Monday, February 12, 2018

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support February 2018

How Parents Can Encourage Positive Coping Strategies

“A child who learns how to cope while young is a child who will gain strength and
confidence as (s)he matures”

Part of our staff inservice this past January focused on the importance of teaching children coping strategies. Teaching children positive coping strategies allows them to deal more effectively when faced with feelings of stress, sadness, anger, and frustration. Coping strategies, similar to academic skills, are developed by direct teaching, practice, and modeling. Some of the coping strategies featured in this article include:
· Providing supportive problem-solving
· Validating their feelings
· Allowing children to brainstorm different solutions and consequences to each choice
· Teaching perspective taking when tackling a problem
· Helping children to understand that sometimes we need to be flexible and learn when to move on

For the full article, please click here.
Additional coping strategy ideas can be found here from the Boystown website here.

Personal Learning February 2018


From “Why Personalized Learning is Imperative” by M. Horn
  1. In the United States, the factory-model schools prepared students for the economy of of the early 20th century and helped lift millions into the middle class. In 1900, the majority of students would take industrial jobs and did not need a deep education; only 17 percent of all jobs at the time required knowledge workers. The fact that many students dropped out of high school, did not attend or complete college, or — more to the point — did not learn much academically did not cripple students when they left for the workforce nor did it significantly hurt the American economy.

  2. Today,  countries are moving into an economy in which over 60 percent of jobs require knowledge workers, and we expect schools to educate all children so that they can realize their fullest human potential, it leaves too many students behind—and not just ones from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  3. Parents know, just because two children are the same age, it does not mean that they learn in the same way and at the same pace. Each child has different learning needs at different times. Some students quickly learn material, whereas others struggle to grasp its meaning. These differences often depend upon the subject or concept in which a student is working.

  4. Nearly all of us have had an experience of being stuck in a class in which no matter how many times the teacher explained a concept, we just couldn’t grasp it. The class whisked along, we fell further behind, and frustration mounted. Many of us have also experienced the reverse. Sometimes we understood things before our classmates. We grew bored when the class repeatedly drilled a concept for those who struggled to understand. A stunning number of students drop out of school not because they are struggling, but because they are bored. School should not be a place where our students are either frustrated or bored; it should be a place where they are engaged and excited to learn.
To optimize all students’ learning--so that each child can succeed not just in school but in life--we need to personalize learning for each student’s distinct learning needs. We cannot persist with an education that works for some students, sometimes.

Personalized Learning in Kindergarten

Phonological awareness refers to the ability to segment and manipulate the sounds of oral language.  It is not the same as phonics, which involves knowing how written letters relate to spoken sounds.  Activities that develop phonological awareness in children provide practice with rhyme and with beginning sounds and syllables. (from ILA, International Literacy Association)  The ability to hear the sounds in words and to isolate the sounds from one another can help a child become a reader. Even before he learns the letters of the alphabet, a child can say the sounds in his language. When he can hear the sounds in a word and tell where the sounds occur in the word, he is developing pre-reading skills.  “Research has shown that a child’s awareness of the sounds of spoken words is a strong predictor of his or her later success in learning to read.” (ILA)  The term ‘phonological awareness’ does not describe just one skill, rather it encompasses a whole list of important skills including: rhyme, alliteration, segmentation, sound and word discriminations, syllabification, onset and rime. Phonemic awareness is one component of phonological awareness, and a very important one. When children have phonemic awareness, they know how to segment, blend, or manipulate individual sounds in words.  Children have phonemic awareness when they can identifying beginning sounds in words, blend sounds together to make a word, and count the individual sounds within a word.
During Charge-Up time phonemic and phonological awareness activities are personalized to each individual child. The child sets a goal, decides how to learn it and then shows what he/she knows before moving to the next goal. Children are working both individually and in groups using activities of their choice. Some activities include: playing a game, completing an activity on an IPAD or Chromebook, building words or sentences out of scrabble letter or legos, writing, drawing or stamping letter and words, etc.  Parents, be sure to ask your Kindergartner what their goal is and what they are doing to work on their goal.  You can support this with activities and practice at home too.  The FIVE from FIVE website is a great resource with activities parents can explore at home with their child to help support the development of phonological and phonemic awareness. Click here to see a few ideas.   The Kindergarten teachers, Mrs. Koeppen and Mrs. Chambers have been working hard to keep these eager learners busy with lots to learn.

Math February 2018


Family Engagement Math Choice Sheet
Whatever your goals may be with regards to supporting your son/daughter as a math student, we hope you find the following resources helpful! Just look for the goals that apply to your family’s needs and select activities or ideas from the options below.
Family Goals
I would like tips and strategies for helping my child with math homework.
I would like to find ways to engage my child in more math activities at home.
I would like to help my child develop a growth mindset for learning math.
Choice Activities:
Video Resources
Video lessons at Khan Academy are a great review resource for both students and parents.

Engaging activities

Cook with your kids!
Help kids to read recipes. Talk about how to double a recipe, or cut it in half.

Ideas for incorporating math while setting the table and serving dinner

Literacy February 2018

With the New Year just beginning, try to have your children make New Year's resolutions to read.  Series books are a great way to encourage reading.  When reading series books, children fall in love with the characters and their conflicts.  They become more comfortable with the author's writing style such as knowing how the author will begin and end each chapter and which key phrases and actions the author will associate with each character.  This "knowing" supports readers' fluency.  After reading the first book in a series, readers are used to the author's syntax, vocabulary, and rhythm of language and plot.  Then they are able to just read--and the more they read, the more fluent and confident they become (Resource: Inquiry by Design Blog).  For some ideas of series books to get your children started with their New Year's resolutions, check out the lists below for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Personalized Learning

One of our district goals this year is Personalized Learning. Personalized Learning is an approach that is designed around the individual student. Teachers are using  this approach to teach math in 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade this year. The kindergarten teachers are also “trying” a personalized approach to learning with their reading skill work during Charge-Up. Considerations include: what are they ready to learn? what are their strengths, needs and interests?  The students are active in setting their own goals, planning how and what they will learn and keeping track of their progress.  Teachers are team teaching and students attend only the mini-lessons that they need. Students ready for skills at the next grade level, are working on what they need.

In 2nd grade math, parents you can support your child’s math learning by going over goals/assessments and checking on math homework. In third grade, students will share their goals and accomplishments with families on Seesaw, a digital portfolio. You are encouraged to look over your child’s math goal to see what they are working on and how they are doing.  In 4th grade, a student’s individual choice sheet (Goggle doc) is highlighted with his/her goal and you are encouraged to spend time discussing not only the goal, but the resources your child will engage in to support learning. Parents, this is exciting because it allows you to  know more about your child’s learning and who they are as a learner, than ever before.
Parents you may ask, why do we need to shift the way we approach learning and instruction in our school? Answer: Because it is essential that we provide our learners with the 21st century skills and competencies they will need as we prepare them for the future. Students will be more academically and socially successful, and will find a greater sense of joy in their school experience. Questions about PL, contact D. Held

Social/Emotional Learning

The Effects of Being Kind Based on Research
With so many reminders about being kind recently in commercials, movies like Wonder, and other places.  We thought it may be a good time to discuss some of the other benefits of being kind to help encourage others to make this a general practice throughout the year.  Whether you increase your kindness toward yourself, others, the environment, or the nation, we hope everyone enjoys all of the benefits kindness brings to the community.

Below are some of the additional benefits of being kind based on research with the link to the article:

  • It is in our human-nature to be kind - so it helps us feel like ourselves when we act kindly toward others
  • We can create and reinforce neural pathways when we are kind which increases our positive feelings
  • Those who regularly offered kindness to others had a lower risk of death
  • Kindness spreads - observing an act of kindness encourages one to engage in similar acts
  • Practicing kindness and gratitude increases one’s level of happiness


As our school theme this year is GROWTH POWER, we thought it would be helpful to provide some ways that you can reinforce this idea at home, specifically in the area of reading.  We have included a chart that you can complete with your child to encourage them to think of strategies that will help their thinking to change and grow in order to become successful readers.  We have also included a list of Growth Mindset picture books that you can read aloud to your child to start mindset conversations about making the most of their mistakes, embracing challenges, and never giving up.  Finally, we have included a list of Growth Mindset biographies in which your child can read about individuals who struggled but persevered and made a great difference in the world.