Friday, December 12, 2014

Grimm - 12/12/2014

PK-1 Principal/Director of Teaching & Learning
Sara Grimm
Twitter:  saramarleygrimm
SKYPE:  saramarleygrimm

The State of Iowa implemented new legislation that took effect on August 1st regarding literacy in schools. Every school in Iowa must assess all K-3 students at the beginning of the school year and intermittently throughout the year using a screening assessment. At Howard-Winn we use the FAST Assessments. FAST stands for Formative Assessment System for Teachers. We are also required to provide periodic assessments of students who exhibit a substantial deficiency in reading for the purpose of progress monitoring. During our literacy instruction we provide intensive reading instruction, including a minimum of 90 minutes a day of scientific, research-based reading instruction, to any student who exhibits a substantial deficiency in reading. This instruction includes things like:
  • Small group instruction                           
  • More frequent progress monitoring      
  • Extended school day, week, or year      
  • Reduced teacher-student ratios
  • Tutoring or mentoring
  • Summer reading programs

The goal of this legislation is to promote effective evidence-based programming, instruction and assessment practices across schools to support all students to become proficient readers by the end of the third grade. If a student is substantial deficient in reading (starting on May 1, 2017) they will be retained or required to attend the summer reading program.

Howard-Winneshiek has been working to implement the legislative requirements. The following is a letter from Dr. Brad Buck, the Iowa Department of Education Director. He wishes to share this letter to parents: "It's All about Reading!"

December 9, 2014

Dear Iowa Parents,
Reading is essential to your children's success in school and in life. In Iowa, we are working to make sure all children read well by the end of third grade, which is the pivotal time when students go from learning to read to reading to learn.

Research shows that children's third-grade reading skills can predict their future success, and proficient readers are more likely to graduate from high school and earn a good living. However, nearly 1 in 4 Iowa third graders did not meet reading expectations last year, according to state test results. We must help our students improve their reading skills.

That's why identifying struggling students starting in kindergarten and providing intensive intervention form the centerpiece of a 2012 state law to improve literacy. Iowa's new early warning system for literacy is helping schools across the state screen students, monitor their progress, and provide reading interventions in preschool through third grade.

Making sure parents or guardians are notified when their children need help and providing resources that families can use at home also are part of Iowa's 2012 law. I want to be sure you are aware of a state website where you can find those resources:

This website includes a link to great materials provided by the Iowa Reading Research Center that will help you understand and work with your child on specific literacy skills. You can easily find activities based on your child's grade level or reading skill on the center's Family Resources page:

It is critical for us to work together early - especially in kindergarten, first and second grades - to make sure students develop the skills they need to succeed in reading. Starting in May 2017, children who are identified as substantially deficient in reading by the end
of third grade must attend a summer reading program, or they will be retained in third grade unless they qualify for an exception. Prevention, not retention, is what everyone wants.

Giving Iowa students a world-class education is critical in today's knowledge-based economy, but that's not possible unless they can read. I look forward to working with you on this historic effort to help Iowa children read by the end of third grade. Thank you for helping us to meet this goal.

Brad Buck, Ph.D.
Director, Iowa Department of Education

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." ~~ Will Rogers

This Week… a topic of study for their STEM kit is learning how to be a scientist and exploring solids/liquids/gasses. The vocabulary words they learned are: predict, observe, and investigation. The students were excited to do their first group investigation! The investigation this week was color changing milk. Students explored a liquid using different colors.

Concepts the students worked on included …
- Naming the five senses. What can they observe around home with their senses?
- Predicting. What will the weather be like on Sunday. They talked about the fact that predictions may be correct or incorrect.

The Lime Springs preschool class has been reading gingerbread stories this past week and doing many activities to go with them.

Working on counting with gingerbread houses and candy (Pom-poms)

Using fine motor skills to create their own gingerbread boys & girls using gingerbread play dough and different materials.

After reading "The Gingerbread Boy & The Gingerbread Girl" they filled out a Venn diagram to tell how the stories were the same and how they were different.

From now until Christmas vacation, kindergartners will be learning about some luminous customs and holidays around the world and doing activities related to them. Some of the customs they are learning about include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Luciadagen, and Las Posadas. They read stories, research on the internet, and created representations of some symbols of the event. Kids learn that people celebrate different things as part of their culture and family. Developing an appreciation for our similarities and differences is an important part of kindergarten.

"Luciadagen" is observed a week before the Winter Solstice. St Lucy is celebrated as a “beacon of brightness” in the darkest time of year.

First Grade

Here students worked on making predictions of a story they were reading. They created a picture with a sentence to tell their prediction in the My Story app. Then they sent their picture through Showbie to share it with the teacher. 

This class used their body parts as units of measurement to measure items in the classroom. 

They also wrote letters to Santa that will be published in The Times Plain Dealer the week of Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Sara,
    I always learn new information by reading your blog! Thank you so much for sharing. Let's make the next 5 days, excellent!

    Your friend and colleague,