Monday, April 20, 2015

Grimm 4/17/2015

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

April is School Library Month and it’s a great time to take a moment to recognize our teacher librarian Denise Shekleton and our Library assistant Edna Vandervort and the role they play in supporting learning and teaching in our school. They assist in teaching literacy skills because they understand the reading process and how to reinforce reading skill development at all ages, and more importantly, they open up the world of quality literature to all students. They also teach digital literacy lessons so not only can students use current technology, but also understand what digital citizenship means. They help students become competent information users who know how to find, evaluate and use information effectively. They collaborate with teachers to create lessons and projects that develop skills students need for the future. Lastly, they are behind-the-scene instructional coaches, curriculum developers and “school-wide cheerleaders.” Thank you Denise and Edna for all that you do for the students at Howard-Winn. Happy School Library Month!

Preschool Program-Wide PBIS
Staff Member Highlight

This week our staff member highlighted for PW-PBIS is Jennifer Vsetecka, one of the Crestwood preschool teachers. Mrs. Vsetecka teaches and models Program Wide PBIS strategies each day. This is demonstrated through her class relationships. Peers support each other in following the expectations. Mrs. Vsetecka maintains a positive rapport with her class. She supports the students in both their academic and social learning. The students often seek her out to share their successes.

The preschoolers are always excited to learn and dive into learning no matter what the activity. They are still working on Simple Machines from their STEM Pint Size Science Kit and they came up with a list of various simple machines as a class. They then picked one and used the SMART Board to make a book/draw all of the simple machines that we know. Students also were introduced to the Duplo Legos and made cranes, diggers, windmills, dump trucks, and mixers.           

Boat activity-will it sink or float . . .
Mrs. Vsetecka’s class has taken all of the cardboard, plastic, and other materials that were sent to them by parents and made boats out of them. Students then learned about what a prediction means and then set sail on their boats to see what would happen and if their prediction was right, was it going to sink or was it built to float. The kids then had to record the conclusion….what did happen to your boat? Did it sink or did it float? They also took some of their Playdoh that has been used and recycled it into something new! Students received a ball of this modeling material and were able to create a new masterpiece. It’s fun to see what their minds can think of!

Mystery . . .
Some preschoolers discovered a mysterious “muddy” shoe print in their dramatic-play center. The preschoolers turned into detectives trying to figure out who left the mysterious “muddy” shoe print. They built their math skills by generating a suspect list, examining shoe patterns, and measuring shoe sizes (standardized and non-standardized) to solve the mystery.

The preschoolers came up with another clever way to recycle boxes and containers at school. After some brainstorming, the students reached a compromise and worked to turn our leftover recycled materials into band instruments. The students used their fine motor skills and spatial thinking to create band instruments. After completing their instruments, they brought in the expert, Mr. Bieber (music teacher), and he gave us a thumb’s up. As a class, they formed a parade and the preschool band marched through the hallways

One class discussed and learned about different machines used on a farm. They also began discussing what they needed to make things grow and how different things grow. The students colored an easy reader Can you Moo?, which was about the sounds different farm animals make. They practiced reading the book and some of the students practiced sounding out some of the simple words. At the block center the students were able to set up a farm using barns, animals, tractors, machinery, and a house. The students have really enjoyed exploring with these materials. The students were also able to explore with kinetic sand. This sand is similar to the Oobleck they made. When you have the sand formed tight or holding it in your hand it stays in that shape, but as you loosen the sand up it starts to spread out and move by itself. They also did some experiments from their weather kit. They learned about and explored how thunder sounds and why it makes that sound. They also made some tornado tubes to see how a tornado spins.

Transitional Kindergarten
Transitional Kindergarten students are filling their school days with a variety of activities and learning experiences. The last of their STEM units is a focus on insects. Students are learning what makes an insect different from other bugs. All of their learning during this introductory phase has been using resources in the classroom. They will take the learning outdoors as they look firsthand at habitats and see if they can find any insects. Students will be sharing all of their STEM learning with families at the upcoming Preschool/Transition Kindergarten family night on May 7th.

Each day the Transitional Kindergarten students practice identifying and applying letter sounds in word games and activities. Interest in numbers is evident in their frequent requests to count higher during group activities. Their skill practice is focused on kindergarten readiness as the school year quickly coming to a close. The next few weeks will include end of the year skill checks and spring FAST assessments.

Mrs. Lois Leifeld was selected to receive an Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher Supplement Grant funded by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. Her project was titled: Life Cycle of a Chicken. This grant was made possible through the support of the Iowa Farm Bureau. These grant funds are used throughout the state to support educational programs that teach youth about agriculture by using agriculture to enhance student learning of science, social studies, language arts and other curriculum. Mrs. Leifeld received $200 to purchase an incubator.

Her class put the eggs in the incubator this week and counted 21 days to May 6th for hatching. They have started to talk about "things we already know" about incubators.  The list includes: water, air, time, heat, and love. Waiting is not easy.

From Seed to Plant Unit - Is it a seed?
Students are exploring From Seed to Plant with fourteen hands-on activities. They will be introduced to ten different types of plants. They will explore how plants grow. Students will observe parts of a seed and in time, the parts of a plant. As our vegetables, beans, grasses, and flowers develop shoots and roots, than stems and leaves, we will discover the link between structure and function.  We will learn what plants need to grow and as pods and seeds appear, how the life cycle continues.

These boys were looking for the new plant in the seed. The class talked about the seed coat, seed food, and new plant. The children were able to identify all three parts.

First Grade
As I hope a lot of you heard, we had quite the surprise in one of our first grade classrooms last Friday! Miss Thomson who is subbing for Mrs. Mahr got engaged. Her boyfriend surprised her in the classroom and proposed to her! It was the exact way her dad had proposed to her mom 26 years ago.

First graders using straws and twist ties to create polygons of their choice.

To correlate with their Lead 21 Unit: A PERFECT PLACE TO LIVE, this class has begun studying aquariums! This is a part of our science curriculum, and by far the most exciting to some students!!  In both Lead 21 and science, they have been learning about animal habitats and what plant and animal basic needs are! They created a MAN MADE habitat last week and welcomed 10 new fish! In order to care for their new pets, they had to provide water, oxygen, food and shelter in their aquariums!

Congratulations to our Kindergarten and First Grade Students and their Director Mr. Bieber for the fantastic concert performance on Thursday night.

District Advisory Committee
This committee was established this year to provide input to the school board and administration on:
  • Major educational needs.        
  • Student learning goals.
  • Curriculum, assessment and instruction.
  • Desired levels of student performance.
  • Progress toward meeting the district goals.
  • Harassment or bullying prevention goals, programs, training, and other initiatives.
  • Any other areas related to school improvement.
  • To make recommendations for consideration based on the best interest of students and aligned with the district’s mission, vision, and beliefs.

The focus of the group, for several meetings, has been exploring the district’s financial health and providing recommendations for further investigation to the Howard-Winneshiek School Board. The committee’s recommendations to the school board were:
  1. Explore PD one day a month=B (the district is pursuing this and next year’s calendar reflects this change)
  2. Sharing staff (the district is exploring the sharing of H.S Family & Consumer Science and H.S. Business teaching positions, as well as Activities Director with a neighboring district; other positions for sharing are also being analyzed)
  3. Extend the end of the school day so we have more hours in few days (this will be explored as a calendar option in the future)
  4. Possibly have parents fundraise for the activities their kids are in/Partner with the Foundation 
  5. Investigate alumni donations
  6. Have all staff generate cost savings ideas (this will be completed by the staff within the next few weeks)

The committee also had some suggestions for the school board regarding growth opportunities. They are recommending that the district explore:
  1. Use PR to entice back our open enrolled students
  2. Completing an Exit survey with families leaving the district to see how we can improve
  3. Send recruitment information to families that have recently left the district to see if they are interested in coming back
  4. Develop an activity bus route in which kids/parents are charged to ride
  5. Reach out to preschool families to encourage them to attend school at Howard-Winn
  6. Promote activities for preschoolers to be involved in Cresco
  7. Explore offering new babies a Crestwood gift to build goodwill
  8. Work with local daycares to get information about Howard-Winn into the hands of parents
  9. Hold a recruiting fair for families to come to school here
  10. Develop a promotional campaign highlighting the college credit options available to our high school students
  11. Create a promo to be shown at the Cresco Theater before movies

We thank the committee for their work and will continue to seek ways to make our district the best that it can be.

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