I believe ____ because according to the text it states…..
§  I feel____ because according to the text it states…..
§  I think____ because according to the text it states…..
o   Invite your child to read to you their favorite parts of what they are reading.  Ask why they liked that part the most.  Help them build the language to describe their thoughts about books and let them know it’s okay not to love every part of every book.
o   Encourage your child to think about why they stick with some books and not others so they can put words to their feelings about characters, author’s style, word choice and more.  Model this for them as well. 
o   Try to visit the library or bookstore on a regular basis just to show all that’s available and get them talking and thinking about books.  As they select books to check out or purchase, have them tell you what they expect from the book based on their predictions.  Ask them, “Why this book?”

Upcoming Events
January 14-PTC Meeting @ 3:05pm
January 14-4th and 5th Grade Music Program @ 6:30pm
January 18-No School-Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
January 28-PTC’s Family BINGO Night @ 6:30pm
January 29-No School-Staff Development Day
Feb. 15-No School Presidents’ Day Holiday
Marc 3-4-No School-Parent/Guardian-Teacher Conferences
March 11-No School-Grading Day
March 21-25-No School-Spring Break
March 28- No School-Staff Development Day