Friday, April 3, 2015

Grimm 4/3/2015

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

During April there will be classroom assessments and district assessments that occur for students in grades K-6. During this month teachers will continue to assess in the classroom for instructional purposes in reading and math. Through these assessments teachers are able to find out what skills your child has mastered and what skills need to be retaught or reinforced. During the month of April students will also be taking our MAP assessments. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is an online assessment that creates a personalized assessment experience by adapting to each student’s learning level. Teachers are able to get assessment data—and essential information about what each student knows and is ready to learn within 24 hours of the testing. We then use that instructional data to help guide classroom instruction, and also help us to identify how we can respond to students’ learning needs building-wide during our CADET TIME (intervention/enrichment block). Students in Transitional-Kindergarten through Grade 6 will also be taking the FAST assessment. This assessment gives us data about your child’s literacy skills and is mandated by Iowa Code in order to comply with Iowa’s Early Literacy legislation. You can help at home by talking to your child about the importance of doing their best so that we can determine what they are ready to learn next. Making sure that your child is well-rested and eating a good breakfast before school is also important. Thanks for you help!

Families Routines are key for student’s success in their daily lives! Setting up routines at home for daily activities such as homework, getting dressed, checking backpacks and much more are important so that your child knows what to expect and can do it independently on their own. Kids also thrive on routines that are established that are predictable and they can count on them being there. By setting a nightly backpack/homework routine you could potentially avoid the conflicts that sometimes occur for homework. Kids know what time it occurs daily, have a set spot to do their work and thrive on knowing how much time they need to work…try setting a timer and then positively acknowledging your child when they complete the work! Home/school connection is crucial to your son's/daughter's ongoing progress at school.


Preschool Registration Spring Open House on Friday, April 17th at the Crestwood Preschool Building, 1135 Canterbury Street, in Cresco from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Kindergarten Round-up at Crestwood Elementary on Friday, April 17th
from 8:30-10:00 a.m.  Children only.

Kindergarten Parent Informational Meeting at Crestwood Elementary on May 5th at 5:30 p.m. 

If parents have any questions please call the Crestwood K-8 office 563-547-2300

Preschool Program-Wide PBIS
Staff Member Highlight
Samantha Burke is the preschool teacher in Elma. It is obvious to see the positive relationships she has formed with each of her students. Samantha recognizes and praises the students' continued accomplishments and the program expectations of being safe, kind, and respectful. It is obvious to see these expectations have been taught and modeled to her students throughout the school year. 

In Elma last week it was their 100th Day of Preschool. Students have been adding a number to a 100’s pocket chart each day they were at school this year and they were finally able to put in the last number 100. The students have been waiting to make it to 100 and were really excited when they did! They decorated glasses in the shape of 100 that they could wear and then read a book about the 100th Day of School. They are going to keep counting to see how many days of school they will have at the end of the year. The dramatic play center turned into a farm. The students were able to pick apples off a tree, plant vegetables in a field, dress up like a farmer, cook with the food they grew, and go into a barn. They also read the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar and the students started making their own “Very Hungry Caterpillar” book by finding foods in a grocery ad and cutting them out for their caterpillar to eat. The students were able to listen to The Very Hungry Caterpillar on CD and use felt pieces to retell the story in the reading center. 

They have also started discussing where the students thought food came from. Some of the ideas they came up with were farms, grocery stores, locker, and animals. They also started their STEM Weather Kit. They made Insta-Snow. The students mixed the Insta-Snow Powder with water and watched how the water absorbed into the powder. They then compared it with the snow they had made out of baking soda and hair conditioner and snow from outside. This week they had their Preschool Parent Night in Elma. The students were very excited to show their parents all of the STEM explorations that they have been working on this year. Parents got to experience a weight and measure station, a race car station, a construction station, an Insta-snow station, water explorations, and crystalizing. They really enjoyed showing their parents what they had learned.

Preschoolers continued their journey with recycling this week. They created paper airplanes out of recycled paper. They had lots of fun flying the airplanes and measuring the distance of their flight. During this adventure the students practiced their counting, one-to-one correspondence, and standardized and non-standardized forms of measurement. They are still working on their flying skills, and will continue this project. The preschoolers also found a way to recycle the color-mixed play dough from choice time. Each student sculpted a design and left their play dough creation to air dry. Students used their letter and sound knowledge to write about their sculpture. These sculptures then went home with the students.

Another preschool class explored the Simple Machine “wedge” as part of their STEM Pint-Sized Science Gizmos and Gadgets activities. First they read a page out of a nonfiction book to find out what a wedge does. Then each student took a bolt and tried to push it into a styrofoam block. They found out that it was hard work! In the book they read, it said that a wedge is a simple machine that makes work easier because it can cut, slice, and split. They observed a nail and saw that it was shaped like a wedge at the bottom. The students tried pushing nails into Styrofoam blocks and the work was easier. Some students were having trouble pulling the nail out of the Styrofoam block. The teacher showed them how a hammer can act like a lever (a simple machine they had learned about earlier) and make it easier to pull the nail out. Some students discovered the hammer also makes it easier to get the nail in and some students experimented to find out if the hammer would make the bolt go in the Styrofoam block. All of the students recorded what they learned in their science journals.

Transitional Kindergarten
TK did several activities this week related to their STEM weather unit. The week started with finishing an investigation about sunscreen and the sun. Their next investigation involved cold and warm water. Wind concepts were explored by creating wind spirals. The transitional kindergarten class also walked to the elementary school to do weather projects with Mrs. Sorenson’s 5th grade class. The transitional kindergarten students each picked a weather topic of interest to them. The 5th grade buddies guided the students in learning facts and putting together the information in a short report format. It was an exciting adventure to visit their buddy class in their building! They hope to plan one more get together to celebrate their learning together this year. Students have been learning that spring weather can be a variety of things.

Practicing our sight words helps the students to become more confident in their ability to recognize the words and therefore not have to sound them out while they are reading.  Making that practice fun and engaging for students gets them more excited and energized for that practice. Providing lots of opportunity for children to revisit sight words is important to the development of automatic recall but this repetition doesn’t have to be boring. You can help them practice their words at home also. Here is a website with 50 fun-filled activities:

Try out: sight-word cup crash, beach ball sight words, where’s the bear, and paper plane sight words. 

We have found that many students do not get a lot of practice with their fine motor skills at home, so integrating experiences in which they can practice their coloring, cutting, writing, drawing, and gluing help students practice those skills. In one class this week they were practicing these skills by making their own Easter bunnies.
First Grade
As I sat in the opening in a classroom this week, they began discussing the calendar. As it was April Fool’s Day the jokes were abundant. One student told me that they were taking a field trip to Africa. She of course was kidding, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought this could be a reality for these students. We are doing so much virtually in our schools that taking a field trip to Africa (virtually) would fit very well into their curriculum, so stay tuned! 

First grade students are working on their distinguishing and defining attributes of shapes, composing 2-D & 3-D shapes and lines of symmetry. This work takes many forms in the classrooms including using geoboards, using paper/scissors & using iPads.

This student got the opportunity to share one of his passions (building with Lego's) with his classmates this week. Opportunities for students to share their passions and harness that excitement and interest is important for students and creating a classroom atmosphere where that can happen is one of our priorities.

Here is a great graphic with some free learning websites for kids. 
Check them out with your kids:

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