A December Update

Cold versus Flu… Things to know

Knock on wood… we haven’t had a major illness run through the school yet this year.  We want kids at school every day, but when they’re sick, learning just isn’t in the cards and it’s best for them to stay home, get well and return as soon as possible.  Cold or flu?  This is a question we get calls about and a criteria by which we’ll give you a call to come pick up your son/daughter.  Symptoms of flu are fever AND (one or more of these) cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, tiredness.  If your child has a fever AND another symptom, keep them home to prevent spreading germs to others.  Here at school we encourage lots of hand washing, sneezing into our elbow (not hand), using tissue, throwing it away then washing, etc.  And if your student comes to the office with a fever, we give you a call.  Thanks for helping out.

Band & Chorus–Students working hard & sounding great!

I had the serendipitous opportunity to sit in and teach sixth grade beginning band a few weeks ago.  One of our teachers was very ill and needed to get to the doctor right away.  Consider it, ‘other duties as assigned” for a principal.  What a great time we had!  My clarinet playing days ended in 7th grade and I’ve never even attempted to play a flute or trumpet.  Instruments up!  And so we jumped in.  My best strategies: 1) if it didn’t sound right, stop; 2) keep an ear out for the correct note and ask that musician to play it as a sample; 3) Praise!!! With a brief stint as music teacher under my belt I have a new appreciation for what this team does every Monday at Grant School.  We are sounding terrific!  We host a Winter Music Share for the school and then in the spring, all our families are invited to come and hear our band and chorus in their culminating performance.

A Traffic & Safety Reminder

Many families drop off at the back of school. We had a neighbor call in very concerned about cars not stopping at the four-way at the top of  Sunnyslope Rd.  Please work together with our neighbors and general traffic laws to keep our kids and community safe.

Common Core Math… do you have questions? 

Q: Why does my student have less math to do for homework:

A: One of our goals is around deeper understanding and the processes of math.  The right answer is a small part of the learning.  With few problems, a student focuses on the processes or methods along with an answer.  Fewer problems allows the teacher to bring this math back into the classroom for further discussion.

Q: Why is my student using a 100’s chart for adding and subtracting?  That’s not how I learned it.

A: The hundred’s chart builds in understanding of patterns in mathematics.  By jumping down one row, you add 10, for example. By using a 100’s chart, students bring their attention to place value (Do I move across the columns for ones or the rows for 10’s?).  And as with question #1, this work can be brought back into the learning of the classroom.  There’s a direct connection between home and school.

Q: What about state testing?

A: Per the state of California, 5th grade students at Grant will take the STAR Science test as has been the case for many years.  Additionally, our 3rd through 6th graders will take an abbreviated portion of SBAC (Smarterbalanced Assessment Consortium) in Language Arts and Math.  This is the new testing aligned with Common Core State Standards.  We will not see any results from this testing as this is a “test the test” situation–bandwidth, scoring (unseen by us), interface for students, etc.  Grant participated in a small pilot last year and  SBAC did ask for feedback.  This “test the test” will occur in April and May.  We are all excited to see how this computer-based assessment will capture our students’ learning.

Q: What about the report card?

A: You may have experienced a Common Core Math report card for the first trimester.  The elementary report card committee is  working on a final version of our new report card through this school year.  You’ll see a fully Common Core aligned report card in both Language Arts and Math for 2014-2015.

Upcoming Dates:

  • Coffee & Conversation with Mrs. Haugen: Friday, December 13th 8-9am in the library
  • Noon Release (11:25 for Kinder): Friday, December 20th
  • Winter Break: December 23rd to January 6th.  Students return on Tuesday, January 7th

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