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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Academic Language, Thoughtful Learners, Academic Learning Targets and More-October 25, 2016

Sexton Mt. Families:

Our school is full of deep thinking language learners and thoughtful citizens!  This morning I had an opportunity to spend time with 5th graders as they learned from Ms. Amanda and Ms. Ashlee (SRC teachers) how to be Adaptive Physical Education buddies.  They learned about differences and how needs are met in a range of ways.  They learned about sensory processing and the importance of being concise with words.  While it wasn’t explicitly stated, I would guess that our students could infer that structure and routine are an important part of our self-contained program. One of the things I love most about our school is how understanding our students regard difference and how good they are at finding similarities.

The background knowledge our students use to understand similarity and difference in people and places is developed through reading.  When kids pay attention to the thoughts, words and actions of characters in stories, they are able to make inferences and connections.  During the presentation today, Penny remembered what we learned about structure and routine as our school read Rules by Cynthia Lord.  Penny noticed that in Rules, the main character’s little brother got very upset when the schedule changed.  If the routine changed, he would scream or cry.  As Penny learned about the need for structure and routine for students she made the connection that sometimes kids don’t have the words to express frustration when schedules change.  Pippa made connections with Wonder by R. J. Palacio. 

This year we are working school-wide to increase student use of academic language.  Students are using discipline-specific vocabulary as they provide evidence to support their thinking in all areas.  Teachers are learning to support students as they press one other in order to deepen levels of understanding. All Sexton Mt. students are English Language Learners.  Some are multilingual and some are monolingual, but all are growing in this area.  On an informal language assessment, less than half of our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders scored in the “advanced language” range.  In the primary grades, less than one third of our students scored in that range.  During the daily English Language Development block, students are speaking and writing related to content.  Initially, this was an area of focus because some students weren’t making the progress we expected. Students identified as economically disadvantaged or English Language Learners or identified as having a disability were not learning at the trajectory needed in order to be College or Career ready.  Upon closer examination, we also saw that our high achievers were starting strong on state assessments but many were not meeting growth targets.  For every student, the ability to use language in increasingly complex ways to access content is essential.   Students are expected to apply higher level thinking skills at deeper levels every year as they work to build a foundation for college and career readiness.  Our teachers work diligently to maximize time for our wide range of learners.   Notice how the Academic Learning Targets (ALT) listed below for English Language Development (ELD) are rigorous and relevant across content standards. 
ALT 1 - Construct Meaning -I can construct meaning from oral presentations and literary and informational text through grade-appropriate listening, reading, and viewing
ALT 2 - Oral, Written Exch. -I can participate in grade-appropriate oral and written exchanges of information, ideas, and analyses, responding to peer, audience, or reader comments and questions
ALT 3 - Speak - Write -I can speak and write about grade-appropriate complex literary and informational texts and topics
ALT 4 - Oral, Written Claims -I can construct grade-appropriate oral and written claims and support them with reasoning and evidence
ALT 5 - Conduct Research -I can conduct research and evaluate and communicate findings to answer questions or solve problems
ALT 6 - Analyze, Critique -I can analyze and critique the arguments of others orally and in writing
ALT 7 - Adapt Lang Choices -I can adapt language choices to purpose, task, and audience when speaking and writing
ALT 8 - Determine Meaning -I can determine the meaning of words and phrases in oral presentations and literary and informational text
ALT 9 - Create Speech, Text -I can create clear and coherent grade-appropriate speech and text
ALT 10 - Use Standard English -I can make accurate use of standard English to communicate in grade-appropriate speech and writing.
Please think about how you can encourage academic language development at home in these areas.  As you read with your children or discuss the day, encourage them to make connections and play with words!
Students talk about the books they read.


Students use the language of negotiation during games.



Starting in September 2017, the Beaverton School District will implement a 90-minute early release on Wednesday afternoons to allow teachers time to collaborate and participate in professional development opportunities. The schedule change is a result of the new contract between the District and the Beaverton Education Association. The agreement adds nine student days over the next three years.

We recognize the impact this change will have on families and that childcare may be a challenge.  We are exploring opportunities for additional after school activities with the Beaverton Education Foundation and other community partners.  The District recognizes this fact and has already begun the planning process. Some of those steps include weekly planning meetings, conducting parent focus groups and regular communications about the change. Much of the work is focused on determining how to support families and students in the transition.

Sexton Mt. parents will have the opportunity to learn more and to provide input during the Principal’s Time within each Parent Teacher Club meeting throughout the year.  The PTC meeting minutes will capture the major talking points if you are not able to attend the meetings.  You can find these under the “About PTC” section at http://www.sextonmountainptc.org/.

The District has developed an Early Release/Teacher Collaboration webpage. There is a link to this page on our school webpage in the “School Resources” box. The webpage includes a FAQ page that may contain answers to many of your questions.  Planning for Early Release/Teacher Collaboration will continue to take place throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Please check the District’s BSD Briefs newsletter, our school newsletter and the Early Release/Teacher Collaboration webpage for updates.

Learning Options Information for 2017-18 should be considered.   The Beaverton School District is nationally recognized for high student achievement and innovative programs. Beaverton students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to investigate learning options that best fit their academic needs. Students can choose their neighborhood school or one of a number of small learning options. Transportation is provided.

Learning Options Applications are available. All applicants must reside within the Beaverton School District boundaries. Current Beaverton School District students are able to apply online using their student ID. Resident students not currently attending a Beaverton school will need to complete a paper application available online, or at any school office.

And finally, just a reminder that we expect that families will check their own children regularly for lice or nits. Students must be lice free at school.  If three or more related cases of head lice are brought to the school’s attention, a notice will be placed in our newsletter.  Some experts believe that checking your child’s head weekly is a good practice because it helps you to catch outbreaks early and interrupt the life cycle.

Great things are happening at Sexton Mt. and throughout the Beaverton School District everyday.  Thank you for supporting us as we empower children for a future filled with choices.

Thanks for sharing your children with us!

Fondly,

Teresa Clemens-Brower, Ed. D.

Principal

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Academic Language, On Time and Ready to Learn, Halloween, Head Lice and More!-October 18, 2016

Sexton Mt. Families:

At Sexton Mt. we are focused on increasing students use of academic language.  How we talk, changes the way we work.  Students are expected to think at high levels so the language they use to describe their thinking should reflect the rigor of their thoughts.  

You can help by asking your child about their day and expecting them to respond using complete sentences.  Ask about the learning targets for math, reading, and writing.  Ask about their learning goals, what they are working on and how they know if they are making progress. 

I get to see kids at work every time I visit classrooms.   Let me tell you about what I am noticing.  

Two of our first graders  are working on getting their mouth ready to say the first sound.  Another is working on checking for understanding as she reads.  Josie says if it doesn't make sense she rereads and looks at chunks of the word and uses her knowledge of letter sounds to figure it out.

Our fifth graders are explaining strategies, respectfully questioning one another and showing support as they defend thinking around multiplication related to the power of 10.  Elijah was working on using the distributive property to explain multiplication equations.  Morgan talked about powers of ten as she deconstructed her math thinking and explained it to a peer.  Emmalyn shared how she uses the standard multiplication algorithm to solve multi-digit math problems(814 x 39).  She was able to use her knowledge of place-value to deconstruct the equation in her head to 814 x 9 and 814 x 30.  She explained what she was thinking and what "carry the one and put down the zero" represented.  

When you visit classrooms for conferences, look for the different types of supports around the room kids might use to support collaborative, academic language use.


On Time and Ready to Learn
Kids should stay home when they are sick but should otherwise be in class. Instruction begins at 8:30am so kids should be in class, ready to learn at that time. Kids should be in the school by 8:20 so they can go to class at 8:25 and be ready at 8:30.  Our counselor, Mr. S. will be contacting families to see how we can support kids being here on time and ready to learn.  Oregon Department of Education defines chronic absenteeism as missing more than 10% of the school year, so Mr. S. will contact families of students who have missed part or all of 10% of our learning days so far this year. See page 10 of the Student & Family Handbook for more information.  https://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/schools/sexton-mountain/for-parents/Pages/default.aspx

College Gear Wednesday
Across Beaverton kids are encouraged to wear college gear on Wednesdays.  Today during the 4th grade lunchtime, kids talked about college and one of the eighty-eight students had a college shirt.  I wonder how many we'll see tomorrow.  Also during lunch, one student had a note they enjoyed reading.  While we haven't set aside a special day for love notes, positive notes of encouragement are always enjoyed by children!
  





Upcoming Events
October 20-21-Conferences-No School For Students
November 10-Staff Development Day-No School for Students
November 11-Veteran's Day-No School for Students
November 23, 24, 25 and 28-No School
Find more information about upcoming events at:
https://www.beaverton.k12.or.us/schools/sexton-mountain/calendar/Pages/home.aspx


Volunteering and Confidentiality
Sexton Mountain School is supported by hundreds of volunteers. From high-school students working to build community service hours to parents, grandparents and community members willing to give time to make a difference in the lives of our learners, we enjoy GREAT support. From playing with kids at recess, joining them for lunch, working with students in classrooms or pods to supporting students by preparing materials or doing other behind the scenes work, volunteers learn so much about our school and students as they serve. As stated in the Beaverton School District Volunteer Handbook:   “Volunteers must protect the teachers’ and students’ right to privacy. You may not disclose school affairs or personal matters which have come to your attention. Discuss student problems or concerns only with the teacher or staff member with whom you are working; discuss other concerns with the teacher or principal.”



Student Dress and Accessories Info-Planning for October 31

Over the past few years, I get the same questions asked over and over regarding attire for October 31 so I assume others are wondering the same thing.
  • Most Asked Question #1-May I wear my costume on Halloween?  Answer: Check with teachers for exact expectations but know that on October 31, the day is a school day so most (if not all) of the day will be learning and school as usual.  Many of the fall parties won't take place on October 31 so this won't be an issue for many classes.  If teachers give the green light for costumes during part of the day, costumes may cover clothes but not faces or heads.   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.  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.
  • Most Asked Question #2-My costume comes with a little pretend weapon (i.e. bow and arrow, gun, sword, knife, bomb). 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.
  • Head Lice and  Costumes--District policy requires us to share with families if three or more unrelated head lice cases occur in a two-week period but I wanted to pass along this information now since this season brings unique challenges. During the costume season, I predict that kids will have cool clothing items that friends might ask to try on. Now is the perfect time for you to teach or reteach your child why they should say, "No."  Just as we prevent the spread of germs by not sharing food or utensils, we prevent the spread of lice by not sharing brushes, hats, masks, costumes, coats, hoodies, and other items that come into contact with heads. As we assume that others’ blood or other body fluids may carry harmful germs and we thereby take universal precautions, we must also assume that others’ hair or things that come into contact with hair may also carry things we hope not to catch and practice precautions. With the potential for trying on others' costumes, I wanted to remind adults to remind kids to be mindful of how easy it is to spread lice when clothing items and hats are shared between kids. This note is not intended to cause panic but instead provide a reminder about the importance of teaching children prevention techniques.  We expect that parents will check their own children regularly for lice or nits. Students must be lice free at school. Some experts believe that checking your child's head weekly is a good practice because it helps you to catch outbreaks early and interrupt the life cycle.

Parties
Each year the PTC provides classrooms with funds for three parties.  Students look forward to these special days and always appreciate the hard work of the volunteers who do the planning and implementation. Expectations for parties are based on safety and maintaining an environment focused on instruction. The information below may be useful to party planners and other volunteers. 

  • Several students in our school have severe latex or peanut/nut allergies. Latex balloons are not allowed. Balloons of any kind cannot be taken home on the bus. Strict avoidance of peanut/nut products is the only way to prevent a life threatening allergic reaction. If exposed to peanut products or nut products through contact or ingestion, the student may develop a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency medical treatment. In an effort to maintain a safe environment for all, students at our school will not be doing art projects that include nuts or nut products.  With so many projects available, this should be an easy task.
  • Party snacks cannot include any peanut or nut containing products. Because there are so many nut free products in our world, maintaining a nut free environment should not be a problem. We also have kids with dairy and egg allergies or gluten intolerance so please plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to park in designated parking spaces when you come to school. Our parking lot has been known to be rather unsafe on party days due to so many illegally parked cars. In order to maintain a safe parking lot, I expect all parties to end by 2:55 p.m. so teachers can help students return to calm before dismissal and bring closure to the learning of the day. If you take your child home with you at that time, please sign him or her out in the office.
  • Check with your teacher to determine whether parties will take place. Fall parties might begin as early as mid-October or extend well into November. Winter parties might take place in December or January. In all decisions, our first priority is safety followed by what is best for student learning. Sometimes this means that to maintain instructional integrity on certain days, we continue learning as normal and move parties to days that work best for teaching and learning. 
Teaching and Learning
With so many things not really related to teaching or learning in this newsletter, I want to emphasize the importance of creating a safe and inclusive environment as the foundation for great learning. The structures and systems we have in place show our best thinking and use of resources as of today. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Oregon has fewer school days per year than other states and we have among the largest class sizes.  Things have gotten better with recent changes as the Local Option Levy has passed and state revenue forecasts have improved, but in order to level the playing field for our students, we need to use every minute well because of the larger classes and  fewer days of school than students in 40 or more other states. We need to do our very best work in schools while state leaders work for stable funding. Thanks for helping us to maximize instruction!


Fondly,

Dr. Teresa Clemens-Brower
a.k.a. Mrs. C.-B.
Principal
Learning Options Information for 2017-18

The Beaverton School District is nationally recognized for high student achievement and innovative programs. Beaverton students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to investigate learning options that best fit their academic needs. Students can choose their neighborhood school or one of a number of small learning options. Transportation is provided.  
Applications will be available starting Monday, October 24, 2016. All applicants must reside within the Beaverton School District boundaries. Beginning October 24 current Beaverton School District students are able to apply online using their student ID. Resident students not currently attending a Beaverton school will need to complete a paper application available online, or at any school office beginning October 24, 2016.  Below is a link to this year’s open house schedules.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Youth Development Program (YDP) athletic teams


News you can use---Students who play on high school Youth Development Program (YDP) athletic teams need to participate based on the current 2016-17 boundaries. At this time, students are not to attend tryouts for a school they will be attending in the fall of 2017 or in later years based on the new high school boundaries.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Great Things are Happening--October 11, 2016


Sexton Mt. Families:


Today I am filled with gratitude. I am thankful for caring volunteers who show up and notice when help is needed. I am thankful for those who speak up and deal directly when there is a concern or celebration. I am thankful for those who come together to support when someone is hurting. I am thankful for those who are patient and understand the importance of a positive learning environment. I am thankful for those who offer a hand and expertise when small things are broken. I am thankful for positive, proactive conversations. I am thankful for those who repurpose rain boots, play clothes, and books. I am thankful for the dad who noticed when a child was where he wasn't supposed to be and helped out. I am thankful for the mom who flipped over the bike and fixed the chain. We have a great community.

Thanks for sharing your children with us.

A few things..

The scary clown stories are being talked about at school.  Please talk to kids about what to do with information they are worried about.

Currently about 50 children have not returned the sheet so don't have permission to have pictures included in the class picture. Class pictures will only include the pictures of children who have given permission to have info shared on the Yellow Parent Permission FERPA sheet.

Toy weapons are NEVER allowed at school.

Learning Options Information for 2017-18

The Beaverton School District is nationally recognized for high student achievement and innovative programs. Beaverton students in grades 6-12 have the opportunity to investigate learning options that best fit their academic needs. Students can choose their neighborhood school or one of a number of small learning options. Transportation is provided.  
Applications will be available starting Monday, October 24, 2016. All applicants must reside within the Beaverton School District boundaries. Current Beaverton School District students are able to apply online using their student ID. Resident students not currently attending a Beaverton school will need to complete a paper application available online, or at any school office beginning October 24, 2016.  Below is a link to this year’s open house schedules.


Talented and Gifted services in Beaverton School District

Every year students are considered for Talented and Gifted services in Beaverton School District.  These services are provided by your child's classroom teacher(s).  If you think your child might qualify, you may wish to complete the Parent Information Form that is available in our school’s office.  Completing this form gives our school TAG committee more information about your child, but it is not required.  All qualified students will be considered regardless of its completion.

Oregon law and District policy define gifted students as those who score at or above the 97th percentile on a standardized, nationally normed test of mental ability and/or academic achievement.  Behavioral, learning, and/or performance information is also considered before a student is identified for TAG services.


The Parent Information Form must be completed and returned to our school’s TAG facilitator, Katrina Simkins-Moore a.k.a. Ms. S'Moore, or the school’s office.

Next Week is Digital Citizenship Week  Check out resources at the link below.
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digitalcitizenshipweek