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.  



Math 2017

Estimation.  You can hear the groans from the students when asked to estimate the answer to the problem.  They want to jump to solving the problem and getting an exact answer.  Estimation, for many, feels like  extra, useless work.  But estimation is a critical skill for students.   Annie Murphy Paul, in her  TIME magazine article titled “Why Guessing is Undervalued”  claims that strong estimation skills in young children lay a good foundation for further math learning as children grow older.

So why teach estimation skills?
First, we want students to be able to determine the reasonableness of their answers.    Without this estimate, we see students make computation errors that don’t even raise a red flag.  33 x 18 = 264.   If the student had estimated an answer  (30 x 20 = 600), he or she would have seen that a computation error had been made.

Second, we want students to be able to use mental math to quickly get to a ballpark solution.  An example of this may be when going out to dinner with friends and we are dividing up the bill.  A ballpark solution is usually acceptable among friends.

Third, we want to estimate about time and distance.  These estimation skills are essential for executive functioning.   How long will it take us to get from Point A to Point B?   How long will it take you to do your homework? Skill in estimating time is essential for success  with both short term and long term projects.

How can families encourage and support these skills?
Estimation skills are used in everyday life and create critical thinkers who understand what the task requires. Parents and family members can help foster these skills by reminding students not to skip this step when they are explicitly asked to do so.  Students can also be encouraged to use estimation as a strategy for checking over their math work, even when the task doesn’t specifically require it. Demonstrate the the importance of these lifelong math skills by thinking aloud when you find yourself using estimation and showing students the many ways that estimation will apply to their everyday lives in the future.

Why Teaching Both Estimation and Accuracy is Important