Trimester 1 wrapped up with a bow

We’ve arrived at the 1/3 mark for the 2013-2014 school year.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  Here are a few updates and reports from campus:

Lunch Time Recycling

Our sixth graders have taken on lunch time trash as their yearlong project.  Our little red wagon wheels into the amphitheater with two sixth grade helpers to man the station.  We collect compost for the gardens, recyclables and trash.  As a school, we are encouraging students to take home uneaten food.  This lets parents know it’s not something that’s enjoyed for lunch or leaves it as an after school snack.  Another goal we’ve got is to reduce the trash from lunch.  Currently we dispose of 2-3 garbage bags of waste.  Ms. Hurd and a sixth grade helper demonstrated some ideas for helping reduce this waste: reusable water bottles and plastic containers that can be used, washed and reused.  So if your student begins to take a special interest in his/her lunch and what it’s packed in–you’ll know why.  Thanks for helping.

Pie sales, performing arts, book fair, oh my!

Pie sales have closed and we anxiously await the delivery of these delicious, handmade frozen pies.  A PTA sponsored fund raiser to benefit all students at Grant School–Thank you PTA!  The book fair ended with Cafe Dolce on Friday night.  Sixth graders sold baked goods, coffee and hot chocolate in a cafe’ adjacent to the book fair.  Books to read and a treat too!  Performing Arts forms have been flying out of the office quicker than we can restock the pile!  This year we are producing Alice in Wonderland.  And as luck would have it, we have Mr. Burstein (a parent of a second grader) who is the president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America.  We are excited to add his love and knowledge of this famous author to our production and experience this year.

Thank you PEF!

We have regularly looked to the Petaluma Education Foundation to partner with us to bring technology to our students.  They helped with our new lab, projection in the multi, projectors in classrooms and a myriad other large and small projects.  Our Learning Garden was another such project.  This year we applied for approximately $11,000 (to be combined with PTA savings) to finish our work in primary grades with devices for student use.  I am happy to share that we were awarded our grant!  A team of teachers helped write and refine the document, then Mrs. Jimenez, Mrs. Elias and Mrs. Haugen presented to the PEF Board more specifically and ta-da!  We are ready to roll!  Here’s the shopping list: Chromebooks in 3rd grade, iPads in 2nd and 1st grade and Nooks in kindergarten.  THANK YOU PEF & PTA!

Report Cards and Common Core State Standards and State Testing

Thank you for attending your student’s parent/teacher conference.  It’s a valuable time for reporting progress and setting goals.  You may have noticed a change to your student’s report card.  Teachers across the district are working hard to implement a new set of state standards commonly referred to as ‘Common Core.’  Math is our focus this year and we’ll move to Language Arts next year.  Teachers are looking at math skills and concepts as a unit of instruction rather than individual daily lessons.  The entire unit leads to conceptual understanding (big ideas) and the activities within the unit build discreet skills and abilities.  There is a focus on the Standards for Mathematical Practice–the thinking and strategies behind any math that a student might do: using appropriate tools, attending to precision and critiquing others are parts of this work.  The other  major change in to state testing.  The traditional CST (or STAR) has been shelved (as of this date) so that students can help test the new test.  It’s called Smarterbalanced (or SBAC).   A large portion of the test is done on computer where the programming adapts to a student’s responses.  More correct responses move a student up through the concepts, while incorrect or incomplete answers prompt a similar concept to be tested in a different way.  In the spring, all students in grade 3 through 6th will try out either the math or English-language arts portion of SBAC.  We are helping put the system through its paces–SBAC secured browser, wifi, hard wiring, network volume in general, and scoring (only at SBAC’s end).  For teachers and students at Grant School, it’s a peek at what’s to come, both the content and technology skill required to successfully show what student know.  Based on last year’s experience, I am confident our students will be ready for prime time in 2014-2015.  Look for more information about this in the coming months.  The December 5th PTA Association Meeting (6:30 in the multi) will provide a 30 minute introduction/discussion on CC Math specifically.

A Student Point of View

Don’t forget to take a look at GLT’s blog: kidblog.org/GrantLeadershipTeam for more information about what’s going on on campus and in classrooms.  You can even leave a comment!

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